Restlessness

 

Some time back in 1991, my friend Jan and I made a trip to Kenya. Sort of last minute, with adequate preparation, but totally unaware of what we were going to find there. I had traveled a fair bit as a kid, mostly with my parents. Whereas I had flown lots, Jan had never been on an airplane.

"I think this is going to be a fairly easy trip." Those words were mine as we stepped out into the Kenyan open after we left the airport. It still looked all very civil at that point. Later, we laughed hard at those words, for it was all so different than we had anticipated. The trip was an eye-opener and an unbridled success in every aspect imaginable. We also realized the extreme pinnacle of wealth we live on during our day-to-day life and our total disconnectedness to the world at large versus what we were confronted with. We had stepped outside of our glass bubble, shocked to realize we were in it all our lives. After that, our outlook was never the same.

Since then, we have traveled a lot. Jan especially has been "bitten" by the travel bug and has succeeded in traveling about 20% percent of his time since 1991. Since Kenya, we tackled Vietnam, Peru and Laos together. There are about 40 more countries to add to Jan's list.

All of our traveling up to now has been along roughly the same lines. Get a plane ticket, arrive, and look for a cheap place to stay. No advance reservations and no agenda to keep. Just a return flight. Of course we have a rough idea of what we want to see, but in what order, length of time or any variation to the theme, are split second decisions made "on the ground". A bit more challenging of course than observing the scenery from the luxurious confines of an air conditioned bus, whilst listening to the drone of the travel guide. We prefer to be the ones who wave smugly at the washed masses behind the shaded reflective glass, then dive back into the thick of the local scenery.


Returning back to "civilization" is always greeted with happy anticipation of the luxuries of warm running and potable water, flushing toilets and the availability of Scott Extra Soft toilet paper.

Then we sit and reminisce for a while in our respective corners of the world (I moved to Vancouver, BC in 1993) and talk back and forth about what we saw and experienced while away. Sometimes we connect with other like-minded individuals, which is always a rewarding experience. Too quickly, however, our minds drift back to the open road. Fridge magnets, diapers and minivans are not our destiny.

In 1999, I bought a motorbike and the lure of the open road quickly became an addiction. While Jan and I were in Laos at the end of 2000, I coined the idea of a world trip by motorcycle. We started talking more seriously about this over the following days. One evening, as we relaxed on the beautiful wooden porch of our guesthouse in Savannakhét, Laos, we heard footsteps lumbering up the stairs. "Howdy mates", greeted the stranger. As we peered over the balcony, we saw two motorcycles neatly parked below.

Chris and Cuan found two very eager listeners in us. Their arrival couldn't have been timed better. By the end of the trip, our sights were set on the ultimate adventure.

Alas, since this writing, too much time has passed. Numerous life events have sidetracked us and at the moment, the dream is all mine. Jan has scaled back his ambitions to potentially joining me for one or two stretches of the trip. The ante has been upped by a number of logistical challenges due to going solo.