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The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions, and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world. My Plan

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Made in China: Free Birds in a Caged World

July 10, 2005
(Sent From Beijing, China)


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Hello everyone and welcome to the RoadNews letter:

Have you seen our new home page?  (www.DownTheRoad.org) It may sound strange but it has not been completed until now.   When I first made our web site I put up a temporary home page thinking I would finish it later.  We left home on our bikes and became very busy and I kept putting it off.  Well, three and a half years later I can finally cross it off my "to do" list.  Our new home page summarizes the basic organization of the web site and briefly introduces our trip.  I still intend to exchange some of the pictures with better ones  if you have a favorite picture on our web site that should be one of the first new visitors see.  Please check it out and tell me what you think.

CHINA

China has been a frustrating country at times but this can not stop me from loving it.  The landscapes have been extra special with terraced rice fields and misty mountains where I have been told dragons live.  It certainly looks like dragon country to me or at least a good place to film a Kung Fu movie.  We endured about two months of drizzle and light rain.  Everything outside of our waterproof panniers was wet.  Rust invaded all things metal. (except our aluminum bicycle frames) mold and mildew grew in the vents of our helmets, under our shoes, and numerous other places (no kidding).  Even with all the discomforts wetness causes we prefer cool and wet over hot and humid.

My frustrations in China were not caused by the Chinese people themselves.  They have been a lot of fun to learn about and get to know.  They love to see foreigners traveling in their country and see it as a sign that life is becoming less controlled and the country is opening up.  As cyclists, with the freedom of having our own wheels, we often cross regions where foreigners are extremely rare and only marginally allowed by the pol*ice, but enthusiastically welcomed by the locals.  I was told by a group of university students learning English that we were the freest people they had ever met.  I wish this was not true but it is believable.  "Times are a changing" and it is a new wind that blows us to undiscovered places in this mysterious country.

Freedom is not loved by all.  It often makes those in charge very nervous.  Our dealings with the pol*ice are frequent but we always manage to squeeze by.  The uniformed pol*ice often knock on our hotel room door at weird times and ask us to fill out forms or stop us on the street and have questions about why we are in their village.  When I was a Special Education teacher, I learned many tricks from manipulative students with behavior problems.  I now find myself standing on the other side of the line of authority.  I feel like I learned from professionals and deal with amateurs here.  We often call them the "Keystone Cops".  I do not see evil bullies but instead I see young men only doing what they have been told is best for their country.

We have also experienced much more troubling aspects of fear of outsiders and maintaining control.  Mysterious men in suits and ties are regularly following us.  They try to be discreet but we easily spot them.  We never know who they are or why they are interested in us.  My guess is that they are something like the American F*B*I or C*I*A.  It is probably a result of the big trouble we got in several weeks ago.  We are actually becoming used to being watched and see it as part of the China experience off the tourist trail.  We are free birds in a caged world.

Other problems and irritations for us had nothing to with China or the official paranoia.  A host of electrical problems have plagued us here.  One day our camera just quit working and within a week our computer went down.  The camera dieing was expected.  It had been with us from the very beginning of our travels, on every bone jarring road, and through all kinds of corrosive weather.  I only post a small fraction of the pictures I take on our web site.  The rest I write to a CD and mail to my parents every few months.  Several thousand pictures are posted on our web site so I estimate that I have taken tens of thousands of pictures over the past three and a half years with our camera and it wore out.

When the camera quit working I knew that it meant that our web site could not be updated with new pictures as well.  Visitors to our web site have come to expect fresh new images at regular intervals.  I posted a quick message on the front of our Asia web site and discussion board explaining to visitors that our camera was broke.  This caused an unexpected reaction.  Money started coming in from our Continue our Travels page through our Paypal and Amazon donation buttons.  We received enough funds to cover a good portion of the cost of an improved new still/video camera.  We would like to thank (again) all of the donators who saw the content on our web site as a valuable and worthwhile investment.  I have not yet learned how to operate the new camera fully but new pictures of our travels are coming soon.  I hope everyone will not be disappointed.

