We have been on the road for eight months now. We started our trip on the 9th of July at the house of Jasis parents in Wattenwil, Switzerland with the aim to reach Matts parents house in Cobden, Australia by bicycle. The distance we estimated to cycle was around 25,000km and we thought it will take us 18 months (50km per day). We set ourselves a budget of 50 US$ per day per person, we knew that it would probably be too much, but we wanted to be prepared for any case.
- 8 months of cycling
- 7,700 km
- 13 countries
- 10,000 US$ for the both of us
- 10 months of cycling
- 10,000 km (We now think we will cover less than 25’000km in total and enjoy more time off the bikes in places we really love. There is no need to rush.)
- 10 countries
Things we have learnt on the road
Time and time again, we find ourselves in small ‘oh-shit’-situations. Time and time again, we find a way through these moments. We
have developed a real belief between us, and in these moments, we really work together. We now talk back through these moments as some of our most loved memories of the trip and make a point to ourselves very often that we must enjoy ‘oh-shit’-moments more and more.
No matter how long, steep or difficult it seems, you can do it. Step by step, pedal stroke after pedal stroke. Cycling from Switzerland to Australia sounded impossible before we started. Whenever I told someone about our plans I placed a “maybe” and a “we will just see how far we get” into the story. I knew that people would laugh about our plans because they did not really seem realistic.
The way to Australia does still seem long to us, but so does the way from Switzerland to India and we did that, right? Km for km, day for day and then, all of a sudden you get there.
This makes us think that in general in our lives, we were too scared of big projects. I wanted to study photography when I graduated high school, but I was too scared that I wouldn’t be talented enough and would never be able to make money of it. Now I think I would have succeeded if I really wanted.
Staying patient is perhaps the most important skill to hold tight when meeting people on the road. You may have just been stopped by the 10th person that day requesting a selfie, or you might find yourself being taught by a hotel manager how to correctly ride your own bike, but the moment you lose your patience is the moment you stop making friends and stop receiving help from others. The selfie could be shown to all his family and friends with a big smile and the hotel manager might just be an Olympic cyclist, you never know. That moment of patience has helped us so many times and has also shown us how lonely the road is when you lose patience.
Don’t believe everything you read
Yet again Iran, has been one of the richest learning experiences on this trip. Entering Iran, we felt nervous and to be honest a little scared. Our newspapers had only ever portrayed Iran as a dangerous and troubled country. After leaving Iran, we were so thankful and our whole world perspective altered from the kindness of these people. The presence of media in so many forms through our daily lives built the fear we once had for the people of Iran. Know the source of what you read or hear and never be afraid to question it!
My god, the possibilities
Before we decided to bicycle tour around the world, I had only once heard about bicycle touring, and when I did hear it, I thought it was crazy. 8 months later, the idea of getting on my bike tomorrow and cycling 60-70 km through the chaos of India dealing with language barriers and chasing monkeys almost seems normal. All of us forget too quickly the brave steps we once took to get where we are. I hope that when we finish this journey, that we remind ourselves of the accomplishment and be brave enough to go try, see, do whatever we dream.
Have trust in people. Whenever we had a problem on this trip, someone came around the next corner and helped us. At times, the help we received further complicated the situation but most importantly, we were no longer alone. Together with complete strangers we found average solutions building extraordinary memories and friendships. We have built up a strong trust now, that whatever happens, we will find a way through.
But never trust locals with distances
This was a hard one to learn for me, being Swiss it is in my nature to be very exact and correct about numbers. On this trip, it has never happened, that we asked a local how far it was to the next town and they gave us an accurate answer. Whenever someone says 5km, we now know that it could be anything between 10-50km. Still nice to know we were heading in the right direction.
- Picnic invites from Iranian families.
- Downhills! If you are having a shit day, catch a bus with your bike to the top of a hill, enjoy!
- Wild camping on a quiet lake in the Georgian mountains.
- Friends visiting us in Bulgaria and India. That was awesome guys!
- Riding around Dubai downtown in a convertible.
- Pomegranate feasts in Iran.
- Arriving on the Black Sea after riding through Europe for three months.
- Swimming in the holy Ganges in India.
- Italy’s food and ice-creams.
- Taking the headscarf off after riding through Iran for two months.
- Ferry crossing over the black sea.
- Everyday freedom.
- Holi color festival in India.
- Getting to know hospitality on a whole other level than we could have ever imagined.
- Going to bed without a shower when we wild camp.
- Sometimes we can’t find any hotel when it gets dark and we must keep going until we find one.
- The hassle of organizing things when traveling (like post office closed, no police office to extend visa, booking flights over weak wifi).
