Monday, December 24, 2012

Cutting ties

A few months ago I broke up with my girlfriend. It was a long and planned breakup, to sever ties efficiently while minimizing the amount of hate and suffering that most of people would endure.
A breakup, is a necessary step before starting such a trip because you just cannot keep a relationship while fighting bears in volcanoes with a 12-hour time difference. Be serious.
But as I plan this trip, I realize that there are way more ties I'll have to cut.
Here is a list:
Teach my parents how to set up a web server so they don't bother me with it. 48%
Quit my job 100%
Say farewell to Alex... and sail on her boat 0%
Meet my old biker friend from and say bye at the same time 0%
Say goodbye to my banker and my bank 0%
See my cousin who is so dissapointed that she can't go too 0%
Spacially leave my former gf who is now my best friend (this won't be easy) 0%
Say bye to my parents without triggering emotional explosions from my mother. -40%
It's a little weird to think about cutting ties when you know you'll be coming back (at least probably). It actually doesn't feel like cutting ties for me but I think it feels that way for the others. I don't want to leave my loved ones but I don't feel that I do. I'm just travelling, I don't have time to think. It must be hard when you think too much.
On the other hand I'm getting more and more fed up with civilisation. I just moved out from my old appartment and now have to handle loads of ugly french burocracy and various negociations with the new appartment's owner about why he can't repair the heater this winter.
Yeah, I live in a new appartment, not mine, it's temporary.
But really, if it was only about me, I couldn't care less about water heaters, job opportunities and resum├ęs, web servers, bus cards and what not. I can't see how this can affect me in any way in the nothingness of Kazakhstan.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I am saved! Or I might be.

I really thought It would be a waste of time to call Chinese embassies imagining they would employ the kind of people who follow instructions like robots and therefore the dialog would be something like:
- How do I get to china without air tickets?
- You cannot go to china without air tickets.
- But I enter through mongolia, by land (that actually might be the case) and I exit in Hong Kong, also by land (that's bullshit).
- You... shall... not... pass!

But I called anyway and all lines were busy. So I called action visa, a french company that proxies the visa process. I thought they would be even worse than the embassy but the guy I had on the line was actually very friendly. He didn't seem at all shoked when I wanted to enter without plane tickets and after understanding that my itinerary was a little too random for there-and-back planes he suggested I use the pre-reservation on the air france site.
You can actually pre-buy watever plane ticket you like for 15 euros and finish buying it one week later. So I'll just have to spend 15 euros to fake my tickets. Neat! Then I'll ask for the visa and then I'll not pay for any flights. I almost wanted to hug the guy or at least my phone or whatever neighbouring object. He really seemed to want to help me with my precise situation and I felt kind of guilty feeding him bullshit about me flying to Ulaanbataar and then taking trains to shanghai and to hong kong before continuing to the philippines.
But I told myself not to push it; maybe behind this kind voice was a beast that would notify the chinese authorities and tell them to strangle me if I told him I intended to hitchhike.
So things are quite allright again. I still have no visas, no partner so basically I'm still on square one. But I can feel the good vibes! And that's really great.

Should I destory the ONE ring?

The lord of the rings is in theaters. I was watching it the other night with A. since it's her favorite movie and all.

I've seen it many times but now I feel some kind of travel spirit associated with it. It's a travel story... isn't it obvious? It's actually weird I never looked at it from that angle.

Frodo and Sam travelled from the shire towards the dark and scary mordor to throw the One Ring into the mountain of doom.

Here's an idea: I could buy the ONE ring somewhere on the internet (shouldn't be too hard to get) and travel with it until I reach the mountaint of doom and throw it in there.

And when I think about it there are well-suited candidates for the mountain of doom on the way.

First there is the gates of hell in Turkmenistan. It a natural gas source that's been burning for decades. The locals also call it Darzava which sounds very mordorish. And it looks like this.

And of course there is Kamchatka, there is no better land for volcanos. I don't know if it's feasable to climb a volcano, I'd rather find someone who's already climbed some of them to come with but it would sure be super cool. Not literaly of course, it's a volcano dude.

But since it's not at all certain that I'll get to Kamchatka, I'd better just throw the ring in Turkmenistan. I don't know.

If somebody reads this, you can let me know if you think this idea is a shameless ripoff of the great lord of the rings saga. It kind of is but at the same time it's awesome to do such a journey bearing such a powerful symbolic. And while I do like the lord of the rings, I am not that much of a fan. I've read the books and seen the movies but that's it. I don't speak elvish (besides norolim asfaloth) so I am not sure how much I a entitled to reproduce such a quest.

