I’m not moving! I have unpacked my bag and for a whole month I don’t have to worry about trying to stuff it all back in it again.
I will be spending all of August at the rather grandly named “London School of Bishkek” learning some introductory Russian. I’m slightly worried about what effect this will have on me (the staying still, not the learning Russian bit). Since leaving England the longest I have spent in one place has been the 8 nights I spent, passportless in Tbilisi waiting for Visa’s before I could head off to Azerbaijan. How will a month of staying still affect me? Come the end of August when the course ends, will I be able to cope with the idea of just packing up and living out of a bag again for the next 6 months? Or will I even make it to the end of August before I tire of being in one place and feel an urge to get out and see something different?
It’s not as if there is actually a tremendous number of things to do in Bishkek, although this is not necessarily a bad thing as there is so much work associated with learning 5 hours of Russian a day that I wouldn’t have time for it (something also reflected in the tardiness of actually getting this blog post up and running).
And this need to focus on trying to get Russian to stay in my head and not instantly leak back out the moment I leave the classroom each day is annoying for other reasons too. Because you see, when August ends I’m not actually sure where I’m going…
OK I still know the end destination, back home, (honest Mum!) that’s easy. And I still know I plan to travel there via Japan. But the bits in between are even more blurry than they were when I started out, and as August won’t last for ever (I predict it will be over just before September starts,) I can no longer just put off the idea of where to go next. I need to decide, decide early, and then start applying for Visa’s…
Tajikistan seems an obvious place to go next as every traveller I have met who has visited it has raved about the stunning scenery of the Pamir Highway and named it as a definite highlight of their trip. But Tajikistan would only ever be a diversion. I think my preferred route into China would be on the train from Almaty requiring me to visit Kazakhstan for a third time, but more recently I have been considering the option of trying to enter China the long way round, via Russia and the recently declared Visa Free, Mongolia. But getting a Russian Visa will be a bureaucratic nightmare requiring me to first get an otherwise entirely unnecessary 3 month Kyrgyz Visa to convince the Russian Consulate here that I shouldn’t be made to apply back in London. Also visiting numerous embassies will mean I will have to try to make myself look presentable again, which means getting my hair cut and having to remove my experimental attempt at growing a beard. 🙁 I’ve never been a fan of visiting hairdressers, and doing it abroad when you don’t share a mutual language with your barber and when all too often they like to make use of cut-throat razors and use burning paraffin to remove stray hairs, does not make me overly enamoured with the prospect. I think I’d rather just stumble on looking more and more like Tom Hanks from the film Cast Away.
Longer term, my route home is just as uncertain. Whilst the original plan was always to return home from Tokyo via Russia (hence the reason for the whole counting down the miles till Tokyo on the “Where am I?” page) I’m now far more interested in seeing if I can get myself back to London via the oceans and North America. But this requires planning and foresight too. Getting passage on the ships is not easy, (or cheap) and I will likely need to tie myself down at some point to being at a certain place at a certain time, something I’ve really not been good at so far on this trip.
So, despite staying in one place during August, its likely to be possibly the busiest month for me yet, as I combine sorting out the mess of my trip plan with learning as much Russia as possible. It will require no doubt, a degree of self-reflection and some serious self-discipline.
Alternatively I might just spend my time watching Star Trek on my laptop for 4 weeks…
Make it so!