I believe that the only way to truly experience a country is through its people.
On the wall of my childhood home hangs an old german map of the world, that we got from a closing public school. It has been the basis for a lot of great conversations in my family and with guests throughout the years. I've spent countless hours looking at the elegant lines and the leftover markings from, when somebody attempted to remove the tape from Northern Europe and Madagascar.
Through it I have come to know most of the landmarks and regions of the world. Some of the places I have been fortunate enough to visit myself, while I only know others through stories from my friends or depictions in media and litterature.
I know the Notre-Dame de Paris, the Taj Mahal in India and the Pyramids of Giza. I've marveled at the Grand Canyon, the Sahara Dessert and the majesty of the Himalayas. I've dreamt of partying at the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, at Burning Man among the hippies in the Nevada dessert or at the Full Moon Parties on Thailand's beaches.
However, on this increasingly small planet, one area has remained largely unknown to me and most of my friends: Central Asia and The Caucasus. I knew almost nothing about these large countries that, in some cases, were no farther away from Denmark than Portugal or Iceland. So, I decided that my ignorance had to end and therefore started to research them. What I found was some really interesting countries with a varied culture, rich history, almost no tourists and some incredible natural sites. (I mean just look at this picture from Kazakhstan) I decided, that I needed to go and see it for myself. I want the experience to be a journey rather than just a trip to a destination accessible by a couple of hours plane ride to a capital. Therefore, I have decided to hitchhike and couch surf my way from Denmark to Kazakhstan. I have already hitchhiked a lot the past four years, and I have found, that it is a uniquely effective way to interact with a large variety of people, that you would otherwise never meet while travelling through their country.
I plan on going through the Baltics and Russia to Kazakhstan and then find a way to cross the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and Georgia. From there on I will move along the Black Sea coast of Turkey and find a way back home through Eastern. I expect the whole trip to last approx. 3 1/2 months - insha'Allah.
So far, I have always had the pleasure of travelling with great friends or family when ever I have been abroad. I have just returned home from 3 months working in Palestine, and one of the best things about that experience was. that I was there with a great friend from Denmark with whom I could share the experiences and frustrations.
This time I´ll be travelling on my own, and I am a bit nervous about spending 3 1/2 months on my own without a steady partner in crime.
That is where this blog comes into play. I figured, that I will use this as a platform to keep my friends and family posted and settle my need for sharing my experiences. I will mainly write stories about the people I meet on the road, the homes I visit, and the things I see. I´ve decided to write in English both as a way to challenge myself and to make it accessible to the non-Danish friends, that I already have and the ones I hope to make.
The blog's name is stolen from the author Bruce Chatwin, who wrote my favorite book "In Patagonia" where he examined the anatomy of restlessness in the many settlers of the wild and rugged Patagonia area in southern Chile and Argentina. His writing is unparalleled and his approach to traveling inspired me a lot. This should be viewed as a tribute to him, rather than me having any delusions of being anywhere near his level.
I have a head full of thoughts, a stomach filled with butterflies and a backpack, that's slowly being filled with gear, as I prepare for my departure tomorrow morning. Hopefully you'll follow me, as I go along. :)