Tim Hits the Road! (Beijing 4/6/04)
Well, things have finally started to move. On Monday after a sleepless night I bundled everything into Mum and Dad's commodore and we set off to the airport (and we needed the station wagon for the room!). I had my last glimpses of Australia between moments of nodding off to sleep in exhaustion. The Qantas check-in attendant almost had a heart attack when she weighed my bag- 42 kg....and that was only one of three! Fortunately Qantas baggage had earlier agreed to free excess luggage- without that I would probably have to finish up the journey half way on my budget. After a stop over in Hong Kong I flew direct to Beijing to be met with sweltering heat and the smoggy skies that are routine for this city. With about 15 million people or so all cramped together into this one place its about as far away from the open steppe as you could imagine. Ironic then to think that the Mongols once ruled over all of China.....in fact Kublai Khan (Ghengis' grandson) moved his capital to what is now Beijing- the Mongols founded this place! Despite wanting to head to Mongolia ASAP, life is never that easy. The Kazakstan and Mongolian embassies have been dramas in themselves. After three days of trying, I have gone around and aorund in circles- funny opening times, no one answering phones, and mistakes made by foreign affairs in both countries who failed to send in the correct information. For the moment I have my fingers crossed that I will successfully apply for my 12 month Kazak visa on Monday, my Mongolian visa on Tuesday, and be gone on the train by Wednesday..that is if everythinbg works. The past few weeks have been unbelievably hectic as everything finally came together. There are many people who helped in invaluable ways, including sponsors who have put in fantastic committment. The list now includes Iridium, Mountain Designs, Internetrix, Saxton Speaking Bureau, Odyssey Adventures, Australian Geographic, Fuji, Baffin, Equip, Mobile Power, Dick Smith Foods, Reflex Sports, Leatherman Australia, MSR, Inspired Orthotic Solutions, Mountain Horse, Lonely Planet, Magellan, Bogong Horseback Adventure, Horses and Horsemen, Nungar Knots, and Ortlieb. Thanks also to John and Alison Kearney, David Clarkson, Steve Milner (for that great bag to lug my saddle around in!), Qantas and Cathay Pacific, Mum and Dad, Get Lost Camping, and remote repairs who put in some valuable support and help to get me over the finish line. I guess I just have to wait it out here for a little longer. Be sure to keep tabs on progress as things unfold in the next few weeks.