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Marsha Jean (Adventurer)

On the podcast today we have an adventurer and explorer from Hong Kong.

At 18 Marsha Jean left her abusive home and bought a one-way ticket to Australia. She wanted to spend all the money she had, and commit suicide.

Throwing herself into the real world broke all the beliefs her parents and society had put in her. Today on the Podcast we talk about her early travels and about her incredible adventures in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Marsha’s Website

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Transcript of our Conversation

Marsha Jean

[00:00:00] Marsha Jean: Hello and welcome to the modern adventurer podcast coming up. And one Cod did was to local men. They picked me up, I shared a backseat with the sheep, and instead of driving me into the NACE village, they took a right turn into the Bush. And in that moment I thought, okay, so here. This is the bad moment that everybody’s going to experience and they drop me.

We arrived at a huge gates, the gate opened, and that was this big, beautiful house full of beautiful woman, all dressed up, which was very strange. And in my mind, I thought maybe I stumbled into a human trafficking. Okay.

[00:01:00] if you’ve enjoyed the podcast so far, please feel free to subscribe and to join this incredible community. Today on the podcast, we have an extraordinary gas. Marsha Jean has traveled all over the world, leaving home at 18 with a one-way ticket to Australia, unknown to what was about to happen. She has traveled all parts of the world from Afghanistan to Tajikistan.

She did a 19 day Trek with a donkey in the whack and corner. And today on the podcast, we talk about some of her incredible experiences around the world. So I am delighted to introduce Marsha Jean to the podcast. Thank you for having me here. Silly pleasure. Well, I mean, you’ve done [00:02:00] some incredible stuff from such a young age.

I mean, for the last six years you’ve been traveling all over the world. Probably for everyone listening, who doesn’t know you best place to start is how you got started with this life of travel. I actually got started in a rather grim way. I went, I booked a one-way ticket to Australia. I was 18 and I actually run away.

I just ran away from home and I wanted to commit suicide after traveling with what money I had. And that didn’t happen. And I ended up getting a job and then travel and then just kept going well, she’s God. That’s incredible. So what it sort of started from quite a dark place with no sort of plan in sight did.

So the [00:03:00] first stop was Australia. Yeah. And then you, what you were there for sort of 10 a year or so working away before you sort of took the leap to sort of travel solo. Yeah. It was that traveling and working for 10 months around, and then I went to Southeast Asia and then went to Iran and then Europe and worked in London.

And then went to central Asia. Nice. Well, I mean, I know essential Asia quite well because you’ve done this incredible trip in the wakhan corridor with a donkey. Yeah. And how did you come up with this idea for it? So, Ashley, okay. How I really started was I watched the movie called Walter meter. And it’s a movie about a guy [00:04:00] going to the, to Afghanistan, to chase after a photographer.

Then I Googled about that place, which is the walk-on corridor. Then I found guides, travel guides on someone’s blog, talking about how it was quite possible to foreigners and foreigners have always gone there. To high animals and go on tracks. So I just had to do, I have to try it myself. So I did well and see what you hide a, a mule or a donkey.

And then where whereabouts did you sort of start and go from? So I started in a village close to Sahad. And so how does basically the last village reachable by car in the walk-on corridor? It’s the last [00:05:00] village they can reach by car before going deep into the walk-on. You could either go to what they call the big Familia or the little premiere.

I went into the little permit. Got it. And so what you were sort of hiding, I mean, I know the whack hand corridor and that’s. Very isolated, especially when you go off the main road, you know, you’re in the mountains. I mean, for anyone listening, the mountains are sort of six, 7,000 meters high. And it’s absolutely incredible scenery there.

I mean, were you completely cut off for the time that you were there? Yes. I didn’t have any cell signal. Yes, no internet of course. No electricity during the Trek and relied on fruit that I carried with [00:06:00] me. So the owner of the donkey, he comes along with me and on the way, when we pass by some cookies, nomadic settlements, we will stay with them overnight.

And sometimes we kept sometimes we’ve slept in. Sort of these abandoned shelters built for shepherds and yet lasted for 19 days. Wow. And what was the sort of some of the amazing moments that you had along that? Because, I mean, I imagine a lot of people, especially over the last year and a half being sort of locked up, hidden away to have that sort of sense of freedom to sort of just explore.

And be well, Elaine is probably not the right word, but to be sort of isolated there, away from it all. How, how was it best experience of my life? [00:07:00] I really push my comfort zone there because I’ve never being so far away from Malden. Commodities that no, I was in a place that was completely foreign to me.

