Request[AMA Request] Arman Bitaraf, near-constant cast member of Japanese reality show "Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City"
Jul 28th 2017 by terhou • 51 Questions • 62 Points
My short bio: What's up Reddit?!
Over two years ago I left my home in New Jersey to embark on a five year, seven continent trek around the world. In Texas I adopted a dog, Savannah, and we’ve been walking together ever since. I’ve been walking for 687 days and have covered 9600 miles over fifteen countries. Currently I’m in Dublin, about to take on Europe and North Africa.
My previous AMA was a year ago and I was in Macará, Ecuador. From Ecuador I walked through desert for months (and nearly lost my mind), did ayahuasca in the Peruvian jungle, climbed to 15,000 feet to cross the Andes, and stumbled upon the Argentinian Carnival. After South America I took a ship to Antarctica where I took a plunge in the icy waters and kayaked beside humpbacks.
Savannah was four months old when I adopted her. When she was a pup I pushed her in my cart. Now she’ll walk thirty miles a day and still be running around at night. In Central and South America it was fairly easy crossing borders with her. To get her into Europe we spent a month in New Jersey doing her paperwork (which is easier now than it used to be apparently). I’ve spent nearly every minute of every day with her since adopting her. She’s my best friend and a great watch dog at night.
As to why I'm walking around the world, I had a friend, Anne Marie, who died at seventeen. I'd never been close to someone who died before. Her death reordered my understanding of the world. I suddenly saw life as something fragile and fleeting. I needed to make the most of the short time I had - I wanted adventure and to see the world. When I discovered Karl Bushby the idea of walking around stuck in my head. So from seventeen to twenty-six I kept The World Walk my aim. I went to college, worked, paid off loans, saved, then set off before I had too much responsibility. By twenty-six I had enough saved that if I lived frugally I could walk while still paying off my student loans for two years.
However, about a month before leaving, the owner of Philadelphia Sign reached out to me. He knew Anne Marie and wanted to support my walk. Now, Philadelphia Sign gives me enough money to see this thing through and donates a dollar a mile to AnneMarie’s scholarship fund. If you'd like to follow along I do my best to post photos daily and write a weekly blog post.
If you’d like to support the walk check out my patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/theworldwalk
Also, here's an infographic which shows some highlights of my first two years.
Edit: That's it for me my friends! Thanks for all the support. I hope I was able to give you a better idea of what life is like walking 8 hours a day. All the best, Reddit!
Hi Tom! I think it's really cool that you are walking all around the world. What's the coolest piece of nature you've seen, and what's the coolest human-made structure you've seen so far? Do you have any plans related to this walk once you are done with it? Thanks!
Man, you are asking the real questions.
The main difference is that it is BIGGER and FASTER and MORE PRESSURE and oh yeah I guess it's just different in every way? But I am still working with all my friends from CH to make the show, which is really wonderful and a true gift.
The Paramo in Colombia between La Plata Huila and Popayan was gob-smacking. I felt like I was walking through the spirit realm for three days.
Then a few weeks later I came to Las Lajas Sanctuary which is like something out of LOTR. A river-spanning church which they light up at night. Just insane.
No plans just yet. Hopes sure, but trying to see this walk through first!
How much say do you have in the topics that get covered in the show?
Also have you considered doing an episode on ruining cable companies? A lot of people are moving away from them lately, including me, but sadly that means I can't watch your show as often as I'd like.
How did Savannah fare in the desert? What was the greatest overall difficulty of the desert for you?
I'm the creative head of the show, so I have final say on what topics go in the show.
We did talk about cable companies quite a bit in Adam Ruins the Internet! But that was mostly about net neutrality and cable consolidation.
Savannah did well in the desert. In north Peru it actually wasn't too hot, then in Lima I had her hair trimmed so she wasn't holding in too much heat.
The greatest difficulty of the desert was probably the solitude. There were times where I felt like I was going insane. My mind was as blank as the landscape. It seemed I thought every thought.
But at other times the solitude was magical. Like throwing my tarp under the stars at night and everything being perfectly quiet. Those were nice nights.
