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Eva Zu Beck (solo traveller & youtuber)

On today’s episode, Eva Zu Beck shares her experience of travelling around Pakistan and how her own fear actually helped her embrace fear and become the bravest person she knew. On the Modern Adventurer Podcast, we talk about all her adventures around the world. Yemen and Pakistan and been stuck when the Pandemic hit the world and how she coped.

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Transcript of our Conversation

Eva Zu Beck

[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the modern adventurer podcast coming up, maybe 60 or 70 years old with long braids dressed in a traditional style with a beautiful woven cap. And she’s smiling at me and she’s welcoming me with some bread and some milk. And then there’s her husband. You know, this elderly gentleman, who’s standing there with his like Pakistani pack, all this sort of traditional hat.

And they’re just welcoming me this stranger into their home. They never, they didn’t know me before. I didn’t know them before. And yet here they are standing there with a smile, not speaking a word of English, me, not speaking a word of their language and just expecting me to come in, just come in. You’re our guests come in, take a bite of this bread, take a sip of this milk and stay with us for awhile.

And I think this kind of like. Warmth and hospitality is something that I’ve experienced in so many places. But I think Pakistan was really the place that kind of introduced me to, to that concept, which I think [00:01:00] is quite alien to us in the sort of Western world.

My next guest is Ava. Zubek a YouTuber who has covered a wide range of countries in her time. She let’s say doesn’t quite stick to the travel destinations you see in the brochure. She goes off the beaten track and tell some of the most fantastic stories in the most authentic way from Pakistan to the Yemen, Iraq to Mongolia.

So I am delighted to introduce Ava. Zubek back to the podcast. Thank you so much, really happy to be here. We’re absolutely pleasure. And thank you so much for coming on. Uh, what I absolutely love about your story is I suppose, how you travel to countries, which [00:02:00] some people might question your logic and will probably, they’re not your typical holiday destinations and you tell it in such a authentic and positive manner.

Uh, we’ll get into that. In a minute, but I suppose probably the best place to start for people listening is about you and how you start it. In this sort of world of adventures and travel. Yeah. I mean, obviously sometimes you’re, you know, we’re all very tempted to look at vloggers or filmmakers, whatever you want to call them, content creators, and sort of look at their current stage and be like, Oh, well they must have always done this filmmaking thing.

They must have always done this travel thing. They’ve always been good at it. That’s definitely not my style. Sorry, my story is actually of, of, um, yeah, definitely struggle and new beginnings. So just over three years ago, I was not living this kind of life. Um, I was, uh, working for a startup back in London.

I was married, working very long [00:03:00] hours in the city. Kind of like going through the motions that I think a lot of people find themselves almost like. Locked in, or like shackled to, you know, you graduate university with a good degree, and then you have to go to the city to get a good job and, you know, and good money climb the career ladder and eventually, you know, find a husband or a wife, or, you know, I dunno, have a family do whatever you need to do.

And, uh, that’s kind of your life. Right. And I was definitely on that path. Um, yeah, just over three years ago in London. Until I kind of started questioning why I found it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and why I didn’t have much motivation. To do anything outside of my job and even, you know, doing my job on a daily basis was a bit of a struggle.

I had to find reasons to convince myself why. Um, you know, I was, I, I should live the kind of life that everybody had been telling me to live. And, um, so I sort of questioned myself and of low-key for a little while, until I came to a few sort of very deep, [00:04:00] um, realizations. Um, after asking myself these stuff, questions that actually, maybe this was not the life that I wanted to live.

Maybe I had just kind of fallen for this illusion of success that everybody told me I should aspire to. And the moment I realized that was kind of the moment of truth, where I was like, well, this is clearly not for me. So what should I do about it? I mean, you have limited options in some ways, because you can either keep going and be unhappy maybe for the rest of your life who knows or quit and do something completely new and different and have zero guarantees that it will work out.

Um, so I thought, well, I’m still, I’m still kinda young. But that doesn’t even matter so much, I guess. Like I just don’t really, I can’t picture myself being unhappy for one more month of my life. So I’m in a pretty spontaneous decision. Um, and pretty much actually one morning between 8:00 AM and 10. I am on the [00:05:00] 1st of January, 2018, I did a whole bunch of things that completely changed my life.

And like one moment I quit my job in London. My very nice cushy job. I gave up my apartment in London. I called my family to tell them that I’m going traveling full time. By the way I had no plans as to what I would be doing on those travels just yet. And I booked a one way ticket to Nepal because I thought, where should I go?

I mean, on my sort of solo travels and the pal sounds like a place where I could get some spiritual awakening. So I guess I’ll just go there. You know, I think I’ve seen too many sort of movies about mountains, the Himalayas, and, uh, sort of. Ritual reawakening. So, um, booked those tickets. And a couple of months later, I was actually on my way to Nepal with a camera in hand, um, thinking that I’d like to start documenting my travels, despite the fact that I had no background at all in [00:06:00] filmmaking or logging or anything like that.

But I thought, okay, I’m going to go and travel for a little while. I don’t know how long, I don’t know where. But I’d like to share that story of like a journey into the unknown, um, with people in a creative way. So, um, yeah, kind of on that trip along the way, I started learning how to edit videos from scratch via sort of YouTube university.

