This site

Hi. You are looking at a blog that I created when travelling around Asia. It now serves as a diary to that experience.

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I have an uncle

This post is not relevant to this blog or the journey. I just want to brag with my uncle and link to his blog (click the photo below). Update: He is back home after round-the-globe two-and-half-years trip.

My uncle is on an epic journey around the world and a recent message from him gave me the idea of mentioning it here. My blog is dead now after it has done its service, I just want to show what a cool uncle I have :-)

He is circumsizing the globe on his own in the most free nature imaginable – flying paragliding over the lands, hitchhiking yachts across the seas. He is good.

In Sails picture

And he’s f*ing owning it!

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Snůška nezřetězených detailů

This one is going to be in Czech. I owe it to a friend.
Když jsem se kamaráda ptal, co by ode mě chtěl dovést, řekl si o výčet různých, navzájem spolu nesouvisejících detailů. (Těch, které nás baví a často nakonec reprezentují víc než ony ‘velké’ věci.) Tak jsem mu to sepsal cestou ve vlaku do Chengdu, teď jsem ten otrhaný sešit vytáh a konečně sedl k přepsání:

Krávy, co žijí na ulici žerou z odpadků, hubou se přebírají v igelitových taškách a přežvykují zbytky zeleniny smíchané se smetím a obaly. Vlak z Tibetu jede tiše a vyrovnaně, je ale zakázáno pověsit si tašku na háček vedle okna. V horských ubytovnách ale i v městských luxusních hotelech hosté dostanou na pokoj horkou vodu ve velké omlácené termosce. Při slonovinovém pobřeží je zvykem jakoukoliv věc podávat oběma rukama, na znamení úcty a respektu, v Indii a dál na sever se předměty a obzvláště peníze podávají pravou rukou, přičemž levá podpírá loket. Ve východní Evropě jsou psi zlí a mají navrch, na blízkém východě žádní nejsou, zase až v Indii, ale bojácní, ubozí a se staženým ocasem. Všude a vždy lidé volí mezi svobodou a bezpečím. Pro vyjádření míry velikosti se v Tibetu používají “spící děti”, př. “tak velký jak, že mezi jeho rohy mohou spát dvě děti”. US Američené používají pro představu velikost mikrovlnky. Na jižní straně Himalájí se v tropických lesích pěstují ananasy a u jezer jsou nosorožci, na severní straně se po vysoko položených pláních prohání chlad.
Od Turecka dál na východ až k Žlutému moři je lidu přes kultury a náboženství společný zvyk přivazovat do větru pruh látky když si něco přejí. Pochopit proč je srpek měsíce někdy vidět naležato a někdy svislý dělá lidem obtíže všude. Pár století po smrti Kopernika a Galilea si lidé stále nejsou moc jistí u představy pohybů Země kolem Slunce a jejich důsledků na proměnu dnů a období během roku. Studenti univerzitních oborů dovezených ze Západu – jako “Pokročilé Účetnictví 2”, si stejně nedovedou poradit s trojčlenkou. Mnoho lidí nevěnovalo úsilí naučit se číst a psát, ale stydí se za to. Sýr z jaka chutná jako klika od hajzlu na velrybářské lodi. Každý Íránec má doma rozkládací matrace a deky pro hosty. Národy velmi pijící čaj používají průhledné skleničky, které horké nelze uchopit. Drtivá většina lidí uvádí přírodu jako hlavní přednost své země. Nejhloupější důvod, proč se vyhnout Nepálu co jsem slyšel je, že tu žijí velcí pavouci (četl jsem v Lonely Planet forum). V totalitních režimech si muži s oblibou montují do autorádií barevně svítící diody. Kriket se hraje v zemích, kde často a proměnlivě prší. V čínském vlaku každý jí jídlo donesené v igelitce hůlkama přímo z té igelitky, jen krůtí pařáty se drží v ruce, drápy k nebi, a postupně se ohryzávají.
Při omluvě či vyjádření provinilosti vyplazují Nepálci a Tibeťané jazyk, např. babička, která vám šlápne na nohu na vás vyplázne jazyk a odejde; kdysi se totiž trestancům propichoval jazyk a ukázat celistvý je proto na znamení “jsem dobrý člověk”. Buddhističtí mniši v róbě procházející se s plechovkou Coca-coly v ruce nejsou až taková nevídanost ani zamýšlená dekadence. Národy se liší ve způsobu počítání na prstech a v tom, který dobytek je možné jíst. Intuitivní gesto pro potřebu močit je zdvižený malíček. Lidi rádi pálí uhlí. V Číně nemá toaletní papír středovou rulku a je motaný plně už od středu. V Íránu není záchodový papír. V maďarské kantýně dostane člověk na řízek s bramborem marmeládu. Turečtí policajti nosí kšiltovky podle současných hip-hopových trendů. Ve Spojených Arabských emirátech se k dekoraci používají okázalé materiály, co vypadá jako pozlacené, je opravdu ze zlata a co vypadá jako stříbro je ve skutečnosti z platiny. Čínská novozástavba používá nemožně laciné materiály. K nám dovážená zelenina a ovoce se ve svých přirozených habitatech vyskytuje v daleko rozmanitějších druzích, barvách a velikostech. Oblečení se v rozmanitých velikostech dostane jen u nás. V buddhistickém kláštere v Shigatse v Tibetu je na stěne stejná malba jako v židovském synagoze v Isfahánu v Íránu, stejná jako u mnohé křesťanské obrazotvorbě – mír a klid na obláčcích a Alighierovo peklo pod nimi, kde démoni sápou lidská těla. Elektrické vedení hyzdí krajinu všude úplně stejně.
