As the new year approaches and leaves I think about New Years Resolutions. Like everyone else the number one resolution is starting a diet to lose weight and joining a the gym. It also tends to be the first resolution to get put by the wayside. For me, I do go to the gym and I do love roller blading but I tend to be very inconsistent with my routine. I do mean well and I do to eat healthy but Its just that cookies and donuts and chocolate keep getting in the way. So as I think of an excuse to justify (for myself) why I can go to the gym next week I start browsing through some of my friends travel blogs and the first I come across is Danik, OH Great… You see Danik The Explorer whilst travelling, does hiking, cycling & running…as in marathon running. So I suppose your going to tell me I should be inspired by his fitness level…but out of spite I think I’ll choose to be inspired by his travels…
Name: Danik Bates
Travel Blog: Danik The Explorer | www.daniktheexplorer.com The Curious Explorers | www.thecuriousexplorers.com (As of January 2017, Danik will be teaming up with Claire from Curious Claire since they are now a couple) More on that a bit later.
City & Country of birth: Stevenage, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
My blog has developed over the years when I first started out going solo back in 2011. Starting off with solo budget travel around Europe giving tips and advice on how to get the cheapest stays in the top tourist cities to how to getting around (quickly and cheaply) on the trains. Then I got into fitness and started doing marathon running, so I combined some of my posts on marathon courses I have done and what to do in the areas where they are held. Since then for some reason I got side tracked and gone off the beaten paths and headed to countries like Israel, Tunisia, Cape Verde and started to do backpacking outside Europe. Lately I have gone up to step and started to do luxury travel. Not sure how I got into that but I have got sidetracked with my niche. But things are about to change……
• How do you incorporate fitness into your travels. How do you prepare? Can you give us some tips?
I hope I understand this question but I do have a full time job working in railway management in Central London sorting out the service when it is disrupted and keeping those train drivers in check. However it is very good pay and I do get lots of time off. Whenever I have 4-5 days off in a row in my roster, its time to fly out and hit a city to explore (or maybe run around) but I do get an extra five weeks off a year as well. So I tend to do some long haul trips from my island. If I am lucky and work on my days off, instead of pocketing the extra money, I turn them into days off and use them elsewhere. My current job enables me to do a lot of traveling, enjoy my home city and still pay the bills. My motto is ‘you gotta work hard to play hard’
Danik at Cardiff representing Latvia at the World Championships at Half Marathon. Distance (21km-13.1miles)
- Share one of your favourite travel stories. How did it change you as a person?
I did fly across the world to win back the girl I love…I may need to briefly explain what has happened. Well, my background is I married a beautiful Latvian girl and we had been together for ten years but about two years ago, for me personally, I drifted away and felt that she was more of a friend than a wife. I did some crazy things following that but back in April 2015, I met a girl called Curious Claire at a meetup full of travelers and backpackers in a bar in Camden, London. Nothing happened, we just exchange facebook details (not phone numbers anymore), and that was all. In the following weeks we messaged each other, hence not often but one Tuesday we agreed to meetup for lunchtime drinks in Shoreditch as we both had the day off from work (we are only part time travel bloggers) to which was great fun, got drunk and shared our first kiss.
Danik and Claire in Malaysia
From then on we kept meeting up to which I can admit turned into an affair and we both loved each other. Everything was fine until my wife found out she was expecting our first child. We then decided to split up but we kept seeing each other and Christmas which was kind of hell as I wanted to be with the Curious One. We got back together after my trip from China back in January but I came to the conclusion in March that I can’t make Claire happy whilst having a baby in my life and trying to play happy families. Back then I thought it was the right thing to do. Most people in the world reading this would think it was the right thing to do. All I can say is, it is very hard to give up on the girl who I really truly love. Because of this, I drove Claire away to do a three month trip around South East Asia. She visited Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. We were in contact all the time, there were tears, happiness, sadness and excitement, from both of us. But as time wore on towards the end of the trip, I noticed a change in Claire. Even with us being ‘best’ friends I noticed something was up, even via messages, the way she didn’t really want to speak to me on the phone.
I was working a shift at my ‘real’ job in Central London, it was early morning but by the time lunchtime came, I knew I needed to see Claire. She wasn’t due to return to the island for a couple of weeks but I was going insane. With the help of a few colleagues looking after my shifts at work, I booked a last minute flight to Kuala Lumpur which was to fly out late in the evening from Heathrow. Arriving at Heathrow early, I was really nervous about the whole situation but really wanted to get out there. Even my wife didn’t know I was here. Flight time came and I was told at the departure gate the flight was delayed then canceled a few hours later. Refreshment vouchers and hotel room supplied (and also put on the following day’s flight plus rearranged my return flight), it was about 2:30am I was sitting in my hotel room thinking what should I do. I already rang the hostel Claire was staying in and got a staff member to wake her up so I could talk to her and explain the situation. She told me to get a refund and forget about it. Well, in the hotel room I did think about it, I got my best friend from Hertfordshire to drive down in the middle of the night, pick me up and take me home and I would try and get a refund the following day.