Um, I started kind of trying to build out my Instagram didn’t really know what I was doing and, um, yeah, kind of, I wanted to see what I could do with this limited savings that I had from my previous job. Um, and how I can tell sort of. The story of a solo female traveler kind of making her way around the world after quitting her old life in, you know, in London.

So that’s kind of how it all began. And now we’re here three years on and things are kind of working out. No, it’s absolutely amazing. And, uh, for people listening, Ava has [00:07:00] a remarkable way of communicating her story on sort of YouTube and Instagram. So. You were in the pool. How long were you there for?

Nepal was my very first destination. Um, and it was only really to do a sort of Trek to Everest base camp. Mind you, at that point, I hadn’t really stepped foot on like, like in the mountains very much in the vein very long time. I was definitely like full on city girl, you know, like I went to Nepal. With like, uh, PE face powder with NASCAR, with all these things thinking, Oh my God, like, how am I going to look like out on these mountains, I need to make sure that I look great.

And, and then I sort of got to the mountains, got to Nepal. And I was like, well, I can’t, I can’t possibly be bringing all these things with me on the Everest base contract. I have to ditch them, you know? And that was kind of like, I don’t know. I felt like I was. Reborn, almost in some, in some interesting new way.

[00:08:00] And that was like definitely a very transformative, um, kind of cut with my old life. Um, but I think the journey that definitely, um, changed the way that I sort of looked at. My future journey, the way that I looked at the world and the journey that really triggered everything that I do with my content, with the destinations that I traveled to now was the second country I traveled to, which was Pakistan.

So this is, um, one of the, sort of less obvious countries that you were talking about and Pakistan. Um, it was the second destination on kind of my, my big journey came about completely randomly. So when a friend and old school friend heard that I was. You know, traveling the world and telling travel stories.

She said, okay, well, why don’t you come over to Pakistan? You know, I’m here. I’m, I’m, I’m living here. And I was like, I don’t know. I mean, Pakistan, you like, she has, you know, there’s like tiny blonde girl with blue eyes, really sweet and gentle. And I was like, you, you really, you you’re in [00:09:00] Pakistan. Like that doesn’t seem like the kind of place that you would travel through.

She’s like, no, no, no. It’s completely different from what you expect. Come over. You’ll see for yourself. So I got my BS, I got my ticket. And then from the pile I flew to Pakistan and I was like, Oh my God, where am I going? Pakistan? I’ve heard so much about Pakistan, only bad things. Right. You hear about these countries, like, I’ll go, there’s violence, there’s terrorism.

Like you imagine things like people on the streets just have like guns with them. And there’s probably not much to see. And so I was imagining all these things, repeating these sort of like media narratives that we hear. In our daily lives, um, in my head as I was boarding the flight to Islamabad in Pakistan and, um, uh, yeah, landed and within maybe an hour, my entire perception of not just Pakistan, but the world and life, if I may exaggerate a little bit changed, just almost instantly, I [00:10:00] landed, expecting to visit some sort of, um, war zone with very little to see.

And I found a city that was lined with beautiful green trees. Um, nice cars, nice people who were smiling at me, not carrying guns. Um, and, um, I just realized, Oh my God, maybe I was wrong about this place. And then I stayed in Pakistan for a couple of weeks. Traveling to the North, which is a very beautiful mountainous region.

Some of the tallest mountains in the world, amazing nature. Valley’s really kind of people, interesting culture and spending two weeks, just the sort of initial two weeks there made me reconsider how I viewed the world and why I had viewed the world in those ways. Um, you know, kind of having succumbed to all the like sort of negative biases and stereotypes that, um, I had been exposed to through sort of mainstream media and never really haven’t questioned them before.

Until, of course I experienced them on my own skin and the fact that they just were not true. Um, and [00:11:00] so my two week. Uh, adventure with Pakistan turned into, um, a one year long stay in Pakistan, ended up staying for a year, um, traveling all across the country, making videos, um, about, you know, sort of travel culture, food, uh, in Pakistan.

And that was the real beginning I would say of the journey. And that’s what brought me here. Wow. And I suppose what, what I loved is probably when you went out to Pakistan, as you said, the media tabloids, especially around that sort of time were probably just full of horror stories. And I imagine, you know, your parents and friends and family were.

Well convincing you left right. And center to, to abandon this idea that you had this crazy idea. Oh my God. I mean, the things I heard, um, they definitely, I mean, my family and friends definitely [00:12:00] thought I was probably a little bit mad by that point because I had quit everything, you know, back in London and then next thing they know I’m traveling to Pakistan of all places.

So they definitely had some serious questions. And, uh, I’m most surprised of course. Uh, I would probably do the same for my friends, but, um, but it was definitely an unusual decision. And, um, the thing is that, you know, the longer I stayed in Pakistan, the more they worried, the more passionate I became about sort of telling them and showing them just how beautiful and different it was to what.

Maybe they were also kind of expecting and what they had been imagining. So, um, it definitely in very interesting ways, it was also a journey. Like it was a journey for me and sort of creating, um, content on public platforms like YouTube and Instagram about this amazing place. Uh, but also kind of a more personal journey into trying to convince my family that not only was I making the right decision by.

