To the traveller there is a special kind of horror which lies in the plotted map. The fear of permanency, of the unchanging and eventually becoming the eternal. The knowledge that you can never really fully leave a place nor at the same time ever return to it again. That all the memories in your life are vanishing, receding year on year until all that remains is a faint blurred trace, salvaged but lifeless. Im looking at photographs pinned to a wall, Im not in any of them, of a different time, a different place, muffled echoes of life, of sounds from another room, its the realization that I would never know more about them than I do now. I suppose this blog was my way of staving off this loss, to record at least some of what had happened to me and to remind me of all the rest.
I lay in an almost catatonic state pressed against the roof of the second class hard sleeper. Trying to talk down my restless mind, I made a silent promise to myself, that no matter what – months from now when this was all over, it wasn’t the end, someday I’d roam again. Such was the profound effect of my experience that the thought of it all ended became as unbearable as a life sentence.
Here I was once again, going backwards. The train out of Kunming to Vietnam hadn’t run in over two years, or so I’d been informed. Something about a landslide on the track which nobody could be bother doing anything about. I was faced with two alternatives, either head south to the Lao border or make eastwards once again and cross from Nanning. Since the time was already ticking on my Vietnamese visa I opted for the latter.
Looking back on my travels with the advantage of retrospect every decision now seems like the right one, had I chosen another route at any fork in the road then every subsequent happening would have never come to pass. But then who knows what lies down the road not taken, what matter anyway, time to go, the word was that I was to be tried for treason. So goodbye China, and to all who live there, for now.
I had gone travelling to sate a hunger, to slay a dragon, but instead I’d become a junkie, been consumed whole, I knew I’d never look on a normal life the same way again, and writing now many months later it still holds true, I still dream of the distant shore.