Adam, have you and your writers ever received information that contradicts what is on your show (obviously I mean verifiable evidence or data, not just rumors and theories)? And if so, will you guys do any update episodes where you correct any mistakes from previous episodes? I have nothing specific in mind, but I can't imagine your show does get its fair share of hate mail, and some of that might have some evidence.
Hey Tom been following for almost two years now, since you got savannah, really enjoyed your story so far. Will you come to the city of Nuremberg, bavaria, when in Germany? If so hit me up 😊 save travels!
Yep! We are doing an episode EXACTLY like this later this year! We have never claimed that the show is 100% right all the time -- we're fallible humans, so that's impossible. Instead, we try to be transparent about our process; and as part of that, this year we're doing a "corrections" episode where we fix some of our errors. Watch out for it, I think you'll like it!
I don't think I'm going to make it to Germany unfortunately. I will absolutely get there one day though!
And thanks for following so long! Glad you're enjoying it!
Would you be so kind as to elaborate about the time a man woke you up with a machete in Honduras?
Probably by trying to answer too many questions too fast and as a result making poor word choices that obscure my intended meaning. Seems like the most likely culprit in this sort of format!
So I was only in Honduras for five days. Every night but the last I slept in a hotel room. The last night there was nothing around, but I found this two story watchtower-type structure and decided that would be a good place to hide.
I hid my cart then climbed to the second story. All was well and the view of the valley below was incredible. As I started dozing off lights of a truck turned onto the watchtower. Then there were voices and someone coming up the ladder.
I stood. A second later there was a silhouette across from me of a man with a machete. A moment of quiet felt like a very long time, then the silhouette laughed and yelled down to his friend, "It's just a gringo!"
He stepped forward and I saw it was an older man. After rattling off the fastest Spanish I've ever spoken, he said I was fine, but that someone had stolen some cows the night before so he was on high alert. He unfurled this hidden bed and said he was going to stay the night.
I offered him oreos and went to bed figuring have a guy with a machete on my side meant I was safe for the night.
Big fan. When will your show be available in other countries? I like supporting artists who make awesome content, but trutv is not in Canada, and I have not been able to find your show in iTunes etc.
So... please put your show in a place I can give you money for it
For Europe, do you intend to go through every country/how long do you expect this leg to take?
Been following along on Instagram!
I actually still not 100% certain on my route through Europe yet. Right now it looks like the UK, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. I think that should be a little under a year. Unless I find a quiet beach town to stay at for a few months...
What hair products do you use and how does your hair stand so perfectly?
Just a heads up, look like the Algeria-Morocco border is closed: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algeria%E2%80%93Morocco_relations
At home, I use Imperial Gel Pomade (not sponsored, I swear!) and a blow dryer. But to get the height it is on the show takes an experienced hair stylist 25 minutes of work! You can't get that look at home, it takes an expert's touch. All part of the HOLLYWOOD ILLUSION!
Thanks for the heads up! I had a friend tell me the same a few months back. The plan is ferry to Spain then ferry to the other country.
What was it like working with Jake and Amir?
Secondly, would you ever consider doing a behind-the-scenes episode about the show titled "Adam Ruins Adam Ruins Everything?"
Do you walk in silence or listen to music/podcasts/books on tape/etc?
We have an episode JUST like this coming out this year! But it's called "Emily Ruins Adam Ruins Everything." Twist!!
Jake and Amir are great guys, but we haven't worked together all that much! I joined CH right after they stopped working full time in the office. Jake was in our Bathroom episode, though, and he was great!
I walk in silence a lot. I like walking in silence for about an hour in the morning. By then I've usually woken up even for music or a podcast. Then I'll probably listen to something for a few hours and stop when the sound gets annoying.
Tom! I'm an avid follower on Facebook, and you've inspired me to do some long-distance walking myself - I want to walk across each of the 50 states before I turn 50 years old (my latest being Connecticut).
Have there been times during The World Walk where you've felt stuck uncertain, or in trouble? How did you cope?
