Overland travel
Tim: [00:00:00] This is the distributed future podcast, and I'm
Tim Panton
Vim: [00:00:07] And I'm Vimla Appadoo
Tim: [00:00:09] and this episode
is about Overland transport.
So, as it happens, I've been like. You know, taking quite a lot of train journeys and, and that sort of thing. Recently, and I mentioned this to a friend on Facebook who then came back with the most amazing, Overland journey that he's doing. And we got talking about like, what Overland transport is like these days.
and it's, it's kind of interesting. It's like, you know, I mean, I don't want to kind of steal the thunder of what he says, but, but for me. It's different. It's not like it used to be. It's not dead time. This is the big difference. I think you can get stuff done.
Vim: [00:00:53] Yeah.
Tim: [00:00:53] So, so my, I mean, do you take the train a lot, or
Vim: [00:01:00] I used to, but mainly to travel around the U K and I think the travel infrastructure in the UK is very different. To traveling between countries, so particularly in the North of England where you're kind of going from Northern, rail provider to transpenine express to Avanti now, and it's all very different and very desperate and badly connected and rarely, rarely productive time,
Tim: [00:01:29] although you think it's bad in on Northern, I mean.
I went to South Wales as part of this kind of monster series of train trips that I took in 10 days, I must have taken about 15 different trains. and but one of them was down to South Wales and like, they've got real antique trains there. They've got I don't know if, you remember them, the slam door trains where you had to lean out the window to pull the handle.
They still got them.
Vim: [00:01:59] Wow.
Tim: [00:02:00] I know. It's like, so, so yeah, I mean the, the, the infrastructure thing, but what was kind of interesting or surprising to me is that it actually made sense in terms of couple of the journeys I, I actually couldn't do any other way. I mean, I could have driven. But it would have been difficult.
Like, you know, I went to, went to Cornwall for a day, bizarrely, for personal reasons and like I couldn't have done that round trip any other way and still being useful while I was there. Like I wanted to be in here. Fit state to talk to people when I got there. And the idea of like driving for four hours and then turning around and driving back again in a day just wasn't going to happen.
But I could do that on the train, at least in theory, although it rained and so life got more complicated. But but yeah, so I mean, and there are enough of them. That was the other thing that struck me is that, you know, you, it is all very well stitching together journeys on airplanes, but if there's only one flight a day.
It doesn't match up the timing that you want, then you end up staying in a hotel overnight. So like, where's your saved time? You know?
Vim: [00:03:10] Yeah. I, I get it. I, do, but I think I'm just so jaded about train travel now from so many bad experiences.
Tim: [00:03:19] yeah. I mean, you certainly have to go with a sort of, a sense of optimism and, and some, Some leeway. Like, you know, you can't leave, you can't like cut it so fine that you, you can't, you know, get, be 10 minutes late at some point in the proceedings. Cause otherwise that doesn't like, you know. It's just a, but if you think about how late aircraft often are, that's like, that's actually not that big a deal I suppose.
Vim: [00:03:47] But I find airports are more, you more able to get stuff done than train stations.
Tim: [00:03:55] Yeah, yeah. No, that's true. Although there is sort of, sadly, if you get to know train stations, there can be places which actually are quite kind of conducive to sitting in. In each station, there's usually somewhere if you just like, I have to learn what it is, and maybe it's a particular cafe that's always empty and you can just get a cup of tea there and sit there for half an hour or whatever.
Vim: [00:04:18] well, don't get me wrong, I think I absolutely think I need to slow down on my plane travel. I don't have a car, so I only use public transport on my bike at Manchester or trains, but definitely for. Traveling abroad, I want to start thinking about how I can use trains more, but at the moment, there's just so much of the world I really want to see.
And I don't know how to balance that out.
Taiichi: [00:04:45] Well, listen to this because like, it's kind of like, you know, it's around the world trip Overland, basically, which is, But, but it's, there's a bunch of interesting lessons in what he's saying as well. So this is kind of fun. But I, I, for me mostly I'm not prepared to take a train trip that's going to take me over like.
Eight or so hours. yeah,
Vim: [00:05:13] yeah, yeah. I definitely, I did do long train trips in India. I think 14 hours was the longest, but the trains are made for that, and it is, it feels like they're made for it. whereas I wouldn't do that here.
One
don't know where that would get me. but the, yeah. I don't know. It just didn't. Yeah. Maybe.
Maybe. I will.
Tim: [00:05:33] Yeah, I mean, I think, I think that the made for it thing is actually quite relevant. I noticed, definitely noticed, that the British trains are more cramped than almost anybody else. The only one that's sort of on the same line is, is Eurostar where you don't have much space anywhere unless you pay a premium.
And the premium is like really, really serious. Whereas like the older trains oddly, and, and the ones here in, in Germany. And, and also I think the Belgian ones, there's quite a bit of space. So you like, you know, putting your laptop on the table isn't like eating into everyone else's space. and you know, you can actually kind of put your, put your arms on both hand dressed without feeling like you're kind of taking over an entire cubicle or some.
So it's sort of, yeah. I think they've gone, the British designers have gone too far into trying stuff. A lot of people in for the longer distance. I mean, in short, the distance like, okay, that's how it is. But you know, you've got to try and pack in as many communities as you can. It's kind of like trams in effect.
But. but I think the short, the longer distance they really should like go back to giving decent amount of seating cause it just makes the whole thing so much more pleasant.
Vim: [00:06:50] absolutely.
Tim: [00:06:51] So your, your Indian experience. I, I'm, I'm jealous. It's like, if that was, that can tell me, tell me more.
Vim: [00:06:59] Yeah, so I traveled around India when I finished, university.
And so we were backpacking, North, North to South along the West coast. And we did the majority by train. so overnight trains, 14 hour trains, I think maybe 16 hours was the longest. but the, it was great. It was amazing. The scariest part was knowing when to get off because we weren't always getting off at the end destination.
