Am I Ultimate Train Challenge Crazy?
It’s no secret that I am what you might lovingly call “off-her-rocker”. The kind of girl who lusts after adventures that will land me with Somali pirates on a hijacked yacht*, or hitch hiking after dark without my pepper spray.
But, it appears I am also capable of rational thought and human emotions, including- but not limited to- fear.
Enter the 2013 Ultimate Train Challenge. (UTC)
The UTC is a race from Lisbon, Portugal to Saigon, Vietnam all by train and in only 31 days!
Why would anyone do something like that, you may ask? The answer is simple: charity! UTC has partnered with the Blue Dragon’s Children Foundation of Vietnam.
Sent 2,590 kids back to school and training | Served 294,195 meals |Built or repaired 59 homes for families Distributed 34,793 litres of milk | Handed out 36,124 kilos of rice | Taken 1013 kids to a doctor or hospital Obtained legal registration papers for 2,001 children | Rescued 255 trafficked children | Placed 101 teens in jobs — they’ve also played 1184 games of soccer!
Having spent last summer in South East Asia, I am familiar with the predicament of the street kids, and repeatedly felt my heart breaking with frustration at my inability to create lasting change for these young ones. Now, the opportunity has fallen into my lap- but in the craziest of ways. Lisbon to Saigon– Where IS Saigon?? Is this even possible?
As the UTC creator, Michael Hodson of Go, See, Write noted:
“To give you a little perspective, that is the rough equivalent of Los Angeles to Seattle to New York City to Atlanta and back to Los Angeles… twice. Or Cairo to Cape Town, back to Cairo, back to Cape Town again… and then a couple thousand more miles”
This is madness– you’d have to be crazy to even dream of attempting something like this. However, I am well qualified in the crazy department. So, friends, help me put my insanity on the shelf for a moment and think this through.
Pros of the Ultimate Train Challenge:
The Trans Siberian journey has always been a question of “when?” not if, for me. This is an even more intense opportunity to show me the physical beauty of the planet. Quite literally, a dream come true.
Being pushed to my limits, all of them.
May is a wonderful month in most of the world, and the greenery would be outstanding… I can almost feel the wind whipping my hair in my face, hitting me in the eye- causing me to drop my camera and burst forth a slew of cusswords the international railways have never heard.
Train travel is one of the most environmentally responsible forms of transportation, and I am trying my hardest to be less of a destructive force on the planet- even though I do love airplanes.
It’s for a charitable cause: The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation works with the most vulnerable children in Vietnam: street kids, children with disabilities, the rural poor, and victims of trafficking. Blue Dragon is a registered NGO and is not associated with either a religion or political party. Double, perhaps even triple Pro.
Cons of the Ultimate Train Challenge:
Pain in the Ass: You know, that butt pain which is so awful you actually yelp when leaving your seat. (and traveling with a donut cushion is too lame for me to even think about- yet)
Paperwork pains: Visas, Vaccinations, Insurance. Very expensive paperwork that gives me migraines.
Sponsorships: If I’m unable to hustle enough awesome backers to cover big ticket items (think Global Eurail Pass, Trans-Manchurian Tickets, Insurance, and Lodging) I am in a financial pickle. By pickle I mean stranded in Mongolia working as a nanny with those little babies that are wrapped in over 200 blankets, while preparing horse gruel. (made either for- or with a horse- but most certainly not both.)
Failure: Uh Oh. The F word. Taking on this challenge means I need to deliver. I don’t want to fail in fundraising nor in causing enough awareness about the situation of many SEA children. The thought of arriving in Saigon empty handed makes me want to delete this entire post, and not even try, for fear of failure.
To complete my Venn Diagram, The Double Edged sword:
Visiting lots of really cool countries (YAAAY!) at warp speed (BOOO!)