The computer breaking down was a complete surprise and a huge jolt to our lifestyle.  Out of the clear blue it simply would not turn on.  We repeatedly pushed the "On" button but nothing happened.  No little green light or hard drive noise.  Dead air.............  It is said, "You do not notice something until it is gone" and I now see the wisdom in this.  We both learned just how much we used our little electric buddy.  No more Palates DVDs, MP3 Chinese lessons, music, journal writing, or web site posts.  Our computer became just an expensive paper weight.

We lasted a week without it before we completely freaked out.  Cindie found some information on the internet about performing field repairs and we nervously started working.  We completely disassembled the computer with our Leatherman pocketknife in a hot hotel room.  The inside looked fragile and impossible to put back together.  Our field repair worked and we had a private party.  Another unexpected lesson learned on the road.  We are computer technicians, medical doctors, or anything else when we have to be.  This confirms something that we both knew from the first day which gave us the courage to jump into this crazy life to begin with.  Cindie and I can accomplish anything when we keep calm, think first, and work together towards solutions.

All of the above problems never stopped our cycling progress in China.  However, our progress stopped after we were confronted with the Chinese immigration office.  They have the power to stop us dead in our tracks.  We initially entered China with a 90 day tourist visa (travel permission from the government) but had plans of spending nearly a year in China.  Our plan was to extend this visa several times.  This is a common procedure in many countries.  When we went to extend our three month tourist visa we were told a horrifying  "no."  Because we were in denial and did not act like we understood the well educated Chinese official repeatedly explained our situation in Chinese, Russian, French, and English.  I had few choices in this matter.  In another country I would have resorted to some kind of bri*be but there are 81 crimes punishable by death in China and bri*bing a public official is one of them.  I think this harsh punish is usually reserved for multi million dollar government construction projects but I did not want to take my chances.  The Chinese immigration official firmly told us that we have 10 days to leave his country.  They won the first round.

We were not about to give up that easily.  We were back at the internet cafe searching for alternatives.  In the past I have described the "email grapevine" where real time information from travelers is passed up and down the line.  From this grapevine we learned of a couple "visa experts" in Beijing where visa extensions can be bought.

We took the midnight train to Beijing and quickly found our contact and now we are traveling with a 6 month visa.  I do not know how they do it.  I have learned that some arrangements are best not known about.

We have now left Beijing.  I do not want to disclose where we are because of those "unwanted readers" following our trail but I will say that we are working our way to Australia and will hopefully be there in 14 months.  It is all south from here.

Tim Travis
Beijing, China
www.downtheroad.org
(new home page)


From Cindie:

I wanted to pass on a big thank you to my Aunt Joan who recently met us in Beijing.  When Aunt Joan wrote and told us she was coming I was elated.  First, because I had not seen her in a long time and second because I think China is a great place to travel.  As time went by we realized that she could bring us some things from the States that are hard to get here.  The top of my list was medicine like Neosporin. Going to a Chinese pharmacy is like going to a herb store and not being able to read the signs.  I loved all the herbs but had no idea what herb was for what. So I ordered Neosporin, Vitamins, Sunscreen and Pepto bismol over the internet and had it shipped to Aunt Joan.  Then Tim needed a new pair of pants and bike jersey, then we decided to buy folding tires and bike chains.  We did not think these things weighted that much, by themselves at least.  First we looked around in Beijing for a new camera and could not find what we wanted at the price we wanted. So we ordered a new camera and shipped it to Aunt Joan too.  We met Aunt Joan the night she arrived and were shocked when we picked up our bag and it weight over 15 lbs.  Wow, she hauled a lot over here for us.  Luckily they did not charge more for the extra weight. Now our bikes will get new chains and we have sunscreen too.  

I just recently noticed a special situation with our book in the supply chain.  A couple days ago Amazon made an unusually large order of books from us (the wholesaler) and I believe they are overstocked.  We do not have control over what retail stores sell our book for.  Until now Amazon, and the rest of our retailers, have sold it at full back cover cost but yesterday I noticed Amazon reduced our book substantially.  Our book usually sells for is US$21.95 but I see they are selling it for US$14.93 (see Amazon ad below).  This is a 32% reduction.  I do not know how long they will run this sale but I saw a notice on their site that they have limit supplies.  I am guessing this sale is only until they get their inventory under control.  I would like to pass this information along to all the readers of Tim's email list.  We are riding and hiking along the Great Wall and will not have internet access for a long time.  Please let me know if you notice that this sale has ended so we can stop informing people about it.