So, having to wake up in the middle of the night to know, to get off was really
difficult.
they are made for it you kind of, you get your child on the train, you get your dinner on the train, like it, it works.
Tim: [00:07:32] That's actually something that I've noticed is that trains, you've got ridiculous with trains, you've got easier to deal with.
Now that there's more information. No, I, I went on this trip across, across from just trying to get from late in the evening from Brussels to Berlin and, and there was some mess up and I don't know if I messed it up, all the or they did or what, but anyway, ended up like being in the middle of Germany with like, not where I meant to be, to catch the connecting train to Berlin.
It's like, now what? So, but I could Google it. I could Google where with my train and workout, there was a local service that would intersect the one that was behind it, and I could still get to Berlin, you know? And, and I could see where it was on the map and, and I could see the progress that my train had made and like, you know, and all of this, this data was there.
and when you kind of, and if you fall asleep and you don't know where you are, and you can look on the map with Google maps and see where you are and think, okay, well I'm not there yet. So like that Holly actually weird that access to data, this makes it so much more comfortable, can just chill much sooner.
Funny.
Vim: [00:08:44] I think that's true in some instances. But I think traveling around when we, this was years and years ago, so you're traveling around when we were, and the probably the places we were going didn't feel as accessible. So even if we were to wake up and realize we'd messed us up, I think it would feel a lot more, I'd feel much more panicked than if I'd missed a stop in Germany.
Tim: [00:09:07] Oh yeah. I mean, you know, the distances and the like, you know, the idea of finding yourself in a place with like basically no hotel and no idea of what's going on. And, no, I, I, I get it. That's like unnerving. but, and I think that's the other thing that it, to some extent, this sort of stuff is, it's either on a budget and you're like, it's an adventure.
Or you do it with enough money that if it goes wrong, you can put yourself up in a hotel.
Vim: [00:09:35] Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Tim: [00:09:39] I don't know what you do, like in the middle, if you don't have the money. It's not an adventure as much either.
Vim: [00:09:47] I still think train travel was quite inaccessible in the UK though. Like can, it's an expensive form of travel.
Tim: [00:09:53] Oh, isn't it? Isn't it? I mean, so this trip to, The trip from near Manchester to Berlin. I'm trying to get this right. The 200 miles to London cost me more than the entire trip across, whatever it is, 600 miles of Germany. Right? So the numbers are just like, it pays no relation to distance. It's just like, what can you get out of the route.
I'm not that particular. It's like appallingly expensive and it means, it means you can't do joined up cause it's ludicrously expensive unless you get to London mid afternoon. But that thing about like basically being punished for getting there before noon means the economy, then get further along and
Vim: [00:10:41] then, you know, you can, You can't expect people to up to get the train if flying is quite often a quarter of the price. Right. So why would I, why would I do a staycation or go to mainland Europe? I train if I can fly abroad for guaranteed good weather for, for for 40 quid.
I know,
Tim: [00:11:02] I know. I mean, the, the price differential is, is really quite shocking.
I mean, there are kind of some like taxation reasons for it. But, but yeah, no, I mean, the price differential is amazing, and that does, like, I could say it's a luxury thing, travel, train, travel. But. In the UK, it doesn't feel like it is, which is like a poor piece of marketing really, but
Vim: [00:11:30] they've just got, I just, we've got it all wrong.
We really do. I don't, I can't get my head around around train travel. So from where my partner lives
to Liverpool,
it's half an hour by train. It's the same distance from his to Manchester, but it takes just over an hour. And I can for the life of me understand why.

Tim: [00:11:54] Yeah, yeah. I mean, you, you, if you're lucky in that sort of, it's to do with sort of the route.
There are these kind of routes of track that are like unloved and don't get into rolling stock, and there's like only one train an hour, which means it then has to stop everywhere and it's like you get sort of. Penalty thing of, of not being, not being on the, on the main line. And the crazy thing is that you pay like disproportionate for the miles.
Vim: [00:12:27] It's expensive, it's so expensive. And the, the really frustrating part is, is how busy it is and how crap the trains are. So they feel like they feel I old buses on train tracks and they are rammed. And it's just, it's just a horrible, horrible experience.
Tim: [00:12:45] Yeah. Weirdly, buses are getting better. I still know, like I'm not a bus fan cause I can't read it on the bus.
So for me, that's like a big negative. I can't read. So I'm like, I'm not as happy for a long bus journey. But yeah, but in general, they're better as a, you know, than they used to be more comfortable and somewhat more reliable. I think I
Vim: [00:13:10] definitely better in London, especially since they moved a move to the kind of set fee, no matter where you're traveling.
right payment system. Yeah. Which just went pretty well.
Tim: [00:13:21] Oh, well, I'm, I'm miss the old routemasters, but I was like a student in London at that point. And so there's this sort of nostalgia about them, but.
Vim: [00:13:29] Yeah, I imagine that's a little bit different.
Tim: [00:13:31] Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, so, yeah. let's, Let's let you have a listen to the mr Fox's adventures in, in Overland travel.
And, it does actually, there is some future, look at the end. We do, we do talk about what we think this means for the future. And he is a got a really, really surprising idea, which I don't think I totally buy into, but it's kind of interesting. Anyway, so, so yeah, listen, listen to the end.
Vim: [00:13:57] Great.
Taiichi: [00:13:58] . I'm a Taiichi Fox and, I live in the many parts of the world that, same time.
I have a six homes around the world. one is a place called Niue, which is in the South Pacific Island countries. Small, a 1,500 people living there. And, this is like my main home, this country. And, I work as a, assistant to prime minister. I advise a lot of things to this country. And, I also live at, in, I have a home in Japan.
I'm originally from Japan and, United States. so I live in Japan at part time and, I have another home in Turkey, Georgia, Kosovo and Albania. And what they do is, I do a sushi restaurant around the world. I even had the sushi restaurant in, near the North pole once, and I had the North port one for eight years.
