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Benedict Cooper

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Track Records: The Beginning

Posted: 06/25/2012 7:00 am

I'm fairly sure that I won't wake up on my 30th birthday -- 41 days from now -- bald and podgy, having sleepwalked through my nuptials and the conception of soon-to-be born first child. But you can never be too sure.

This is what I'm thinking about as my train leaves the mighty St. Pancras. The great cities of Europe, Mongolia, China and Vietnam are ahead of me, but introspection is my default, the trait that got me in this mess.

I'm a fugitive hunted by his 30s. This isn't a trip, it's a getaway.

My hairline's not what it used to be, there are a few alarmingly deep lines working their way through the skin around my eyes and a good night out can leave me rotting for two days. When I check Facebook it feels like everyone I know is engaged, married or expecting child number one/two/three/four.

One day this type of neurosis led me to a rapid conclusion: I need to do something extraordinary. And I need to do it, now.

So I came up with a trip, one last adventure to see my 20s off with. I would take my seat on a train in London and ride the rails until I made it to Vietnam. Doing it all by train seemed right. I wanted more of an ordeal, a slower slog that would warrant perpetual motion even as my friends rush embrace their still lives.

I'd been to Vietnam two years before and fallen in love. Such an overwhelming, intense, stressful, vivid country; fizzing with energy, wildly diverse, where I had felt strangely free. It was as far away from home as anywhere I could imagine. I had to go back, and I would take the trip of a lifetime to get there.

So here I am, on the run. I'm not over the hill, but I've got some trail behind my. I may not be young anymore, but I have one hell of a journey ahead of me.

 

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