I also feel that if I want to honour the quest, I shouldn't throw the ring into Turkmenistan, it's too close, too easy. I should throw it at least into some Chinese volcano if such things exist. I should look for more candidates for the mountain of doom on my path.

I also don't know how my potential travel partner will react to such an idea, I just hope she won't think I am too crazy just because I want to buy a ring on the internet, travel with it to Kamchatka and throw it into a volcano.

She just might be reading this... damn! I'll have to program some blog filter wich filters out some countries. And some regions of France too. My mom could be reading this. I really hope not.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beginning of visa hell

Until now I was happily surfing over the borders of google maps. Now the harsh reality tells me that it'll be way harder to cross borders in life than on google maps.
Starting with China. Unless you're from some lucky country, you need a visa to go there. And not just any visa. A chinese-crazy-absurd visa. In order to apply you need:
  • Your bank account transcript showing the money you have there.
  • A hotel reservation. This can be replaced by an invitation letter for someone who is willing to sacrifice himself for you.
  • An itinerary. You have to plan your irinerary and god forbid if there is tibet or Xinjiang written on it.
  • Two plane ticket reservations. One to go to china and another to depart from China.
Seriously? I didn't expect the administration to be hitchhiking-friendly but that much hate? What did I do to you?
What about the travelers who travel to Mongolia, who visit the village 10km from the border what are they supposed to do? Walk back to Ulan Bator (the mongol capital) and fly to Beijing? How fucked up is that?! I won't even mention ecology at this point.
They want to see my bank account, I get that, honest business thinking, they want me to spend money without forcing me to. But forcing me to travel by air or booking a hotel? This is just nonsense. I am less attached to my money than to my freedom.
Just imagine the world if everybody lived by these peoples rules. There would be a few touristic circuits, a few strings of places which are easily accessible. The rest of the world... not worth visiting. When people would go to visit China, they would go to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. People who visit France would go to Paris and the Cote d'Azur. The circuits would be so cool and amazing yay! You must see them. Oh wait you already did, did you? Since there isn't anything else to visit, all of your friends already went there and you can as well travel on google street view.
When the night comes, people would all sleep in hotels, nice ikea boxes, to be recycled one day. Dear visitors, enjoy your stay and please, try to feel unique!
I hear people say: come on, it's not a big deal, just take two plane tickets and be done with it! And the hotels too. Actually it is a big deal, it's quite fundemental.
It's like the difference between a human and a robot. When you follow all the rules, when you visit alle the places you are supposed to visit, when you book all the hotels you're supposed to book, well you do not visit China. China just visits itself using you as a sophisticated walking automaton. Seriously... how do you manage not to get bored? Oh yeah I know, you're a fucking robot!
Now enough of this self-serving rant. I shouldn't be mean to tourists, it's that same kind of close-mindness that creates the fucked up situations I am in. We should acknowledge that there are people who like to travel in an organised way and other people who like the randomness of travel.
And there should be room for all of us.
So what will I do about it? Surely not give up China. I'd love going to China almost as much as I'd love to go to Kamchatka. Therefore, I have several solutions:
  1. Buy those plane tickets and some hotels not use them. Lot of money thrown away but I get the visa. It's really silly though that travelling by hitchhiking would actually be more expensive than touristic travel.
  2. Ask my chinese friend to write some letter with my intinerary saying that I am entering by train and leaving by ferry and getting my tickets when I can. I hope his mandarin writing will break their heart. Literary. Rip it to shreds. Sorry about that. I hope it will play on their sentimental side.
  3. Fake my plane tickets
  4. Buy real tickets, get the visa and cancel them. This amounts for a shitload of money and a lot of stress because if I missed a clause in the booking contract,I'll just end up with two incredibly expensive and useless flight tickets.
I am currently hesitating between solutions 3 ans 4.

My dear legality, you don't I how much I want to love you, embrace you and live by you... but when I see your ugly face I just want to puke and when I feel your heart of ice I just want to run far away from you before I freeze to death.

I actually do miss the albanian corruption which could be ugly but yet sometimes more humane than what I see here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Am I free?

I've given up my badge and my office key. Am I free now?

Not quite. I still have to move to a new apartment  that's a lot of packing, way more than for this trip. Technically I'm helping to move my ex-girlfriend to her new apartment so it's actually her apartment  I won't really need an apartment where I'm going, do I?

I still have to find a hitchhiking partner, without that, there is no trip and I'll just be another dreamer with a website.

I'd very much like to go with that German girl who wanted to hitchhike with a dog I talked to on couch-surfing but I try not to get my hopes too high until we actually decide to do it.

And I have to finish this website, take care of a bunch of administrative stuff, the list goes on.

And now, I'll go cook potatoes.