Respectfully yours

Cindie Travis


The Road That Has No End:  How we traded our ordinary lives for a global bicycle touring adventure


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2002 - 2012 DownTheRoad.org (TM) All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

INDEX #3: SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to 9-15-06

1North and
Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03

2 South America
6-3-03 to 6-17-04

3 SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to
9-15-06

4 Australia
9-15-06 to 9-15-07

5 New Zealand
9-16-07 to 5-2-08
6 Alaska, Canada, and the USA
5-3-08 to 4-30-10
7 India. Nepal, and the Subcontinent
5-1-10 to present


(see all 3 book)


November 22 - December 15, 2004
Thailand
Bangkok, to Aranyaprathet, Thailand

Cindie's Daily Journals
Thailand #1

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
INTRO Crossing Over to the Other Side: Relocating to Asia

LETTER Thailand: Landing in a Whole New World.

Best Place to see Pictures
Thailand Thumbnail Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Bangkok, Thailand
- Royal Barge Museum
- Wat Arun in Bangkok, Thailand
- Wat Phra Kaew and Temple of the Emerald Buddha
- Pictures of Wat Pho
- Bangkok to Chanthaburi, Thailand.
- Island Ko Samet National Park
- Thailand's famous Thai Food
- Chanthaburi to Aranya Prathet and the Cambodian border.


 

 December 16- January 16, 2005
Cambodia and Angkor Wat
Poipet to Tien Bien, Cambodia

Cindie's Daily Journals
Cindie's Cambodia Daily Journal

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Cambodia: Poverty Does Not Equal Crime.

Best Place to see Pictures
Cambodia Thumbnail Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Pictures of  Poverty in Cambodia: Poipet to Siem Reap
- Picture from Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- Temples Bayon, Angkor Thom
Ta Prom (Temple where Tomb Raider was filmed)
- Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Eastern Mebon, Banteay Kei, Ta Som, Pre Rup

- Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
- Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Tuol Sleng S.21 Museum of Genocidal Crime
- Killing Fields of Pol Pot Cambodia
- Phnom Penh to Tinh Bien


 

(January 16 - February 17 , 2005)
Vietnam #1.
Tinh Bien to Cau Ganh, Vietnam

Cindie's Daily Journals
Cindie's Online South Vietnam Journal

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)

Best Place to see Pictures
South Vietnam Thumbnails

Full size Picture Pages

- Chau Doc to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
- Floating Market and Boat Trip Tour
- Vietnam War Remnants Museum
- Cuchi Tunnels, Saigon, Vietnam
- Cuchi Tunnels Cu Chi near Saigon, Vietnam
- Pictures from Dalat, Vietnam
- Bicycling from Dalat to Buon Ma Thuot
- Jun Village
- Buon Ma Thuot to Cau Ganh


 
(February 18. - April 2, 2005)
Vietnam #2.
Cau Ganh, to Lang Son, Vietnam

Cindie's Daily Journals
Cindie's Daily Journal for North Vietnam.

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)

Best Place to see Pictures
North Vietnam Thumbnail Pictures.

Full size Picture Pages

- Cau Ganh to Hoi An
- Hoi An, Vietnam
- China Beach to Hue.
- Marble Mountain
- The Citadel in Hue
- Impoverished Highland Market Can Cau.
- Poverty Village of Bac Ha.

Hanoi water puppet


 
(April 3 - May 21, 2005)
Guangxi, China
Pingxiang to CongJiang, China

Cindie's Daily Journals
Finally in China!