We've had a few! Our piece on electric cars in "Adam Ruins Going Green" got some backlash from a writer at The Verge. We felt that the writer had misunderstood our argument in a number of ways, and wrote a response.
Our point was not that "electric cars are always bad" - it's that the amount you reduce your carbon footprint by buying one is extremely variable and often overstated, as is true of all "green products". Even though EVs are a good trend, we can't shop our way out of the climate crisis -- we need to take collective action at the national level.
That said, if people misunderstood the piece, that's partially our fault for not making our point clearly enough! Our research was solid, but our communication could have perhaps used some work. We talk about this further in an upcoming "corrections" episode we have comin' up this season. Look out for it!
Dude. That's an amazing journey! Mad respect. I'm 100% certain you'll reach you'll goal far earlier than 50.
The worst of my doubt came in South Peru and Chile. The desert was really wearing on me and I missed the hell out of my family. Every conversation I had with the locals just felt so pointless. There was never any thought of giving in though. I knew with enough time my mood would turn for the better, just a rough patch.
What about "The Real Truth About Financial Aid"? Every other episode has been good, but that one [EDIT: ...video which was not an episode but which still featured you in character as the "Adam Ruins Everything" guy] stood out as more resembling shilling for FAFSA and/or the student loan industry than anything else.
Here's some of the commentary from the Reddit article about it:
Recently, CH posted a new episode of Adam Ruins Everything, the exciting, objective, unbiased show many people love. But something is strange in particular about this specific episode. It doesn't challenge any preconceived notions, nor does it even provide you any useful, or even new information. But it only does one thing, and one thing only...advertise.
The episode I am of course referring to is titled, "The Real Truth About Financial Aid." In the video, Adam expresses how signing up gets you "free money" for college, and everyone should do it. The girl in the video he is informing asks hand picked questions that desperately avoid Adam being forced to answer about Financial Aid in any negative or critical manner whatsoever. It's clear the video is aimed at high school students, trying to get them to sign up, because, as you can see scattered around the internet, college students are quickly calling out the bs the video presents.
EDIT: Thanks for the very straightforward and reasonable response!
I've been following you for the last year, very inspiring!!! What's the biggest challenge in having Savannah with you? Also, what's HER biggest challenge? Thanks for doing this AMA! :)
Glad you asked about this one. This was not an episode of Adam Ruins Everything; it was a separate video I did for CollegeHumor that was sponsored by FAFSA. I am very careful about doing any kind of sponsored content, and turn almost everything down, precisely because I value the trust the audience places in me so highly.
In this case, I agreed to the video because: a) FAFSA is a non-profit government entity, not a for-profit corporation, b) there truly is no downside to filling out the FAFSA; all it does is tell you what grants and loans you're eligible for. If the video were trying to steer people towards those terrible private loans, I would not have done it. c) The folks at FAFSA's goal was to reduce the number of students who don't go to college because they don't know they're eligible for federal grants. Increasing access to education is an important cause for me, and I could stand behind the message, so I agreed to do the video.
NOW: I am well aware that the private student loan industry is a rapacious one, and that college financing is well and truly fucked in this country. And I am also aware that federal loans have their own problems well. And I regret that, to some members of the audience, this video made it seem as though I was unaware of that fact. To address that, this year we are doing a major segment on the student loan industry; it's in an episode called Adam Ruins College.
But, all that being said -- in researching that segment, we confirmed what we already knew. Even though the student loan system is terrible, filling out the FAFSA is the best first step towards avoiding the worst loans and reducing the amount you have to pay through grants. Every expert we spoke to said as much. The system is bad, but until it improves, you should still fill out the FAFSA.
That said, I very much regret that the video confused some folks; as a result, I've become even more careful about doing sponsored content. My first allegiance is to the audience and the truth, and it always will be.
Thanks for reading, and for watching!
There aren't very many. Paperwork for crossing borders just takes a little consideration. And every once and a while it'll be hard to find a hotel to accept her, but in South and Central America I was always able to convince someone to let her in.
