Germany, Tibet and the World
I have seen the world and now the most beautiful place is my home
It all started out when Stephan walked the Camino de Santiago and shortly after decided to go further and longer. Fueled by the protests around Free Tibet, he wanted to travel to Tibet. However, he had two significant challenges ahead.
1. at this time, the Chinese government restricted access to Tibet and
2. he had no money.
I looked at a map and realised there are 13 countries between Germany and Tibet and then I decided to walk
With a 30-kilogram backpack on his shoulders, that's how his four years journey started and he didn't even know, if he could even reach the goal and if he would be allowed into Tibet once getting there.
The cultures are not that different after all
Stephan started to cross eastern Europe and then headed into Asia. One huge benefit of travelling by foot and therefore incredibly slwoly, was that cultures merged into one and another as the closer he came to borders to more mixed cultures he would experience.
The food got more and more similar, the clothes and the faces of people, so that he never really felt like he got a cutlture shock. Of course, looking back also he clearly sees that for example Indian and German culture are inherently different, the slow transtion highlighted all the similarities between neighboring countries
In the end, we are all pretty much the same. We want a house, take care of family and friends and all in all just want to have a good life, Stephan remembers. So in that sense, Germany and India are not different at all.
"My journey was like a book, and when I reached Tibet I didnt want it to end"
After four years of crossing cultures and continents, Stephan made it to Tibet, the place he has dreamed about for such a long time. But standing in Tibet he realized that this meant he has reached his goal and by definition, his journey is over now. He only knew traveling and the feeling of returning back to his old life did not seem like the thing he wanted to do.
I was very sad and actually disappointed when I reached Tibet. I didn't want my journey to end, Stephan says with a smile on his face.
However, he knew that for now, it was time for him to return. He could have walked back, but decided to take a different and surprisingly faster way. Within just 3 weeks he hitch-hiked all the way from Tibet back home to Munich in Germany. A distance that took him 4 years by foot. But after just 2 months in Munich, he knew that the feeling he had in Tibet that this should not be the end of his journey took over and he started to walk into the world again.
Walking to world with a baby
During his second big trip, he met Lillian, who was also on her journey to walk the world. Very quickly they became partners and eventually decided to become parents. They knew that having a baby would disrupt their freedom and journey, but that felt right at this moment. However, the thirst for nature and the world was so large that 6 months after their daughter's birth, they decided to head out into the world again. This time as a trio
We wanted to see what kind of baby our daughter is and then we decided we can go out again and travel with her.
Finding home where he started
After another couple of years of walking together, it became clear fro Stephan that his next big journey was not one of the high mountains, blue rivers and cultures far away, but it was the journey of returning home.
My favorite book is The Alchimist by Paulo Coelho and just like in that book, after 10 years of travelling I foundmy treasure right where I started. Here in Munich.
After almost a decade without a house or apartment and all belongings fitting into a backpack, he knew that having a place to call his own was what he wanted. As exciting and beautiful as it was for him to meet new people, and submerge in new cultures he missed friends, family, and conversation that go beyond superficial talk in a foreign language. Meeting friends in a café and talking about feelings and emotions is something I missed a lot during my trip, Stephan remembers. And so he returned home to Munich.
This however came with one more challenge the three had to take. For Lillian, returning home was not the next step in her journey and so they decided to each follow their journey. Stephan returned home and Lillian and their little daughter kept walking.
Of course it is hard to only see them once ina while. But I know that feeling, the passion of wanting to see the world. Never would I try to stop her from doing that.
He meets them every now and then, and just recently they traveled in Peru for a month or meet at home in Munich.
And for Stephan, being at home in Munich is just as exciting as seeing the world. He is grateful for his apartment, a full fridge, and the ability to close a door and finds small adventures in everyday life.
Sometimes I spend a day without money in Munich or knock on people's houses to ask for help. Because in the end meeting new people is such a great adventure and talking to strangers in your home town is sometimes more difficult than asking for help in foreign palces.
Stephan Meurisch was a guest on our podcast "Art of Adventuring"
About Stephan Meurisch
Stephan is a German adventurer, speaker, coach, and author. He became widely known when he walked from Munich to Tibet, an adventure he covered in his book Ich geh dann mal nach Tibet (German). He currently lives in Munich, Germany.
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