I used to be afraid of everything. I spent most of my teenage years sheltered. I believe it had something to do with my parents doing everything for me and never letting me solve any of my problems myself. I was gaming and watching TV shows day and night and only went out to go to school. I avoided as much contact with other people as I possibly could. I was one of those kids, that walked around places with their headphones on and tried to disappear into the mass. Deep down, however, I always felt like I’m preparing myself for what’s coming next. That this is all just a big training program for me. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. Who knows.
That whole sheltered lifestyle lasted until I turned about 16. That’s when I randomly signed up for a working summer camp. And no, it’s not like a Nazi concentration camp. It’s a Sovietic relic of a tradition in Estonia where older kids, mostly aged 13-19, can sign up and then get together to work for a minimum wage for some random countryside employer and have lots and lots of team-building exercises after work. And for the majority of them, also their first parties. That’s where my very first change took place, as I finally broke out of my shell. I finally connected with kids my age. Of course that was also where I had my first smoking attempts and hard liquor experiences. That first summer camp was the starting point of change. The point, where I first began losing all my fears and I loved it. I became a rebel teen. Didn’t care about my parents’ advice any longer and went out to party instead. School became mandatory nuisance for me and my grades started dropping slowly, but surely.
By the second year of the summer camp, I had already gained so much confidence, that I was openly smoking cigarettes on the streets (aged 17) and drinking vodka with my buddies in our summer camp gathering point. It wasn’t about becoming an alcoholic though. It was about fitting in with the cool kids and then becoming the most cool kid around. The supervisors tried to control us. Even stole our vodka. But we broke into their dorms and swapped it with water. Crazy teens ruled that campus and they couldn’t control it any more. After our compulsory work days were finished, it was back to having fun. That went on, until the supervisors finally manned up and sent us home with lifetime bans from those summer camps. That same second summer camp was also the same place, where I met Glen Live. He seemed like a cool guy and we even had a couple crazy after-parties after the rest of the kids got back from the summer camp. But as acquaintances normally go, the whole gang got pretty distant over time and all those cool events became far-away memories…
Fast-forward 2 years to Australia
Me and my buddies (the flatmate and his bro) went our different ways about a month into the whole Australian trip due to disagreements about everything. I had overcome almost all my fears and felt like I could easily do this shit alone. And so I did. I stayed behind, while they left on a road-trip to discover Australia. For me that was followed by a care-free lifestyle, that went on for about 2 months. I was in fucking Australia, mate. Living in a Northbridge hostel, right across the street from a big night club with a gang of crazy New-Zealanders, some Estonians, Koreans, French dudes and other random people from all over the world. We were all having crazy parties, where the New-Zealanders brought in their own gang-bangers and DJ’s, who also performed amazing tricks with fire.
I had become an independent dude having the time of my life. It’s a mysterious kind of a sensation, when You’re together with a group of young people, who each have overcome their fears and decided to test their luck in Australia. To get a taste of the Australian dream. For the first time in their lives, they were truly free. You can’t get that feeling anywhere else. I also acquired a small South-Korean girlfriend for myself and the last thing on my mind was the future. A pretty good lifestyle, if fun is all You’re looking for in life.
But like everything in life – nothing ever lasts. The gang slowly fell apart. Some moved on to other cities, others rented a house and so on. Even my Korean girlfriend left for Tasmania. This gave me time to focus on my Estonian travel blog. I wanted to stay anonymous, so I created an alter ego for myself. I became IVAN. ‘The adventures of IVAN’ started slowly picking up readers from all over Estonia. A lot of my old friends began contacting me about moving to Australia. I went into full details with all of them, in hopes of breaking them free from their daily struggles, but none of them ever took the advice. Then one day I was contacted by GLive. By then I wasn’t really into advising anyone else, but I found myself bored one night, so I gave him a chance. Told him everything he needed to know to move to Australia and then I just kind of forgot all about it.
A couple weeks went by, until suddenly, I got a phone call. It was him. I was thinking something along the lines of ‘WTF!? Impossible.’ So I pick up the call and he only asked for my address. And I shit You not. As I arrived back from my exhausting work-day in construction, there he was – standing in front of the hostel with his luggage, completely oblivious to what he just got himself into. He conquered his fears and took the leap of faith. I had not seen that dude in 2,5 years, so I was completely stunned for a while…
We started having a lot of fun together.
I found myself another tiny Korean girlfriend, which made me rethink the whole Asian fetish thing. I met this one when she kicked some Ozzie guys’ ass, as he tried to grope her’s and it quickly turned out that she was apparently some sort of a martial arts master in Korea. GLive managed to find a job asking people for donations under the Red-Cross flag and that care-free lifestyle went on for quite a while. ‘The adventures of IVAN’ soon became ‘The adventures of IVAN and GLive’.
Until one day when GLive got sent to a remote desert town of Kalgoorlie as sort of a duty assignment. A week went by and he gave me a call. Told me all about this desert town. It had a huge gold mine. We started fantasizing about becoming actual gold diggers. He had met some miners there. They had sort of offered him an opportunity in the gold mine and he was telling me to join him. My construction job had just finished and so was my money. So I figured ‘What the hell. You only live once, right?’. I kept thinking ‘Is this real right now?’, as I packed my 3 things. I also stole a tent from our hostel and bought a train ticket to Kalgoorlie. Got the ticket money from a quite chill older Ozzie guy, I met on the beach the other day.
Life or death
In order to truly become fearless, a man needs to have sunk to such a low place in life, that the only thing left for him to lose, is his own life. Any choice he makes at that point is going up. Anything is better, than this. He needs to be hanging on the verge of life and death. And that’s what Kalgoorlie became for us – the lowest point in our lives. I’m forever glad that it happened, even though I wouldn’t ever want to do it again. That’s where I truly became fearless…
I jumped off the train in Kalgoorlie and GLive met me at the train station. We had a cone, which was followed by a meal in Hungry Jack’s.
