70 enroute to NL
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29 June 2013
LAST DAY, Somewhere in Germany speeding along at 120km/h
Day 70, a nice round figure that is all I can think of at this point in time. I am in a train racing towards the Dutch border somewhere past a place called Bielefeld where the train stopped for a few minutes. I have a compartment all to myself but it is not cozy. All plastic, in off-white colour and a small blue basin. This morning I was thinking, reminiscing would be a better word I suppose, about my 70 days of traveling, first in a northerly direction , then heading west half a world away.
Perhaps now is the time to sum up a few things like would I do this trip again? Perhaps not, or at least not traveling east to west
If someone was to start from Europe it would be more exciting as you slowly move away from your own world towards the Orient. The name "Orient" alone puts pictures in your mind of far away mysterious places. It would be exciting that the moment when you start your journey, you realize that soon you will be in Moscow and then on to Mongolia, China and then further afield to places you have only heard of. Anyway for me, at this point in time, is not the case.
I have to deal with it that I am now in a part of the world that does not give me that exciting feeling I had on a daily basis. For me Asia is where it all happened. I have met many people and made many friends, mostly fellow travelers or expats living in various places. I also met many local people, who initiated the first contact, however the further west I travelled the more effort I had to put in to initiate the contact myself.
The slow decline started in China where people look at you in bewilderment and kids are scared of the round eyed giant from the west
At times when I entered a shop I had the feeling that I was interrupting their day. Instead of been spoken to, some people clearly would rather play with their phone. (This creates tremendous opportunities for others who could use this to their advantage.) For example when I arrived in Tallinn the Australian owner spent perhaps ten minutes with me to explain on the map where I was and where I could go and how to get there, than had several chats with me over the days and even sat down in the morning having a coffee
In Warsaw, the reception was mixed. My arrival was very early in the morning and I was unable to check in but, was made to feel welcome and to place my pack in a locker room and have coffee, make myself comfortable in a lounge etc. Later the girl showed me the room and even carried my pack three flights of stairs. (she insisted) However there were different people working different shifts. In my opinion the management or owners have made a mistake by building a high counter in a side room rather than a lower desk. The staff hides behind the counter doing their own thing never greeting or having any interaction with anyone. As I have been in so many places I quickly see these things and have to refrain myself from talking to the owners and giving some advice how to market themselves better. After all, most people stay at places reading the comments or referrals.
Anyway, enough of that. So what were my favorite countries ? Definitely Vietnam. Cambodia and Thailand, and in that order. I could say that I would love to go back there, however I know I will go back for sure. Next time I will do it in a different way though as I have learned a lot. I would enter Vietnam first on a multiple business visa which removes any pressure on dates as the visa will last 3 months. I would start in Saigon or Hanoi. Buy a motorcycle and then venture out, back in to Laos (where I did not go this time, although I planned it) then Cambodia and Northern Thailand
Although I met a few baddies, like the guy robbing me of my camera; the taxi driver on my first day in Vietnam and the bus driver at my last day there, I mostly think of all the really nice people I have met, including the old lady in a remote village who was unable to sell me a cold drink. I left my bike in front of her little shop and walked down the road to get a bottle of Lipton Iced tea. When I returned she placed 3 or 4 plastic chairs on top of each other knowing that the little Vietnamese chairs would not possible hold my weight. Then she got a glass for me so I could pour my drink into it. After noticing I was hot and sweaty she went to the back to get a fan and plugged it in and provided me with cool air, and … to top it off, got a hose out and run cold water over my forearms. Now what do you call that? TLC ? I did not even buy anything off her. Did she look at me, as I sometimes do, at begging old people where I think “imagine, this could be my mum or dad” or “this is someone's parent.” Or is it a case that something in the wide universe applies the rule “as you give, so will you receive”? I don’t know
Ever since I saw that old lady laying on the street next to Seven-Eleven in Chiang Mai I feel compelled to do one good deed a day by giving some money to a needy person, I mean a real needy person and not some drug enslaved persons positioning themselves at any given city gate but someone who is really down and out and feel the better for it.
Meanwhile I look through the train window and see the rain pouring down. Am I excited at this moment? , no not really. Anyway just see what the next few days will bring.
Another thing to mention here is that I have met many travelers and some of them will read this. They are people I have spent time with, they have either spoken to me for a little while, giving their time and advice about the area I am in or I have spent a day or several days with them off and on. These are the people who have made it for me as well and encourage me to look further and beyond , like Big Mack. “Around the world at 80” on his T-shirt; I met Mack a few times in different locations and hope to meet him again. Then there are people you meet and only spend a few minutes with to help you along
Meanwhile this part of the journey has come to an end- I need to have some rest both physically and mentally, visit friends and see what my next move will be. I don’t know if I will keep the blog going or not. Perhaps just for myself and once it perhaps becomes more interesting again you will see the links arriving again- don’t know. Perhaps you can tell me.