Hot! Thoughts on Travel and Adventure

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Marc and I have been watching the 1982 miniseries Marco Polo recently, and last night we finished the series.  I have to say, I feel left with a bit of melancholy after having finished the film.  Maybe it’s the gorgeous and haunting score by Ennio Morricone that’s stuck in my head, but I can’t stop thinking about the series and the life it depicts, and how I still feel like I was born in the wrong era.

You see, I’ve always wanted to have a life like that.  Whereas most kids let go of the whole “adventurer” thing around the time they hit middle school, I never did.  My childhood was somewhat of a series of attempts to be like the historical and fictional figures that I admired:  I learned to sail tall ships, I learned to ride horses, I flew planes with my dad, and I learned to live as people did in the past (via reenacting).  Over time, I became depressed as I realized that it was almost impossible to lead a life like the ones I had read about, that the world was no longer a mystery, that great “adventures” now had to be artificially manufactured.  I have spent my life trying to prove myself wrong, trying to find the adventure that I know is still left out there, somewhere.  Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to live a life that hasn’t been possible for at least a hundred years, but damnit, I still try.

The moments in my life in which I have felt the most alive have always revolved around adventure or danger: Waking up to the warmth of sunrise on the deck of a tallship that is docked at an uninhabited island.  Watching ice build up on the wings of my dad’s small plane while looking down at the snow-capped mountains I was sure we were going to crash into.  Dodging bricks thrown by protesters and sticks wielded by policemen while photographing from the center of a riot in South Korea.  Sitting and drinking around a table lit only by candle-light, in a 300 year old fortress, surrounded by reenactors dressed as 18th century soldiers, with no sensory reminders of what century it actually is.  Riding my motorcycle around rural Korea with no particular destination in mind, merely riding toward whatever looked interesting or beautiful.

This is, in part, why I’m doing The Mongolian Experiment.  I feel that Mongolia (along with Siberia and parts of Central Asia) is one of the last places on earth where one can truly travel slowly, without modern conveniences butting in; one of the last places where one can truly have an adventure of your own making.  Crossing Mongolia alone on horseback is, for me, a further attempt to live the life that I’ve been trying to lead all my life, one that, as the world advances, is becoming increasingly difficult to live.  I’m hoping that in Mongolia I will finally find what I’ve been looking for all my life.

I sometimes feel very alone in this.  I feel like I live in a world where everyone is wearing blinders; they can only see their own world, what is directly in front of them: their family, their job, their concerns.  They seem not only uninterested in the world beyond, but at times, even unaware.  This not only saddens me but also contributes to my feeling that I took a wrong turn somewhere and am living the wrong life.  In the Marco Polo series we just watched, Polo expressed similar sentiments before he left Venice: that he felt out of place among his peers because while they were only interested in their own lives, their own concerns, he was craving more, interested in the lives of others far, far away.  I often feel the same, as if the majority of people are ignoring the wonders of the world because they’re too far away, too uncomfortable, too difficult.  I live to be challenged, and I feel very alone in that.

I apologize for the overly serious and contemplative nature of this post, but these are all things that have been weighing heavily on my mind of late, and I felt they needed to be written down.  Understanding what I’ve written about above is really necessary for understanding who I am as a person, and while it may be a bit too intimate of a glimpse into my thoughts, I felt that it was time to make those thoughts known.  I hope you enjoyed getting to peer into what is, essentially, the core of who I am.

[Photos by Trey Ratcliff, Juho Korhonen]

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  1. feels your sentiments. hope you find what you are looking for in mongolia, or even better, come back with more questions :)