18 Months in Asia

Is it possible to describe 18 months of life in a few words? I don’t know, I don’t think so. Perhaps only colours, shapes, emotions and vague memories remain. I went through all Asian latitudes, and from Vladivostok I traveled back to Italy only using land means of transport. In this post, I have the ambition of summing up this experience. For once, with an Italian version too, further below 🙂

A journey has just ended. A journey which lasted a year and a half and took me to the four corners of the Asian continent. An adventure, an experience that becomes life, because there is no other way to translate it. The backpack is home, while the tent, the hostels, the rooms, and all the people I met are instants of life on the road. Perhaps they’re just chimaeras, figments of imagination distant in time and space.

This is my first mountain pass above 5,000 m. – noticed the happiness? – during the trek around Manaslu, Nepal

I have stacked up so much road, using all possible means of transport: from shared tuk-tuks in India to the Tran-Siberian railway in Russia. And I have walked, I have walked so much, restlessly, through huge Chinese cities, around the majestic Himalayan mountains, in the depths of Borneo’s jungles, on top of the infinitely wide Kirghiz plateaus, and on the side of the great lake Baikal.

Between mountains and jungles, Nepal has made a mark in my heart. Here I am in Bardia National Park, where I have seen three wild tigers.

Thank you, my legs, for bearing all the weight, the kilometres, and the whims of the weather without ever complaining, for helping me put aside questions and doubts. Everywhere I walked I have observed, with eyes that have to be in the present, because only in the present we can really see, and touch, as far as we are allowed to, the immensity of nature and humanity.

In India, the biggest challenge was to get surgery at my right arm and plan recovery. In the meantime, I got to know New Delhi pretty well, and I learned Vipassana meditation.

Hence I have seen, incredible colours in the depths of Sipadan, immaculate site of all marine life; the lights of Tokyo and the towers of Kuala Lumpur, fireflies in space and giants among man; and snow caped peaks in Yading where Shangri-La was imagined, and above dusky martian lands drawn in the Pamir; and where majestic, they go beyond the highest clouds; I have seen so many peaks to be unable to name them all, from the Altai to India, from Japan to the Caucasus.

China was incredible for many reasons, and very diverse, but the biggest thing has been a solo trek around Yading Nature Reserve. Here I am celebrating the seventh and last pass at about 5,000 m. in four days!

And while I was looking I have listened to atavistic melodies in the jungle that flows on the side of the Kinabatangan river, where the solitary Orangutan makes his last stand; and to the sounds of the green Terai, where the roar of the tiger and the shadow of the leopard are still one with the land; and to the trumpeting of Elephants, in that small and tormented country at the edge of the Indian sub-continent.

I have explored the four corners of Cambodia from jungles to lonely beaches, and of course the famous Angkor temples. Here I am nearby Kampot, exploring on my own a river with lovely waterfalls.

And while I was listening, I have felt and tasted, with all my senses, the food on the street and in the home of people, the smell of improbable spices, hundreds of tunes of as many unknown languages, and countless handshakes of any colours, and the tight goodbyes in the arms, and stories of spirits in the dark and in the light, and opinions about the world, life, faith, and the playful selfies.

I have tasted the great diversity and the great similarity of all this comedy. I have touched the thin lands of the northern steppes, the arid stones in the nomad’s desert on the silk road, the clay of the rivers inhabited by giant crocodiles and the shores of lakes with impossible colours.

In a transparent box at the top of the TV tower in Kuala Lumpur, over 300 m. above ground.

Finally, I devoured moments of solitude, the freedom and the incomprehension that lies within it. I enjoyed the time to lay my eyes on millions of pages – emotions and thoughts of other people, of other realities that now belong to me too – while the Earth skimmed indifferently through, on my side.

I have found the time of peace in silence, and that of courage in adventure, and that of conviction in illness. I have found the time to hurt and to heal myself, just by letting it transform, inevitable, like that banal magic at the base of all life.

Another place that made a huge mark in my heart. Volunteering for a month in the Bornean jungle has been one of the best experiences of my life. I just love jungles, I guess.

And then I have written, on these pages, exactly 123 posts for 18 countries visited. I have written about the world, about me, and also about stories of others, always asking myself if it was possible to describe an experience that becomes life because there is no other way to translate it.

Perhaps it is, possible, in small instants of geniality randomly distributed in the cosmos. Or perhaps it isn’t, and each life will always be unique, unreachable, and beyond words. Each life a Constant Revolution

And that’s just a little bit over the usual 500 words, but let’s go nonetheless!


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18 Mesi in Asia

Si possono descrivere 18 mesi di vita in poche parole? Non lo so, non credo sia possibile. Forse rimangono solo colori, forme, emozioni e vaghi ricordi. Sono passato per tutte le latitudini asiatiche, e da Vladivostok sono tornato in Italia solo con mezzi di trasporto terrestre. Questo post ha l’ambizione di riassumere questa esperienza. 

