Juergen Klein


JuergenBorn in 1955 in Germany I was bitten by the 'travel bug' relatively early in my life. As a kid I had been with my parents to several European holiday destinations, countries like Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Spain, and Romania. This taught me quite a bit already: that there's great food to be enjoyed in different parts of the world, that I really dislike accommodation in large tourist hotels and that I personally prefer hot sunny weather to the grey and cold wintry days in Northern Europe.
Just after I turned 18 I moved from my small birth town to Berlin and started a truly independent life. The first summer in Berlin I hooked up with a girlfriend and hitchhiked to Corsica; I returned with a new girlfriend from France and the knowledge that you can travel 'on the cheap' and experience a different culture even closer than on a pre-booked tour with a nice room in a hotel (we had slept in a cave by the beach).
The next year I went on real adventure: with two friends we bought an old Mercedes (ex director's car of an insurance company), which we wanted to sell to Lebanon. On arrival in Istanbul we learned about a new war in Lebanon, changed destination to Damascus in Syria, and after the sale of the car went our separate ways: one guy went sailing the Nile, my good friend from Berlin wanted to go on to Afghanistan. He was a bit into drugs, so I decided to go with him basically to make certain he would eventually return home. As it turned out there was no need to worry about him. The trip, the people, the cultural experience, the entire adventure was so fascinating that my friend didn't even think much about cheap hashish and opium in Afghanistan. All this was in 1975, long before the well travelled and resourced backpacker trails and 'Lonely Planet' guide bibles covered our globe, although Afghanistan was on a popular route towards India and Nepal.
When I finally arrived back in Berlin I couldn't adjust to regular life. Lucky for me there were some 600 Deutschmarks [~300 Euros] from a tax refund in my bank account, so I took the money and hitchhiked for 3 weeks to Holland, just to get away from the 'alltag'. When I finally settled back into day-to-day life one of my first trips was to a bookstore, where I bought '100,000 kms Orient' by Rolf Schettler - a self-published guide book and report written by a German couple who had travelled in a converted old Post van through the Middle East all the way to India and the newly opened kingdom of Ladakh. I was truly hooked!
Yet, it was years before my next trip outside Europe. Either I didn't have enough money, or when I had enough money I was so involved in work that I didn't have the time to travel for extended periods.
Though I went on several trips to far-away destinations for a bit longer than a normal annual leave might allow for, to places like the Philippines, Hong Kong, South-West of the USA, and twice to Mexico. Most of these trips where driving holidays simply because I love the freedom of travelling without a set itinerary, and on the way back from Afghanistan I got a lift with people coming back from India in a VW Kombi, and that one time has taught me how much more one can see (and stop to see) when going places in your own car.
Finally in 1991 I sold my last business in Germany and went on a 10 month trip around Australia, and from Singapore through Malaysia up into the North of Thailand. I loved it, so I only went back briefly to Europe to deal with a few important things and visit Prague for a month,Klein - in Montana north of Billings and off I went again. Back through Thailand and Sumatra to Australia, where I finally married my lovely soulmate Sharon "Yasha" in 1992 and applied for residency.
I guess in hindsight I can say, that I'm somebody who never really had roots in one place, because even within Germany I moved around a fair bit, never living in one place for longer than 5 years. Whatever I was doing for a living took several sharp turns from one thing to another. One thing is certain: I have always hated the confinement of employment and 9 to 5 jobs - I'd rather work a lot harder and longer hours for less money and be my own boss.
It's just a question of mentality: some people love a steady and planned life; I in contrast am always curious and looking forward to new challenges!


 
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