11am and already our clothes were sticking to us, drenched as they were with sweat. It was July in Shanghai. We found a park with a good view of the craned pocked skyline and set up the shiny new video camera, the old one somehow got contaminated by melted chocolate in Peru, for a brief video diary and stated our destination Greystones 20,000km and one continent west. Then we were on our way.
Three hours ago, we pulled out the same camera, its not new anymore, and told it that we’ve just crossed a continent. Shanghai to Hoek Van Holland(just west of Rotterdam) 19,000km and 9months cycling west. I’m writing this on a ferry en-route to the Islands where they speak English, and Irish and Welsh, and drive on the left of all things.
A lot has happened in those 9 months, we met some amazing people, saw some impressive places, almost went nuts in deserts and were challenged by mountains, we had to bribe corrupt big hatted border guards, were almost shot at on the Kazakh/China frontier, we both could have been killed in central Asia, were treated to inside glimpses of unusual cultures, drank tea with nomads and shepherds, ambassadors and business men, slept rough(usually) and on Egyptian cotton sheets(once), drank home brewed schnapps from chipped cups and fine Cognac from crystal.
There were times I cried; alone and grieving my grandad in the desert, times I laughed hard; sharing jokes over Vodka and russian “tapas” with sharp jawed Russians and gold toothed Kazakhs who five minutes previous had been dodgy strangers. At times the world seemed so simple and sometimes it seemed like a indeciferable riddle written with a word from each of its languages. Some days I loved the people I encountered; felt kin ship with humanity, some days I couldn’t bring my self to once again tell my five lined story… “yes all on a bicycle… yawn…” and yearned for home; to be in my little part of the world with my tribe.
Eurasia was exactly what I signed up for, adventure and personal exploration and the bicycle did its job, facilitating hardship encounters and adventure in appropriate measures.