We were feeling quite optimistic, although clueless really. We literally had no place to go or stay at. We grabbed a carton of beer from the store, as we went on to meet a girl that GLive had met in Perth, so that we could maybe crash at her’s. We ended up drinking the whole box of beer by the three of us and she sort of shooed us off. What a bitch, but who can blame her, right?
Luckily it was a desert town and it was summer. So we grabbed our shit and started venturing towards the outskirts of the town. I have no clue, how we even set up that tent, as we were totally hammered, but we did it. GLive took this picture the next morning.
The only thing I was able to think was ‘Why the fuck did I come here?’. I even tried to keep an optimistic mind, when this miner dude told us, that he was just kidding with the whole job thing. So we started looking at other options. Anything really. We kept walking around town day in and day out, asking for work and basically got one negative response after another. The only places where we were able to even moderately relax, were the library and the Hungry Jack’s. Thank god for AC. Anyhow we were literally operating on our last 30 dollars. By this point we had been living in a tent for a week. Since we had zero options for personal hygiene, we had to make an option. We found a trailer park close to our campsite. The trailer park mostly offered shelter for tourists who were just passing through Kalgoorlie. With no other options, we started sneaking into the trailer park, as it had a huge shower unit with maybe 10 shower stalls. So every night, after dark, we jumped the trailer park fence and sneaked in for our daily shower.
As the hours passed, our food problem was also getting more serious. I had been dying to have a snack for days and things were only getting worse. There was this one moment in the nearby gas station, where I found myself looking at a pack of potato chips and I basically grabbed it and walked out of there. I must’ve looked like the most shady and ‘up-to-smth weird’ dude there. My career as a small-time thief was put to an abrupt stop by the cashier, who ran after me and grabbed that bag of chips out of my hands. Well, shit. Guess I’ll just die..
Now Kalgoorlie was a hot place. 40-degree Celsius heat was a regular thing there. And we were already cutting the last of our rations in half, so we were both going through a hi-speed weight loss program. By that ‘1 week’ mark we had finally started losing all hope. We were discussing different ideas of calling our parents for help, but a young man’s pride is a tricky thing. It just doesn’t let You admit defeat. That would mean that we failed. We couldn’t fail. That just wasn’t something we could do. So we kept going…
We were yet again strolling ’round town. Desperate and hungry. Let me tell You something about Kalgoorlie. It’s not a nice place. The city is divided in 2. There’s Kalgoorlie and then there’s Boulder. Boulder was a total ghetto. Aboriginals everywhere. And those Aboriginals were all kinds of racist. We would get thrown at with empty bottles and called all kinds of shit on the street. Probably because we were 2 young white boys, in a completely wrong part of the town. There had been some really bad history between the Aboriginals and white Australians in Kalgoorlie.
People were disappearing around town and then later found dead in the desert and other stuff like that. We didn’t really care as we had bigger problems than some angry Aboriginal gangbangers. I mean we had a deal between us – if the other dude dies, you get all his stuff. By this point we had completely mastered the art of setting up a tent. Our record was 15 seconds. Btw, sleeping on the desert dirt isn’t that nice. The ground is hard and full of little pebbles, that really fuck up Your back. So GLive devised us a solution, by jumping a couple of fences ’round town and grabbing us some clean bed sheets. We needed them more than You did, sorry. Since we had a lot of stuff, we had to hide most of it in the bushes. We separated our stuff into 3-4 different bushes in our campsite area, so that we wouldn’t lose all of it, if someone happened to find it.
We carried our laptops, camera and other more expensive items with us 24/7. The main thing was to record every moment of it into our blog as it was gaining in popularity. Nobody in Estonia had ever seen anyone do anything like that. People were actually asking, if we’re somehow photoshopping the pictures and faking all this, but you really can’t make this shit up..
We had probably been homeless for a week and a half, when we randomly stumbled into a post office. There was a message board there, so we immediately checked that. There was an ad. Someone was looking for a car washer. ‘Holy shit’, I thought, as I was dialing the number. A female voice answered. I asked about the job and they told me to come by. I was welcomed by an older Muslim couple, as I walked into the car wash. They immediately offered me a job. There’s this one moment, that I remember like it was yesterday. I was filling the necessary tax information and the company owner’s wife asked me for my address and I was like ‘I live in a tent. No address, I can show You the spot on a map if You like’. They were utterly shocked. I started the same day. By this time we had already ran out of all our rations (minute-noodles) and I was working purely on water. That went on for 3 days. Yeah. We didn’t eat for 3 days.
I kept working under the 35-degree Australian sun, drinking water for 3 days. You get paid weekly in Australia, so I still had 4 days to go until payday. It still amazes me how much abuse a young man’s body can actually endure. By the third day they had noticed, that I was never eating anything. So they offered me some cash up front. They gave me 100 dollars. Fucking hell. At that point I came back alive. As I got off work and met back up with GLive, we went straight to Hungry Jack’s and both had large Double Whopper Meals with chocolate sundaes. That was our first proper meal in a week. I remember how I couldn’t actually eat, as my stomach had not had any food in it for so long. But we sat there the whole evening until we finished those meals.
We felt sort of like kings of the homeless. We were stripped of all luxury and made to struggle to fulfill our basic desires for food and shelter. In the end we brought this on ourselves, which was stupid, but we still made it out while staying true to our self-confidence. We didn’t ask for any help and we didn’t die. It truly felt like we were bulletproof and nothing could stop us now…