Um, you know, quitting my job in London and pursuing something completely new and [00:13:00] different and very sort of risky in a sense that there was no guarantees that I would succeed, but also then going to places like that as a solo female traveler. Um, and I think that was something that worried them the most, but that was also the kind of niche that I was the most passionate.

Well, what was the sort of moment that you had there, where you were like this, this is one of the best moments. Oh, where do I begin? Um, I think, um, Oh gosh, for example, I made a couple of unexpected friends, um, opposite of North, uh, in, in the North of Pakistan, in the mountains through just some common friends.

I had been invited to stay, um, in a sort of remote Valley, uh, in the North, in the mountains for as long as I wanted. So I kind of drove up there without really knowing much about it. The region without really knowing anyone there. And I would only get to sort of meet the family that would be hosting me when I got there.

I didn’t even get a chance to sort of talk to them on the phone or [00:14:00] anything before. So I was kind of going a little bit into the unknown. And the moment they sort of, you know, I mean, I arrived like driving down the sort of beautiful carrot quorum highway, which is one of the most stunning, I think roads in the entire world just takes you through these gorgeous mountains.

Um, and, um, you know, it’s, Oh gosh, like a day and a half to actually reach the village that I had been invited to stay and, um, reach the village, which was just. You know, underneath this huge mountain face, um, overlooking the, the Hindu Kush in the category of mountains and, um, entered the home of a family that was some native to the region.

Uh, part of the Waukee community who, you know, had their own language, their own customs, very separate from the rest of Pakistan. And I entered their house. And there’s only a couple of rooms in the house, in the main room where most of the family members sleep. There’s a , which is like, um, a sort of very basic stove.

There’s a [00:15:00] fire inside. It’s nice in the warm there’s carpets all over the walls. Um, there’s a beautiful sort of ceiling that’s carved in wood and inside there’s this. Family, this older lady, maybe 60 or 70 years old with long braids dressed in a traditional style with a beautiful woven cap. And she’s smiling at me and she’s welcoming me with some bread and some milk.

And then there’s her husband. You know, this elderly gentleman, who’s standing there with his like Pakistani pack, all this sort of traditional hat. And they’re just welcoming me this stranger into their home. They never, they didn’t know me before. I didn’t know them before. And yet here they are standing there with a smile and not speaking a word of English and me not speaking a word of their language and just expecting me to come in, just come in.

You’re our guests come in, take a bite of this bread, take a sip of this milk and stay with us for awhile. And I think this kind of like warmth and hospitality is something that I’ve experienced in [00:16:00] so many places. But I think Pakistan was really the place that kind of introduced me to. To that concept, which I think is quite alien to us in the sort of Western world.

We, we don’t have this. I mean, for example, in Poland, where I’m from, we kind of culturally pride ourselves on being hospitable and welcoming, welcoming, but it’s not really, it’s maybe a concept that existed once upon a time. But the, I don’t think no longer applies as much and that we don’t see it in practice as much.

We’re not as trusting of strangers anymore. Maybe at some point we were, but out there in Pakistan and so many other places that I visited there is definitely that sense that, Oh, you’re our guest come and share our home with us, come and share our food with us. And, um, yeah, that’s definitely been like the, I would say the most beautiful, mm.

Experience or set of experiences that I’ve collected on my travels. Is this kind of [00:17:00] the hospitality that I’ve experienced has just been absolutely mind-blowing. Yeah, I think, um, when you travel, that is the one thing you always take is the unbelievable hospitality that you get in some of these countries.

And. Once that, um, you would not expect at all. I remember it reminds me of a sort of time when we were traveling through Turkey and we were up in Mount , which, um, I think is famous for where Noah’s Ark less, less rested or something, something along those lines. And. Anyway, we were driving up, I think to camp the night and we came across the sort of Shepherd’s hut.

And as we drove in, we were like, Oh shit. It’s someone’s place. Let’s, um, let’s turn around and they’re like, no, no, come on in, you know, this little, uh, bell tent in the middle of the mountain, you know, the last bit on the [00:18:00] road, you would, no one would ever go up there. And they were like, come on in, come and have some eggs.

Um, so we sort of sat down in their tent. The stove was on, they cooked her some eggs and, you know, And then we went on that went on our way afterwards and you know, we didn’t speak a word. We couldn’t understand a word that they were saying, but is this. Sort of hospitality and the generosity that comes back again and again and again, when you, um, and I think I find a lot of that hospitality, um, you experienced it in some of the places that have some of the worst reputations for kind of, yeah.

Other human beings. You know, again, Pakistan, I think for a lot of people who don’t know much about the country, the first association would be of, you know, Oh, something terrible will happen to me. If I go there and not, Oh, well wait, hang on. Maybe someone will welcome me into their home. Um, you know, with bread and milk.

And that’s kind of not what we imagined is it. [00:19:00] And it’s, um, it’s really interesting that kind of dissonance that you experience of. Kind of the perceived world and the world that you actually end up experiencing with your own kind of senses. And it’s almost quite difficult to try and convince people because even when you tell them all of these experiences, they’re like, no, no, that’s not true.

