West Wickham man writes book about the potential pitfalls of backpacking
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 June 2014
A man who spent years travelling has written a book about his experiences and the potential dangers that can befall backpackers.
Paul Bellamy, of West Wickham, wrote Backpackers- Fear on a Shoestring to try and persaude people to take care of their safety when they are abroad.
From between the age of 20 and 30 Paul travelled through 94 countries including Australia, the Phillipines, China and Libya.
He has worked as a greenhouse labourer in Holland, decorater in Australia, film extra in Hong Kong and a dishwasher on a Greek island.
He said: “I wrote Backpackers, partly for the fun of it but also because I wanted to scare the bejesus out of backpackers and their parents and, hopefully, persaude them to take much more care of their safety when abroad than they often do. The fact is that the type of incidents that occur in the book do happen in real life to the unsuspecting.
“It’s like a travel log with a novel thrown in.
“Every single location in the book is somewhere I’ve been. Some of the characters in there are a mish mash of people you meet along the way.”
Paul’s decade of travel was not without its hazards, and he was in Tiananmen Square during the student protests of May 1989.
“Even though that was going on there were still thousands of backpackers travelling around China, including us, and really people should have got out of there!
“We didn’t actually know that it had got that bad.”
Paul is keen to emphasise that personal safety for backpackers is important and that there is no shame in going home if things become too difficult.
“A lot of people when they go travelling think they are going out on their great adventure,” he said.
“It doesn’t always quite work out like that. The money goes quicker than you would expect but a lot of people do anything rather than go home.”
Paul referenced a part in the book where one of the characters finds a money box left in a hotel and thinks about keeping it rather than handing it in, which is based on a real life experience that Paul had.
“People do that kind of thing when they are backpacking. A lot of people sell their cameras and then go and claim they have been stolen.
“It’s just people trying to stay away far too long when they can just go home.”
Paul now works for the Home Office and he wrote the book while he was working full time, completing a full days work before coming home to continue writing.
His experience of travel and his familiarity with dangerous situations means that he has been sent to British Embassies in more turbulent locations including Islamabad, Tripoli and Tehran.
Backpackers-Fear on a Shoestring is published by Troubador Books. It is available as an ebook or paperback through hive.co.uk and amazon.co.uk.