Her biggest challenge was Honduras I think. It was super hot and her paws cracked. I put antibiotics in the cracks and kept her paws in the booties for a few days. Since then though her paws have been like stones.
As a teacher, I'd like to know what you and your team do to research before each episode. What advice do you have for students in locating good sources for their own research?
Would like to do something similar, but I'm still young (16) How much has it cost you so far?
Also, do you miss home
Edit: Cheers for the reply, I guess I could do a smaller version, Thanks for your time talking about this, It has inspired me :D
Our research staff generally begins by doing a broad survey of the topic. Our usual M.O. is to find a main source we can use that we are sure will have done their own due diligence on the topic; for instance, the New Yorker has an famously great fact checking department, so if we base a story off a New Yorker article, we can be more sure than usual that it will hold up. Then we dive into that piece's sources, and try to learn as much about the topic as we can. Critically, we look for opposing views, to make sure the angle we're approaching a topic from doesn't conflict with a majority or plurality opinion in the field. And we run our episodes by the experts we have on the show, to make sure they think our argument is fair as well. As for advice for your students - I would say, try to stand on the shoulders of giants! Look for the publications that you know are going to be well sourced and fact-checked, start with those, and then dive deeper into the sources THEY use! And stay curious!
You have time. :) I'd guess minus the Antarctica trip I've spent 12-14k a year. Sometimes I miss home, but when I get into wifi a good conversation is only a skype call away.
Hi, Adam! Thanks for doing the AMA. The show is great fun - my kids and I watch it together.
Are there any topics you have chosen not to cover in an episode, and why?
You're in Dublin? Fancy a pint?
Thanks for watching! That's wonderful to hear, it makes me so happy that kids and parents are enjoy watching it together! That's something we didn't anticipate, and it makes us super happy.
In our writer's room, one topic that has come up a few times that has really interesting stories attached is race. The history of the creation of the idea of "whiteness", for instance, is fascinating. After much discussion, however, we decided that because the topic was so important, and because we wanted to be sure we could do it right, we were going to save it for a future season. But we never say "This is a topic we would never do."; we say "This is a topic that we want to make sure we do justice to, so we won't do it rashly."
Hey Adam! I'd like to ask, how much has your life changed since the show started? Are there things you've had to give up or cut back on or do you still have a pretty "normal" life so far?
How does your sister feel about her TV counterpart?
Do your feet hurt?
I would not say my life is normal, no. The biggest change has been the schedule. We work on the show year round - even when I'm traveling out of the country, I'm working. The busiest I get, I'm shooting the show 13 hours a day, AND working on scripts, AND reviewing cuts of the show. It's pretty gruelling, and way different than being a sketch writer / cast member at CollegeHumor! It's worth it, though, I love making the show and I especially love being able to share all this information with everyone at home.
In the wrong shoes...so much.
Hey Adam! I wanted to say that I was a big fan of Olde English back in the day. "Arthur got a haircut" would play and be quoted constantly in my dorm room, and I loved Badminton and many others as well.
As for a question, do you ever work with the Olde English team anymore, and would you ever again?
Thanks for doing this AMA, Adam Ruins everything is wonderful.
What are the best shoes you've found so far?
Thank you! Always happy when people mention Olde English. I work with the other OE guys on their projects (like Bojack), and they work on mine! Unlikely that we will ever do another project as Olde English, though. Have you checked out our movie?
Still Brooks Cascadia. They have a new Goretex version too which fit just the same.
Hi, Adam. I love your show and I'd like to ask:
Where do you and your production team get your ideas for your shows?
Do you yourself know some of the information or do you just read it off the script?
What are some ideas you have for other shows?
Coke or Pepsi?
Do you aim to grow a Forrest Gump beard?
Most of the facts we do on the show were things I had at least some knowledge of before we started researching; many are topics I feel passionately about. By the time we're done researching the episode, though, I know as much about the topics as I possibly can! After all, we just wrote an episode of TV about them!
Neither; La Croix. What can I say, trying to cut down on sugar!
I wish. My beard gets so patchy.
