Thursday, September 16, 2010

Journey's end - a little early, a little short

Visiting Estonia was the last major objective of my overland trip. All that was left for me was to return to London without taking an airplane. I could have taken a ferry to Stockholm, and then a train to Copenhagen and then to the Danish port of Ejsberg and a ferry to Harwich. However, as I had made Finnish friends in Tuscany, I decided to go to Helsinki and then go onto to Stockholm. This part of the journey was more a technical necessity for me.

However, in life things happen. I was attending an outdoor party when my father called me and asked me to return earlier than my planned date of the 22 September. When I asked him why? He answered that he had suffered a minor stroke. As my brother is in London and my sister was visiting from Oxford, I amended my plans to get to London as quickly as possible overland on the 17 September. However, after talking to my brother, it was clear that I was needed even earlier because my brother still has work commitments and my sister has a family and vineyard to look after in Oxford. I took a flight from Stockholm and arrived in London on the 15 September. After five and a half months, my journey ended.

Well, technically I took flights when I had my tummy upset, I had a short connecting flight in Mongolia to get me to my trans Siberian train on time and I flew from Stockholm to London. To be pedantic, I did not do an overland trip from Singapore to London. But I did have the trip of my lifetime. I visited Luang Prabang, Mongolia, Poland and the Baltic States for the first time. I saw the fireworks of the National days of Vietnam and Switzerland. I experienced the wet and wild celebrations of the Thai and Laotian New year. I attended the World Expo in Shanghai and the photographic festival in Arles. I attended a one day workshop with my hero Paolo Roversi and did a one week workshop with another hero Arno Minkkinen. My project was voted project of the week by the instructors. There were times in Laos and Singapore, with my sensitive stomach that I wanted to throw in the towel, but then I would missed so many things. I think the nourishment from this trip will last me a lifetime.

In an early post on this blog I gave the reasons why I am able to undertake this epic journey. Epic for me anyway. One of the reasons is that my parents were still healthy. The choice of the 1 April was arbitrary. But if I had started a month later I would have had to give up a the Baltic states. If I had decided to play it safe after the food poisoning and postpone the trip to 2011, it would not have happened. The opportunity would be past. This is something I would regret in my life.

A friend gave me a hand made card with the words Carpe Diem as a good luck charm for the trip. Those words are as apt as they can be. I had a window of opportunity and I took it. And the overview of life that I have got from this journey, as well as the illness of my father is that life is for the living. One can be completely reckless and squander away money, dying in poverty. But one can also be a Scrooge, hording wealth for the sake of wealth, and not appreciating the range of experiences life can offer. I realise that I simply have to use the resources available to me to lead the fullest life I can. And to some people, they will not comprehend what I am doing or how I am doing it. Well, every person is an individual and I do not know how other people manage to live their lives, in the frozen Mongolia winter, or racing up the slopes of Swiss mountains, or be continuously creative like some of my photographic idols. All I know is that 'other' people can offer their point of view of how I should live my life. But I have to make my own path, and I have to be brave enough to be myself. The only thing to fear is fear itself.

The journey has ended, another journey has begun. This time it is with my father, it is a journey of recovery. A journey so that he can continue to live life to the full.

For my life, and the support to be me, I thank my parents. I know they worried for my safety but trusted that I would come back safe. I thank my parents for the blessings they have bestowed on me. Now is my turn to step up to the plate.


pfong said...

Sorry to hear about your dad. Congrats though on completing your journey.

deathwool said...

Things happen, and I am real glad you managed to finish your trip and regards to your dad.

Boring.Engineer said...

I really enjoy reading your blog and the experiences that you share!I hope your dad will have a quick and full recovery soon.

Heng said...

Thank you for all your well wishes. My dad is recovering well and I think he will make a full recovery sooner than later.

It has been a joyful journey which I have been happy to share.

anvin Hoo said...

Congrats on completing your trip! really envy you that you can fulfill yr dreams...
Send my regards to your dad!

maryann koh said...

wishing your dad a speedy recovery and glad that you had a fruitful journey overland!