Hiking from Bangkok to Barcelona


The distance between Bangkok, Thailand, and Barcelona, Spain, is about 14 000 kilometres, depending on the path one follows, and backpackers Jenn and Lluís are traversing this distance on foot. Beginning in early 2016, they departed from Bangkok with the goal of “walking towards something else, something bigger than us”, as they write on their blog

At this time, Jenn and Lluís are hiking through Tajikistan. A portion of their multi-year walking trip route takes them through the Pamir Mountains and the Wakhan Valley. They are sleeping in tents some nights, and other nights they are hosted in the homes of people they meet along the way. Read below an excerpt from one of Jenn’s recent blog entries about an experience the backpackers had when a family invited them in for tea:

“In the Pamir and Wakhan regions, it’s always tea time. We have been invited to have ‘chai’ so many times, we have lost count. If we sat down with everyone who offered this hospitality, we would probably still be just outside Langar and not 200-odd kilometres away in Khorog.

But, sometimes, during some hours of the day, the invitation comes right at the moment when we need a break or long for company. We want to get to know people here, despite our inability to speak a mutually-understandable language. Communication, obviously, is not only the spoken word; there are words of the heart that speak volumes more than vocal sounds.

‘Salom. Chai?’ comes the invitation from Abdulo, a farmer near Darshai who is tending the field while his wife watches over their cow. Lluís and I share that look, “Sure, why not?”

We head into the white one-story house with a flat roof, take off our shoes, and walk back into time. The architecture of Pamir houses and the symbolism they represents are rooted in more than 2 500 years of history, according the site. The layout of the rooms, the pillars supporting the ceiling, the roof beams, and the skylight and its four-level concentric square support system come with stories that bridge Zoroastrian and Ismaili traditions and blend religion and nature in ways that look simple yet elegant.

Abdulo’s mother and one-year-old son are in the main area, and we sit on cushions on the floor near them. Rugs are the main attraction. They cover floors and walls, and guard against the cold.

Abdulo lays a plastic mat on the floor, and his mother hands him an elaborately decorated tea pot, something we see time and again in every house we have the pleasure of visiting. Out come the mugs, the sugar cup and the bread. This is a custom we are getting used to and hope to continue back home–tea and homemade bread, the trademark signature of Tajik kindness. Abdulo’s mother, Oshormo, adds an extra touch – she brings us a big plate of fried noodles and insist that we finish it. For our journey, to keep us strong, she says after finding out that we are walking to Khorog and then to Dushanbe, the capital city hundreds of kilometres away.”

- This excerpt was originally published on Jenn and Lluís’s blog and is republished here with permission from the author.

Jenn and Lluís will continue posting updates as they move forward on their 14 000 kilometres from Bangkok to Barcelona, over mountains and across terrains.

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