Episode 9: That Time I Paid 70 Pence For A Bed

365 Dates of Travel Podcast

Transcript for Episode 9: That Time I Paid 70 Pence For A Bed

Hello. Welcome to 365 dates of travel with Fran. I’m Fran, welcome to my podcast. This week I’m sort of back to regular programming, not talking about the publishing side of writing a book, but about the book itself. 

Introduction to the chapter’s stories

We’re up to talking about the January chapter and I’m all over the world in January and most of it is last century. So:

–  I’m in America in 1993, the original trip, as well as a bit from 1999 

–  I’m in Canada in 1996 

–  Israel in 1997, on the same trip as Egypt 1997, and a second trip to Egypt in 2010

–  I’ve got some stories from Denmark in 1997, 1997 was a big travel year, obviously

–  stories in England also 1997, as well as 1998 and 2015

–  and Libya in 2010

–  and a little story from all the way back in 1984, just before my 10th birthday in February of that year.

January as a travel month

I have to admit, January is not a great month to travel, being summer school holidays in Australia and winter in the Northern Hemisphere. So I did struggle to fill two years worth of January dates as I was planning and going through the planning process to see if I could do book one and of course, if I had enough to do book two. 

Year Two of 365 Dates of Travel

Yes, there was going to be a second year of 365 Dates of Travel. At the moment that’s a little bit up in the air. I do have all dates accounted for to do a full second book, but with a lot of the reviews coming in where people are just not understanding the concept of a story for every date of the year, a second book is in a bit of flux, as I mentioned last week. So I’m still finalising the new plan, the new details at the moment, and it’s changed multiple times in the last week or two, but at the moment I’m looking at potentially keeping a podcast going and making the second year into weekly podcast stories instead of officially writing it into a book. So that will be maybe an ongoing podcast blog or even a YouTube channel if I manage to learn how to edit video, because I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to make it in one take. 

So that’s all a work in progress. I have managed to fill January, but it was quite tricky to fill out all the dates as I don’t seem to travel a lot in the month of January as a general rule. 

A 70 pence bed 

I start the first story in the chapter mentioning having a bed in a hostel that cost 70 pence for the night. Not £70 or £7, not even £1, less than £1 at 70 pence. That is just crazy cheap. It was a room with three beds that four people shared.

As I was going south in Egypt. I managed to collect people along the way and it was definitely much easier and easy to meet people and start traveling with people back in the 90s when I was on my own. And these days, the way I travel, it’s a lot harder to meet friends that become friends for life. I definitely wasn’t friends for life with the people I met in Egypt. We lost touch over the years, but they all contributed in one shape or form to making the trip memorable along the way. 

We had some interesting stories to tell with Mark, who I met first, and then further down south when I met Sue and Chris making the four of us who were sleeping in these 70 pence beds. But we thought we weren’t going to spend a lot of time in bed, so there wasn’t any reason to spend more than we absolutely had to. So 70 pence was the perfect price, especially seeing as they were rock hard. But being tired, I managed to sleep. And it was on this first or second date where I created unfinished business with Egypt, which is how, even though I said I am never coming here again, was how I ended up back in Egypt a second time. 

So later, down the track, in 2010, I booked my trip to Libya and Egypt was just so close, it was just next door, so why wouldn’t I go and try and finish that unfinished business? So you’ll have to read the stories to find out what the unfinished business was. And if I finished that unfinished business, that’s a tongue tie. Try saying that ten times fast. 

Israel

This original Egypt trip was also the Israel trip, where my bank card decided not to work and I was on a limited budget. One reason I was eating bread and jam, besides the fact that my bank card didn’t work, was because I refused to not do the activities that I wanted to do while I was there. So I was better off eating very badly, but cheaply, and doing the activities that were on the must do list. So this was my first scuba dive, which absolutely took a big bite out of the budget, but no regrets about that experience. 

The trip ended in Israel and I was exhausted. I was sick, obviously I hadn’t slept well, I hadn’t eaten well, and my flight was delayed on the way home. I arrived in the early hours of the morning rather than in the evening, which means I didn’t get a full night’s sleep even once I was back in my own bed. And I had to go to work by 9 am the next morning at my nanny job, only to find out that I was fired. So I’d made all that effort to get to work, despite everything, and I really shouldn’t have been at work. I needed to be in bed resting and recovering. But I turned up to work and got fired. So that’s an interesting story, but you will have to wait until the day when I write my nanny stories. But that trip was incredible in so many different ways. And who could have known that the ending was that I would get fired? 