Have you ever decided not to feature a topic for the show or include a specific fact because it conflicted with your personal beliefs or those of the executives?
Wow. This is incredible! Do you have a smart phone or are you using maps?
No. Our executives' personal beliefs don't interfere with the show; they generally let us do whatever topics we want. As for my own personal beliefs: My goal in the show AND in life is to challenge my own beliefs as much as I can. So when a topic challenges what I believe, those are the best topics of all! That feeling of "What you think you know isn't true" is what the whole show is based on; so when I get that feeling strongly, then I know the topic is going to be great.
Smart phone baby. And thankfully GPS works even without cell service.
Do you remember hosting Zombieville II at the Knitting Factory in 2007? I keep going back to look at the ticket stub because it looks like nearly everyone who played it eventually became successful. (Anamanaguchi, Reggie Watts, you, etc.)
How much of a language barrier have you faced while traveling? Has that ever caused much difficulty for you?
This is fascinating, I barely remember it!! Amazing that you have the stub. I'm gonna go search through my email archive and see if I can find more about it. I was just a little baby comedian back then!! I do love Anamanaguchi and Nullsleep and Reggie still!
In Central America it was a little difficult. I was never completely useless in Spanish, but it was isolating not being able to connect on a deeper level with people. It'll be interesting in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia where I won't have the time in each country to pick up much of the language.
Your recent pregnancy episode saved me. My girl and I are approaching our 30's and there's been a lot of pressure lately from many sides about "running out of time."
Thanks again. What was your favorite episode/topic to ruin?
Has doing the walk impacted any of your relationships in any serious way at all? Can't imagine it'd be easy sometimes, being away from everyone for so long.
Love your page, cheers :)
I am so happy to hear that. Honestly, my favorite topics are the ones that bring people relief, and maybe change their lives a little for the better. So I think I can count this among my favorites!
The Walk has been almost nothing but positive. I'm walking and turning over thoughts all day. I have a lot of time to appreciate everything my family and friends have done for me. Also, being away from everyone for two years made me appreciate them that much more.
And thanks! Cheers :)
I've been refreshing this page for a while now trying to catch you here haha
You recently did a piece about how breastfeeding is a same as formula. I just had a follow up on this that isn't breastmilk better because it transfers antibodies and so builds up the immune system of the baby?
Do you put milk first or cereal first?
Hey Tom, been a fan since your last one of these!
Anyway, how well do you think you get to know a country and its people and culture by walking through it? Is it more in ways you wouldn't have expected? Less in any way than what you expect?
Based on the research we've surveyed, the benefits of breast milk vs. formula are very small. You can check our sources for the segment here.
Glad to have you following!
I'd say much more than flying into a place then going to more touristy destinations. I'm forced to pass through all tiny one-horse towns. I eat at the typical restaurants all the other locals are eating at. In that way I think I get to know a country very well.
At the same time I don't think I get to know a country as well as if I were staying with a family. There is a lot to be learned from wikipedia, but I thinking having a local as a guide explaining the details would be ideal.
Who is the most overrated person in history?
My picks are Freud, Columbus, and Nostrodamus
This AMA is the first I've heard of you, but I'll be following your journey now:)
Do you believe that what you're doing would be safe for a female? Have you ever encountered a situation that has made you fearful?
You're going to really enjoy an episode we have coming up called "Adam Ruins What We Learned In School." Covers one of these three dudes. I won't spoil which!
I've been asked this a few times and really I'm not sure. I think being a female is a very different experience than being a male. I know women have walked around the world before though. Polly Letofsky would be the one to ask!
I've had a few scary encounters, but less than you'd imagine. Most people are good.
What place has the best bathrooms?
You know, I'd be lying if I called myself a knowledgable Wu Tang fan but, hey, this is Ask Me ANYTHING, so I'll hazard an opinion. RZA.
Machu Picchu. At least they did. I overheard a guide talking about the bathrooms and holy cow did those things have a view.
Has your adventure given you any perspective or clarity as to what you would like to do once you move onto the next step of your life?
