"BACKGROUND" davidjo's Profile

40 years of travel

I started hitch-hiking round Europe in 1972, got the travel bug and never stopped. All my time was spent working and saving money for my next trip. I was hitch-hiking from London to Australia when an American picked me up in Jordan and ended up working there for 5 years. since then i have travelled all round South America, North America, Australia and Asia, several times. Settled in Palawan, Philippines in 1995 where i started the Backpackers Hostel, which no longer exists. Usually get away fo a 2 month trip each year, last year-Laos, this year -Sikkim and next year Myanmar.
I was born in Newcastle, England but left there less than a month later, (no, not off backpacking yet), spent a couple of years in Darlington, three years in Dundee then went to primary school in the Edinburgh district. Dad only worked for one company all his life so he was called upon for an important assignment at head office in Kent until i was 18, so we lived in a beautiful village of Woodnesborough, just outside the famous Cinque Port of Sandwich. Alas, Dad was transferred again so now i was on my own and studied at Canterbury Technical College for a year before deciding to train as a Certified Accountant. This only lasted 18 months as i didn't like the salary or the boring life of an accountant, so i was attracted to the easy life of managing a betting office after some training.This was in Canterbury, a good place to spend your young life as each weekend all the top groups either played at Canterbury University, Art College or nearby at Folkstone or Margate. I saw them all. Later i transferred to another betting outfit and became a relief manager in such places as Nottingham, Derby, Leeds and Scunthorpe. I enjoyed the different places but soon saved enough money for my first major trip as mentioned above. I returned to Oakham penniless in early November and got a dumb job at a factory that moulded plastics but this was 1973 and the Middle East War started so the company put us on 3 nightshifts but paid us for 5 shifts. Lucky for me , as soon as they put us back on 5 shifts i packed my bags and scappered with enough money for my next trip. I guess the story continues below.
Have i ever regretted leaving England?--NO, i miss the football and such dishes as fish and chips, shepherds pie, roast beef, yorkshire puds and mash.
Countries that i would have liked to visit but too late i guess--Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, New Zealand(maybe with promo tkts i don't rule this out completely). Maybe i will take a trip to Japan if finances are available, always interested in that culture.
Travelling around the world i have met some amazing people, friends everywhere and still communicate with people i have known for 35 years.

THE 70's

First trip was with an Inter-Rail Pass through Europe, where most of my time was spent on a train arriving at my destination in the afternoon and heading for the next one in the morning. Visited Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Denmark , Sweden. This is how i caught the travel bug.
Worked for 2 years for the big trip and hitch-hiked round Europe for 10 months, arriving in Damascus the first day of the '73 war with Israel.
Worked in England for a few months and set off hitching around Europe for 6 months. Really got the travel bug and knew my life would lead me to many places.
Worked for 3 years and set off overland to Australia, hitched down to Jordan in 2 weeks where an American picked me up and offered a job (megabucks) i couldn't refuse. Logistics manager with a USA company, installation, operation and maintenance of several communication systems throughout the country. I wouldn't make it to Oz for a few more years. Vacations to Cyprus, Egypt, Thailand, Philippines.

THE 80's

Quit Jordan in December '81 and arrived in Colombia New Years day '82, overland to Venezuela, hired a plane to see Angel Falls, down the Pan American Highway to Boa Vista, Manaus, river ferry to Belem with a few days in Santarem. Down via Ouro Preto to Rio for the carnaval, Sao Paulo, Iguazu Falls (better than any of the others), Paraguay, Argentine, cross the Andes and down the famous winding road to Santiago, up to Bolivia, spent my birthday with the Uros Indians on Lake Titicaca. To Peru , rent a plane over the Nazca Lines, trekked Macchu Picchu then up the coast to Ecuador. Flew to L.A., Anchorage, then some days in Seoul before arriving in the Philippines and settling in Baguio.
Swiss friend came to visit me in Baguio so we flew to Australia (got there at last) on to Bali, island hopped to Singapore, up the west coast of Malaysia, to Bangkok, then back to Baguio.
Late '83 flew back to Bangkok, Hong Kong and then Vancouver, 3months there and crossed to Washington DC on the Greyhound, flew to UK.
Was not there for long as i flew in Jan '84 to Washington, worked 2 years, did lots of camping, visited Quebec and Ontario. 89 first trek to Everest. Back to London '86 -89, could not settle, went to Philippines for 6 months, travelled the whole country looking for beach to set up bungalows.

