End of the Trip Interview, Part 2 : “Wanderlust”…

ITW 2

You were traveling on your own, was it scary sometimes ?

When I arrived in my Bishkek hostel (Kirghizstan), I was really wondering what I was doing there. There was no other traveller in the dorm and I got a bit anxious. Though, I had no choice but moving my ass. So I got over my fears, started to explore the place, and I had a wonderful time.
You know, sometimes, when you read guide books or embassies advices, you get the feeling that police officers will screw you, that food is gonna be rotten, and that Muslims will stone you, etc. etc. And of course nothing happens.

Quand je suis arrivée dans mon hôtel de Bishkek, au Kirghizistan, je me suis vraiment demandé ce que je faisais là. J’étais seule dans mon auberge, prête à repartir. Mais bon, je n’avais vraiment le choix, je me suis un peu poussée au train, alors j’ai commencé à explorer la ville et j’ai passé un moment extraordinaire.
Vous savez, parfois, quand on lit les guides de voyage et les conseils des ambassades, on a l’impressions que le monde n’est fait que de policiers corrompus, de nourriture pourrie, de musulmans intégristes, etc. Et bien sûr rien de tout cela n’arrive dans la vraie vie.

So you didn’t face any real danger?

Flying from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu, I suddenly realized I was flying Malaysian Airlines, just after the MH370 had vanished. I couldn’t help it but think about it, so I was glad when we finally landed.
On the other hand, after flying Uzbekistan Airlines on my way back from the Aral Sea, I found out that this company was having a record rate of fatal accidents. This is, finally, the only dangerous situation I really got into, without even knowing it.
Overall, I was very cautious in every decision I made because I didn’t want my trip to end prematurely, for a broken knee or whatever.

Lorsque je volais entre Kuala Lumpur et Kota Bharu, j’ai soudain réalisé que je volais sur Malaysian Airlines, juste après la disparition du MH370. Je n’ai pas pu m’empêcher d’y penser et j’étais bien contente qu’on arrive.
Par contre, à mon retour de la Mer d’Aral sur un vol Uzbekistan Airlines, j’ai découvert que cette compagnie enregistrait un nombre impressionnant d’accidents mortels. C’est finalement la seule situation dangereuse à laquelle j’ai réellement dû faire face, sans même le savoir.

Any tip to be able to face all the different situations you’ve experienced ?

1. Observation. When you don’t speak a language, watch what others do and be flexible.
2. Be savvy, resourceful. An example? I used to dry my underwear with my external hard drive which was always getting too hot 🙂

1. Il faut avoir le sens de l’observation, surtout quand on ne parle pas la langue. Regarder comment les autres font et s’adapter.
2. Etre malin, savoir se débrouiller. Un exemple ? Je séchais mes sous vêtements avec mon disque dur externe qui chauffait trop; haha.

Did you learn something about yourself ?

Frankly, not really. I knew, more or less, what I would face, what it would take.
Though, two traits of mind surprised me.
First. I haven’t be able to forget my ‘’real’’ life and always kept in mind that I’d need to come back.
Secondly. On the other hand I’ve been able to give up on planning. Actually, I didn’t feel the need to plan the day or the week to come. The only thing I needed to think ahead was the length on y stay in a country because you need a return ticket when you enter a country.

Pas vraiment. Je savais plus ou moins à quoi j’allais devoir faire face et j’étais prête.
Deux choses m’ont pourtant surprise, sur ma façon de réagir.
D’abord, je n’ai pas vraiment réussi à déconnecter, j’ai toujours garder à l’esprit ce que j’allais faire à mon retour.
A l’inverse, j’ai été contente de voir que j’avais été capable d’abandonner mon habitude de tout planifier. Je pouvais changer de programme d’une minute à l’autre, pour le reste de la journée, du lendemain, en fonction des circonstances, des rencontres… C’est très libérateur.

What have you learnt?

That everything is possible. The world is an open playground, and I feel capable of doing basically anything. Sky is the limit.
I’ve been able to find my way in Russia where nobody speaks English or where there is nobody at all (Perm), to ride a Royal Enfield in Rajasthan, to get our of mud tracks with a damned scooter in South Java, to deal with unfriendly airport officers in Bangladesh, to explore Central Asia on my own in places where nobody goes…
I feel that I can try everything, go everywhere.

