Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Family and the Expeditions of an Explorer – How two worlds are together and inseparable.

Family and the Expeditions of an Explorer – How two worlds are together and inseparable.
Brian Perich

I had some terrible difficulties finishing the Mongolia expedition this year, still only my second major challenge with a bike. What was the biggest problem this year with the expedition – Communication?

My wife of 9 years (10 years together), whom is South Korean, was a major factor in managing the expedition, what was the problem this year? When you consider the vast landscapes of the least populated country (per km square) in the world, you are resting thoughts on one of the most amazing places to explore – Outer Mongolia. Mongolia, where the terrain, remoteness of the Nomad clans and Ger tents dots the horizons, there in that paradise of a mountain, steppe grassland mystery, came the greatest problem I have ever encountered on adventure – a vivid gap between the family I created and love, the expedition I love, and between it all brewed a maelstrom of challenges for me.

I eventually overcame, but the worst of the flies, mosquitoes, sweeping rivers about to take my bike, or the locals who confronted me the following 12 hour day, turned my mind inside out, visions of my wife taking the children away, divorcing me over taking the expeditions, and leaving me in the dark, that desert I was in where I choked on mosquitoes and took refuge in my tent. When I had to strip down to the buck and wash myself like a baby because at 2 pm I couldn't continue on, when the SPOT did not function, but I had a mobile phone signal from Bokmoron, I sent out distress messages to a friend James in Switzerland, and my wife Misung in Korea, but no one responded and I had to carry on. It was insane, I've never pushed myself so hard to get through, and the truth is, without family and friends behind the journeyman, the journey would end me. It’s not worth leaving everything behind, so I found that my failed preparation, lack of equipment to protect me, and last ditch efforts to cross Mongolia without a stove, fuel, pots, and even water filtration (due to the broken rear carrier rack…I decided to ‘make it – that I needed to leave everything behind except – 2kg of protein, 1.5kg of gatorade powder and high-potency multi-vitamin and mineral packs for 45 days.

I completed the expedition with the help of local Mongolian Nomad herders and their lovely families, I purchased non-perishable food goods where I could to trade for their chai-woo goat-milk tea, bread, butter, and cream, and the lovely hardened-dry “arroz” Mongolian cheese, a luxury because it’s one dairy I love, and it’s so expensive by the ounce in South Korea. I was cycling on cloud nine with the cheese and basic provisions until I came to other challenges. For instance, on 107km and 134km stretches of northwestern steppe, there were no Herders, Gers, animals or the sight of people settled anywhere along my route. The dirt tracks turned to sinking sand, and when I ran out of water stress increased (in my mind, I just wanted my wife to call, to text message, I sent 90 text messages and received about 12-15 from her all summer long…she was in denial the expedition was taking place, busy with the kids, busy with tutoring her students, and that took her mind off me…but I could not take my mind off them, my children Matthew 5, and Sierra just 2, and Misung 34 taking care of our household). Without human connection to family, I went into a famine for human connection that I knew familiar. Adding physical ailments, injured feet and ankles, walking the sand traps for 50-60km a day, or climbing out of high altitude desert lakes for 12 hours after days of diarrhea from the unpurified water every snot-nosed little child in the area was acclimatized to, started pushing me apart, my mental thoughts still surrounding my family the entire time, not so, the actual journey ahead. Injuries or falling ill days while I continued on antibiotics without clear water led to days I couldn’t ride, all Hell came to visit me in the shadows, fears and crevasses of my mind without a simple connection – my family connecting with me out on the journey.

Thus, the expedition was completed in entirety, but the prices I paid came at a high cost during the journey itself. I’m not feeling the same way, thinking the same (ideal) way, moving around my ordinary routine the same way I did before crossing Mongolia. I learned that fear can become too real, too terrible to relish the freedom to travel and explore. I learned to witness families of different cultures apart from my own, to accept life on these terms, to communicate, to connect with others, to become more tolerant of suffering because I had asked for it failing to fully prepare for it.

But in the end, I returned with greater love and affection for my family, I cannot express the gratitude I feel now just having them here, having children that love and admire me, as daddy. And when my son and I watched videos I made while traveling overland in Mongolia, he says with excitement and energy in his eyes,

“Daddy, I want to take a bike trip with you!”