Yeah, no, I I’ve been, and I remember sort of talking about this to someone, um, and they are like, No, that that place is very dangerous yet. I’m sure there are elements of this place, which are dangerous, but the vast majority of the people there are kind, they’re welcoming that they’re there with us smile.

Nope, Nope. Nope. That’s no true. Well, you can’t convince everybody, you know, you’ve got to pick your battles. And I suppose from Stan, then you were sort of traveling around the rock and you’ve recently you were in the Yemen when this [00:20:00] whole pandemic sort of kicked off last year. What was the idea? What was the idea of the Yemen?

That’s a great story because there was no specific idea. There was this story came about as, you know, a complete coincidence and a product of the circumstances of the time. So I think probably everybody remembers what they were doing more or less when the pandemic was announced in March, 2020. Um, and I remember distinctly that moment because I’ve got time.

I was in Socotra Island in Yemen. Uh, it’s an Island off the coast of Yemen, and it’s very, very remote, very difficult to get to. There’s only like one flight per week. Um, and it’s, you know, there isn’t that much infrastructure. There’s only like one town with kind of basic amenities, but, um, the Island is quite wild and quite mountainous, uh, amazing ecosystem, uh, loads of endemic species.

It’s a really unique, beautiful place. And it was actually my second visit there. I went there to [00:21:00] run a marathon. Which I ran in a, in a really good or full-time it was horrible. It took me like six hours and zero training beforehand. Terrible. Anyway, um, so the point is that we were there with a group of people, marathon winners, right.

And then a couple of days into our trip, uh, because we had been offline. There was no, there was no. Cell reception there. Um, at some point in the night, I think, uh, around 3:00 AM, we sort of see lights and we hear a motorbike approaching our camp. And suddenly we get knocks on our tend to doors. And it turns out that the best thing had arrived on the motorbike was telling us guys there’s a pandemic or like pandemic what this COVID thing has turned into pandemic.

And then, yeah. Yeah, it’s a pandemic. So the whole world is shutting down and countries are closing their borders. We’re like, what is going on? This was all news to us and Yana, and they’ve just sent a plane to Socotra. So you can’t leave. Like, I mean, you, the plane that was meant to come in a week’s [00:22:00] time is coming in like four hours.

So you better pack your stuff and go to the airport if you want to leave and go home. So everybody’s obviously like in huge panic mode, nobody knows what’s going on. I’m thinking like, go where like go home where I don’t have a home. Like I travel full time. I don’t have an apartment. My family is scattered all around the place.

Like, what am I going to do? So I have this idea come up in my head and I was like, Maybe I can stay me. Maybe I could stay, it sounds radical, but maybe I could just stay and wait it out and see what happens. You know, my, my boyfriend was with me at the time and unfortunately he was like, that’s why I can’t really stay with you because you know, my laptop’s broken.

Um, I like lost my credit card so much happened before that trip. He was like, well, I kind of have to go back home to Canada if I can. And I couldn’t at that point go to Canada. So I was like, well, I guess I’ll just stay. So I said goodbye to him. And I said goodbye to the rest of the group. And I watched the [00:23:00] airplane leave the Island from the airport.

As I stood there alone with just a couple of other, you know, mad people decided to stay. And that was kind of the beginning of it all. Um, So Kartra Island, um, became my home for the next three months. So as the entire world was in lockdown, people were unable to leave their houses and, you know, the pandemic was, and we’re still trying to figure out what it all meant.

I was on this remote Island in the middle of the Arabian sea with a couple of people that I knew. Um, you know, just like living a very simple, basic life and trying to wait it out and see how everything turns out. So yeah, after three months of kind of roaming around the Island, you know, sleeping under the stars and, um, you know, eating like a very healthy local diet of just like milk and bread and cheese, um, and you know, so many amazing adventures.

Um, I eventually made my way back to [00:24:00] Europe on a cargo ship. Um, and that’s maybe a story for another day,

but shameless plug it’s all on my YouTube channel. So if you want to check it out, it’s there. Yes. Well going all the way round through the sewers. No, no, no. Thankfully not. We were on the ship for a week, um, and took us from Socotra Island to, um, the United Arab Emirates. So we, then we sort of arrived in Abu Dhabi.

Uh, we park there for another week as we were being quarantined. And then from that, I flew to Europe. What was it like being on a cargo ship for a week? It’s an excellent adventure, actually. It’s beautiful for like clearing your mind. You know, you’re not as much to do. Cargo ships are pretty bland, you know?

Okay. The, the amazing thing is that there was wifi. There was a little bit of [00:25:00] what I felt like just enough to kind of communicate on WhatsApp, but the rest of the time. Yeah. I mean, you’re, you know, you’re kind of meditating on board, your I’m reading books, you’re writing that’s, uh, that’s how I kind of filled my time.

I hadn’t developed a tiny little routine route journal every morning, read a book a day pretty much, and sort of just look out, you know, on the ocean and kind of process everything that had happened over the previous three months. And that was, I mean, Obviously a very life, very sort of intense life experience, as you can probably imagine.