THE 90's

Back to Nepal in '91 for Everest trek again and Annapurna. Stagnated in London so left early '92, wandered around India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Australia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia for 2 and a half years. Returned to London, couldn't stand it so after a month flew to Philippines where i settled in Puerto Galera for a year, operated 2nd hand bookshop for the travellers. Too much crime in Puerto Galera so headed to Banaue where i enjoyed trekking 5 days a week, rested at the weekends, but the rainy season came. No fun in the rain and the village is dead at 7 pm. So off to Puerto Princesa, Palawan where i opened up the Backpackers, all went well for a couple of years until the kidnappings in Honda Bay. Tourists were scarce and i did not want to hang around in an empty building waiting for the occasional traveller to pass by, so closed the place, found a woman and got married.

THE 2000's

Purchased land and built some bungalows, planted an orchard with many different fruits. Managed to take a trip every year to Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia. Settled down but still love to travel


2010 saw us make a trip to North Luzon, visited my wife's birthplace in the Codillieras.--beautiful village by a river on a hillside.
2011 Trip to visit friends in cebu
Flew to Singapore and up to KL for the F1 grand Prix, then flew to Vientiane for Songkran, toured Laos for a month, brief visit to Myanmar and enjoyed some days in Thailand.
October 3 week trip to England.
2012 planned trip to Manila with day trips to neighbouring attractions
2012 Sept flying to Kolkota , then up to Sikkim for a month
2013 Myanmar is planned


travelling, formula 1, football, food, beer, nature, camping, hiking, mountains, waterfalls, beaches, lakes, forests, jungle, swimming, friendly people, dogs, motorbikes, cycling, jogging, boats, trains,
sex tourists, scammers, spammers, touts, know-it-alls, snakes, politics, accountants, tax officials, women's lib, tyrants, basketball, baseball, boxing, wrestling, plastic bags, pollution, bad drivers, billionaires, scroungers, spongers, beggars, liars, thieves, murderers, lawyers, laziness, city slickers,
Thai, Indian, extra hot curry, shrimp, mango, sour sop, steak, chili con carne, salads, boneless fish steaks, pasta, shepherds pie, pizza
bitter cucumber, little fish with bones, fat, liver, kidney, innards, deserts and cake
Iguazu, Carnaval in Brasil, Amazon river trip, Lake Titicaca, Himalayas, Angkor Wat, Macchu Pichu, Mount Rinjani, Kuta in Lombok, Vigan, Tomohon, Coober Pedy, Scottish Highlands, Outer Hebrides, Banaue, Baler, Umphang, Si Ko Chang, Ko Chang, Bukit Lawang, Puahkar Festival, Kovalam, Goa, Luang Prabang, Sihanoukeville, Phnom Pehm, Kampot, Kep, Nha Trang, Sapa, Dharamsala, Darjiling, Petra, Borubodur, Asuncion, La Paz, Finland, Greek Islands, Damascus, Aleppo, Baska Polje, Jenbach, Finale Ligura Marina, Pizzo Calabria, Central Istanbul, Katherine Gorge, Quebec, Assateague Island, Maldives, and many more that i can't quite think of....
Scunthorpe, Bitung, H4 (in the desert of Jordan towards Iraq), Chiang Khong, Kontum, Bokeo, Bacoor Cavite, Medan, Batam Island, Pittsburg, Myrtle Beach, Liverpool, Grangemouth, Lahti, The Ruhr,
Make one religion only so there are no wars
Do away with visas so we can go where we want
Let the whole world destroy their weapons
Limit the amount of commission when changing money
Hang crooked politicians
Prison for illegal loggers
Execution for those who deal in animal parts such as Rhino horns, elephant tusks.
Send all witch doctors and voodoo doctors to Siberia
Force the countries military who plant landmines to clean them up
Ban Smoking
Make it illegal for restaurants to have a service charge- after all we cannot go to a restaurant without being served