I’m very pleased to hear this and can’t imagine he would enjoy going through all that I went through. But for this reason, I started taking expeditions on my own (starting at 38, last summer), and proving to myself that dreams can become realities with relentless passion driving the mission, in social circles (social media sharing) and with actually carrying out what I said I would in the end. Reaching the finish line, never felt harder or more rewarding, of course, for me, the biggest prize is having my family with me today. I’m certainly lucky to have this family expedition still going strong, and I will stay the course with them, growing older, learning about expeditions (windows of opportunity, sacrifice and amazing adventure), and building a future that I can hopefully share one day with my children, if they decide they would like to learn from the same school of experiential learning – being an explorer, like I am working towards today.

Brian Peric is a teacher, father and Adventure Explorer.  He lives with his wife and two children in Gangneung, South Korea. Read more about him at http://korean-world.blogspot.se/p/expeditions-adventures-1991-2012.html 

This article was originally published by Mikael Strandberg - Global Explorer. Mikael Strandberg was born in 1962 in Sweden. He started his professional career as an explorer 25 years ago. The multi-talented Mikael is currently working as an explorer, a lecturer and a writer. Mikael has also produced three internationally renowned documentaries for television “PATAGONIA – 3,000 kilometres by horse” and “THE MASAAI PEOPLE – 1,000 kilometres by foot” and his much awarded“-58 degrees – exploring Siberia on skies.” To read more about Mikael Strandberg, visit his site.

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About the Korean-World Author

Brian Perich was an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) lecturer for a decade, father, and adventure cyclist based in South Korea.

Previously, Brian has led Canoe adventures in Quetico Provincial Park, Atikokan, Ontario, Canada (1993/1999); led Grand American camping adventures (2000); lived at Paramahansa Yogananda's SRF Ashram for 5 months (see the film "AWAKE"), formerly worked in titanium welding at Agilent Technologies, formerly worked in Winery industry in Marin County with Kendall Jackson in California; Surfing and Meditation continued for several years in California, British Columbia, South Korea, Yoga training in California 1999-2000.

Between 1994-1998 - Brian completed his own adventures with motorcycles. His motorcycling marathons took him across the United States and central/western Canada, while traveling solo over an astounding 24,000km in 60 days! Brian endured 900 mile/1300km average days in the motorcycle saddle and apparently loved every minute of those adventures.

Today, he has given up motorcycle adventures altogether, but finds an outlet for his enthusiasm in outdoor recreation while bicycle touring and micro-blogging about those experiences on his mountain bikes.

While employed as an English teacher in South Korea, Brian has became an advocate for bicycle touring on his mountain bikes. The Korean-World blog originated from those small adventures in Korea, now expanded to cover his recent trek down the TransMongolian highway to the Gobi Desert, cycling 900km east through the Khentii grasslands and in 2012 crossing Mongolia in 45 days, 2500 kilometers 1553 miles. HimalayasX expedition Brian previously cycled across western China, the Taklamakan Desert, the northern Himalayas of East Turkestan Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region, the corrugated back roads and mountains of Kham Tibet. Brian successfully completed his 2011 mountain bike expedition with 3200 kilometers / 1988 miles unsupported, on/off road MTB adventure cycling.
Brian has completed his second mountain bike journey, MongoliaX expedition - Crossing Mongolia 2012, an unsupported mountain bike MTB expedition across 2500km of Outer Mongolia from Ulanbaatar to Altai Taven-Bogd National Park bordering China, Russia and Mongolia.

In 2013, as a sequel to a trilogy of cycle tours, Brian enjoyed a more leisure bicycle tour onboard his Koga-Miyata World Traveller seeing the northern tier of the United States and western Canada covering 3400 kilometers / 2000 miles in 30 days. This North American cycle tour was called Totherocktour. Enjoying the adventure of bicycle travel and every great conversation started while traveling on the road - has refueled his inspirations to cycle around the Earth. In 2013, while he cycled solo from the Great Lake State of Michigan, United States to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He weaved through local communities and reconnected with friends, family and community after spending almost a decade in Asia.

Brian is now supporting several non-profit foundations through expeditions: IDEAS Foundation of Canada IDEAS is the acronym for Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society which supports the IBD community, those suffering from IBD-inflammatory bowel disease, also known as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis.

The second non-profit foundation is ETE.ORG - Education Through Expeditions, UK which supports educational outreach programs inside schools around the world. ETE connects explorers with students in the classroom, through an interactive online program in development (Beta).

Brian is researching support for a 18000 kilometer bicycle expedition across the Americas: North, Central and South America - ONE -Arctic to Argentina
Please contact him if you are interested in helping out.

Twitter: Cycleagain
Location: Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea or southern Ontario, Canada.

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Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

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