And I had many other businesses as well. I used to have a Bitcoin mining as well, so I'm a into IT business too, and I sell many things on the Amazon and I do many things at the same time. So this is my, lifestyle and I go around the earth about, usually 35 times around the world in one year.
35 to 40 times for last 20 years. So I went around the earth so many times with the airplane, and this year I'm starting a new thing for only this year. I'm just not using the airplane at all. So I see, I, I see a 35 times, you know, around the earth to, I'm changing to a no airplane at all for one year.
And, I started from Japan on. first or second week of January, from Tokyo, I took a train through a China and Kazakstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and I came to Europe after that. And now I'm in the Munich and it took me about 30 days. Well, this is like my quick short introduction about me.
Tim: [00:16:15] Wow.
So, so this is, that was mostly on trains. I guess you must have had some boats as well in that
Taiichi: [00:16:22] I took a boat from Japan because Japan is islands. So I took that boat from Japan to Shanghai. Then I took a fast bullet train from Shanghai to a side of the China, which is called a kudo Muti. This is like a area.
It's very delicate, a sensitive area at the moment. And, then I took kind of the slow train through a border of a Kazakhstan. They, I took a taxi to a taxi to our, which is the capital of Kazakhstan. They, I took another train,
Tim: [00:16:58] so hang on, hang on. The train. The train didn't go to the Capitol. You had to take a taxi to get to the Capitol.
Taiichi: [00:17:06] There's a train from, China to Kazakhstan , but it only runs every, every once every week. So I couldn't catch that one.
Tim: [00:17:15] Okay.
Taiichi: [00:17:16] Yeah. So instead I took a taxi
Tim: [00:17:21] All right,
so, so why is there a train line there if, if, if there's only one train a week, like what does the track do the rest of the time?
Taiichi: [00:17:30] I think that a Looker trains going on the Chinese side here, the border, then the cutoff stand there, the border as well, but it doesn't cross the border.
Yeah.
Tim: [00:17:41] Okay. Okay. All right. So, so how do you, when you, that's, that's interesting. When you're crossing borders, how's that done? Do you like have to get out of the train and walk through a border post or do they come through the train checking passports or how does that
work?
Taiichi: [00:17:55] every country they got a passport control of course, and the customs.
But Chinese border was so strict. they first stopped me asking why you only stay for three days in China? And that's why they took me to another separate room. Then they. They told me, according to a Chinese legislation, I am going to, the police told me I am going to, investigate or search your bags and investigate about you.
They told to me.
Then
I told, they asked me, what's your job? So I said, I have a sushi restaurant. I'm a sushi restaurant owner. I told them.
Tim: [00:18:43] Right?
Taiichi: [00:18:44] Yes. Then they opened up my bag and they found the business card of a ambassador over Japan, and I have, I'm meeting a lot of ambassadors because I work as a, a bit of a foreign affairs of Niue sometimes.
So I meet with ambassadors and, foreign affairs people. So I have a lots of business cards on hand in my bag. But they found that and they're very suspicious what I do, and I told them, Oh, these are my customers. I thought of them,
Tim: [00:19:17] right?
Taiichi: [00:19:18] Yes, yes. Then they found, my American passport. Yes. And they are very suspicious.
Why? I have a American passport, as well, and more suspicious where it's my Japanese passport had a lots of a Turkish, entry stamps. Because the last year I went to Turkey many times
Tim: [00:19:41] I forgotten. Do you have a sushi restaurant in Turkey?
Taiichi: [00:19:45] No, I don't have a sushi restaurant, but I have a, I'm, I like to start up a new business there.
I like to start up a farming there, a Japanese cows there. That's why I went to go for research,
Tim: [00:19:59] like a high quality beef.
Taiichi: [00:20:01] Yes. A Kobe beef,
Tim: [00:20:02] right.
Taiichi: [00:20:05] Yeah. To Turkey a lot of times. Then the police got more suspicious about me because that's a, that's the enemy kind of, because, the region of, China is, Turkey, Turkish related people living there.
So. That's their enemy. So that's why they are very wondering and they investigate everything in my phone. And everything in my computer. So that was the terrible
time.
Tim: [00:20:36] So how, that's interesting. How much carry, like I'm trying to picture what your luggage looks like.
Taiichi: [00:20:43] My, my baggage is just a big backpack.
Yeah. It's about the 15 kilos of, baggage into my computer and my phone.
That's all,

Tim: [00:20:57] you must
have like a whole lot of like travel adapters for powering, powering the computer.
Taiichi: [00:21:03] Yes. I just have a simple one just a regular one. It was with the MacBook,
so
yeah, it's simple.
Tim: [00:21:10] I was picturing like that. It would be more complicated than that, but that's good.
Taiichi: [00:21:16] It's very simple. Just a Regular backpack with a computer. And write a charge. Yes.
Tim: [00:21:22] So, so you're, how did you, how did you convince the Chinese to let you go? Cause they obviously did, cause you got to Munich in the end, but
Taiichi: [00:21:30] took me 3 hours to convince them. I was very worried they were arrest me as a spy or journalist, but they didn't find anything bad in my phone and I, I was very happy photos inside my phone.
So I think they convinced them it's me hours.
Tim: [00:21:51] So it's good. It's good that your social media is.
Taiichi: [00:21:54] Exactly they serarched my Facebook and Twitter now, or all about Instagram and
everything.
Tim: [00:22:05] They'll have, they'll have looked at posts from me like they'll know that we're doing this chat.
Taiichi: [00:22:10] Exactly. Exactly.
Yes.
Tim: [00:22:12] That's funny. That's very right. Yes. Well, hello Chinese. If you're listening to this, it's good. Subscribe.
Taiichi: [00:22:22] Please subscribe. Tick every day.
