Last night when I just couldn’t sleep…mostly as it was far too hot and I have this unnecessary habit of having to wear socks when I sleep, like a comfort blanket for my feet…I came across this film made by Christoph Rehage of his 4500km walk across China in 2008…and the documented growth of his facial hair along the way. He has a fantastic blog that documents this and all his other travels here. He intended to walk to Germany but never quite made it. All of the distance from Beijing to Ürümqi was completed solely on foot, with odd instances of sitting on a plane or a boat when needed, largely “to sort out bureaucracy issues or to take care of some personal things.” Christoph claims this isn’t a one picture day video but instead uses video and movement to give more perspective to the journey (with music by The Kingpins – “L’Aventurier” and Zhu Fengbo – “Olive Tree”).
Having worked, lived and travelled in China, as many of you readers know, there was a beautiful familiarity with this short video as it shows you the diversity of the rural, urban and city landscapes, the look and engagement with local people and new cultures along the way, the chance encounters that have the ability to change your life forever, the memories and experiences that when you shut your eyes will always be there. It takes a certain type of person, or mindset, to do what Christoph did and does…and I have a like-ability for it, for the risk, the drive, the determination, the curiosity, the discovery hunger, the romanticism of serendipitous meetings, the making things happen. The latter is perhaps an overplayed phrase in my vocabulary. When I’ve finished my PhD and got to a certain stage with work (and recovered from the long-awaited surgery kingdom), I’m going to do something like this…something solitary yet guided, to help find my sense of place, or at least sense of myself that I feel as though I’ve lost a little since I came back from China last year. To life’s renegotiation.