Kind hearts, not coronets helped them make it. Travelling around the world without a penny

                                                                                                                                                        - Milan Bihlmann and Muammer Yilmaz            
When Milan Bihlmann and Muammer Yilmaz  set out on a Journey across the world in 80 days, they didn’t have a penny in their pockets but a rich vision. And they owe their success to a large extent to the hundreds of kind hearts and helping hands that kept them going.  Abhijit Ganguly speaks to them during their stopover at Kolkata.


Milan Bihlmann has studied international business and is working in the corporate world. So what led him to leave a lucrative job? Milan explains, “My business career taught me to focus on revenue profit. You always have to get something out of a project. But I felt how one can invest one’s ability, knowledge and power to change the world. I wanted to do a meaningful project, which has nothing to do with profit. Everything that comes out of this, any kind of revenue we earn, will go to our non-profit organization. Our aim is to shake the people. If we can travel the world without any money, what is not possible? This is a big statement for humanity!”


This was a very difficult and scary journey. How did they feel as they moved on? Milan says, “Each day we wake up without knowing what we are going to eat, where we are going to sleep, we just know that something will happen. Some people will help.

We have the confidence and optimism within our heart. We have countless touching experiences every day. This is because if you travel without expecting everything is a present; even sleeping in a general compartment in a train on the floor is a present. One of the most touching experiences was in Turkey in the Kurdish area where we were waiting longer for our visas. Then a car pulled up, and a person, (who turned out to be the Mayor of that area) came out and invited us to his place where a beautiful wedding was taking place. We were treated like kings. There were bad moments as well, but the good moments outshone the bad moments.”

Muammer Yilmaz says, “The most important aspect of this journey has been the people. We realize that many people want to live a normal happy life. For instance, in Varanasi, people explained to us why people take a holy dip in the Ganga. It is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. But they explained spirituality is more important. Until we met them, we wouldn’t have realized it. When you travel and meet people, your perception changes.”

Milan says, “We need to have a lot of confidence in humanity. Everywhere you go you will find kind hearted people willing to help you. If you worry about something, you spend a lot of emotional energy on an event that might happen. Do not worry about the future. I believe it will be good. And it turned out that most of the times, it was even better. For instance, in Kolkata we had no idea about the city. We came across Iftekhar Ahsan of Calcutta Walks, an organization that arranges walking tours of the city. He was very hospitable and helped us. Amit Saraogi of Anmol Feeds, sponsored our onward trip to Bangkok from Kolkata.”

Maummer added, “Ours is a humanitarian travel. Around the world in 80 days without money; showing there are good people everywhere. It does not depend on society, country or religion. The people are very important for us.
Don’t believe in stereotypes. Don’t be afraid, travel outside.” They will now cross the Pacific before attempting to get to New York and return to the foot of the Eiffel Tower from where they started (www.optimistic-traveler.com). For the next 60 days (till Christmas eve), they aim to raise USD 12.500 for the NPO Haiti Care (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/optimistic-traveler-for-education- in-Haiti). 

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