Vojta Hurych

THE JOURNEY TO THE EAST

26/3/2013

6 minutes of reading

I had in my mind a wish to set off for the journey to the East for more than a year but it was only in 2013 when all the necessary conditions met up and we could set off for the journey with a couple of friends. Our journey around Nepal and India leads me to the following reflection.

 In comparison with the tourists who sell their inability to take care of themselves to the travel agencies, we set off for the journey to the East on our own. There are two approaches how to deal with preparations for such journey. You can read through dozens of tourist guides and travel books, scribble numerous maps, print the train and bus time tables (if they exist), interview the Emil Holub’s family and to plan your whole journey itinerary minute by minute. Or, on the other hand, you can forget about it completely and just jump directly into the fresh experience. It is much more adventurous because you will not be so limited by your hopes and fears from the new parts of the world. It is not, however, suggested to set off without any general knowledge of the cultural context, political situation, religions and history of the destination at all. It is recommended to avoid ignorance of those areas otherwise you would be, for instance, shocked from the view of two men embracing each other as being brand new lovers. Sufficient for you can be a list of the places you would like to visit and a piece of advice from those who already visited the place... And the adventure can start!

I do not dare to describe how it is in Nepal or India. For someone India is a big headache and Kathmandu a big latrine, someone else feels in the East their inner peace. Yes, surely there is rubbish everywhere, constant smog in the cities, Hindus paint everything that at least slightly reminds Buddha and the stray dogs are all the time following you as if you were Zdenek Srstka (a Czech popular dogs supporter). The trains are frequently overcrowded, jeeps fall from the roads to the deep gorges, there are no traffic signs and without blowing the horns no one would arrive anywhere. It is also a country where there are a lot of robberies, rapes, murders and women are not equal to men. Do not try to compare Asia to your home country. This image is usually taken for the journey by the most of the supercilious people as the reference point in order to constantly compare the two worlds and upon arrival back home boastingly claim that the East is the place where one struggles for the life itself! Forget about the narrow-minded prejudices that you were facing in the glossy photographs "improved" in Photoshop.

The East is different and no matter how irritated you may feel, it should stay as it is. That’s the secret of the East – one can observe colorful life there – with its positive as well as negative aspects. In order to gain something from the journey to the East you need to firstly clear your mind of all the prejudices and avoid thoughts such as: "But mum, I would show you how the mess actually looks like." In reality you may expect even bigger danger. Thanks to a couple of weeks in the East you will probably learn that apart from food and drink you need for your life very minimum of what the marketing campaigns try to penetrate into our mind via advertisement. (What are the ladies pads with the forest fragrance better at?) In the East you are cheerfully observing smiling lazy bums who do not own anything (except from the iPhone 4S) and despite it they look much more satisfied than we are in the West. By observing your current life a bit more from the distance upon arrival back home, you might be able to look through this virtual game of all your pseudo needs and pseudo problems which we all play here so eagerly. According to the married couple Brezinovi in their book Journey to the East the biggest danger is the following one: "... only the one long journey will be sufficient for you to be lost – you will be afflicted by the travelers disease which unfortunately cannot be cured and you suffer from it till the end of your life. Once arriving home your thoughts will be straying constantly somewhere faraway high in the mountains, temples or bazaars and you will be thinking when and how to return to Asia as soon as possible. You should be afraid of that, not of being attacked, robbed or bitten by a poisonous snake.” This is not just pseudo philosophical guff but it's the reality itself...

I have still in my mind the question marks regarding if we were not just the travelers longing to see the strange world without actually leaving our hygienically faultless and good smelling homes. I am not sure either whether I did not become just a superficial observer or experiences collector pretending to be expert in the beat generation phrases. Despite being full of impressions I would not like to leave this as the only thing I took with me from the journey... I took with me actually also a parasite reducing my weight by 5 kilograms and a couple of images which I am all the time observing again and again thinking when again I will set off for the journey to the far East...

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