Monday, December 17, 2007

TranzCoastal Journey

Day 84
Christchurch to Picton via the Tranzcoastal Railway
Time: 5:00:00
Distance: 347 k
Avg Speed: Train Speed
Terrain: Flat with rails
Location: 41 17’ 27.8” S, 174 00’ 20.1” E

“Herein, I think, is the chief attraction of railway travel. The speed is so easy, and the train disturbs so little the scenes through which it takes, that our hearts become full of the placidity and stillness of the country; and while the body is being borne forward in the flying chain of carriages, the thoughts alight, as the humour moves them, at unfrequented stations…” – Robert Louis Stevenson from Ordered South

We took the train from Christchurch to Picton today. We’re on a pretty short timeline to get north for Christmas and we figured the train would be more interesting than a bus. Our half day journey took us along the northeast coast and through new territory. We’ve now been able to complete our loop of the South Island. Besides cycling, I think I’ve found a new favorite way to travel. There must be some nostalgia and excitement in taking the train, I’m definitely hooked. I don’t know what it is; maybe it’s just that you don’t feel like a caged animal.
The quote above just happens to be from the book I’m currently reading, The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. Isn’t that funny? How convenient. Theroux (or Mr. Thorax as some have called him) is one of my favorite authors and I was excited to make the find in a Dunedin used bookshop. The book is a series of rail journeys that Theroux takes across Europe and Asia to the Far East. He starts in London, finds his way to Southeast Asia, and returns across Russia by way of Japan. I’ve read bits and pieces in the past, but I wanted to do some research on the routes from Singapore to Bangkok and up the coast of Vietnam. We’re considering traveling by train as part of our new route plan.
Tomorrow we head west along the Marlborough Sounds. Rain or shine we’ll be turning our pedals.
Keeping it real,

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