Breakfast at sunrise by Lake Toba, Sumatra
What was the high point of your trip, so far?
There is no better feeling than when someone, without knowing who you are, holds out a hand to help you. One memorable experience was hitchhiking in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. My friend Paco went to ask an elderly Muslim lady how far the next town was and she looked at us like we therefore crazy( hitchhiking is not common in Indonesia ). We started waving at the cars running past when abruptly she came over, calmly stood in the middle of the road and made a stop sign in front of a auto going past. It stopped immediately, and she told us to get in. This old lady had more power and fortitude than most kids today! I was truly inspired and impressed. The power of social media also astonished me. People would find my blog online and contact me, inviting me to stay with them.
The low point ?
The lowest phase was in Germany, I had two days to get to Poland for my flight and I had planned to travel 300 km across the north. On the way, a Brazilian guy who picked me up found out that there were growing neo-Nazi towns in the north and I could be entering a dangerous situation. I rerouted via Berlin, adding another 300 km to my journey. I arrived late at a service station and decided it was too late to hitchhike, so I slept in the toilet. Then I got a message from person in Berlin saying that he had read my blogand asked what he could do to help. I told him my situation and he offered to come and get me as well as pay for my bus ticket and a hotel. But before I could respond I lost Wi-Fi connection. I spent the next 90 minutes asking people if I could borrow a phone to bellow him: everyone said no. Eventually, one girl agreed and we waited for her boyfriend to come out of the toilet so I could explain my location to my contact in Berlin. As soon as he came out the look on his face told me he was not going to help me, but I did not expect what was to come out of his mouth: I am sorry we cannot help you. You might be trying to organise a bomb somewhere.
Whats your advice for anyone who wants to do a similar trip?
There is the risk something bad can happen to a lone female hitchhiker, but it was important to me to show the importance of freedom and independence, especially for women. I did almost back away after hearing the story of Pippa Bacca( an Italian hitchhiker murdered in Turkey in 2008 ), but I decided to proceed with caution. I didnt hitchhike at night with people I didnt know and I started using other methods, like hitchhiking trains, auto shares, or with friends of friends. Asking locals for advice, learning how to read people body language and researching countries beforehand is also important.
Emotionally, you need a positive position and determination. You are going to hear no a lot along your way and sometimes dirty appears and nasty comments. But you cannot give up at the first no try, try, and try again until you get a yes.You are much more likely to hitch a ride when youre smiling than when you are down and depressed. Usually when someone does stop, it aims up being a beautiful experience. Sweden was a difficult place for me to hitchhike because of the racism that has developed there, but the best advice that someone gave me is: Focus on your end objective and dont let anything or anyone get in your way.
To read more about Rhinals travelings visit her blog tinyurl.com/ rhinal or donate to her chosen charity at totalgiving.co.uk