As you travel, you end up bumming around with the most random people. All you need is a common destination, or even just a good vibe will do. My ideal strangers have all – besides them being very, very different – had one thing in common:
they were all men in their thirties.I already told you about Jorge (Argentina, 36), who was in my train coupe from Moscow to Irkutsk. Then I met Tom (UK, technically he was 29, but it was only a matter of days – happy birthday Tom!), with whom I explored Beijing after a few days on the train from Irkutsk. I spent a week in Chengdu without men in their thirties, but then I ended up in Dali city, where I met Jake (USA, 34) only minutes after getting off the bus. He basically never left my side until I left for Vietnam, via Kunming, where I was linked to Ryan (Australia, 36). He arranged to meet me in an Irish pub in Hanoi, where we set off in an evening of solid drinking. Two days later I found myself cruising down on the back of his motorbike to Cat Ba (Halong Bay) where he put me on a rock and made me climb. Now all I want to do is climb. I was warned and I didn’t care. And that’s how men in their thirties and new hobbies are totally related to each other. It makes me wonder why the combo (men in their thirties and me, not men in their thirties and hobbies) has worked so well until now. I mean, for me it is obvious: they have developed social skills, provide a mature look on life, but they’re still men and thus basically children you can just hang out with for the sake of good times and having a laugh. They travel, so they have the same resentment for settling down I have. And they were just the ones I ran into.
But why do they tolerate me?
I try to believe they wish they were my age when they figured out all they figured out. You know, living a life only limited by the constraints you define yourself.
So if Jake can be a pretend-renovation-contractor living on 10 dollars a day, and Tom can bum around Asia for a couple a months just to go to a wedding, and Jorge can make a 2-month journey to say goodbye to this side of the planet, and Ryan can be a dentist, but decide he just wants to live in China and climb, then I think I should get the most out of this twilight zone I am in right now.
By next week I’ll be in Thailand waiting for more Indonesian Visa stuff to get ready.
And you can be damned sure I’ll be climbing.