16 Countries Down, The Whole World To Go. Kola’s Abroad Life.

December 13, 2019

Hey Kola, so I have  a

Wait first, before this interview begins, what accent would you like me to dash you? I can start with Lagos Magodo boy, then move to Amrika and maybe even give you a dash of the old English spice. Anyhow you want am really.

Hmm. Okay Jim Iyke. How about a Slavic accent?

Ah, the talent hasn’t formed like that oh.

Haha! Okay so I’m about to throw a little math your way.

Go on.

If I was holding up all my fingers, how many would remain after I counted off all the countries you’ve ever visited?

So I don’t know how many fingers you have, but you’re probably going to have to involve some toes because at my last count, I’ve visited about 16 countries.

Wow, wow. Really involved all my limbs. So chairman, I’m trying to get like you. What tips do you have for an aspiring Ajala like myself with a Nigerian passport handicap.

Handicap? I travel with a Nigerian passport actually.

*Blinks twice*

No really. Here’s what you need to. First things first, build a travel history. We know Nigeria doesn’t have the best reputation internationally, so just get any stamp on your passport you can. Start small, you can go to countries that offer a visa on arrival like Kenya or countries that will grant you a visa based off of how much money you have like the UK.

*Furiously takes down notes*

Oh and if you’re looking to go to other countries in Europe, try applying for a Schengen visa. But pro-tip, apply through a country like France or Italy. Do not get the Schengen visa through Spain, their shoulders are very up and it will end in tears, no lie.

*Collects extra sheet*

Other tip to build your travel history, apply for a Dubai visa. Those guys are throwing their visas at anybody that can catch it. Somehow I’ve never been, but I hear it’s very easy to get. Once is fine, no point going to Dubai four, five times to build your history up. Once you have that down, you can start applying for visas to harder countries.

Got it! Now to the tiny, little matter of ca$h. How do I fund my travels with no funds? 

Haha. Look, if you really want to travel, you’ll plan towards it. I’ve never gone on a truly luxurious trip, I’m currently a full-time student. If you work for a company that has bonuses and thirteenth-month salaries, save them up. If you earn ₦120,000 monthly, put money away for six months. That’s how you build a travel chest.

Louder, for the people named Boyin at the back. In fact, can you name all the countries you’ve visited? Let me start my own travel list.

Man. Okay, let’s see. There was Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Togo, Benin Republic, Amsterdam, Netherlands, UK, Korea, Japan, Turkey, Ethiopia, the US counts now abi? I’ll try to remember the remaining.


Okay oh, really gave me final year project to memorise here. An adventurous king, my empty wallet stans.

What’s a travel tip for someone looking to be like you? Carry a backpack not a suitcase, that kind of thing?

So speaking of luggage, not too sure if this will apply to women with cloths and all of that. But for a guy, carry a bag back and hand luggage.That’s it.

But … the drip?

See, you’ll still drip.But if you’re trying to max out the money on you, you’re going to want accommodation with someone you know. Chances are, you arrive the country, they’re still at work and you have to find a bar to sit in until they get off. You do not want to look like an easy, touristy mark. Just have your three jeans, two sneakers, multiple t-shirts on lock and you’re good. Maybe throw in a jacket. Take some pictures with the jacket, some without. Already looks like two, three outfits you know. Haha.

Got it.

Plus, if you’re a professional waka-waka like me, you’re going to want to move around the country you’re visiting and switch between states. Do you really want to be lugging Ghana-Must-Go bags and multiple hand luggage about? Nah.

Plus, and this is a major key — always have your power bank charged. Yes, a lot of foreign countries have 24/7 light, but it always helps to have back up when you’re out.

So where was the first country you ever visited?

The United Kingdom.

And what is the most distinct thing you can remember about the kingdom of Charlie’s Mom?

See, it’s been a while oh. But I do remember being confused by how small everything was. It may have been where I was, but the roads were small, the houses were tiny. I probably couldn’t live there, it’s a big adjustment from Nigeria and all the crazy multiple bedroom houses we’re used to. But I will say I loved how everything worked from notifications if the train would be thirty seconds late, to just their lifestyle. The country works.

Hmm. So If I twisted your arm to remember the most un-Nigerian thing you’ve noticed about any country you’ve ever visited, what would it be? Like say quick-moving traffic, a president that actually respects human rights? Tell us!

Haha. This goes to Japan easily! They are mad organised. Like to a strange degree. These people do not have trash cans on their streets, they don’t bother with them. But you will never see rubbish on their floors! Like it is distressingly neat. Everyone just knows to keep their trash in their bags or pockets and just dispose of it at home. The common sense is strong in that country.

#GodWhen Part 2000

 Yeah, another thing I noticed. If you’re waiting to board a train, when it arrives, everyone outside just has the common sense to wait for the people inside to come out first. No rushing, nobody is using style to steal your Bold 6 in the bustle. Just sensible people doing the right thing.

#GodWhen Part 2001

Oh and speaking of the train, in Japan I entered this bullet train. Imagine you lived in say Ondo State and you could get to work in Lagos within an hour, that’s how fast the train moves. I used that train almost everyday during my stay and there was always this gorgeous view of Mount Fiji. See, that country is just it! Let me not start reminiscing.

Hmm. It.is.well.

So far, where is the most fun you’ve had in a country?

Oh this I can’t say. Some countries are great for me because I get to see my friends again. Other times it’s because I’m going HAM with the club life and partying. 

Wait, wait, wait! Speaking of clubs and partying, let me tell you about South Korea.

Drop this tea!

