I wake in Johor Bahru. A dingy and windowless hotel room which is wretched with the stink of acrylics. Another in a long line of 6 AM strolls to the next border feels routine. Even though I try to push the thought far outside my cranium, with each step I stand closer to the end of my journey.
“Can you picture what will be, so limitless and free
Desperately in need, of some, stranger’s hand
In a, desperate land”
– The Doors
Singapore. In a way the perfect place in which to recollect and draw to a knot my time in Asia. The spearhead of the Eurasian peninsula, where all cultures from a four thousand kilometer radius convene. The hotels of British colonialists here, Hainanese chicken rice there and an Australian banker buying freshly crafted Vietnamese shoes from a stall in Little India. It’s all here, although in a form more manicured, expensive and clean.
Admittedly, many of the charms of the city were lost on me as the last days and nanoseconds of my journey started to close in. A fugue state of self-denial. Surely, I can’t be going back?
There is no real way to concise three of the most fulfilling months of my life. A quest across two continents, nine countries, dozens of cities and a plethora of new friends. An education more important than any I’ve had in the schools back home. And memories so vivid, they still have the power to stir me to my fundamentals each and every day.
Nine countries, over 40 cities and towns, some 15,000 kilometers on countless trains, buses, boats and backs of motorbikes; in hostels, bungalows, hammocks, hotels and huts. Serene white beaches, wide deserts, deep and cold forests, snow-capped mountains, neon metropolises, jungles, coral gardens, calm rivers, aquamarine oceans and frozen lakes. Friends, lovers, strangers, thieves, junkies, saints and sinners. A lifetimes’ worth of living.
As I awoke to my last day, I tried to find solace and a sense of meaning to this sudden end in meditating next to the tooth of Buddha. The only thing to be gained was as sense of numbness, which finally erupted as I sat watching the skyline I was to say goodbye to.
As I regained my composure, I was already sat in my regular pub in Amsterdam. This first port of Europe feeling practically like home. It was as if the whole of the past three months had simply been a dream, conjured by Dutch junipers.
Oh how dreary I make it all sound. In truth, the sense of loss is only heightened by the blistering joy I felt during my travels in Eurasia.
As if to punish me for understanding the true nature of freedom, the system’s put me back on parole. But a plan is already in place. The next escape is always forthcoming.
I urge everyone reading this to disregard any fears and anxieties, to buy a ticket or raise a thumb and go forth. Everything worth pursuing in life takes place outside of your zone of comfort, and the truest of these pursuits surely is to bear witness to our common world.