Mongolia: The Land of the Endless Sky

I just reached the ten thousand word mark in the draft for A Long Way West, my travel diary about my journey from China to Spain, by land, to walk the Camino de Santiago. I was reading through and compiling my notes, whilst working on the latest chapter this morning. The scene brought back so many vivid memories, I went back to my photos from the trip (over 1300!) to find a few to go with the notes. Here is an excerpt. If you want to be notified when the book is published, make sure you subscribe!

Dawn breaks over the Mongolian tundra in a symphony of colors. Reds, like the sands of Africa, streak the sky, golds, like the treasures of the pharaohs, burst across the dry grass, and the sky shifts from an inky midnight blue to the color of oceans off a tropical island. For a landscape so devoid of physical shape, everything has form, constructing and deconstructing before my eyes.

The sun rises over my right shoulder. I check my compass. I am now heading northwest. The sunsets will warm my back for the remainder of my journey as I continue towards Santiago de Compostella and the Camino. I have tens of thousands of miles to go.I am still so near the beginning of this journey that the end is but a speck in my thoughts, destined to blow away at any moment lost to the beauty of the present where my mind laps up the new experiences constantly unfolding outside the window of my carriage.

The end may be a speck on a map far in the distance, but the Camino is constantly on my mind. I never forget that I am on the pilgrimage now. The journey is where you grow, and learn the lessons I am yet to discover. The whole point of boarding this train and crossing half of the world is to complete my dream of leaving my house and heading west. This is an adventure. It’s  stepping into the unknown and learning to adapt, to grow, to live.

I am beginning to understand why people fall in love with the romanticism of train travel. The scenery moves past your window embracing you constantly. It never moves fast enough that you can’t take a moment to wallow in the precious details. Your mind has time to linger and examine the details, but never long enough that it gets get bored. It’s these details that we so often miss in this hyper-connected, multi-tasking life of modern society. I’ll take my life slow with a side of adventure, please. Give me the details, as gritty and jarring as they often are. Give me them all.