Que tout est possible. Le monde est un immense terrain de jeu et je me sens capable de tout y faire.
J’ai été capable de trouver mon chemin à travers la Russie alors que personne ou presque n’y parle anglais, ou de me retrouver au milieu de nulle part (Perm), de rouler en moto en Inde, de sortir de routes boueuses en scooter à Java, de gérer un situation difficile avec des douaniers Bangladais, d’explorer l’Asie Centrale alors que personne n’y mets les pieds…
J’ai l’impression que je peux tout essayer, et aller partout.

How does that change who you are?

I fell like nothing can stop me. So, when I’m back to my reality, I hope that my wonderwoman mindset is going to help me overcome the hurdles – And especially people’s lack of enthusiasm, in general. 

J’ai l’impression que rien ne peut m’arrêter. J’espère que ce sentiment d’être Wonderwoman va me permettre de surmonter les obstacles, et en particulier le manque d’enthousiasme des gens, en général.

Does that mean it’s been easy, overall ?

I wouldn’t say that. Finding the energy to move forward when my traveling companions were leaving was always a challenge. The only challenge actually. And, in that respect, receiving all kind of messages from my friends, through the blog and beyond the blog, has been decisive. I will never thank you enough guys !
I’ve been extremely surprised by the interactions triggered by my blog. All my friends, and beyond, have exchanged with me through this platform. Even though I’ve been away for a year, I’m closer to my folks now than I was before.

Je ne dirais pas tout à fait ça. trouver l’énergie de se remobiliser après le départ de mes compagnons de voyage a toujours été un défi, par exemple. Le seul même. De ce point de vue, les messages réguliers que j’ai reçus de mes amis, sur le blog et au-delà du blog, ont été décisifs. Je ne vous en remercierai jamais assez !!!
Dans l’ensemble, j’ai été extrêmement surprise par les interactions suscitées par le blog. Tous mes amis, et même des inconnus, ont échangé avec moi sur cette plateforme. Même si j’ai été absente pendant un an, je me sens plus proche de mes amis maintenant que je ne l’ai jamais été.

Did you miss your life?

Not really. I didn’t miss my daily routine, my job or my apartment. I didn’t miss Paris, its traffic jam, pollution and aggressiveness… I only missed my folks, very much ! And my grandparents, I would have liked to share this experience with them, make them thrill one last time. Anyway. So, no, I didn’t miss Paris much, but I’m definitely very happy to be with my parents, friends and colleagues again.

Pas vraiment. Ni ma routine, mon job ou mon appartement. Ni Paris, sa pollution, sa circulation et son agressivité. Seuls mes proches m’ont manqué, et beaucoup ! Et mes grands-parents, j’aurais aimé partagé cette expérience avec eux, ils en auraient fait une jaunisse de peur mais en même temps ça les aurait fait vibrer encore une fois. Bref. Donc non, Paris ne m’a pas manqué. Mais aujourd’hui je suis contente d’avoir retrouvé ma famille, mes amis, mes collègues.

Your next challenges ?

Ah ah !
I’d like to take the Rallye des Gazelles Race- An orientation race in the morocco desert.
I’d like to take a boat license to be able to drive a barge across the European channels.
I’d like to ride a motorbike through the Pan-American road, from Ushuaia to Canada…I’d like to cruise in Polynesia like Cook or London, from Papua-Guinea to Chile…
I’d like to take my family to the moon…
There are so many of them that finally, the main challenge is gonna be to meet them all before I’m on a wheel chair… Though, I even think I will, then, organize wheel chairs competitions, that would make the end of our lives less depressing, don’t you think?

Ah ah !
Je voudrais faire le rallye des gazelles, passer mon permis péniche et traverser l’Europe par ses rivières, rouler en moto le long de la pan-américaine entre Ushuaia et le Canada, naviguer en Océanie de la Papouasie Nouvelle Guinée au Chili comme Cook ou Jack London à bord du Snark, emmener mes parents sur la lune…
Le plus dur, ça va être d’avoir le temps de tout faire avant de me retrouver sur un fauteuil roulant. Encore que, il serait alors temps de commencer à organiser des courses de fauteuils pour le troisième âge, je suis sûre qu’il y a un marché !

