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a vagabonding journey starting with a one-way-ticket

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Posted by Engin Kaban on September 24, 2010


Today is September 24th, 2010. It has been exactly 9 months.

It is indeed hard to believe. On the night of December 24th 2009, I remember vividly my arrival in  Brazil in the middle of summer while it was winter in Turkey. All the countries, cities, towns and villages I have travelled… It seems as though all these took place yesterday.

When I look back, I feel that what I have gone through is truly incredible. While many things went as I had planned, some others happened in a way that I could never predict. Regardless, all of these have stayed and will stay with me as new experiences that I will never forget. I shared many of these in my six-month newsletter (

I have travelled seven countries in nine months. This almost corresponds to my original intent of travel-one-country-per-month. When you take in to account my near four-month stay in Argentina, the numbers look reasonable.

It looks like what I had originally planned as a one-year journey is not going to end in one year under these circumstances. In South America, I have Venezuella, Colombia and Equador ahead of me. I may even travel to Galapagos islands if I can manage to find a reasonably priced tour. I will not be travelling to the remaining three countries in South America, namely Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname as they require visa, and I am not interested in these countries enough to go through the pains of obtaining a visa.

Originally, I was thinking of flying directly to the United States after I conclude my tour in South America, but I have now decided to continue my trip through land and sea. I am planning to travel through Central America and enter the United States through Mexico. It seems that there are 8 to 9 countries in between, but they are all small. When you add all them up, they roughly become the size of a country in South America; I will probably travel through them pretty fast.

On the other hand, what really excites me is the trip to the Amazons.  I purchased my plane ticket yesterday. Next week, I will be flying to the city Iquitos, which has the uniqueness of being the largest settlement that has no access from land. Even though I am a nature person, I may not spend that much time in the Amazons because of insects and similar creatures, of which I am not a big fan. But who knows…

Following the Amazons, what remains is the triad of Venezuella-Colombia-Equador. In all aspects these three countries seem very intriguing and vibrant, yet, at the same time, precarious. Starting today, I began my own research and it already looks like lots of interesting things are awaiting me in these lands. As I experience these in person, I will share these; however, I would not want to experience all I read.

Now I realize that I am seriously becoming exhausted, and that I have reached the saturation point for many things. I don’t become hyped-up for everything as I used to, for example, and I am now more serene. I enjoy it more when I spend time by myself. Especially during the times I stay in hostels, I try to stay away from the “frantically partying gringos”, just like now; as I am writing these lines on a Friday night. It seems that my trip is getting even more “internal” everyday; and that is what I wanted it to be since the very beginning. Although it seems that I will be travelling for many more months, I would not be that upset if I had to end my trip on a personal decision or for a necessity; I have already seen what I have seen.

It is truly taxing to be constantly struggling in  various circumstances. I have especially realized this in the last one-and-half months in Peru, and I can say that I am sick of it: having to deal with people lying through their teeth, salesmen trying to rip you off, having to bargain with cabdrivers each time I need to take a taxi, fellows turning out  to be drug dealers after a lengthy conversation who originally greet you on the road with “hola amigo”, having to constantly watch out my backpack and pockets in crowded areas, having to take precautions in a ten-person hostel room where theft is rampant and many other things. All I want now is being able to walk on the street in peace.  I’d better directly fly from South America to Scandinavia, the place I admire and that is on the other extreme in terms of  sereneness, and refresh myself.

One of the most important lessons this nine-month trip taught me is that a “lengthy trip” or, as I  call it, a “mobile living experience” is much different than a short (a few weeks or couple of months in duration) trip. The experiences, the constantly shifting mood, the strategies that need to be undertaken, the unpredictable necessities, the gains and losses are truly distinct from a simple so-called vacation.

Once you reach a certain point, you can either become addicted to travelling and move on, or you can simply give up. I reached that critical point at the end of five-and-half months and decided to “move on” (please see Now it has been nine months, and albeit there are times where I seem to be complaining, I still choose to “move on.” I have been used to this life-style after all.

This journey has taught me yet another lesson. I realize that I would not be able to “move on” like this my entire life. Even though I love seeing, travelling and changing locations, namely “living to the fullest”, I have also come to appreciate the virtue of “settled life” during my journey. No matter where I go out with the people around me here, this would not compare to the joy of drinking beer with my “real friends” in Alsancak. Nor would it compare to the pleasure of sleeping in my own house after a long tiring day and the happiness of  having my family, friends and loved ones around me.

One of the most significant aspects that makes this trip even more exciting is returning home in the end. So is the fact that there are people waiting. Otherwise, it would probably be a very different experience, which would be lacking many crucial elements. It would rather be an “escape.” I, on the other hand, did not escape, I just “underwent some change.”

