In Defence of Humanity

September 11, Lake Baikal, Russia

I awoke with the sun around 4:30 this morning and figured that today, a natural day for reflection, would be as good a day as any to look back on this trip from its origin. On July 23, I left London in an American school bus bound for Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. 10,000 miles, 25 countries, 922 hours, and 5 blown tires later, we arrived on August 30. After bidding my team farewell, I headed south to Beijing and am now slowly making my way back to Western Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
After shaking off the covers and exposing myself once again to the chilled Siberian air, I did my stretches, fixed myself a pot of tea and a bowl of noodles (bonus point to me for buying a hard boiled egg at the station in Novosibirsk to liven up my breakfast), made up my bed, and now I sit at my desk-cum-kitchen table, the early morning sunlight casting a deep shadow across my cabin as my pen moves across the page.
Many people talk about how small the world is. It’s not. It’s enormous. Six and a half billion people inhabiting an intergalactic rock whose magnitude is beyond comprehension for any of us. We are separated by oceans that are larger than the lands we inhabit and not one of us will ever be able to truly engage with more than a minuscule fraction of the cities, towns, and villages that dot our planet.
It this leaves you with an empty feeling in your stomach or a knot in your throat or any other malady elsewhere in your body please do not despair. There is good news coming. That Earth exhibits significant mass is hardly groundbreaking and was by no means the upshot of my terrestrial journey across Eurasia and back.

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I Won a Huffington Post Travel Contest!

There was a competition among HuffPo travel editors and journalists to describe what they travel with. I am currently in first place since most people just took a grainy photo of a bag and I set up a photo shoot involving Bar Hat, a school bus, and a croquet set at a hotel parking lot in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

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Oscar’s Wild Ride

As many of you know, I took Ru Hasanov’s four foot tall stuffed collie, Oscar, from Baku to Ulaan Baatar. We were having such a nice time together, I decided I would bring him to Beijing and then back to Moscow, where he had an emotional reunion with Ru on Monday.

Apologies for WordPress not being able to load this photos in any reasonable order…I think you’ll pick up on the general flow. And thanks to everyone along the way who made Oscie’s experience extra special (Erron, Warrick, Luke, Jamie, Pete, Leon, Giovanna, Carlie, Noel, Sam, Toshi 1, Toshi 2, Hiroshi and Ken get special shout outs).

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Idiot’s Guide to Trans-Siberian Railroad For Dummies

***Author’s note: At the time, this seemed like a great idea for a blog post. Looking at the post now in its final form, I think that it is sufficient evidence for self admission into a mental hospital***

Many of you are probably curious what one does on a train for 134 hours and 23 minutes when you are in a cabin with approximately four stuffed animals and exactly zero other humans. It’s quite simple. So simple, in fact, I’ve coined a phrase. WRODON.

WRODON. Write, Read, Observe out the window, Drink tea, Or Nap. WRODON. Let’s use it in a sentence. “I had a way overpriced borscht in the restaurant car, then I went back to my cabin to catch up on some WRODON.” OR “There was this seriously cute girl in Car 9 that came by for some WRODON last night. She O’d while I R’d, if you know what I mean.”

I know what you are all thinking and the answer is yes. You can do more than one WRODON component simultaneously. Below I’ve included a sample of photos in case you ever decide to take the Trans-Siberian Railroad, or as I like to call it, prison with a view. I also like to call it the Trany, as in, get some food then hop back on the Trany, though that joke was lost in translation on just about everybody I met.

Here you can see me Ring and Ding

Occasionally we will do three at once.

Oscar and I once attempted Wing, Ring, Oing, and Ding simultaneously, though I wouldn’t recommend it.

Despite my noble efforts, I have determined that it is impossible to simultaneously encapsulate all aspects of WRODON. This is due to many factors, not least because Ning requires your eyes to be shut while Ring and Oing, and to a lesser extent, Wing, require your eyes to be open. This is a difficult concept to grasp but very important to understanding while I was never able to achieve the pentagasm of complete WRODON. I would also recommend keep your eyes open while Ding, especially if the tea is piping hot as it was during my failed experiment.

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Far More Than You Would Ever Want To Know About a Train Journey

Below is far more than you would ever want to know about my train journey from Beijing to Moscow. The few highlights, which you will have to weed out for yourselves, include the time I was kicked off the train Wednesday evening, everything about the Japanese men, and what I think is a rather good defense of humanity I put together on Sept. 11.

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Great Success

Well We Did It! 25 countries and 10,000 miles in the very competitive time of 922 hours. It has been a joy to update this blog along our travels and I’ve enjoyed the feedback I’ve gotten from our readers. I am in Munich now and will in all likelihood continue posting on this site about my travels. No more photos of the bus, but if you keep reading I can promise even more ridiculous tattoo photos, a story about me being kicked off the trans-siberian railroad, what has to be the only photo montage of a four foot tall stuffed dog at a nightclub in Beijing, and a video of me sitting in with a rock band in Moscow. In the words of Heidi Klum, Auf Wiedersehen!

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Thanks to Our Donors

As promised, we drove through 25 countries with the names of those who had donated $100+ emblazoned on to  the side of our bus. We were able to raise over $16,000 for charity, substantially more than any other Rally team. We are extraordinarily humbled by the generosity of our friends.

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