Traveler’s Frustration


I don’t usually regret being a woman rather than a man except for two or three things. I was reminded of one yesterday as I read a traveller’s book.

I picked this book on my friend’s bookshelves because of its unusual format (it was a paperback which had the size of a graphic novel) and a book cover that caught my attention (a watercolor).

Bernard Ollivier, a former French journalist and a widower, decided ten years ago to embark on a long hike that would take him from Istanbul to XI’an. For those taking part in Treppenwitz 10K Challenge and who have recently become interested in counting steps, this is 18,000,000 steps.

With only a backpack on his back, he set off and walked on his own for several months in a row on the Silk Road. He tried to carry only a minimum so that his bag would not be unbearable. He only had a few dollars on him – and a credit card to withdraw cash in towns – and would stay with the people who invited him for the night or in cheap hotels.

This is when the sex factor comes into the picture. It is totally impossible to imagine a woman walking on her own and not only through Turkey and Iran, like Bernard Ollivier, but in most countries of the world.

Even though Ollivier’s itinerary was not one I would have chosen, it is the sort of experience I believe must be very enriching but also know I would never dream of undertaking.

5 thoughts on “Traveler’s Frustration

  1. A friend gave me a book entitled Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy. Murphy is an Irishwoman who bicycled from Europe to India alone. It is a fascinating book. She took very few belongings with her, but one of them was a gun. The only time she needed to use it was once in Romania.

    I traveled alone through Asia and Europe for a total of nine months (two separate trips) during my twenties. I never ran into any problems with my safety. Perhaps I was lucky; but perhaps there is less to fear than we think.

  2. I like to read about these adventures. But not really go on them.

    There are plenty of stories of young men who wander off and die of some accident. There are many dangers that lurk in adventure. I just read a book about a medical examiner (Dr. G.) who examines dead bodies of people who die “before their time.” Many of them are too adventurous men.

  3. I have traveled alone, as a woman. I am very aware of my surroundings, when I do so, my safety being foremost on my mind.

    But, that said, I am usually traveling by train or bus, where I feel safer. I walk through cities and towns making sure I am aware of who surrounds me.

    I wouldn’t dream of taking a walking trip like this, alone, and relying on others for lodging, meals, etc. I think that the safety factor would be a definite issue.

    Good post, Ilana.

  4. I did a lot of travelling alone in my twenties, even to places like the NWFP in Pakistan. HOWEVER, looking back, I wouldn’t repeat the experience. I think I was supernaturally protected – some of the crazy things I did, I shouldn’t have survived. If I had a daughter, I would definitely not advise she followed in my footsteps. The world is pretty dangerous for a woman. I might consider doing a long walk in NZ though.

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