Dear my readers
…blank, blank, and blank in my head…no words coming up…
I’ve spent days already sitting in front of computer trying to write this “Ending statement” of my two years journey. I never took this long to type in the first letter to start my article. It proves how hard it is to realize “The end” of what I truly loved and give a conclusion to two years of chaos life.
I don’t have enough words to write down a mighty conclusion, but let me, at least, pick up some fragments of thoughts out of my bewildered mind and list them down randomly…
*Not at all brave woman
“You are brave woman.” This is how people responded when I explained my journey. I liked “Brave woman” than being called “Hey Aki, you are a chickenshit,” of course…. To be honest, however, I really don’t count bravery as a part of my characteristics and thus started to feel awkwardly about my new title…”brave woman.” I told people that I am not a brave woman as many times as I was misunderstood as a woman with balls (even scientifically impossible). And eventually I came to think of the reason why people had to give me the title of such…“balls.”
The reason, I think, is simple and clear that we have this fundamental agreement on our planet; the world is unsafe, particularly when it comes to the place where you are NOT scientifically familiar with. Certainly, I also thought that the traveling would require some level of bravery before I left for this journey. I believed that there would be quite some countries which I would not travel through for the security reason as well. Nevertheless, more places I traveled, less brave I leaned that I was required to be….and I started to think that there must be only and very small parts of the world where I should worry about my safety (my opinion as far as I traveled.)
In general, we are more negatively informed about the world than positively and we are trapped by the image of dangerous world to be scared of getting out of our little limited territory. We are passionate to create so many imaginary enemies everywhere in the world and get already satisfied with imaginary obstacles you might face on your way without even traveling the places. How pity…
My journey was very personal and limited in terms of what I could witness, but at least I want to say that My journey was SAFE and with full of positive experiences. I am alive. I wasn’t seriously threatened. I was not robbed. No major accident nor injury. Instead, I was helped and cared so many times especially when I was alone and created problems by MYSELF. I was just a puppy, not brave, not strong, not that skillful nor intelligent…I was allowed to be a puppy because the world was, after all, pretty safe and kind…
Therefore I declare once again, that I am not at all a brave woman. I once was only when I took the first step out to the world because I didn’t know any hand-touched reality as I was also a believer of DANGEROUS world. But not now, not anymore. Okay…and so now, let me double check my things….I mean…balls…
No, no. surely there aren’t!
*Traveling puppy to ignorant puppy
SO, a puppy traveled two years and what she learned was her ignorance. How pity! But it’s very true, and I didn’t know it as much before.
Two years ago, I had a broad image of, for instance, India. I thought that India was India. Period. I thought I knew about India through reading a few articles about India, but then I visited the country and realized that how impossible it was to generalize the country of India in single word nor image because India I stepped in was, SO huge and SO diverse! How could I know them all! Impossible. Furthermore, it’s not only about India but everywhere. Even those small countries like Djibouti, I observed hardly anything but a tiny part of their land where I could glance around for a few days. I went to Djibouti, and now I can say for sure that I don’t know anything about this tiny country in Africa. Additionally if I talk more honestly about Djibouti, I didn’t even know there was a country named Djibouti as well as many other African countries since I always had this conception of African that Africa is ONE big AFRICA. Period. So, Once upon a time, there was ONE place called Africa where I didn’t know much, but now there are 35 African countries which I don’t know anything and haven’t visited at all yet. SO I feel, at least 35 times more ignorant, or even more ignorant since I came to know that there are different cities, tribes, ways of living, industries, religious believes and political ideas in each country of Africa. And I must question to myself, how many cities in each country, have I been to? A few. And how many tribes did I lean about? None, or one, or two maybe. Now, you can imagine…how little I could discover after all my journey. How pity!
SO, I am now giving a wry smile and trying to find, at least, one little meaning to what I have been doing in last two years. I would say, “I learned my ignorance as I learned the scale of this planet and the greatness of its diversity.”
This is my little tips for traveling, what you need and should travel with. (from my personal experiences, I mean…)
1. Good sleeping bag.
You don’t need the best backpack, but spend good money on your sleeping bag. It was the biggest mistake of mine that I brought a cheap, low quality sleeping bag. Sleeping bag is not only for sleeping, but it can be used for many things, such as a pillow (when you didn’t have one in the cheap hotel) or carpet (when you have to rest on the ground) or cushion (When you have to sit on the wooden seat on the train for 20 hours) or as a little winter cloth (when you find unexpected SNOW falling…) and for insect prevention (when the mattress is not clean, better to completely cover up yourself with a sleeping bag to protect yourself from F-king BED BUGS and Malaria risk mosquitoes. SO, bring a warm, big enough, but very light sleeping bag.
2. Sunglasses and a Mask with a big Mickey mouse printed on.
Protect your eyes and throat from strong sun, cold wind, air pollution, and dry air. You can also use them for your little protection when you have to walk in the dark night. I put on Sunglasses and Mask with a big Mickey mouse print when I had to go and catch an early morning bus before sunrise or when I was dropped off in middle of nowhere in the middle of night. I met some drunker, gangs, and homeless people on the dark streets, but THEY avoided me when they saw my face…covered with big Mickey mouse mask…
3. Beach Sandals.
You will use Beach Sandals everyday.
