One if by Land, Two if by Sea

Well, not to give up the suspense, but the next month is going to be by land. Lots and lots and lots of land.

In this case and entire month of train travel as part of the Ultimate Train Challenge – some 25,000 kilometers/15,500 miles from Lisbon, Portugal to Saigon, Vietnam — all by train — all in 30 days.

Frankly at this point, about 12 hours before I depart, I am both excited and a little scared. It has been a long time since I have felt the latter emotion.

I hate failure with the intensity of the sun. And this is an endeavor that I have, only recently upon doing a bit of research (yes, I know, perhaps doing that a few months ago would have been a good idea), I have come to realize… failure is a legitimate possibility.

There are a variety of reasons for possible failure, and by that, I mean failure not only in making it to Saigon in 30 days, but my personal quest of riding trains for 30 straight days. From physical exhaustion to the need for showers to not having places to put my luggage when I want to wander to lack of laundry facilities to so many more things running through my head right now.

I am slightly worried.

The Amazing People of Hostel Bookers

hostel bookers worldwide logo

One thing I don’t need to worry about is that on the times that we do have arranged to lay our heads down to rest, in a hotel or hostel and not a train, that they are going to be wonderful places to stay.

I am writing this from the Rossio Patio Hostel in Lisbon, which is amazing. Hostel Bookers set us up with them and I have to say…. I almost don’t want to leave.

The folks at Hostel Bookers have also set us up for a night or two in Moscow at Prosto Hostel, before we embark on the six days from Moscow to Bejing and I can’t wait to see if it measures up to the Rossio Patio Hostel. Then when we arrive in Saigon at the end of this bit of craziness, they have set us up for a week at the Thien Thao Hotel to rest and recover.

Which frankly, I think I am going to need.

Although I am having more pre-trip jitters than I have had in quite some time, I am extremely thankful that we have managed to get such great sponsors for a first time event. Hostel Bookers is one that I particularly think might end up saving me from my personal quixotic quest to spend almost 30 straight nights sleeping on trains — I expect to get an email from my new friends there in a week or ten days saying “you sure you don’t want us to put you up in a hostel for a night or two?”

Not going to make a prediction now whether I would accept or not… but I am thinking I might welcome the offer…

hostel bookers logo

26 thoughts on “One if by Land, Two if by Sea

  1. Wait, 30 straight days on trains? I thought the rule was just make it there in 30 days by train. I am going to go ahead and say you are forgiven if you are not spending every single day on a train over the course of the next month. Sad I couldn’t join the crew, but wishing you guys the best. Looking forward to reading about it!

  2. Good luck!! Having an exact end date will make it easier, and finishing will make you feel young again. 🙂

    1. I think I might feel very, very old at the end of this. But then again, a week in a nice hotel in Saigon might just get me back up and running again.

  3. Jealous of you getting to travel by train across the world like that. Makes me think of The Great Railway Bazaar and the rest of the great travel books!

    Can’t wait to read the tweets and posts as you go and hope to get to follow in your footsteps on day soon!

    1. Theoroux is one of my favorites and that book is simply one of the best in the whole travel genre. I can only aspire to be 20% of him, at least on the writing talent side.

  4. Just think of how much you’ll never take showers for granted again, by this time next month. 🙂

    Seriously, this sounds like a fun adventure. Have a great time.

    1. and you know how much I hate cold showers already. Perhaps I need to do a whole “shower” category on my blog.

  5. Good luck, Michael! I’m not a huge train person (really not looking forward to an upcoming night train I have on an itinerary. But I know you’ll make it entertaining….

  6. You can do it! It may be interesting to take a self-portrait each day of the challenge. I’d wish you luck, but you don’t need it. You are the mobile lawyer dammit, you can do anything!

    1. I am not sure I want photographic evidence of what I will look like on 30 days on this journey 😉

  7. I think that would be the coolest trip, although I’m not sure how long I could sit and wish I was out walking around. If the showers are limited, I would have gotten a buzz cut first, so I could do a simple wash rag routine.

    1. thanks for following along, Cathy. Appreciate you chiming in and rooting us all on.

  8. OMG! I didn’t realize you are about to spend the entire 30 days (and nights!) on trains. Now that is an adventure! If you need tips about what to do with the lack of shower, ask The Social media Syndicate. They just had their experience 😉

    Good luck!

    1. well, as it turns out, it really isn’t that possible to do 30 nights on trains, but I think I’ll end up doing over 20. Is that still good enough to be impressive?

  9. Sad I couldn’t join the crew, but wishing you guys the best. It may be interesting to take a self-portrait each day of the challenge.

  10. Makes me think of The Great Railway Bazaar and the rest of the great travel books!Can’t wait to read the tweets and posts as you go and hope to get to follow in your footsteps on day soon! Good luck in your travels. That’s AMAZING! I didn’t realize you are about to spend the entire 30 days (and nights!) on trains.

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