We have a writer's room full of writers and researchers who are very, very smart and have absorbed a ton of information. We all ask them to pitch things they've learned that have blown their minds. After that, we run them down and research them, make sure they hold up, then put them in the show. That's about it!
In a certain way yes. I know I want traveling to be a part of my life. But I'm still not certain where I'll wind up after all this. I enjoy photography, I think it comes somewhat naturally to me. But I also enjoy writing, and I don't think it comes naturally to me at all so I really enjoy the challenge.
Gun to your head, you have to tell a joke to save your life, what do you go with?
Edit- Yay first question! Been mashing refresh like crazy waiting for this!
What is the most beautiful place you've been?
Also, your Instagram is the most amazing page on the internet.
My legit favorite joke:
ME: Oh crap, did you hear about that actress who just stabbed herself? I forget her name. Reese something... Reese... VICTIM: Witherspoon? ME: No, with her knife!!
Legitimately terrible but I love telling it.
Yeesh. There are a lot of beautiful places. Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is breathtaking. The paramos in the Andes are surreal. The deserts of Perú and Chile were powerful and harsh. Antarctica was like being on another planet. Each has their own aspects of beauty.
Haha Yea I love it. I have heard this one before. I feel like they would spare you out of pity most likely. Thank you for answering my question, I tried to be a little different then the whole (I love your show, blah blah blah) even tho I do, and was on pins waiting for season two to start.
I would like to hear about Savannah - specifically how would you describe your relationship with your canine friend after spending every hour of every day together? Is there some type of deep understanding or bond formed, do you communicate well? When Trek is over will you keep him/her?
Sav and I are totally synched up. She listens to my slightest command. She is exactly the dog she needs to be. When we're walking she is a trooper and sees each day through without complaint. When I rest, she rests. When I stand, she stands. At night she doesn't like sleeping in the tent (unless it's raining). She patrols the ground immediately surrounding me and barks if she sees something. When I wake up she's there to greet me outside the tent shaking with excitement. I'm protective of her, but also trust her. She could do all the walking without a leash, she'd stay right beside me if off it. I like to have her on the leash in case something startles her though. I'll have Savannah forever. Couldn't imagine it otherwise.
Do you correct people when misconceptions that you've discussed off air?
What do your meals consist of? Do you keep a cooler of any sort on your cart? Did you ever have any problems in certain countries getting dog food for Savannah?
You know, after I've said something on TV, I feel like it's rude to go around repeating it in real life! Now that I'm interrupting people on TV so much, I'm a little more inclined to bite my tongue in IRL, ironically! :)
If I don't come across any restaurants or small stores, a typical day would be a pbj or some sort of bar for breakfast, lots of nuts and snacks during the day, then two pbjs for dinner. I had my stove stolen in Guatemala and didn't get another until Argentina. In Argentina I started making a good amount of soup and pasta.
I don't have any cooler. And dog food has been incredibly easy to get a hold of. Even in the most remote towns there are dogs and dog food. Sometimes it was just a guy with a massive bag of dog food selling it in smaller bags.
Are you going to walk the Camino de Santiago? If you do I suggest walking the Camino del Norte along the northern coast - absolutely breathtaking views!
Thanks for the tip! The plan now is to follow the Eurovelos. This would mean walking along the south coast of Spain so I'd likely miss the Camino de Santiago.
Adam, what does Jon Wolf smell like?
Also, when did you decide that it was more important to correct people's misconceptions instead of just trying to be another Ryan Seacrest type?
Among all the questions mentioned here, there's one that needs to be known by all: is Savannah a good girl? Do help me tell her that she's a good girl. 🐶
Honestly, it came out of trying to figure out how to engage an audience. It's HARD to be a Ryan Seacrest type, because it's hard to tell people why they should care about you rather than just any other dude on stage / screen. Once I realized that surprising the audience with information was really entertaining and engaging, I went with it! And of course, it helped that I've always been a super-curious person who's interested in this kind of knowledge!
Who's a good girl?!
Hey Tom. I've been traveling vicariously through you for years. Love your photography.
