I suppose the first thing I should do is address my exact reason for writing this blog.
I’m never entirely sure of people’s intentions when it comes to writing online. For me however the intention is simple, motivation. I’m not expecting aside from my close family to read this and neither am I looking, or for that matter expecting to win any Booker prizes. I’m not intending to philosophize about life (yet I’m sure at times I will slip into this) neither do I profess to being a writer, this will be almost stream of conscious writing at times and I make no apologies for the lack of structure or haphazard nature of my it. You might ask then why post it on an online travel blog? Why not simply write it on Word document and store it away on your computer? By posting here I’m hoping it will make me feel like something I have to keep up. This is for me, to push me, to make me understand my reasons for doing this and also help me focus on what I need to do before I leave.
I’m now less than 9 months away from my expected departure date and rather like an expectant father I’m filled with a mixture of nerves, excitement and anticipation.
China to England.
I was thinking about this question the other day and it made me think of a gift I received many years ago. I was given one of those small pocket encyclopedias, the kind which had those wonderfully illustrated colour pictures in. I remember being fascinated, as I think I always have been by the maps, the ever-changing contours and different shades. I’d love to lay my hands on this book because I remember I mapped out a journey one night in pen which I’m pretty sure took me from England across Europe, down through Turkey and into central Asia before the pen finally settled on China. Of course this could just be a romantic notion I’ve conjured up in my mind but I’m certain that this actually happened. It would seem then that from an early age there has always been an element of the adventurer in me.
I suppose I really started thinking about it seriously a few years ago. I’ve been very fortunate enough to have lived in numerous countries and also to have had the pleasure of teaching some fantastic people along the way but, and there is always a but, I suppose I’ve become aware of the fact that I’m now in my mid-thirties, I’m single, and having yet to meet that Miss Right there are no constraints shall we say on what I can or cannot do. I’ve worked really hard for the past six and a half years for my company and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of it. But, and there it is again I have the feeling that my life is becoming something less than spectacular. I need a challenge, I need to push myself, in many respects life has become too comfortable for me. In cliché terms, ‘I need to get out of the comfort zone’
China, the land of Chinese whispers means that nothing stays secret here for long. I’d mentioned to one or two people here that I was planning on doing this and before you know it they all seem to know. I don’t mind. The general reaction has been one of disbelief. The reality for many of the Chinese people I know is that most of them haven’t even traveled out of their own province let alone as far a field as Beijing. Therefore they are on the one hand mystified and perhaps more embarrassingly for me in awe of such a trip. I’m not looking for plaudits or congratulations. I’ve achieved nothing at the moment. I’m also well aware of the fact that there are thousands of cyclists as I write doing this, using two wheels to make their way around the world. In fact there are millions of people doing incredible things day after day in the world. I don’t view it in anyway as special. I’m taking one of the worlds most ancient forms of transport and simply going from A to B, it’s just that it’s going to take a little longer. This trip is for me, to prove things to myself about myself. It’s also for my family and more importantly my parents. Perhaps I’ve lived in China for too long and have been influenced by the local mindset. The constant “but….you’re 35 and you aren’t married, why not?” “you should get married and have a child” I still take the view that this will most probably happen one day, I even hope so but until it does, I’m on my own. I know they are proud of me but like all children I’m constantly striving to please them more and more. I’m not sure whether completing such a journey will ‘complete’ me but I’m sure they will derive tremendous pleasure to see me complete it.
Furthermore there is the opportunity to hopefully raise money for Parkinsons, the horrific illness that struck Dad all those years ago. Both him and Mum have been inspirations to me. Dad for the way he has refused to yield to it in the face of obvious discomfort, pain and frustration and Mum for the support she has given him over all these years. Quite often we ignore the effect that caring for someone in need has on the carer.
I suppose at the end of the day there really are a multitude of reasons for doing it but simply put, I’m doing it because I want to. Hopefully by writing my thoughts down it will keep me focused on planning for the trip.
And as for the name, well I’d been told all trips need a name and after much deliberation I settled on “On the Road Again” based on the fact that it’s one of my favorite Willie Nelson songs. I think the lyrics are rather apt:
“On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again”