While most people take time to carefully plan and to save up before pursuing their dreams of traveling the world, Jason Fai (陳志輝), a native of Hong Kong who has no savings and no knowledge of any foreign language, started his “wandering” around the world with only a flight ticket, 200 euros (US$268 at current exchange rates) and a determination to see the world.
Fai’s adventure started on a cold day in November 2005, when his plane landed in Frankfurt, Germany. Carrying a 20kg backpack stuffed with clothes, necessities and a winter jacket that a friend gave him, and with 200 euros in his pocket, he had no idea where to go or where to stay the night when he left the airport.
“I flew to Europe knowing nothing, but craving to see the world. I had little money, and spoke no foreign language except a few simple English words, such as ‘yes,’ ‘no’ and ‘thank you,’” Fai said in an interview in Taipei earlier this month. “I thought I could work in exchange for food, a place to stay and some pocket money.”
However, the reality was much harder.
Fai walked for hours in the freezing weather in Frankfurt, visiting Chinese restaurants that he happened upon and asking if they could offer him a job, but the answer was always no.
Feeling frustrated, Fai got on a midnight train to Berlin, hoping to have more luck there. However, he was disappointed.
Having wandered aimlessly around Germany, sleeping in parks and often eating only a loaf of bread for his meals, Fai finally found a job at a Chinese restaurant in Prague, Czech Republic, where he stayed for three months, and traveled around in his spare time with the little money he earned from helping out at the restaurant.
“It was really hard and challenging traveling that way. I actually thought about giving up at the time, but I told myself to insist on carrying on, I told myself that I was making my dream come true, that I could not back down,” Fai said.
He did not back down. Instead, despite all the difficulties he experienced on his first trip, he continues to travel with little preparation, and overcomes challenges as he encounters them.
“I would feel frustrated from time to time, but I never gave up because I’m used to facing difficulties by myself,” he said. “I grew up in an orphanage, I have no parents or family to look after me, so I’ve learned to be on my own since I was little.”
His early experiences gave him the idea to travel around the world.
“The highest education I’ve completed was junior high school. I’ve worked blue-collar jobs, such as being a truck driver or a construction worker, and I’ve moved around the poorest neighborhoods of Hong Kong,” Fai said. “I started working at 16. Ten years later, when I turned 26 [in 2005], I felt that I needed some change in my life.”
He said that one day when he was eating, he saw an old man in the neighborhood also eating by himself.
“All of a sudden, I felt that was how I’m going to be when I get old, and I asked myself if living a routine life and growing old all alone is what I wanted,” he said. “I thought about it and realized that during the 10 years since I started working, there had never been anything exciting or different, and I had gained nothing but all kinds of debts.”
“That’s the moment when I decided that I wanted to do something different to bring about changes in my life,” Fai added.