How can you possibly describe such a trip? Free of charge, this is Marius's attempt!
There I sit now on the bed of the last accommodation of our world trip. A wide window front on the left and right let the sun shine in all day, the air conditioner does its work almost silently, outside I hear the water spout at the pool splashing, every now and then a scooter passes in the distance. Thirty degrees and cloudless skies it is here in Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia and it is the last stop of a ten month trip around the world.
A world trip, which I already after its first goal, California, not in the whole grasp and which I also now, after 293 days, 16 countries, 85 places, 81.232 kilometers and an infinite number of impressions I can not understand. To draw a conclusion under such an event is a thing of the impossibility, that was it with my first world trip five years ago also already and nevertheless I tried it and would like to try it again. How to summarize a trip once around our planet? A journey that took us through the depths of the American Grand Canyon, along the Caribbean coast of Colombia, across the Panama Canal to colorful Costa Rica, exciting Nicaragua and across the gigantic Pacific to fabulous Myanmar? A journey that has taken us through the filthy slums and biting beauty of India, the tea plantations of Sri Lanka, the skyscrapers of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and the rice paddies of northern Thailand and Laos. From the simplest simplicity in Indonesia to Tokyo in Japan, the biggest city in the world. About distant Laos and South Korea, which is somehow so close to us Germans. We even managed to catch a glimpse of North Korea.
How to summarize such a journey that took us across two oceans, three continents and so many worlds?. Probably not at all. There are thousands and thousands of impressions, which have been pelting me for almost three hundred days and until they are all settled in my head, it will take months or years.
And? Where was it most beautiful?
The question of all questions. When I return to Germany in a few days, I will have visited 50 countries on this planet, 16 of them on this world trip. The stories and experiences of these ten months would fill dozens of evenings, and yet, as is so often the case, such a journey is reduced to a single question: "Where was it most beautiful??" This question is impossible to answer, and anyone who walks the world with their eyes open away from insufferably self-promoting Instagrammers, perfectly draped smoothie bowls and cloudless sunsets over the reflecting sea will discover beauty in abundance everywhere.
It may sound melodramatic, but the smile of Twinkle, a young Indian woman I met on the night train to Agra, who captivated me for almost a whole night with her stories from India, has been burned into my memory forever. Just like the hurt face of the young Colombian man on the street who wanted to welcome us in Medellin and who we thought, full of prejudice, would want to steal from us and whom we rejected. That brings tears to my eyes until today, really! THESE are the faces of the countries I was allowed to travel to. It is the Burmese woman from Kalaw, who loves the sea and could not even afford a bus ticket to the coast all her life. The monk from Myanmar, who talks to us to improve his English and has been saving up a hundred euros for years to be able to see the Singapore skyline once in his life. The Mongolian in Japan, who tells us Germans what he thinks of America and the American in Thailand, who gives us tips for a vacation in Germany.
It's not the perfect sunset, it's not the weathered temple, it's not the rushing waterfall, it's not the sparkling coral world. Not the cocktail above the skyline at night and not the palm tree in the snow-white sand. All this is still out there and yet it is no longer what it used to be.
The world has changed
The world has changed and not for the better. Never before in the world out there did I get an "Oh my God" feeling of horror on our lips like on this trip. Seeing what we humans are doing to this planet makes me sick, to say the least! This is not the place for a moral club and I am by no means an innocent lamb, even if I try with my attitude and my behavior to travel and live as sustainable as possible. But what we humans are doing to the planet takes my breath away. From meter-high mountains of garbage in Delhi to beaches full of Styrofoam in Indonesia. From stalactite caves full of plastic in Laos and exhaust fumes in Sri Lanka that bite so hard I couldn't breathe. From manta rays full of plastic bags and cows eating garbage out of trash cans. I could continue this list endlessly and must honestly state: With my attitude as a passionate misanthrope, I'm probably on the same page as Mother Earth. This world has changed, we treat it more ruthlessly than ever before and a large part of humanity doesn't even realize it. Nowhere is this vulnerability more evident than where we dump our garbage, which we don't want in our oh so exemplary Europe. More than once I have had the desire to just sit in a capsule and be shot to the moon and more than once I have felt so incredibly ashamed of us humans that I can't even put it into words anymore.
