When I took the ferry over a fjord I enjoyed the boundless view on the lake in the backround a thunderstorm wound up which later forced me to stop for an hour in a little restaurant. Right behind it there was a big monastery where I could stay for the night. The next day I started cycling early and cycled 10km to Erawan National Park where I wanted to visit the famous waterfall. After I hesitated a bit paying the 300 Baht entrance fee which is around 8€ the pictures I found on the internet convinced me. The place was indeed stunning. Seven levels with turquoise-greyish natural pools and slides deep in the jungle. But sharing this place with thousands of picknicking, loudly chatting and bathing people made it feel more like an indoor swimming pool with plastic plants. Like in an indoor swimming pool I nevertheless found a silent place just for myself. When I left the water amusement/national park in direction I passed a more then 15 km long traffic jam. The cars came from Bangkok and the surrounding area. In the evening Marian and I would meet at the same warmshower near Kanchanaburi where I then found out that the park was so crowded because of the national holidays during the coronation of the new king. Choosing the highlight of the day between the national park and a real Suisse fondue our warmshowerhost offered us is easy. But it was still worth the 300 Baht entrance fee in the end.
3-5 May 2019
Because Marian still did not feel well enough to cycle hilly terrain we decided to split for some days. I left the highway and headed to the southwest on rural roads in direction of Sinakharin Lake which is surrounded by several national parks. The most popular among them is probably Erawan National Park. The burning heat and a first extreme steep climb forced me to take my first break. When leaving the highway I also left the luxury of having supermarkets and popular fastfood restaurants behind and now again
cycled through rural, less populated and less touristy areas than around Bangkok and the coast. At 5 p.m. I took my second break and had to make a decision whether to hazard the coming but longer climb to the next valley where I would probably arrive in the dark or wait till the next day. Although I arrived in the next valley before it got dark I could not directly find a place to sleep. The monastery I had found on maps did not exist so I had to go on in the dark. Because my light does not work for quite a long time now I luckily passed a cluster of houses where a friendly family invited me to stay in a little shelter for the night. In the morning they offered me breakfast and I started the next climb which lead me through the jungle but after five kilometers I had a puncture which is a big problem if you are in the middle of nowhere and your friend carries the bicycle tire inflator you share. There where just a few vehicles passing from time to time most of them where scooters and motorbikes. Then a friendly family with a pick-up stopped and brought me and my bike to the next gas station where I could inflate my new tire. Blessing in disguise I skipped half of hard climb to reached the lake. The rest of the day I cycled along the lakeshore. Sadly the retraction of the lakeshore due to the dry season and the thick planted area between road and bank blocked the view on the lake most of the time.
27.April- 2. Mai 2019
Marian's health condition was not better the next day and it would not get better in the next week. In the morning we said goodbye to Johannes and hitchhiked 57km to the next big city in order to avoid the steep and tough climb. In Tak we met him again because he had started cycling earlier. After a break at a giant Tesco we spend our day trying to find a fitting inner tube for Johannes new tire since the old tube did not fit anymore and exploded when he pumped it up. Speaking of Tesco. In Thailand we now see a lot of supermarkets, popular fastfood restaurants or coffee shops. It feels really western and is considerably richer then the other countries we crossed in Asia. We could not find a tube in the size Johannes needed and decided to stay the night in Tak together in a hostel. In the morning we then finally seperated and Johannes started northwards to Chiang Mai while we cycled to the south. Marian felt better but after a day of cyling it got even worse than the days before. In Kaphaeng Pet we stopped cycling and booked a hotel room where we then stayed for three nights. We watched a few of the German crime film series "Tatort", ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, slept a lot and visited the hospital where Marian got loads of different drugs against his low blood pressure and pulse. The plan for the next day was that Marian would hitchhike some kilometers while I would cycle the distance. But when we left the hotel on our bikes to reach the highway we just kept cycling. Maybe because we were motivated to track our first kilometers on the @stadtradelnapp for our team (@fff.borken ). During the next days Marian felt better but still really weak and not fit again.
