Anna in her flat, Berlin summer 2015
Germany, summer 2015
Haik, my first host in Yerevan
In the past weeks I have been very unsure whether I should do this trip after all. I'm not going to go into the very details but the person I loved the most in this entire world didn't feel the same. Some of you might have noticed that I deleted my previous blogpost. I was shattered, broken to pieces to a point that I didn't think was possible. How could I start this journey of mine, documenting love and friendship in the world when that exact thing made no more sense at all? How could I even manage to do such a demanding trip when I had so little physical and social energy? I was barely eating and sleeping.
My friends helped me. They talked to me, convinced me to get over it, helped me see the problems I didn't see in my past relationship and guided me towards the answers I did not get from the person concerned.
A week ago I flew to Samsun, a city on the coast of the Black Sea and took buses to Tbilisi, Georgia. I still didn't manage to hitchhike or improcouch but I was more and more convinced that I actually needed to be on the road. Hitchhiking to Japan was going to be my medicine; being away from the places that would remind me of her and meeting new people, spending time with my camera and pen would heal my wounds.
In Tbilisi I met a girl called Megan. She had just traveled all the way through Central Asia from Taiwan, with public transports, hitched rides and then covering 3,000km on a shitty bicycle (sorry Megan you know I'm a bike snob). If some people believe things happen for a reason this encounter would be a great example of such a situation. She had been all the places I was going - geographically, and somehow emotionally as well.
Have a look at her blog, she's a true adventurer: http://www.meganjamer.com/
Yesterday evening I left Tbilisi, finally feeling ready to embark on this trip. A total of 6 rides took me all the way to a small village near the Sevan lake. A notable encounter was the ride with a Soviet Union gold-medalist in weight-lifting who had worked as an undercover agent for the KGB and the criminal organization Armenian power. Super-friendly-dude.
I arrived at dusk and started walking towards the village. There was barely anyone outside, only the occasional Lada's with tinted window that honk at you for some reason you don't quite get. I felt all my senses kicking in, almost like in a fight for survival. A beautiful feeling of feeling alive. At this point I could either find a spot to hang up my hammock, or start knocking on doors. The distant barking of some dogs convinced me to opt for the second option. I knocked on a few doors but was only met with some Armenian sentences that frankly didn't sound too welcoming.
After a while I see a guy driving up to his house. He is far away and I'm in the darkness. I shout some words at him and see him turning towards me. They are two and are probably very surprised to see a tourist in this tiny village in the middle of the night. I turn my light on, actually lightning my face to show who I am. He is drunk off his face but understands surprisingly well that I want to sleep in his house. She says a lot of things that I don't understand. He puts his arm over my shoulder and guides me up the stairs to his house. Or maybe it was the other way around, he was quite drunk. But cheers to drunk people! I found a place to spend the night. We spent the rest of the evening with his wife, four kids and both his parents. The main activity was to not understand each-other, with a few exceptions when we actually did. We exchanged smiles, had some food and I played with his kids. I struck me that this kind of situation is the main reason why I like to travel this way; I couldn't have found a better place to stay.
In the morning I had a swim then hitched a ride to Yerevan the capital city of Armenia. Easy peasy japanesey.
I've been talking about hitchhiking to Japan and staying there for a year ever since early 2013 when I made my first footsteps in Beirut. The experience hitchhiking from Oslo to Lebanon was absolutely amazing; my days were filled by an endless stream of beautiful encounters. This inspired me and I felt like I was inspiring other people through my photographs and blog-posts. I was doing something meaningful for the first time in my life. If that wasn't enough, Lebanon quickly became a place I could call home, a place were I made would make friends for life.
I had to make new plans to continue this. The most logical thing to do was to start making plans for a next trip. That's when I got the idea to continue from where I left off and hitchhike further east, all the way to Japan. After all, why not; it had been so simple last time.
So I've been talking about this. Talking, talking, talking and preparing.
In about two weeks from now, I'll be on the road again. The plan is to start hitchhiking from somewhere in the middle of Turkey because it's close to Lebanon, where I ended up last time. I wish I could start in Beirut, but due to the civil war in Syria and the Israeli border being close I have to start further north.
I'm heading east towards Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijdan (maybe), Iran (definitely) and then towards Kirghistan, India and China.
I'm spending these pre-departure days reading books about walking and about expeditions. I have started writing down thoughts and feelings in a diary and I'm spending time with friends and family in Europe to say goodbye. I'm a bit of an emotional mess; leaving Norway, my girlfriend, friends, family and situation is not as easy as it was back in September 2012. I might be getting older (and I wasn't in a relationship back then).
I haven't weighted my bag yet, but I'll be carrying much less than last time. Thanks to Hennessy Hammocs and IceBreaker who sponsored me, and because I've switched from Canon to Fujifilm I'm saving a lot of weight.