Um, so I think I needed that time to process, so I didn’t complain much about being on the cargo ship. Honestly, it was a great adventure and I would definitely do it again. When the, when, when you decided to stay behind, did you ever imagine that you’d be there for three months or did you think I will probably like quite a few people that this might be a month, maybe two.

Yeah. I thought maybe two months I heard that like, they’re like, it’s going to blow over, you know, like the world can’t stay [00:26:00] shut down because we’d never experienced anything like that before in our lives. Right. So, you know, you’ve no idea what to expect. And I was like, no, no, no. It’s like, It will be fine.

They’ll figure it out and politicians, whatever. And, um, yeah, but like as two months went by, I was like, Oh shit, wait, this is, this is, uh, becoming a thing. And, um, you know, kind of, I also knew that I had to find a way to leave the Island before the monsoon season, because as soon as the monsoon season kicks in, which is around July, Um, the Island actually becomes cut off from the world for about four months.

There’s no natural port on the Island. So ships cannot actually dock on the Island for the entire summer. And there were no planes. There was no way to actually leave the Island. So I think we left on one of the V like I’m sitting on the penultimate cargo ship that had arrived on the Island. So we were very lucky.

And did you manage to do, um, a bit of traveling in the last year? Yeah. So this is the thing [00:27:00] about sort of COVID is that I think there’s this preconception that it’s impossible to travel. I don’t think it’s impossible. I think it’s difficult and costly. And you have to be careful, but it is possible. So of course I, uh, over the last year I wasn’t traveling to as many different places as they would normally.

And I think that was a good thing because I got to sort of explore, uh, the part of the world that, you know, my family’s from originally. So Eastern Europe, um, I spent, I think two months in Romania and I cycled across Poland, um, in a feat of unimaginable foolishness and foolhardiness. Again, with no training, imagine that.

Um, but, um, you know, I sort of got a chance to travel a little bit more slowly and then, you know, I sort of things are opening up now I’ve started to kind of expand towards Asia again. So hopefully, um, hopefully COVID will just kind of situation as it is developing with all the vaccines and stuff. We’ll actually be able to travel a little bit more.

And then your future. [00:28:00] This new training thing seems to be a theme. I know, right? Oh my God. I have to stop. And that’s why I decided to run an ultra marathon so that I actually, I have to train otherwise it’ll just be struggle, pain and potentially death. Um, when I actually do it and you do it, you’re doing this ultra marathon and Mongolia, that’s it?

Yeah, exactly. 250 kilometers, uh, in Mongolia. And is the plan to record it on your go pro as you’re going watching? Absolutely, of course. You’ll see all the blood, sweat and tears. 100% guaranteed. Well, there shouldn’t be too much blood. I mean, uh, any blisters on the feet, I imagine going through the Gobi desert, thanks.

That’s kind of the image I was avoiding explicitly in my own head. And what was the reason for Mongolia? So Mongolia also holds a very, very special place in my heart. Um, again, not a very [00:29:00] obvious destination, not a place that you would necessarily consider for your next kind of, you know, um, holiday, but.

Um, Mongolia, um, was kind of also like a bit of a cathartic spot for me because I traveled to Mongolia as I was kind of going through this. Whole like questioning phase. When I was living in London, I was asking myself, what am I doing with my life? So I traveled to Mongolia on the sort of like very, almost cliche Trans-Siberian train, right.

Went to Mongolia and stopped there and then went home. Horse riding there and kind of like realized, Oh my God nature. So beautiful. So peaceful. And that, that was also, that was just like one other data point in my career kind of decision to, um, live a very different kind of life. So then I came back to Mongolia a couple of times in the last three years.

And, uh, most notably, I would say on my latest trip there, I, um, decided that I wanted to, um, track. A horse Trek in Mongolia on my own. So, um, I bought two [00:30:00] horses from a couple of friends that I knew that. And spend a little while sort of learning how to survive with horses in the wild, from the sort of local, Mongolian horsemen.

They taught me how to like, you know, not the ropes and how to make knots and how to secure the horses and how to feed them and how to water them and all these things. And, um, Then, and then I sort of just, I guess I got on horseback and I, and I went and I decided to just spend, um, a couple of weeks out there in the Mongolian wilderness, uh, making money, my way through sort of the mountains and the valleys just on horseback, kind of self-supported.

And, um, that was definitely like the most life-changing journey part of my life, whole sort of story. Um, you know, this is being completely. Alone far away from everybody. Um, having to really kind of take care of not just myself, but also these two beautiful animals that was, um, that trip really changed. Uh, sort of a lot for me, gave me a lot of confidence also to pursue [00:31:00] these bigger adventures out in the wild and the outdoors, uh, which is something that I’ve now been kind of doing much more of.

And, um, so yeah, so I think that’s why I’m on Golia is just a, kind of a recurring theme and the next big thing that I want to do. Next sort of big new thing that I want to try also has to be in Mongolia. It just, you know, the, the whole puzzle kind of comes together at this point. Wow. I mean, it’s, it’s incredible.

Um, as you were speaking, I was like, Oh, that’s exactly sort of roughly what I want to do as well. Take two horses into the wilderness and survive. It’s the most, it was the scariest most mentally and physically and emotionally exhausting thing I ever did in my life, but also, um, the most memorable, beautiful, and life changing thing I did in my life.

