Off The Road

‘What are you going to do with yourself, Ed?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know’, he said, ‘I just go along. I dig life.’
– Jack Kerouac, On The Road

I think it was Alexander Huber who infested my with this idea of viewing ones life as a big book, every single day represented by a blank page that is yet to be filled. Some pages will display only a few words scratched on them, some are more like a whole magnificent book by themselves, featuring coloured illustrations and all. I still like to live and think by and with this analogy, it’s a beautiful one; And accordingly, I’m about to close a big chapter, 206 pages long and a hell of a read.

Flicking through it, one can read of snow-covered peaks, of real-life dragons, of endless road-trips, of those miseries of packing up a wet tent in the morning and putting it up again in the evening, of insightful conversations with total strangers that are about to become respected friends in just a minute’s time, of days filled with the longing for a home, of endless and empty beaches, of the best sunset imaginable, yes, one will even be advised to absolutely never leave the selling of a van to the very day prior to your departure. In short, I’ve done my best to fill each and every of those blank pages as colourful and vivid as I could. That was my mission – I think I did pretty well.

People will continue to ask, ‘So, tell me, what’s your favourite place of all?’ Well, there is no such place. It’s neither A nor B that matter, it’s everything in between. It was proven once again that flexibility is a traveller’s very best friend. In a nutshell, Nepal was a beautiful culture shock, still vivid in my mind. Thailand was a holiday from Nepal, a delight for all senses. Singapore a huge, modern city (yes, and it still is, in face I’m writing those lines whilst patiently waiting for my final connection at Singapore International Airport and, as it turned out, they offer public Internet kiosks free of charge; brilliant). Indonesia an adventure for its own, featuring a paradise of a millions islands and day-long delayed ferry rides. Australia a big and exciting road trip and a lot of deep blue. New Zealand an even bigger road trip (6349 km, in fact), a lot of magnificent rock and even more magnificent people. But you shouldn’t put anything in a nutshell, frankly – go ahead and write a book.

So, even seven month of intense travelling around the globe have to come to an end, eventually. It will be a whole new idea to work through those memories – there were simply too many to be processed instantly. Doubtless to say, those seven month were the most adventurous and exciting of my life. Of course. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Of course. I would do it again. Of course.
But now, I’m off the road, I’m coming home. And I’m glad to.

If there is one sole conclusion that has to be drawn from my first extended trip around the world, than this is it: It surely hasn’t been my last one.

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My Asia

[warning: this might get a bit poetic.]

My Asia was a bucket shower.
My Asia was a million smiles.
My Asia was the best food I’ve ever had.
My Asia was bitter cold and blazing hot.
My Asia was a scorpion in the bathroom.
My Asia was the ugliest place I’ve ever been to.
My Asia was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to.
My Asia was a hazardous motorbike ride.
My Asia was a great novel.
My Asia was a shitton of rice.
My Asia was a cheap drug.
My Asia was cruel poverty.
My Asia was a canceled flight.
My Asia was a rooster in the night bus.
My Asia was a real-life dragon.
My Asia was climbing way too high up.
My Asia was one hard bargain.
My Asia was an overcrowded bus ride.
My Asia was a ridiculously hot cilli sauce.
My Asia was an extended love affair.
My Asia was a mosquito bite.
My Asia was everything between -30m and +5450m.
My Asia was a Bintang Shirt.
My Asia was an elephant ride.
My Asia was facing real poverty.
My Asia was the wonderful people I met.
My Asia was 91 days of pure excitement.
My Asia will see me again.

[I just couldn’t help it.]

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Hello, Mister!

That’s what you’ll hear most frequently in the streets of Indonesia. On a good day, up to two million times a day (oddly, I’m not even exaggerating here). People waiving at you at the same rate. Toy superstar for the day. However, should you make the mistake to set foot into some of the more touristy territorial of Indonesia (think Bali or Gili Islands), then the conversations are more like the following (imagine this taking place within 15m of walking distance on a main road with lots of shops):

“Hello Mister, need transport?”
“No, thank you.”
“Hello Mister, taxi?”
“Hello Mister, massage?”
“Hello Mister, transport?”
“Hello Mister, smoke weed?”
“Well … no.”
“Hello Mister, transport?”

To say the least, it can become a bit exhausting. Smile and wave, smile and wave. Don’t get me wrong, Indonesian people are generally really nice and generous (except in touristy centres like Bali where they are generally greedy and evil), but they just seem to be the worst organisers of mankind. On my four major attempts to travel somewhere in this enormously huge country, I’ve got delayed four times (two times over 24h). So if you plan to travel Indonesia a bit off the beaten path, bring patience. A lot.

Environmentally speaking, Indonesia is incredibly. I’ve seen active volcanoes (incredibly destructive), black beaches (incredibly secluded), tons of temples (incredibly massive), and real-life dragons (incredibly scary). Besides Java, Flores was an impressive place to visit, including the close-by islands of Komodo and Rinca. It just took three days to get there. Climbing Gurung Rinjani on Lombok failed, sadly, due to constantly bad weather; consider visiting during dry season, that might save you a bit of frustration. On the other hand, situations evolving out of totally unexpected (and at first glance disillusioning) occurrences are, sometimes, the best ones.

They make for those travel stories.

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