A pirate’s life for me
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
SOME MIGHT THINK THAT traveling alone on foot in a foreign country might be dangerous and scary, but for 34-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Queune, before he started his walking tour a few years ago, he admitted that his previous life was far from exciting.
“I was about 120 kg before, I did not have a good job and I was sitting in front of my laptop most of the time,” he said.
Then about four years ago, he stumbled upon a website of two Frenchmen, Thierry Montaner and Killian Blais who went on a foot tour in 2008 which started in Valence, France and led them through places such as Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbajian, Khazastan, Chian and Vietnam.
Inspired by their adventurous lives, Nicolas decided to leave his hometown in France and go on his own foot tour. But in Nicolas’ mind, what is an adventure if you do not add in a bit of fun?
Besides doing a world tour on foot, he wanted to do it dressed like his favourite ‘One Piece’ character Monkey D. ‘Straw Hat’ Luffy, in a red shirt and a straw hat, a manga he had been reading since he was a teenager.
In 2013, Nicolas began his foot tour in Japan where he stayed for three months. Later, he travelled to New Zealand and stayed for four months before leaving for Australia.
“I stayed in Australia for a year where I walked for six months then went on holiday for another six months. My mother come down to visit me and we went around for a bit,” he said.
After finishing his foot tour in Australia, Nicolas then decided to continue his adventure to Malaysian Borneo where his journey started in Sandakan, Sabah in January, later traveling down to Brunei and Sarawak where he went to Miri and Sibu.
When asked why he chose Borneo for his next foot tour, Nicolas explained that it was because of his love of nature that persuaded him to come here.
“I love looking at animals in the nature. While touring in Borneo, I found monkey, insects, scorpions. It may not be new for the locals, but it is for me. I also saw rafflesia In Kota Kinabalu,” he said of his journey in Borneo.
Nicolas said that he also chose his locations based on where Luffy had been to in his journey.
“In the beginning of ‘One Piece’, Luffy went to an island like New Zealand. Later, he went to an island with a giant crocodile, like Australia. After that he went to an island with a giant flower, a strange bird and a monkey like Malaysia,” explained Nicolas.
“Also in the comic, Luffy wanted to become the Lord of the Pirates. So for me, I wanted to become like Luffy and I needed treasure,” said Nicolas.
While Luffy might be looking for the treasure called One Piece throughout his journey across the sea, Nicolas collects coins he finds on the road during his journey.
“For the moment, I have 420 coins I found in Malaysia which comes up to around RM40. In Australia, I found 600 coins which adds up to RM800,” said Nicolas, who later mails the coins to his mother in France.
During his foot tour in Sabah and Sarawak, besides nature, Nicolas also discovered his love for local food such as chicken rice and pisang goreng.
Comparing his journey here to his time in Australia, Nicolas said that it was easier for him to find food in Borneo as he can easily find food courts or stalls in kampongs which is about 20 to 30 km apart from each other.
“In Australia, the next town would be 70 km away and I have to bring water with me for the journey and that is why I bought a trolley to carry the water,” he said.
In Borneo, he can cover about 20 to 30 km everyday carrying his backpack of clothes, laptop, DSLR and camera as well as trolley. He walks from sunrise to sundown, but sometimes he has to change his schedule in bad weather.
“When it rains, I have to stop somewhere before continuing. But luckily I found shelter along the road. After the rain stops in about 20-30 minutes I start to walk again,” he said.
“A lot of people have stopped by and asked if I needed a ride or something, but I said no, I am traveling on foot,” he said of the people he met along the way.
As for sleeping arrangements, Nicolas said that it was easy for him to find a place to sleep at night as there are places along the side of the road.
In the future, Nicolas hopes to write a book about his journey and adventure from his foot tour so he can share his story with the people around him.
After completing his foot tour in Borneo, Nicolas left for Pulau Langkawi where he intended to start a foot tour from there to Kuala Lumpur.
“After that, I will take the plane to Sumatra where I will begin my foot tour in Indonesia,” he said.
For some, doing the foot tour around the world might seem impossible and perhaps borderline crazy, but for Nicolas, it gives him the sense of satisfaction and also opens up his life to a great adventure.
To find out more about Nicolas’ adventure, check out his facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Onepir-D-Luffy/262018977256181?fref=ts or his website at: http://www.onepir.com/