Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mongolia X Journals 18 // Endless Drifting after completing

I find myself deep adrift in another world. East Asia, South Korea. Miles from the outside, clear air drifting over deserts and arid grasslands of Mongolia. My eyes are fixed on that movement, the survival I face, alone and with Nomads, the horses, the sheep, the tough yaks and camels brought along by horsemen and further ahead on the track, I see goats scurrying and munching mountain sides in symmetrical rows and tracing patterns. The land is natural under my feet. There are no paved roads, lines, traffic lights or the fog of drivers and pollution here. It's still out of reach for civilization and much of the land is needed for the animals who roam and feed their Nomadic people. The Russians have left the country, the Chinese are over the borders. Solidarity and democracy and pastoralism where the roaming sheep and goats outnumber people. This is a good feature of Outer Mongolia. Unforgettable. 

Today, I feel a vast emptiness bigger than deserts and I am home now in South Korea, while the North cajoles the idea of a nuclear war, I fall out of order losing touch with the westernized, commercialized South while we look out from stone wall apartment blocks and sliding glass windows at similar structures in rows of apartment columns, this could be the U.S.S.R. And in the back of my mind's eye, I can still see a golden sun and washboard roads, the rocky track and dust blowing behind a UAZ-452 people mover revving up over the mountain peak past the Ovoo, the spiritual cairn with horizons coming and going all the way from Lake Baikal in the North across the border in Siberia to the clutches of sand desert Gobi in the south. 

Here again, it's South Korea and the air is dry carried over the Taebaek and Cheongoksan mountains nearby. Here we are "Yellow Dusted" all springtime with a hazy cloud of pollutants that recently choked airports to close in Beijing and cause serious respiratory hazards in the elderly and those prone to allergies, my children were sick for weeks from this foul air. Far away and unclear, East of China, East of Mongolia, East of the Gobi Desert - the Far East is where we live. All spring is "outdoor activity on hold, or exercise with caution" since air masses are mixed with sandy dust and toxins from Industrial two-face, China.

I've been in physiotherapy for 4 weeks, best time spent in my life of recovery. A doctor who cares and knows my injuries, he can feel them with his hands and works the muscles and tendon like kneading a loaf of bread before throwing it through the fires of the oven. Everyday I leave the clinic I can walk straighter, feel less pain, do more than I did since I spent the summer hunched over while scaffolding 40,000 meters across 2,500 kilometers of the Northern Steppe in Central Asia.

I hurt, I feel pain now like I never did before. Today, I don't ride bikes, I don't speak to sponsors and I drift further away from finding them with my own personal life rolling through turbulent storms, electric clouds, dark shadows and light casting nets over my happiness and drowning it in a wild river. While trapped within nature's grip, I feel peace slipping through my hands when the next CNN report sensationalizes and draws more world attention to their news, their advertisers. While over here, we are struggling to keep watch over our families, homes, jobs and security - this is life in a divided Korea, today a risk environment for future warfare. Now, I must report to work and get the classes done, professional, work and family life, money and debts paid - the fine art of balance on a thin red line.

I now live again behind concrete walls, the internet, the social scene is displayed on a computer monitor, thousands flock to see, hear and click "Like" and add a new page to follow. I do the same as the sheep following the social road through a digital whiteout, a blizzard of connectivity and temporal connections. I miss living from my tent in the deserts, the grasslands, the yelp of dogs and bleeping of sheep coming round from their pastures in the middle of the night when stars twinkle bright and you feel alright. 

I miss the creative space of nature in wide open pastoral lands, where I could camp somewhere each night between 1,564,115 square kilometers of a single country, mostly open Steppe, arid grassland undeveloped, as were the tracks serving as national highways connecting life routes of trade and traveler. Small-bore 150cc Chinese motorcycles and the occasional 350cc single cylinder Russian motorcycle - a IZH Planeta 5s moving slowly, bobbing through holes and around overturned stones with a newborn baby wrapped in blankets between mother and husband, headscarf and sunglasses, jackets and heavy Mongolian overcoats, saving them from the cold nights, the harsh sunlight, and biting flies as they roll along.

It's tough living far from your cultural roots for so very long, the distances grow bigger each year and you always plan to go back, but you can't. And inside the Southern half of the Korean peninsula, the geographical space begins to shrink into one culture, one moment in time. You drift here, they don't see you, you work and serve the needs for hundreds, time ticks by, you drift by, nobody says goodbye. The wave of endless life, replaceable and timed out in the moments eventually lost in the sea of drifting memories. Mongolia was exceptional, I want to return.

What is the next expedition? 

Brian Perich
Adventure Cyclist, Explorer, Father, University Lecturer
Facebook groups, 123
Skype: prof.brian.perich
Ph. 82.10.8075.5121 (South Korea)

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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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