I had no idea what people would be. Like. I had no idea what would happen to me. I had no idea. I was completely relying on people’s kindness and generosity and my own willpower to. For so long and so far away from everyone, no contact to the world. And I, it pushed really pushed my comfort zone really far.

And I have learnt a lot from this Jenny, [00:08:00] what was some of the lessons that you took away from it? For example, I learned that. Even more remote corners of the world. People know who Jackie Chan is.

Okay. But for real, I, I learnt that we really know nothing about this world and that this world is really full of amazingly kind and generous people and that we should not be afraid of this world. I learned that there are many ways to live and just because they don’t have things like electricity, schoolings and hospitals doesn’t mean that they can’t have a very, very fulfilling life.

I think we had Ava Zubek on recently [00:09:00] and we both spoke about quite in depth about the sort of kindness of strangers and people in the sort of Asian communities, how they’re sort of sometimes perceived by worldwide press and media and sort of slightly negative connotations, but, or perceptions. And actually some of the amazing things that happen when you go traveling is that you break the break, these sort of preconceptions down and you see such an amazing part of humanity.

Did you find that on your travels? Absolutely. Yes. It actually made me feel sad about my own society. So I’m from Hong Kong and I really. I would have never people at home go on a nice kind or as [00:10:00] generous or as hospitable as the people I’ve met in Afghanistan at that time. And it really, it really made me realize just how much we are wrong about people in this world.

Like people we are told to be afraid of it. The most are the people who have been the kindest to me. Yeah. Well, what is it about, why do you think it was sort of differences in sort of Hong Kong society and Afghan society? I would say the culture with hospitality is different. And also because we are such a big city and there are so many people it’s not.

Like if I see your foreigner in my city, I will not feel, or I have not been taught how to be hospitable or [00:11:00] feel like I need to treat this person as a special guest because they are in my home. In the Afghan society and a lot of other cultures around the world, you are sort of treated as sort of royalty.

When you, when you meet these people, they invite you into your home, into the home and, you know, tea, eggs, whatever it may be. They’re very, very welcoming. Yes. I wouldn’t say royalty, but treats me like a guest and how you should treat the guest in my opinion. Yes. Yeah. And so from, from that, is that where you went into central Asia, bought a bike and decided to cycle, as they say.

So I went to Afghanistan after I had cycled CHRO. [00:12:00] Can I guess Stan and Tajikistan. Oh, okay. And so what was the reason behind that trip? Was it about experiencing the sort of countries in a unique way? Yeah, so after leaving London, I arrived in Bishkek and with the plan to track across central Asia, because that’s how I usually try to.

Oh my checking. But then on my first day of arriving, I met a girl who told me that she walked 13 days across the premiere highway and she, she was traveling through, by a car at first by shared taxis. And she just felt like she was in a box. All the time passing through villages that she wanted to stop over.

So she just walked out of the car [00:13:00] and started walking. She had no tent, no map, no plan. And after hearing her story, I knew that I cannot travel by checking. And so I decided to buy a bicycle. And yeah, we, we had Charlie Walker on that. I think the very first episode, and we, because we’ve both done cycle touring before, like yourself, it’s such an amazing way to see, I’d say countries because you are going at a quick enough pace to make up ground, but also you can always stop and people are very sort of accommodating, especially when you’re on your own.

They sort of see you them properly, you know, feel a little bit sorry for me as I was sort of going through, but you know, they, they sort of stop and you can easily stop, have a conversation and through conversation, it sort of opens doors [00:14:00] to new experiences. Yeah, of course you miss out on all these little things that make.

Your trip special. And also with, without a car you are completely engaged in your surroundings. You feel like you’re really you’re with the mountains. Do you know what I mean? And it’s very different. And also the physical challenge that comes with it makes the reward more sweet and. Yeah. Yeah. I mean they, these right raise, especially in sort of tourist fleet difficult you must have, did you find it quite sort of challenging on the bike?

Absolutely. Yes. And when I started, I had barely had any experience cycling actually was not particularly [00:15:00] fit took me much longer than the average cycle. To go through the premier highway. But it’s possible if you have time and the willpower. Yeah. I, I, I w I think when I first started, as I say, you pick up the fitness.

Quite quickly, you just go at your own pace, I guess some days, like I go five kilometers and then I’m like, oh, that’s enough. Yeah. I think I think it will say was quite nice, especially, probably doing that is that you you’re at 4,000 meters. Instead of Tajikistan when you are cycling. So for anyone listening and he’s like, whoa, that’s not very far.