If you read this blog, you know that we do our best not to emphasize only the beautiful and unique things. You have to be allowed to say when something sucks in a good German way! And man, was on this world trip a whole lot of beautiful, but a whole lot just also really shit: Beautiful beaches on Bali? History! Ripping rivers in Yosemite? Parched! Wild dolphins off Sri Lanka? Cruelty to animals! But then there are also the bright and pure moments. The ones where for once the eyes are watering with excitement and not from smog or from anger and shame. How to switch so quickly between black and white? The Taj Mahal in India is such a magical place, the beaches of Kenting National Park in Taiwan are.
The Laguna de Apoyo in Nicaragua took my breath away, as did the view from El Penon de Guatape in Colombia. Death Valley in California left me breathless, and the view from Lions Rock in Sri Lanka is definitely one of the highlights of this trip.
What I have learned
Oh a whole lot! I thought that after a trip around the world I would already be travel wise by experience. It is not so. I have learned a lot about myself. I have the feeling that my ego has gained stronger contours. I believe to feel, to know better what I want. Confusing? I think so too. I have always been quite relaxed about the future. Now, after another year of traveling, I see everything even more relaxed, have now even more the feeling to rest in myself. But enough about my inner self!
Of course, I also learned something quite plastic: I now love everything made from peanuts! Eating breakfast has become immensely important to me, even though I still don't feel hungry in the morning. I discovered my love for (good) tea and am still not really into coffee. After Japan, I will never again claim that there is any good sushi anywhere in Germany! I like to have a cat! Okay, that's nothing new… I kind of lost my love for yogurt after so long in Asia, but I'm fine with non-carbonated water now. Patience, that has never been my strength. It still is not. Just wanted to mention.
What I found
As always when traveling: A whole lot of new friends! And as always on travels, only a few of these friendships will remain in the end, but they might last forever. I'm thankful for that and that's a big part of what travel is all about. I also found with Cosi perhaps the best travel partner you can imagine. How much it welds together, when you see each other 24 hours a day for almost three hundred days and go through thick and thin together, everyone can imagine.
What I lost
Oh that is simple and very quickly summarized: The desire to ride the bus, twelve kilos of weight and a battery for my camera… Oh, and someone jumped into the pool with my non-waterproof iPhone and destroyed it. But something like this would never happen to me..
What can stay stolen from me
And then there are the things that can stay stolen from me: Even if the animals didn't choose it but no one needs street dogs and their unbearable barking all night long! By the way, I count roosters, cell phone music, Chinese tourist hordes, people with chainsaws or completely exaggerated loud music as exactly that. Speaking of loud: If everyone is supposed to hear the muezzin, why isn't there something like a muezzin radio?? Then those who don't care (me, me, me!), sleep on even at four o'clock in the morning, how about that? I can also do without unhygienic food and the resulting loss of fluids from all body orifices, to put it gallantly (Thank you, Thailand!). Oh yes, and thanks to Central America, from now on any combination of rice with beans, or beans with rice, or rice beans mixed with rice beans, or stacked separately, or alternately, or whatever is FORBIDDEN! Never again!
What I have missed
Then, last but not least, there are the things I have sorely missed: A good, German bakery! Just being able to talk to anyone on the street if I want to. Being able to run around without cash. Not always having to carry everything on their backs. Not living out of a backpack. Just to be able to buy something online and that even without trading! Not having the feeling of being constantly fleeced just because I am obviously a tourist. Above all, I have missed something so infinitely, which I have actually been looking for so painfully during the whole trip: Peace. The world has become noisy, very noisy. Almost everywhere, people were completely indifferent to the fact that they had to carry a kilometer of sound around them as well as themselves, sometimes all night long.
In Japan and Korea, this longing is understood, people love and honor silence and consideration. Great! But the quietest place on this world trip was the top of the volcano Conception on Isla Ometepe in Nicaragua. A desolate and lifeless wasteland, permeated by sulfur gas, and for that very reason just wonderfully beautiful, in which it is so unbelievably quiet that you can't be sure whether your ears are still working or whether they have to be that way. A great feeling!
This trip around the world was a big part of my life and it ends today. I am thankful to have had this chance not only once but also a second time and I don't regret a second of it. Maybe this conclusion comes across as a bit frustrated, maybe it is, but I'll call it "frankly. This trip has shown me how beautiful and also how vulnerable this planet is. What sounds like something out of a save-the-world documentary will be understood by anyone who has had such an experience. This trip has shown me once again how incredibly good we have it in Europe and how horribly dissatisfied we are with it. Why only? In many parts of the world, people have not yet forgotten how to enjoy what they have, but we have. And when you travel around the world twice, you realize once more how many worlds we all seem to live in on this planet. But we only have this one.