A year and a half in Asia

I figured I am a bit overdue for an e-mail to some of those people I’ve met along the way and some good friends I’ve neglected for a while. So this is to let you know I’m almost back to the real world, a month or so away anyways, and to thank you for all the good times along the way. It’s been about 17 months now since I left the States for work in Japan. Last February, when I traded in the laptop for the backpack, my travels brought me overland from Singapore through Tibet to India with a side trip in the middle to Australia and New Zealand – all with the idea that it isn’t so much the destination but the getting there that traveling is all about.

The project in Japan, Universal Studios, was the most intense I’ve ever worked on. The stress may have taken a year off my life, but the people I met, both in work and after (especially Kumiko) made it all well worth it. It wasn’t bad for setting up the travel budget either. Thank God that E.T. theme is finally out of my head.

Considering I was traveling without much of a plan, the rest of the trip fell together quite nicely. As most of you know, it’s hiking that takes up my free time at home and so it played a big part in this trip. Whether it was camping on a beach in New Zealand, climbing a holy mountain in China, sweating out a Malaysian jungle hike or experiencing some high altitude trekking in the Himalayas those were always the times I felt I was truly on vacation. Those views of the Annapurna’s were magnificent.

The rest of the traveling was often more like a job; an enjoyable one, but not always an easy one. Two extremes were New Zealand and China. In NZ you could just walk out in the road with your thumb out, meet a friendly sheep farmer and be fed and at your destination a few hours later. Where as coping with the Chinese language, not to mention their chain smoking, toilets, and insistent flem problem, was interesting to say the least. I couldn’t even count the number of flat tires or land slides I had to sit through – or help dig out. You can’t beat the company of a few Tibetan monks though when stuck behind a two ton boulder on a 17,000 ft mountain pass. Playing archeologists at Angkor Wat wasn’t such a bad job either.

Well now I feel as though I have at least a little idea of what Asia is all about, and its not just dirty hotel rooms and being hoaxed into paying ten times the local price (Japan, Oz and Nz excluded of course) even though that still might only come to $2 for a good meal. It is one diverse place in religion, language, landscape and culture. If you doubt that then just make a trip to Varanasi, India where you can see the deceased being offered up to the Ganges next to people using the water for a holy bath, a drink and doing a little laundry then head a days travel north to see some exiled Tibetans escaping Chinese oppression through a pilgrimage to see his holiness the Dalai Lama!

Happy trails and remember its not the destination but the getting there that really matters. And for those of you that have been keeping up with the website it’s now updated as of Nepal. I know I’ve made a lot of promises over the last year for sending pictures, so let me know if there is anything in particular you are looking for and I’ll get it over to you.


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