Yesterday on my way back from Kuala Lumpur to Perth Fortuna spun its wheel in my direction and I was lucky to meet a 27 year old Swiss girl name Virginie. Shy and unassming, yet bold. We made small talk and slowly she divulged to me that she had been travelling for the past 14 months around Australia and SE Asia on her own. For the next 4 hours of her flight, she knew her plans, but after picking up her bags, she had no idea where she was sleeping that night or how she’d get there.
Virginie had very little money so she confessed she had hitchhiked around Australia for 6 months and planned to do so again, camping along the way in a cheap tent without the luxury of being waterproof. She had camped in Thailand and Malaysia the past 4 months, without a cooking stove, subsisting on dry food and trusting in the charity of others. There was a bit of a language barrier, but I couldn’t help myself from asking her a barrage of questions on loneliness, fear, safety and what brought her to embark on this adventure. She had no cell phone, no laptop, no Facebook, no means of direct communication with her parents and very little by ways of possessions. In short, she is a modern day Christopher McCandless (although she wasn’t full of hubris like he seemed to be).
I commended her on her bravery and provided her a place to crash for the night, gave her a solid knife, some rope, a map of Australia and some other things to help her on her way. She defied the typical person we commend today, full of narcissism and a desire to prove themselves through accomplishments, unable to remove themselves from their phone and modern day comforts. Rather, she was keen on exploring the world on her own accord, establishing her independence and realizing her ability for self-sustenance after depending on someone through a 9 year relationship prior to her travels. She had nothing to prove to others other than herself and it showed. Virginie wasn't concerned about vanity and mundane worries, but about the basics (transport, food, shelter) to allow her to travel and explore more. She was astounded by having a simple meat, potatoes and brocolli dish for dinner with us while we tend to worry about cooking temperature and seasoning.
We spent the night talking with my 2 roommates over dinner at home, sharing stories and opinions. She is, by far, one of the most interesting and brave people I’ve ever met. She encouraged me in my plans next year to drop everything and explore the world more, flap free style.