Q: Pablo and Elena are a Spanish couple on the road the last 7 years, with only some stops to earn some money and visit the family. Since February they have been travelling Asia. Where are you right now and what route did you follow?
Well, right now we are writing from Ao Nang, in Krabi province, in Thailand. We were in Spain spending a couple of months with our families, but after that we have been in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, China and Thailand.
Q: I guess it has been an incredible experience…
How can we describe it? We left our home on January 9th, in 2009. We thought it was going to be a one-year trip, but we have not returned since then, excluding some short visits. It’s not an “experience” anymore, now it’s our way of life. We don’t know how to live without travelling anymore.
Q: Then you still have a long way ahead…
The good thing about this kind of trip is that you know when you start, but you never know when you are going to finish. In these years we have learnt that life can change you in a minute, so imagine how much our plans can change. We hope to stay in Asia until next spring; we don’t want to spend too much time without seeing our family. In addition, Seville in spring is something you should not miss! But we will go home only on a visit, after 7 years on the road to come back permanently would be difficult for us. For now we will keep our alternative way of life, as long as our body holds on!
Q: This is not your first long trip. When did you decide to stop being casual travellers to become more “professional” ones?
We have been together for 20 years (from when we were 18 years old); the first time we travelled together was in 1999 to Ecuador, still using pesetas. The idea of travelling for a long time had been in our heads for a while and in January 2009 we were finally ready to leave everything behind and go discover the world. That decision completely changed our way of life, we are really lucky because we can live in our particular way.
Q: It has not been your first time on Asia either. Why do you feel so attracted to this area?
Asia is magical, really exotic to us. Architecture, culture and religion are so different and unknown, we never stop getting surprised. In addition, Asia is a safe continent with a good price-quality.
Q: South America is also one of your favorite destinations. Why?
Our continents are like brothers. We have a lot in common, not only the language. Of course, speaking the same language makes things easier and allows you to understand their culture in a deeper way. We feel really close to Latin America for a lot of reasons, we are really comfortable there. We also love the colonial Architecture; Elena studied American history so… she could spend days and days in a city only looking at each balcony!
Q: Which are your dream destinations, the places you really need to know?
We have plenty of places left! Nepal is one of them, a large portion of Africa. We are really attracted to Madagascar, South Africa… Brazil and Colombia are short term objectives; we hope to visit them soon. But there are a lot of places, thousands… Too many to visit in one lifetime!
Q: In your blog you talk a lot about the freedom that you get from your trips. Is that your principal motivation?
Living without a return ticket, without knowing where you are going to be tomorrow or where you are going to sleep… It’s something wonderful. You only can feel that complete freedom when you have left everything behind and you live the moment, without schedules or social ties.
But we also love to discover how people live in other places. Some things that seem normal to us (like eating snails) may seem really disgusting in some places; we also find really weird things that other people do (like eating dogs in Vietnam). But we have learnt to stop judging this kind of thing, opening our minds to the world. We understand that people are only different because we born in different places and nothing else. The cultural differences are fascinating!
Q: Have you always travelled as a couple? Do you have experiences travelling alone or with friends?
Well, we started travelling together when we were really young, we really didn’t have a lot of time to travel alone before! Elena travelled a lot with her parents in Europe, but besides that we have always travelled as a couple. Travelling with friends is really difficult, but we have a couple of good friends and we have shared some destinations with them. We really love being with them!
Q: Of course, it’s important to look at the other side of the coin, you also have spent long periods working hard and saving every single coin…
Right, travelling isn’t a cheap hobby, but it isn’t as expensive as some people think either. We feel very happy because we can return to Europe to work when we want. I (Pablo) am a doctor and that makes things easier when you are looking for a job, especially if you don’t mind to work out of Spain. Anyway, it is possible to travel with a little money. We know some people who started a trip around the world with small savings and they are still on the road! But we have to come back to Europe once in a while to save some money and these periods seem endless!
Q: What do you miss more when you are travelling, which is the hardest thing?
The hardest thing is being far from the family and friends at the important moments, the good ones and the bad ones. You really miss your social life, going for a coffee or a beer to talk about everything and nothing at the same time.
Beyond that, we also find walking in the middle of a sunny day very hard. We have some moments that we call the “tourist crisis”, when we only want to go back to our hotel and take a nap in an air-conditioned room. We try to take a nap when we can, but it isn’t always possible, especially in big cities.
Q: You also write a blog about your trips, Laaventuradepabloyelena. Why did you decide to start writing about your experiences?
We started the blog when we left our homes in 2009 to keep our families informed and also to keep our personal travel journal. That has always been the main objective, but we have reached a point when people write us to ask for advice. The blog has become a useful tool for some travellers who search information about the destinations where we have been. But the main objective is still the same, a way to keep our family and friends in touch with our experiences and to keep our memories together.
Q: I’m sure you have a lot, but is there some special story to share?
Of course, we have thousands of stories. Right now we remember when we tried to cross the border between Bolivia and Perú through the Titicaca Lake. There was a transport strike in Peru, so there were no taxis to the nearest town. We found a man who agreed to transport us inside his car’s boot, it was some kind of smuggling. When we turned one corner we found a taxi drivers picket line and they started to follow us with sticks. Our driver had to skid and turn around to escape from there. It was like a James Bond movie! We felt some fear that day, but we finally got out from there!
Q: Is there some motivational phrase that you always keep on mind?
To be free and brave enough to grab that freedom. To remind ourselves every day that we are really lucky and to catch every train we find at our door!
Q: Finally, if you could invite four people to a dinner, who would they be?
We would choose two people each. Elena would choose Christopher Columbus to know his feelings when he reached solid ground and Jesus Christ to ask him if there is something left of his preaching in the nowadays world. Pablo would choose Gandhi to learn all he can from his strength and Vicente Ferrer to thank him for his work with the poorest people in India.
The photos in this article are taken from laaventuradepabloyelena.blogspot.es.