Approaching the border, it started to dawn on us; this was the beginning of the end. We were about to enter the last “real” country on this trip. This was going to be our sprint to the finish line. After this, we would be done. We would have succeeded in what we set out to do and as this occurs, we will have it no more.
This emotional duality is probably unavoidable but, nevertheless, something that became clearer and clearer as we aired our feelings of restlessness, accomplishment, ease and unrest, all at the same time… But we were not there yet; we still had another three weeks of cycling in front of us, three weeks of Malaysia.
March 28th, 2017 in Malacca, Malaysia
Every year, hundreds of thousands tourists escape their cold and gloomy existence to spend a week or two on a sunny beach somewhere in Thailand. We all have a friend, a neighbor or a colleague that keeps going back, year after year. But would any of them ever write a blog about it? Sure, they might post a few (too many) pictures with their feet in the sand or with some exotic cocktail at sunset, but a blog post? Why would they?
Thailand is one of those countries (at least in Sweden) that, even if you haven't been there yourself, you know sort of what to expect. So many people have already told the stories of the northern lush jungle mountains, the beautiful southern beaches or the crazy island-parties. So why would anyone want to hear about that…again?
March 18th, 2017 in George Town, Malaysia
Another border, another country... Not too long ago, it had taken us just under three months to cross China and now we were entering our third country in under a month. The roads we followed in Cambodia were mostly flat and paved, food was easily accessible and there was lots of places to rest at night. So, we were easily doing good time without the need for much planning. And with a total of just eights days in the country we don't really have a lot to write about… but we’ll give it a go anyway!
Febuary 25th, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand
After weeks of Vietnamese rain and humidity we crossed into Laos. And like the turn of a page, the rain and clouds were suddenly exchanged for blue skies and a scorching sun. We felt like we'd been teleported to the African savannah during dry season as the landscape suddenly changed from lush and green to dry and yellow.
But the weather was not the only thing that changed; all of the sudden we were eagerly greeted by almost everyone we saw. Not that the people of Vietnam had been rude in any way but now we were greeted by almost desperate calls for our attention in a way we hadn't experienced since Tajikistan.
Febuary 14th, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand
Just like entertaining China had been like stepping into a whole new world, rolling into Vietnam would prove no different. However, this time the big difference arose from there being so many other tourists! We had arrived in Vietnam via the Ha Giang province and even though the region is not on the main tourist route, the change was immediate. The small border-town of Ha Giang had a hostel packed full of western tourist and we noticed a dramatic increase in spoken English among the locals. Pleased by being able to communicate again we took this a good sign; a sign that things weren't going to be particularly hard from here on.
January 30th, 2017 on Don Det, Laos
After almost three months and a whopping 5 200 km, we've now left China behind. The country has, just like we said when we entered, in every way been a chapter in its own. It's been new, different and overwhelming. We had many preconceptions and prejudices when we entered…and unfortunately some many of them are still there…
But we'll get to that. Let's pick up where we left off.
December 25th, 2016 in Kunming, China
We were nervously heading into the Qilian mountains, wondering if this route was really such a good idea. Should we have stayed on the main road? Will there be places to stay along the way or will we be alright camping in the cold? We were finally heading south again but that didn't in any way mean it would start to get warmer. On the contrary, the temperature was dropping steadily as we kept climbing higher and higher onto the Tibetan Plateau.
November 26th, 2016 in Chengdu, China
China so distinctly marks a new chapter on this trip. It's new, different and overwhelming in every way. Everything from the roads, the people and the food (ahh the food) to the noises, the language(s) and the police. It's also by far the country on this trip that we've approached with the most preconceptions and prejudices. And it's all been a bit of a shock as some of these have come true…
So, China, we are finally here! We've been both anticipating and dreading this for so long. Fear for the elements has been our main concern and it has only grown stronger as we've now entered the country much later in the season then we had originally planned.
November 5th, 2016 in Xining, China
WE'VE CYCLED TO CHINA!!!
How awesome doesn't that sound? With a few short exceptions, we've pedaled all the way from our front door in the Kingdom of Sweden to China, the Middle Kingdom. We've crawled through deserts and climbed over mountains. We've sweated away under the blazing sun and fought against mind numbing headwinds. It both sounds and feels just a bit crazy. But we've made it; we've cycled to China!
But this post isn't about China; we just had to get that off our chests. Before we could get to China we had to go through Kazakhstan. Not a huge chunk of the country but a chunk to be crossed nevertheless. To be perfectly honest, our knowledge of Kazakhstan didn't stretch much further than… well Borat.
October 7th, 2016 in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Rolling along the continuous downhill tarmac road from the border towards Osh, we couldn't help but feeling that the road there somehow represented the rest of our time in Central Asia. Sure, there was a couple of tough passes ahead, but compared to what was now in our rear mirrors, things, particularly the road, looked pretty damn smooth… And yet we couldn't quite relax.
