Resign and departure

Well, for the first time probably I will try to keep a steady flow of posts written in English. Some might be direct translations that I do from my original posts in Spanish, as well as posts written in English from scratch.

I intend this one to be a mix of both.

Since I never wrote in English before, except for the two miserable translated posts below, I will brief you. For over 16 years I've been traveling around the world. 7 years ago, back in 2006, I swapped the backpack for a bicycle and since then I've been cycling around the world. My first long journey took me from Tehran to Shanghai along 10.000km aprox across Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent. Once I got there, I settled for a year and a half to later find myself moving to Sydney for another year.

 After that, about 3 years and 8 months ago I was landing in Chengdu and despite the fact that it was a transition time for me in terms of relationships, thus quite an uneasy time, I got here full of enthusiasm and overall very happy about being back in China. As it had already been the case since I left my country back in 2006 and started this kind of way of living, I had no idea how long I was going to stay, but oddly enough, very soon after I had got here I had a very strong gut feeling, a hunch, something like a premonition that came from deep inside me and thought: the day that I leave Chengdu, it will be on my bicycle. It was just a feeling and had nothing to do with wanting to leave already or thinking about leaving. I just felt that and I saw it clearly.

Time passed by and I have madly and rapidly fallen in love with Chengdu, and even more so with Sichuan province, its people, its food, its customs, its dialect, its landscapes. I had a job that I liked and enjoyed very much while it allowed me travel extensively around China. In my free time I have cycled thousands of kilometers around rural China and I have undertaken several extreme journeys along the remote Tibetan plateau (which became my place in the world) and Xinjiang province. During all this time and along these thousands of kilometers cycled I have also developed a strong spirit that connects me deeply with the places and cultures I visit while I transit the roads of this world. From a physical and mental standpoint I feel I have reached maturity. I'm still far from something like the ultimate maturity as a cyclist but I'm certainly way stronger and prepared than how I was 7 years ago when I jumped on a bicycle for the very first time as means of transport to travel and I struggled everyday to survive.

Today, after these 3 years and 8 months, just like what I was able to see in my premonition, I'm only hours away from setting off once again on my bicycle, this time for an undetermined amount of time. Once again, I have left the security of a stable job with a good and steady income; once again, I have left the security of a home that every day waits for me with all the comforts at the end of the day or after some short holidays. Once again I set myself to simply drift. And once again I hear the voices: "aren't you afraid of leaving your job with all this crisis going on in the world?" "aren't you afraid of how it's gonna be once you are over with your trip" "aren't you afraid of what you'll do in the future?". Fear, fear, fear.Yes, if I think thoroughly about it, it all scares me, but do we have to be slaves of our own fears just for the sake of sowing a future which ultimately we have little control of?

I ain't good at translating poetry but there's this very nice poem called "die slowly" that it is falsely attributed to the great Pablo Neruda that says something like.

die slowly, the one who doesn't travel,

the one who becomes a slave of habit, repeating the same journeys every day over and over

the one who avoids passion and the emotions that come with it

die slowly

the one who doesn't risk the certain for the uncertain to go out and chase his dreams

the one who  doesn't allow himself at least once in his life to run away from rational advice

Fears will always be there with us, but I feel that one has to live the present that one really feels like living, because at the end of the day, it is the only real thing we got. The rest builds itself on the way, and no matter how many illusions of security they will try to sell to us in order to scare us, or even worse, to make us slaves of a system that imposes how much time one has to rest every year, how much time one has to study, how much time one has to work, the ultimate reality is that today, the present time, is the only thing that exists and I believe that it is better to live for what one feels like it is right to do makes one happy. Like a wise friend of mine once told me

"we have live with the belief in the things that we believe" .

I trust deeply that this is the only way we'll reach to a safe end.

But this journey that I start today, intends to be more than just a trip. It has an end and a goal. What mainly drives it is the need to continue documenting life in remote regions of the world, which is what I've already been doing for the last few years, specifically on my journeys along the Tibetan plateau and Xinjiang. This work will continue for the years to come.

 And because of this, is that once again I leave the illusion of security and the comforts of a stable life (and the ghosts of fear that also come with it) to devote myself to keep discovering this world in two wheels with my camera hanging on my side. I carry my house with me, a few belongings and the roads of the world will decide the rest. I will start here in Chengdu and I will cycle the first 2200km across rural China to reach the coast from where I will fly to the Philippines to later continue to Indonesia. I'll figure out the rest on the way but some of the places included on the journey are Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Siberia and slowly get to the middle East from where I'll cross into Africa to cycle it from north to south and viceversa following both the east and west coasts.

To end this first post I will tell you the most important thing and it is that during this first Chinese part of the trip and on my way to meet my travel, road, life and madness companion,

Julia. 

I hope to meet her in about 2000km by the end of this year and from there continue together. Now we are lonely travelers, in plural.

Stay tuned! Adventure starts soon!

ChinaNicolás Marino