What does travelling mean to you?
For most of us, travelling is a moment of respite from the daily routine. The moment we are waiting for the whole year, putting aside every penny earned. It is the final resting with loved ones. I do not limit myself to knowledge, which I’ve gained at school, travel programmes and many presentations I’ve listened to. I am a citizen of the world, travelling is a part of me, and I draw from them what is most beautiful. My mind is open to new experiences, broadens my horizons about the diversity of the world and the people who live there. Travelling is like a mother who nurtures, teaches humility, rewards and sometimes punishes. This is the best form to get to know yourself.
A Balloon flight in Burma, diving in Thailand, eating a baked spider in Laos, buying a motorcycle in Vietnam, bathing an elephant in Cambodia, dancing with skylights in Malaysia, and bungee jumping in Singapore are just some of the adventures you have planned. Have you done any of them yet?
Some of my challenges have been verified by time. Burma turned out to be unavailable this year for various reasons. In Laos, instead of a baked spider I was giving away the toys to poor children. Most of them can only dream about the doll, ball games or blocks. They play with what they find on the street. This year I’ve discovered that travel is not only discovering new and surprising places, but above all to not be indifferent to what is happening around me. People give character to places, so you should sometimes think about another person. There is one thing that I was able to now realise fully. Overcoming a route from north to south Vietnam on a motorcycle. The distance I managed was 2,250 km. It was an amazing feat for me because I didn’t have a license in a place where there are no rules. It tastes even better. In a few days I will be in Cambodia and Malaysia. I am excited about the new opportunities and challenges, which are there waiting for me.
How about travelling thorough Asia? As for the means of transport, I guess sometimes it is purely fun, but can it be dangerous as well?
Asia is an amazing place. Roads sometimes resemble a Swiss cheese, on which we can barely move. After more than a month spent here, I can truly say that the only ruling principle on the roads is their lack of. Horns serve as a signal for all oncoming vehicles. The larger you are, the greater right you have on the road. It’s like a jungle. The most difficult moment was an accident of my travel companion, then I realised that what we do is dangerous. Fortunately the accident wasn’t very bad, but it gave us both a moment for reflection.
Despite the many surprises during your trip, you emphasized the kindness of the people you met. You say that “the periphery people are everywhere, do not bother to look for them, because they find us”. What are the manifestations of the kindness you have experienced to date?
I always say that people play the biggest role in travelling. Their behavior affects the final outcome of our trip. While many people encountered on bazaars and markets has only the intention to draw as much money out as possible, out of nowhere some people appear with a good soul and with a helping hand. When travelling on a motorcycle, I was spared a number of faults and repairs. Then people gratuitously offered me not only their support, but also a shelter, a hot meal and first of all their heart. People build relationships and make us repeat to ourselves, that life is really beautiful and that we have a lot of luck. I believe that good karma always comes back with a vengeance. Therefore, we should sometimes look around to see if someone needs our helping hand.
During your trip you are distributing handmade cards featuring Poland; its history, culture and cuisine. With what or who is most often associated with Poland for the people you meet?
Promoting my country is very important to me. I am a proud Pole and Silesian. On the photographs I show what is best in Poland, our tradition, culture, customs, locations that make Poland such a beautiful place. The reactions are always the same. Admiration and a desire to visit Poland prevails among the people who see the photographs. Depending on the location, Poland is associated with Robert Lewandowski, Frederic Chopin, or the cold and a distant location, somewhere between Germany and Russia. Every person I meet is a chance to show off my house and the place where I live. In this way, I am strengthening the ties people in Southeast Asia have with Poland.
Włodek’s expedition takes place under Link to Poland’s media patronage.
Photo © Jakub Dudek