Un viaggio è appena terminato. Un viaggio che è durato un anno e mezzo e mi ha portato ai quattro angoli del continente asiatico. Un’avventura, un’esperienza che diventa vita, perché non c’è altro modo di tradurla. Lo zaino in spalla è casa, mentre la tenda, gli ostelli, le camere, ed anche tutte le persone incontrate sono attimi di vita sulla strada. Forse sono solo chimere, allucinazioni distanti nel tempo e nello spazio.

Borneo is such a magic place, not only for the jungle experience, but also for some of the best diving in the world, and some of the best beaches and sunsets I have ever seen.

Di strada ne ho macinata parecchia, usando tutti I possibili mezzi di trasporto, dai tuk-tuk condivisi in India alla transiberiana in Russia. E poi ho camminato, ho camminato tantissimo, senza sosta, attraverso le grandi città Cinesi, intorno alle maestose montagne himalayane, nelle profondità della giungla in Borneo, sugli infinitamente vasti altopiani Kirghisi ed al lato del grande lago Baikal.

Sri Lanka was incredible, I have visited the country thoroughly, but the highlights were always the amazing national parks. In one of them, I finally managed to see my first Leopard!

Grazie, mie gambe, per aver sopportato peso, chilometri ed intemperie senza lamento, per avermi aiutato ad evitare domande e scansare dubbi. Ovunque ho camminato ho osservato, con occhi che devono essere nel presente, perché solo nel presente si può vedere davvero, e toccare, fin dove ci è permesso, l’immensità della natura e dell’umanità.

Japan, and Tokyo in particular, was soooo much fun! Loved it, loved it, loved it! I wanna go back there!

Dunque ho visto, incredibili colori nelle profondità di Sipadan, immacolato luogo di vita marina; le luci di Tokyo e le torri di Kuala Lumpur, lucciole nello spazio e giganti tra gli uomini; e vette innevate, a Yading dove Shangri-La fu immaginata, e nei disegni di marziana terra bruna nel Pamir, e dove maestose si elevano oltre le nuvole più alte; ho visto così tante vette da non poterle nominare, dall’Altai all’India, dal Giappone al Caucaso.

Honestly, I didn’t expect to like travelling in Russia so much, but I did 🙂 Mountains, cities, statues of Lenin all over the place, nomadic life, you name it, Russia is full of surprises and fun people. This is a view of Lake Baikal, the biggest freshwater lake in the world and a real mystical place.

E mentre guardavo ho ascoltato melodie ataviche nella giungla che scorre al lato del fiume Kinabatangan, dove il solitario Orango oppone la sua ultima resistenza; ed i suoni del verde Terai, dove il ruggito della tigre e l’ombra del Leopardo sono ancora un tutt’uno con la terra; ed i barriti degli elefanti, in quel piccolo e martoriato paese ai confini del sub-continente indiano.

E mentre ascoltavo, ho sentito e gustato, con tutti i sensi, il cibo sulle strade e nelle case delle persone, l’odore di spezie improbabili, mille toni di altrettante lingue sconosciute, innumerevoli strette di mano di ogni colore, ed i goodbye stretti nelle braccia, e storie di spiriti nel buio e nella luce, ed opinioni sul mondo, sulla vita, sulla fede, ed i selfie giocosi.

There isn’t enough space to cover all the countries, so I have to summarize the entire Central Asia with this photo at lake Ala-Kul in Kyrgyzstan, the most clicked for the Constant Revolution. But there’s soooooooo much unbelievably more from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the Silk Road in Uzbekistan… I fell in love with this whole area of the world.

Ho gustato la grande diversità e la grande uguaglianza di tutta questa commedia. Ho toccato le terre sottili delle steppe del nord, le pietre aride dei deserti dei nomadi sulla via della seta, l’argilla di fiumi abitati da coccodrilli giganti e le sponde di laghi dai colori impossibili.

In fine, ho divorato momenti di solitudine, la libertà e l’incomprensione che vi si trova. Ho goduto del tempo di posare lo sguardo su milioni di pagine – emozioni e pensieri di altre persone, di altre realtà che ora mi appartengono – mentre il globo scorreva indifferente al mio fianco.

After the Caspian Sea, when I went through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, everything changed, everything tasted more “European” and I knew my journey was getting to an end. Not before checking out the beautiful Greek Islands though. This one is Santorini.

Ho trovato il tempo della pace nel silenzio, quello del coraggio nell’avventura, e quello della convinzione nella malattia. Ho trovato il tempo di ferirmi e quello di guarire, semplicemente lasciando che si trasformi, inevitabile, come in quella banale magia che è la base di tutta la vita.

E poi ho anche scritto, su queste pagine, esattamente 123 post per 18 paesi visitati. Ho scritto del mondo e di me, ed anche storie di altri, sempre domandandomi se fosse possibile descrivere un’esperienza che diventa vita, perché non c’è altro modo di tradurla.

Forse lo è, possibile, in piccoli momenti di genio casualmente distribuiti nel cosmo. O forse non lo è, ed ogni vita sarà sempre unica, irraggiungibile, ed al di là delle parole. Ogni vita una Rivoluzione Costante

E queste sono un po’ più delle solite 500 parole, ma andiamo comunque!


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