My one and only time hitch hiking (before this week) was in my first year of university when a friend and I hitchhiked from York (north England) to Dublin, Ireland for charity. I had an absolute blast, spending 24 hours in fancy big trucks, old battered lorries, a car full of BBC workers, van drivers and average Jo Bloggs. However, for some reason, I didn’t do it again.
Why? You know what, I don’t know!
But I am back on it and this time hitchhiking is here to stay.
Couchsurfing and hitch-hiking… a travellers dream!
I met my latest travel buddy, Sam, via Couchsurfing and we instantly hit it off, both 26 from England and travelling alone we loved having some company in tourist deprived Sri Lanka… seriously where are all the tourists? Apparently, tourists only come along during the set tourist season here… unlike India where there is a constant flow of travellers magnificently handling the monsoon and extreme heat.
Day one we met in Hikkaduwa, a small beach town on the West coast of Sri Lanka and talked and talked and talked. Even just a couple of days of either not speaking, attempting the odd word in Sinhalese or speaking slowly so the local understand you is tough and Samantha had gone 2 weeks! After a couple of days catching up like we were old friends we decided it was time to move on.
‘Shall we bus it rather than tuktuk it to the next place to save pennies’ I said?
‘Bus it … no way! Let’s Hitchhike, it’s FREE, you’re on a budget right?!’ said Sam, shocked I had even considered such blasphemy ‘I have hitchhiked all the way across Europe, around SE Asia and even in the Middle East.’
Wow – this girl rocks, why she doesn’t have a blog I have no idea, her stories are extreme!
And so there I was on the side of the road, backpack on waving down cars, trucks and whatever and whoever else might stop for us.
The First Lift
The first lift was with a truck, we jumped in, exchanged a few words and hand-signs to understand where we wanted to get to. We had to wait 15 minutes for the second driver, moved a bit and then there was another 30-minute wait for the cement to be emptied off the truck, so we made a move to find a quicker lift.
The Second Lift
Next, a bus stopped and we thought hell let’s just get the bus, hopped on, almost fell off with only standing space and backpack that weighs almost as much as me and instantly hopped off again at the next stop … who needs crowded, sweaty buses when you can have our next lift…
The Final Lift
…An air conditioned car with a local doctor who told us all about the health and education system in Sri Lanka as he drove us in luxury to our destination.
Did you know that everyone in Sri Lanka gets free education and health care … wow!
Hitchhiking isn’t all about a free ride… it’s about those conversations you don’t have when walking down the street, the snapshot into people’s lives you gain, oh and maybe saving yourself from being squished in between two sweaty smelly locals staring at you with those penetrating eyes.
For me, I am hooked and can’t wait to get back on the road to flag down my next lift… where to? Well let’s see where they are going!
NB: Never get into a vehicle with people you don’t feel comfortable with, first impressions count for a lot and Sam’s golden rule ‘I never get into a car with more than one man in it, one guy I can punch in the balls and run, but two n they’ve got me.’
Happy Hitching! 🙂