Robin’s bicycle had definitely seen better days and the cracks in his back rim was growing by the day. On top of that, we had yet to hear anything from the Chinese embassy who by now had been holding on to our passports for over a month's time...
September 8th, 2016 in Osh, Kyrgystan
Tajikistan! To be honest, we didn't know a lot about the country before we started our research for this trip. But while doing that it quickly became clear that Tajikistan was going to be both a high-mark and a low-mark at the same time. The country is known for it's beautiful scenery, remote areas, lack of hygiene and the horrible, horrible road conditions. Ever since we left Sweden, we've looked towards Tajikistan as one of the big challenges to come. But now, reality has caught up with us.
August 22nd, 2016 in Khorog, Tajikistan
We entered Uzbekistan feeling exhausted and low in spirit. The Turkmen-dash had completely drained us and everything felt very hard. The never ending heat, the boring desert landscape and our upset stomachs had us doubting we would get any more joy out of this journey. So we settled in in Bukhara for some serious rest and recovering, both physical and mental. We drank beer, ate good food (or as good as it gets Uzbekistan) and hanged out with other English-speaking travellers such as fellow cyclist, people travelling by car or motorcycle and “ordinary” backpackers.
August 5th, 2016 in Denov, Uzbekistan
"Can you get motion sickness from playing on a 3DS? I know some people feel sick when watching 3D-movies…” That's what was going through Robin's head as he decided to stop playing and go to sleep. Even though he managed to fall asleep within minutes, his rest would not last. He woke up feeling worse. Realizing he was going to throw up he hurried to unzip the tent and got out in the open desert. Not only was this going to be a long night with almost no sleep, tomorrow was the last day before the Turkmen-dash. We really didn't have time to be sick right now…
July 29th, 2016 in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
As we start making our way across Iran we're increasingly aware of how the poverty, angry dogs and violent begging children all seem to have vanished. People seem genuinely happy to see us, which is a really nice contrast to our last days in Turkey. We know; this is not the picture we painted in our last post, so before we get started on Iran, let's cover those 330 km we had left of Turkey after we last wrote.
Shortly after we left Erzurum we entered the Kurdish province of Agri and suddenly the people, and especially the children, were not the same as they had been previously...
June 18th, 2016 in Erzurum, Turkey
Turkey, Turkey, Turkey…by the time we leave the country in a couple of days we will have been here for six weeks. It is easily the longest time we have spent in a single country. Before this, the longest we'd spent in a country on this trip was little over a week.
And Turkey has been filled of ups and downs, both literally and figuratively. Our route has taken us along the Black Sea Coast and across mountains, winding up and down on roads that been everything between a gravel road occupied with cows and a smooth tarmac road occupied by trucks and cars. We decided to follow the coast with dreams of lazy days full of sun and beaches but it would seem reality had other plans. But more on that later…
May 21st, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey
It's sometimes hard trying to explain why we're doing this trip by bicycle. One of the benefits are that you can basically go more or less anywhere. Another that it is way to discovering one's personal limits, be it grovelling up a pass, shredding one's nerves downhill or just one's persistence during a downpour.
But before all of that it's an escape. An escape from the rat race, the big screen TV and everything that you're “suppose” to do/be at our age. An escape back to nature and solitude while at the same time taking us to new exciting places and people.
April 30th, 2016 in Belgrade, Serbia
It's now been almost a month since we started our journey. Since our last post we've left central Europe behind us and entered southeast Europe and the balkans. And even if there is a palpable difference in our surrounding, the biggest difference is probably with ourselves. We'll try to explain.
Central Europe was easy and very familiar. Things more or less looked and worked the same as back in Sweden and even if none of us are anywhere close to fluent in German (really not!) we could (almost) always made ourselves understood either in English or German. In a way, this made us feel more like we were cycling around our own backyard than exploring new parts of the world.
April 13rd, 2016 in Prague, Czechia
We've been at it for eleven days, biked almost 900 km and just arrived in Prague where we'll park our two-wheeled companions for a couple of days.
So what have we been up to over the last 10 days? Well, our journey began with the long and strenuous trip from Västra hamnen to Hyllie train station in Malmö. By utilizing ninja like stealth techniques we then managed to avoid both police and border patrol as we made our way into the unknown they call Denmark. As the 20 minute crossing had left us famished we were happy to find our friend Sofia waiting on the other side with provisions.
March 30, 2016 in Malmö, Sweden
For the last couples of months the list of things to do before we set out has seemed endless. There have always been something new to buy and try out, wardrobes and boxes to sort out and decide if we should keep it, try to sell it or give it to charity. To decide what kind of vaccinations we should get, which insurance that will cover our crazyness and so on...
And today our journey - our attempt at travelling by bicycle from Malmö, Sweden to Singapore - begins! We can't say we've accomplished all the things on our list but the boxes considered essential, are at least ticked and the rest, we can sort out along the way. Europe will be our warm up route as it is well populated, we can make ourselves understood and if we realized that there is something we need - we'll be able to buy it or fix it easily.