On the road. The Longest Way

Moving things

Mountain Water

I drove a car through Kyrgyzstan once. It was a sport utility vehicle, a good-natured mass of steel, glass and plastic, and it did pretty well on the mountain roads with their mudholes and potholes. One time I got it stuck in a ditch though, and it somehow ripped the exhaust pipe, causing the poor thing to become unbearably loud.

The Green Valley

Tokmok means "Hammer" in Kyrgyz. It is one of the biggest industrial settlements in the country, and everyone who comes here seems to be looking for something. When Germans come to Tokmok, they want to find Germans. When Chinese come to Tokmok, they want to find poets.

The Mirror

When I arrived in Cholpon-Ata, everyone was gone. Gone were the Soviet holidaymakers from decades past, gone were the tourists from yesterday. There was a heavy wind, and I leaned against it while I was stumbling down the main road. Much to my surprise, I managed to find a place to sleep. Again, I was the only guest.

Black Hands On Issyk-Kul

When I arrived in Karakol, I got a bunk in an eight-bed room. I was by myself, the only two other guests in the hostel were from Switzerland and Uzbekistan. Over the next few days, I made noodles that tasted like crap, I made vareniki that tasted a bit better, and finally I made pelmeni that tasted okay. I drank huge amounts of kvass.

Seven Cows

I had heard about a certain sanatorium from the Soviet era. Its name Jeti-Oguz was supposed to mean "seven cows", and it was located somewhere in the mountains south of Issyk Kul. I like cows, so I decided to walk there. Jeti-Oguz was more beautiful than I had expected. There was a small hamlet and a river there.

Horses And Aeroplanes

This footage is from Tamga on the southern shore of lake Issyk-kul. It was taken in September 2014. The initial idea was to walk all the way from Kaji-Say to Tamga, but I never made it. I walked and I walked, sweating and panting and cursing the mountain on my back. I just hadn't packed for walking, it was terrible.

The Forgotten Village

When I arrived and made my first step off the bus, a Russian guy said "welcome to the USSR" and smirked. And he turned out to be right: there was a certain morbid fascination to it all. I got a room in a sanatorium that had orange, smelly water coming out of the shower and attracted guests precisely for this reason.

Mellow Capital

I took these shots in September 2014. It was during my first time in any of the "Stans", and I wasn't walking this time. I consider myself a rather timid person, so I wasn't surprised that I felt a bit shy at first: would I be able to get around with my limited abilities in the Russian language?

Sun and Snow

This is some footage I took during a three day trip to the biggest concentration/extermination camp that we, the Germans, built in WW2. Some of the footage is slow-motion captured by phone, and some of it is time-lapse captured by DSLR. I made some of the shots run backwards. It just felt right that way.

Two Nights In Prague

There are at least a few things that went wrong with this video. The hyperlapse part is a bit choppy, for example. The cuts I made are too predictable, too. But I still enjoyed taking the footage and stitching it together over a short piano track. Prague is a truly beautiful city, a place where history touches you wherever you go.

Desolation

This is a promo video I made for the black metal band DESOLATION from Hanover, Germany. It took me a few cold nights to come up with the footage, which is made up of more than 1000 individual photographs. For a few nights in a row, I would wait until it was very late, then walk into a local forest/park area and set up the cameras in a grove of dwarf beeches.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

On a warm spring day in 2014, I suddenly found myself in the Italian town of Pisa. I had come there to deliver a presentation, and when that was done I figured I might as well try to take some footage of the Leaning Tower. I found it in the city center. It was leaning to the side, very much indeed. I installed myself on a rooftop in the vicinity, then I set up the cameras and waited.

Writing The Longest Way

This is a short promo video for the books about The Longest Way that came out in mid-2012. I patched some clips from the original walk together, added some shots from Google Earth and some simple time-lapses, then I interspersed it all with some footage I took of the writing process itself. I like that there is so much dancing in this video. Good times.

Karakul Black Lake

I took this footage in the fall of 2012, right after my last leg on the long way through China. I had just walked from Usu to Khorgas on the border to Kazakhstan, and, feeling tired, I had somehow ended up in Kashgar, not walking, but just sort of floating around, looking at some of the things that I was going to miss out on if I ever were to continue my northern route.

The Longest Way 2.0

In the summers of 2010 and 2012, I went back to Ürümqi to continue my walk home. I walked 500km to Usu, then another 500km to Khorgas, which is exactly on the border to Kazakhstan. The resulting video is very different from The Longest Way 1.0 - this time, you will see snakes, camels, tunnels and a dance. But (almost) no beards.

The Longest Way 1.0

In 2008, I walked through China - one year, more than 4500km. All the while, I let my hair and my beard grow. This is the resulting video. It is made up of 1400 individual photographs and video clips. And it is dedicated to Teacher Xie, a man who has been walking through China for more than thirty years now.

Awards

  • 2009 #8 top viral video at Time.com
  • 2011 Vertical Film Festival, Moscow
  • 2011 Squamish Mountain Festival
  • 2011 Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival
  • 2010 Banff Mountain Film Festival
  • 2010 Berlin Webcuts
  • 2009 Boulder Adventure Film Festival