I mean, there’s this sort of theme, um, where, you know, you’ve Pakistan, Yemen. Um, I know other [00:32:00] places like Iraq and always sort of pushing yourself a little bit further at that. And you share a very sort of positive light. Have there been moments of trouble in those two or three years? Cause you do put yourself in a very vulnerable.

Position, um, as a solo female traveler, a lot of people imagine that I probably have these kind of horror stories to tell almost on a daily basis and that my life is quite risky and a lot happens. That’s very dramatic, but honestly not much happens. That is very dramatic, at least not instead of bad ways.

In three years of travel, as I’ve made my way to some of the worlds. Um, sort of most misunderstood countries I’ve really, um, I could probably count on the fingers of one hand. Um, the, sort of the, I would say, I guess, bad things or scary things that happened. I would say that, um, the scariest kind of recurring thing that definitely happens is when I camp alone.

So when I’m completely alone [00:33:00] in a tent in a place that I don’t know where there’s nobody around me that I know, um, as a woman that’s. That’s the situation that makes me feel always the most vulnerable and whether that’s in Mongolia or in Saudi Arabia or in Romania or in Poland, it’s the feeling is always the same.

And it’s the feeling of, you know, kind of being yeah. Um, you know, a potential threat essentially. And there’s so many stories that I heard from fellow female travelers who feel pretty much the exact same way, camping out there alone is one of the scariest things that you can do as a woman. Um, and it doesn’t really compare really to anything else that I’ve experienced.

Um, there hasn’t been, haven’t been any stories of, um, harassment or anything like that. Just that like that fear of being alone in a tent, it’s a scary one, man. So you sort of feel it’s the sort of fear of the unknown or something could happen rather than something that’s actually [00:34:00] happened. Yeah, absolutely.

I think it’s like the, um, you know, we, um, I think as, as women and camping loan, we’re definitely, it’s, we’re sort of easy targets almost. And again, you know, firsthand, I’ve heard so many different stories from women who have, you know, really had to kind of protect themselves and had to leave their sites because someone.

A stranger approach, their tent, having figured out that they’re alone and, you know, started making small talk conversation. That’s not, that’s not what you want in the evening in a place where you’re completely alone in a place that you don’t know. You don’t want someone, you know, anyone coming up to you and making small talk at that point.

Um, so. Yeah, I would say that that’s probably, you know, that’s what makes me feel really like scared and vulnerable. And, um, again, as, as much as I always want to empower women to, you know, go out there and sort of travel on their own and explore the world on their own. And I really believe that, um, the world is much, much safer than we think.

Um, it’s just those kinds [00:35:00] of moments, um, that you know, where you’re like, Oh shit, maybe I’m actually, what, what would I do in a situation like that? What would I do if someone approached me right now? There’s not much that you can do. Right. So, um, yeah, that’s, that’s the one thing I would say that scares me and that has been like, not a horror story, but, um, something that I think about a lot in terms of like fear.

And do you, do you, does it get better? The more you do it in terms of, I remember when I was doing my first trip across America and of course, I mean, even now I sort of look back and wondered why people are giving me these horror stories of America. And so the first few times wild campaign in America, I was absolutely terrified.

Um, and then after about, you know, the fourth time. You suddenly just get used to it. And then by BNA the April 9th, you’re like, right, let’s go and find a really exciting spot. And it sort of more of the challenge of finding a really cool spot to look out, to and [00:36:00] unzip the tent in the morning to look out on this sort of glorious view.

Honestly, like I would say for me, it doesn’t necessarily get better. Probably depends on what kind of person you are and like, you know, what you concentrate on in those moments. Um, for me, it doesn’t really get better. Um, but I do think that you get more savvy. So, um, in the sense that the fear is always there a little bit, but I’ve become smarter about, you know, choosing my locations.

For example, I would never camp, um, alone in a place where someone could see me quite easily from the road or from, you know, a track or trail or something like that. We’re a path. Um, but really kind of, um, having learned to, you know, pick locations where I’m the least. Um, in view where I’m really hidden away and also you kind of end up picking up some tricks along the way that help you kind of cope with at least making it seem like you’re not the only person in the tent.

Like I think one of the best tricks that I’ve [00:37:00] picked up along the way is to put two pairs of shoes outside of your tent. So that people think that you’re like a couple or two people, you know? Um, so yeah, maybe it doesn’t get less intense for me is just. I can find ways to kind of rationalize it a little bit better and be smarter about planning, where I stay and how to stay safe.

Well, Ava, I mean, you have some incredible stories and anyone who’s interested, Ava has quite the following on YouTube and Instagram. And as I’ve been saying, or throughout tells it in such an amazing and authentic way. Um, but there’s a part of the show where we asked the same five questions to each guest each week with the first being on your.

Trips and expeditions, what’s the one gadget that you always take with you? Um, I should probably at this point sort of plugging all the brands that I work with my camera gear, but, [00:38:00] uh, there’s actually one thing that is always, always, always with me. And it makes for the best gift for my friends and, you know, people always laugh at me when they find out what it is.

