The Ultimate Journey
Plane crashes, train wrecks, ferry
mishaps and even terrorist attacks are occasionally reported in this
online travelogue, mainly to express sympathy for fellow travelers who deserved
more than the faulty modes of transport or security that failed their
lives. So often has this been done, however, that a friend noted an
unwelcoming morbidity, undermining this site's very purpose of
celebrating the joy of wanderlust amid challenge and risk.
Although I now agree with him, I must beg
his indulgence once again to observe one more tragedy. Surely 1st
February, 2003 deserves a few words.
Prohibitively costly and confoundedly politicized, the
human space flights launched from the United States, Russia and soon, China --
with participants from many more nations -- are nevertheless the
consummate endeavour towards technological progress, scientific
discovery, and international cooperation. That notion aside, the most
down-to-earth thing one can say about blasting off to space is simply
What a trip. Oh man, what a trip.
Of all the wonders of space travel in fact or fiction,
ponder only this: what is it like to see, with your own eyes, all the
familiar outlines of Earth's oceans and continents printed on a map? What is it like to see, in but a fleeting moment, the
entire sceptered isles of Britain and Eire, so oft shrouded by the storms of the
Atlantic? Imagine or recall the awe of standing atop the the Eiffel
Tower, the Grand Canyon or Kilimanjaro for the first time, and raise
that to the power of a million plus one.
Whenever anyone goes to space, he or she becomes the
eyes, ears, mind and heart of all humanity. May the courage
of the seven astronauts from America, India and Israel -- and that of
all other explorers before them -- always be remembered.
Charles Weng, 2nd February 2003