Taking in the world one step at a time

Taking in the world one step at a time
The Sri Mariamman Temple was among the attractions Mr Killian Blais (left) and Mr William Kohler explored during their brief time in Singapore.a

In 2008, Mr Killian Blais left his job in IT and his family in France, and set off to travel the world on foot, like the pilgrims of old. Six years and 17,000km later, he has not looked back.

Mr Blais, now 31, documents his travels on his Facebook page World Tour on Foot: Tout En Marchant

"When you walk, you slow down your pace of life. You think about the things you see, the people you meet," he said. He has crossed 15 countries so far, including Italy, Kazakhstan and China. This week, he added Singapore to the list. He leaves today with his travelling companion, Mr William Kohler, 31, for Indonesia.

Mr Kohler, who is also French, joined Mr Blais in 2011 in China.

The men walk nearly all the time, occasionally taking boats when they have to cross water, or hitchhiking when they need to retrace their steps.

They cover an average of 20km a day, sometimes 40km if they need to outrun expiring visas. They have also lived with blisters and endured sleeping outdoors in harsh weather.

Once, five years ago, Mr Blais found himself being shot at by the Turkish army when he stumbled across a hidden military camp. "We had to wave white flags, like in the movies," he recalled.

Their shoestring budget of €2 (S$3.25) for daily expenses means they often have to rely on the kindness of strangers. In Singapore, the two men, who are single, stayed for free at a friend's Bukit Merah hostel. Another treated them to a feast of satay. They have also been eating free meals at the Sikh temple near their hostel.

"Singaporeans are really nice," said Mr Kohler. "People will help you when you ask them in the street.

"They are some of my favourite people in South-east Asia."

The duo plan to walk through at least 20 countries.

Mr Blais estimates he has completed 65 per cent of his quest, and that it will take three more years to get back to the finishing line in France.

"Many people don't understand why we do this. This Azerbaijan shepherd told me, 'In the time you spent walking around, you could have got four hundred sheep!'" he said.

"But I regret nothing," he added. "I would regret it more if I had not done this."

oliviaho@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Dec 3, 2014.
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