Jérémy Marie set out from his home in Caen, France in October 2007 and has been touring the world ever since, solely by hitching a ride with generous strangers. He has so far travelled 151,750 km (94,293 miles) across 54 different countries in 1,464 different vehicles. Jérémy is currently in Shanghai and kindly agreed to answer some questions about his project.
What inspired you to try and hitchhike around the world?
Previous travel experiences led me to randomly try hitchhiking. Compared to all other ways of travelling, I really enjoy the social side of this one. Hitchhiking lets me get closer to the people and help me to understand the local culture from the point of view of the driver.
Travelling the world was for me a good way to understand it in its globality, instead of watching it on TV. The best way was for me to do it by hitchhiking.
How are you finding China/Shanghai so far?
I have been astonished by the difference of culture in China. The gap between the Western world and China is huge, especially in the interior of the country. I find the Chinese people quite generous. There is a lot to learn here in matter of cultural difference and this is positively interesting.
In the other hand, I feel lost when I see how big China is and how fast the country is currently going. I don’t necessarily think that it is always a good thing.
Shanghai is incredible. I feel history being made in this place.
Is there any country that was particularly difficult to hitchhike in?
Some countries have been quite difficult to do so. Strangely, the most difficult place for me to hitchhike was the United States. Today, it is forbidden to ask for rides in many States. People are also scared sometimes scared of hitchhikers there.
You’re promoting a message of tolerance and friendship, what do you say to people who think hitchhiking is an inherently dangerous form of travel?
Hitchhiking, as with life in general, must be dealt with a lot of common sense. In 5 years on the road, I have never got a ride from someone who wanted to do something wrong to me. I speak of 1631 different drivers. I refused rides that I didn’t feel safe, I avoided dangerous areas and hitchhiking at night in some places.
I believe that most people will behave helpfully if we give them the occasion to do so.
Where to next?
From Shanghai, I will go up north on the way to Beijing before to head west.
From China, I will head towards Nepal, India and then I will cross Middle East and the way back to Europe.
Visit Jérémy’s website.
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