How I Started Travelling

August 7, 2013 Travel 4 Comments 23,358 Views

My Travelling Started Straight Out Of The Maternity Ward.

I was born on April 27th, 1986. My parents were travel enthusiasts and one would think that a baby would settle them down a little. Well, not the kind of parents I have. And thank God for that, because my journey began straight out of the maternity ward…

Africa – How It All Started.

My parents were fixing up their Unimog to convert it into a mini-apartment for one of their long-term African adventure – this time with me in tow. The truck would become our home for the next year (or so), so things needed to be in place for the journey to start. I quickly adjusted to the fact that my sandpit would become the Sahara desert, that my toys came out of the toolbox and that I would take my first steps between jerry cans, spare parts and sand sheets.

So we set off to Africa on a truly remarkable journey, and I was right in the middle all the time – not only because my place was mainly in the baby capsule in the middle front seat but also because I opened a lot of doors with my baby smile; even the grimmest custom officers, check-point soldiers or police chiefs couldn’t resist me :D It was always “baby first“.

I never got sick and mum had 800 nappies packed in the trunk. Actually, we had all the fun in the sun, 24 hours together with both parents – a rare privilege for a child.

By the age of one, I had 15 countries under my wings.

Those were the good times...
Those were the good times…
Back To Civilisation – but not for long.

Back in civilisation, the longing for travelling prevailed and it didn’t take long until we flew to Malaysia. This was the time when walkmans just conquered the market – omg how cool was that?! Now, even the longest, roughest bus rides through Sarawak didn’t bother me at all. It was “Bibi Blocksberg” or “Fünf Freunde” all day long. Mum also bought my first bike there – not only to speed things up (after all I was only four years old) but also to make me happy because I hated walking for hours. I was certainly the first Western kid cycling through Kota Kinabalu. We had a couple of rules like “Always stop in front of a street” or “Don’t run anyone over (not even a chicken)” and this worked really well for both of us.

Mum Knowns Best.

Yup, mum’s definitely do know best. She knew how to handle every situation, or how to keep me busy…

Giddyup Down Under.

We continued to Australia. And since Down Under is cattle country, I was on a horse by the age of five. It was mum’s idea to become a Jillaroo, so living on a farm in N.S.W. was not a problem any more. We adjusted well and blended in like all the others.

Busy Bangkok.

Bangkok train station was hot, humid and busy and we had to get tickets. While mum disappeared through the crowds, I stayed put with (or better on) our luggage. She told me that I had to ‘protect’ the bags and made a game out of it so that I would really watch out. In case someone wanted to grab them – or me – I should just start screaming. I looked pretty grim and nobody tried to steal anything after all.

Bangkok held another incident for us. I once got lost in the toy section of a shopping centre. I didn’t notice it at all, but in the meantime my mother frantically alerted the entire staff and they announced through speakers that a little blond girl was missing. After one hour they found me; I was happily playing in a changing room & mum almost had a heart attack.

At a market in Bangkok.
At a market in Bangkok.
Sri Lanka.

We climbed Adam’s Peak and stayed at Brown’s Beach Hotel in Yala for a while. All the local kids listened to my command :D Sand, waves and sun – perfect!

Back in the days, a white kid was still a real attraction...
Back in the days, a “white” kid was still a real attraction…
Indonesia, my second home.

School stopped travelling for a while, but mum decided it was time to learn some proper English. So she simply took me our of elementary school and decided to hit the road again. Down Under is was once more. Getting there took quite a few of months, because Indonesia was en route. All my friends where going to school back home, and I was studying on a remote island; cycling for PE lesson, Maths in the hammock and German under the stars – not too bad if you ask me :) And of course, the island kids where curiously watching as always. Oh and I’ll tell you, mum was definitely a tough teacher!

Beside the day to day school work, I learned how to fish and how to survive in a remote place, without modern gadgets of any kind. While my friends at home teased their pets, I targeted the Komodo Dragons with a slingshot … yeah, those where the good times for sure!

In Togean Islands, I had my first diving experience when dad went down to 20m depth with me in tow (just one octopus and one bottle of oxygen). Fun for me, but mum on the surface simply freaked out and tried to harpoon dad after getting me out of the water. Imagine all the Indonesian gloating over our family dispute :)

When leaving Togean Islands, we hired one seaworthy looking vessel. What we didn’t know was, that it was the captain’s first journey to the mainland, so he missed our destination by far, and we steamed along the coast to find a landing point. Right before sunset we arrived in a small fishing village, in a beautiful bay with stilt houses. When we came closer, many little canoes started paddling toward us and we got stuck between sea and shore. Everybody was screaming and welcoming us. We felt like Lady Di on Australia tour…crazy I tell you! They told us no tourists ever had been to this village before. This warm welcome preceded a week’s stay at the mayor’s house. Luckily he had just acquired a new TV with satellite connection, so I got in charge of the remote control immediately, plus the best and only chair on the veranda. Me in the chair and all the villagers on the floor around me, sitting in front of the TV watching “Cartoon Network” was a pretty funny sight for my parents. Honestly, this was actually my most memorable travel experience until today. Ever since that trip, we came back to Indo at least once a year and today I call it my second home.

On a ferry to some remote island...
On a ferry to some remote island…
In Timor with a lot of school kids.
In Timor with a lot of school kids.
HAving fun with kids in Sulawesi...
Having fun with kids in Sulawesi…

The travelling never stopped and today, I feel very grateful for having seen so many different places of our beautiful planet.

What about you? How did you catch the travel bug?
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“My Travelling Started Straight Out Of The Maternity Ward.”

  1. VoicePhotos

    Been a fan to your blog. Love how you are going more personal abt your journey. Your life is full of fun and adventure. How amazing and inspiring!

  2. Bibi Blocksberg! In Mabul, ich hab ein Mädel kennengelernt, wer jede Nacht zu Bibi Blocksberg anhören müsste, um einzuschlafen!

    Was für eine aufregende, traumhafte Kindheit hattest du ;) Aber…warst du nicht manchmal einsam, ohne feste Freunde von einer festen Heimat aufzuwachsen? Oder war das nicht so wichtig?

  3. Nisa

    Thanks so much for your comment Naomi!
    Yeah, I guess Bibi Blockberg was pretty common for young kids from German speaking countries :)
    To answer your questions:
    No I was never lonely. The reason for this was because I always had a home – Austria. It was always my base and still is today. I went to school here (except a year in the States and Indo & Australia), I grew up here, I work here. So you see, for me, my home is the best place on earth :)
    I’m not the kind of traveller who could leave everything behind and travel full-time. The way that my mum and I do it, is the perfect balance between a “normal” life and an “adventurous” life. I travel exactly the way I did when I was a child and this is the perfect lifestyle for me.
    And when I was on the road for a longer period, I found heaps of new friends all the time – with some of them, I’m even still in contact. So I think it just depends on how you plan your trip and whether or not you want to do it full-time of as an alternation to you regular lifestyle…
    Have a great week!
    Best, Nisa

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