portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

arts and culture

"Last Travel Journal" part I

This article summarizes some thoughts, musings and pensee's concerning a voyage that I recently finished around the Earth. This voyage took 13 months of active traveling and opening my senses to the world reality around me; this period of living was truly worth the experience - so marvellous and quite horrifying at that same time. Arriving back, I would like to share some travel sentiments and ideas.
While living in Europe, this being many years before my grand trip around the world, I became acquainted with some British travelers that were doing these long trips around the globe. These intrepid travelers were for the most part young people who like myself (many were pierced, tattooed, squatted out or out squatted or both, and had the general anti-capitalist new age tendency; well an albeit middle class one) quite generally then, enjoyed traveling and were very different from the typical worldly clean cuticled/daily showered travel bug that sleeps in fine hotels, carries fine camera equipment and goes everywhere in plane or in air conditioned bus. Their alternative traveler stories were quite remarkable and I was getting somewhat envious of their voyages and their descriptions of the Exotica in the world. I especially was jealous of their amazing stories from the Indian subcontinent. Even the wild stories of getting deathly ill or being chased by robbers were becoming attractive.

Then this terrible Birth began in my still robust mind - yes, if these young British kids were doing it, then I could do it too! So I began to save my money, first in Europe and then also when moving back to Amerika. First, I learned that the most expensive item was the ticket: called a Round the World Trip Ticket. And of course, there was the spending money scheme, which I ought to have saved up; even though I planned to work as I traveled.

When the many years later emerged, and I realized that I didn't have any full time job commitments in the States, I soon looked on the Internet at Round the World Ticket sites. I first looked into the British ones. I thought that I would follow the route that most British young people take: South Africa, India, Thailand, Australia and then on to New Zealand. When I drew the conclusions of traveling from the Pacific Coast of America to New York, and then New York to London, and finally London to Capetown - I had only to analyze the high price of all those voyages - and the idea of following the Euro Round the World Route was discarded. I was then to visit the American Round the World sites that were mostly located in San Francisco. I wanted a trip to include two stops in Africa; one on the northern tip, Tunis, and the other on the southern tip, Capetown; and then there was my plan to include a stop in South America. The trip would begin in New Zealand, then to Australia, off to Thailand, straight up into India, southward to Capetown, upward to Tunis, afterwards London, deep south flying to Buenos Aires, and upwards again to New York. The sites gave some ticket price quotes over the Internet. The price was too high to pay. My trip to Africa was cut down to one stop and South America was discarded; I learned that every time one crosses the equator, the ticket price goes up over a thousand dollars. I decided that I was only going to cross the equator once: going from Australia to the island of Borneo, or commonly called Kalamatan. After a month of phone calling, gentle haggling and getting price quotes - I settled for a ticket: Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand; Auckland to Sydney, Australia; Perth, Australia to Sultanate of Brunei; Brunei to Bangkok; Bangkok to Delhi; Bombay to London, and then to Tunis; Tunis to London; London to New York. In all I had seven stops in seven different parts of the world. I could change the dates, but couldn't change the stops and I had to follow that one diagonal line across the Earth. Then it hit me: I was actually going to do a 360 degree voyage around the Earth's circumfrence! The ticket was truly round. The fancy whim had become the glossy papered reality; I had the tickets, except for the Indian part, which would need to be finalized in Bangkok with the purchase of the visa - what else could go wrong?

It was set. I was soon to be off, starting in September. The last month in the city was a time to tell people of the voyage, write letters to distant overseas friends, find a place to store my things, get a mail box to receive mail - and other last minute possibilities that plague the soon to be traveler. And then there were the psychic fears: would I really get ill, so that I would have to get airlifted to a safe hospital - what if I was robbed - what about rape - what if I was set up by the corrupt US or foreign cops - and on it went. The mad mind; happy and content to be off in the wonderful world of travel, yet nervous of the unknown. Is this not the absurdity of the traveler life - the great curiosity and love of experiencing and then the fear of really experiencing - what to do?

I was not the first to do this grand and great voyage, nor would I be the final writer on this overworked topic. One should go into any second bookstore and see all the infamous titles and junk concerning people's travels. There is the wild traveler who purposefully goes to the dangerous spots thinking he is risking him/herself, yet forgetting that he/she has the passport and money to save his/her ass; the exotica junket king/queen who collects, steals, sells at a profit, and pseudo experts him/herself on the indigenous and non Capitalist left in this world; the Sex trip traveler who scouts for the best fuck; the Drug induced wanderer; the lost Spiritual weirdo and later at peace, or later at schizophrenia wanderer; and then there are the professional travelers who sell their travel notes at good market prices. The list is exhaustive, so I will stop here; I think the reader understands the scene.