Just saw the infographic, awesome. You have so many insane sounding moments - "woken by machete", "stop robbery", "knife to the neck". Any chance of a book when you're done? And any chance you'd elaborate on one of those here?
I'd love to do a book when I'm finished. Frankly I've been through so much I don't know how I'd fit it into a single book.
The "stop robbery" is in quotation marks for a reason. I asked a guy in Nicaragua if I could sleep at his brick foundry (basically he had a big outdoor oven and bricks lined up drying in the sun). He said yes. So I laid my tarp there and fell asleep. Around 4a.m. I was woken by a locked being banged around. I sat up and saw three men with a flashlight working on the storage shed lock. After some consideration, I decided I had to do something. The owner was nice enough to let me sleep there, I couldn't stand by while he got robbed. So stood, stuck forward a bit, then lit the three guys with my headlamp beam. My Spanish wasn't that great and they were far away so I couldn't understand them. Savannah kept by my side. I stood in silence, staring at them, knowing my poor Spanish wouldn't give me away as a gringo. They approached slowly and soon we could make out each other. We got talking and they said they were workers (coming to turn the bricks? I can't remember exactly). But a minute later I watched the lock open as a guy finally found the correct key. They thanked me for attempting to stop their "robbery" then I went back to sleep.
Hey Tom, incredible story and your walk truly is inspiring!
Honest question though: why walking? I mean, you could do a similar trip by biking or driving and seemingly achieve similiar goals of living life to the fullest, so what made you choose walking?
Initially it was actually just because I was in high school and had no money. I was looking for cheap ways to travel. Then the idea stuck in my head and I rationalized it, I suppose. I think it's a brilliant way to see the world though. You really get to know yourself and the places you pass through.
hey, i'm 18 and just failed at this in europe after 3 weeks. Although i met cool people and learnt a lot, not eating and sleeping rough in cities destroyed me. How the hell did you eat and sleep well enough?
Yeah it isn't easy. After two years I'm pretty well trained. Just a matter of finding a good hiding spot and never sleeping in cities unless it's in a room.
Been following you for years now! Journey looks incredible! Thanks for sharing it.
Question: what's been your worst or craziest encounter with wildlife while on your World Walk?
Thanks for following!
I haven't had any encounters too insane. The most memorable was probably in Costa Rica. I woke in my tent in a palm forest and when I sat up there was a tarantula on the other side of my bug net, literally an inch from my eye. In an instant I punched that thing as hard as I could and it went flying out of sight.
What was the most boring section of the walk so far? The most captivating?
What advice or wisdom would you give to someone who wants to do something similar?
Can you sign my comment?
- South Peru. So much desert. It was still incredible, just tough. And the paramos in Colombia. I was walking through there in perpetual awe.
- You can't walk around the world in a day. You can't plan a walk around the world in a day. It took me nearly twice as long to start this trip as the trip itself will take.
- Tom "the tall gringo with a dog pushing the baby carriage" Turcich
Hey man, Can you tell us more about your ayahuasca trip? Stuff like what the was setting like? what lead up to it? How did you go into it and what did you find at the end of your trip. Any great revaluations? Not many people have walked around the entire world, I can imagine it must have been an intense sprituital experience
Sure. I have a friend who's been training to be a shaman and was living with shipibo indians working with ayahuasca traditionally for two years. I had a lot of faith that he'd do things in the purest fashion and when I arrived in Lima I was fortunate enough to find out he could get me in with a group who'd be dieting with the Noya Rau tree for a week. So I booked a cheap flight to Iquitos and met him there.
The meloka and our rooms were well out in the jungle. The entire experience felt very authentic and assured. I threw up too quickly the first two times to get much out of the ayahuasca. My body really rejected it. But the third time I held it down for an hour and a half or so. I saw myself from the outside a lot and in that way it was humbling. But mostly it was as though every thought was turned hyper visual. Every thought was like a movie. I didn't have any revelations. After walking for so long I'd already gone over all my memories hundreds of times.
The next morning though I felt a sense of awareness that I didn't realize I was missing. As though I'd been looking at the world with a sort of tunnel vision, automatically excluding a great amount. But that morning following the ceremony things were wide open, everything seemed possible.
