This 22-year old is hitchhiking her way around the world

How do you define “home”? To me, it is going back to my childhood home in Bicol, where I get to see my mom everyday, and feel a little less like an adult. It’s also the rare moments when my sister is not on-call at the hospital, when we just watch random Youtube videos while lying in bed. I lived away from my parents in high school, in a dorm room that I shared with three other people. In college, I lived even farther away when I decided to study in Manila. Home was never about one place. It has always been more of a feeling. The same goes for Krysten Boado, a 22-year old hitchhiker who has been travelling across Asia for the past year.

I met Krysten when she interviewed me for her undergraduate thesis on mental health. I volunteered to be a part of her study when our mutual friend posted for an open call on Facebook. I never saw her again after that one afternoon. Fast forward to a year later, and I see her posting photos of her travels abroad. I think, Wow, she must really be rich to be able to afford all that.

A few weeks later, she shares a story of her hitchhiking adventures, of how she’s travelling almost for free. She shares photos from far-flung places that aren’t usually featured in travel guides. She tells the stories of the people that she meets along the way, of her struggles with borders, and of how her travels have shaped her to who she is today.

In an online interview, we ask Krysten about her life as a hitchhiker — her struggles, her favorite moments, and what keeps her going everyday.

 

Editor’s note: This interview had been edited for clarity.

YOUNG STAR: Why did you decide to go hitchhiking?

KRYSTEN BOADO: The short answer is that I wanted to save money. I was only supposed to travel for one month tapos yung budget ko, [for] two months lang. Back then, hindi pa ako yung nag-cacamping, hindi pa ako nakikitulog sa mga local homes. Back then, I was just a regular backpacker — hostels, cheapest food, cheapest transport. I watched the film Into the Wild. Merong part dun na he’s just hitchhiking, so I thought, baka naman pwedeng totohanin yung film? I’ve always wanted a movie-worthy life. I want to make things happen. I don’t want to waste my life just hiding in my shell and not experiencing what it truly means to live. When I started to hitchhike, I realized that it’s not just about getting the rides for free. I learned so much during my first days as a hitchhiker, so naisip ko, why not ituloy-tuloy na? I was starting to get bored of bus rides, so I decided to really just hitchhike.

 

How does hitchhiking really work?

Lagi kong sinasabi na there is no standard rule to hitchhiking. But you have to know that hitchhiking is like a strategy game. The rides are technically for free, but I always want to give a little something, kahit wala akong masyadong pera. You can always give something in exchange, kahit hindi monetary. And they will appreciate it. Your time, your stories, you telling them about their culture. I always have pictures of the Philippines in my phone because I want them to see the Philippines and learn about it. Because in some countries, they actually don’t know kung nasaan ang Philippines. It’s a different world for them, and they appreciate it if you let them see your world, if you let them experience the warm Filipino hospitality even if you’re away from home.

What is like to hitchhike as a woman?

Being a woman hitchhiker is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because some people are more inclined to help you because they see you as harmless, less intimidating or aggressive. Medyo backwards yung thinking ng mga tao, to be honest. Yung mindset nila is “What can a woman really do?” so they think that if you’re a woman, you’re much weaker than a man, and therefore need more help. On the other hand, it is really also a curse. I get a lot of offers for sex. Usually creepy old men, or young boys. One time, when I was in Thailand, and I was almost raped. It was a 17-year old boy. He told me that he was going to his mother’s place, but he ended up bringing me sa isang talahiban, parang rice field. And then he pushed me down and tried to drown me in the mud. All I could think of was “Not today Satan, not today.” So I really fought. I fought for my life. I remembered the things that I learned from the Muay Thai gym that I stayed in a few weeks back. I used all the strength  that I have and in the end, he ran away. So yes, that’s the curse of being a woman. And I guess that’s what stops a lot of women from travelling the way I do. And it’s so unfair. Because men should really learn how to behave. Just keep your thing in your pants!

 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever encountered?

I always tell people that I believe that I can do many things. I have the strength to walk. I have two feet. I have the energy, the time. I have my youth. I have my faith. I have everything I need. But the thing is, I don’t have a lot of privileges. And it’s the biggest challenge for a traveller like me. Everything is basically against me. I am a woman travelling alone. And I’m an Asian from a third-world country. Since the beginning, I knew that everything was against me on this trip. This kind of travel is usually only done by people with a lot of privilege. So maybe, that’s the biggest challenge so far. But I am determined to do it. I want to prove the world wrong, those who think that it’s impossible. I want to show them that I can do it.

What keeps you going?

It’s really the human experience. I want to learn about so many cultures, and meet so many people. Nung una, my only goal was to find that sense of home. Now that I’ve reached that, now that I know that I can be at home anywhere, that I belong anywhere… I want to do more. I want to learn so much. I want to have this for every day of my life. I want to be happy. I want to make other people happy. Despite coming from different backgrounds, different walks of life; having a different race, religion, appearance; we’re all tied by the same thread. We’re all connected. And I want to trace that thread. I want to document the kindness of people. This is not about finding home anymore, because I am already home. This is about making the world better, even in my own way, while doing what I love. Living life is not just for yourself. It’s also for other people. A life lived for yourself is not living.

 

 

Follow Krysten’s travels through her Facebook page and Instagram.

Tags:
#self #travel

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