On the road. The Longest Way

The Pain – start in Ürümqi

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It was the summer of 2010. I was in the process of writing “The Longest Way” (German) and “China zu Fuß”, and I had just spent a few weeks in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East.

REHAGE_BLOG_007Writing had turned out to be much harder than walking. You could walk badly and still make it to your destination (if you really wanted). But you couldn’t write badly and still expect people to read it.

I decided to take a break from it all, return to China and do something easy: walk.

Uncle Shen picked me up at the airport in Ürümqi. We rejoiced, had some food, found the original hair salon from 2008 and asked them for another hair cut. Then Uncle Shen showed me the Caboose. He had kept her in storage for me.

REHAGE_BLOG_008

Seeing her felt great. She was a bit rusty, but she looked just as beautiful as before. A fridge on wheels, sure. But a beautiful one.

I cleaned her, loaded her up with my stuff, and then, on a warm Monday morning, Uncle Shen and I set out from Ürümqi to go west. It was the continuation of my original route – from Beijing to Bad Nenndorf in Germany. Uncle Shen was riding his bike, and I was walking.

It felt glorious, at least for a few kilometers.

And then the pain set in.

I had almost forgotten about the pain. I had forgotten the way my feet used to look after a long walking day. Now it all came back to me. I tried walking in outdoor leather boots. I tried walking in sandals. I tried walking in flip flops. Never had I been able to find a way to avoid the pain.

REHAGE_BLOG_009Today was no exception.

Here I was, out in the blazing sun, two years after my last walking adventure, and my feet felt as if I was pounding raw flesh. But I was somehow happy. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t dealing with my university classes. I wasn’t worrying. Instead, I was dealing with specific problems. Like the pain in my feet.

We made more than 30 kilometers that day. Uncle Shen was always there with me, chatting away, enjoying the sun and the breeze that he could sometimes feel on his bike, while I was pushing myself and the hot air around, boiling in my sweat.

In the end, it turned out to be a good first walking day. Not perfect, but good.

Blog post of that day: The Longest Way – Earthworm & Anaconda

Here’s a video from that first walking day: