Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Post Script

Two months ago I returned to the United States of America. While on layovers in Taipei, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, I painstakingly compiled a list of statistics, digging into my journal and poring through maps and online geographical databases. The result was a makeshift odometer reading, split up into several parts.

Miles Traveled

-airplane: 28,707

-bus: 1,522

-train: 940

-car: 587

-foot: 407

-bicycle: 165

-taxi: 52

-songatew: 49

-river ferry: 12

-tuk-tuk: 8

-raft: 5

-motortaxi: 3

-motorcycle: 2

-elephant: 1

Total Miles Traveled: 32,458

Four months. Thirty-two thousand, four hundred and fifty-eight miles. Desert, jungle, mountains, ocean. Villages, cities, towns, slums. Los Angeles, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Bangkok, Manila. Philosophical discussions, jungle treks, snake farms, gearless cliff climbs, starvation and survival. Food poisoning. A kid with a machine gun in one of the worst countries on the planet. The most perfectly-formed conical volcano in the world. Bushwalking through the wilderness. Poisonous freakin snakes. Poisonous freakin lizards. Hitchhiking, dehydration, cycling monstrous hills under a 113 degree sun. Speaking German to Germans, speaking German to Austrians, learning some Thai, photographing ancient archeological ruins, sketching coastal highlands, sliding down waterfalls, composing guitar pieces by the sea. Missing home, reflecting on life, fording a river in a 4x4 with a burnt-out clutch, dodging motorcycles on sidewalks, eating street cuisine, collecting foreign currency, entertaining hostels with renditions of Cat Stevens and The Eagles, playing chess under the setting sun, midnight beach strolls, missed flights, changed plans, rafting down rivers on sinking bamboo flats, heinekens and pool, abandoned rail tunnels, kangaroos, Pacific typhoons, abject poverty, letters home, worries, fears, awe and wonder, existential musings, the clarity of ten thousand stars in the night.

How do you sum up something so vast in scale?

Before I left, my battle cry was that "if you don't take chances, you won't have any stories to tell." I wanted to take a chance. And I did.

I can tell you stories, so I guess I succeeded.