Nice to have a good Knife for cooking, pealing skins of fruit especially when you don’t find water to wash vegetables or fruit. Plus, you can use it for your little protection as well. I don’t mean to use it against people as a weapon (Please don’t be confused), but you can just have it in your hand in order to indicate your sense of guarding yourself. When I was thrown out of a vehicle accidentally somewhere in the middle of night and surrounded by strangers (many unofficial taxi drive men) in the darkness, I always took out my knife and pealed the skin of, for instance, an apple. I didn’t smile. I kept pealing skin as I quietly spoke, negotiated prices, etc. I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t compromise on the price nor condition. I continued pealing with my knife until I was offered acceptable condition.
5. Sugar and Salt.
Bring some sugar and salt. You will survive in most of the conditions if you can find water to mix with sugar and salt. Also, sugary salty water is life-saving drink when you have diarrhea. Take them with you!
6. Honesty and Modesty
Honesty and modesty helped me to stay relaxed and peaceful. And of course, when I forgot to have both of them….I failed, lost, and caused lots of shameful problems. What I mean in here “being modest” is not that you accept everything and compromise. It’s not modesty that you stay in silence and obey what you are requested.
The effective modesty I learned through my traveling can be accomplished by very simple method.
1. Be always aware of the possibility to meet different (very different sometimes) ideas and beliefs.
2. Listen first, think carefully and don’t force, but simply and straightforwardly suggest your ideas.
I can suggest above methods now because I failed so many times and was involved in so many problems because of my egocentricity. I was in trouble obviously when I tried to convince people from the beginning by what I believed “World standard” or “Common sense.” I should have known that there wasn’t always a clear line between right and wrong in negotiation, interaction or discussion, but it should have been a simple communication to figure out the point where to compromise less-painfully for both. So, let’s be modest and listen to what people would say even when you want to scream after one second, “NO, It’s not right! Bullshit!!”
Honesty was as essential as modesty in my travel. I don’t mean here “Honesty” as to tell every single truth of you or your thoughts. My honesty is more for the preparation to meet new world, new system and new people everyday. This is how I prepared my mentality:
Be honest and behave honestly what I believe based on the fundamental moral belief as a human beings.
I realized later through my travel that I could stay who I was and relaxed in any situation as long as I was honest as a human. On the other hand, I was nervous and had to lie or pretend something else to manage through the situation when I was behaving (speaking) for my convenience, advantage or profit.
After I learned how to be honest and have come to be clear about my moral belief to prepare, I was never afraid to meet any situation, condition, system or talk with anyone from any background or position. I was ready to explain from my heart no matter how strangely or painfully I could be treated in the different conditions.
I sometimes said after long negotiation, explanation, injustice, unfair treatment that:
To corrupt government officials or dirty minded police men,
“After all these talk, you still believe that you are right, then go ahead and arrest me. You can put me in jail first then we will talk. I am ready.”
To those cheaters or racists,
“If you are not ashamed but satisfied with your SUCH behavior (action or words), okay go ahead. I am not going to say anything anymore. Do it as you want. I have nothing to lose except my pride as a human.”
There were opportunities to think over “individuals and a mass” throughout my journey as I took a closer look at historical backgrounds of each country, different social tendencies, and people’s relationship with their religious lives. My trip was after all, more or less a process of tracing the history of 20th century which has experienced two times of world war and world divided cold war, and of experiencing a little closer to the religious conflicts in the presence. All the experiences gave me some questions about the human tendencies; aggression, rampancy and sometimes brutality of the people once after being in a GROUP.
And what, I think, is required for our future world is to end, TRULY end the bloodiest 20th century in every meaning. Precisely, we must end the period when a mass of people follow a particular ideology or religious believes blindly or implicitly, and the time when the power of a mass eliminate “individuals” and blot out “differences of potential threats.”
So, here is my wish as a solo backpacking puppy:
I wish 21st century to be the period of Individuals when everyone thinks in their own heads, act upon their discrete wills and ideas, and take individual responsibilities.
Especially through this trip, I often felt some levels of coercion bright by the group of people. Solo traveling to me was the practice to set myself in the situation as a minority. I was alone entering everyday into the group of OTHERS in the different cultures, social systems, religions and nationalities, and as powerless minority, I was required to observe cautiously the environment, grasp the situation, and act out more carefully. I had to do so because I had to take all my responsibilities ALONE on my wrong behavior or disrespectful words. However, I found the people in a group (majority) to tend to be more self-centered or pushy because of their sensory illusion that responsibility for each has been alleviated. It’s harmfully natural that a mass (the sense of being a part of majority) often make us blind, thoughtless and irresponsible, but it’s unquestionably true that we, everyone, has to be a part of some groups in order to have a normal social life. Therefore, it’s very important to have your individual opinion as you belong to a group and always re-examine yourself or your group from a fair subjective point of view.
I hope and expect for 21st century, that respected individuals will travel freely through different groups, and communicate genuinely in order to improve this amazing planet to even more beautiful.
Thank you for reading my articles. I enjoyed writing and was encouraged by you, the readers very much.
Bye-bye for a while until I will depart for my WT2 (World Travel 2) and see you somewhere on this planet.
A big warm hug,