This is the End

Trip Start Dec 31, 2004
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Trip End Apr 22, 2005


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Friday, April 22, 2005

I do not bring back from a journey quite the same self that I took. Somerset Maugham

It was one hundred and eleven days and it was better than I imagined. Now it's over.

My paradigms however have shifted irrevocably. In that time I took nine jetliners, four propeller planes, three trains, two ferries, six bus rides, four long-distance hired taxis, three subway systems, a trolley line, a felucca, rickshaws, trishaws, cyclos, tuk-tuks, a donkey and an elephant. I have met ordinary fishermen in Bangladesh who gave me a basket of their catch and I was protected by young postcard girls in Rangoon who were half my height. I have sat with and laughed with monks and mullahs, businesswomen and beggars and I learned that our similarities far outweigh our differences. I learned that they are as curious about my world as I am about theirs. I also learned that while my world is perhaps the general ideal to most it not necessarily the best world.

There were many times throughout the journey I stopped and marveled at my surroundings. I visually pulled back and swooped above and saw myself standing in a concentration camp outside of Phnom Penh, climbing up the temples of Angkor Wats, wandering awestruck in the Grand Royal Palace in Bangkok, pouring water over a shrine at the Shwedegon in Burma, stepping out of my tent in the Jordanian desert to brush my teeth and drinking tea at a cafe in medieval Cairo and all the while in all of those places I was astonished at my whereabouts. I never lost sight of that.

My ideas of time and space have forever changed and my tolerance level is higher than I knew possible. A five hour bus ride may seem daunting and hellish to some but to me it's ten hours and forty minutes less than one I took from Siem Reap to Bangkok. I've learned that I can do with less and I've learned that I can do so much more than I thought possible. I learned that I can sleep anywhere and that drying off after a shower with only one towel instead of two is not the end of the world. When I see an Arab wearing a checkered keyfeih boarding a plane I will no longer suspect that he is a terrorist because chances are I have the same scarf. When I see a long flight of stairs or a distance that seems arduous I'll never again hesitate because I've already climbed Mount Sinai in the pitch of night. Whenever I complain that a task is too difficult or daunting I need only think of Dara the landmine survivor in Cambodia who hasn't any legs but still drives his book cart with his hands. He doesn't complain -- he's proud.

Within my journey in a remote town in Lao on the banks of the Mekong; at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh; on an elephant in Northern Thailand; at a monastery in Rangoon; in the living rooms in the town of Beani Bazaar in Bangladesh; over pastries at a shopkeeper's desk in Amman; in a hotel lobby in Cairo and on the Charles Bridge at twilight in Prague, I paused realizing that I was living my dream.

And I lived. For at least one-hundred and eleven days I lived.

Christina
 [Please visit my new online magazine: www.glittersnipe.com, as well]
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