Ride on a camel across the desert covered in robes. This is the sentence that sparked my motivation to start travelling the world. When I was feeling quite glum and didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, a very wise friend suggest I write a bucket list. Not just any old bucket list mind you, this was a 15 minute bucket list! What do I mean by that? Well, you sit down with a bit of paper and a pen, set a timer for 15 minutes and write down everything that comes into your head. You write everything as it comes, from the smallest most seemingly insignificant thing to the biggest crazy wild ideas. I set the timer and by about 7 minutes I’d run out of ideas, great. I sat there thinking, trying to write more, watching the minutes tick past. But a strange thing happened, eventually more ideas came, more unique and perhaps more what I really wanted to do. Ding ding ding, the timer rang and I’d just put a full stop on the last idea. I read back through the list and I noticed a lot of it was travel related: go on an African safari, see the northern lights, go trekking up a mountain, do that jumping dance thing with that African tribe, but one really stood out to me, leapt off the page as it were: Ride on a camel across the desert covered in robes. This was the very last thing I wrote, I literally wrote that then the timer went off. That’s it! I can do an adventure across the desert! I pictured myself with Mad Max style goggles on, covered in white and brown robes with nothing but sand dunes and desert in every direction. It felt amazing and freeing and open and utterly foreign to me.
Epic Sahara crossing
I started researching travelling the Sahara desert, for me I didn’t want to do just a normal trek, I wanted to cross the entire Sahara desert from Mauritania in the west to Egypt in the east. After reading lots of blogs, watching lots of videos and posting in lots of forums the wheels got into motion. After a few months I was in contact with a lot of people: tourist companies in Egypt and Sudan, an Egyptian guy living in Melbourne who could help me, people on forums offering help and wanting to come, and also with a guy called Chris Scott who’s been travelling in the desert since the 1980’s. He gave me a whole load of information, but it was information I didn’t want to read. He basically told me it’s almost impossible to do what I wanted to do, a few other authority figures had also said this. War, land mines, closed borders, bandits and kidnappings were a few of the words thrown around. The biggest problem was borders, some countries you literally couldn’t cross the border. Hmm, ok, so what do I do now? Maybe I’d bitten off more than I can chew, but I was determined to make it happen. I decided to scale down the project and go from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan to Cairo in Egypt. I got in contact with a lovely lady called Karin from Camel Trekking Khartoum who was (and still is) extremely helpful. She helped me with all manner of information like the cost of a long haul tour guide, how long it might take, where I could possibly go. I had explained in great detail that I wanted to get off the beaten track, be in total wilderness, she said it was possible. She sent me pictures and even went to the camel markets to see how much two camels would cost!
The price of bucket lists
The cost, ah, this was where everything ground to a halt. It’ll cost me $7000 to do this, and currently I have -$3000. That’s a big deficit! There’s no way I was going to let a stupid thing like money stop me: I’d simply have to work and save money. I then came up with another idea (with the assistance of a different friend this time): As a way to test the waters with solo travel, and to make some cash, I’d go and teach English somewhere! I could make money at home easily enough with some shitty, mindless job I hated, or I could take a gamble, throw my life in the air, although I guess it already was in the air, and move to live and work in another country. I chose Vietnam.
Everything I’ve experienced so far is because I wrote that 10 word sentence in the final seconds of my 15 minute bucket list. Ok I’m sure it wasn’t just those words, but they were the tipping point for me to get my life back, to roll the dice and see what happens. The initial part of my plan, the “earn money and live in another country” part, has been a total and utter adventure. I’m making a shit load of plans, and I’m living a crap load of life, and my desert trip is next on the list.