Některé číslice se vyslovují stejně v tibetštině a japonštině. Některé číslice se vyslovují stejně v češtině a kurdštině. Ženy to mají všude těžké. Po opuštění Evropy začali řidiči kolem mě troubit při jakékoli příležitosti; jako otázku, oznámení, při předjíždění, při spatření jiného auta nebo kárání sebe sama. V krajinách, kde tygr prochází lesy a jeho vzhled není příliš známý – protože kdo viděl víc než mihnutí mezi větvěmi nemůže vyprávět – v těch krajinách je tygr vnímán jako beztvará hrozba; v zemích, kde si jeho strnulý obrázek prohlíží lidi už v dětských knížkách si mocnost jeho tlapy příliš neuvědomují. Kdejaký kluk chce být policista a mnohý muž má k policii odpor a despekt. S neoplozenými vajíčky slepice vymýšlí lidé po celém světě šílené kousky. Ceny v obchodech bez cenovek a u řidičů rikši jsou nižší v brzkých ránech. Nikde jsem neviděl lásku tak svobodnou jako v Evropě. V Indii se už nemůže jezdit na střeše vlaků. V Teheránu žije tolik lidí jako v celém Česku a cesta do parku mi trvala stejně dlouho jako z Frenu do Prahy. V Turecku nežije mnoho jelenů. Bytosti zvěrokruhu nejsou ve svém plném složení příznačné pro žádné jedno místo na světě.
Koupit si balíček chipsů je oblíbená kratochvíle i v zemích třetího světa. Květiny se dávají bohům, ne ženám. Před jídlem si lidé nevyjadřovali přání dobré chuti. Odpověď “ne” a “nevím” je směrem na východ postupně vzácnější. Nudle jsou chutnější. V mnoha zemích mi byl jogurt představen jako unikátní národní pokrm. Folklórní zpěváci si mohou žít nad poměry v Turecku a Íránu. Nejpřátelštější jsou Muslimové, nemuslimové nemají Muslimy rádi, Muslimové nemají rádi ty, co zabíjejí Muslimy. Všichni se snaží mít americký přízvuk, gramatika a slovní zásoba je až na třetím místě po slunečních brýlích. Opice mají díky elektrickým kabelům snažší cestu z města ke chrámu. Orientální poezie se čte s naléhavou melancholií a ulevující radostí, jí vyobrazený život se zdá být obnažen v slunci a zahradě růží, v úsměvech a zamračeních férového nepřítele, v ohních spalujících vlastní srdce; jak odlišné od heroické zmužštilé poezie Řecka a Říma. Lidi nemají skříně, protože jejich oblečení sestává z toho, co mají na sobě a toho, co se suší za kuchyňským oknem. Na Tibetské pláni je možné spatřit počátek duhy. Čínský znak pro “ženu” a “otroka” je velmi podobný. Při pojídání hroznového vína oloupávají slupku z každé bobule. Jeden kluk v Íránu si nevážil brouka. Čínské instantní nudle jsou opravdu chutné, i Zápaďáci je pojídali jako chipsy.
V dálkových busech napříč Íránem se rozdávají džusíky v trojstěnném alobalu (jako u nás, divný popis) s brčkem; místo pro otvor je sice vytištěné, ale není předkrojené, a tak jej všichni otáčejí vzhůru nohama a propichují dno; k tomu je nejlepší nechat brčko napůl v obalu, nemůže jím proudit vzduch a je tak pevnějším kopím. V Bombeji spí někteří lidi na úzkém obrubníku mezi pruhy rychlostní silnice, tam je muchy neotravují tolik jako při spánku na chodníku. Osobní přepravní společnosti mají problém pojmenovat záliv přes který letí/plují jako “Perský” nebo “Arabský”, polovina pasažérů si vždy stežuje. V městských autobusech v Teheránu se řidiči platí až při vystupování. Spousty zemědělských produktů jsou v EU levnější než v zemích třetí světa, a cukr je tady sladší. Íránci znají Kafku a Kunderu. V Rumunsku dělají pálenku z kmínu. V Anatolii je nejdražší benzín na světe. V Indii jsou komáři maličtí a člověk ani necítí jejich bodnutí. Delfíni v Černé moři se páří jen v rámci druhu nebo dokonce jen rodin. Splodit v Japonsku dítě prý znamená závazek postupně do něj investovat 150 000$. Nejlepší sušenky v Tibetu mají na obalu nápis overbalanced mouthfeel, daintiness. Opraváři deštníků. U silnice mezi Pokharou a Kathmandu vám za vymočení se v toaletě dají jednu rupii. Na indicko-nepálské hranici je před vchodem do turistické kanceláře obrovská kaluž, mají ale mapy zadarmo.

