22 April 2009


Here we are after such a long journey. We have been around the world and back again, as Bilbo Baggins would likely say. If you have been impatiently waiting for the results of the Finals, then let say that I apologize for the wait. But as another great dramatists - Dr. Frank Furter - would say, the pleasure some times is in the anticipation! I would also be remiss if I did not admit that it pains me to bring this whole exercise to an end. Not simply because I unfortunately must pick a winner but also because the process has simply been great fun to write. No worries, I will come up with something just as entertaining, if not as creative. After all, those damn peanut allergy kids still need a scathing rebuke :)

(10) Trans-Siberian Express vs. (8) Nepal

You may have noticed that I have not bolded either of the entries. The reason is quite simple - to ensure that you read through the entry to the bitter end to see the final results! Before we delve into the encounter, lets review the assets of each location.

The Trans-Siberian Express is a series of railroads connecting the western part of Russia with its eastern edges. It was originally started in the late 19th Century by Tsar Alexander II and continued by his son. The idea of the railroad was to connect the capital - at the time, St Petersburg - with the Pacific port of Vladivostok. Additions over the last 100 plus years include lines through Mongolia and into China. With nearly 10 000 kilometers of railroad, it has played an important role in the revolutions of 1917, WWI and WWII. Canadians can certainly appreciate the importance of railroads over just a vast country, much of which is covered in snow for nearly half the year. If simple by design, it is truly a marvel of modern engineering simply for its shear size.

Nepal, in contrast, is anything but a marvel of modern design. The country of nearly 30 million people lies in the Himalayan mountains between the world's two most populous nations. For several centuries, its remote location has not only sheltered but dare I say fostered the growth of one of the world's oldest religions: Hinduism. Sprirituality is so ingrained and implicit in the region that were it a tree, its roots would have consumed the highest moutain chain on earth long ago. Indeed,the magic of Nepal is not isolated in mankind's spirituality but goes beyond humanity, as it seems to permeate the very natural world that engulfs the country.

As I have asked on several occassions in this bracket, how does one choose? If I were to take the cowards way out, I may simply opt to take a train from London, U.K. all the way along the Trans-Siberian line, into China and onto Nepal. But I can only use this trick once, and it seemed to go over well in the semifinals.

To make the decision, let me return to the first post. I said way back at the start that winners would be determined based on my own personal desire to visit each attraction. Having said that, although I would love visiting each place, I actually - if forced to pick - would rather take a ride on the Trans-Siberian Express. The reason is simple - it is the voyage and not the destination.

I hope you have enjoyed reading these entries as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I wish you all the best of travels, and I hope to find you all out there on the road!