The world is my playground. I have traveled and met only wonderful people. Every day I am grateful for the hospitality people offered me.

When I was about 4 years old, I took my friend by the hand saying: 'let us explore the wide, wide world'. We got lost.
They found us in the Dahlia street. An elderly couple had taken us, two little girls, home and had set us at a table that was covered with a persian carpet and given us cordial to drink. The police brought us home in a the most comfortable car I had ever been in. At that moment I realized how people can be your best friend if you allow them to help you.

I disliked school. After high school I went to Art school. I met Jacob. He was funny, interesting, knowledgable and my best friend. We laughed, we loved.
He knew everything about every country in the world and introduced me to the art of hitch-hiking. It was too easy: I was convinced clean clothes were the key to easy hitch hiking.
We travelled a couple of years through Europe and Turkey during and in between our school holidays. I am not sure if anyone noticed we were gone most of the time....
One day Jacob decided it was a good idea to travel by bicycle. I had never travelled by bicycle but the independence of it appealed to me and I trusted Jacob so we took off. We cycled every day, from Holland through Belgium, Germany, Austria (Timmelsjoch: 2509m), Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey and Syria.

On the back of our bikes we carried a small tent, but it was hardly ever necessary to use.
I was very young, charming and innocent and with these qualities we were often taken home by people who would offer us a place to sleep, fed us and give us yet another insight into other lives and other worlds.

Picture above: Jacob mending a flat tire on the side of the road in Syria 1983

On our travels we had decided to take along a Turkish friend, Erdogan, with us. This accounted for some interesting situations on our further travels. Syria, which was a very torn country in many ways, opened doors to us, three young cyclists and was just very welcoming. When we arrived in Damascus we found that we were not able to get visa for our Turkish friend Erdogan whom we had taken along on the way in Turkey. We decided not to proceed our journey without him and returned.

Upon returning back home we planned our definite trip out. We gave up the apartment and left Holland.

Jacob bought us Chinese visa in The Hague and had inquired about all the formalities of the countries. He called the Iranian Embassy prior to departure, so we were able to pick up our visa upon arrival in Ankara while others had to wait there for weeks and bribe themselves into Iran if they wanted to travel through.

We hitch-hiked to Nepal, crossing Europe, Iran, Pakistan and India, meeting lovely and interesting people. I was reaffirmed in my believe that one can find nice people everywhere.

From Nepal we flew to Bangkok where we bought two little Chinese bicycles without gears because 'somebody' in Nepal had said there were 'virtually no mountains' in Thailand and Malaysia. This is a relative truth, I must admit, but cycling from Bangkok to Singapore we did meet some hills.
It took us two months and meeting many people to reach Singapore.

In Singapore I lived for 8 months alone, while Jacob left for traveling through Malaysia and Thailand. When Jacob returned we traveled to Indonesia, arrived in Bali where I was going to live for a great many years but I did not know that yet. We flew to Australia, parted our ways and I met a whole new family that adopted me, on the other side of the world.

On this photograph I am in Western Australia with a couple of travelers from Sweden, Belgium and Australia

It is almost impossible not to speak in superlatives about the way people are nice and helpful to each other when asked for a little help.
Australia, vast and beautiful, offers help and care to each other. My heart was in Bali, otherwise I would have stayed there and build a new life on the other side of the world.

See the next page for the continuing story: Bali

Above: My daughter Xenia in her father's car