From time to time, I want to yell, scream and make my voice heard. It is good just knowing that there are people who can hear me, share my feelings and perhaps understand my writings even tiny bit. This way, I can write more.

Love to those who can hear me…

Engin Kaban

September 24th, 2010 Lima

6 Responses to “9”

  1. Chris Woodrow said

    Great post Engin!

    Ever consider renting a cheap apartment in a place you like for a few weeks or a month? Living a “normal” life while still experiencing new things while you recharge and let the saturation subside.

    Also, where are you heading to in the US? If you’re going up to NYC, bear in mind that it can be as little as a $1.50 one-way bus ticket up here to Toronto with megabus 😀 Just a thought, cause you know you have a place to stay here.


    • Heyy Chris,

      Yes I did that once in Buenos Aires.

      Don’t know my route in US yet, but definitely NYC will be in.

      Yeah, I might come over to Canada as well. But the most important point is the visa issue. I doubt if I can get it in US. And also I have to see if I still have more money (North America will definitely be so expensive after South 🙂 and energy left. If all goes fine, I’ll crash in your place; thanks.


  2. I can just share my own opinions from a traveller (smaller in intensity then you)…you changed and you are continuing to change during this trip…and people there in Turkey are not going to change same like you…when I went back after a loong travel in other continents I feel like a stranger in my country and after some time with my family i was missing already the roads…they were hunting me….is becaming adiction and is becaming a LONELY person life, solitary ….this are the risks that a traveller is comiting to end up a man with no routes and stability…(is a risk I don’t pretend it will be same for you ) but one think you should reflect: when you imagine the life you had in Turkey and the meetings in Alsancak..they will never be the we are imagining now…because that person is very different now ….
    I hope you understand what i mean….
    Anyway…good luck and hope life will give more and more ‘food for thoughts’ experiences…

    Hope to hear from you when you are back (If I will still be in Izmir:)

    • Hey Andreea,

      You still in İzmir? Wooow…

      I very well understand what you mean, you can be sure.
      You are very right about the change issue. And about the risks as well. So, things are a bit scary sometimes when you think about all.

      I know how it feels to feel like a stranger in your own country. I had experienced it after being away for 13 months from Turkey, and returning back was like arriving to a new country.
      Anyway, I keep on going in anycase. We’ll see how it goes.

      Greetings from Lima…

  3. Miguel Bichara said

    Hi Engin,

    Yes, nine months ago you were here at my house, luring me with your braveness to make so uncommon choices, and putting me to think about my own…

    One of the things I learnt is that one can’t keep his/her wills forever. I thought I could postpone my travel dreams. I was wrong. As you get older, so many things are likely to stick you to a place, that adventures like yours (in the good sense) just become impossible… unless you don’t allow these sticky bonds to happen with you, which can be too painfully pricey.

    Andreea-Loredana exposed a very interesting point. As everybody is a product of the environment, and of his/her life experiences, long-time travelers are taylored so remarkably different that they run the risk of not being able to find any place, or any people, that fits enough with them.

    So, I think you’ve done it right. You have been traveling in the proper time of your life. You have been widening frontiers inside and outside your own being…

    But I would say that you shouldn’t resist the inner callings to the places you still call home. You shouldn’t go on if you are not as happy as before, just because you want to show you and everybody else that you are a good predictor, or just because there’s so much left to be seen…

    Maybe it’s time to find someone to share, in deepest ways, your future experiences.

    A great hug from your Brazilian friend…

    Miguel Bichara

    • Hello Miguel,

      Thanks for sharing your feelings and comments. You are one of the few people who have been commenting, giving feedback for long time; I really appreciate.

      Well, yes, your home was my “first home” in South America. And it was an incredible start for me. I was so warmly welcomed with you and your family.

      Yes, I know I am doing this in the proper time of my life. I guess it’s perfect timing for myself. But this can easily vary from person to person. Not necessarily you have to do it at a young age; anytime in life might be the “right time” for that person.

      You should not think that “you were wrong”. Maybe you chose to live like this. You have a great family and you have been sharing nice moments with them.

      And as all your children are “adult enough” now, you can still do the travels you want to do, with or without them. It’s never too late.

      And I’m looking forward seeing you and your family in Turkey. Just wait some more months, so I’ll be back home 🙂

      And believe me; I have and will never resist my inner feelings. I’ll be going back at the time when I feel it’s the right time. I am not trying to show anything to anyone or myself…

      Thanks once again for comments. Looking forward more feedbacks.

      Greetings from Peru.


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