Originally from: Kiryat Ono, near Tel Aviv, Israel
Native Language: Hebrew
On the road since: November 8, 2015
Ido spent his early twenties doing his required military service, working in the service industry, and travelling the world as a flight attendant before he decided he needed a bigger journey abroad.
We met online after arriving in Hanoi, Vietnam at the same time. He'd just come from Japan and the Philippines. We both planned on travelling solo for a while, but instead met for a date one afternoon to explore Hanoi -- that date ended up lasting 3 months long as we explored all of Vietnam and Cambodia together.
We bonded over roadside beers in Hanoi, then took a weekend trip to the mountains in Sapa. From there we travelled south through Vietnam and spent another month exploring Cambodia together. But by the time our visas were about to expire, we weren’t ready to say goodbye just then. We extended our visas and found a way to work on a quiet beach on an island for one more month, creating some of the most vivid, dreamlike moments together.
It was an intense 3 months, but we ultimately had to split ways knowing that we had different directions to go and our own solo paths to walk. Today, he remains my sweet friend at a distance and we keep in touch regularly.
Well, let’s just dive right in… What’s it like having had a 3-month relationship with me on the road?
Everything changed for me on the day we met and had lunch together. Knowing you and building what we had (and still have) day by day made everything so special.
The ability to share everything that’s happening with someone who’s more than a friend is very rare and different. It's not easy to build a relationship in everyday life, and during the travels its much more intense because you’re spending 24/7 in a routine. But for us it was good because we're very similar in the way that we travel. We have the same slow pace; we enjoy the simple things, and don’t really care if we miss this temple or that sight. And also of course because we're just a good match. Those 3 months made everything better and I'm grateful that we met and built what we had.
We probably spent 99% of our entire time next to each other for three whole months. What are the greatest difficulties about spending time with someone so closely, so often?
Travelling together was one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had. Being with someone 24/7 for a pretty long time will lead to a boiling point. It’s happening to a lot of travellers and it happened to us.
At the beginning when you know someone it's easy to ignore the little things because maybe you don’t really see them at the start, or you know that they’re little and you don't even think about it. Also, you don't always feel comfortable enough to say something about it. It’s natural that after a while, even the smallest thing can get on your nerves.
But that's ok; it's a part of it. The most important thing is to be open and talk about everything and not keep the anger in your stomach. When you can overcome this obstacle as a couple/ friends/ whatever- it will always make your connection stronger, closer, and you’ll learn so much about your partner.
I feel that we did an amazing job together, and yes we had some hard times as well but we eventually overcame our obstacles and it made our connection deeper and stronger.
What about the highlights of spending so much time together?
Wow! There's so much. For me the biggest highlight is that because we had (and still have) such a deep connection, I could be ‘the real Ido’ with you.
As an introvert, especially traveling alone, a lot of the time I’m very quiet and shy and it's not so easy for me to socialize with new people. Most of the time all I wanted was to just be me. With you I felt so comfortable in my own skin so it was easy for me to be open with you. I was able to share with you my humour, my love for stupid games and just be silly. After spending so much time together I was also able to share with you my fears, my insecurities and just about every emotion I felt during our time together.
A lot is going on in your mind while traveling. You ask yourself endless questions, you learn a lot about yourself, sometimes you feel lonely and you miss home -- and it's so important to have someone to share it with, to have someone that is really there for you.
So luckily I had you, and I feel that no one ever understood me like you did, so I’m happy that we could share all these feelings. We had so many funny moments, we played so many games, but we also shared some hard moments, and I’m happy I felt comfortable enough crying next to you.
What made you want to travel in the first place?
As a kid I remember that I was always curious about the world. One of my favourite games was a memory game where you needed to match the country and the capital. As I got older, around 13 or 14, me and one of my best friends dreamt about traveling to India after we'd finish our army service. She travelled to India a few years ago and I decided to leave India for a different time and go to Southeast Asia. So the curiosity, especially to this culture and part of the world, brought me here in the first place. I also had the need to figure out things in my life and I knew that travel would be the biggest lesson of my life. I learn about myself and grow as a person every day here.
It seems so many travellers smoke cigarettes. When did you buy your first pack of cigarettes and why do you smoke today?
