Reist – German for „(he/she/it) travels“. Sounds like English „rises-t“.
That’s gonna be the last blog post. It’s time to say good bye to a life on the road and to let all my experiences fade into the blur and fantastic world we call „past“. It’s harder than I thought. I want to keep hold of it, but I have to let go. I try not to see the end of this journey, but the start of another one. You can travel even without moving. Believe me, I’m an IT guy. I can do a lot without even leaving my chair.
I thought for a while about what I want to write in this last post. I prepared a detailed conclusion about Asia and Europe and about cultural differences. I worked many nights on it. And I have to admit, it is my favorite article. But I won’t publish it. „Boohoo“, you might say, „don’t tease if you won’t deliver!“. But hey, that’s artistic freedom. You will also never find out what’s in the suitcase in Pulp Fiction.
This blog stuck to real events all the time, but of course I can only tell one story and I have decided to tell the story you have read. It doesn’t mirror how the world really is. It mirrors what I felt was important at a certain point. It was important for me to find a contrast to what you usually see in the media. I also wanted a story that’s interesting to read. I tried to waive all the information you can also find on Wikipedia and Google. Instead I wanted to connect situations and experiences with movies and videos I have seen and my inner jukebox delivered the soundtrack. I also tried to see the positive side in things and if that didn’t work I tried to dissolve my concerns in humor.
See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum…
And one night, one night they decide they don’t like living in an asylum any more.
They decide they’re going to escape!
So, like, they get up onto the roof, and there, just across this narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away in the moonlight…
Stretching away to freedom.
Now, the first guy, he jumps right across with no problem, but his friend, his friend daredn’t make the leap. Y’see…
Y’see, he’s afraid of falling.
So then, the first guy has an idea…
He says „Hey! I have my flashlight with me! I’ll shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk along the beam and join me!“
B-But the second guy just shakes his head.
He suh-says…he says „wh-what do you think I am? CRAZY? You’d turn it off when I was half across!“
Many topics have followed me on this journey and lead to many questions: What is poverty? What is spirituality? What is religion? What is culture? What is freedom? What is trust? What makes a country safe? What makes it successful? What is my goal in life? Do I need one? Are dudes born without a brain or do they get the rifle in exchange for it and if so, what is the helmet supposed to protect?
I think I explored some of these questions thoroughly and that’s all you can do. The truth is like an asymptote. What the hell do I know?
So instead of telling you something you didn’t even ask for, I will answer two questions I have been asked a lot and only I can answer.
Why are you traveling?
I gave different answers to that question, because I was afraid to tell the truth. I said „because I like to be free“ or „I want to see the world“ or „I want to see for myself instead of believing TV“ or „because I have the privilege to do it and therefore the responsibility to make the most of it“. The last one was my holier-than-thou answer. After all I didn’t raise money for charity, so I sometimes needed another excuse, when (some!) people had this reproachful way of asking. And usually admitting you are just an over-privileged, spoiled European, whose life is so much easier than theirs, is all they want to hear.
But none of these answers was true.
The reason why I travel lies much deeper. I have a GPS and also a compass, but actually I am not following them. Something much more convincing directs me: I follow my fear.
Consider yourself warned, that the following sentences might sound theatrical: In your darkest hour only fear is left. When all hope is lost, fear will constantly torture you. That’s why some call it hell or the devil and try to find God instead. Others call it depression or panic attack and take medicine. Some even call it life and take drugs to escape. And recently people start to call it Donald Trump and move to Canada.
However, I found out fear is what everybody is looking for, but also running from. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the guidance. It is God. It is medicine. It is life. And I’m not sure yet, but maybe it is also Donald Trump.
So here is the answer to why I travel:
One of my biggest fears as a child was to leave home and meet strangers.
I wasn’t looking for freedom on this journey. I didn’t even expect to learn something or to change for a better. And – dear me! – I definitely never wanted to make the world a better place by traveling. All I expected was to be afraid. And I was often. In my opinion, that’s why everything worked out well. I was alert. In the heat of the Karakum desert as well as on 5400m altitude. I admit I am probably an almost paranoid person. You can’t imagine for what else I was prepared. I probably lack the laid back attitude of other travelers. I felt a bit square sometimes. Maybe too organized. But well, that’s how I was brought up. Most cultural achievements are caused by the fear of chaos. Indeed, without fear I wouldn’t have been prepared. And honestly the world can be a scary place. You know that of course, because most likely you were one of those who warned us. We got warned everywhere by everybody. And that’s ok. Fear not only tortures you, it also protects you. It’s only a matter of perspective, if you feel protected or jailed. Like a bird in a cage: Safe from the cat, but unable to fly. It’s a complex topic and I’ll stop writing about it for now, because it already sounds way too philosophically. Comics in three, two, one…
Na na na na na na na na, Batman!