Is this the end for My Scenic Railway?

I don’t think so.
First of all, over the summer period, I will publish several portfolios, featuring my best pictures around different themes.
And then we will see… I have a couple of ideas, stay tuned!

Je ne pense pas.
D’abord, cet été, je vais enchaîner avec une série de portfolios sur différents thèmes, avec mes meilleurs photos. Ensuite nous verrons, mais j’ai déjà des idées, restez connectés !!!

Are you going to write a book?

Well, many people have been asking me that question, and this is quite encouraging. I have a project in mind, we will see…

Beaucoup de personnes me posent cet question, c’est déjà encourageant. J’ai un projet en tête, on verra…

What is your current state of mind ?

Looking forward tackling new challenges.
And happy… Because I did it, didn’t I ?!

J’attends les prochains défits.
Et je suis très heureuse, je jubile même. Parce que, au final, je l’ai fait hein ?!

Steph All

My Scenic Railway ? My Wanderlust

Capture d’écran 2014-06-30 à 13.23.43On the right side of the picture : My first suitcase

Wanderlust is a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world. The term originates from the German words wandern (to hike) and Lust (desire)…

km par transport

I’ve travelled a lot by train over the last ten months. Almost 15 000 kilometers…
The distance I’ve done through planes seems impressive, but this is mainly because none of my flight form one country to another was a direct flight. For budget reasons, I was often taking two or three planes to reach a new destination…

km total

Russia. China. South Korea. Taiwan. India. Bali. Java. The Philippines. SIngapore. Australia. New Zealand. Malaysia. Kirghizistan. Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan. Istanbul. Israel…

trois fois le tour de la terre

 

How do I feel about it ? You will know tomorrow, by reading my self-interview…

I need you : Vote For my Travel Pictures !!!

Capture d’écran 2014-06-23 à 13.43.50

Dear friends, readers, followers,
I have submitted 12 pictures to the National Geographic Photo Contest of the year.
If you’ve liked my pictures, can you please vote for them, like them on Facebook, share their links on your wall, or retweet my tweets (my Tweeter account being @MyScenicRailway) ?

Here are the 12 links to the 12 pictures on the NG website :

Weddings from all around the world

Aujourd’hui, Laura s’est mariée à Paris, un rendez-vous que je savais manqué d’avance. Alors, depuis que je suis partie, je collectionne les clichés. Russie, Corée, Inde, Philippines, Nouvelle-Zélande et même Ouzbékistan… Dans les parcs, sur les ponts, au sommet des collines… Les robes blanches et les costumes trois pièces se montrent…

tyumen2Sept. 2013, Tyumen – Russie
Oh surprise, au fin fond de la Sibérie, en semaine, un couple traverse la Tura un ballon mauve à la main. La scène, surréaliste, me fera aimer cette ville l’espace d’un instant.

VladivostokSept. 2013, Vladivostok. Russie
Au sommet d’une colline qui domine la ville et l’Océan, une discrète cérémonie.

Seoul wedding
Oct. 2013, Séoul – Corée du Sud
Au détour d’une allée du parc, je découvre une jeune mariée qui poser pour un photographe. Elle m’aperçoit à son tour. Instant figé par le déclic de l’appareil.

Delhi
Nov. 2013, Delhi – Inde
Alors que j’ai passé la journée à contempler la pollution atmosphérique et l’activité grouillante du bidonville, je vois cette fois-ci de ma fenêtre un événement joyeux. Une cérémonie de mariage. Le jeune marié fait le tour de l’immeuble à cheval, suivi d’une troupe de musiciens. La jeune mariée brille de mille ors. Et la vie continue.

oldest filipino church
Janv. 2014, Manille – Philippines
J’arpente Intramuros, le quartier historique de Manille. J’approche de l’église la plus ancienne du pays, miraculeusement épargnée par les tremblements de terre. La porte est restée entrebâillée. Au fond de l’allée deux âmes prêtent serment pour l’éternité.

wedding queenstown
Mars 2014, Auckland – Nouvelle Zélande
Sur une même colline, une résidence universitaire, une synagogue, une église. On repère quelques couples endimanchés, en suivant leur trace on retrouvera les jeunes mariés.

