I just finished booking a flight to Thailand and my first hotel in Bangkok, when it really sank in I will soon be leaving Romania, if not forever, then for a very long time. It got me thinking about all of the things I’ve done during my almost 2 months here and all of the people that I’ve met. I’ll give some of my thoughts on things I’ve learned along the way, but first I want to talk a bit about how I got here.
Since I graduated from university (barely) I’ve made a living playing online poker (think less James Bond and more sat in my undies in front of a laptop). I haven’t made a lot of money and I’m no high roller, but I have made enough to live from and travel around the world to exotic places such as South-East Asia, Australia and Torquay sometimes with friends, sometimes alone, but always returning home after a month or two. I really love travelling and always wanted to just go and not come back, not in a ‘ dies of a drug overdose at a Thai Full Moon Party’ kinda way, but ‘leaves home on an adventure for a few years, comes back with loads of cool stories to tell, maybe a few tattoos I didn’t remember getting and definitely did not die‘ kinda way.
Poker gave me the money and the free time to do it if I wanted to, but to be honest I was scared of doing it alone, so when one of my best friends from home told me he was quitting his job and going travelling around the world for as long as possible, I was fucking jealous and wanted to go too! Unfortunately, I had already spent almost all of my money, from travelling with him this year to Rio de Janeiro for the Carnaval, Amsterdam, Germany and Ibiza, all of which were as insane/NSFW as you would imagine.
Money money MONEY
When we got back from Ibiza in July, I had no money and Rick was leaving in 3 weeks to volunteer teaching at a kids summer camp in Romania and after that going to Asia and onwards. I could go and volunteer too if I wanted, teaching English to Romanian kids would be kinda cool and I always wanted to try teaching, but 3 weeks was nowhere near enough time to earn money to fund a world backpacking trip.
So at this point I guess most people would be thinking “I don’t have enough money, so I can’t go. I should stay at home, make some money and meet him out there in Asia or wherever in a few months time.” Honestly I was thinking this too for a while, but I’ve never been one to take the safe option, I’m way more a ‘have a great experience and think about the consequences later’ person. So in the end I just thought, fuck it I’m going too! It’s what I always wanted to do and if there was any way of making it happen then I should take it. I think too many people turn down opportunities to do things that would make them happy because the circumstances aren’t perfect, but if you always wait for the perfect circumstances to come along then you’ll just grow old in comfortable boredom.
No safety net
So, I set off for Budapest on Sunday 6th July with Rick, a bag on my back and feeling as rough as a bear’s arse from a weekend of partying. I was gonna volunteer at the camp too for 7 weeks in total, in return they would provide food and accommodation, so in theory I could live for free. As you may have noticed there was no beer allowance, so clearly this wouldn’t happen, but I should still be able to live cheaply enough. I was also bringing my laptop with me, the main benefit of playing online poker for a living is that you can work from (almost) anywhere, so I planned to earn and travel as I went along. It was a pretty risky plan, but I really didn’t fancy sitting at home in Manchester for a few more months and, as far as I could see, what’s the worst that can happen? I don’t make enough money, so have to come back home and am back to square one. Well at least I tried and I’d be no worse off than I was before.
At the airport in Manchester we experience some of RyanAir’s hospitality when we had to pay £70 each for not checking in online in advance. Obviously we were pretty pissed off, then found an email telling us we had to do this, but we were both too busy drinking to read that shit.
Anyway, we paid it then joined the never ending queue to check our bags, waited for an hour before the check-in lady shouted last call on our flight, then pleasantly told us check in was already closed and it was our fault for not pushing our way to the front sooner or something. We argued for a bit, the helpful RyanAir staff man could barely be bothered to look up from updating his Facebook while repeating ‘there’s nothing I can do, check-in is closed’ . We spoke to another dude who it turned out could reopen the gate for us, so we ran back over to Facebook guy to check-in and had to wait another 5 minutes, because we were interrupting a casual phone call with his girlfriend.
Things like this don’t usually get to me, but I was pretty pissed off with their attitude and not once seeming to give a shit. Then I reminded myself, this was the first day of an adventure and I was on the way to Budapest! I was pretty excited (see above pic) and landed in Budapest broke, but happier than ever.
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>> Part 2: Homeless in Budapest