Um, I have these, this pair of socks that are made from Mongolian, camel wool, and they are the warmest socks in the entire world. And I bring them absolutely everywhere. They are always in my pack and they’re the best thing in the world because, you know, after like a full day of hiking, all you want to do is just getting your sleeping bag and then you get cold feet.

No, no, no, no. Not with these socks. So they’re like a, you know, they cost like $2. Bought them out of Mongolia and, you know, bizarre somewhere in lumber guitar. And that’s, that’s the gadget. I will take everywhere with me. What is your favorite adventure or travel book? There’s, there’s a lot of really fantastic ones.

And I was thinking about this earlier and the problem that I have with a lot of travel books is that a lot of them are like, Really outdated. And they use like language and descriptions of the [00:39:00] world where I’m like cringing, not all of them, but, but some of them definitely do. Um, so I find that like, it’s difficult for me also sometimes to relate to a lot of those books, because a lot of them were not written by people like me as in like, you know, girls who are just kind of getting started on their journeys.

So there was, there was one book that I did read like maybe six months ago and that really. Got me thinking about life and then kind of what I want to do in slightly different new ways. And that’s a book called woman in the wilderness by, um, a girl called Miriam Lance wood. She was very sort of romantic name.

Um, and it’s a book I, which tells the story of how Mariam and her husband decided to live a life off the grid in New Zealand and decided to kind of lend to hunt and forage and live in the mountains completely on their own. And it’s a really beautiful tale. Um, it’s very simple, but really, really nice and beautiful and quite inspiring in the sense that it shows you that you can live a beautiful bountiful [00:40:00] life with very, very little, and that it is actually possible to live outside of the system in the wilderness.

And, um, I mean, I, I’m not going to reveal any secrets here, but that book definitely inspired me to like, think about my future and. Some kind of new, different way. So let’s see what happens. Amazing. I know. Are you thinking of writing a book about your troubles? Um, yes. Yes. Very shy. Yes. I should say yes.

Hell yes. Um, yes. Um, I mean, I keep the publisher happy. I’m like, no, keep it quiet for now or is that no, but if you’re listening and if you’re, if you work for a penguin or random, please let me know. I’ll get in touch. Hey, at Abramson come Colin’s. Um, actually, yes. I mean, I, I haven’t started, uh, but it’s in the works for hopefully this summer writing a book is [00:41:00] something that.

Um, I’ve always wanted to do my entire life. Um, and I think I finally found the kind of, uh, the foundation for it. Let’s see. Would it be based upon your. Troubles and countries, or would it be about your personal experiences asking too many questions I’m just interested. Um, honestly we will see, um, I’m just gonna have to start writing and see how it develops.

I had a few ideas in mind, but you know, with these things, I mean, a book is much bigger than like a YouTube video. Right. So, um, it’s going to take a little bit more planning and a little bit more perseverance, but I hope you read it. I hope you like it. Well, let me know. Well, uh, we’ll see, when it comes out.

When it’s published by penguin. Yeah. [email protected]. Get in touch. Um, why are adventures important to you? I think adventures are important because they kind of take you out of your [00:42:00] comfort zone. They take you out of your, sort of away from your cushy, comfortable so far in your nice comfy house in whatever city you live in and they show you that you could.

Actually live a very different kind of life. That’s not the only reality that you can live and that living comfortably is not necessarily living fully. Um, and I love that kind of that discrepancy that, you know, you don’t need to go to Everest. You don’t need to go to the North pole to experience that you can literally just.

Leave your house and go to the nearest sort of trail, go to the forest, go to the mountain and have that experience of, you know, being in a completely new setting where you may not be super comfortable, but you really experienced that sense of being alive, which I think is so rare because we are just so like, um, you know, surrounded by all these comforts by all these, um, you know, everything is kind of.

Prepared for us in advance, everything is arranged, organized, planned. Um, so it’s very easy to lose yourself in that and kind of go through life [00:43:00] almost, um, without thinking about, you know, being alive and the feeling of being alive on what it actually means, but isn’t that like the essence of being human and being alive and living and existing.

Um, so yes, I think adventures are that, you know, um, for me, at least getting out of that comfort zone and really experiencing the sense of being alive. Very nice. What about your favorite quote? That’s another one I was thinking about it. There’s like, how can you. Like, how can I say there’s only one quote, there’s so many that I love and that I feel like defined me in so many different ways, but all right, cool.

So I’ll start with my tattoos. So I have a tattoo on my foot, which I got when I was 18. Uh, very silly, but actually I still deeply believe in it and it’s in French, but the translation is, um, the infinite is. Basically it kind of, um, [00:44:00] making me think of the infinite possibilities, infinite potential that each one of us holds and that hopefully, you know, um, I hold as well in some way, in some small way.

Am I a little micro universe? Then there is, um, a quote that I have on my wrist, which says I am the storm. And I pick this up from some running book actually. And I just thought it’s so fucking cool. Um, you know, I am the storm, my God like brings you in like a sort of place of power. And then the other day I was reading a book of poetry by Rumi and I love Rumi.

