Interview with the Vagabond: Segond Fidens

First in a series of interviews with some of the fascinating people I meet while traveling. These are people who are traveling long-term and/or traveling in unusual and inspiring ways.

Segond Fidens is a Rwandan by nationality but is now studying in France. I met him in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam when we were cycling in opposite directions. We've kept in touch since because he is one of those rare visionary travelers whom I feel fortunate to meet. He started his cycling trip in Beijing and finished in Bangkok, cycling in total around 8000 km in 100 days!

His next plan is an ambitious cycling and walking tour starting in western Europe and making its way through the middle east then across the entire African continent.

1. What motivates you to travel?
Curiosity, responsibility, self-discovery, uncertainty and discomfort; adventure and more.

2. How do you decide where to go?
I decided to travel throughout all southeast Asia to discover the real genius of China and the secret behind the recent economic breakthrough.

3. What was the darkest moment in your travels? Was there ever a time when you wanted to shove it all and go home?
The darkest moment in my travels was when I got my bike's nails screwed up by a Cambodian bike repairer, just because I attempted to negotiate the price after the operation. But I have never thought about quitting. There is not enough trouble to make me give up.

4. What does home mean to you?
Home to me means a place where people tolerate you enough and let you feel helpful.

5. Where is home?
Home is where I am needed the most.

6. Do you prefer to travel alone, with someone, or in a group?
I prefer traveling in two. It's better to have someone to share with.

7. What is most important to you when traveling: meeting people, seeing beautiful buildings/landscapes, having interesting experiences, eating local cuisine, giving back in some way, etc.?
To me what's important is to be able to learn from the local people, their culture and the best practices they have developed.

8. How do you finance your travel? Any tips for a frugal traveler?
People's generosity works. Little savings may lead you to be humble in spending.

9. What's the stupidest thing you've done while traveling? Something that would give your mother a heart attack if she heard about it?
The stupidest thing I have ever done that would make a mother cry is abandoning my studies for a wild bike ride throughout Asia.

10. What place(s) that you've been to could you see yourself living in long term?
Salem (Oregon). Mountains, water ... and people. They'd make me want settle down.

11. What was the single most delicious meal you ever had on your travels?
The most delicious meal of all is the egg-fried rice (Dan chao fan). China is not big enough for every taste's sake ...

12. Name a spontaneous act of kindness that you received on your travels.
Trust and sympathy are the most humane and sensitive feelings that I encountered during my travels.

13. Are people the same everywhere?
Yeah... Good spirits are waving and framing our journeys. And they are everywhere we want to see them.

14. Have you ever changed your plans because you met someone with whom you had a connection/friendship?
Most of the people I met had interesting plans, but they weren't exactly fitting to mine, so tending to change was tempting but I needed to stick to my previous plan.

15. Why did you stop traveling?
I stopped traveling because I need to get my degrees before hitting the road again. 2012 is coming fast, the plans are on the desk and Sarah is in, hopefully.

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