When we left the UK, we were a little apprehensive about how we would cope with our bike trip. We had dreamed about cycling to Australia for a while, but then Freddie got a joint inflammation in her back. After many months of fruitless physio treatments, she finally had a cortisone injection a couple of weeks before we set off on our trip. Nobody knew at the time if it would really fix the problem. We set off towards Dover anyway, not knowing if we would make it past France. Luckily the injection worked like a dream and so far, the pain has not returned.||
At the time we only focused on getting to Istanbul, to make our goal more achievable. The thought of cycling to Australia when Freddie wasn’t even able to cycle 10km without pain was simply too daunting.
After our first few weeks on the road, we started feeling fitter and healthier, and more confident about what lay ahead. We enjoyed the ride through France, Germany and Austria. At times it was flat and easy cycling, with no major challenges and quite a predictable daily routine.
Keeping relations favourable with the better half started off a little shaky. One infamous quote from the wife went something like this. "You know, if it continues like this we will be divorced by Istanbul". Luckily the situation soon settled and we found a way of managing our newly found time together: a second laptop! Certainly worth every ounce of extra weight.
By the time we hit Vienna we were ready for more challenging terrain, though also a little unsure if we would enjoy Eastern Europe. We ended up having a blast touching in and out of Slovakia and cycling through Hungary, where we happened to meet Di, a New Zealand girl who we ended up cycling with all the way to Istanbul. The war torn border towns of eastern Croatia were sobering, Serbia was a lovely surprise and Romania was a joy. Leaving the Danube after so many kilometres was like saying goodbye to an old friend, but crossing through the diverse terrain of Bulgaria made up for it. We had worried about cycling into Istanbul but ended up choosing a great route on which we enjoyed some amazing Turkish hospitality. Of course we also had some hard times, cycling in extreme heat almost every day for the last two months, coping with headwinds and bad roads, as well as some unfortunate food poisoning incidents (cheers Taka Taka man).
Tomorrow we will pedal out of Istanbul and head to the Cappadocia region, and then across Turkey towards Eastern Anatolia. It all gets a little more exciting from now on, bigger hills, more remote countryside, faster dogs...
We have successfully applied for an Iranian visa during our stay in Istanbul and would like to visit Iran, as we have heard many amazing stories about the hospitality of its people and the beauty of places such as Esfahan and Shiraz. We are of course keeping an eye on the news, and if the situation should become unsafe, we could detour north into Georgia and Azerbaijan instead.
From Iran, there are a few options for onward travel. The first option is to go through Central Asia and China to South East Asia, which is pretty much the only way of going overland all the way to Singapore. However it will be winter by the time we get there, and winter in the Himalayas is not the ideal time to cycle… The Central Asian countries (or the “Stans”), also make it quite difficult for cyclists due to their strict visa regulations which have to specify exact entry and exit dates, and in the case of Turkmenistan, only allow you a week to cross their country.
The other option is to go through Pakistan and into India, however the border area between Iran and Pakistan is quite unsafe, and with a risk of kidnapping a police escort is compulsory. Obviously there have been quite a few terrorist attacks recently as well as the terrible flooding. As it currently stands Pakistan is not for us so we are planning to take a ferry from southern Iran to Dubai instead. In Dubai we hope to secure a visa for India and catch a flight to Mumbai (due to recent changes in Indian visa regulations we are unable to apply for our visa before we get to Dubai).
We will cross India and probably fly out from Chennai to Bangkok. There is no way of getting in and out of Myanmar via its land borders, so we will have to fly over it. We will ride through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, and then take one last flight to northern Australia where we will review our final route to Melbourne.
One of our goals for this journey is to raise funds for SOS Children, which helps orphaned and abandoned children to regain a stable life with a new family in SOS Children’s Villages around the world. SOS Children is also working in Pakistan, providing food and shelter for families affected by the current flood disaster. Please consider sponsoring us by donating to this cause, any amount will help. Click here if you wish to donate >>
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