NZ1 NZ2 NZ3
Avril 2014, Rotorua – Nouvelle Zélande
Deux couples de Chinois s’essaient à la pose devant le plus bel établissement de la ville. A la vue de mon appareil photo, ils en déduisent que je suis l’homme providentiel. Elle court pieds nus dans la pelouse, il discute des modalités avec moi, et hop…

Tashkent
Mai 2014, Taschkent – Ouzbekistan
A quelques centaines de mètres de la Place de l’Indépendance et du canal dans lequel plongent tous les jeunes Ouzbèkes audacieux, un couple répète la cérémonie qui aura lieu dans quelques jours…

Mazel tov !

Commonwealth : Why do they ride on the left side ?

Capture d’écran 2014-03-26 à 10.14.46Usually, I like the spectator way : sitting in a bus or in the passenger seat of a car, looking at the window for hours, and hours, and hours… But here, in NZ, I had no other choice but driving, as the buses network isn’t as efficient and cheap as the Australian’.

Capture d’écran 2014-03-26 à 10.15.04I had driven left in India, Bali and Java, but only with a motorbike. How was it going to feel with a car ??? But first of all, why the hell to we have to drive left in some countries and right in some others ???

Capture d’écran 2014-03-26 à 10.15.31The history of the keep-left rule can be tracked back to ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome, and was more widely practiced than right-side traffic. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans adhered to the left side while marching their troops. If two men riding on horseback were to start a fight, each would edge toward the left. Thus, they would be able to draw swords from their right and uphold a defensive position. Eventually, this turned into custom, and later, a law.

The keep-left rule was well-established in Rome because of congestion in the city. In the city of Rome, rules banned wagons and chariots during the day; in other parts of the Empire wheeled traffic was banned during the night, so as not to disturb citizens from sleep.Pilgrims who wished to visit the city were instructed to keep to the left side of the road. By the time the Pope ordered instructions to keep left of the road, this rule was already widely used. The regulation has been practiced by some countries ever since. by some countries ever since…

Capture d’écran 2014-03-26 à 10.15.18So why do other countries drive right then ???
Well. In Continental Europe, driving on the right is associated with France and Napoleon. During the French Revolution, a decree of 1792 ordered traffic to keep to the “common” right. A little later, Napoleon consolidated this position by ordering the military to stay on the right side, even when out of the country, so that everyone who met the French army had to concede the way. In the early 19th century, those countries occupied by or allied to Napoleon – the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain – adopted right-hand traffic…

Capture d’écran 2014-03-26 à 10.31.49So. Do I manage ? Yes, I think I do. The mean problem, that far, is that I mismatch the windshield wiper and blinker joysticks, as their position is reversed. Suddenly having your wipers in action when you enter a roundabout can be tricky 😀

D91 . Nov 30 . Le jour le plus long

The longest day

Saturday. Fabien has a flight at 9AM, back to France. On my side, I have a flight around 7PM, to Bali. I’ll have to change planes twice, in Dacca – Bangladesh – and Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia – before landing in Denpasar – Bali – on Sunday lunchtime. I’ve decided I’ll go to the airport with Fabien and wait all day at the airport. I will watch movies, read e-books; it should be OK.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-04 à 17.20.20

I follow Fabien, he enters the airport after showing his passport and printed e-ticket; I don’t have a printed e-ticket. The security guard doesn’t let me in. I switch on my phone to access my e-ticket. Unfortunately, i have forgotten to download it yesterday and I have no connection here. I don’t remember my flight number, I don’t remember the Airlines company, on don’t remember the exact timing of my departure. I am stuck at the door and i don’t see Fabien anymore.
I insist and he finally let me see the list of passengers of the day, so that I can pick my name. I don’t find him.
He tells me to go to the Air India booth, in the other terminal. I do. They don’t want to check for me, as i tell them I am probably not flying with them.
One clerk tells me to go to the Internet café, in the domestic terminal. Sub-level 2.
I find the elevator. I go to sub-level 2. The guard doesn’t let me in. I don’t have a domestic flight to take; I cannot access the Internet café. Though, the Airport Manager could grant me an authorization.
I go back to my terminal, search for the manager office. But he doesn’t grant me authorization to go to the Internet café; he writes an authorization for me to access my terminal.
But I don’t care, what I want is to access my e-mails, to know my flight details.
Anyway. I go back to the guard. He is quite skeptical when I show him the authorization. He tells me to come back with my ticket when I have it.
I am in.

