Sunday June 3, 2012
Having a Marie time hitchhiking around the globe
By ALLISON LAI
MALACCA: Have goodwill, will travel that's the philosophy of Frenchman Jeremy Marie who has voyaged more than 15,000km across 54 countries by hitchhiking.
“Each kilometre I go depends on the goodwill of total strangers,” he said.
The 28-year-old tourism graduate left his home in Caen, France, on Oct 8, 2007, to embark on a round-the-world tour by hitchhiking.
Before that, Marie had been working as a waiter for a year to save money for his trip.
“Hitchhiking makes it possible for me to get in touch with the locals and it is a natural filter which allows people to be open.
“It's a good way to feel the temperature' of a nation',” he said at a travellers' cafe in Lorong Hang Jebat here.
Marie arrived at Malacca Jetty via the waterway from Dumai, Indonesia, on Thursday.
Describing his trip as “rather challenging”, Marie recalled that he had spent about 45 minutes to convince Indonesian customs officers before he was allowed a free ride to the historic city.
“I think some of the Bahasa Indonesia that I picked up when I was there helped,” quipped a jovial Marie, adding that his previous trip from Darwin, Australia, to Indonesia was courtesy of AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
“I did not know his e-mail address, so I sent my e-mail to several different combinations of his name under the carrier's domain,” he said, adding that he got a reply several days later from AirAsia Indonesia offering him a free ticket.
Having gone through numerous challenges and obstacles throughout his journey, the Frenchman light-heartedly recalled that he had even spent a night in a toilet in Guatemala due to safety issues.
On his daily expenses, Marie said he mostly spent on food as he hitched rides for long journeys and usually trekked for short distances.
He added that many people, especially those in developed countries, tend to think that hitchhikers were criminals or bad people who took advantage of others.
“Most of the time, it is easier to hitchhike in the less developed or poor countries.”
Asked if he has a girlfriend, Marie revealed that he met her during his trip to Bali several months ago.
“It sounds like a fairytale to me but I think this is the best part of my world tour so far.
“Even my parents and my twin sister think so,” he said, adding that they planned to meet again in Cambodia in October.
Those who wish to learn more about Marie's adventure can visit www.tour-du-monde-autostop.fr.