From the start I knew there would be an end to this trip and there would be tasks I’d need to complete along the way – but these were quite vague when I left Australia at the start of May. I was abandoning promises to reduce my emissions as much as possible – as I hopped on the plane I hoped that what I could achieve would make it worthy of my extra large footprint. So with my ill-defined timeframe and tasks – a race had begun … and then it ends (whether you were ready for it or not). In this race I was going to have to find different rhythms, companions, inspirations, moments of courage and times of joy before I could say I completed it. I would also have to bite the bullet at some stage to buy a ticket home – suddenly cutting this trip of infinite possibilities into a an ever tightening scheduled operation. This is the story of my trip to film the experience of urban transport around the world.
Perhaps I start by asking (and maybe even answering) your more obvious questions – what was your favourite place? and what did you learn?
Favourite place??? To start with I want to cop out and say every city was interesting in its own way – in some ways it’s true and the diversity of my experiences in various places was my favourite space. It was seeing how people all over the world could appreciate place that was more beautiful than any streetscape could be.
But I will mention one city which was very important in this scattered trip of a splattering of cities. Hanoi – like a first love was my first city for this film. I was a bundle of nervousness and excitement, still working out which way to point the camera and believing anything was possible, I trundled off a plane at Hanoi airport. I was greeted by so much hospitality from the people I met, and beauty from the people that surrounded me, I felt tranquil in a foreign place. And then there was this most photogenic transport culture, which made me feel like my film might just be on to something. So while I have had special moments throughout my travels, I’d say that Hanoi was the most important city for me.
Every city has greeted me in different ways – stumbling on a library in Pune while still carrying my pack, and stopping to interview all the librarians, finding myself on the back of a scooter riding through the backstreets of Ankara minutes after arriving, and then there is always the philosophical taxi driver with too many kids who doesn’t have any change for 2000 shillings on the way from Nairobi Airport.
And I have always been sad to leave. My heart has been weeping through my final memories of places, which include dinner, karaoke, ice cream, chocolates, frisbee, ping pong and of course rushing to catch various pre-booked intercity or international transport. Well my heart definitely received a pounding as I would contemplate whether my travel insurance would pay if I miss my international flight/train/bus. After almost meditating on transport for weeks, my last moments catching transport would involve a lot of stress – but I never missed a flight, so I somehow have faith in the urban transport I used (and possibly abused) to get to the airports and railway stations I needed. As we bounced up and down the curbs, clutching bags in front of me, my backpack hoisted on my back, on the back of my friend’s scooter heading to the bus station in Casablanca the phrase ‘if god wills’ took on a life of it’s own.
And what have I learnt? I guess you will have to wait for the film to really understand this. But I have definitely seen a much more positive view of transport than I ever expected – I have also received pieces of wisdom, kindness and inspiration from all corners of the world. My heart has definitely become a little bit more open during this trip and I hope my film will be able to convey some of this better than I have managed in my blog.