Tim: [00:22:28] So, so yeah, no, we've got, you've passed the Chinese border now that, then what happened?
Taiichi: [00:22:33] Then what happened. I went to Kazakhstan, took me two days to cross the, the entire Kazakhstan. They, I went to 'em. Port next to the Caspian sea. Then I needed to take a boat across the Caspian sea to a Azerbaijan, but the boat didn't come for a long time, and I waited six days at the port.
And the port is middle of nowhere. There isn't only desert and the small shop, very small shop and the shop only sells Piero Siki bread, which is a russian bread. so I was eating the bread, small bread for six days every day. Same
kind of bread.
Tim: [00:23:22] And you got bored with that? No sushi then?
Taiichi: [00:23:24] No sushi from
no spaghetti, no nothing.
Just this small bread Russian bread.
Yeah.
The day that the chip or chocolate. So I was having chocolate and a Russian bread. Every day.
Tim: [00:23:40] Wow. I bet you bet you wanted a big salad by the time you'd got somewhere else.
Taiichi: [00:23:45] Yes. I was so happy after eating
salad
other than bread,
Tim: [00:23:51] right?
Taiichi: [00:23:52] Yeah.
Then, I went through, Azerbaijan.
They had the Georgian border. They stopped me again and the police come to my train. And the police told me, you need to get off the train. Immediately he told me and I, he took me to a police station, small one next to the train track. Then the police told me, have you been to China? So I said, yes. more than two weeks ago, I went to China.
Then the police said, you need to take a temperature.
Tim: [00:24:32] Oh, right. Yeah, yeah. This virus,
Taiichi: [00:24:35] yes. Virus going on, so they are very strict about this. Then they brought me a, thermometer there with a, you know, you are forehead, you check on the,
Tim: [00:24:46] yeah.
Taiichi: [00:24:47] Then they told me I have a fever.
Tim: [00:24:50] God.
Taiichi: [00:24:54] Then. Then they told me to stay at the police station for while. Then a lots of police came about, 20 people coming in. I was like, Oh
my
God,
Tim: [00:25:09] this is not good too good disease control . More people turning up when you, if they think you're infectious, it's like
Taiichi: [00:25:17] they come to see me. They called the ambulance. Then the doctor came out from the ambulance and the doctor checked me again and they checked, he checked my temperature again and I still shows the fever 37.4
degrees.
What happened was, Oh, I have a idea now. The idea was I have, another thermometer, in my bag. Which is made in Japan.
Tim: [00:25:51] Okay.
Taiichi: [00:25:52] Thermometer. Yes. The, which is like a, you put on the side of arm. Okay. Yes. Which is it contact? then I measured that again, they, it shows a no temperature 36.5. And I did again and again, and the show, they showed it to the doctor.
Oh, I don't have any temperature. Then I asked him, do you believe this? You are Turkish thermometer or Japanese thermometer. Then he, I convinced him, I don't have any fever.
Tim: [00:26:32] Good, good.
Taiichi: [00:26:33] Yes, but he did. He told me, if I have any problem, I need to call this a hospital immediately.
Tim: [00:26:42] Right.
Taiichi: [00:26:43] So then they let me go the,
yeah.
Tim: [00:26:47] So that, that, that raises another question, which is how does this, like how do you communicate, like, do, do you have a, like a, a SIM that works in all of these places or do you use wifi? How do you, like how do you communicate with the outside? Like he's saying you should ring this hospital, but. Yeah. It goes to me.
Taiichi: [00:27:07] Oh, my internet is really good. Oh. Throughout the trip, I always have a 4G or three G connection usually, and sometimes two G, but still connected or the way from Japan to, Kazakhstan.
Tim: [00:27:23] What about the, the initial the ferry to, to Shanghai? How did that work?
Taiichi: [00:27:28] Ferry has a satellite, internet.
Tim: [00:27:30] Wow.
Taiichi: [00:27:32] Most of the time I get, it's near the shore, I'm sure of Japan or Korea or show Shanghai. China. So I have a SIM card, which is, issued in Estonia, and the SIM card takes every country. So it's like a worldwide SIM card. I can do internet in any countries. Most of the countries. Yeah, true.
Tim: [00:28:00] Cool. Yeah. But that, that just works.
And you don't have like a, you don't have to go out and buy a local SIM every time you have arrived somewhere, then. Interesting. So that's, and how does this like getting stopped at the border? I mean, you fly a lot. has the same problem when you're flying that you get stopped to life
Taiichi: [00:28:23] much, much easier because more people, they need to, go through more people in the airport, which is a less, problem for individuals.
Right. So more lots of more people.
Tim: [00:28:36] So you're kind of hiding.
Taiichi: [00:28:39] Exactly. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Land travel more problematic. Yes. Hmm.
Tim: [00:28:47] so they, are they, were they reasonably friendly about this or were they kind of being, being
Taiichi: [00:28:56] very strict at the border, which is very serious and that they carry guns and they. Yeah.
Just
bored, I think.
Tim: [00:29:06] Yeah. Yeah. I guess you're something interesting to do on here, really.
Taiichi: [00:29:11] Somebody at the job, I think,
Tim: [00:29:15] well, I guess, I mean, I guess it's true that not, not many people take take, I mean, this boat across the Caspian. Who was on it? Why? What's the boat do?
Taiichi: [00:29:27] All of the people are truck drivers.
The lorry drivers. Yes, truck driver, everybody. Just truck drivers. So the only guys on the boat and a 50 60 usually
Tim: [00:29:45] their trucks. What were they moving? Fruit trucks.
Taiichi: [00:29:50] They got some goods from China. And they transport to Kazakhstan, then they transfer there into Azerbaijan, Georgia, and some to Turkey, I
think.
Tim: [00:30:03] Wow. So it's really, it's an Overland like shipping route effectively. Exactly, yes. Wow. No,
Taiichi: [00:30:10] no, no other people. No locals. Only a truck drivers.
