Hitchhiking from France to China – Epilogue
“A little bit over a year ago, I decided to put trust in my thumb and in humanity, and started hitchhiking to Asia. I still remember that rainy Monday morning when my dad dropped me off somewhat reluctantly at a gas station a few dozen kilometres away from my hometown. I couldn’t help thinking: What the fuck am I doing with my life?!
Well, 377 days and nearly 30.000 kilometres later, I just made it back home and I can tell you it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far. To sum up the journey in a few sentences : I hitchhiked from France through Europe, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Iran to Bandar-Abbas on the coast of the Persian Gulf. The overland route with Pakistan being unfortunately too complicated, I then took a boat to Dubai and flew to Mumbai, India. After 5 months in India and Nepal, I had to fly one second and last time to China as crossing Tibet was impossible for financial and administrative reasons. I then hitchhiked across the country from Chengdu to Beijing before getting on the train to move back west. The Transmongolian and Transsiberian railways took me all the way through Mongolia and Russia to St Petersburg, at Europe’s doorstep. From there a mix of bus, boat and hitchhiking through the old continent brought me back to my native Nantes.
That’s for the geography. On a more human level, I’ve met countless amazing people from all cultures and walks of life, and it’s been challenging at times yet overall deeply enriching to be interacting with ever-changing social environments. There was no room for routine this year: I worked some random jobs on the road: taking photos for hostels in Turkey and in Georgia, worked on a farm in southern India, taught English in a village school in Nepal, helped a nomadic family shearing their sheep in Mongolia… Couchsurfing was another great tool to get a taste of local cultures and I was lucky to be hosted in Italy, in Turkey, in Iran, in India, in China and in Russia.
Such a journey teaches you a number of lessons, many of which I am sure will take some time to materialise in my mind. One lesson doesn’t have to wait however : PEOPLE ARE GOOD. As a reminder, no one tried to hurt me in any way during that year and the countries that the West often deems unsafe turned out to be most welcoming. At a time when more and more people are bent on closing borders and pointing out each other’s cultural, ethnic and religious differences, it is crucial to remember that we are essentially the same. Bigotry will be our downfall, we are all humans!
I have a lot of people thank. To name a few : thanks to my parents and mty sisters who have always supported me in my decisions. Thanks to my buddies back home who’ve always been there for me as well, with special mention to Elias who organised a crowdfunding campaign after my camera and laptop were stolen 2 weeks into the trip. Thanks to Belen, David and Tolga who were crazy enough to share some of this journey with me! Thanks to all the people I was lucky to meet during my trip and big shoot-out to all those who gave me a ride or hosted me. That’s it, an eventful chapter is coming to an end today. And no matter how strong my wanderlust might still be, right now I must say there’s nowhere like home.”
Text written upon returning home on July 22 2018