As I lay solemnly still amongst sandalwood and camphor trees bugs hiccup in the softness of dusk. Branches bend as monkeys jockey for a position to view the new edition to the forest. Fist size, brown moth tropical butterflies flap their wings as my tent poles jiggle themselves erect into their evening T pose. Giant ants clear a space as I shake my tiny tent into its familiar formation. My tent perches comfortably on a bed on sprinkled leaves and discarded palm hay. Freedom camping or camping in open wild spaces without a soul to see for another evening in the 14th country on this world journey. Some may say why not stay in the $3 dollar hotel down the street or the ocean view tourist resort with swimming pool only 50 km away.
Being that I have become an international hoboist with bicycle perching my tent in a hidden gem of a Malaysian forest is an embraced opportunity. One of the many shear joys and benefits of pedaling down lonesome roads, rarely visited by tourists.
Last night here in Malaysia on the outskirts of Johor Bahru, I slept under a tree without a tent. Last week I caught some zzz's on a boat in Indonesia. And at this time last year I put my tent with permission in front of a Thai temple. A new stalker turned future cycling partner enjoys sleeping on 3rd base of the local baseball field (and stalking solo female cyclist but that's another story). Perhaps he is afraid to go home but none the less he continues in his bicycle travels. The notion that a bed is a prerequisite for sleeping is truly not a reality for the majority of the people of the world.
Here is a brief list of countries in which freedom camping is a great option for the outdoor enthusiasts.
- Ireland-plenty of beaches and green spaces, many farmers are also open to pitching a tent on their land
- Thailand, Lao-most farms and rice plantations have a covered bamboo resting hut used by the public, these places are great for resting
- New Zealand-The government of NZ is so supportive of freedom camping that they even publish a free tourist brochure on locations and low impact tips. In addition to the pamphlet the farmers are very friendly and will walk you to the prettiest of places
- Nepal-The terrain in the trekking region is on a step slope, however there are places near streams and rivers that a tent can stay tucked out of the way, lots of fresh water and the sound of a trickling brook makes for a great sleep
- Indonesia-Over crowding is a big issue here but none the less, Sulawesi, Indonesia has lots of open space on the beach and in the woods. I heard the same is true of Flores, Lombak and Bali as well.
- Mongolia-My favorite place, the nomadic country where their locals dwellings are tents (gers). A tent fits in here almost anywhere. You could probability pitch a tent here in the capital city and no one would think much of it. Not sure that's safe but you get the idea about how tent friendly Mongolia is.
- Malaysia-My present location and a great surprise. There are undeveloped forest great for tenting throughout the west coast route and last night I saw glow worms and monkeys from the tent door.