Wow!!!, Cindie and I recently celebrated an anniversary, our three years on the
road! To me, it seems like we just began our quest to see the world on
bicycles. The road seems so short behind me and to have no end in front of
me. Whenever I look at a world map all I see is places I still want to go.
Cindie is a child of the road who never wants to stop traveling either. I
often see her staring at the horizon and I know she is dreaming of some far off
place and making plans. Dreams eventually turn into airline tickets in our
current lifestyle. I feel very lucky that our dreams turn into reality.
Long live the Road that Has no End.
Our journey began over three years ago on March 30, 2002. On that day we struggled
to ride out of Prescott, Arizona. It was like taking a giant leap in the
dark and not knowing how we would land. On that sunny first day in Arizona we both were
nervous about cutting our attachments to our routines and drifting on a free
current. Without jobs, commitments, or structure how will we know what to
do? We pedaled the first miles in a daze of fear and apprehension.
Countless people were telling us not to go or "you can not ride a bike through
all those dangerous countries." Cindie was noticeable trembling. We
were leaving it all behind. I had a flat tire and sunburn to take my mind
off of all the voices telling us not to go. That first night we were
exhausted and slept soundly in our tent. The next morning everything was
better. We woke to the first day of the rest of our lives.
Three years later on March 30, 2005 we found ourselves riding
from Hanoi to Bac Giang, Vietnam. We were now confronted with a language
we do not understand and a way of life different than our own. A man
pedaled up next to us and recited a long smiling speech that we did not
understand and offered me a cigarette. The smell from restaurants serving
dog meat filled the streets. We avoided places that announced they served
"Thit Cho" the Vietnamese word for fried dog. As we peddled down the road,
we saw two men throw punches at each other as they argued over a motorcycle
accident. Not knowing how far the fight would escalate we gave them lots
of room. It used to be alarming to be surrounded by things we did not
understand but now this seems more normal than speaking to people in English and
eating hamburgers. Three years on the road has made confusion much easier
We have entered 15 countries to
date and 15 times we have had to learn how to survive with new currencies,
governments, and ways of life. In Asia, there is the added element of a
new language and written script for each country. I have learned that
accepting confusion is the most important skill a traveler can gain. With
this skill we can be plopped down in any country of the world and be able to
travel on our bikes. I often say to Cindie when confronted with a
particularly difficult situation "Ain't no beginners here" but I do not
feel that we are experts either. We are still learning something new
every day. To survive on the road takes common sense, adaptability, and the
willingness to accept things that we do not understand or agree with. It
takes letting go of everything we know and just going with the flow of the
culture we are in. This must be where the expression "When in Rome - Do as
the Romans do" comes from. I can imagine that Marco Polo repeated this all
the way to Mongolia.
Our three year anniversary caused us to talk for days about
what this trip has meant to us and how it keeps changing who we are. In
the grey drizzle that followed us for weeks out of Vietnam and into China we
came to several conclusions. Three years of experience has made some things like
choosing equipment, packing every day, and adjusting to the endless foreign
cultures much easier but this time on the road has not taken the newness and
excitement out of our travels. We have not become jaded. Every day
we experience something different and have an
opportunity to learn about the countries we visit and the people we meet.
It is endlessly rewarding and there is nothing that we would rather be doing.
We are both committed to circling the globe until we are physically unable to
continue. We still have a long long way to go.
I can only speculate what the next three years will bring or
where we will be. Africa anyone!
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR EMAILS RECENTLY?
You may have noticed that I have not written in a long time
and this letter does not include the usual long narrative depicting our ride
through the most recent area, Vietnam/China. Vietnam and China are my
first experiences with a "Red" countries with far reaching cen--r (big brother)
ship. We have experienced hassles and have been followed by the law man in
both countries. I will try to explain below but please remember that these
governments have computers and advanced technologies that scan all emails for
key words or phrases. I have to beat around the bush a bit here "if you
know what I mean." I know big brother reads everything mechanically sent over
the wire. Saying or writing anything against those in charge is illegal
and severely punished. I have completely avoided certain keywords and hope
this email gets through to you and we can easily get out of this country several
months from now. Someday it will all come out in a paperback but for now I
have to consider our well being.
The powers that be are extremely paranoid here. We have
experienced "The Man" looking over our shoulders in internet cafes, checking up
on us in our hotel rooms, following, arresting, detaining, questioning for
hours, releasing, following us again for days, and even shooting pictures from a
hidden camera in a black sedan. I have decided to mostly play by their
rules now. It is not worth going to the "big house" for telling the truth
in email. I will say that we have had some of our most extreme and biggest
adventures recently. We have stumbled across some disturbing things and
have seen activities that few outsiders ever will. Foreigners are not
allowed to independently drive motor vehicles in China. This free movement
scares the people in charge so they restrict it. A bicycle is a loophole
in their rules. Foreigners are allowed to ride bicycles and often rent
them in cities to visit tourist attractions. Bad things are not hidden in
cities or anywhere on the standard tourist trail. The rule makers never
thought that foreigners could ride 100 kilometers in a day or cross China
without an engine. Traveling by bicycle can take you very far off the
beaten track. I have learned just how far from home we can go. The
furthest from home is when you are not allowed to leave.
Please be careful what you write to us while we are in this
part of the world. I do not know all of the boundaries and capabilities of
the watching eyes. What I recently saw and learned was shocking.
This will not stop us from going where we want here. In fact, it is best
for us to keep moving. We are perfectly safe and happy now so please do
not worry. If we were in trouble this would be a completely different
email. Writing about what exactly happened and sending the story over the
internet is not a good idea. Oh, the things I have learned out on the
NEW EMAIL LIST!!!
Lately it seems like I have spent more time working on our
computer than enjoying the trip. We have been thinking of ways to reduce
my workload. Our website is generating unbelievable amounts of emails and
newsletter signups each week. We are in the process of completely
switching to an automated email subscription service to maintain our growing
list. I am sad that this will take some of the personal contact away.
I just can not keep up entering each new subscriber and removing inactive
emails, one at a time, by hand. This list grows constantly with numerous
daily sign ups. If you are reading this you are one of the original 3,000+
subscribers and the last that I feel that I personally know. Unfortunately
this means that all of you will have to subscribed to our email list again.
If you do not subscribed you will stop receiving our updates. We do not
want to loose any of the original members of our online family so please take
the 30 seconds necessary to continue being part of our travels and our
inspiration to carry on. The directions for subscribing to our new list
are found at the link below. Thank you for your time.
Do not be afraid to write (especially because I would like to
know this reached the outside world) but please be understanding If I do not
respond. We get so much email that it is impossible to answer them all.
Also, many emails sent to us are accidentally deleted because our spam filter
has a difficult time telling the legitimate emails from the advertisements and
If you have a question, message, or general comment
please post it on our Discussion Board. You can do this anonymously or
sign your name. All messages posted to our Discussion Board are read and
reread by us several times. I download your post to our computer to be
read offline. Reading your Discussion Board posts are a big source of
inspiration and entertainment. You questions have a very good chance of
being answered on our Discussion Board because I feel that we are answering the
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