Were you ever a fan of the books “Choose Your Own Aventure” as a child? Or ever secretly harbored thoughts of doing the unknown, of tossing the constraints of day-to-day life to one side, leaving the rat race, your possessions, and actually embarking on a journey of a lifetime?
Well, Gary Knox did just that! His story is incredible and awe-inspiring.
Here’s how he became part of an experiment he conjured up called “Choose My Own Adventure” [You call follow his exploits and be part of choosing his next destination by simply clicking here]
What is ”Choose My Own Adventure” we ask via email since we have lost track of his current location at this precise moment?
“It is a multi-platform social experiment where the public decide every aspect of my life for one year, ” Knox says. “They choose where I go, who I meet, how I earn money and the things I do when I am there. I document everything in a blog and people join in through that, Facebook, Twitter and a forum. On the first of each month I pack up and move onto a new adventure in a different country.”
And how did it come about?
“I started off with £5,000 ($7,750) live at Heathrow airport and posted 6 possible destinations I could fly to within the next two hours, created a poll so followers could vote and when the poll closed an hour later I went to the most popular choice (or rather didn’t but that’s another story all together),” he explains. “This money was deliberately low so people had to decide how I earn more to continue.”
He adds, “there are regular challenges to complete where failure means the automatic end of the journey and a return to normal life. This is taken from one of the main inspirations for the idea, the Choose Your Own Adventure books of my childhood. Another big source of inspiration was The Diceman – this is effectively a 21st century update to that concept.”
And how have his adventure panned out so far?
He relays via email, “Over the past 5 months I have been to Rome, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Easter Island, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, The US (for 3 hours in an airport), Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. In two hours I board a bus to Belgium where I’ll spend 24 hours doing whatever people tell me to do in Brussels. The current favourite looks like finding a swingers club…”
But we have to ask what were the high points and the low points? And here, Knox takes us on his journey into a fascinating insight into real life experience…
My followers made me take a job on Easter Island (the most remote inhabited island in the world), difficult considering only the 5,000 natives speak their language Rapa Nui. Through a combination of luck and ignorance I bagged a job on a tiny fishing boat with two guys, Gregorio and Octavio. I spent three weeks catching tuna the traditional line and pole way, hauling up langoustine pots and generally living the fisherman’s life, taken into their community despite the language barriers.
Drinking Ayhuasca in the Amazon with a 70-year-old shamen was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Spending 24 hours hallucinating that panthers were attacking from the jungle was certainly different.
In Canada money was running low so I was sent to work in the oldest profession of them all – my followers voted for me to become a male escort.
I spent the night in the ruins of a slaughter house in an abandoned ghost town in Argentina. The waters of Lago Epecuen rose in the 80s to wipe out the town. When the water rescinded two years ago it left the skeleton of this spooky town.
I was ordered to attend a hippy commune in Sweden for a few weeks where everything screamed CULT. Weirdest place ever. Those posts are pretty recent if you need anything from there.
I had to take a 127 hour bus ride covering 7,000km of South America with only an apple and a bottle of water for the duration as my bank card stopped working.
I’m about to hike 780km over the Pyrenees Mountains from France to Santiago, Spain. I can’t imagine I’ll enjoy that.
I’ve slept rough on several occasions.
But hey, we aren’t done yet….
Here is our Q & A with him because as addictive as his own adventure must be, we’re addicted to delving into the possibly of throwing a normal existence into the unknown and living vicariously through someone else….
Celebzter: Has this experience changed your life and how?
Knox: It has totally changed my life. It showed me that by saying yes to things opens so many doors to new experiences. It reminded me that people are for the most part brilliant, strangers go out of their way to help me and friends and family have never felt so close despite the distance between us.
Celebzter: When you finally get home, will you appreciate your life so much more?
Knox: I already appreciate my life more from it, but getting home is a bit worrying as I have no idea what I’ll do to replace the excitement and adrenaline of it all.
Celebzter: What have you missed from home the most?
Knox: I should say my friends and family but with Skype, Whatsapp and generally what I do in documenting it al I feel in touch with people as much or more than I did when living in London. The internet makes the world a really small place.
Celebzter: What have you learnt to live without?
Knox: Money coming in every month, my funds are well past critical but then I’ll just get put out to work again or be forced to sell something from my old life. Last week I sold a painting which should keep my afloat for a few weeks.
Celebzter: Is there one place you haven’t been but would love to go to still? One experience you never want to repeat again in this lifetime?
Knox: I was very close to doing a proper US road trip, something I’ve always fancied but it lost out in the vote to staying at a hippy commune in Sweden in the vote. It wasn’t fun at all but arguably has lead to the best content being created. I actually don’t want to do the things I really fancy doing because I’ll inevitably do them once it has all finished, I’d much rather go off-the-beaten-track or try something out of the ordinary.
However a 127 hour bus journey is not something I’ll be rushing to complete again, my ass was broken by the end, I feel numb just thinking about it again.
Celebzter: Would you do the whole experience again?
Knox: In a heartbeat. I’ve finally stopped thinking “would this work?” and just gone with my gut feeling. It’s an old cliché but it’s better to regret something you’ve done. Luckily I regret nothing – escorting, drug taking, living homeless are things I wouldn’t have done before, nor will once I’ve finished, but I’m glad I did.
Celebzter: Any thoughts on turning it into a novel? Doco?
Knox: At the start it was just about getting an idea that I’d harboured for five years out of my head. Then it started to work and has evolved and grown each month. I have an agent who will try to hawk it around once I’m back but even if it doesn’t get taken on I will self publish and release for Kindle. There will be a job of polishing it up because I write everything on the hoof, often on my phone.
The other day i asked myself what would be the best case result post-completion and I think it could really work for TV as a comedy-drama due to the episode nature of the idea and the situations that I get into.
Celebzter: And lastly, if anyone was ever to follow in your footsteps and attempt the same thing, what advice would you give them?
Knox: Don’t worry if something goes wrong, it’s all part and parcel of it. The story comes from how you resolve the issues as much as doing it exactly as it should be.
This is one adventure we will certainly follow for time to come… though, we just realized we missed the most obvious question of all: What about finding the wife? Should we help him do that next?
Here are some clips of his wild adventures so far….
And you can see more of his updated and older adventures simply by clicking here.