Tim: [00:30:15] Interesting. Interesting. And how long was that boat journey?

Taiichi: [00:30:19] The boat journey took me 24 hours. Okay. From a cut to Azerbaijan. Yes.
Tim: [00:30:25] And could you, like, did you get a cabin and get to sleep on that or
Taiichi: [00:30:28] yet, but the cab cabin was very old and they
got the shower and toilet, but it's very bad condition,
Tim: [00:30:37] huh?
Yeah.
Taiichi: [00:30:39] Very happy because I can eat other than the
more bread.
Tim: [00:30:43] Right, right, right.
Taiichi: [00:30:44] Yeah.
The chef was very friendly people and I was very happy. It's out of the port.
Tim: [00:30:54] Yeah. And so what, what language do you speak with all of these people? Do you do, like, do you write, yeah,
Taiichi: [00:31:02] mainly English. In China, I speak Chinese, so, I spoke Chinese and English at the, mixed.
Tim: [00:31:11] Do you think that that helps speaking Chinese or do you think it made it more difficult for them to
Taiichi: [00:31:16] learn?
Because they are wondering why I speak Chinese. Why? Spys oe journalists, they, they, you know, they got trained.
Tim: [00:31:26] Yeah,
Taiichi: [00:31:28] yeah. More tourists, you know, it's better for that.
Tim: [00:31:32] Right. And you're, so these trains, I'm trying to picture them whether they, like you sent, you mentioned one of them was a bullet train, but like where they all, all that kind of kind of modern, really fast train or what
Taiichi: [00:31:46] in China, they got three kinds, I think.
One it's, A copy of a Siemens and they license some of their trains to China, so say exactly same as a German train. You know, ICE.
Tim: [00:32:01] Oh, yup,
yup, yup.
Taiichi: [00:32:04] ICE in there and another kind. It's a Japanese Shinkansen,
which is
a Japanese government gave 'em 60 trains to China long time ago, about 15 years ago.
So they copied it and they are making new ones.
Tim: [00:32:25] Okay. But, but, but so these are all quite fast trains. We're not thinking of like
Taiichi: [00:32:31] more than 290 - 300 kilometers per hour usually.
Tim: [00:32:38] So you're, you're not looking at like. Oh, old sort of sixties big slow trains. These are proper, proper cranberry
Taiichi: [00:32:48] ones. Exactly. Same as the one in Germany
Tim: [00:32:52] and are they busy?
These trains and there are lots of people on them or,
Taiichi: [00:32:56] yes, because I was a, I went through China before the Chinese new year.
Tim: [00:33:02] Right. So
Taiichi: [00:33:03] new year before the new year, everybody going home.
Tim: [00:33:06] Okay. Okay. But, but also in Kazakhstan, there's, this train is relatively busy, or
Taiichi: [00:33:13] the Kazakhstan train was very slow, old the Soviet train.
Tim: [00:33:18] Okay.
Taiichi: [00:33:19] Yeah. So short that distance by it took me more, more time.
Tim: [00:33:24] So I, I have a theory about these, the old trains, which is like that they are warmer, I was on a very old train last night and it was really warm, like sort of excess heat from the diesel engine was like coming in. Where's
the, the ICE can actually
be quite often can be a bit cold.
Taiichi: [00:33:45] Right.
Then the Kazakhstan one, because Kazakhstan train, they warm up the, coal charcoal, I think.
Tim: [00:33:56] Yeah. Right. And how, Yeah. So how comfortable are these trains? Are you, cause you're presumably, you're sitting, you've been sitting down in a train for, you know, three weeks.
Taiichi: [00:34:09] It's very comfortable. It's just a seat.
But, it's like a first class of airplane. I can lie down almost. So it's a very good seat. And a Kazakhstan, a train. It's a compartment of a four beds.
So
no other people. Sometimes they come and that sometime they go,
you know,
some station they stop and the passenger come to my compartment. I have a chat with another Kazakhstan guy or lady.
Then they leave with the next station. So was interesting.
Tim: [00:34:46] So, so those that, yeah, I was thinking about that. Like I find that I quite often do chat with people on trains, whereas I almost never do on aircraft. Do you find that it's a more sociable, like travel,
Taiichi: [00:35:00] travel? Yes. I met a lot of people by moving, by land, I go through about every year I go through airports, airplanes, but I don't talk to many people.
In that way. And it's very strange to talk with other people on the people there. They can be businessman, they can be students, they can be other job. But it's very strange to talk with the next person, but, and get to know them. But on the train, you spend longer time. That's why I need to talk with the
person
more interesting because they live in this place in the very rural site.
And,
they can be students.
And
so it's more interesting, I think. And they meet more people
that way.
Tim: [00:35:56] So what do you do when you're not chatting to people? Do you read books or listen to music or.
Taiichi: [00:36:01] Oh, I'm playing, I'm, doing internet usually.
Tim: [00:36:04] Okay. Yeah. So you're effectively, you're working as you travel through.
Taiichi: [00:36:10] Yes, yes. I'm working while moving because my internet works, so I can work and I can take photo and I can upload my photos to Facebook. I can do many things. I can write that book on my computer, take, you know, YouTube videos
and things like that.
Tim: [00:36:29] Interesting, and then
Taiichi: [00:36:32] I'm more connected on the train than the airplane.
Tim: [00:36:38] This was what I was wondering about, like whether whether you get better internet and it's so, I mean, like you're using YouTube on airplanes is like,
Taiichi: [00:36:49] yeah,
Tim: [00:36:50] no way. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. Do you feel like you were reasonably productive in, in, in, in those days that you're traveling?
Taiichi: [00:37:02] I'm a, I work more than usual.
Let me try. Last year even, I'm moving more. I moved that 249 hours. In the last 30 days. So that's 10 days. Keep moving all the time.
