Dear GettingNowhere followers!
Exactly eighteen months ago we finished packing and left Anna’s parents home for a flight to Ankara. Today we are in Pokhara, Nepal, celebrating and looking back at our adventures. In just one year and a half we cycled through Turkey and Iran, crossed the deserts of Turkmenistan, visited ancient cities of Uzbekistan, felt in love with the people of Tajikistan, visited Kyrgyz yurts, had a look at the sci-fi capital of Kazakhstan, got amazed by the size and variety of China, did a bit of hiking and shopping in Hong Kong, participated in organizing a super star chess match in Macao, re-entered China to get to the peaceful Laos and hyperactive Vietnam, explored ancient temples of Cambodia and finally arrived in Thailand, where we got a glimpse of the underwater world. In Bangkok we started to miss the atmosphere of high mountains, and to avoid touring in heavy monsoonal rains, we flew to Delhi to discover amazing Ladakh and cycle some of the highest roads in the world. The map of our route can be found here.
We had a truly great time in Asia (we are still having) and so much happened during those months, that it would be enough material for weeks of storytelling when we get back home. The only thing that we regret is that we hadn’t started this trip earlier. Two years of preparation, picking up the right gear and building top-end bicycles was definitely worth it, but it could have been done in a much shorter time. We can now relax and fully enjoy the countries we visit and do not have to focus on broken equipment, though.
During our journey we have met dozens of other crazy cyclists and even more friendly locals. We have learnt a lot not only about cycle touring, but also about ourselves; we are now much more aware of what we are able to achieve, we know where our limits lie. We appreciate life more and all the precious little things are now much more important to us. One may say that by setting out for a long term journey like ours, instead of following a career path right after the graduation, is irresponsible and risky. We strongly feel that it is much more important to follow what we truly love, to develop as travellers and human beings than buying a house or starting a big business. After all those days on the road we are sure, that we made the right decision – we are among the ones that are courageous enough to follow their dreams. Nowadays people of our age are facing difficulties all over the world. It is not easy to make a decent living from what one really likes to do and many of our friends have to make life compromises every single day just to get along. We never wanted to sacrifice our goals for a predictable and easy life. We live in very difficult times and the world is changing rapidly, so travelling is not only a way of “bunkering up” during the unstable period, but also a duty to witness the progress of developing countries as well as the erosion of traditional social structures and the destruction of our environment worldwide. Most of the places we visited transform fast and if we go there today, probably we would not be able to recognize them. We named our site “GettingNowhere”, since we have no goal or fixed destination; we are also sure that in some fields global civilization does not go into any specific direction either – there is not much being done to preserve the goodness and beauty that still remain on our planet and the governments of different countries are not sailing in one direction. We think that it is our obligation to see the world as it is, as it still exists and appreciate the fact that we live during the years when nomads still follow the paths of their ancestors, farmers use traditional, sustainable techniques and craft is not only practised to produce souvenirs for the tourists. It may be gone sooner then we all think.
Growing up in Europe we were taught to believe in certain values and to follow numbers of rules and regulations that seemed so obvious for us at the beginning of this journey. Facing totally different societies with their own customs, sometimes much older than the European ones, have shaken the bases of our own perception of the world as it is. Especially being in the countries like Iran, China and India, with much grander cultural heritage than Europe we realized, that the occidental way of thinking might not be necessarily the ideal one.
We are definitely sure that we want to continue travelling although we miss our families, friends and the European charm. But our curiosity about the world as well as our craving for more adventures can not stop us from discovering the beauty and diversity of Asia. We would like to inspire more people to travel independently and we strongly recommend doing it by bicycle.
We would like to thank all of you that followed us on GettingNowhere. We really appreciate your comments, as this is the only reward for the effort we put into our website. Please – stay with us! We promise to deliver even more reports and pictures from our journey!
Mat and Anna