It’s 3AM on a freezing February morn in Bucharest, Romania. I stumble into my hostel, plonk my ass down in the kitchen and begin checking my emails. I’m notice the smell of cigarette smoke. I look up and see a rather gaunt looking Asian guy at the window sill, quietly observing the streets below. He’s the first Asian backpacker I’ve seen in the Balkans. I’m curious, and decide to strike up a conversation…
“Where are you from?”
He looks confused for a moment.
“Ohh… Japan. What country you?”
“Oh Ireland. I like Guinness!”
The conversation starts from there. I offer him a beer, he offers me a cigarette. His name is Yoshiaki. He’s unshaven and looks a little grubby, but seems nice. We discuss our homelands and engage in some light hearted banter. I try to find out why he’s in Romania.
“So why did you decide to come to Romania?”
“I go China. And then.. I go… Ehh”
Struggling for the words he takes out his passport. I scan through it – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, Uzbekistan… The guy got around. I’m impressed and probe him further. Having just taken the Tran-Siberian Railway the summer before, I wonder if he’s taken the infamous route also…
“So how did you get here? Did you take the Train?”
“No… I walk.”
“What? You walked here?”
“What!? You walked here from Shanghai?”
“What? Are you serious? When? How long have you been walking?
“Two and half year.”
He wasn’t lying. It turned out the guy really did walk the entire breath of Asia. His final destination was Lisbon, Portugal. If you take his migrations south for the winter, that’s a journey of well over 12,000 km!
That’s the equivalent of walking New York to LA three times over!!!
The whole time he dragged a small cart to carry his luggage, camping gear, water and cooking equipment. He had only spent €12,000 in that time. I’ve met some hardcore pedestrians in my time, but this guy put Forest Gump to shame.
Personally, I’d never consider something so arduous – fuck that, but I had to admire the guy. Respect. Imagine telling your grandchildren you conquered Eurasia by foot…
What one amazing thing will you be able to tell your descendants?
To quote a Japanese Proverb:
“While we consider when to begin, it becomes too late.”
Get up off your ass and do something awesome. Now.