Tim: [00:37:22] And what the, when you're, do you sleep on the trains or do you like book into a hotel? And I should ask you in a minute how you organized all that, but yeah.
Taiichi: [00:37:33] Yeah. I'm a, I sleep on the train of course, because a, it took me 70 70 hours in the Kazakhstan.

Tim: [00:37:42] but
Taiichi: [00:37:45] right. In China, they have a fast train, but first train only operates on the daytime. So I need to book a hotel on every city they finish. So I had a Tuesday night, two nights stay in the hotel in Shanghai, in China. Yeah.
Tim: [00:38:02] Okay. And how do you, how do you go about booking all this? Did you like, plan it all out in advance and then book it like a month ago or, or are you winging it as you just put the next step?
Taiichi: [00:38:14] since I don't know how it goes with my schedule, so I'm just keep booking as I go. But the booking is mostly done by on the internet. Everything Kazakhstan train can be booked on the internet. Chinese train can be booked on the internet. So most of the things I can do on the internet.
Tim: [00:38:36] You booking like a day or a couple of days ahead or what?
What's your
Taiichi: [00:38:42] about? sometimes they before two days.
Before, a couple of days before.
Tim: [00:38:47] Okay. Yeah. Interesting. So you'd like it, the internet, basically the presence of the internet and the, and 4G makes this whole thing possible. Yes. Otherwise it would be. Otherwise.
Taiichi: [00:39:03] Yes,
Tim: [00:39:07] I did. This is interesting cause I mean I've been, you know my, for my own, I just done about. 10 days of train journey myself. nothing like the distance is you've been doing, but, but it, it, it did, it's, it's different. I, I've got a lot of work done on the train. I, I can, I find that actually, that the laptop is for most of the European trains, the laptop is often big.
Alright. And so an iPad is a better choice for, for like the trains. I think if you buy the expensive seats in, in ICE or whatever, then it's comfortable laptop's fine, but, but if you're paying the cheap cheap rates, but then the thing is like, stuff does go wrong, right? You do. You find that this, I mean there that day that this train just got, in fact twice in the last 10 days, the train is just like.
Been canceled halfway along, so it just said, all right, we're not going any further now. And then you have to like work out what to do next. And again, with the internet you can like look at what the possibilities are and like find out other ways of doing what you want to do and that kind of stuff.
Taiichi: [00:40:24] I think so very much.
Tim: [00:40:26] And, and, and you, I, it's, without that information, you'd be really stuck. You'd be in the middle of nowhere. I mean, I was
Taiichi: [00:40:35] like, I'd be scared actually.
Tim: [00:40:38] Yeah. Yeah. So like I was in, I mean, it's not scary, but I was in like nine 30 at night in the middle of Germany and had no idea where I was. And I knew that the train I needed to get on where it was, cause I could write it up on the internet and I could find a local train that would like meet it.
Somewhere and intercept it before I, I kind of missed it completely. So like, you know, you could work, it took a little working out, but you could do it because that information is all out there. That's just a, which is interesting. And it, and it not, not in, not a difficult language problem either, which is, it's kind of interesting.
Taiichi: [00:41:15] Yes. Because with the internet I can do the translations and the, you know, Google translate and show it to people. Right. So it's, yeah. Yeah.
Tim: [00:41:26] And how, like the other thing I found is that it's more expensive than flying by along. By large amount, like do you finding it like crazily expensive to do what you're doing or is it okay?
Taiichi: [00:41:39] Yeah, two things surprised me actually. The land trip is bit more expensive, but compare with. Because I go to many, many places last year in the one month time, I spend more time, more money in this time. Yes. So I spend much, much less than last year. So that's number one. So I spent the less, or as doing similar things, but, and another thing is, environmentally, I thought that the train trip was more environmentally friendly, but this is not the reason I went on the lands. But, the girl called Gretta, right?
Tim: [00:42:24] Yeah.
Taiichi: [00:42:25] She moved around with no airplane.
Tim: [00:42:27] Yes.
Taiichi: [00:42:28] And she said it's good for environment, but by moving on the land, I think more emissions come off. Because this Kazakhstan train is very slow.
And, they burned the coal and it took me 20 or 30 days to get on the from Japan to Germany. That means it's, I spend more, a few, I spent more engine hours, hotel stay. So I think it's environmentally not friendly. I think for the longer distance moving,
Tim: [00:43:09] I, yeah, I mean, I have a, I, it's not exactly a rule, but my kind of thought process on this is that if I can go somewhere within a day on, right on a reasonably busy train, and that is a great, that's probably a good environmental decision.
But yes. But the moment I have to like. Go further than that. As you say, ads, hotel and whatever, and maybe a taxi and you start to wonder whether, whether that actually makes sense anymore. But also just for my comfort, I find like more than a day on the train is hard work. I mean, maybe I don't have the right attitude.
it doesn't have your relaxed attitude towards the travel, but, but I, I find like eight or 10 hours on a train in a days like I did yesterday, I took an amazingly old, British train yesterday down to the South Wales on this, huge diesel train, which as I said was lovely and warm, but noisy and smelly.
Taiichi: [00:44:17] Exactly. Yes. I understand
Tim: [00:44:19] that. And, and these just actually this question you have, you may not actually have noticed, but are these trains electric or, I mean, obviously the Kazakhstan one, that
Taiichi: [00:44:30] Chinese one was electric. ICE. Right. They liked three other ones. Soviet once more, more like, diesel are. Yeah. Everything.
diesel ,
Tim: [00:44:44] these trains. Like I'm, I noticed a big difference. This is the thing that struck me yesterday and there's just a big difference in what the, information systems are like on the trains. Like what kind of information you can get from the train about where it is and how fast it's going and where it'll stop and all of those things like.
