Nenad Stojanovic

25.000 Kilometers of Hitch-hiking: Nenad Stojanovic

Travelling is a means of business for many people, and of holiday for others. But for some, travelling itself is not a means, but an aim in itself. Nenad Stojanovic from Serbia is a great example of this. I first met him in 2008, when he and two friends of his, Vladimir and Nikola, messaged me through couchsurfing, looking for a couch. I immediately accepted the request and there our friendship started. Since then, we’ve met numerous times, in Turkey or Serbia and again since then, I’ve had the privilege of listening to Nenad’s travelling experiences, useful information and weird situations. Now is the time for you to know about Nenad and grasp some useful insights on budget travelling. Enjoy…

A hitch-hiker in Tehran, Iran

Nenad in Tehran…

Hey Nenad! Great to talk to you again, and thanks for partaking in our interview!!! I am sure some of our readers already know you, but for those who don’t, would you like to begin with introducing yourself? Where are you these days?

Kutay! My favorite host! Sorry for making you wait, I was a bit busy with life these days, and also irresponsible sometimes (you can include this in the text if u want, hehe).

As some of you know, I am a traveler from Serbia, but I consider the world as my home. Meaning of my name is unpredictable, and it matches my personality. I like my country and Balkan way of life, but since I’m curious about everything in this world, I decided to move out of my hometown (for a while) and explore as long as road keeps me going. I’m also coffee addict, people addict, blog writer in attempt (ahh… I hate myself for being lazy), ex-english teacher, ex-pirate (expired), ex-taxi driver, ex-hotel manager and expert in movies. Also considered by some as an expat right now. After I’ve been to so many places, I learned so many things about the world, but also about myself. I believe that my example can inspire many people to find a way to do something different, and help them with a change they want to see in their life.

So, you’ve been in Jakarta, Indonesia for a while by now. Can you talk about the life in Jakarta a little bit? How are you getting along there?

I was thinking Tehran is one of the most chaotic and poluted cities I’ve been to. Then I came to Jakarta.  I could compare this two cities, only if Jakarta had parks and sidewalks without holes. Add to that constant traffic jam, humidity and dirt and you discovered an ultimate chaos, called “big durian” by foreigners. However, positive side about both places are their warm and friendly locals, which doesn’t happen very often in cities of that size. I’ve been living about 5 months in Jakarta, and I think it will take time to get used to this city. Maybe 5 years 🙂

A local guy in Jakarta, Indonesia

Shopping in Jakarta…

Haha, not such a long time, maybe… How did you start travelling? Was there a moment you decided to travel? Or you’ve always had it in you?

My first independent trip was at the age of 7. I took a hand of my neighbor, we escaped from the sight of our parents, and went exploring the city on our own, while police was searching for us. So… I guess I always had it in me. Many years later, when I discovered “couchsurfing”, I realized that there is a tool which can help me start what I’ve always been waiting for – exploring the world in my own way.

Which countries have seen so far? Do you have a “favourite country”?

The alphabetical list is as it goes:

Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia-FYROM, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Myanmar (Burma), Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates.

Travel Map

Nenad’s Travel Map

As for my favourite country, every country has something to offer. I think some of my favorites are Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Lebanon, Italy… and humm… all Balkan countries. I love the area and mentality from where I am coming from, and I enjoy presenting my country to foreign visitors. China was incredible country to travel to, but however, living there was a bit difficult due to big cultural differences. I think Afghanistan was one of the most challenging countries I’ve been to, and I will never forget the unique experience, thrills, people’s hospitality and their incredible life stories.

Apparently, transportation is not a problem whatsoever. So, what is the most difficult part of travelling to you? (Language, accommodation, getting around, or anything?)

Well… as long as you are open to new experiences, patient with time and people, flexible with food and able to sleep in different places, then it’s not difficult at all. It might be challenging to save either money or time, but then, if you think and ask people for help, you can find easy solution for every problem.

Crossing the Caspian Sea

Crossing the Caspian Sea

The next one question people frequently ask about travelling. Do you spend (or need) a lot of money while travelling? How much on average is enough for a month of travelling for you?

Hehe, it depends on my budget. If my budget is big, then I spend more. If my budget is minimum, there are some days I don’t spend anything. However, most of the times, money is not limiting me for traveling. There is always a way to get around. When I made a big trip from Serbia to China, I spent 500$ for 5 months. After I finished my contract in China, I was spending more. My average spending, when on the road, is usually 7$ a day.

