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Establishing ground rules

In my last entry I claimed part of the excitement about travelling is getting away from the usual pace of life. Most of that happens automatically when you’re on the road, by the fact that you’re going somewhere new, and unknown. And small things like not knowing how the bus system works or visiting sights and museums you wouldn’t visit at home (when have you even been to a museum in your hometown?).

But even action-packed travelling can however have its own moments of dullness. Sitting in the dessert sun for eight hours waiting for a bus that doesn’t show up isn’t just dull, it’s straight out boring. So is waiting in a border town an extra day because your visa isn’t ready. But both of these examples can, however, be dismissed as the unforeseen ‘accidents’ and hold ups that makes travelling so interesting unfamiliar.

The real problem arrives when travelling feels like you’re spending all your time on just another bus- or train ride. When going to a new place turns in to just another. When the magic disappears and the hard work of travelling feels just like that: Like working.

Luckily I’m I far from that state of mind. The prospect of going away for a long time always makes me anxious – sometimes even scared. I got over that when I left Stockholm and all what was left was an exploiting travel fever.

Even so,when travelling in solitude for more than half a year, the fun and magic will disappear at times. The trick is to be able to re-find it so it doesn’t die completely. To help me with that, I’ve set up a few ground rules for myself.They go as follows:

No flying! Flying is expensive and bad for the environment… And it’s cheating! Travelling was never about the destination for me – I’ll end up back home after it all anyway. Instead it’s all about the journey. About the people we meet, the amazing places we trip over and all the setbacks and surprises we won’t get. When flying all we have to do is to be on time for boarding. I now, the occasional ocean or the decision to travel in a region far from home, might be fair excuses – but not on this trip. Both Mongolia and Denmark is part of the nice little land mass called Eurasia. So no cheating!

No backtracking! I can’t return to a country after having left it once on this trip. That forces me to look forward and makes sure I’m not trying to go back to more familiar places. There are one obvious, and one less obvious, exception to this rule. The obvious is Russia,simply because of its size and my route: I’m crossing into Russia four times in all. The less obvious is Lithuania. The only way on route to Kaliningrad and back is through Lithuania, since I don’t want to go through Poland just to run into visa troubles with Belarus.

No returning to geographical Europe before May 20! Just to force me to spend the time Central Asia deserves J

Try something new in every country! Pretty straightforward rule: Do/eat/ride something I haven’t tried before. As for Sweden I get off free of charge on not doing anything new on the technicality that Sweden isn’t a real country but rather rebellious Danish region claiming an unjustifiable sovereignty.

Eat the local/national dish! This can apply to both a country and a region. Does a place I visit have a characteristic dish, within my budget – eat it! Just too bad if boiled goat’s head with veggies is the national dish in Mongolia (it is), if it is considered a delicacy, who am I do tell the locals otherwise?

Max 1000 dollars/month! This is more a rule of necessity than fun, as slumming it often forces you to miss out on fun stuff like river rafting or flying a MiG. It’s what I have and that’s it.

 

Do I need more or better rules? Or are rules and travelling simply a stupid mix? Please let me know and feel free to suggest additional rules.

Journal info

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Photos

  • Royal Castle (left) and the main parliament building

  • Boat, with Gamla Stan (Old City) in the background

  • Try-out gun at the museum of military history

  • Central Stockholm

  • Morning over Luleå harbor and the most northern parn of the Baltic Sea

  • Solo hiking in the Wilderness

  • Hiking

  • A little bit of weak northern light (shot with a really bad camera)

  • A movie theater made out of snow in Inari