The German ones are like, are almost like being on an airplane, like you can see on the map or where you're going and where you've got, how late you are and all of that. Whereas the, like the one I was on last night, I had no idea where it was. I had to open Google maps and like see where I got to.
Taiichi: [00:45:24] Right.
My GPS works very where, Google map works very well.
Tim: [00:45:31] Yeah. That's sort of, I don't know. I think the difference for me is like if the train says it's going somewhere, sort of gives you more assurance that it's actually going to go
Taiichi: [00:45:42] there. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. . Yeah, no, I need the thread. I'm mind going in the right direction or,
Tim: [00:45:53] right, right.
Yeah. Yeah. It would be a shame to kind of go the wrong way for three days.
Taiichi: [00:46:00] Yes.
Yes. That's, yeah.
Tim: [00:46:08] So if you worked out what the total distance you've traveled is in this,
Taiichi: [00:46:14] I think, Nearly 10,000 I think more than the second I calculated.
Tim: [00:46:21] Okay.
Taiichi: [00:46:22] But this is our, the 14 nearly 14,000 kilometers.
Vim: [00:46:28] Okay, yeah. Wow. And what next ? You're going back the same way or are you going, I'm going.
Okay.
Taiichi: [00:46:39] I'm going to Spain by a train then from Spain, Valencia port, I'm going to take a cargo ship to America. To New York.
Tim: [00:46:52] Wow.
Taiichi: [00:46:53] Yeah. Container ship boxer. It's a big, huge container.
Yeah.
Not this company.
Tim: [00:47:00] That'll be fun. I knew you've got a American passport, so they weren't given a hard time when you get in. Yes.
Like I think if I did that, like, like, you know, they want to ask me
Taiichi: [00:47:14] all America.
Tim: [00:47:15] Yeah. Yeah. Well that's, that's so exciting. How are you going to get to Niue?
Taiichi: [00:47:26] Another good question. I'm a already planning for that. I take, a cruise ship from San Francisco to French Polynesia.
Tim: [00:47:36] Okay.
Taiichi: [00:47:38] Tahitti. yes. Then I need to look for a yacht.
Somebody going a direction of going to Niue
Vim: [00:47:47] and are
Tim: [00:47:48] you, are you a good sailor? Do you like being on small boats?
Taiichi: [00:47:52] Yeah, but that's the only, option. So,
Tim: [00:47:58] yes. Isn't there a cargo boat that goes like once a month or something?
Taiichi: [00:48:02] Yes, that cover board, but a cargo boat doesn't take any passengers? No.
Tim: [00:48:10] Oh, that's interesting.
I assumed it did. Okay,
Taiichi: [00:48:16] but now they don't do it. Do it.
Tim: [00:48:18] Yeah. That's interesting. So are you going to be there for them? I hear they're finally getting fiber to the Island. Yes.
Taiichi: [00:48:28] Yes. Finally, the cable. It's there and we are testing right
now.
Tim: [00:48:33] I'd be really interested. We should. I mean, it's not really part of this podcast, but I'd be really interested to hear how that's going.

Taiichi: [00:48:39] we can do, I can do another
podcast from Niue with a cable.
Tim: [00:48:44] That would be so cool. And actually I should talk to you about, I have some ideas about how maybe we can use that, but, good, good. Yeah. so presumably you're going to take the train across the USA.
Taiichi: [00:48:57] That's another good question. I like to make a camping car, like a RV recreation.
Tim: [00:49:06] Yep. Yep.
Taiichi: [00:49:07] what do I want to do is, I want to make a new, kind of like a Hatch or door. Which connects to a home or office or because in next, maybe after 10 years, 20 years, there will be autonomous driving cars, right.
Tim: [00:49:24] Right.
Taiichi: [00:49:25] After those, you know, automatic cars coming out, Then you are room or the office or some kind of room starts to go on the road, like the camping simulate you have in car with the driver.
Then you can go to work, you can go to a shopping, you can go to camping, see a bed on it. Okay. You are while you are sleeping, you can go to another places. Yes. Right. Then what happens is, after this gets possible, the infrastructure, like a water, electricity, Sewage, those, lines for the camping car.
You need to go get out of the car and you need to connect one by one, right? Yes. So I like to make a door with this infrastructure already built into this store. So you just connect with your office, which. You got called to the office, which connects everything. What? The elixirs.
Tim: [00:50:26] Oh, okay. So it's kind of one
Taiichi: [00:50:29] anything, right?
Tim: [00:50:30] Yeah. So you think that people are going to adopt yours, your lifestyle, and be like more nomadic than they are at the moment?
Taiichi: [00:50:38] I think so. In the future,
I think.
Tim: [00:50:41] Yeah. And do you think that suits, like how, how, how do you see things like education and that sort of thing working you think people will live in, in.
On the move and in that way?
Taiichi: [00:50:54] I think so. I think if you want to go to somewhere, you're living room can take you to another hotel or in the mountain side, or you can even go to a other other part of the world with this car, this new,
this door to another hotel or your office or your friend's
home.
Tim: [00:51:20] So you're kind of taking your own space with you and then like, just borrowing the services of the, the way you were arriving at
Taiichi: [00:51:29] you dont have to go outsides and connect the, or the, you know, water, sewage, and you to deal with complicated stuff like
right now.
Tim: [00:51:40] Right. There's a lovely, a lovely book. Called blue highways, I don't know if you've read it, but it's an . So blue highways and what's the guy called? ? Yeah, it's, I think it's William least heat moon, and it's about, it's about him driving round the U S he buys a, an old white.
Truck. Wow. It puts, puts a, a bed in the back and he drives around the U S but he's, he's thing is that he's, no, he won't drive on the interstate. He only drives on the route, the roads and the marked in blue on the Rand McNally. So, so the side roads, so he drives the whole, like a full circle around the, around the USA.