I have spent most of the last 30 years in Asia, so here are a few thoughts. In the west the children play inside with the latest electronic gadgets, study hard and go to university, get a job to pay back their student loans, find a wife, mortgage a house, have some kids so they are well and truly stuck for the next 20 years, probably a 2 week holiday each year where they relax on a beach, eat till they burst and get drunk every night. Welcome to the rat race.
In Asia, children run around bare footed playing with a stick and an old tyre, climb trees, paddle in the river. Most children attend school until they are 16 (not free), then the lucky ones will continue to study at university and hopefully get a job. The others will never have a chance in life and will end up working as a manual labourer, housemaid or similar, probably living in a basic house, and never owning a car.
In the west there are hospitals, here too but how do you get the money to get the bus 100 kms to the nearest one, and when you get there you have to pay for the treatment and medication. I have seen people die because they have no money, i have seen people sell their land their house for hospitalisation.
When election time comes around, the politician will also come around with a wad of banknotes buying votes, but the people are poor, they take the money and vote for the corrupt ones, then what happens?
But corruption works if you have the money, pass a few notes to your lawyer who will slip them to the judge before your court appearance. Slip a few notes in your passport when entering the country and get a year's visa. Slip a few notes to someone in the tax office to falsify the figures. Get a false university degree so you can teach at school. It's al normal here.
European supermarkets--frozen food, canned food, cakes and biscuits. Local market in Asia--fresh seafood, meat, fresh vegetables.
DVD in Europe £20, here 50 pence(illegal, i know but how can the poor pay $10 for original)
Europe-2 on a motorbike wearing helmets, here, 2 parents and 3 children without helmets as they can't afford local transportation.
My m-bike insurance $5, my car insurance $15 a year.
24 San Miguel beers $10, See a movie $3. Satellite tv $6 a month. Manual worker $5 a day, skilled mason or carpenter $8 a day, live in maid $60 a month. Fresh fish $3 a kilo. Decent hotel room $20. Pack of 20 marlboro -less than 1$. Litre of brandy or rum £1. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango,rambutan,lychee, easily available. 300 kms on a bus £5. 2km ride on a motorised trike 20 cents.
Western people have the latest fashionable clothes, here people wear second hand clothes.
Our country we ate potatoes , here a huge plate of rice with a small piece of meat or fish.
No heating bills here, no council taxes.
No dole money here, if you don't work, hard luck.
If you lend money here don't expext to get it back, and if you ask for it, you are the bad one!
Snake bite, you may die.
Don't criticise or complain about a person in front of others, do it privately.
Never shout at a local.
Get in an argument, smile and walk away.
Family is a solid unit here, they stick together and help each other.
When you marry the girl, you marry the whole family, and there will be no such things as personal belongings, your motorbike will be for everyone to use, the richer members of the family are expected to hand money out, the food in your fridge will be for all.
No divorce here, you married for life. There is an annulment after several years of separation but the costs a year or two's salary for most locals.
If you are invited to eat, turn up late, as it's bad manners to be on tome.
Never help yourself to the last morsel on the plate, ask if anybody would like it first otherwise you may be considered greedy.
Never,ever, admit to doing something wrong, deny,deny,deny!
And a message to single male travellers (there is a disproportionately high number--Don't assume every girl is up for grabs, most are decent. Treat the girls with respect or go home to your own country.

  • Intro Updated Jan 21, 2014
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david james
Puerto Princesa, Philippines
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