My trip, so to speak, was the historical traveler. There were many great travelers in history: the English traveler knight John Mandeville; the Arab sociologist and philosopher Ibn Khaldoun; the famous Chinese Bhuddist monks, such as Hsien Tu, who went in search of ancient texts from the Buddah. There were these men, and there were other countless women and men, not often mentioned in the official history books, but glorified in the classical writings and lore of ancient times. I wanted to continue in their paths; my grand tour was their historical line. There was also the idea of Resistance; meaning resistance to this modern world: the all powerful State and Capitalist system that permeates and mutates our existence. I desired to see the other forms of struggle and survival on this planet. But There was also the world of Philosophy - and books that I needed to explore: the literary texts of the Bhuddism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Manicheanism, Jainism, Islam, Sufism and Sikhism - and there were even more books to be read - the list never seems to end!

I went with these ideas and an overloaded pack, weighing around 15 kilos (I had a little portable library with me); I do tend to overpack, but I was to live out of that pack for the next 13 months of my Life. It was an old pack of blue and purple that I bought in Spain many years back, and was used in my first Grand traveling tour that included a heavy stint in Mediterranean Europe and in Britain - and that traveling period lasted for a year and a half. The day I left was a grand day; I said goodbye to everything and boarded a plane to New Zealand.

The trip was so much the more incredible - and more than what I could have expected, or tried to imagine. My senses were overloaded with magnificence and power; the mystical might of the voyager became a part of my reality. New Zealand exposed me to the beauty of the Land, the Earth, the vivid colors of greens, of blues, of whites and of greys; plant and flora exotica - rainforests of the Unique - the colors and touch of rain and Silence - the precious nature of water.

Australia showed the power of Heat, unbridaled Sun, fauna exotica concerning kangaroo, wallabie, wingbat, emu, dingo, snake, crocodile and spider - gummy white eucalyptus tree rainforests - red and brown bush deserts - and then Resistance arrived into the picture. The WTO had its meeting in Sydney while I was there; there was sympathy tenting at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy (a tent campout of Aboriginal resisters in front of the old Parliament building in Canberra, the capital of Australia; they demand full land rights of indigenous peoples, a public apology to the past genocidal policies, and economic reparations for various injustices, including murder, rape, land destruction, kidnapping, slavery and testing nuclear weapons on them) which has been active since the 1970s; there was heavy Forest activism in the southeastern old growth forests. anging with the Reclaim the Streets partiers and camping out against a radiated food processing plant. I was ne time, in my wild nights of travelling, getting relentlessly drunk with the British Round the Worlders, staying in backpackers - I even managed to puke on a bed below me after a bad hard night of bad cheap wine. The world of resistance brought me back to my tent, people's homes, and the squats of Sydney and Melbourne. I saw the ugly face of Australian style fascism at the WTO; afterwards, reading about the concentration camps built for political refugees out in the bush desert, such as the infamous Woomera camp, and then hearing the racist crap against the Aboriginal people, but the resistance level was also strong down there. Life was easy though; English was in common use; the culture was pretty similar to the States (except for the minimum salaray guaranteed to all New Zealanders and Australian people of 18 years old and older; even if they don't have some wage paying job) light work was easy to come by: I worked at a backpackers; did light agricultural work on organic farms - and there was always fruit picking, which I didn't care to do - I admit to all that I am a lazy bastard at heart. During that period, I prefered partaking in the potent cannabis that is grown so plentifully out there. I was able to hear the stories from the Euro travelers who just came back from Asia, recent arrivals from the wild life of India, Thailand and Indonesia; their stories only increased my fascination and sensual attraction to the world beyond.

This is what I like to hear 26.Oct.2003 20:21


Well, as a photographer, I like carrying "fine camera equipment"... but can I go too?

But seriously, this is the kind of writing I really like to see. You must have a goodly pile of resources you've found... think you might compile a list of things to read and research at the end of your entries here?

Personally, I have decided to stop kidding myself into the idea that I will be satisfied with a 'safe & stable' office-based graphic design job, and I am planning on foolishly chasing my dreams... to become a globetrotting photographer and journalist. I'll probably end up falling flat on my face and end up with an office job anyway, but it's not like I'll lose anything by trying my damnedest to escape the corporate box. I'm hoping to strip my life of most unnecessary material elements, live cheaply as I can, and go everywhere I can.

Of course, that will be some years from now. I've got to finish college. But then my plan is to start my great journeys with a couple years in the Peace Corps. I'm sure there are people on this site that probably think the peace corps is somehow imperialistic. From what I've learned about it so far, it doesn't seem bad. I'm looking at it in a partially selfish way: I will be helping people in a third world country, and at the same time I will be adding to my photo and journalism portfolios so that I will actually be able to begin making money with my travels.

Anyway, I love hearing about ways to travel cheaply and experience true life as it happens around the globe, not just the tourist traps. Keep it coming!