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 !!!

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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 !

Last words on the Philippines: Helping Yolanda’s victims

I was supposed to go on a reportage to Tacloban, North Visayas, a city that was completely destroyed by the recent typhoon. Unfortunately, it has been raining there for two weeks and I had to cancel y trip. Though, I’d like to share the experience and work of my friend Janice, who is trying to help this region…

<< Typhoon Yolanda was a super destructive typhoon, the worst in the world ever in history! It claimed so many human lives and left massive and widespread destruction inTacloban City, my own hometown.

<< For a week, there was a news blackout and we could not even hear of who survived and who perished. We could only see the very scary images on TV. So I went to Tacloban on the 7th day after the typhoon to search for my 81 yr. old Aunt, (the older sister of my dad) and 4 sisters of my mom ages, 84,83,82 and 76. Thank God they all survived. In fact every member of our large family, both my father and mother’s side in Tacloban survived. Very sad though, how they lost almost everything in life.

<< And then the question was: What can I do to help further???

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<< There are already many food relief and medical missions there now from all over the Philippines and from a lot of international agencies.  Few nights ago I met and shook the hands of French and British soldiers who are extending help to Tacloban. I also had the privilege to bow low in gratitude before two Japanese soldiers who were buying stacks of plastic water of barrels at a grocery here in Cebu for their mission in Tacloban…

<< Though, with this scale of devastation that claimed the lives of loved ones, wiped out people’s homes and livelihood, the first casualty is the degradation of human dignity. Predators and opportunists like drug traffickers, cyber pornography syndicates, human traffickers prostitution syndicates are bound to proliferate. That’s why it is so important, and urgent, to also work on people’s trauma. So, together with the Foundation I’ve been presiding for the last seven years, we’ve decided to organize and deliver a Stress and Trauma Management Relief Mission (TLWCF) to the north of Cebu and Tacloban City.

<< This is an aspect of need, which is not being addressed by anyone. To us a TLWCF, it is the core of the Human soul that needs to heal first, before any restoration or rehabilitation can follow.

<< Our targets are Elementary and high school teachers and children and youth who are very vulnerable to predators during these desperate times. We have already been to the Northern towns of Cebu that were worst impacted by the typhoon and we plan to go to Tacloban City very soon.

<< Another step is going to help the people in earning an income so that they can rebuild their lives.

<< My furniture company – Janice minor Export – is currently working on furniture’s designs like tables and chairs, benches, lamps, mirrors and Chandeliers using recycled broken house parts, broken galvanized roofing sheets and uprooted trees and branches, in short, debris material of which there a mountains and mountains of in Tacloban City.

Capture d’écran 2014-01-28 à 02.29.13

<< We will help impacted people to learn a new craft:  making furniture and decorative accessories using recycled debris material. The company can initially finance the start up by sending our furniture makers with finished model samples to Tacloban. We will prepare tool kits that will be used for the specific designs we introduce. The finishing treatment and accessorizing the base product will be done at the factory for the final added value and quality assurance. We will market the products immediately in Cebu and Manila during the International shows and we will promote them to the International market as well… many challenges ahead of us still ! >>

my life with taxi drivers

Every ride with taxi drivers has told me a little bit more about local cultures.
You might remember a report from New Delhi, when a taxi driver in his thirties explained to me he had to get his mother authorization before going on a week-end trip.
So. I’ve also had interesting conversations here, in the Philippines – Especially because I make up a new story every time, as they keep asking personal questions…

TX = Taxi
MSR = MyScenicRailway correspondent

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Here was my first chat, in Cebu

TX: How many children do you have?
MSR: None
TX: Oh
MSR: Not yet
Inner me: Seven, and my name is Snow White; the prince is asleep
TX: Are you traveling on your own?
MSR: Yes
TX: Are you traveling alone?
MSR: Yes
TX: You left your husband at home?
MSR: I don’t have a husband
TX: I’m sorry, so sorry
Inner me: F*** you

And here the last chat I had, yesterday, in Manila, with Georgio…

Based on the previous experience, I had, of course, a different storyline to give

taxi manille

TX: I can drive you all day if you want
MSR: Oh, that’s nice of you, but I’d rather walk
TX: I can drive you tomorrow if you want
MSR: Oh thanks, but I’ll be leaving tomorrow
TX: Are you travelling on your own?
MSR: No, only for today
Inner me: time to make up a story
TX: Have you been to the Port? There is a nice life night there
MSR: How, thanks for the advice, I might go with my friend
Inner me: here we are
TX: Are you married?
MSR: No, I’m not, I just have a boyfriend, you know…
TX: But where is he?
MSR: He is sick, you know, stomach problems, he stayed at the guesthouse for the day
TX: But you should have stayed with him
MSR: Well, It wouldn’t help much
TX: I hope you took good care of him
MSR: Yes, of course, don’t worry
TX: I hope you have cuddled  him at least
MSR: Don’t worry, I did what I had to do…
Inner me: Does he want to know if I sucked him before I left?
TX: How old are you?
MSR: 33
Inner me: What’s the point?
TX: Oh, you still look beautiful
MSR: Thank you
Inner me: still??? Fuck you, I thought 33 was young
TX: Where do you live?
MSR: In France
TX: Is France in Europe?
MSR: Yes it is
TX: Do you drink?
No
Inner me: what a question is that? It is only 10AM, does he want to invite me for a drink?
TX: Do you smoke?
No
Inner me: I’m certainly not going to confirm your clichés about Western women
TX: I smoke, I cannot quit, it’s too difficult
MSR: You should try sports, it helps.
TX: I don’t have time. On Sundays I spend time with my friends.
MSR: Oh, yes, of course, it’s not that easy
Inner me: When are we going to reach my destination???
TX : We are almost there, I will leave you by the church
MSR : Sure
Inner me : Whatever
TX : Are you a catholic ?
MSR : Half. Half Jew, half catholic
TX : Oh, it doesn’t matter, here in the Philippines we are tolerant
MSR : I’m so glad to hear that
Inner me : I’m so glad that I’ve finally used this stupid sentence we hear in US series

Today, I was having a last drive with a taxi driver, to the airport. Quite a long drive. I pretended from the very beginning that I was mute.

 

D147. Janv 25 . Life in Intramuros

Today, I’ve spent my day hanging around intramuros, the historical district of Manila.
While tourists are photographing rocks, ancient churches and castles, the locals are having a life on their own inside the old city walls.

Cats also seem to have a life on their own, and those five are trying to find a way to do so.

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A little bit later, I’ve found a bench of students in rehearsal, may be fans of American Idols ?

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Meanwhile, just on the other side of the fence, the local gentry was playing golf, probably on the only available green piece of land of Manila.

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At the entrance of the citadel, some real buildings, with real people.

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And where some kids did teach me how to play the top (toupie).

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On the very opposite side of the fortress, a very big building…

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… This is where the local daily is printed, the Manila Bulletin.

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The newspaper is regarded by many for being pro-administration regardless of whoever is in power and also for its optimistic and non-sensational journalism !

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It is the largest national newspaper by circulation. Founded in 1900 – by a Swiss expatriate – it is also the second-oldest.

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