Saturday, May 26, 2012

The first human-powered circumnavigation of the Earth

This post is going to be very emotional.  I am completely blown away and struck in awe. No, I did not complete the journey around the earth myself (although I am typing it as I am sitting on the plane from Delhi to Frankfurt and total distance I traveled over the past seven days by plane is enough to circle the Earth as I have taken total of 9 flights and spent about 38 hours in air plus about 15 hours in airports waiting for connections). Being on the modern airplane in a comfort of a seat, eating warm food, relaxed, answering emails on a laptop and dozing off when desired is easy. The reason I am blown away is the “Beyond the Horizon” book I just finished reading few minutes ago. The book is written by Colin Angus ( – the Canadian adventurer who completed the journey around Earth in less than two years using his muscle power alone. No motors, no sails – only the power of his arms and legs. He traveled total distance of 43,000 km from Vancouver by bike to Alaska, rowed thru the Bering Sea, biked and trekked all across Siberia via Moscow to Portugal, rowed across Atlantic to Costa Rica and biked back to Vancouver. This was done on a tiny budget with very little sponsorship and support from outside. The book is an amazing documentary of his travel and is utterly captivating. I could not put it down until I finished it (this redeye flight from Delhi to Frankfurt is 10 hours). He also has produced a documentary movie (can’t wait to watch it when I get home!) The experiences in the book are hard to believe – but even if only tenth of it is true, it is still amazing (although I do not doubt any of his writing – it is just hard to imagine these things are even possible). 
 The book is very well written and is a truly one of the best documentaries I have ever read. It reads like a thriller J. For those of you who know me, in the past 10 years or so I almost stopped reading fiction writings. I feel like wasting my time reading fiction (with few exceptions). Fiction can be entertaining, but it is still a fiction. On the other hand scientific books or documentaries fascinate me. They are “real”. Documentaries are especially special as they show what humans are capable of doing when focused and persistent. This book is very inspirational. Here is a short video from this trip around the world - a snippet form the full documentary film.

Next time I am doing something hard, I will remember the struggles Colin had. It has been my dream for the past few years to go on bike from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. Now I am certain that I will do it (hopefully with my kids).  I think it is only about 300 miles, so should take less than a week to complete.
I am typing the end of this post now sitting in Frankfurt airport and looking at the new Airbus A380 – the Dreamliner. Too bad it is not what I will fly back to US. But Boeing 747 is not too bad. Better than rowing across the ocean for 5 months… or not?