01.09.2010 - 17.09.2010 17 °C
It has been months since the day that I decided to plan a big trip around the world. And, wow, time went fast! The day of departure is approaching. Just a few days left and I will be departing for a near eight month journey, crossing countries and cultures around the globe. For me, this is not just another holiday. It is a personal challenge and a once-in-a-lifetime experience! The route I chose is perhaps less common, and therefore challenging. However, more challenging is the fact that I will be travelling solo for a large part of the journey. I will have to socialize, deal with situations and solve problems which I, without doubt, will encounter. And I have to do it on my own! Though I find it challenging, I am quite sure I will cope with it and I will have an awesome time! The trip will be full of extreme contrasts; Rich vs Poor, Remote vs Dense, Famous vs Unknown, High vs Deep, Dry vs Wet, Lazy vs Sporty, Hot vs Cold, etc. All these contrasts, combined with the colourful blend of people I will meet, are the perfect ingredients for a memorable journey!
And yes, I want to share it with you! I know, reading a blog is nowhere near travelling yourself. Still, I want to give you a glimpse of my experiences and I hope you will enjoy it! And though the aim of this blog is not to make you jealous, there are no guarantees it won't
Perhaps you have already been wondering; why the f are you writing in English? Aren't you Dutch?! Well here's my explanation. First of all, some of my friends who might be interested are not Dutch, nor are they able to read Dutch. Besides, I expect to meet more non Dutch speaking people during the trip. Second, during the trip I will be mainly using English to communicate, thus experiencing the trip in English. Hence, writing the blog in English makes more sense. However, I am not native English, nor am I a natural writer. So my advance apologies for occurring grammar and spelling errors and/or dull writing. Ah, what the hell, I'll just give it a try! At all times I will do my best to serve you entertaining, though realistic, stories. And when I have no words to describe, I will upload pictures that speak a thousand words!
The journey can be roughly devided in three parts. 1) Overland to Asia 2) Travelling South-East Asia (where my brother will join me) 3) Travelling South America. Thursday the 23rd of September I will depart from 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. My first destination on the overland trip will be Prague, where I lived during fall semester 2005. I am looking forward to be there again and meet some of my old friends, exactly 5 years after. As the second and third part of the trip seem still far away, I'll just write a bit more about the first part here.
Overland to Asia
While the destinations of the second and third part of the journey are perhaps among the most popular travel destinations, the countries I visit during the first part are definitely not. I will be travelling through a part of the world which is a big blank for most westerners. There are not many who can point out on a map the exact location of, for example, Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan. Nor are there many that know more about Iran then the political issues they read about in the newspaper. But, for me, that makes it only more interesting. I am very curious about these countries, and I guess (or hope) my experiences will have a huge influence on the image you guys have of these countries.
The Silk Road
While the route I take is less travelled nowadays, it has not always been like that. In fact, it has been one of the most popular travel (trade) routes in history: The Silk Road!
The Silk Road is the name for the route via which goods were traded between Europe and Asia (China). For centuries this was the most important trade route of the world. The name suggests that there was only one road and only silk was traded, right? Wrong! Actually many products were traded along the road; precious stones, glass, ceramics (porcelain), spices, horses, etc. Though silk was very much traded as well and also highly valued, hence the name. There was not one road via which all goods were traded. There were several branches (searching their way through geographical barriers), and the chosen route depended on origin, destination and circumstances like weather, wars, etc.
Though there were some cities which could barely be omitted, strategically located on the crosspoints of several branches. These cities were highly influenced by the travelers from all over the world. Not only did the traders bring wealth to these cities, they also brought knowledge, their own cultural background and religion. Altogether creating rich multicultural hubs!
Probably the most famous story of a traveller along the silk road is the story of Marco Polo. The Venetian trader who travelled to Asia, stayed there for years, and came back to Europe where, while imprisoned, his memories were written down. In his book he describes places, people and nature, which were at that time unknown in Europe.
I will be bringing his book with me and as I will probably come across some of the places he described, I could say that Marco Polo will be the red (or 'silk' if you want) thread that runs through my stories. He connects the different places I visit during the first part of my journey. So you will definitely hear more from him (whether you like it or not).
Before departure many things had to be arranged. These preperations take quite some time, and unfortunately also quite some money. Arranging visa, get vaccinations, book tickets, pick up an international drivers license, get the right insurances, purchase a good backpack and other travelers necessities, etc. And in the meanwhile, reading as much as I can about the countries I am going to visit and the things I have to take into account. Though some last-minute stuff still has to be arranged, most of the preperations are done now. Time to say Goodbye!
"The journey is more important than the destination"