VIDEO: Hey Y’all! While on the cargo ship I tossed together this video to show you the approximate dates and locations of where I’ll be. Because the written word is dead. (although below is a great work of literature. Certainly better than Hemingway, …although no guns or booze included. …So, maybe not, but it is still freakishly well-written). ‘Approximate’ is the key word here when you watch the video or read my masterpiece, as while I am ironically writing this I am not where the video says I’ll be. But it should give you a good idea of the rough outline of the months I plan on spending in different area of the world (Europe, Africa, or Asia). It’s also got a thumping’ beat, and nothing Hemingway ever wrote made you shake your groove thang, so take note. And without a further ado, here it is… wahlah!
The Written Word:
Per popular request I am including my APPROXIMATE travel itinerary here. Things are pretty loosey-goosey, and are very much subject to change. Kurt Vonnegut said “unexpected traveling plans are dancing lessons from God”, and at this point in my fellowship I think no truer words have been written. Below I’ve written the skinny on where I EXPECT to be, and a brief explanation on why this is going to blow my mind by introducing me to wild and new earth-shattering ideas.
So, here is the rough idea of my trip:
June 6th: Bus: Madison to Chicago. I don’t expect this to be too earth-shattering, but Chicago is a pleasant enough city, and it will be the last time I will be able to confidently be able to order pizza and expect it to be made the way God intended (fatty crust with a beautiful, thick cross-section like from a soil analysis text book).
June 6th: Train: Chicago to New York. Should be freakin’ pretty, all along the great lakes, 20 hours, and it ONLY costs $70 clams. Great deal, and I love trains.
June 9th-June 18th: Cargo Ship: New York, New York to Bremerhaven, Germany (sailing on the MSc Tanzania. Here is a link to some jibjab on the ship http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/shipdetails.aspx?mmsi=211256500 )
June 20th to June 29th: Train: Window Seat: Bremerhaven, Germany to Copenhagen, Denmark (attending the most rockin’ bicycle conference in the world http://www.velo-city2010.com/)
*From here on in, things are intentionally flexible. So, what is written is intended as a rough outline*
June 30th – June July 7th? Paris: (Not sure of the time frame, but heck! It would be cool to be here for Bastille Day…) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6-5g78Nr6Q
London? July 8th – July 14th? London is a wild, wonderful, confusing city, with two consecutive mayors using bicycles as a means to address the city’s problematic congestion. Also, a very interesting bike culture is goin’ on here. They have the world’s BEST naked bike ride, but alas, I’ll be missing it while I am aboard the MSC Tanzania (perhaps I can have a one man ride here?!?!)
France / Germany: July 15th – August 15th. Tour De France. Explore the culture of two nationalities that LOVE to explore their beautiful countryside by bicycle. Will touch upon the immense value they find in creating a quality of life through bicycle trips unlike anything else found in the world. Also, word on the street is this neck of the woods isn’t too ugly either. Should be able to bear through it. As long as they have either French chocolates or German pretzels.
August 16th – Oct 31st (Haloween, my favorite Holiday!): South Africa. Goodbye lovely Europe! Goodbye friends I hope and pray I make there! I will leave for South Africa: The land rich in uranium, diamonds, and efforts designed to empower the poor through bicycles! I will be working with the Bicycle Empowerment Network. Did you catch what their acronym is? Huh? Well, let’s just say that, oh, no joke, about three years ago when I sent them an email begging for them to let me help out there response was, and I quote, “YES! BEN! WHAT A GREAT NAME! OF COURSE!” I am beyond belief excited to lend my humble skills to these WONDERFUL people, and see how bicycles help people here. (here is the link to BEN’s website: http://www.benbikes.org.za/ )
And the next part is a bit of an issue: An AMAZING group, called Project Rwanda is working to help out the still recovering country through using bicycles. I could write A LOT on how the bicycle is important there, but alas, it seems the greater, public donors aren’t too interested, as that I was ready to work with them two years ago, but since then public interest has waned and their funding is, sadly, cut back, and their operations no longer merit my being there. Bummer-rama.
So, where does this leave us (meaning Ben and you, the beloved friend/family-member of mine?) SOON TO FIND OUT! But start looking up Ghana on the CIA World Fact Book, because signs point there!
Jan 1st-ish- 20th-ish! Happy New Years, Y’all! Maybe preemptive, but this is a VERY exciting time for me. I suspect I will be high on life having had my whole world rocked by seeing how TRULY valuable the bicycle is in the undeveloped world, and from here I will be returning to Europe, the First World, a land rich of wealth and resources for both culture shock and to see their way of valuing the bicycle by checking out Amsterdam. It is the BEST biking city in the First World, and it is something that would be like being a Shakespeare Scholar and having never read Romeo and Juliet. It is just required for the field. While I am only half-joking here, it should be an incredible opportunity to witness the phenomenal way in which the Netherlands has embraced the bicycle. Sounds scary.
Jan 21st – Jan 23rd: Train: Amsterdam to Moscow. Goodbye fair, friend, Amsterdam! I’ll be bookin’ me’self a seat on some train to Moscow. Through the former Iron Curtain, now through what I guess would be the Venetian Curtain between Western & Eastern Europe. I expect to have to have to buy myself a warm hat, thick coat, and to be wowed by being in the former USSR for the first time in my life. While Moscow has been a goal of mine since I was old enough to watch pre-Pierce Brosnon James Bond movies, alas it will be only a stopping ground on my way to….THE KINGDOM OF BICYCLES…WHERE BICYCLISTS ARE GREATER THAN THE POPULATION OF AMERICA…WHERE RUSH HOUR CAN IN SOME PARTS BE NOTHING BUT A SILENT RUSH OF DINGING BELLS & BICYCLE WHEELS: CHINA! I’m Taking the trans-sino railroad, which is the less-loved brother to the more famous Trans-Siberian Railroad. It goes from Moscow to Uulan Baatar (god, if you could use that in Scrabble…) to Beijing. It’ll be a wild ride, it’s supposed to take six days, and it is supposed to be an AMAZING way to see not only the country, but also the people.
Arrive in Beijjing Jan 30th, Stay ’till March 30th: Train: Longest time I’ll be restin’ my dogs on this trip. And what a place to be doing so! As I said earlier, the city has a bicycle rush hour, and is just a phenomenal place to study bicycle use. Like a parent or a teacher I feel like I shouldn’t be pickin’ favorites, but just between you and I this is one of the destinations I am looking forward to the most!
April 1st – June 7th: Bicycle Trip: Yunnan: Exploring How Bicycle Are Used in Rural China. No April Fools Joke! Yunnan is BOTH the most culturally and geographically diverse region in China, and should be a wonderful way to explore how bicycles are integrated into different cultures. Also, I will be accompanied by a Chinese University student, who will act as an interpreter and buddy.
June 8th – June 11th: Ferry: Shanghai to Osaka, Japan: Goodbye China, hello Japan!
June 11th – July 7th: Japan: Japan, a first-world country has embraced (for reason that will be explained in latter posts) the bicycle far differently from Europe.
July 8th – July 18th: Caro Ship: Osaka, Japan to Vancouver or LA. TBD
Aprox. July 18th: Train: Vancouver or LA to Chicago