But on a, on, on small roads. And he spent about probably six months doing it and just meeting people and living in the back of this thing. And it's interesting. I mean it's a lovely book. It's probably a bit dated now. It's like probably written in the 70s but so a lot of those things won't be there anymore.
But, but it kind of reminds what you said reminded me of that. Cause he's basically, you know. He lives in this thing and drives around, just like kind of taking in the sights.
Taiichi: [00:52:55] One time I invested the into a movie called the Ten Miles per hour. 10. MPH. This movie is about the segway, you know, the segway scooter
crossing the whole entire America with a segway. So the movie about that, and I think it's YouTube right now. So
Tim: [00:53:18] did they actually do it? How often do you have to charge it up to do that? Like I've done
Taiichi: [00:53:26] my extra batteries and the car following the segway or in the car, they charge the segway.
Tim: [00:53:35] Okay. So they're like, swap the batteries over.
Taiichi: [00:53:38] Right. Right.
Tim: [00:53:39] Interesting. Yeah. I, you'd be so dried out after that. You're like, you'd need your moisturizer on for, for that trip. So what are your, like, what are your travel essentials? What's the non-obvious thing that you pack? Like, and you wouldn't be without on a trip like this?
Taiichi: [00:53:59] I think my own blankets.
The my own favorite blankets, so I feel like my home every day.
Tim: [00:54:06] Okay. And what about headphones? Do you have a favorite?
Taiichi: [00:54:13] Good question. I have a Sony noise canceling headphones right. Yeah.
Tim: [00:54:20] I won't, I won't travel without my Bose headphones. Like without a pair of canceling headphones. Travel is, is like much harder cause you can just buy
Taiichi: [00:54:31] Bose and Sony.
They make a good noise canceling ones.
Tim: [00:54:34] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. And then, but then you, the only thing is you have to keep charging these things up so
Taiichi: [00:54:42] Most trains they have a powerport. Most buses, they have a power port, so I don't. And I have a two, a big, what power bank.
Tim: [00:54:54] Okay. Yep.
Taiichi: [00:54:56] So I can use that.
Tim: [00:55:00] So, so like that is the big change is this thing about having. Having electricity and having internet.
Taiichi: [00:55:08] Right. The good thing was I bought a satellite phone in Japan.
I was thinking about taking it then I forgot it in Japan.
Tim: [00:55:19] Huh? Okay. But
Taiichi: [00:55:21] if I carry that in the on the Chinese border, they may,
Tim: [00:55:26] yeah, definitely a spy then.
Taiichi: [00:55:28] So I was very glad I forgot about this.
Tim: [00:55:33] So do you have like you literally have one talent, one phone, you don't like have a spare or.
Taiichi: [00:55:39] no, I don't have a spare.
I just have a one, but if I need a spare, I can buy it.
Tim: [00:55:46] Yeah, yeah. No, it's, they're not that hard to get ahold of these days. That's cool. That's so cool. And what, so where do you eat on the train? Do you eat the food that
Taiichi: [00:55:57] I eat on the train? Yes.
Tim: [00:55:59] And food that you buy in a market or do you buy
Taiichi: [00:56:03] in the, in the plane, the train.
In the case of span and China, they have a dining cars.
Tim: [00:56:12] That sounds really quite exotic and fun. Yeah. The food on German trains is a little boring. It's all right, but it's not nothing special.
Taiichi: [00:56:24] Right.
Tim: [00:56:25] yeah. But also like they make an attempt to detach Korean food and it doesn't really work. Yeah. But there's no, no sushi.
No. But sushi and job.
Taiichi: [00:56:38] No, it's terrible, I think.
Tim: [00:56:39] Right, right. Fish in Germany is never a good idea anyway. I must be somewhere in Germany where the sushi have not, not done that. Cool. any, any like last advice, like pitch should people try and do what you're doing or, or
Taiichi: [00:56:57] cause I thought the why I started was I wanted to see the world as a line or the area instead of just a point.
Lastly, until last year, I only. See the world as a point. For example, I fly from Tokyo. I see. I know. I understand Tokyo, and I see Tokyo there. I fly to London, then I see London. Then I see. I see Frankfurt. It's just a point. Every city is a point. But now I see the world as a line more. You know what's in between the points.
So
Tim: [00:57:38] do you look out of the window a lot to try and get a window seat?
Taiichi: [00:57:42] Yes. Yes. Then I can take more photos
Tim: [00:57:45] right. Right? Yes. And did you like I, final question, did you see that the evolution of the countries you went through, like, I don't know if you've been to any of them before, but like we don't in the West, we don't really have a picture of what Kazakhstan's like or, or, or Armenia or any of these places.
I, you know, I've never been to any of them
Taiichi: [00:58:06] right. So what was the, what was the question?
Vim: [00:58:09] So the question is like, are they, are they evolving? Are they like, you know, are they leading us? So the technology, Lee, I mean, you've got 4G everywhere, so they're probably better than the UK.
Taiichi: [00:58:20] I think, what is, what happens in the future is, now I think the world is more mainly globalized already in, you know, in the middle of Kazakhstan where the only Camels and the horses that work in the walking around still, I get the four G four G signal.
And I can still work on the internet in this kind of situation, or even China is very advanced on many technologies, but what happens in the future is only one software or only one, system or technology can change the whole work immediately. That will happen. For example, this are autonomous car coming.
It changed, change the entire world immediately in the three to five years, I think.
Tim: [00:59:13] Yeah. I mean, things
Taiichi: [00:59:16] happens coming, I think.
Tim: [00:59:18] Right. That'll be interesting to see how that plays out. Cool. Listen, thank you so much for that.
And we'll, we'll do another one from, from Niue over the New cable that
Taiichi: [00:59:34] they, yeah.
Tim: [00:59:35] Lovely. All right. Thanks so much. Have a good day in Munich.
Taiichi: [00:59:40] Yeah, you too. Thank you.
Tim: [00:59:42] Bye.