- Constantly having to say goodbye to all the lovely people we meet.
- Missing home, our families and friends.
- Physical challenge on the hills and the long unspectacular stretches that we sometimes had to cover.
Journey’s Impact on our relationship
Before this trip, we had a long-distance relationship. One of the reasons we wanted to go on this bike journey was, that we can live together, even if it is only in a tent.
When we started, we were excited to finally be together without having to say goodbye after a week or two. Our expectations were high as we have been dreaming about our bicycle trip for over one year before departure. Against our expectations, we had a bit of a tough time in the first four weeks. We were constantly stressed with camping, getting enough kms done for the day, writing good blog posts, looking adventurous on social media and processing all these new things we saw, felt and learnt.
And then, in our fifth week on the bikes in Croatia, we suddenly clicked. We learnt how to work as a team. Matt learnt how to deal with hangry Jasi and Jasi learnt to deal with waiting for Matt to get ready in the mornings. Everything got smooth from then on and we only had very few and little arguments ever since.
We went through the best days and the worst days on the road together. We have cried of happiness and cried of frustration together and it all got us closer together and made our relationship stronger.
Our time in India will soon come to an end. We will cross over to Nepal in about a week. In Nepal we are going to meet up with friends for trekking in the Himalayas. I can’t even start to tell you how excited we are. Best friends, trekking, beers, delicious food and adventure, bring it on!
The only problem we have in Nepal is, that we can’t leave the country over land borders once we’ve entered. We can’t enter India again because we wouldn’t get another eVisa and we can’t enter China as it is impossible to get a Chinese visa for bike tourers at the moment. These are the only two countries that border Nepal, so we have to take a flight out of Nepal. We decided to fly from Kathmandu, Nepal to Mandalay, Myanmar and continue our cycle tour there.
From Myanmar we plan to cycle a big loop through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia before we enter Thailand. Once in Thailand we will cycle southwards. In Malaysia we plan to meet up with friends again to spend one week on an island somewhere in turquoise waters.
From Malaysia, our bike tour will continue to Singapore and then via ferry to Bali. Bali will mark the end of our time in Asia. From there we will take a (hopefully cheap) flight to Broome or Perth on Australia’s West Coast. We both can’t imagine how excited we will be when our plane finally lands in Australia. We will then cycle down the West Coast and maybe take a train through the desert stretch between Perth and Adelaide as it will be summer in Australia and bloody hot.
We hope to arrive at Matts parent’s house in Cobden, Victoria just before Christmas 2018.
Things we plan to do differently in our real life after the trip
Adventure is everywhere
We found little adventures in every country that we have traveled. So we assume, there has to be little adventures waiting for us in Switzerland and Australia too. By adventure we mean little spontaneous things that make us fall out of our comfort zone and daily routine. Here the things we plan to do more often:
- Help, like really help a tourist or someone in need, we already owe so many people!
- Explore our own cities sights and events. Be a tourist in our own town.
- Ride our bikes or walk when needed, the world has too much traffic.
- Quality not quantity. Buy quality sustainable goods, the world has too much trash on it.
- Recycle and recycle again, be the change, others (like the whole country of India) will follow eventually.
- Reduce our meat intake. We have been vegetarians for two months in India as we were too afraid to get sick from the meat and we haven’t missed meat once!
- Step out of social comfort zones, start a conversation with that guy you see on the bus every morning.
- Leaving time free for doing absolutely nothing, relax the mind.
- Brain train, keep learning and trying new things.
Enjoy normal stuff more
On this trip we realized, how valuable dinner nights with our families, drinks out with our friends, good coffees in the morning and clean bed sheets are. We hope we will remember how much we missed these things on the trip and value them more for the rest of our lives.
Follow our aims in life
The one thing we really learnt from all the travelers and locals we met, is: If you want something in life, you have to pursue it. Almost everything is possible once you made the decision and start working towards it. Most people have around 80 years on this earth, right? You can decide what you want to do with these 80 years. Of course, there are boundaries, but we have realized how extremely fortunate we are, that we have been born in Australia and Switzerland. We are well educated and can be pretty confident, that no matter what decisions we make in our lives, we will most likely not end up homeless or starve to death. So, let’s be thankful for all the opportunities we have by just our nationality and bloody take them. After this trip we both want to be brave and start directing our working careers to where we want to take them.
What will happen after the trip?
Will we continue cycling in South America? Will we stay in Australia and search for work? Will we go back to Switzerland? Or maybe move to Dubai for a year? For now, we don’t really know yet.
Talk to you soon
Matt and Jasi