$7 is really great! Most people spend it in the blink of an eye! Let’s continue with our typical questions now. How do you finance your travels? Do you ever work abroad?

I work, I save, I spend on traveling. You can give up so many unnecessary things in order to get other things for exchange. I did many different jobs. Few years ago, I was working in Serbia, saved money, and I got 3 years of traveling. After I spent everything, I was doing different kind of jobs, while on the road (hotel manager in Latvia, freelance translator, taxi driver in Ukraine, English teacher in China… I even worked one day as a potato seller in Tajikistan).

Is it easy to find an English-Teaching job in China? Is it about agencies or can you easily apply to language schools for a job? Can you also mention a bit about the working visa formalities?

There are many websites where you can apply, and there are also many schools where you can just walk in and ask for a job. More and more schools are in need for english teachers, as not many people in China can speak good english. They prefer to hire a foreigner for better pronounciation, however many of them prefer to have a native speaker. As for visa, many schools can either provide working visa for you, or assist you in getting business visa (which gives you more freedom). When I was there, I got a business visa for duration of 6 months, with a help of some agency in Hong Kong, which made it in one day.

I have also heard that the demand for English teachers in China has recently exceeded 60.000. That could be quite good for those who want to travel on a budget. Alright, back to EcoTripSoS type of questions, how do you deal with transportation on a budget while travelling?

Hitchhiking, of course. Mostly, I don’t use the word budget for transportation.

Hitch-hiking in Iran

Hitch-hiking in Iran

Hehe, of course not! And what about accommodation?

Couchsurfing or any hospitality exchange internet tool. For a smaller places where there’s no active CS community, you can always rely on local people. Just explain them who you are, what are you doing, tell them your story and your budget, and they will help you. I believe there are so many unused spaces for sleeping in this world, and that everybody can share a bit of their hospitality with another fellow human being. In extreme situations (like if its late), you can find a temple, church, mosque or some kind of place with a couch (like toll gate for example) 🙂

In deed, you just need to communicate with people if you need something… Let’s get a bit typical now, could you tell us a little bit about your weirdest traveling experience?

Humm… I met many different (some of them can be described as weird) people. Let’s mention that I’ve been blackmailed by a corrupted policeman in Tajikistan; interrogated by the police in Iran, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan; recorded my voice for an english version of “Dear passengers…” in Chinese toll gate; kissed by the married man in Myanmar while his wife was sleeping…

Haha I will definitely pay close attention to the announcements if I go to China one day! What about your weirdest hitchhiking experience?

Hitched: the whole TV crew who included me in their programme “life in the villages” (Myanmar); a cop with two prisoners in the same car (Iran); a drunk man who gave me to navigate his car from co-passengers seat (Croatia); a drug dealer who stopped in the middle of the road to sell some weed (Serbia); a border officer who let me stay in his house in no man’s land between Kazakhstan and China; a shady Kazakh businessman who bribed Ukrainian police with 5000 euros (Austria);  an electrician who brought me for 10 year reunion of Counter Strike players (China)… and many more that I can’t remember right now

In Kabul, Afghanistan

In Kabul, Afghanistan

The more you travel, the more you get these, apparently, but that’s a part of the experience, right? Any last words on travelling on a budget?

Accomodation: Try to find host on couchsurfing. If that doesn’t work, introduce yourself to locals, explain your situation and they will help you. If you are hitchhiking, there is a large possibility that your driver will invite you over, if you develop mutual understanding during your conversation. The other alternative is to find church, mosque, temple , gas station or any “sleepable” place. If you have sleeping bag, it gets much easier.

Transport: Hitchhiking. If this doesn’t work, there are ride share websites… or truck terminals where you can find a truck going to your destination.

Food: There is always cheap way to eat. If not cheap restaurants (which you can always find with the help of locals), then you can buy food on the market and prepare it at your hosts place. If your budget is minimum, you can do “dumpster diving” – ask restaurants, bakeries or supermarkets for food leftovers for example. Or some nice old lady who will get a pity on you and feed you. Joking 🙂 But, you can try, if you have no shame.

I’ll for sure try the last one, to see if I can do it! Nenad, thanks a lot for your time and the  valuable information you’ve given us. I really hope to see you again soon, in Jakarta or on your way back to Serbia! Thanks!

Thanks a lot!!! 😀

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25.000 Kilometers of Hitch-hiking: Nenad Stojanovic
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25.000 Kilometers of Hitch-hiking: Nenad Stojanovic
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The man who hitch-hiked 25.000 kilometers...
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