From Bulgaria to India walking and Hitchhiking Without a Smartphone
How many days can you survive without a smart phone? Smart phones have become so important in our life that sometimes we cant even avoid taking it to the loo fearing if we miss something in that time.
This Bulgarian couple has done something inexplicable. Boris Kanev and Marta Samalea set off from Bulgaria in October 2013 to reach India without taking a plane and without a smart phone. It took 511 days to reach India hitchhiking and walking until they entered the country via Myanmar. They travelled across some of the remotest parts of the world, they looked up maps, let their families know they were still alive, and even updated a blog, things we all do while travelling. The two aren’t against using technology, but they just didn’t feel that a smartphone would be essential to their travels. Instead, a netbook, a DSLR camera, and an ebook reader were all the gadgets they carried during their trip, aside from an age old Nokia phone.
“We both wanted to reach the subcontinent overland, to take every step, and cross each border, to fill the map with pictures of real places, flavours and faces,” “An old map of Asia, invisible routes and more imagination than certainty set the travel plan in motion.” Samalea told.
Kanev and Samalea realised that not carrying a phone has quite a few benefits. “Probably the main advantage is that we spend more time looking out of the window than into a screen. There is a certain joy in disconnection, in spending days in nature without ringtones or the chance to check Facebook,””You just live your days fully in the place where you are without the temptation of continuously browsing out of habit rather than need. Plus you don’t even have to worry about finding a plug to charge your device.”
Along the way, the couple maintained a blog, called Roving Snails, where they’d post advice for other travellers, write about interesting encounters with people and animals in various places, and even post recipes for hitchhikers. But updating the blog, and mailing friends and family so they would know the couple was fine, were just two things that would have been easier for Kanev and Samalea if they had carried a smartphone.
“Naturally, when we are offline we have more questions than answers; we look around, write and draw the thoughts that come. Without having Google to reply straight away, getting information turns into something like a treasure hunt game,” Samalea writes.
Throughout their travels they had various encounters with technology but the funniest encounter was in India. In the Unakoti hill area of Tripura the couple met a sadhu who told them that one doesn’t need phones to talk to the gods.
The sadhu spoke little English, and Kanev and Samalea didn’t speak his language [Bengali], but they wrote that “he was the kind of man who can speak without words”. They spent a couple of days with the sadhu and on the first night the couple could hear claps of thunder and felt that a storm was approaching. “We started to unpack our bags, searching around for a good place to hide or set the tent in between festival stalls, pilgrims and sculptures, and asked our friend sadhu baba if it usually rained long during the night. Our tent is old and leaks by now, and we hate waking up with a puddle inside,” Samalea writes.
That’s when the sadhu grabbed a horn and held it to his ear like a phone. “‘Alpha, beta, Hareee Rama!’ – he grabbed his horn and pretended it was a phone, turning his gaze towards the sky – ‘Haree Krishna! Tourists ask if it will rain tonight’. A conversation unfolded, in a mix of Bengali and military code words, but we only understood that the gods had responded when he thanked them and said ‘over’, hanging up the made up phone which turned back into a ritual horn,” writes Samalea. “‘Slightly’ – he said – ‘no need for a tent’. With thunder and lightning in the background we went to sleep under a mere mosquito net, trusting the holy message in a leap of faith. In the morning, Sadhu Baba was smiling with a cup of chai. He had been right, proud of his diviner’s skills, and glad that we were all dry.”
She adds that if they’d had an iPhone, “a fancy app might have predicted the weather, but on that night there was no need for it as they had “other means to reach the sky”.
Read more interesting experiences of this couple here
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