Tag: Asia

Asia

Morning Rest by Lake Karakul, the Pamir Plateau, Tajikistan

The previous day was one of those that simply makes you feel alive: we had passed the 4,650-meter Akbaital Pass, gotten caught up in a snowstorm and then spent the night in the ruins of an ancient roadside caravanserai.

Living today and this autumn — with the challenge of being in the present despite life’s lingering questions of what is to come — I recall how I felt that day in the Pamir’s:

A feeling of absolute, serene comfort in being free, but also vulnerable, in meeting what is unknown and beyond ones control. An urgent desire to find out, but at the same time a freedom from the urge to control. A feeling that comes effortlessly while on the road, but that requires focus to attain in day-to-day life.

– Maybe the most valuable feeling to recall, on a busy autumn day?

Photo by Jean-Denis, a random cycling friend for two days.

Serenity at Ujung Kulon

At Ujung Kulon National Park with friend Pontus. Life doesn’t get more serene.

The UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its small population of endangered rhinoceros, and for encompassing the Krakatau volcano — none of which we saw. Instead of “big fives” and legendary sites, its merit lies in simple matters: green plants with intricate geometric shapes, warm sand between the toes, playful butterflies and muddy marshes. A feeling of a genuine patch of untouched “real”.

Located at Javas westernmost tip, surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Nearest neighbour to the North: Sumatra, 100 km; to the West: Kenya, 7,000 km.

// From along our bicycle trip from Singapore, through Malaysia, and then Sumatra, Java, Bali and Lombok of Indonesia. We met none but lovely people, horrendous traffic and scenery of indescribable beauty. Underneath it all a stir of cultures, languages and religions that was at once confusing and uniquely enjoyable — begging for a second visit. Many thanks to the many wonderful Couchsurfers, Warm Showers’ and random friends who have hosted, guided or simply enjoyed with us. //



Mashhad

I finally reach the country’s second largest city, helped by a good tailwind. Dirty industrial quarters line the road for the last twenty or so kilometres, before giving way to city proper. Hospitality Club member Mehdi meets me in the suburb where he lives and takes me to the flat that he shares with his mother.

Remembering all the good people who have cared for me as I have traveled this beautiful country, here are a few words by modern Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri (from “Footsteps of Water”):

“I, don’t know
That why some say: horses are noble animals, pigeons are beautiful.
And why there is no vulture in any person’s birdcage.
What do clovers lack that red tulips have.
Eyes should be washed, in another way we should see.
Words should be washed.
A word in itself should be the wind, a word in itself should be the rain.

Umbrellas we should shut.
In the rain we should walk.
Thoughts, and recollections, should be carried in the rain.
With all the people of the town, in the rain we should walk.
A friend, in the rain we should call on.
Love, we should seek in the rain.
In the rain we should play.
In the rain we should write things, speak, plant lotuses.
Getting drenched from time to time,
swimming in the pond of ‘right now’, is what life is.”

Source: http://www.ikramkurdi.com/2008/11/sohrab-sepehri-footsteps-of-water.html

Also mentioned in this haunting report by Robert Fisk: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-irans-day-of-destiny-1706010.html