And there was this one quote that I thought was just so appropriate at this time in my life. And it said your boundaries are your quest. And with all these like adventures, any kind of pursuits, um, that we have, whether it’s endurance sports or travel or extreme travel, or even going hiking or doing something outside of our comfort zone, this idea of your boundaries being your quest is like, you know, [00:45:00] it’s like almost you, like, you have to go and seek your boundaries.

You have to go and seek your limits. That’s the whole purpose of it all. And yeah, I really love that idea. So that’s kind of, that’s recently been. I’m on my mind, quite a lot. That’s a good one. I liked the storm. That’s a very sort of powering, sort of gives a sort of whole sort of new meaning to. This way, especially when I’m trying to run up a Hill and I’m like really struggling, Oh my God, how much, much longer.

And they look at my wrist and I’m like, I am the storm. Aren’t I keep going, wanting to break down. You’re like, okay. I am God. Like I tattooed it into my skin. Surely I am.

So those your only two tattoos, I have three. Uh, so like one big one on my, uh, on my, um, my forearm, then one of my foot, and then one on my neck, sort of like [00:46:00] in the back, which is a moon, a star and a moon sign and a moon, um, kind of, yeah, sort of nature, opposites, all that symbolism, you know? I think, um, I think it’s in sort of South America where they sort of say that tattoos, every time you get a tattoo it’s like meant to represent a little part of your life.

Yes. So the one that I have actually on my forearm, um, that is kind of like a painting of my life a little bit in the sense that, um, you know, it kind of, um, You’d have to see it, but like, it kind of weaves its way up my arm through like sort of a path in the mountains, um, path in the sky sort of routes symbolizing this idea of like being sort of rooted in the world, but not really bound anywhere.

Um, it’s got, um, the circuitry dragon blood tree, which is a symbol of, of the, of the Island of Socotra. Which, you know, I mean, it’s a big part of my life by now. It’s good. It’s, um, an image of the heart of the moon of the [00:47:00] stars. So all these sort of things that, um, you know, natural elements, um, these emotional elements that I kind of weave into my work and my travels, um, that’s kind of all on here.

And hopefully this study will also evolve, um, in the future and it won’t just end at my elbow, but we’ll kind of keep going. More stories to add. Oh, it’s people who are listening now, always keen to travel and go on the sort of grand adventures. What would you recommend for people wanting to get started?

I think it’s very easy to kind of get lost in this idea that, um, you know, influences and adventurers, whatever you want to call them, um, that they just kind of have this gift or something. There’s something special that makes them kind of capable of going on these adventures because it always looks so easy.

Right. We always make it look so easy. Like, Oh no, no, no. Like I’m just, ah, I’ve just like strolled up Mount Everest, you know, I’m here taking some selfies. Like, no, that’s not the reality, like most, [00:48:00] um, In terms of like most content won’t show you the struggles and the challenges. And if it does, it’ll show you the struggles and challenges in a nice pretty way.

But the reality is that this stuff is hard. Like it’s always a struggle, you know, it’s always difficult. We just don’t show that thought. So don’t believe, you know, people when they, when they sort of show that it’s, it was easy. It’s always hard, but that’s kind of the point of it. Um, is overcoming those challenges, overcoming your struggles through your, you know, whatever sort of physical strength, but also I think, especially mental strength.

And, um, I think it’s important to kind of keep that in mind that it’s never as easy as it seems there will be challenges and you just have to embrace them. That’s part of the journey. Yeah, no, I couldn’t agree more. Uh, finally, what are you doing now? And how can people find you and follow your travels and adventures in the future?

Of course, as we’ve already mentioned, there’s the ultra marathon that’s coming up this [00:49:00] summer, which is my first ultra marathon. So I’m really excited, scared, nervous, panicked. I mean, you know, just the whole thing, the whole shebang. Um, so you can definitely follow along on that adventure on Instagram and on YouTube, and then hopefully the summer, um, also get to do some, um, really Epic mountain trekking in central Asia.

And then, uh, you know, maybe some climbing as well. Let’s see, uh, but a lot of really, really beautiful places that are really off the tourist radar, uh, coming up, including my own personal struggles, suffering challenges, joys and triumphs. Hopefully that’s all, that’s all my channels. It’s out in kurgastan we’ll touch.

He custom. Correct. Curious down Tajikistan. Um, if Russia opens up then hopefully also in Russia, um, towards the sort of Georgian side or exactly, and the caucuses. Oh, amazing. Well, I look forward to checking that out when that happens. All right. [00:50:00] Hopefully not too many, you know, blood, sweat and tears. No.

Well, you’re doing a lot of training now on you. Yes, exactly. No, no. Just winging it for the first time in my life. I feel like I’m actually doing something, you know, very disciplined and it’s a great feeling. Definitely gives you the confidence that you can actually, you know, you can actually persevere.

Yeah, well, Eva, thank you so much for coming on today. You have some incredible stories. And as for people listening, go check out her YouTube and Instagram, which will be in the description. And you know, it’s an absolute joy to watch. Thank you so much. It was such a pleasure. Well, that is it for today.

Thank you so much for watching and I hope you got something out of it. If you did hit that like button and subscribe if you haven’t already. And I will see you in the next video.

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