Maybe that’s what „The Dark Knight“ is all about: Gotham is not a city. It is your life. Madness (The Joker), silenced anger (Bane), coincidence (Two-Face), vengefulness (Ra’s al Ghul) and other forces are all parts of yourself and often make your life difficult. And only by making your fear a part of yourself (Batman) you can overcome this threatening environment inside of you. Fear protects you until you are prepared to face it. And even though she often pretends not to care, Cat Woman joins if your world is in danger and you alone cannot save it.
I was also a bit afraid whether writing in English would work out. Because I often heard I had no talent for foreign languages. Bien sûr, ce n’est pas vrai. Я люблю другие языки.
And then there was this other question I was asked a lot:
Do you have any advice?
Indeed I have. Don’t listen to others.
I want to thank all people involved in this journey. Without you it would have been boring.
Special thanks to Cora for traveling with me for a while and to all of you who followed me on this journey by reading this blog. You were the force that was with me. And of course thanks to all dudes for the best stories.
„One day baby, we’ll be old
Oh baby, we’ll be old
And think of all the stories that we could have told“
Asaf Avidan – One day baby we’ll be old
Ritzo cycled all the way to Singapore without taking a plane or train. Then took the plane to the USA and crossed it. Another flight to Portugal and he finally arrived in the Netherlands in September 2016 after 574 days and roughly 31.000 km. We met Ritzo in Iran in June 2015.
Pablo and Ilze continued to China, stayed and worked there for a while and are currently in Laos. Their journey already lasts for more than 4 years and there is no end in sight. They accompanied us for almost a week in Northern Iran.
The first time we met Jerome was in Iran. Then again by coincidence in Samarkand and a third time by coincidence in Kyrgyzstan. After that he crossed the Karakorum highway and was a few weeks behind us in India. After South East Asia he continued north, crossed China and Mongolia and into Russia. From there he made it to Japan, where his journey ended in November 2016. We stayed in touch the whole time and helped each other with travel information about India, Mongolia, Russia and Japan. Before he started he was working for big mining companies in Africa. He wants to start a new career as a nurse in March 2017.
Dirk we met in Tajikistan on the Pamir highway. He spontaneously cycled the first part of the Pamir highway in two weeks holidays with Johannes, who he met only a few days earlier. We never heard of him again, until he wrote an email when I was in Moscow. He was a silent fan and steady reader of our blog from the day we met till today.
Nick was our host in Almaty and one of the few cyclists from Central Asia. We met him on the M41 Pamir highway. He made a very professional documentary about his experiences in the Pamirs (Part1 and Part2) and currently plans his next journey: Norway.
Tural from Azerbaijan cycled with us for two days in the Pamir high plateau. We stayed in touch until today and he is my number one source of new Russian words. Спасибо, брат! He is currently cycling in Australia, but will soon cross the US and finally Europe.
Max continued to Myanmar and took the plane from Thailand back home to Austria. He worked for a while, then moved to Canada and is currently planning a trip to Australia. We met Max and his huge bike close to Pokhara, Nepal.
Didier and Kyla continued to Myanmar and Thailand were Kyla got sick. Her condition was so bad, that she had to quit traveling and took the plane back home. Didier took a plane to Patagonia and continued to travel alone. He stuck to their plan and continued north. He is currently in Mexico. His final destination is California, where Kyla already found a job as a teacher.
Patrik, Karin and Fritz had to take the plane out of India, since they couldn’t get the permit for Myanmar. Patrik finally took the plane from Singapore to Lisbon. From there he cycled back to Switzerland. He returned to Nepal in November 2016 without his bicycle. Karin and Fritz continued to China and Japan. In Tokyo the last part of their journey ended. It took them three separate journeys to make it around the world.
Jim cycled with us for several days in Myanmar. We met him again in northern Laos, where he was just cycling in the other direction on the same road. He spend some more time in South East Asia and then took the plane to Australia to work there. He wants to cross the USA before he finally returns to the Netherlands.
Bertrand and I spent two days together on Hokkaido and did some onsen hopping around Lake Kussharo. He was behind me a few weeks, crossed Korea, took the ferry to China and a bus to Beijing and cycled into Mongolia. On his way to Russia he got stuck in a snowstorm in the Altai mountains. He took the train to St. Petersburg and continued to Finland. He works there for the winter and plans to finish his 4 year long journey next year.
Alexey and Andrey crossed Mongolia and made it to Beijing. They took the train to Shanghai, where they visited a game of their favorite Russian football club. Andrey had an even bigger plan and after a few more months of cycling arrived at his final destination: Vladivostok.
We also had many hosts in many different countries. Some of them stayed in touch with us until today and followed our blog all the time.
Arthur and Arthush. The Armenians in southern Georgia, who welcomed us with arms wide open.
Tim and Marina. Our hosts in Ashgabat. While we were cycling through the Karakum desert, Tim already started reading our blog from the beginning. They stayed steady readers and never talked about the Turkmenbashi.