The altitude can get you quite quickly. [00:16:00] Yes. Absolutely. When I have, when I pass the highest point, which was around I think 4,600 meters, I had to stop really every three seconds to catch my breath. I couldn’t breathe. Yeah. I mean, I sort of count myself lucky because when I was sort of cycling up the Alps, you had Tom act.

Right. Whereas when we were going through central Asia and saw the sort of cyclists going through. You know, you are on track you a rebel and say cycling, they’ve a rubble 4,000 meters up an incredibly steep hill. For anyone listening, you know, I cannot stress how difficult that is. Yeah, it was, it was not the easiest.

Not that easy as well in a row for sure. And how far did you get on the bike? Touchy [00:17:00] Christan and then I try to go to China, but I couldn’t because people from Hong Kong needed Kind of a special card to go to China and I couldn’t get it. So I flew to Pakistan and then I took a bus up to the north and then I cycled across the character.

Ah, okay. Yep. And how was that? It’s a beautiful experience. People in Northern Pakistan were very, very nice to me and really sweet and warm and welcoming. What is it about Pakistan? Do you feel that you love so much as a Chinese girl, people go crazy over you. They are, they want, they want to feed you all the food they have in their house.

And they, they want to, yeah, they, they want to treat you like a queen. And [00:18:00] really I was. Everyday just surprised. And it was mind blowing, absolutely mind blowing how nice and the people were, how hospitable the people. Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s something, you know, we hear again and again, especially in Pakistan is just how sort of accommodating and welcoming the are to strangers in their home.

And so in Pakistan, foreigners, sorry, foreigners to to foreigners. And so in Pakistan, where did you, were you there for quite a period of time? Yes, I was going to stay 45 days. It ended up being six months. Well, yeah. And what were you doing in those six months in [00:19:00] Pakistan? Oh, I was exploring many different places.

After exploring the north, I explored central Pakistan. And the south and so many things, these were happening all the time. I got invited to many different events, such as the show, a Stan desert rally the air force and fire at me to the ski competition. Even though I told them I couldn’t ski, but they were like, oh yeah, you can still compete.

Okay. And It was very easy to make friends. So I made a lot of friends and Lyft with many of them and it just slowly ended up six months.

And yeah, it’s, it’s just one of those things [00:20:00] in In those countries. I mean, there’s such amazing events going on. What were the sort of highs and lows of that place? I would say the highest was when I was cycling through the north. Really? It, that was the best moment of my time in Pakistan, the beauty of the nature, the hospitality, and Yeah.

And the lowest is probably when I got tired of the attention of the men there. So at times it can really get too much plays as a sort of silo, female traveler. You’ve been traveling for God so long. I mean, I probably imagine a lot of people. [00:21:00] When they first start out traveling, have all these horror stories that they hear about.

What’s have there been moments of trouble along the way when you are traveling. So I have been lucky. I never really had moments of really life threatening situations. And of course I’ve had trouble while hitchhiking I’ve had trouble with. Some men who followed me or try to verbally harassed me and so on.

Yeah, I don’t have crazy stories, life threatening situations. Yeah. I S I suppose what I sort of like to sort of hear is because. You know, even me when I first sort of started out, you always do hear these sort of [00:22:00] stories. I don’t know whether it’s sort of bought on you sort of school and people sort of telling the stories of far-flung places.

And I mean, if you listen to the news for long enough, eventually you’ll be terrified about anything. But what I sort of love to hear is that, you know, in your six years of traveling very few. Moments of trouble have really occurred. And you know, you, you’re always traveling. You’re always putting yourself sort of out into vulnerable spots, whether it’s wild, camping, and you know, I’m a big advocate for wild camping.

And I just think it’s great to sort of hear stories. You know, amazing times rather than the sort of one tiny micro percent that will always be plussed it up. Yes. Even if I’ve had, even [00:23:00] if I do experience bad moments, these moments count for probably less than 1% of everything. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s it’s it’s I think it’s the same everywhere you go.

99% generally incredibly hospitable. And you know, as we’re speaking about the sort of kindness of strangers and foreigners helping you out along your troubles, hearing your story, which I think is, you know, fantastic to sort of hear about of kindness. Yes. I have a good one. So. I was in Tajikistan and I had been sick for almost two weeks and I was cycling, trying to pass through this road, which was between two villages.

[00:24:00] It was right next to a cliff. So when the sun set it. There was nowhere I could camp. So I waited on the road or a car to pass by it. And one car did with two local men. They picked me up, I shared a backseat with the sheep and instead of driving me into the NACE village, they took a right turn into the Bush.