Claire & Danik in Switzerland July 2016
I got home at 4.30am on a Tuesday morning and after a few hours sleep I woke up at 07.30am, looked at my cellphone and saw a message from Claire from the previous night. I knew I had to be in Malaysia. I quickly got up, washed, rushed to the train station, got across London and got back to Heathrow as soon as possible and before I knew it, I was flying across the world eastwards to Malaysia, my 50th country. 13 hours later I rushed out of the aircraft, ran through the airport, took the train, sprinted through arrivals and then….no Claire. She was late and wasn’t feeling 100%. I had to wait another thirty minutes for her to arrive. I was getting nervous. At the train station platforms below the terminal building I met Claire as she was getting off the train. She was either really ill or not best pleased to see me, there was like an invisible barrier in the way when I tried to hug her. This is going to be difficult I thought. On the train, the tension eased and we arrived at a hotel we pre-booked so we could have some privacy as we talked. We did a lot of talking then before we knew it, we were back like old times. The loving feeling, the smiles, the cuddles, even the invisible barrier was down. I told Claire how much I loved her (amongst a few other things and I never said the word ‘Sorry’ so much in my life!) and before we knew it, we were back together.
After a chicken meal at Nando’s (it had to be done as it’s one of our eating spots back home in London), it was time to part ways. I didn’t want to leave her (but I had to, my wife was expecting the baby to be born at any moment and she didn’t know I was out here), and she didn’t want to leave me. It would be over two weeks until we see each other again but I boarded that plane back to London (I was only in Kuala Lumpur for about 13 hours I think) feeling the happiest man alive. OK, I still got a wife and a baby to come and I knew it would be tough times ahead but all I know is, Claire is the girl for me, my one true love and the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with.
By the way, Kuala Lumpur first impressions, friendly people, cheap, it has a Nando’s and it will always be the place where I sorted out my love life finally. I will come back but next time with Claire holding my hand and we will be doing the touristy thing.
- What are your top 5 travel rules that you follow every time you travel and why?
- Always take a roll of toilet paper with you, it always come in handy espeically in the mountains, forests and deserts. There isn’t always a toilet around when you need one!
- Always carry a selfie stick with you at night. Its not just for the camera but makes a great self defense weapon.
- Always do the speed limits whilst renting a car in North America and Europe. On the road I have been stop in England, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Spain (twice), Poland and Switzerland and I feel I am supporting the economies of these countries!
- To class you been to another country, I always say you must have used the toilet, tried a local beer in the local bar, tried something of the local cuisine and stayed a night there! (Can be a little bit tricky with the Vatican City (no hotels) and Monaco (who’s got that sort of money?) but if I can do all of these, then I count that country.
- Always go to another country with an open mind and forget about all the politics and other rubbish bantered about in the media. I been to countries like Russia and Palestine and the locals were fantastic and gave me such a warm welcome.
- What are tour top 5 travel hacking tips and tricks?
I have to admit I have only come across the term ‘Travel hacking’. But when booking flights I always hit up Skyscanner first to find the cheapest deals on roughly the dates I want to fly out. When it comes to hotels I always look at Booking.com first otherwise I tend to hit up Google search. I try and look for cheap rental apartments or hostels which has a kitchen then I can cook my own foods and this saves lots of cash!
- What are your top 5 travel things you must bring in your carry on, purse or satchel?
- My Samsung S7 – this is where the heart of my social networking comes from (and showing pictures of things to locals so they understand what I am looking for).
- A book to read for long journeys – I can’t just sit on a plane watching the entertainment system. I want to be lost in a world and drift away (books are easier to make me sleep on planes and trains than using technology)
- Portable USB power charger for the Samsung – started using these recently and its been a life saver!
- A map of where I am going (if possible) – in case technology fails or does not work in the destination I am going (i.e. Sahara Desert, Arctic Ocean)
- A swiss army knife – as a hiker as well, I always take this but usually its in the hold luggage. So for number 5 I always take cash, simples!
- What is your most prized souvenir you brought back from abroad and what’s its story?
That would be Curious Claire from Malaysia. Now look at us, a couple, got our own place together, two travel bloggers who are going to bring everyone a new website in 2017, can life be any better.
- Where are you off to next and what are you hoping to experience, eat, see and/or learn?
We are off to the city of Fez in Morocco, our first time in this North African country for a long weekend break. Otherwise we are hitting up Beijing in January for some hiking, sightseeing and an ice hockey game before flying onwards to a secret destination.
Danik The Explorer Social Media Network
Using the latest travel apps, technology and gear, I take a city; see the sights, taste the food, smell the roses, hear the stories and feel the love. All in 48 hours. Then, using videography & editing, photography and writing I retell and share those stories with my readers and viewers. I'm Christopher Rudder and welcome to Rudderless Travel.
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