How has the gear you're carrying with you changed over time? Anything you really needed but then realised you can do without?
I had two goal zero solar panels for all of North America. They worked great because I was walking with the sun in front of me. Once I was in the southern hemisphere and walking south the sun was at my back so my shadow blocked the sunlight from the solar panels. I wound up giving the panels to a Colombian family then realizing I never really needed them, I could charge my battery when I stopped at restaurants or a hotel.
Ooo baby. 60 pairs of shoes maybe?
How are you going to go from England to France, ferry or channel tunnel?
What's your favorite and least favourite local delicacy you have tried so far?
Have a great trip :)
Ferry. The ferry accepts dogs so it should work well enough.
Most favorite: Papusas. Bar none. 25 cents and delicious.
Least: A particular Cuy I bought from an indigenous woman in Ecuador. Staring at that guinea pig's face messed with me for bit.
When you visit U.K. will you visit York? If so you have a room for the night
I should be walking very near it at least! That'd be great, thanks! Stay in touch!
What places that you haven't visited yet are you most excited to see? And which places have so far been able to take your breath away?
Croatia is top of the list right now. I have lots of family there and have heard it's a spectacular place.
When I first saw Lake Atitilan in Guatemala I literally screamed and whooped. Guards from a national park entrance came out and laughed at me.
What has been your favorite experience so far throughout the whole trip?
When my legs gave out on me at 15,000 ft in the Chilean Andes. I spent four days at 15,000 feet then had a terrible night of maybe two hours of sleep. The next morning I pushed my cart for about 10 minutes, then just collapsed into the sand. I laid there and laughed. I was only six hours from a town so I knew I'd make it. But I loved how great of an adventure I was having, how challenged I was by the walk.
Tom, this is fantastic and I wish you all the best. I walked the coast of California in 1995 (in a pair of Timberland sandals) and found, for lack of a better word, 'magic' happening after about my second week of walking. I'm extremely curious if you have had any meaningful experiences that just bear no explanation other than that "magical"?
I know, probably a subjective term, but an example: as I was approaching Big Sur I came across a book lying on the side of the road, wrapped in a plastic bag: a biography of Mildred Norman Ryder (Peace Pilgrim). If you've never heard of her, she walked the later years of her life in the name of peace. I still have that book today and the encounter was one of several on my walk which opened my eyes to the mere fact that there is indeed much more to this world than meets the eye.
Best to you, and keep on treading!
By far the most magical thing that's happened on my walk was in Perú. I was mentally destroyed after being in the desert so long. I come to this middle of the nowhere restaurant and find on the wall an article of my hero, Karl Bushby. Then I get brought to the back by the owner and shown and note from Bushby nearly twenty years old. Our paths had crossed twenty years apart at this little nowhere restaurant. That certainly gave me the motivation I needed.
Of the many places you have walked to. Which town or city outside the US could you see yourself living out the rest of your life and why?????
I could easily move back to Colombia. Such wonderful people. Such beautiful landscapes. There's a sort of magic about the entire country which I would love to live in for a little while.
So many stars at once they felt like a weight on my chest.
Good question. It varies a lot depending on mood. I swing between Tiesto's Clublife to Willie Nelson. My go-tos are Ray LaMontagne, Lana Del Rey, and Van Morrison. Lately I've been listening to A Bridge over Troubled Waters on repeat. Sooooo good.
Been following you for about a year now. Your pictures from South America and Antarctica were beautiful. Just one question:
Did you have to get a certain visa for walking in Europe? I know you can only spend 90 days in the EU within a 180-day span, so I'm curious if you found a work-around to that. Thanks!
To the best of my knowledge there's a visa for mainland Europe, then separate ones for Ireland, the UK, and some other countries. I should be able to pass through France, Switzerland, and Italy fairly quickly. Then I'll have to walk from Spain to Croatia on what I have left of the 90 days. The countries are small, but I'll be cutting in close. Once I get to Croatia I'll receive a different visa.