Asia is seldom thought of as a place for walking, since it is often characterised by busy roads and dense jungle. But David Atthowe is hoping to change this perception. Nomadic Lion is the name of David’s project in which he will be walking across Asia, building relationships with the people and the land; and bringing attention to environmental and humanitarian issues. The British born 25 year old has always had wanderlust but his means of travel, his own two feet; and his passion and sincerity sets him apart from the rest. We had the pleasure of sitting down with him to talk about his experiences.
So what’s the goal?
I want to walk across Asia, I hope to cover 19 countries, and I want to raise awareness about environmental and humanitarian projects.
Walking is a really powerful tool for coming up with ideas and for solving problems. It’s also the best way to learn about a country. I build a really human connection with people when I’m walking from place to place because I’m reliant on locals for food, for a place to sleep, for information- local people save the day!
How do people receive you?
Sometimes it’s hard and I have to go days without eating and camp wherever I can but in Brunei it’s been so easy. I have had so many offers for places to stay! I just try to smile all the time and I make sure I say ‘hi’ to everyone – that can make you much more approachable.
What has been the biggest challenge on your journey?
It’s all mental. Physically anyone with a healthy body can walk but it’s really the mental strength to endure the times when you can’t have a meal and a hot shower. But some really powerful things happen when you feel like giving up. When your mind gives up, the spirit steps in, you’re no longer bound by the physical or mental constraints of your body and then you can just go forever. It’s happened a few times this trip.
What has been the best lesson you’ve learnt?
This journey has confirmed my belief in oneness and karma. All the religions I have learned about across my travels has shown me that there’s this one common thing supporting all of them and that’s oneness. And I believe in karma, like if you give to people in some way the world will give back to you, it’s just the natural flow of energy.
Don’t you ever encounter dangerous situations?
Not really. At Limbang I almost got hit by a car but managed to drop my trolley and jump to the side and he just hit the wheel of the trolley- but he didn’t stop. I just trust my instincts, if I get a bad vibe from a place I don’t stop, I just move on.
You speak Malay, how long did that take?
About a year. I’d say if you want to learn Malay go to Indonesia, because no one there speaks English and it’s a much more polite and complete language.
Do you ever miss home?
Well I call home once a week. But my parents are really supportive and they understand. The dream right now is just to travel Asia, I get restless after about four or five days I have to move on. I learnt pretty quickly that wherever you go is home.
What should every wanderer have?
Well water is my life source. I can go one or two days without food but once I’m out of water I really feel it so its important for me to be able to locate drinkable water wherever I am. I have this water bottle that filters out 99.9% of contaminants so I can drink even from dirty puddles. Everything I carry has to have five uses so obviously you can’t take too much and can’t bring souvenirs. Just photos and videos to remember everything, my camera gear is really important.
If you could walk with anyone who would it be?
Mahatma Ghandi and Bob Marley. Probably Ghandi, he really lived what he preached and also believed that walking was really powerful.
So how is it traveling Brunei?
People have been really friendly and receptive here. But if you want to travel Brunei you have to be really determined because in terms of transport and infrastructure it’s a little less accessible.
If you want more information on Nomadic Lion or the environmental and humanitarian projects highlighted visit http://www.nomadiclion.com/ for more information.