NUS students travel across Europe with no money

They travelled to seven European countries over seven days, covering a distance of 2,557km, and they were not allowed money or mobile phones for personal use.

The only "currency" this group of National University of Singapore (NUS) students had to buy food, goods and services in this competition were cans of Red Bull. Not only did they finish 11th, they were also the first Asian team to reach the finish line.

A total of 165 teams from 54 countries took part in Red Bull's Can You Make It challenge from April 12 to 19.

Each team started with 24 cans of Red Bull and traded them for things like food and travel.

They completed challenges to earn more cans.

These tasks included making a local dish, hugging a stranger, learning the waltz and riding a stranger's bicycle. Participants had to race across at least six countries within Europe before completing the race in Paris, France.

The Singapore group of Janson Seah, Fang Yuan and permanent resident Irina Tjahjana, all 23, travelled to Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland.

They covered a seventh country to complete more challenges to earn more points.

They called themselves Just Fork It (JFI) - the initials of the first letters of their names.


Ms Tjahjana said they were intrigued by the idea of travelling across Europe with no money.

She said: "There is no need to worry about being robbed. Nobody is going to steal from you and you are really able to enjoy the journey."

Mr Fang called it the cheapest backpacking trip ever.

All each team had was their cans of Red Bull and a Samsung A5 smartphone which allowed them only to update their progress and post pictures and video clips on Red Bull's website.

They could also see how other teams were faring.

The phones were programmed to prevent them from making phone calls or sending text messages.

The team experienced problems like missing their bus when they overslept, meeting people who were wary of them and were unwilling to help, and not being able to get plane tickets with their cans.

But they managed to trade four to six cans for a hostel stay, or 24 cans for train tickets.

Mr Fang added: "This whole experience is not something you can predict. We are proud of what we got.

"I learnt to work as (part of) a team, to compromise and to find your inner strength. Whatever happens, even though you can't see the end, there will be some way to get there."

This article was first published on May 16, 2016.
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