Exactly one year ago we said our last goodbyes and left Empfingen, Germany, at around 11am. A very odd feeling as by then we didn’t exactly know what to expect, how we would cope, how we would get along with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if we would like the nomads’ life and to be away for such a long time or if we would return halfway. So many questions to some of which we still don’t have the answers. All we know by now is that it has been the right decision for us to leave, the best ever and we still have the time of our lives. We have our arguments, but not more than we had before, we’re a great team, have our daily chores and complement each other very well. But we knew that before we left. So far we enjoyed every minute of our journey (mostly) and right now cannot imagine to settle down at one place forever. We are free – as free as we always wanted to be.
Of course we miss our families and friends, it’s been a tough journey to get to where we are now and not every day is as easy as it might sometimes sound, but all in all, it’s been a fantastic journey, we made a lot of new friends, learned a lot about different cultures, enjoyed amazing food, sometimes discovered our limits, saw beautiful and scenic landscapes and learned for life. And today’s modern technology makes it really easy for us to stay in touch with everyone at home and not feel missed out.
We’ve put together a few fun facts on our journey also covering some of the questions we repeatedly get from our fellow followers.
Enjoy reading and watch out for our first post on Malaysia coming up soon!
Total distance cycled: Almost 16,000km
Number of cycled countries: 16
Longest distance cycled: 145km in Cambodia and Laos
Longest time in the saddle: 8:25 h from Niang Kiauw to Louang Prabang in Laos
Highest cycled altitude: 2,100m in Northern Vietnam
Number of punctures: 13
Number of broken spokes: 3 on each bike and then we decided to replace all of them
Number of other bike failures: NONE! We love Smokey and Rudi, seriously! Both are Idworx Easy Rohlers. We think Idworx is building the best trekking bikes possible.
Most amazing experiences: Hospitality in India and Malaysia with so many people inviting us to their homes and making us part of their family.
Most annoying experiences: No privacy in India and people touching everything including us, never ever a single moment to ourselves for three months; dogs in Romania and Thailand; bus drivers in all countries
Best cycling experiences: Tailwind along the Adige in Italy for one day when we covered a much longer distance as originally planned (especially as we had mostly headwinds for the rest of our journey); our journey along the Mekong in Cambodia; MP police escort in Thailand
Worst cycling experience: Cycling in the dark in India on a very busy highway without shoulders, a lot of motorized vehicles not using their lights, heavy truck traffic and a bumpy, potholed road.
Favorite cycling countries: Too hard to say, all countries we cycled through were in their own way beautiful, at times fantastic, scenic and stunning
Least favorite cycling countries: Romania (too much heavy truck traffic and very bad back roads), India (traffic)
Favorite countries (not cycling related): Slovenia (landscapes, people), Italy (landscapes, people, food, culture, architecture), Romania (landscapes, people, culture, architecture), Turkey (hospitality, landscapes, food, people, architecture), Vietnam (landscapes, back roads), Thailand (people, landscapes, back roads, beaches, food), Malaysia (landscapes, people, hospitality), Cambodia (quiet roads, people, old temples, Mekong), Germany (roads, food, landscapes)
Least favorite countries (not cycling related): India (too dirty, too many extremes, no privacy, spitting)
Best food: Italy, Germany, Thailand, Turkey, Malaysia
Great Warm Shower hosts: Sibylle in Hanoi, Pad in Thailand, David in Malaysia
Best camp spot: Desert in India
Worst camp spot: A little forest in Turkey with hunters around us all night and sticky clay mud on the path
Other great touring cyclists we met along our journey: Sharon and Tim from the UK; Astrid and Gerd from Austria and Germany; Ludo from Belgium; Annika and Roberto from Germany and Mexico (only met them virtually but are positive about meeting them in person as well), Mirko and Katia from Slovenia and the Czech Republic who have been cycling the world since 2000, Tony from England, 71, and cycling for the past 35 years, Asako and Alex from Japan and USA, Aaron from Australia
Worst food: India (we got sick from it all the time), Laos (no variety)
Highest high: Cycling 145km in one day on a boring route in the soaring heat in Cambodia through a slashed and burned landscape.
Lowest low: Baerbel getting beaten up by a drunk guy in India and Johan’s diagnosis of a torn meniscus
Lessons learned: Cyclists are hungry all the time and Asia’s portions are far too small; when you are running out of water never think there’ll be a shop within a few kilometers, always refill as early as possible; cycling in the pouring rains isn’t fun, not even in Asia when temperatures usually don’t go below 20 degrees C; never save money on bike shorts, never; never cycle in the dark on unknown roads without shoulders; cycling doesn’t make a bikini nor a swimming trousers bottom
Saddest moment: Leaving Empfingen
Happiest moments: Sitting on the bike again after a longer break in a city or while on a vacation from our bikes
Biggest surprise: You can get used to everything, even to not being online every day 😉
Most amazing landscapes: Swabian Alb in Germany; Alps in Austria; Carpathian mountains in Romania; Slovenia; Mekong in Cambodia; Vietnam: Dong Van Karst Plateau, Hoang Lien Son mountain range near Sapa, the Pu Luong limestone landscape; route between Louang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos; Thailand: Yao Khai national park; Southern Thailand
Toughest cycling: Dong Van Karst Plateau in Vietnam; cycling for 145km at soaring temperatures with hardly any shade in Cambodia
Planned route for the coming months: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand
Estimated return date: Spring 2014