“What I find is that you can do almost anything or go almost anywhere, if you’re not in a hurry.”
– Paul Theroux
One of the greatest fortunes of our generation is the incredible ability we have to do anything, to go anywhere on this planet and to see for ourselves the world around us. We have an incomparable luxury to travel, one that our parents and grandparents never had the pleasure of knowing. The world is quite literally at our fingertips. It doesn’t take three weeks and months of preparation to cross the Atlantic anymore. It takes hours.
With a passion for adventure and a little taste for the unknown, any of us can hop on a plane for the other side of the world. It doesn’t even require a whole lot of planning, indeed, some of the best adventures I’ve had have been the ones that just sort of happened, without any regard for plan or itinerary. Taking off to The Unknown requires little more than an internet connection and a valid passport. The stuff that gets in the way is the stuff we can control – our jobs, our families & friends, our schedules. In fact, sometimes the sheer ease of hopping a plane is so, well, easy, that it’s often overlooked. You and I could be, for the sake of argument, in Iceland tonight and Zambia tomorrow.
The hardest part of leaving is making the decision to leave. After that, it’s easy. Forging for yourself months of travels or a new life 16 time-zones away is so miraculously effortless that preparation is often all but trivial. You just have to be ready to roll with the punches.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain
So I don’t know about you, but I find Siberia fascinating. Maybe it’s those funny fur hats. Or perhaps it’s because their lands thwarted Hitler’s blitzkrieg. It could be because I don’t know many people who have been there, so my knowledge is based on out-dated history books (and crazy history teachers – “The Kulaks were sent to the Gulags” – thanks, Mr. Torres). It might be the cryptic Cyrillic alphabet with all those funny-looking backwards letters. Or maybe it’s the fact that the application process makes me want to tear my hair out. Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to go. : )
I figured the best way to see the country would be overland, by rail. So the plan is to start in Beijing and spend some time in Mongolia before moving north into Siberia and west, eventually, to Moscow and St Petersburg. Then comes Latvia, and after that, London. And after London comes The Unknown, again (which is, in many ways, my favourite part :)). Anyway, I have a bit of time before my scheduled departure from Beijing, so I’m just going to relax and move about on Southeast Asia’s beaches for awhile.
Here is a basic route map of where I kind of expect to be over the next few months. Only two dates are set in stone, and that is a) my flight to Singapore, and b) my departure from China for Mongolia. What happens in between is all part of the adventure. :)