Egypt

The second trip to Egypt was in 2010, after the Libya trip. It was really interesting seeing the changes 13 years later. It was a different trip in that it was nicer and easier because I joined a group tour and I always said that I would never go back or ever do group tours. And here I was back in Egypt on a group tour and I’ll say I will end up back there a third time for sure. Egypt is just one of those places that draws you in. 

The third trip will be the most luxurious. I will be staying at Mena House in Cairo and paying the extra price for the pyramid view. Like, why wouldn’t you? And then the new museum is being built there, which would be amazing to see. So that’s opening soon, I believe. I keep thinking it’s opened and then I look it up and it’s actually not, but it will be open any day now. 

I’ll be booking the Cataract Hotel in Aswan, which is just beautiful, and overlooks the Nile River with the feluccas sailing in the background and the desert and it’s just beautiful. And that’s where Agatha Christie stayed while she was writing Death on the Nile. So it has some literary history as well as a beautiful location. And I’ll be staying at that hotel before I join my Lake Nasser cruise. So that’s where I will get to see Abu Simbel from the water without the crowds, because the ships berth overnight at Abu Simbel. But once all the crowds have left for the day, we get to have it to ourselves in the evening and overnight. And there’s one of those light and sound shows which I might do while I’m there on that cruise because literally I can just walk straight back on the boat afterwards. So I just think that would be an amazing way to finish off Egypt with a bit of luxury. It’ll be my third time lucky trip and absolutely no taxis are allowed. Everything will be transferred. I am not getting in another Cairo taxi and that is a promise. 

Finalising Previous Stories

So January is also a month where I resolve some of the previous stories and issues that happened in December. So one of those is fixing what happened to my bank card that didn’t work on the Israel/Egypt trip. And thanks to getting fired, I had time to go back and visit Denmark. So there’s some stories about Denmark in this chapter and a lot of it revolves around fixing my card issues because it was my Danish bank account card that didn’t work for me when I was in Israel and Egypt. So you’ll find out what really happened then. 

And also the other resolving story is, where is my passport? So I really cannot believe how this story ends. For a long time I wondered if I’d made it up myself, but if you Google it, like I suggest in the book, it is true, it really happened. And you can’t write stuff like that. Truth is always going to be stranger than fiction. But you do get to find out what happens with my passport.  

Busking Plans

I also talk about travellers checks and discovering extra money that I really needed earlier on in that trip, although I probably would have spent it and wasted it, let’s be honest. So luckily I did have some extra travellers checks, which I posted to Wendy. 

The book that I was following, Work Your Way Around the World, told me how to do all these things, and obviously a lot of countries they were telling you how to work in, you couldn’t work legally, and the US at that time was one of them. And so I talked about arriving in the November chapter, about how I had to not have anything that looked like I was applying for work, or going to be staying, or doing anything other than just being a tourist. So in this parcel that I sent to Wendy, I had the book, the official book, Work Your Way Around the World, because otherwise carrying that’s a major flag going through US immigration, if my bags were searched, 

I had the travellers checks that I mentioned, which was good to keep them safe. So I had some emergency funds. But one of the other items I had in that parcel was a recorder, as in the musical instrument recorder. As part of my potential plan to earn money was to go busking, playing the recorder on the street. So go teenage confidence Go teenage stupidity, or whatever you want to call it. But I cannot imagine now sitting on a corner outside a shop or outside a train station playing my recorder, expecting someone to give me some money for it. But I wasn’t taking any chances. I was going to have my recorder just in case I could earn some money while I was busking. Thank God it never actually came to that. 

The Disaster Tradition

I was going to talk about with Egypt how it was another country that had a disaster after my visit, and that being the terrorist attack, which I mention in the book. So 62 people were killed standing exactly where I stood, both before when I was there in 1997, and a second time after visiting in 2010.

After the terrorist attack, people were asking me when they should go and if they should go. They wanted to go, but, oh, well, they can’t now because of the terrorist attack. Obviously don’t go the week after a terrorist attack, but I was often saying to people, like, if it was a year down the track, I’d say, well, now’s the perfect time to go. There’s unlikely to be another terrorist attack so close to the first one. And particularly because there’s going to be low numbers, it’s going to have less of an impact if everybody around the world is staying away from Egypt. Egypt relies heavily on tourists. After a terrorist attack, the tourist numbers plummet. So any terrorist attack wouldn’t have the same effect without killing a large number of tourists. Sad logic, but unfortunately, that is part of the logic of terrorism. So I would always say for two reasons, it’s probably the safest time to go because it’s less likely to be a terrorist attack and it’s the best time to go crowd level wise, because there’s hardly anyone there and you’ll actually have all these amazing monuments and historical sites to yourself. And what could be better than having all these sites to yourself where generally they’re just completely overrun with people? But no one ever believed me, and a lot of people waited for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years before they were willing to go to Egypt. 