20-26 April 2019
We made it to Thailand! The 17th country on our trip. In Yangon we separated. Sebastian started cycling early in the morning, then we left the hostel and then Josephine and Trystan who we met in the afternoon again started. We camped together for one more night and then continued in a group of three after lunchbreak. For the first time we had problems to find a campspot in Myanmar. We asked at a monastry. After keeping us waiting for nearly an hour with a rejection in the end it had already become dark. Really irritatwd we decided to just cycle a hundered meters further and not back to the mainroad where a farmer allowed us to camp on a vast empty plain behind his house. Sadly after we had installed our mosquito-net and had cooked the guys from the monastry came again. Maybe they had seen us leaving in the wrong direction. Luckily they could not speak enough English to send us away or explain what their problen was. Because for us and the farmer there was none. They called a police officer who we could persuade to stay for one night but even with his agreement the assembled people did not stop annoying us. Now they wanted us to sleep in the monastry. After one hour we could finally get some sleep. On our way to the border we visited one of the caves around Hpa-An and a Pagoda which is placed on top of a giant rock in the middle of a lake. This day we took it easy for which reason we could tackle the moutain before we reached the border in Myawaddy without beeing completely exhausted in the evening. Behind the border the next two hills awaited us. Currently we are in the valley between these two and take a day off in a park where we have a shower, electricity and the possiblity to refresh ourselves in the Lamao river. Marians health condition forces us to stay here for at least one day.
A week full of events. We visited the temples of Bagan and took a day off. From the acient capital we headed towards the current and new capital of Myanmar Naypyidaw. The next days were eventfull for us due to the celebration of the Burmese New Year. Thingyan a Buddhist water festival similar to Holi (Hinduism) in India. Instead of using coloured powder the people welcome the new year with a giant water battle in the villages. The second day of the festival we spend in Meiktila. A really funny experience but after day three and four we where really bugged by the many drunken people while we cycled southwards to the capital where we wanted to catch a train to Yangon. That day the four others (@en.roue.libre had sadly left us in Meiktila to go to Inle Lake) arrived earlier at the station where they had organized a reservation for the train departing the next morning. When we asked at the station the train seemed to be already full. Thus we spend the day trying to get a busticket and asking at a truckage company for a lorry who could bring us to Yangon. Nevertheless we had time to visit the few places you can see in this strange capital. The really young "city" where only political or military organizations settle is actually an not closely populated accumulation of villages connected with humongous highways. One of the has 20 lines but has no other purpose than military parades. Leading to the president's palace. The rest of the time it is abandonned because it is a dead-end. A lot of space to cycle for us. Finally we managed it to get on the train even though we had no reservation. After we spend 10 hours in a hot train we fell asleep in a hostel room with air-conditioning around 400km away from where we had started in the morning.
9. -10. April 2019
We did not leave as early in the morning as we wanted. Due to the power breakdown caused by the storm yesterday we got to bed later then expected because we waited for the air-conditioning to work again so we could sleep in cool rooms. At 9 am I headed towards the local bikeshop to buy a pair of sandals so my feet stay a bit cooler and less sweaty in the heat which will likely accompany us for the last two month. In the evening we found a camp spot on a field 69km away from our destination Bagan where the others had already arrrived. At noon of the next day we arrived there aswell. We could enter the archeological zone without paying the 25.000 Kyat entrance fee for tourist which is around 15€ even if we entered on the main road. The ticketbooth was closed. We met the other four in a café, bought some food and then looked for a camp spot. Easier than we thought it would be. But the area of the acient capital is huge and with over 2000 temples it was easy to find a private one for us and a silent camp spot. For watching the amazing sunset we climbed on an old ruine.
4-8 April 2019
As mentioned in the last report we left our group of 7 and cycled together with Johannes (@dinomimimi ) in direction of Mandalay where we luckily had the opportunity to find accomodation for some time at the cousin of the husband of my mother's former collegue and friend. @thewaystationvineyard_mandalayAnother confusing connection (see Dubai) which enabled us to rest for some days and enjoy a luxurious life. Primarily a shower but a bed, pizza, coffee, a fridge, wifi and much more. But to reach this oasis in the middle of Mandalay we had to first overcome a 260km distance that was harder than expected. Much harder. The bad roads became worse. The burning heat and an unexpected steep and long climb challenged us. It took us nearly three hours for 15 km. And in the end of the day without exaggerating like we had cycled 160km even if we had only 50 on our tachometer. But however we made it to arrive in Mandalay on saturday afternoon because the roads became better or really really good after Yargi. We do not know the exact figure but it felt like we had an average speed between 25 and 30.