Amir and Sanaz. They started being hosts on warmshowers just for us, but continued to have cyclists from all over the world. We are still in touch and even though they don’t understand much English, they always have a look at the latest pictures in the blog.
Hitoshi and Kyo. They will probably be my most distant friends, half way around the world. Hitoshi did some more motorcycling tours after we met on Hokkaido. His son Kyo decided to go to the USA to learn some more English. He plans to visit Europe afterwards.
in order of appearance
|Martin and Esra||German Headquarter Stuttgart|
|Michael and Alina||German Headquarter Munich|
|VeloGarage Mannheim||The Bicycle Mechanics|
|Carola and Melli||Hosts Regensburg|
|Leo and Robert||Hosts Vienna|
|Ferenc, Rita and Rita||Bush Telegraph Hungary|
|Kurt||The E-bike Cyclist|
|Dimitru and Maria||The old man and his wife|
|Ventzi and Diana||Hosts Sofia|
|Oliver and Ulrike||The German Cyclists|
|Yashar||World Cyclist from Azerbaijan|
|Stephane and Helene||En Route Avec Caro|
|Arthur and Artush||The Armenian Father and Son|
|Unknown soldiers||Unknown soldiers in the storm|
|Unknown men||The Picknickers|
|Nasser Kahn||Tourist office Tabriz|
|Manucher and Marieh||The Persian Connection|
|Faghri||Isfahan in one day|
|Ritzo||The Cycling Clogs|
|The Godfather||The Godfather|
|Reza and Mariam||The First Warmshower|
|Amir and Sanaz||The Perfect Dinner|
|Ilze and Pablo||The Crazy Travel|
|Massud, Saeed and friends||Gonbad hosts|
|Red Crescent Golestan National Park||Red Crescent Golestan National Park|
|Shiva and Milad||Host Bojnurd|
|Tim and Marina||Turkmen Headquarter Ashgabat|
|Opel Owner||The Transporter|
|Nuri and Family||The Door to Heaven Dashoguz|
|The twins||Hosts Urgench|
|Micha and family||Hosts Termiz|
|The unknown teacher||The man with a plan|
|Toshinizu||The Pamiri Woman|
|Dirk and Johannes||The enthusiasts|
|Sonja||The phantom cyclist|
|Friede and Rob||Hosts Delhi|
|Sikh Community Hapur||Great people|
|Raj||The desperate house man|
|Kyla and Didier||ThereAndBikeAgain|
|Max||The craziest guy on a bike|
|Amit and Neeta||Hosts FalakataKathmandu|
|Ashish and family||Hosts Shilong|
|German Consulate Kolkatta||The Good Germans|
|Checkpost Jiribam||Checkpost Jiribams|
|Mrs. Khaing Lay||The sweetest thing|
|Karin and Fritz||Weltradeln|
|Jim||The cycling dutchman|
|Mosa, Dimu and others||The Kayin village|
|Japanese cat lovers||Japanese cat lovers|
|Bertrand||Two cyclists one onsen|
|Julien||Tokyo in one day|
|Hitoshi, Kyo and the Futakata family||My Japanese friends|
|Pina||Bicycle shop Tokushima|
|Radio Baribari||Hosts Imabari|
|Eric and Claudia||Seoul Food|
|Tim Travis||Han River Riders|
|Bikely||Bicycle shop Seoul|
|Destiny, Tony and Mr. Kim||Seoul guesthouse|
|Jibin||The Chinese connection|
|Bicycle Club Dalian||Bicycle Club Dalian|
|Nazoom and Ginger||Manchurian candle date|
|Kim Jong Un||Leader of North Korea|
|Bicycle Club Dandong||Bicycle Club Dandong|
|William||The Peking Duck|
|Kris and Adela||BikeTheWorld|
|Unknwon Mongols||Yurts, food and company|
|Richard Dean Anderson||MacGyver|
|Vostok Reisen and Legend Tours||The Russian Visa|
|Oleg||The Russian Priest|
|Alexej and Andrej||The Russian cyclists|
|Artom||Irkutsk in one day|
|Inna, Natasha and Micha||The Transsiberian compartment mates|
|Oleg and Alexa||Moscow connection|
|Anatoly and Andrey||The hangover|
|Alex and Nadya||Hosts Kiew|
|Irina, Arseniy and Anatoli||The Ukrainian Hospitality|
|Alexander||The Lenin statue destroyer|
|Mizoch strangers||The great Ukrainians|
|Vladimir||The retired bicycle mechanic|
|Elzbieta||The Spanish heart|
|Cyklosport Bystrice||Cyklosport Bystrice|
|Nora||First German warmshower|
|Helga, Steffen, Paul, Felix and Pia||My sister, brother in law and nephews|
|Vassil and Daniel||Friends where I stay until I find an apartment|
And many more!