Tim Rice

My English stories from 1998 include stories about going to the theater. Some people might say they’re boring stories, but they’re just short stories. And theater is very much part of my life and also very much part of London, with the West End being a massive area for theater productions. People travel from all around the world to see theater in London. 

I mention my old friend Tim Rice as part of a story. So Tim Rice was a lyricist for all sorts of musicals; from Beauty and the Beast, Chess, Heathcliffe, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. And he worked a lot with Andrew Lloyd Webber as well. So I knew of Tim. Not everyone would know of Tim, but it was very exciting to meet Tim, and that was going to be one of the stories in the second year of 365 Dates of Travel. So we’ll hopefully see that full story on the continuing podcast next year. 

Brunei

When I was flying to London in 2015, in the book, I talk about traveling by Royal Brunei Airlines, and it made me remember my pen pal that I had from there aged ten. So my father was a teacher and my pen pal’s mother was a teacher, and they met at a teaching conference and put the two of us together. The two 10 year old daughters to become pen pals. And as you know, I keep a lot of things, and I couldn’t resist going through and searching to find some of these letters. I really would like to find some of these and reread them because her mother was high up in the government, and she did talk about meeting the Sultan of Brunei, and it all sounds very fantastical when you’re ten years old, and it would be nice to read them again. 

I haven’t completely got everything out of the garage. I have a fear of spiders, and it’s very dark in the garage, really bad lighting, so there are still some things that I have not pulled out of the garage. I definitely don’t have the letters anymore from what I have inside the house. But there’s a chance that one day when I clean out the garage fully, I might find some gems of letters from 1980 – 1985 with letters of ten year olds talking about the Sultan of Brunei. 

Canada

I also had a pen pal in Canada for a short time. I don’t think we really ended up having anything in common, so it didn’t last long. But I do visit Canada in this chapter, and I talk about putting a Canadian flag patch on my backpack; a big one. Back in the day, everyone had their big backpacks, and you had a patch sewn on from your country of origin, so people knew where you were from. 

I didn’t have an Australia patch on my backpack, so when I bought the Canadian patch, it did kind of look like I was pretending to be Canadian. I really enjoyed Canada, and I would have loved to have gone and lived there. And like I mentioned in the book multiple times, it was the plan. It just never made it happen. Eventually I did get an Australian flag patch, which I sewed onto my backpack. People were making me feel bad for not having the Australia one there, so I did put one on. I don’t know if it was on purpose or not, but it was smaller than the Canadian one, so it kind of looked like I was part Canadian, part Australian, and I liked that thought. 

Australia was where I came from, but I didn’t have a huge connection with Australia in the 1990s. I was living around the world, and Australia was about high school. I didn’t live there for much as an adult outside of school. So Australia was sort of the past and childhood, the rest of the world was my current, and potentially Canada was my future. So it was just how it manifested when I was living overseas as a young adult. I mean, I became an adult overseas. My 21st birthday, for example, was in London. Australia was the past, at the time. 

London 2015

That Royal Brunei flight took me back to London in 2015 after not being there since 2002, which is a huge amount of time not to go home. London was home. I transited a few times through Heathrow, going on to other places, but never left the airport. And so it was nice in 2015 to come home, even though I ended up visiting people who I had met since 2002. So, not in London. A lot of the old original London crew had moved on, being an international group. They’d all moved to other places or gone home, potentially being Australia. But it was nice just to be back in the familiar streets and the familiar way of life. Obviously, things change after 13 years and even four years more than that from when I actually lived in London, but there’s always that familiarity there as well. So thank you to Royal Brunei Airlines for giving me a cheap flight to arrive back in London and experience going home in a different sense than coming home to Australia would have been. 

Wrap Up

So there’s a few of the highlights and things that happen and issues and topics that I discuss in the January chapter of the 365 Dates of Travel: The first six months book, which is out now and available in all different places in paperback and as an ebook. And the photos are available on my website at franheapwriter.com/photos/ page. So you can see pictures of the stories that I’ve been telling. Even if you buy the ebook or if you buy the paperback book, the photos are available for anyone, even if you haven’t read the book. But think about buying the book as well. Hopefully there’s a story that I’ve introduced today that piques your interest if you haven’t read the book and you head over and find the rest of the stories. 

Next week, I will be reading three of the dates from the stories and with a little bit of extra background on those individual stories that I read. 

Hopefully I’ve made you laugh at something and hopefully I’ve inspired you to do some travelling. No matter what has happened by listening to this, I wish for you an interesting day.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top