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I’m all back

I arrived some two weeks after my body. Talking about Tibet with a friend really took a big piece here and then schoolmates in a pub were the first ones to actually get some answers from me. I might be here wholy by now. And it didn’t pain as much as was warned. I haven’t cried not even once yet. At the same the normalization process of the society started to work very quickly. Things I stopped to take as granted there seem pretty normal again here and the ideas I was bearing in mind there sound a bit alienated now. Besides, the everyday stuff: I went to a supermarket, I flushed my shit with a drinking water, I cooked in a clean kitchen, I was deciding for what party to vote and could order and eat in a restaurant despite it was raining outside (at rainy days in India the water was even more dangerous than normally so I stayed on bananas). A tram ride to school was so exciting I couldn’t focus on reading: people walking on the street, people standing reading newspaper, a city with its cafes and galleries and shops and all, this is so cool! This will be so exciting! That’s the life I led and will lead now!

But then my hair was cut. That broke me. Samson cut. I feel insecure and the city boy hair cut doesn’t resemble from what I’ve come, it pretends everything is normal. It’s not.

Isla wrote me this in an email:
the feeling of being alienated. i think you have that. how to explain
it? remember when i was freaking out in prague in the winter, saying
that i feel that i don’t belong anywhere? people around me think i’m
strange, and i have nothing to hold on to.
i just thought this could be something that’s really giving you a
tough time now – while being on the road, you were naturally “the
fool”, you know, the strange foreigner, like you said yourself that it
was just cool for you to do stupid stuff and to point at people’s food
in the restaurant. this you can just laugh about, because it’s your
traveller role, you are in a way comforted and secured by the mask of
the foreigner. but now you are in your home country, in your daily
life, which somehow feels or is expected to be more “real”. you see
your life rather as a continuum, something you need to build up an
master, suddenly living day by day beside the road and getting lost
isn’t enough. and then it’s of course much harder to run into
conflicts, arguments, frustrations with people. because they are your
“own” people, your country men, schoolmates and friends and even
family. it’s tough, because you’re still somehow the fool but you’re
not protected by the traveller’s label anymore. you’re just you, and
it’s much harder to face the discussions as you, and it’s much harder
for people to accept weird stuff from You, who should just be a normal
diplomacy student in their minds.

but you can make it, and understanding where the difficulties come
from is already making them smaller.
well, all that above i was just guessing, partly writing about myself
and partly about you, i don’t know if you feel like that or not. do you?

Yes, I do. But no big drama. Some things are hurting you, some other empowering you, you are building stuff with people you love and are cautious with people who disagree with you, you know, the usual.

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Proxenos

i think of you in iran while i’m sitting in the
toilet, i don’t know why then, but i realize how important travelling is
in this time. and i think that you’re most probably the best diplomat i
can imagine.

Yeah, I was all like “Can I have more that yellow rice?” and they were “Sure, and tell us again about the war you guys are planning over there.”