I bought my first cigarette pack, Black Devil Chocolate flavour, in Tel Aviv with a few of my friends when I was 16. We bought them for one reason - to walk on the streets of the city with a cigarette and feel like the coolest people in the world. I now know that its stupid, but I'd lie if I said I didn't feel this way at the time. No one thought that except me I guess.
I was occasionally smoking until I started my army service. Basic training was pretty tense and for 3 months we lived under a timer. 2 minutes to wash hands, 30 seconds to run to the tree and come back, and 30 minutes to eat. If you were late by even 1 second, you got punished. During the day schedule we could only smoke at meal times. It was our only time during the day to relax a bit, and it was the best feeling after a bad meal just to sit and relax with your friends and have a cigarette. A lot of people back home start to smoke during this time just to release some tension. Now it became a part of my everyday life, but a need for a cigarette still comes when I feel upset or had a hard day and all I want is just to sit and smoke.
What’s been one of your most memorable moments on the road so far?
The first stop after I left visiting my family in Tokyo and started to explore Japan by myself was to a city called Takayama. That was my real first moment alone on the other side of the world. From the beginning I got to the hostel I felt weird. The staff weren’t nice, I didn't meet anyone, and the weather was cold and rainy. I was trying to go see an illumination ceremony and I got super lost! The rain became heavier and heavier, I was soaking wet, and I felt like the loneliest person on earth. I remember asking myself, what the fuck am I doing here?
Eventually I gave up on trying to find the ceremony and decided to go for a beer in one of the bars. I was sitting there alone for a while, drinking a beer and prayed that someone would come inside and sit next to me just so I'd have someone to talk to.
A Japanese man, maybe around 60 years old, came inside and sat next to me. After a few minutes he asked me where I was from and we started talking. Even though we couldn't really understand each other, with a lot of patience, hand talking, and a little bit of help from Google Translate, we had the nicest talk. The bartender joined our conversation and we talked, very very slowly, about Israel and Japan, love and women, and a lot more. I remember the bartender said that she’d never left Takayama in 40-something years of living and that I was very brave for doing it alone.
I really felt like shit that evening, and they don’t even know how much they made me feel better. I don’t remember their names, but I remember that the translation to the man’s name is 'Heart'. And yes its sound kitschy, but he really warmed my heart on such a rough evening. I went back to the hostel, planned my next day and said to myself that tomorrow would be better. And it was so much better. That’s a moment I will never forget.
You’re an old soul listening to traditional Israeli music and knitting scarves. You even made a scarf for me in Vietnam as we moved from place to place. So what do you like about knitting?
Yes! I'm a proud old soul. The music is old Israeli music that one radio station plays non-stop on Shabbat. It's mostly songs from the 50's-80's that talk about love and heart breaks, about the country, the culture, about the army, and even just about a female horse…
(Listen to one of Ido's favourites: מירי אלוני - שיר לערב חג)
I enjoy listening to this music especially on Shabbat and especially during my travels when I want to feel a little bit of home. The combination of knitting with this music is on is totally paradise for me. I learned it from my grandmother when I was around 14 because I always liked to create things with my hands and she used to make the most amazing creations. Since then I still knit, and for me it’s a kind of meditation because I focus only on that. Even one mistake can make it all unravel.
The ability to create something from wool and 2 needles is great and to give it away as a gift is one of the best things I can give to someone.
Where do you hope all this travelling will lead you?
One of my biggest reasons for travelling was and still is to learn more about my real interests and figure out what the right path is for me in life.
I left home with a bad taste in my mouth. I was sick of the feeling that there is something wrong with me because I’m 26 and still didn’t go to university. There's a lot of pressure from the people around you, and the worst part was that I started to lose my value in my own eyes.
Now, after travelling, I feel I can think clearly about myself and about my future; I don't have the endless pressure on my shoulders all the time. Here you’re a backpacker and no one is judging you. I came here to learn about myself, about being independent, and about growing as a person more and more. And I learn about myself every day, about my real interests in life and on all the real changes that I need to do in my life.
I feel now that the travels have led me closer to figuring out my goals in life. I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life and I feel more comfortable in my own skin then ever before. Those were my goals.
With that, I know I have a lot of work to do. And it's only just begun. ■