So when I visited South Korea, it was for a school project. They offered us 1.5 credits if we could visit the country and learn about the business landscape there. Entirely self-sponsored but extra credit you know.

Interesting flex, but okay.

And I have to say, South Korean bosses know how to get lit! Like in the middle of a workweek, it is perfectly normal to see managers passed out on the road, just drunk as hell. They have work the next day oh, it’s nothing to them.

There’s this vodka that’s popular over there and it’s like the equivalent of  ₦400, so you can imagine how shit-faced they can get.

Oh man. The South-Korean employee-employer blackmail industry has to be popping because what?

It’s crazy!

So what country has the most interesting cuisine you’ve ever had?

Look, if you grew up on amala and rice and soup, no way some other country’s food won’t seem interesting. I’ll be honest, I don’t travel without coming strapped with my Golden Morn and my Rice Krispies, any day!

How now?

For real, and I only take powdered milk with these things, so I really go in search for it when I land. No be joke. But to the cuisine, maybe Kenya has the most interesting. Like these guys do not spice their food. I don’t know where the idea came from, but their primary spice is just salt. Even their noodles taste different over there, but that’s a common thing.

Although, they do have this fantastic place called Carnivore, where they serve you like 20 different types of meat, like you’ll head this is crocodile meat and you’ll be like what? But it’s great.

Interesting!

Really is. American food is kind of bland to me. Asian food, very, very different from what I’m used to. I got tricked into eating octopus one time in Japan. I was not pleased. From their sushi, to their tofu, just down to how they eat. They bring their food in platters and they keep refilling it, it’s like a buffet brought to your table. Down to your drinks. So if you keep drinking out of your glass, they’ll keep refilling it, and next thing, you’re a South Korean boss on the side of the street.

Yah, yah, very nice. But em, who’s paying for all these refills they keep bringing?

Oh you pay a flat rate, but it’s not exactly cheap. So it all adds up. But here’s an interesting thing about dining with locals in Asia, they never waste food. So say you’re tired of eating the 8 different types of fish they put on your table and this one interesting spongue-like food that I still maintain tastes like nothing — the locals you came with will feel obligated to finish off your food, like they will never see it waste. It’s fascinating.


Got it. Now speaking of paying, what’s the most amount of money you’ve paid for a trip?

If I had to think, maybe $3000 in the US. And all of that was from travelling between states, which can be expensive when you’re moving through the less urban states, which I was at the time. Renting a Dodge Charger which I always wanted to. Sightseeing, not to talk of shopping. This is how money goes oh. I spent 18 days that time.

Word to that. So what country has the most expensive visa and what is the longest you’ve had to fly on one of your trips?

Most expensive visa has to be America, which was around ₦60,000 at the time I think. And the longest I’ve ever had to fly was probably Ethiopia from America, it was about 13 hours and I almost lost it. Probably why I’m not crazy about travelling to Dubai which should be another 14 hours. But I have plans to go April next year, so we’ll see.

Got it, got it. So what country currently has the privilege to have you call it home?

America. I currently live in St.Louis, I’ve lived there for one and a half years. The state’s popular for being Nelly’s home state. They won’t stop talking about that, it’s so cute. Before then, I lived in Michigan

Haha. I imagine you’ve done all the touristy things. How many sites have you visited so far?

You know, not a lot like that oh. Probably because I live here, it’s just normal to me. But I’ve been to The Gateway Arch, The Cathedral Basilica of St.Louis, some museums, art galleries, just whatever I bump into really.

So what are the coolest things about St.Louis only a local would know.

Let me see. Okay, before I get into sites. It’s this thing I noticed here and in some states in the US. If there’s a three-lane road, everyone drives on the right lane, they leave the left lane for over speeding, police and ambulance services. But if someone is driving slow, they go on the left lane, overtake, then fall back in line on the right lane. There’s also very little honking, it’s almost unAmerican to do so. If you’re being aggressive and honking, trying to overtake and you jam a crazy person, they can do a brake-check where they abruptly slam their brakes and if you’re too close, you hit them and then you’ll have questions to answer. It can be aggressive, but there’s actually a lot of order in the country.

#GodWhen Part 2002.

Hahha, so there’s that. But in St.Louis, I’ll recommend these two restaurants – African Palace and Ofure Palace. Their food and pepper has saved me from many hangovers. There’s the Museum of Fine Arts which is five minutes from where I live. They have hot air balloon tournaments every year where they race and there’s this Chinese lantern festival thing. It’s like $70 to enter so I don’t bother, I’ll light lantern in my house. But it looks cool though.

Litty. So what are your plans for Detty December?

Definitely Lagos. There’s no where I have more fun. Like early in my waka-waka days, I’d party in VI, get a call to come hang in Ibadan that same night, I’ll make the trip. Or I’d go hang with friends in Redeemers, we’d get the idea to go to Babcock, from Babcock we’d go check out Ijebu-Ode. It’s just a whole vibe and I love re-experiencing it.

A man of culture. And from Lagos? Where’s the next travel destination and will you be open to smuggling a 5’5 human being in your hand luggage?

Ah.

Okay fine. You can check me in, I don’t mind.

Haha. Let’s not, plis dear. But I’m thinking Spain in March, then maybe Dubai shortly after, we’ll see.

Meanwhile, do you document your travels? I need to read something to help me cry myself to sleep.

It’s been dormant for a while, but check out thatafricankid.wordpress.com

Love it! All the best with your adventures that you won’t take me on. 

Haha, thank you!

Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 12 PM (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.

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