The Around-the-World trip was over. A path of uncertainty is ahead. The future perspectives seem restricted. The time has come to look forward. Back to normal life. The daily routine gives much time to reflect on the previous journey. Was that just a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Yes. But will everything now just stay the same? No. The travel adventures are not over. They have only just begun. Before saying goodbye to my relatives in Pakistan last year, I made a promise. The promise to return next year. But there are no plans on booking a flight to Pakistan in 2011. There is a much more ambitious plan: The next journey will fundamentally differ from the previous one, because the goal is to travel from German to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan...overland.
While the peculiarity of the 'Around the World' project was the strongly pronounced effect of a cultural shock, the second project shall stand out as a journey, in which the gradual cultural change of different peoples can be much more perceivable. All the destinations symbolically stand for the 'stairs' that need to be climbed to reach the main destination, the 'heaven', of which it is even uncertain, where it is located or what it looks like.
Operation 'Stairway to Heaven' would start where 'Around the World' ended: In Ex-Yugoslavia. After shortly visiting Bulgaria, the transition from occident to orient shall coincide with the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, arriving in Istanbul. Although in Islam fasting is not mandatory for those who travel, the plan is to fast on every day during Ramadan. The real adventure will begin here, because the following desinations are in a country, which at this time is the most demonized country in Western media, and a country that I have recently payed special attention to: The Islamic Republic of Iran.
The last obstacle, before meeting the big family again, will be a place near the Iranian-Pakistani border, which is known as a terrorist stronghold. If everything goes according to plan, the following weeks will be all about spending time with the relatives, before the final mission, the search for "heaven" begins.