The Odyssey, 1001 Nights, & On The Road. Imagine undertaking all those voyages in 2010, without ever setting foot in an airplane.
Beggining with a ferry from Osaka to reach Shanghai, after which point I will begin traveling in a westward direction overland across China, into Tibet, north into Mongolia, past Irkutsk and Lake Baikal and deeper on through the Ural mountains, Ekaterinburg and other Russian territory, ending in Moscow via the Trans-Mongolian Rail and onto St. Petersburg , where I will begin the difficult journey of avoiding the expense that Western Europe presents, heading south into Talinn & Riga and from there through Warsaw and Berlin to Copenhagen. As if it weren’t already complicated enough, this is where The Trip™ will get interestingly tricky.
I had initially planned to go by boat through to Seyðisfjörður in Iceland (I don’t know how to say it either), which is possible via Bergen in Norway, Esbjerg in Denmark and Scrabster in Scotland for way too many €uros (until I found out they discontinued this ferry in 2002). A few problems presented themselves since researching The Trip™ west from Iceland and onward into Greenland, Newfoundland in Canada and the continental U.S.
- Iceland is prohibitively expensive. The cheapest price for a hostel I found was €55, which would be about $75. No wonder their banks failed first and were hardest hit in the economic “downturn” of late 2008, their Big Macs are $10 apiece…
- Apparently there are no connecting ferries to Greenland, because, also apparently, no one wants to go to Greenland. The world has found out about Iceland’s ruse of misnaming the big, roadless block of ice as “Green” and decided that, well yeah, actually, why would we go there? And if we did, why would we take a boat?
So with the looming possibility of conquering China, marching through Mongolia, rouletting Russia, and skirting Europe to make it all the way to Iceland, only to get stuck in one of the coldest, most expensive places in the world, doesn’t seem as attractive as it did, well, hell, even before writing this (despite the solid research time already put in, I’m kind of winging it here). Which begged the question: How exactly will I cross the Atlantic Ocean?
That’s when I heard about Transatlantic Cargo Ships, specifically the German MSC Tanzania, which will be leaving the port of Le Havre, France in mid-late June and arriving in Boston and New York in early July. That gives me roughly 25 days to figure out how to get to Colorado for my friend’s wedding. The Trip™ will not be ending once I reach Colorado, or even after I get back to California or Oregon, but will most likely be a halfway point of sorts as I figure out how to cross into Colombia from Panama, hit the Andean trail south to Patagonia and maybe flag down a wayward freighter heading toward Africa, from where it’s just a hop, skip and a jump back to Japan. Heh…we’ll worry about crossing that bridge when we come to it.
All that said, I start from Kyoto today! After donating everything donatable, burning everything flammable and trashing the rest, I am off with just the bag on my back, including but not limited to one Fuji GSWIII 6×9 medium format camera, one Pinhole Holga 6×9 medium format camera, thirty rolls of medium format film, one R.E.I. Halo +25 sleeping bag, one change of clothes, Japanese cutlery set (I may have to cook dinner to pay for passage, plus who doesn’t need a knife or four in Russia?), pens and Moleskine journals, one silver flask (Laphroaig), one 175g World Class Frisbee, a few spices and a bag of lentils.
I will be blogging, working on photographic projects and writing all across China, Tibet, Mongolia, Russia, Europe and especially during the longs days crossing the Atlantic, but still need your help! Donate to the Cause? (All donations are tax deductible. Ask for a receipt!). Any donations over $20 will receive a free print from The Trip™. I am open to any suggestions and / or other possibilities, of where to procure revenue:
- Is the Atlantic hiring ex-patriot gadabouts to write about artisanal production of Airag (fermented Mongolian mare’s milk)?
- The wealthy Chinese widow market must be booming. Contacts?
- Buy a photo?
- Donate to the Cause? (All donations are tax deductible. Ask for a receipt!).
Despite hours of research and asking well traveled friends, I’m still unsure of just how much information possibly exists “out there”, but if anyone knows of any surefire methods (including possible employment opportunities), commenting would be greatly appreciated.
“To while away the idle hours, seated the livelong day before the ink slab, by jotting down without order or purpose whatever trifling thoughts pass through my mind, truly this is a queer and crazy thing to do!”
Yoshida Kenko – Tsurezuregusa