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Three Years and Still Going

Best Place to see Pictures
Best Thumbnail Pictures of Guangxi, China

Full size Picture Pages

- Pingxiang to Nanning, China
- Nanning, Guangxi to Liuzhou
- China's Karst Topography Landscape.
- Liuzhou to Yangshou, Guangxi, China
- Zhuo Yue English College in Yangshuo, China
- Li River bamboo boat trip in Yangshou..
- Ancient Chinese Stone Village of Fuli.
- Impressions light, dance, and music.
- Mountain biking through Yu Long Valley.
- Guilin to Congjiang Guangxi, China
- Reed Flute Cave Guilin China.
- Ping'an Guangxi, China.
- Dragon's Backbone and Rice Terraces.


 

May 22 - June 27, 2005

  Guizhou and Hunan, China
Congjiang to Zhangjiajie National Park China

Cindie's Daily Journals
Guizhou, China

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Made in China: Free Birds in a Caged World!

Best Place to see Pictures
Pictures of Guizhou, China.

Full size Picture Pages

- Congjiang to Kaili, Guizhou, China
- Kaili Guizhou - Wulingyuan National Park, Hunan.
- Wulingyuan (Zhangjiajie) National Park, Hunan.


 

(June 28 - July 15, 2005)

Beijing, China

Cindie's Daily Journals
Beijing, China daily Blog and Journal

Best Place to see Pictures
Best and favorite pictures from Beijing, China

Full size Picture Pages

- Pictures from Beijing, China
- Pictures of Forbidden City, China
- Summer Palace
- Great Wall from Jinshanling Simatai, China.
- Badaling Section of the Great Wall of China


 

(July 16 - Sept. 3, 2005)
Inner Mongolia and Shanxi, China.
Beijing to Xian, Shaanxi, China

Cindie's Daily Journals
Cindie's Inner Mongolia and Shanxi, China daily journal (blog)

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
The Many Faces of China: Inner Mongolia and Shanxi, Provinces.!

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail pictures from Inner Mongolia, China.

Full size Picture Pages

- Beijing to Jining, Inner Mongolia.
- Grasslands of Jining, to Wuchuan (near) Hohhot
- Hohhot to Bautou, Inner Mongolia, China
- Wudang Lamasary
- Bautou to Yulin, Shanxi, China with Photos from Genghis Khan's Mausoleum.
- Yulin to Yanan, Shaanxi, China
- Chairman Mao's Headquarters and Residence in Yanan, China.
- Yanan to Xian, Shaanxi, China.
- Terracotta Warriors #1
- Terracotta Warriors #2.


 

 (Sept. 4 - Oct. 29, 2005)

Sichuan, China
Chengdu, to Zongdian, China

Cindie's Daily Journals
Sichuan Blog

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Into Occupied Territory: Tibet!

Best Place to see Pictures
Sichuan Thumbnail Photos

Full size Picture Pages

- Giant Panda Breeding Center #1
- Red Panda  in Chengdu, Sichuan, China #2
- Chengdu to Kangding.
- Kangding, Sichuan, located in Southwestern China.
- Mugecuo Lake near Kangding, Sichuan, China.
- Kangding to Xinduqiao
- Xinduqiao to Tibetan Home Stay.
- Tibetan Home Stay to 4718 meter (15,475 feet)
- to Litang, Sichuan, China.
- Litang Lamasary Tibetan Buddhist Monk Monastery
- Litang to Sumdo, Tibet
- Sumdo to Xiangcheng
- Xiangcheng to Derong, Tibet.
- Derong, Sichuan Province to Tibetan Shangri-La, (Zongdian)


 

(Oct. 30 - Dec. 24, 2005)

Yunnan, China
Zongdian to Mohan, China

Cindie's Daily Journals
Yunnan daily blog - journal

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Out of China: slipping past the watchful eye of censorship.

Best Place to see Pictures
Yunnan thumbnail photos

Full size Picture Pages

- Shangri-La, - Lijiang - Dali, China.
- Dali to Jingdong, Yunnan
- Jingdong to Puer
- Puer to Jinghong, Yunnan, China
- Xishuangbanna Tropical Flowers and Plants Garden.
- Mengla to Mohan, Yunnan, China (border with Laos))


 

December.25, 2005 - January 23, 2006
Laos
Boten to Vientiane

Cindie's Daily Journals
Laos daily blog journal

Click here for our first downloadable video called
 "LAOS: VIDEO POSTCARDS FROM THE ROAD.

