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 :

How did Islam reach this part of Asia ?

Set in between India and China, the Malay coasts were a perfect connecting point for merchants of those two empires. Around the 1st century, the Indian influence became preponderant, local kings and populations converted to hinduism and buddhism.
Ten centuries later, when a local kingdom – Sri Vijaya – expended to Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, the South India armies reacted and occupied the Malay Peninsula.
The power of the buddhist maharajas will not be undermined before the 15th century, by the spread of islam…

islam why 2

Islam came to the Malay archipelago via Arab and Indian traders in the 13th century.
It arrived in the region gradually, and became the religion of the elite before it spread to the commoners.

islam why 3

The port of Malacca – on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula – was founded in 1402 by by Parameswara, a Srivijaya Prince.
A theory assesses that Parameswara became a Muslim when he married a Princess of Pasai (a sultanate on the North of Sumatra, Indonesia) and he took the fashionable Persian title “Shah”, calling himself Iskandar Shah.

islam why 4

Within a few years of its establishment, Malacca officially adopted Islam. Due to the fact Malacca was under a Muslim Prince, the conversion of Malays to Islam accelerated in the 15th century. The political power of the Malaccan Sultanate helped Islam’s rapid spread through the archipelago. Malacca was an important commercial centre during this time, attracting trade from around the region.

islam why 5

By the start of the 16th century, with Malaccan Sultanate in the Malay peninsula and parts of Sumatra, the Sultanate of Demak in Java, and other kingdoms around the Malay archipelago increasingly converting to Islam, it had become the dominant religion among Malays.
It reached as far as the modern-day Philippines, leaving Bali  as an isolated outpost of Hinduism.

islam why 1

Malacca’s reign lasted little more than a century, but during this time became the established centre of Malay culture. Most future Malay states originated from this period. Malacca became a cultural centre, creating the matrix of the modern Malay culture: a blend of indigenous Malay and imported Indian, Chinese and Islamic elements.

Diversity will remain over centuries, as I will show tomorrow…

 

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 😀

Dec 22 / Heroes in Bali and Java

Snorkeling, photographing fishes, photographing myself in the swimming pool because I’m so happy to have a waterproof camera, riding a scooter, packing, unpacking, hiking, tattooing… The list of activities un Bali and java was rich.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-19 à 11.27.42

Still, I am flying to new adventures:
On Saturday Michelle flight back to Paris, and on my side I flight to Manilla.
Today i’ll see Véronique and Guy, who come from Paris to the Philippines for vacation and share a slice of my journey – The “Stefathon” keeps going !

Capture d’écran 2013-12-19 à 11.27.55

I’ll spend Christmas in the Manilla island, New Year’s Eve in Palawan, and will flight early next year to Cebu, where I will meet with many local people my Dad knows…. To be continued !

D105 . Dec 14 . Overtaking whatever !

So, previously on MyScenicRailway: fed up with the Java distances, roads and heavy rains we have decided we would leave Probolinggo as quickly as possible and ride as long as we can. Not as easy at is sounds considering what we have to overtake…

camions

camions2

 

camions3

 

And, as you can see below, I am SUPER FED UP !!!

Capture d’écran 2013-12-18 à 09.34.16

 

Even though we have seen some nice things on our way, such as that beautiful beach of java, next to Situbondo.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-18 à 09.27.17

 

Capture d’écran 2013-12-18 à 09.27.03

 

So, yes, at the end of the day, it is worth the effort : )

Fueling your scooter in Indonesia

Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 07.44.46

In Bali, and in Java, you only find gas stations in big cities.
To usefully complement the network, it looks like every single person having a house by the road sells fuel as well. they showcase 1 liter and 2 liters glass bottles on wood shelves.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 07.44.55

No need to share the same language, they would immediately understand why you stop by. You think there’s nobody around, but after a couple of seconds someone pops up – Like below, in Bali.

Or here, in Java, when we were lost in the fields, around Walu Utu.
This woman was selling benzine, as they call in in Java, but she was also having a cow and was drying corn in the garden. A local conglomerate !

In regular gas stations, 1 liter would cost 5000 Rupees, and 7000 Rupees in those small shops. For your information, 12 000 Rupees stand for 1 Euro…
To complement their revenues, most of those shops also sell snacks and water. Very useful. As we were desperately trying to reach the Bromo mountains, we bought waffles in one of those shops. Our only meal that very day…

D104 – Dec 13 – Reaching the Bromo Graal ?

So, remember ? We had a nice morning in Watu Ulo. He left the shore quickly, though, as we have a long road ahead of us to reach the Bromo volcano before sunset.

We start following the GPS, and once again we get lost in the fields, riding on rocks and muds trails for ever.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 16.36.08 Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 16.36.20

we make an unexpected encounter in one of those villages. As we are hesitating at crossroads, one woman who was sit in the grass starts to talk to us in English.
She explains that her former employer taught her English.
As we put some sun cream on our arms, she tells us she would like her skin to be whiter. We tell her it goes the other way around in Europe, where everyone would like to be tanned. We compare our arms and have a nice piece of laughing – A very welcomed one in regard of what is still ahead of us.

The above video is going to be a little bit long to download – 20 Mo – but worth watching as it gives a good insight on how the South Java countryside looks like. Small houses, corn drying in the gardens, grass carried on bicycles, veiled women, mosque’ songs which resonate all over the villages…
After reading different guide books, I was expecting Java people wouldn’t be that friendly, even a little bit aggressive toward Westerners. We faced the total opposite. Those villagers seemed very curious about us, always smiling at us, always trying to help us. We were women without men, driving, with shorts and tee-shirts, but to them we were just funny characters. Besides, tourists generally stay in Bali or big Java cities. So, where we were trying to explain we had come there, by scooter, from Bali, they were quite surprised and happy.

After three hours of mud paths, we finally got to meet a regular road. Unfortunately, that’s when the monsoon rain started to fall. We had no other choice but stopping one more time. Destiny made us stand in front of a stationery shop…

Soon enough, the owners came to see us, they wanted pictures of us, with them.
Then they offered coffee, then cooked pancakes for us.
We even entered their house to use their bathroom.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 14.43.29

 

Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 14.56.46

 

One hour later, we started to think we would never reach the Bromo mountains before sunset. Safer would be to reach the coast, where the rain is usually less heavy.

Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 17.04.35 Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 17.04.19

 

We decide we would stop in Probolinggo. The road seems straight.
Indeed, it is straight. Though, we had to overtake at least one hundred truck on our way. Worse that Paris’ ring at 8 AM. A dangerous and very demanding exercise.

We will reach an hotel grey from tailpipes’ smoke, soaked to the skin, and worn out….

Capture d’écran 2013-12-17 à 14.55.14