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The little things

I entered my old flat in Prague and among the mess found an advertisement leaflet on the ground for a persian carpets sale out. I looked at the pictures of carpets. Different styles and patterns. Tabriz, Zanjan, Esfahan, Kashan. I knew them all. I lived in the house of a carpet maker in Kashan, this usage of blue, green and orange is a local thing. Next to my bed, there was another leaflet, the supreme master Ching Hai talking about the heaven on Earth and peace among creatures. It really looks like some crazy sect crazy pamflet, universe people or something. But now I know Ching Hai and her work in South East Asia and global advocacy of values I approve. I’ve been in her vegan restaurants in Ulaanbaatar. These two leaflets look like someone put them in my way to reflect something. Funny is that the latter might have been left in the flat by me myself some half a year ago when I was rather curious in studying materials that sects are distributing to be aware of them or to make fun of them.

Then I took a bus and saw a sign “Tibetan furniture”. I went to the mountain with my mum and sis and in a little pub on the top there was a picture of Annapurna. I see Asian people on the tram and can tell the country they are from. I saw a Tibetan restaurant and I think one temple from the pictures on the wall was labeled wrongly. But maybe wasn’t and I just remember it wrong. There is a Chinese poster in the bathroom and many teas in the kitchen. On the first school day (for me. it was third week already) there was a Turkish ambassador in our class, (not) talking about Kurds. And just now I returned from a conference about the freedom and democracy where Iranian Nobel peace prize laureate was talking about the regime and the land I got familiar with. And I could go on with this list of reminders and memory activators, but the biggest surprise was at another place I wouldn’t expect, at my grandparents’ house.

Among many things, grandfather asked me how Tehran was. “Foolishly huge city, very ugly city, no heritage or sightseeing really from the past, and from the modern time I visited the former sah’s palace only. That was fun, he had glasses from Czechoslovakia there and lots of hunting trophies.” I summed up the things I thought might interest him.
“Reza Pahlavi?” asked my grandfather, and I thought he read it somewhere to ‘prepare’ for our talk, to be smart with maps and encyclopedias. Sometimes he does that.
“Yeah, that one, you know his name?”
“Sure, remember how I told you about my ‘diplomacy’ when I served as a forest keeper? We hanged out once, went for a hunt, drank some slivovice…”
I can’t tell when my grandfather fantasizes too much to impress me.
“… I have a picture of us together somewhere.” The old man stood up and returned after a moment of searching cursing with this photo in his hand:

“The one in the middle is the prince of Persia and the guy standing above him, that’s me. We shot the biggest mouflon together, he was happy and for the banket wanted me to sit by his right hand. The trophy won a golden medal – you must have seen it in the palace.”
My jaws fell and the old man went for his afternoon nap.

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Back to Europe

Right after the first city in Estonia: “Wow, Europe is exactly how the Indians told me – everything is clean and nobody is there.”

Really, I was told that by Indians who visited Europe and was amuzed because the way Westerners describe the shock after getting off the plane in Delhi or Mumbai usually is “everything is mess and dirty and there are floods of people everywhere”. I remembered of their other side perception immediatelly after crossing the border – though I didn’t expect much of a sudden change when coming back slowly through Russia – where I saw road signes that actually did have influence over the drivers and the traffic, I saw no littering, I saw decent houses, I saw broad green empty landscapes between cities and I saw really only a few people walking the streets, a lot of space.

Then came the coldness, no one was really willing to help me. Hitchhiking was slow and people were looking at me suspiciously or in a fear, and I’m the freaking sun shine smiling traveller with a backpack! One that took me a bit told me: “You are very lucky with me, that I took you.” I didn’t ask why. Sun was coming down and my goal of getting to Poland in one day ended with not even leaving Estonia. (btw, did you guys know how close the land and the language is to Finland? I did not! I thought my impressions were influenced as I expected all the time to enter Europe through Finland and finally see the country of my beloved, but other people confirmed that as a fact. I didn’t know, I had seen the Baltic states in one post-soviet package. I’m sorry and thanks for the lesson.) So. I was there, the sun was not. “Can I please sleep in your barn, or elsewhere, any shelter, I’m a passing by traveller on a way home?” No. Yeah, it’s Europe, hospitality for a traveller is advocated by Christianity in the same way as other religions do, but people here are afraid of one another and content and happy in their privacy, in their, in their car. I get it, I understand it, I wouldn’t let a homeless person in my flat right now, I wouldn’t. But still. Why Asians can? Only the westernized of them would not. We are people. Helping people is good. I understand the reasoning why I wasn’t offered a shelter back in home Europe, I do, but isn’t it a contradiction of our declared morals and conducted actions? Maybe it’s not. Again, I think of myself as helping and yet would not let in the homeless person into my Prague’s flat where I’m sitting now writing my blog. We transfered the responsibility to a state, alright, we pay taxes and then we don’t have to talk to people on streets, alright. Is that how we go? Yes, I guess, I do, people around me do, that’s the social solidarity, one of the base pillars of Europe. But isn’t there something strange about it? Something to do with ‘we are people’? I’m quite confused about the text I have just produced, but I was not confused by the text I saw two days ago – I was walking across Prague to meet friend and I saw this election poster saying “Off with homeless and addicts”. Literally. I was really mad. I’m not a saviour of the poor but this made me go to a neighbouring paper shop to buy colored chalks (the background was white as the chalk I carry with me often) to write on the poster “Really? What do you want to do with them? Kill them? Or throw into a garbage?” when I noticed it was a social-democratic party. Freaking CSSD, s-o-c-i-a-l democrats. Few minutes later and few meters away I was painting on the pavement in a park. There were the cobblestones and I only painted three of them brown and green. Autumn you know. Police came and told me not to draw on stuff. That really took my breath away. I wasn’t fucking able to respond and let them go.