And that moment I thought, oh, okay. So here it is, this is the bad moment that everybody’s going to experience and they dropped me. We arrived at it, huge gates. The gate opened that was this big, beautiful house full of beautiful women, all dressed up, which was very strange. And in my mind, I thought maybe I [00:25:00] stumbled into a human trafficking gang.

So. But then one lady, she came to me and then finally I understood that they actually were going to have a wedding and they invited me to the wedding. I stayed for three days and

they really accepted me like a family. For someone like me that didn’t really have a good family experience. That was really a really I’ve lost my English. That was, yeah, it was a really touching moment. Yes. In my trip. [00:26:00] Oh yeah. I forgot to say that night, when they took me in, I realized my phone had dropped out of my bicycle and my bicycle was on top of the car and I told him, oh, okay.

It was an old phone. I mean, I lost it. Nothing like there’s no point to sad. And then. Half an hour later, one of the men who drove me there, came into the house and put my phone on the table. So he had gone back in the middle of the night to look for my phone on the road, even though I told him, you know, I cannot, I, where else is this going to happen?

That someone. Go in the middle of the night to look for your phone that was dropped in the road somewhere.

Wow. No, it’s, [00:27:00] it’s amazing what some people do and you know, there’s such an amazing travel community out there, which I’m always sort of helping others as well. Yeah.

It’s incredible. And so your sort of with COVID and everything you’re sort of dotting about from Mexico to Australia. Yes. So, I mean, really right now, and your plan is to stay there for a period of time. I really don’t know. But I know for sure that my. Next adventure is going to be back in the middle east.

Okay. And what sort of adventure is you planning on having there? Well, really like to continue my bike trip. My bike is in Pakistan right now. If [00:28:00] the pandemic didn’t happen, I would have gone back and cycled through India into Tibet, but right now, I think India is going to be off everybody’s list for awhile.

So I’m thinking of the Arabic peninsula. It will be amazing to do by trip, bike tour all over. Maybe you circumnavigate the Arabic peninsula, including east Africa. Yeah, God. Wow. I mean, you ha Marsha, you have some incredible stories to tell and I’m sure there’ll be a few more to come in the coming years.

There’ll be more. Well, there’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week with the first being, what’s the sort of one gadget that you always take with you. So I always take this [00:29:00] little alarm with me. That it will be triggered if you pull the pin out. And at night I will attach one part of it to my bike.

And one part of it to my tent, this is to prevent someone from stealing it, or at least I would know, or also it adds a little bit of safety if I put my bike in front of my close to my door. So if somebody tries to get in, they might trigger the alarm and then. Yeah, that’s very clever little thing. Yeah.

I’m surprised not more people do it. What’s your favorite adventure or travel book? I really don’t have one. Why are adventures important to you? Because it makes me feel alive and I feel like I am not. [00:30:00] Growing or evolving if I’m not pushing my comfort zone. What about your favorite quote?

Perfect coat.

Yeah. We only regret the chances that we didn’t take. Yeah. I think there’s a sort of study of old people and like an old people’s home and it was always the things that they record, they regret. And it’s always the thing that they didn’t do rather than the things they did do or the things they never said rather than the things they actually say.

Yeah, no, very nice. And people listening are always keen to travel and go on these sort of grant expeditions and adventures. What’s the one thing you would recommend for people wanting to get started? I recommend doing things that. Push yourself out of your [00:31:00] own comfort zone. I think that you can train yourself into being more comfortable of getting out of the comfort zone.

So for example, things like taking a dance class or doing, learning a new spot that you don’t think you would ever be competent enough to do. And these small steps will build up the courage for you to finally take a big step. Well, I think dance class would certainly put me out of my comfort zone and if dance classes, don’t try maybe pole dancing classes.

There are, yeah, that might be a step. Yeah. So I think, yeah. These things well, build it, build up your courage to take that first step eventually. [00:32:00] Amazing. And what are you doing now and how can people find you and follow you on your future adventures? I’m quarantining in Australia at the moment, and I am actually learning filmmaking on my own because I want to make films in the future while traveling.

You can find me on Instagram. She will like to follow my ventures. Very nice. Well, Marcia, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. It’s been absolutely incredible hearing your stories. And as I say, going back to central Asia where I was three years ago, I mean, such an incredible place and I always loved talking about it.

Yeah. It’s a special place. Well go check Instagram outs and a website and you can see some more stories to come. I’m sure by Marsha, [00:33:00] thank you so much for coming on. Thank you for having me. 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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