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Dōngxi 东西 from East to West

No highway in the world is as laden with romance and adventure as the Silk Road. ~ Insight Guides: The Silk Road

One evening when I was preparing for my kanji exams, Dad asked, "Have you learned this 東西?"

"East West?"

"No. In Chinese, these two characters combined together forms a totally different meaning."

"What's that?"

"It means 'stuffs' or 'things'."

"Oh! Really? How come?"

"Maybe it goes back to the history of Silk Road."

I fell into silence. My mind turned the pages of my history lesson book in school. I had never been a fan of history and I blame most of my history teachers in school for that. My history teachers didn't live what they taught. They were merely sharing information and get paid.

"You know, people went through the deserts from East to West trading things through what's called 'Silk Road'," uttered Dad again as if to fill in the empty hole my history teachers have left. "So, what is 'thing 东西'? Something that goes from 'East 东' to 'West 西'."

Until I got my degree for Japanese Language and Literature, I never found the word 東西 in Japanese that means 'things'. Nevertheless, Silk Road laid deep down at the back of my mind until years later after my return from my first trip to China.

A friend who had traveled with me to China told me about a young guy from our country who resided in China and then Afghanistan. He was an Indonesian born Chinese like us. He had traveled many of the Silk Road countries on road. He writes, he photographes, he adventures. Nothing more than that could inspire me. To Mom's surprise, I signed up for Mandarin Course. With the greatest excitement I drew my itinerary for the Silk Road Adventure. I tried to consult this travel-photographer writer regarding my Silk Road adventure, but he didn't seem generous enough to share (for free) with me. My first email wasn't replied until almost a year later. When he did, his answers were brief. Meanwhile, he gained more and more fame among backpackers in Indonesia. I watched his interview in Kick Andy talk show with the greatest enthusiasm.

At KL Suria's Kinokuniya, I jumped with joy to the sight of this book. End of 2010, I traveled to Vietnam and our guide brought us to a silk factory. I was thrilled. What I had witnessed in this factory and heard from our guide seemed to bring me a step closer to the Silk Road.

At last... on August 11th 2012, I was sitting at Soekarno Hatta Airport, ready to start my Silk Road Adventure. You cannot imagine how I felt.

Starting from Xi'An in China, I finished in Istanbul in Turkey. Skipping the Stan Countries in between, I flew from Urumqi to Istanbul. On the China part, the blue line I traveled by train. The green lines are where I traveled by plane. On the Turkey part, the blue line I traveled by bus. Too bad Turkish Railway was being under construction.

Posted by automidori 02:26 Archived in China

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