Best Place to see Pictures
Laos Thumbnail pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Boten to Oudomxia, Laos.
- Laos Wood Carving Factory
- Oudomaxi - Luang Pabong
- Luang Phrabang, Laos: Monks, Wats, and a boat tour on the Mekong River.
- Luang Phrabang to Vang Vieng, #1
- Luang Phrabang to Vang Vieng, #2
- Vientiane, Laos


 

January 23 - March 12, 2006

Northeast Thailand
Nong Khai, Thailand to Bangkok

Cindie's Daily Journals
Northeast Thailand Blog and Daily Journal

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Four Years DownTheRoad!

Best Place to see Pictures
Northeast Thailand Thumbnail Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Nong Khai to Dan Si
- Dan Si to Lop Buri
- The Ancient Ruins and Historic Temples of Ayuthaya
- Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.


 

(March 13 - April 18, 2006)

Southern Thailand
Hua Hin to Satun, Thailand

Cindie's Daily Journals
Cindie's latest daily journal for South Thailand.  Now with over 4 years of entries!

5 minute Thailand Video
http://downtheroad.org/video/Files_Video/2Thailand_DownTheRoad.wmv

Best Place to see Pictures
Pictures from South Thailand.

Full size Picture Pages

- Hua Hin to Ranong
- Ranong to Krabi
- Boat Tour of Ao Phang Nga Bay
- Ko Lanta Beach to Satun Tropical Thailand


 

(April 18 - Sept. 15, 2006)

  Malaysia #1
Langkawi, Malaysia to Parit Buntar

Cindie's Daily Journals Malaysia

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Two 1-Way Tickets to Australia Please

Best Place to see Thumbnail Pictures of Malaysia

Full size Picture Pages

- Langkawi to Nebong Tebal
- Underwater World Aquarium Langkawi
- Bird Paradise, Langkawi, Malaysia.
- Malaysian Home Stay and Cyclist Guest House.
- Traditional Tamil Indian Wedding
- Malaysian Home Cooking and Traditional Food
- Hand Made Pottery Factory
- Chinese Fishing Village and Party.
- Toddy Plantation Farm and Palm Oil Production.
- Malaysian Chinese Temple of Heaven and Hell.
- Malaysian Indian Hindu Temple and Religious Ceremony

 

(May to August, 2006)
Malaysia #2

Tanah Rata to Taiping, Malaysia

Cindie's Daily Journals

Video: Malaysian David's Cyclist Home Stay (5:35 min)
http://www.prescottyellowpages.com/Video/3Malaysian_Cyclists_Home_Stay.wmv

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail pictures of Malaysia #2

Full size Picture Pages

- Cameron Highlands Trails and National Park
- Butterfly Garden
- Boh Tea and Sungai Palas Tea Plantation and farm
- Mardi Research Center, Tanah Rata
- Tanah Rata, Cameroon Highlands, Malaysia
- Indian Fire Walking Ceremony at the Hindu Temple
- Our 8th Wedding Anniversary the Cultural Indian Way
- Chinese Cultural Opera and Traditional Arts Celebration
- Malaysian Indian Religion
- Malaysian Guesthouse and Homestay #2

 

(July - Sept. 15, 2006)
 
Malaysia #3 and Singapore.
Taiping, Malaysia to Singapore

Cindie's Daily Journals for Malaysia

Best Place to see Pictures
Malaysia #3 and Singapore

Full size Picture Pages

- Penang hill Chinese Temple
- Taiping to Melaka, Malaysia.
- Taman Alam Kuala Selangor Natural Park
- Melaka, Malaysia, Southeast Asia.
- Cheng Hoon Teng Temple and Chinese Hill (Bukit China) Cemetery
- Melaka, Malaysia to Singapore


1North and
Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03

2 South America
6-3-03 to 6-17-04

3 SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to
9-15-06

4 Australia
9-15-06 to 9-15-07

5 New Zealand
9-16-07 to 5-2-08
6 Alaska, Canada, and the USA
5-3-08 to 4-30-10
7 India. Nepal, and the Subcontinent
5-1-10 to present
Where am I  now

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