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This is the second part to a conversation that began at, Scholarship for Travel.
I can help in any way to make sure you land this scholarship.
To answer your questions:
"I am a 6'3 white boy, with blond hair, so outside of Northern European countries, the US, and Canada, I stick out considerably. Do you know of any techniques to fly more under the radar? Shave my head, dress in local attire, and show zero valuables... Do I have any hope of blending in the Middle East and Northern Africa"
No way. I would not even try as it will probably just make you look funny haha. I would actually do this trip as an "American" traveling in the Middle East and West Africa. Make it sort of a cultural project. See what you find out. So I say go there looking as white as white can be. Just don't cut your hair! or do anything that will make you look "Military."
It is my assumption that you will have more problems being an American in Europe than in any of the countries that you propose to travel through. This page has a lot of info:
Also, I would suggest talking to as many people as possible about where you want to travel. You can email my friend Andy Graham www.hobotraveler.com and ask him questions. He has traveled through Iraq and other Islamic countries and he is also a tall, blonde American. Tell him that your my friend and that you are trying to win the scholarship. Or you can go to my friend Loren Everly's site, www.loreneverly.org, as he just finished up a term of teaching in Saudi Arabia and traveled all over the Middle East or Nathan Richards www.ubertramp.com as he is a wealth of travel information. Just tell them that you are my friend and they will help you out. I can also give you some emails of other people who have traveled in the region that you are proposing in a couple of days.
"In terms of means of travel, I don't just want to go to the big cities, I want to go through the places in between and meet people. How do you travel through places where there aren't really hotels/hostels when you don't know anybody?"
There are generally hotels and places to stay almost everywhere. Don't worry about it, you will make do. It will just all come together. Just be weary of people who approach you and want you to follow them. Sometimes they help, most often they don't.
"You also mentioned in your blogs that you found biking to be the best speed for traveling, I really like this idea, but do you think it would work for the countries mentioned. For the countries in sub-Sahara it seems like traveling between cities by bike may be dangerous."
I think that the bicycle is the best way to really travel. Automobiles are your major obstacle, and, if you do travel by bike, I would highly recommend packing it on a train or bus when coming in or going out of major cities. Riding you bike into a big city should be the most scary thing that you encounter haha. The bicycle also gives you an advantage that you do not have without it: speed. If some fellows begin messing with you all you have to do is mount your bike and ride away. If you are in a scary part of a city at night, riding quickly on your bike makes you far more resistant to problems. I would recommend starting you journey out using public transport and then maybe when you become a little more comfortable with the region hop on a bicycle. Keep in mind that it is my impression that it is the countryside and backcountry regions of places that are often times the safest.
Just have fun. Please send emails to my friends, as they would love to help.
can go over your proposal for this scholarship if you would like.
If you have any more questions, please ask.
Thanks for writing,
Scholarship for Travel
Global College Long Island University
How to Finance Travels and Study Abroad
P.S. If this information helps you out at all (or if you just appreciate my effort in trying haha) I would love it if you could tell or email a friend or two about Vagabond Journey.com.
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