Josephine & David Drive From Amsterdam To Southeast Asia
David and Josephine are a Dutch couple from Amsterdam. What started as a joke, ended up becoming their dream journey. After a year of hard work and tricky planing they set out to explore the world with their fabulous car, Dox.
Once again, thanks to Whatsapp, we interviewed them while they were in Pakistan. They shared some beautiful insights and helpful advice.
Be sure to check their website for some incredible stories at: Home Is Where The Car Is.
For some beautiful photos and constant update on their journey you can follow their Instagram : Home Is Where Our Car Is.
Why do you travel?
In general: because we are interested in people and culture. In this specific case it was because Josephine wanted to see a bit of the world. David, who has already travelled for quite some time before starting his Bachelor, sailing the ocean, backpacking through South America and exploring Australia, decided that if Josephine would go, he would go as well. Also, he was curious for this part of the world as he had not seen that much of it yet.
What has been the most beautiful experience so far?
This is always a difficult question. It is hard to rank people, places, and experiences, especially as there have been so many good ones. Beauty is often found in small things, however, a shopkeeper coming up to us to bring us some nuts and dates, a chai seller going out of his way to find us some chairs, a reaction on Instagram from someone saying they appreciate the way we represent their country or a stranger offering us to stay at their home.
What has been the scariest moment?
That must have been when we were climbing Ultar mountain. We were extremely unprepared for the ghastly trek that took us 14 hours, having only two bananas and 1,5 litre water with us. The five hours of descending that we had to do after the sun had set were especially scary and a bit dangerous as well. Despite the fact that we were completely exhausted, it was also a good experience as we managed to finish the intensive climb and made a good friend along the way. You can find the full story on this adventure on our website.
Individually, what has been the biggest internal argument you’ve had with yourself?
Josephine: I find it difficult to find a balance between traveling together with David and being a team as well as remaining independent. We both have our own responsibilities and it is easy to just rely on the other for certain things. We have a very cliché gender division of tasks, I cook and wash our clothes, David does car maintenance and handles the money etc. In one instance I found myself at the apartment of our host, alone, because David had gone out to get the car fixed. I was writing a piece for our website and was getting hungry. I realized however that I had no food and no money either. I was forced to sit at home and wait for David to return. I realized then that I had kind of lost my independence. Most of the time, I find it easy to just go with David, let him handle the money, but it is better to take some responsibility for myself as well.
David: Well, like said before, I traveled quite a bit already. This trip is big in itself, but many things that we see and endeavor don’t surprise me as much as it did the first time. So next to the amazing and beautiful trip we are making, we decided beforehand to make a good website and keep it up to date and make while traveling a documentary about it too. But both things take more time than expected. Taking photos and putting them on Instagram and keeping it all up to date. Where to draw the line? It is hard to find the balance. And for the documentary, we haven’t started yet: not knowing the right subject. I find it hard to decide when we need to have ‘fun’ and when we have to do ‘work’.
Once you finish your journey, how do get back home?
Another uncertainty. At first, we wanted to ship the car back from Singapore or Malaysia, but Thailand has recently changed its rules regarding foreign vehicles, which makes it more difficult to cross. From January 2017 onwards it will be very expensive to bring our car to Thailand, too expensive. Seeing as the same goes for China and Myanmar, they already had similar rules, our way to Southeast-Asia is now blocked. Currently, we are considering an alternative, namely driving back via the “stans”, we have not visited them on the way here, so it would be a nice route as well. Another option is shipping the car back from India and continue by backpacking through Southeast-Asia, but that would kind of forgo the idea of “Home is where the car is”.
Coincidence, luck, blessings, good energies, whatever you like to call it, you guys seem to have plenty of it, what are your thoughts on this?
Well, interesting… We believe that if you try, and are positive, then it will always work out. If you are negative, the negative answer will spread to others. Sometimes we struggle with it. David is a bit more optimistic, while Josephine is a bit more realistic. Together that makes us a good team. Not always too risky nor too safe! Finding a place to sleep in the wild, while it is dark, can create some tension. But if we persist, find a place, and wake up the next morning with an astonishing view, is it luck or work?
So to achieve anything, you need to try to make it work and have trust in that the result will be good. Doing the best you can is often satisfying in it itself, no matter the result.
You both studied Cultural Anthropology. Has this helped you in one way or another while traveling?
Yes, it does, we think! Anthropology teaches you to try to understand the other, to see what is beneath the surface. Often, it is easy to say something unfamiliar is weird or wrong even, but anthropologist try to understand why someone would do such a strange thing. We try not to judge. We think and hope that our anthropology background helps us to be more flexible and understanding.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from people?