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In between, Fabien has been trying to pay to get a Wi-Fi connection but it doesn’t accept foreign credit cards.
I catch a guy with a 3G stick; he lets me use it to access my Gmail account. I write down the flight details, I go to the Air India booth (the first connection was, in fact, Air India), he prints my ticket, I show him to the security guard, everyone is happy. Ouf.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-04 à 17.19.20

I spend the day at the airport, sit on my trolley so that I can connect my devices to a plug. I ask air India if I can take my helmet with me in the plane. I can. When the check-in time comes, I first put my big suitcase on the conveyor belt. When the suitcase is gone the employee tells me I cannot keep my helmet. It’s going to be in the plane trunk, only protected by a thin bag. Fuck.
What I don’t know is that the worst part of day is still ahead of me.

I land in Dacca, Bangladesh, around 10PM.
I don’t know for you, but for me the only image I visualize about Bangladesh is this one, a permanent typhoon.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-04 à 17.30.19

But that’s not the point. I am not going to face a typhoon.
I need to take my luggage on the conveyor belt, and then proceed to check in again, with Malaysia Airlines (even though this is a transit flight, as I have bought my tickets at once).
Problem : the conveyor belt is after the immigration door. But, of course, I don’t have a Bangladesh visa so I cannot take my luggage.
A guy tells me I should search for the Transit Bureau.
I go to the Transit Bureau, I explain my problem to one guy, then to another one, then to another one, who leaves with my passport without a word.
He comes back five very long minutes afterwards.
Him : “Malaysia Airlines doesn’t want to print your boarding card because you don’t have a returning ticket from Bali. Why don’t you have a ticket back ?”
Me: “I am doing a world tour, I don’t book my tickets in advance”.
Him: But this is the law, you have to”
Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know”
Him: “How could you not know ?”
Me: “Well, I’m sorry, how can we fix that? Can I buy a ticket right now (I have my laptop in and)?”

Of course, I try to find a wifi network but it doesn’t work, so I call my brother in Paris for him to book the ticket. He doesn’t answer the phone. The guy is watching me. I call my mum’s cell phone. No answer. Fuck, where are they all? I call again. It rings. She answers. She books a ticket, whatever the price is. Though I don’t get the confirmation e-mail. So I call again. She gives me the flight details. Which I give to the guy. He leaves with my passport again. He comes back fives minutes later with the fucking boarding pass.

Now comes the problem of my luggage – suitcase plus helmet.
He sends me to another guy: “Salam Aleykoum”. “Aleykoum Salam”.
Him : “We couldn’t find your suitcase”
Me : “May be I can I help you ?” – I’m almost crying. He finally brings me to the immigration guys. they let me in. We don’t find the suitcase. Another guy says it’s OK. They have found it, it is in my plane. How could I believe him ? I’m sure I’ll never see my luggage again.

I queue to board. A guy comes to me to make me get in the plane first.
After a moment, I realize this is because I am a woman. Here, women enter first. He are three…
In the plane, I’m seating next to a very nice Bangladeshi, he is curious about life in Europe. Unfortunately for him, I am so chocked that I barely say a word.

When I land in Kuala Lumpur, lights are on, shops are open, there are as many men as women among the tourists. I’ve never been so happy to see a Sephora perfume shop and a Starbucks Coffee.

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It is Sunday, 5AM. My last flight is at 7AM, landing in Denpasar – Bali, at noon.
And yes, my luggage are here, in Bali, waiting for me on the conveyor belt number 4. The taxi will be easy to catch, the hotel easy to find, the wifi easy to connect. My Pop Hotel (that’s his name) is shinny. Life is easy.

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