There’s a popular saying that the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. If that’s true, then travel writer Marco Ferrarese has definitely read more than most, and from a eclectic selection of authors, genres and styles that most people never hear about.
Just take a look at the accounts of his wanderlust in his book The Travels Of Marco Yolo (reviewed here). The man has visited illegal cockfighting pits in the Bali underworld. He’s hung out with black metal music lovers in Bangladesh, and got lost on an unknown trail in Nepal.
“For me, travelling is very intense. It’s like a job. You have to wake up early, go to the place, do something meaningful, make connections. You try to make sense of the place, understand the place, see what’s crawling under the surface,” says Ferrarese, 37, in a recent phone interview from Penang.
Ferrarese didn’t start off yearning to travel. Born in Voghera, northern Italy, the young man originally seemed destined for music, learning guitar at the age of 12. Five years later, Ferrarese would form The Nerds, a metal punk band, which he played in for 10 years, touring Europe and the United States.
“Playing in a punk band got me on the road. But with a band, I never got to do more, or see more. You go somewhere, you play a show, and that was it,” he laments.
One day, however, the writer discovered a book by Tiziano Terzani called A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels In The Far East (1995), an account of a year-long journey through Asia. The fortune teller told Tiziano that he would die if he flew on a plane that year, so the author stuck firmly to transport on land and water.
Inspired to see the world after reading it, Ferrarese signed up for the chance to teach Italian in China in 2007. Since then, he has travelled across over 50 countries, and has written about travel, culture and extreme music.
Ferrarese, now based in George Town, has written over 100 articles about Malaysia, South-East Asia and India.
His short fiction has been published in local publisher Fixi Novo’s KL Noir: Blue, Lost In Putrajaya and PJ Confidential, while his novel Nazi Goreng and nonfiction book Banana Punk Rawk Trails were published by Monsoon Books and SIRD respectively.
The Travels Of Marco Yolo (published by Gerak Budaya) is a compilation of various travel articles, previously published over the past three years.
“At first, I simply wanted to repurpose these stories, which mostly had a very short shelf-life because they were for magazines or websites. I wanted to make them available to the Malaysian public. Why? Because as I found in my 10 years living here, Malaysians don’t really travel.
“They have the fifth best passport in the world (Global Passport Power Rank 2017) and can go to many places without needing visas. You can go to Europe without needing a visa. And yet you don’t travel!”
But why is it important that we do travel, we ask.
Ferrarese says travelling, at its core, will open an individual’s mind up to new experiences.
“I like people, I like cultures. I like seeing how different people live in different parts of the world. I think it’s mind-blowing how you can travel short distances, say from George Town to KL, and see the same people living in so many different ways,” says Ferrarese, who has a doctorate in anthropology.
The author, after all, is a huge advocate of living large, and believes that everything in life should be an adventure.
“I’ve always had this spirit. I was even born a week before time! I really feel the energy of life, I cannot sit still. I think whatever we do not do today and now, is lost forever,” warns Ferrarese.