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When we were kids and dug around in our backyards our parents would ask if we were digging a hole to China, so we always assumed China was directly opposite our little patch of Earth. As we got older we finally realized that China and the US were both in the Northern Hemisphere, so how could they possibly be opposite each other?
But thanks to the Internet, and people who really have too much time on their hands, it is possible to go online and find what spot on the planet is directly opposite where you are currently sitting. Geographers even have a fancy name for it, the antipodal point or antipode. There is a web site that will calculate this location for you. If you start digging today you can look on the map to see where you will eventually emerge.
Right now we’re in Perth on the West Coast of Australia. The reason we’re here is because it is often described as the most remote large city on Earth; that seemed as good a reason as any. But it is also the closest land mass to the antipodal point of our home city of Philadelphia. In other words, we’re about as far away from home as we can get and still be on dry land.
It’s a sort of benchmark on our journey. Even though we are not yet halfway through our trip chronologically, we are already halfway around the globe geographically. But it also means there is a lot left to explore. After Perth we will meander around Southeast Asia for a few months. We have a feeling that part of the world will seem farther away from home than English-speaking, easy to navigate Australia.
Perhaps there should be a new kind of antipodal point, defined as the place on Earth that is not necessarily the farthest away geographically, but the farthest away with respect to culture, customs and surroundings. The place that is the most unlike anything you have experienced at home.