I got carried away. Where I was? Estonia. In the end I slept in the abandoned cottage. One could see it’s empty for years and curious people (neighbors) came in time ago only to go through the inventory and take away some valuable stuff and leave the rest in mess. The next night, in Latvia, a farmer let me sleep on a straw in his barn. My sweater was full of straw and I was happy for that.

Then I got a ride from a guy going to Germany. He was really kind and friendly and suddenly my way to Berlin was secured. I was going there, to meet the love I have left 6 months ago. I was not even that nervous, there was this powerful energy in the air. Suddenly the air was hot, the land was cracking, trees jumping and my arrival has come. I could not think of anything else all day. In the night we came to the German border and the driver and his friend in the other car wanted to take a short nap. It was 4am in the morning, last 150km and I didn’t feel like sleeping. I tried to hitch, it was a bit too much crazy but there was so much energy in me I didn’t feel the cold and wrote Berlin on the cardboard paper with a smile. Some young guys driving Jaguar to sell it in the West took me but left me on the highway south from Berlin. Now it was freaking cold, I was on the wrong side of the highway, but looking at the stars to find north just for the backup possibility of walking through the forest and night towards the city, no worry. So I walked across this gas station to see if there is any way how to cross the highway and get to the one one the other side when suddenly I saw hitchhikers! I bursted into the laughter. “The last thing I’d expect is more freaks hitchin at 5am!” They were not really smiling, they were freezing and hopeless. They told me they are going from Berlin. What?? “And you made it here, this bit, overnight?” I tried to encourage them and said I’m going the opposite way. “Then you have to run across the highway.” “I must not die tonight, on the doorstep,” and I disappeared in the forest, walked along the autobahn till the first bridge and walked back to that gas station. I bought a cup of tea for the price of my daily budget and started to ask people if they don’t happen to go to Berlin or elsewhere where train or bus is. No; I don’t have space; no; I’m going somewhere else; I don’t have space; I’m going to Poland;… I started to make strokes on the ground counting the answers types (see? i do carry chalks with me). “I don’t have space” won. Just when I was drawing a monkey on the asphalt and the sun was getting up, one driver agreed to take me. And where was he from? Iraq. He emmigrated from Kurdistan more than ten years ago. I was trying to remember some Kurdish I was learning few months ago when I visited those lands. Nice closing of the circle of the journey. I told him about demonstrations agains US. He told me we are stupid and how cruel Saddam was and how thankful he is to USA. He spent his emmigration in Germany, is now a German citizen, got a technical university degree and was going back home week later, to help rebuild his country and return home. These were his last days. I was returning home at that very moment, I told him I’m going to see the girl I love but left for the journey. He asked on what street does she live and gave me perfect directions right away. “I was working as a taxi driver on the start,” he explained.
I bought something for the breakfast. This is it. I’m there, on the street I imagined in Mongolian ger or Himalayas, ringing the bell I imagined from the train or from a desert. And there she comes, opens the door and we hug and I feel we still feel it. We go up but I don’t remember the floor, I remember the way she walks the stairs only. We talked something but I remember the timidness to kiss only. The flat was the most beautiful one. “I built the nest for us, ” she told me and I couldn’t believe I’m really there, that I have really returned and this is real. Physical body came but the mental luggage will arrive later. It was too much to believe I’m there for both of us, like if it was normal. On the third day she broke down in tears, couldn’t take this so normal  so easy return with a smile like if nothing happened and there is no gap to span, and by this short cry made it more real and helped. Moreover, for the first time with my own eyes I saw how much I hurt her in the spring. There are things to buil and rebuild waiting for me here and the suitcase with my mind is still on the way.

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