To be nicer to visitors! Hospitality is not exactly Holland’s unique selling point, we are famous for offering only one cookie with your cup of tea. Josephine jokingly suggested that upon returning we should spend a day in Amsterdam shouting “Welcome to the Netherlands” to every tourist, like the Iranians do. But all joking aside, the way people have helped and hosted us is inspiring and heart-warming, and hopefully we will be able to pass some of it on. After all: travelling makes the unknown more familiar and with familiarity comes understanding, meaning that every traveller makes the world a bit less prejudiced.
Excluding the car, gear, and documents, what is very important to consider that not many people would take into account while planning or doing such a trip?
We think people don’t really take in account that people are good in general. Many times friends of ours asked what we would do if our car broke down. Even Josephine was a bit worried about this and said that David should take a course or so. David on the other hand said that people would help if something happens. And it is true! People are good and are willing to help. It is amazing. So take in account that you will meet good people everywhere you go in the world. It doesn’t matter where: in a village, at a busy bazaar or on a road in the middle of the desert (if they arrive), people will help!
What gear do you use to document your adventure?
We have a severely neglected Go-Pro, which has not seen daylight for too long. We did film some dashboard-camera-style video’s with it in the beginning, but we have seized doing even that. Other than that we have a Nikon D3300 . We actually bought this one when we were in Turkey, because our old camera stopped working. We also brought David’s MacBook Air along. Last but not least, a very good video camera which is even more seriously neglected than the go-pro. As David mentioned earlier, we want to shoot a documentary with this camera, but have not found the right circumstances yet.
What has been the happiest moment so far?
Wow, hard question! But one of the beautiful and happy moments was when we were in the desert in Iran by ourselves for a few days! Camping everywhere, walking around without any one watching us, enjoying spectacular sunsets and driving on 4WD roads where we didn’t meet any other person! On the other hand it is the people we meet that make the experiences worthwhile. A bit contradictory, right?
If you could improve the quality of life of some of the people you have met, how would you do so?
If we could improve.. for Pakistani and Iranian people it is really hard to travel around the world. We would love them to have the same opportunities as we have, especially as we meet so many people who express to us their wish to travel. Schooling is another important factor: if only children would just get proper education. We truly believe that with the right education for all, the world will be a better place.
What does happiness mean to you today?
Balance. Seeing a huge snowy mountain or a sunset in the desert is spectacular, but doesn’t give plain happiness. It isn’t as spectacular any more if it would be the only thing you know. Happiness is a feeling that has many roots. We love the mountains, but it is the whole path that lead towards it. And being together gives a lot of happiness too. There are some good fights between us, but then there is love too. And that together gives us happiness. Balance! This balance also translates to meeting people versus having time for ourselves, or city life versus nature. The balance of those things is what makes us happy!
If you could change anything so far, what would it be?
We like to live without regrets, but we are not there yet. One of the things we “regret” is not leaving earlier. It would have been nicer as this would have made the weather along the way a lot better. We skipped Georgia because the weather forecast was nothing but rain. We had to come back from the North of Pakistan because roads were closed. Overall we have been in a bit of a rush to get to Asia before it really started freezing. Unfortunately money-wise and planning-wise it was not possible to leave earlier and we feel happy to be able to do this anytime.
What advice would you give someone who wants to do a similar trip but is afraid?
If someone is truly too afraid, go to the Bahamas and enjoy an all inclusive 3 week holiday! But if someone just has some doubts: don’t believe in stereotypes, the media mostly tell the negative stories. Go out there to find it out yourself. Ask yourself: why am I scared? Often fear arises from the unknown. Asking others for their experiences may thus help to get over your doubts. Besides that, do not be ashamed of your fear. A little fear is normal, reasonable even, and concurring your own fears is even better!
What question would you like to be asked that no one has asked you yet?
Do you ever feel privileged?
Do you ever feel privileged?
Yes. We do sometimes, and not in a good way. We do realize that it is unfair that we get to travel while the people we meet often do not get that chance. Of course we believe in hard work and going after things you want to achieve, but the right circumstances make things a lot easier. For instance the fact that our currency, the euro, is so strong compared to currencies in other parts of the world. Or the fact that even lower incomes in the Netherlands still allow you to save up quite a bit, besides covering your basic needs, if you play it right. It is important to keep these things in mind and never take for granted the possibilities were are given. And above all, we hope that all people will eventually have similar chances in life.