Published: February 26th 2011February 26th 2011
Railway to Asia 3
The train stopped at a small station. I stepped down to the platform for a rest. I walked backward for Wouter and Chloe. I saw a crowd of venders surrounding them with hubbub. They flocked to them not only for trade but also for fun and curiosity. A Slavic-like man was translating for them and it’s the cause of this hubbub. They both got a window to communicate. He was their new friend in their carriage, a Slavic with Kazakhstan nationality. (Only little bit more than 50% of the population of Kazakhstan is Kazakh people.) He invited us to have beers that night.
Near midnight, I walked through the aisle, cross the gaps between carriages to their compartment. The train stopped in a small station, they went to buy some beers and snacks. “We almost lost the train! It starts earlier!” They gasped out with excitement.
We closed the door. The obscure compartment was illuminated by the dim light over our heads. 2 Kazakhs joined us, too. We cheers and drank, and started to talk about traveling inevitably, because of their curiosity about us. I was little drunk and started to address the story I read, which was about the Roman history took down by the ancient Roman historian Polybius.
When the great Roman general Scipio ordered to inflame all Carthaginian vessels and ships harbored in the port, and moreover the city would be destroyed completely by him, he gazed the burning harbor and city, the enormous fire was devastating the Carthage, and the night sky seemed also burned….He shed tears for his enemy, not only because of the empire’s catastrophe, but also because he suddenly realized that his country, Roma, would extinct one day, as the burning, dying and disappearing Carthage Empire, which had ever been such a great country, owned so powerful navy, occupied so large territory. If so great Empire like Carthage would die someday, how Roma could escape from this inevitable fate? I believe his sadness came from the awareness of some kind of essence of life in this universe. That is death. Everything will die, no matter how strong it had ever been.
How deeply moved I was by Polybius’ description? And yes, because of the feeling caused by the great people with so profound thought and sensitive mind who existed there, I want to visit the land they ever stood on. Of course, I knew this was too romantic and deviated from reality. I have to adjust my expectation later. But, we always need something romantic to ignite our passions, doesn’t it?
“Sorry, I’m little drunk. I occupy too much time of you” I said.
“No, it’s a…..you told a very nice story…Thank you…” they responded. They said they were impressive.
It’s very late. We said goodnight and dismissed. I walked through the cars in darkness, passed the gap with smell of rusty rig and fuel, to back my car, my compartment. Every traveler fell asleep. It’s very quiet, except the rhythmic clatter of wheel rolling on rail. My roommates had fallen asleep. We didn’t talk, because of language. I lay down my bed, with less sleepiness. This was the last night in the train. Tomorrow morning, the train would arrive to its terminal, our destination, Almaty, Kazakhstan.
my 2010 journey route