Up close with Paulo Leite – the cycling explorer

If you read one of my previous post, I mentioned  about how my trip to Kawah Ijen, Indonesia was inspired by this Brazilian guy I met during my trip in Medan. I had the opportunity then to sit and chat with him, listening to some of Paulo’s adventures. I was interested in how he started, where he went, how he funded everything and etc.

He was on an Indonesian tour back then, and he works his way up from Flores, Indonesia to Malaysia and continue cycling North to Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and the rest of the world. We met again for drinks when Paulo was in Malaysia for a short time,  where he had just recovered from a mild case of dengue fever! Right now he is still actively cycling, exploring and capturing magnificent mind blowing photos that I am more than happy to share here :

Paulo and his bicycle in Penang
Paulo and his bicycle in Penang, Malaysia

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, where from, what do you do

I am Paulo Leite, 49 years old from Brazil. I am a mechanical engineer, but I have been teaching English for the last 20 years because it’s much easier to travel for a while and get a job once I get back home.

Danau Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia
Danau Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia – by Paulo Leite
Kelimutu, Flores, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia by Paulo Leite
Kelimutu, Flores, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia by Paulo Leite

2. When did you start traveling?

I started traveling in January 2012.

3. Name three favorite travel destinations so far and why?

My favorite travel destinations are Java, Indonesia for its volcanoes; Thailand for its food and beaches; and Nepal for amazing trekking in the Himalayas.

Railay beach, Thailand - by Paulo Leite
Railay beach, Thailand – by Paulo Leite
Kagbeni, Nepal
Kagbeni, Nepal – by Paulo Leite

4. You take awesome photos. What camera do you use?

Photography is just a hobby, but I really enjoy it. To take nice shots it’s almost all about having the “eye” and very little about the camera one has. I travel by bike and carry as much as 4 kg, so I have a tiny camera SONY DSC TX66.

Kagbeni, Nepal
Kagbeni, Nepal – by Paulo Leite
Girl in Nepal by Paulo Leite
Girl in Nepal – by Paulo Leite
Pashupatinath, Nepal by Paulo Leite
Pashupatinath, Nepal by Paulo Leite

5. What was your scariest travel experience so far?

Every time I get sick I get scared, because sickness is the only thing that can send me back home.

6. How do you finance your travels?

I sold a house I had on the Brazilian coast and that’s why I can be traveling for some years.

7. And the country with the best food is…

I am vegetarian so it’s always harder to find food that suits me, but Indian food is probably the most delicious.

Varanasi India - by Paulo Leite
Varanasi India – by Paulo Leite
Varanasi India - by Paulo Leite
Varanasi India – by Paulo Leite
Sasaram, India - by Paulo Leite
Sasaram, India – by Paulo Leite

8. Where to next after India?

I left India for Turkey, because after 2.5 years I really needed a break from Asia. I will be cycling around Eastern Europe for the next 6 months.

9. Name 3 item that is a must for you to bring when you travel?

The most important thing to bring when you travel for this long is “detachment”.

Other important things are time, money, fitness and patience, a lot of patience. It’s important to bring as little as possible. My bag weighs only 4kg and if I really need something I will buy it and discard it as soon as I don’t need it anymore. Cultures are so different in Asia, one never knows what is important to have. e.g. I wasn’t able to buy dental floss in China!

Kashgar, Xinjiang, China - by Paulo Leite
Kashgar, Xinjiang, China – by Paulo Leite
Xijiang, Guizhou, China - by Paulo Leite
Xijiang, Guizhou, China – by Paulo Leite
Kaili, Guizhou - by Paulo Leite
Kaili, Guizhou – by Paulo Leite

10. Famous person you’d love to travel with?

I like traveling alone. I think this is the only way one can meet lots of local people, learn local languages and experience the most. If one travels with a friend they tend to stick together and the learning is little, but I wouldn’t mind to travel with Angelina Jolie. LOL!

Sighisoara, Romania - by Paulo Leite
Sighisoara, Romania – by Paulo Leite
Mount Ramelau, Hatubuilico, Timor Leste by Paulo Leite
Mount Ramelau, Hatubuilico, Timor Leste by Paulo Leite

11. Do you plan to go home anytime soon?

I know there will be a day when I will go back home, but the day has not come yet, so I keep on riding.



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12. What tips or advice you would tell all those traveling newbies out there

First of all, one must travel light. Traveling light means you have to only bring the necessity stuff that you really need and one you won’t be an easy target for touts and thieves. Normally people choose things they want to bring and then buy a bag or rucksack that suits them. I first get a (small) bag and then fit things into this bag. Secondly, one must be fit because the nicest places to visit require some effort. Unfit people miss the best. Above all when traveling “never give up easily” and when hard times come “going home” should be the last resort.

 

Thank you Paulo for all these awesome travel tips and inspiration! Wishing you all the best in your endeavors.

*As of today, Paulo is somewhere around Italy…

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