Forum Radio: When you travel... embrace the unexpected

Thursday, 07 April 2022 11:00

Julius Lukeš is a medical doctor, scientist, traveller and Charles University graduate who has visited more than 100 countries worldwide. He is my first guest in our first Forum Radio interview. Launched on the occasion of Charles University’s 674th birthday!

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The unexpected, says Julius Lukeš, is one of the best things about travelling low-cash. You still have to be careful, though, when it comes to risk.

Julius wrote a book about his adventures and misadventures - called Exotoulky - where he describes situations many of us could scarcely imagine. Among them: a near-fatal encounter with a jellyfish off the coast of Malaysia. The good-humoured and adventurous doctor reveals what it's like to travel low-cash (on a shoestring budget) in the some of the strangest places ever. Included: the story of how only a researcher would get rid of bed bugs caught in a posh hotel.

Admittedly, I had always wanted to read more travel or adventure travel writing but remained stuck after a few chapters of Tim Cahill’s Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, a little Paul Theroux and parts of Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places (mostly to remind me of places I never wanted to see). But I read Julius’ book cover to cover in Czech. We hope you enjoy the podcast.

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Julius poses for photographer Michal Novotný at his workplace at Thomayer Hospital in Prague's Krč. The job is a  "new adventure", he says.

Excerpts from the podcast:

"I have great parents, who started traveling right after the Iron Curtain fell. We began traveling and moved to Holland for some time: we there when I was very small and then went to the US for two years where we travelled and did trips to neighbouring Mexico. There was a bit of adventure already at the start and because my dad is a parasitologist he travelled a lot and usually took me with him. We always tried to travel in a cheap way that gets you closer to the nation: if you eat with locals and stay in cheap accommodation, you get to meet the people. If you are stuck behind the walls of some complex or eating in touristy restaurants, you lose this."

"For a few days in Malaysia I was totally without money, without a single dollar. I had been robbed and I don’t think that I even had a credit card with me. I had had cash and then I didn’t have any cash! So I was sleeping in Kuala Lumpur on the street and somebody took me in and gave me food for the next few days and got me to the airport. For five days, I was without any money at all. In retrospect, everything seems funnier and easier now but at the time, you are scared and you just want to be home safe."

"The encounter with the jellyfish took place at a pretty tourist spot and tourist beach on Langkawi Island in Malaysia, so you wouldn’t expect it. There were no warning signs anywhere, so when I was stung I had no idea what had happened or how much danger I was in. I was stung in the leg. Suddenly I felt terrible pain. But I thought it would go away. I told myself it was some jellyfish but I had no idea how venomous it was. Then, I got other symptoms pretty fast, I almost stopped breathing and went into shock."

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 On the right track: traveller and author Julius Lukeš. In Exotoulky, he describes travel in Indonesia in a story called Zombie Bus.

Forum Radio - Interview / Episode 1 / Julius Lukeš - Embrace the unexpected / Runtime: 28 min, 30 sec.

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Julius Lukeš is a traveller, researcher, doctor and CU graduate. He is the author of Exotoulky which maps his travels and some dramatic misadventures around the world. He received the Rector's Prize in 2016, while still a student, for stabilising a patient in grave condition on a flight. He lives in Prague with his wife and son. 

Photo: Michal Novotný

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