Thursday, July 08, 2004

Day One

When does a day begin? Does it start at one minute after midnight? Or does it begin when you wake up? I don't really know when the first day of my round-the-world trip began. Either it started at one minute after midnight, while I was still trying to finish ten procrastinated projects... or it began after dawn when I awoke from less than two hours of sleep. When it was time to go, I made a frantic effort to get to the post office and onto the train to travel to the coast where the ferry was waiting.

I was so late this morning that I almost missed the boat.

After months of dreaming and talking and planning and worrying, the round-the-world journey has actually begun. It starts today because this is the day that all known faces and places are left behind. Ahead is uncertainty, unknown languages and undoubtedly unappealing foods.

The rough plan:
China - July to August
Australia - August to September
New Zealand - September to November
SE Asia - November to January
India - January to February
Turkey - March
Europe - March to July
United States - back to New Orleans in July

The plan is open to change and a bit of serendipity.

The best of all worlds would be to meet up with friends and family along the way. Anyone living or traveling through the above places should feel free to get in touch.

For now, home is wherever the backpack is stashed. Tonight that is on a ship somewhere in the Sea of Japan. As the boat left port, I stood on deck, watching as we floated toward China and away from Japan. I wondered what I was getting myself in for. I'd been anxious about the start of the trip for days and recently started talking about surviving the trip as opposed to enjoying it.

But all those apprehensions disappeared within ten minutes of being on-board. While the ship was still in view of port, two Japanese university students asked me to take their picture. We started talking and as simply as that they adopted me as a traveling companion. We're going to head to Beijing together after the ferry lands near Tianjin. First they were two and I was just one. Then we were three. That was before we met Marcus, the Swedish student. Then there were four. With Nuno the Portuguese priest, we became five. Ken, the Japanese surfer, makes six.... And the circle of fellow travelers grows every time we sit down to a communal Chinese meal.


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