We are Erika and Robin from Scotland and in April 2005 we quit our jobs and set off to cycle from Scotland to İstanbul.
We reached İstanbul in October 2005 having discovered that cycling truly is the best way to travel and so decided to keep going beyond the Bosphorous......
We had never cycled any long distance before but had been wanting to travel for a long time and had finally saved enough and realised ıf we didn't set off now we never would. We decided cycling would be the best form of transport as we wanted to learn more about the countries and people we passed through at a slow pace.
Also we are useless at making decisions so settıng off from our home on bikes at least solved the problem of where to go first!
The plan was to cycle across Europe to İstanbul. We also wanted to travel overland through Asia and then somehow get to South America too, but having never cycled more than a few miles a day before we did not want to commit to cycling all the way. By the time we reached İstanbul we had already decided to keep on riding, and even being run off the road on the way into the city - requiring hospital treatment - did not put us off this idea.
August 17th 2009
Some photos to show you I'm still alive and very happy. I went with a great group of friends to Yogjakarta to celebrate Indonesia's Independence day. "Merdeka!" Met some great people there through couchsurfing and altogether lost my voice from talking and laughing so much. ... read more
November 16th 2008
The smell of the third world hits me as soon as we exit the immigrasi at Batam; that unmistakable smell of burning rubbish mixed with low-grade exhaust fumes and other exotic smells that just didn't exist back across the Straits. Singapore is probably the most immaculate city and country in the world, Indonesia is, well very different. We change money and enter the scrum of shouting Ojek drivers (an Ojek is motorbike taxi, how they think they can help us when we already have 2 wheels of our own is something I don't bother to stop and discuss) and food vendors, the road outside is a circus of food and market stalls as today is the day the big Pelni ship comes to town (well small village with a jetty really). We ride into the huge ... read more
August 31st 2008
Yes we are still alive and well. We have been lazy cyclists and even lazier bloggers for most of our time in South East Asia, especially since leaving Vietnam - our last blog post. That was 3 and a half months ago and since then we have visited 4 new countries and pedalled our way very slowly from Ho Chi Minh City to Kuala Lumpur here in Malaysia. Thanks to the many people who have contacted us recently with messages of support and encouragement, both friends from home and those we have never met who simply wondered why the blogs had stopped and where we had got to. Sometimes we do not feel so inspired or motivated to cycle anymore. Maybe it is the heat and humidity, maybe we have simply been on the road for ... read more
June 15th 2008
We arrived in Thailand caked in dust and mud, with Robin half blind. The Thai border post was the smartest building we had seen in ages, covered in portraits of the Thai King and the Red, White and Blue flag. We would soon learn these are omnipresent. Everything was just so much cleaner and tidier than Cambodia, something we felt highly conscious of as we stood stinking and covered mud in a queue of smart, clean, and perfumed backpackers to clear immigration. Our bikes looked little better than us and about 2km into the country Erika's chain broke in protest. We felt it was trying to tell us something. That fixed we dived into the Market Motel, Aranyaprathet and headed for their swimming pool. We were going to like Thailand, there was so much more stuff ... read more
May 25th 2008
We must be getting good as this travel lark - we entered Cambodia without having to bribe the immigration officials to stamp our passports as many travellers do, and even manged to haggle the money changers down to a decent rate. Riding away from the border post we entered a surreal world of high rise hotel casinos, neon signs, bars and expensive cars. Could this Las Vegas-like border town really be Cambodia? A kilometre or 2 later and we had our answer - no. Leaving town we reflected how yet again a simple line on a map has resulted in such a huge change. The green paddies of Vietnam had given way to endless brown, dry flat unplanted paddies. Where in Vietnam there was life and generators pumping water into many irrigation channels to feed the ... read more
April 25th 2008
Borders are rarely this significant. Usually the fact that some imaginary line on a map has been crossed does not actually show itself on the ground. The Laos-Vietnam border is different; we went from a steep, almost vertical, climb up through thick jungle to a sudden line of no trees, flat, bare ground and huge excavators eating away more of the hillsides. Suddenly there was a 6 lane road and houses everywhere. These houses were not the bamboo and hardwood huts we were used to, they were tiny concrete boxes, housing large families plus their motos. Now “motos’’ (scooters and motorbikes) are everywhere too. There is a serious fashion business going on in Moto helmets too - you can get them in all colours with attachable sun brims in baby pink. The women also are seriously ... read more
March 23rd 2008
The long flat road stretched out endlessly south from Vientienne. The first day was ok; we made good progress despite a relentless headwind and towards the end of the day the forested hills of a National Park loomed up to the left of the road. We checked into a nice little guesthouse and set out to find the market in the tiny town. We managed to stock up with bananas and peanuts, which are about the only snack food we have found in this country. It was only then that we noticed the other more exotic foods for sale: kingfishers, herons and squirrels lay dead on the tables. Our hearts fell even more as we looked round to find a flattened pangolin and a civet (we think) for sale too. Once the stallholders had realised that ... read more
February 26th 2008
Ask me what I did in Laos I will say not much. Even though we have cycled from the Chinese border south to Vientienne we have also spent a lot of time still and resting. Drinking lots of wonderful 'Beer Lao' and eating many baguettes and doughnuts, we are definitely appreciating a rest and relaxation. Maybe it is where we are in our journey but I think that more likely it is Laos; it really is an infectiously lazy place. So we are off to drink lovely rich chocolatey Lao coffee, maybe iced with condensed milk added. A wander round the National Museum may reveal more about the country to us and help us feel justified in relaxing in Vientienne, the capital, by informing us a bit about Laos. But even if I never learn a ... read more
January 25th 2008
We had done it, we were officially out of the permit zone that is the Tibet Autonomous Region, but in Zhongdian we were still very much in Tibet. The faces, clothing and houses all still looked Tibetan. Above the 'old town' stands a prominent Tibetan Gompa with an even more prominent prayer wheel next to it. In fact this is allegedly the biggest prayer wheel in the world, and as it takes at least 3 people to start turning the thing it’s not hard to believe it. The town is surrounded by pine forested hills and wide grasslands alongside the lake, full of huge wooden racks drying the last of the hay and barley before the winter snows arrived. As everywhere in China however Zhongdian is something of a sprawling modern concrete city with many Han ... read more
December 23rd 2007
I am wearing most of my clothes; leggings, trousers and waterproof over trousers, 5 tops, a down jacket and my over jacket, plus two hats, 3 pairs of gloves and 2 pairs of socks. My fingers and toes are still completely frozen, but none of this is bothering me as the amazing night sky full of stars is reflected in the big river which is gently flowing past me on my right. The moon rose at about 4 am as we were packing up our camp, struggling with the ice encrusted tent and stiff bags. Now this silver light casts long weird shadows of the spidery poplars across the frozen road. We pedal along in the dark, our head torches switched off for this clandestine ride. This really does feel like madness, the afternoon before it ... read more