29.3 - 3. April 2019
Hey we are back from a social media break! In the morning after we had camped at a school near by the mainroad leading us from Imphal to the Indian border we saw a group of four cyclists passing on the road. We managed to catch them up a few kilometers later after a long 20km ascent. This is how we met Johannes (@dinomimimi) a 19 year old German cycling to Bejing and maybe further, Chloe (@en.roue.libre ) from France cycling to Japan and Trystan and Josephine (@goingincircles.uk) whose destination is New Zealand. Together we started a new adventure in Myanmar. We have not seen a lot of it but we can already say that we love it. In comparison to starring Indians you see a lot of smiles and happy waving people. The country is not as closely populated as India that makes it perfect for wildcamping even if it is reportely so strictly forbidden in Myanmar. Chloe, Trystan, Josephine and Sebastian (@sebastiandallinger ) who had completed the group after two days are hosted by locals while we wild camping near Tongyi today. So being hosted seems not to be a problem either. We split today because we the three German millenials will head to Mandalay while the others cyclig directly to Bagan where we will reunite in a few days.
27+28 March 2019
As we wrote in our last report the three days after we left Silchar blend into another in our memory. We always followed the same hilly and winding road through the reserve forest. A lot of trucks accompanied us on this way and sometimes we crossed little villages that all look really similar with the many little stores with colourful instant noodle and crisps packages hanging on the store front and people waving at us. Several times we faced really hard ascents that were not that steep but with a lot of serpentines that took us sometimes more than 20km just uphill. Many serpentines means also that we often needed for for instance 10km air-line distance at least 30km of cycling. In the evening of the first day we asked at a quarry for a place to camp. After the workers there had tried to contact their company's boss to ask for permission which he did not give they sadly had to send us further to a military camp. They showed it to us on the satellite map. When we arrived at the spot they showed us we stood in front of one of the railway tunnels without rails that we had seen before several times. Even if we had not found the military camp we decided to build up our tents in the tunnel. In the morning there were supprisingly no people starring at us while having breakfast.we continued. On the way to Imphal we met a French couple cycling to Japan. After a chat we had to continue because it was already dark. Only a few meters after the village where we had met Stephane und Elodie Marian's chain tore. No the best moment but nothing could stop our good mood. After an hour of reparing, breaking and then again reparing it we could continue the last kilometers uphill and then 20km downhill to the valley of Imphal. We met our Warmshowers host and he showed us a room we could share with a backpacker from Argentina. He hosted us even if the last before we arrived the building where our room was situated completely burned. As you can see he really loves to help travellers from all over the world. So if you ever should travel to Imphal then contact him on Instagram @rishavshahu or warmshowers .
26 March 2019
We left the closely populated area around Silchar and cycled now only through small villages and forrest on some hilly and winding roads we did not left till we arrived in Imphal. The days blend into eachother in our memory. On the first day we crossed the border from Assam to Manipur. Different to all other borders between two Indian state we today were stopped by the military and had to fill out a long form which was similar to the one we had to fill in for our Visa application. Again a annoying encounter with Indian pointless bureaucracy. With this checkpoint the extreme military presence we faced in Manipur began. Seemingly every ten kilometers we crossed a checkpoint here and we saw many army trucks with soldiers that seemed to be some sort of vigilante group because they all had different uniforms with different camouflage patterns. That day we slept at a Baptist Church. A really friendly girl showed us the way down from the street to the church when a drunken guy who later turned out to be like a mayor of 32 villages in the region welcomed us. Even if we just wanted a place where we could stay on our own and put up our tents he send the girls to prepare dinner while we sat around the table and talked. We really appreciated the hospitality of these people but the mayor was really annoying to be honest. Not unfriendly but we were really tired and he started again and again to explain things no matter if they were true or not. "Let me teach you..." or "Let me explain..." he started and then facts like Hitler is 154cm or Hitler killed the Jews who lived in Germany before the Christians lived there as a majority. Not easy to stay calm. But in the end we had one of the best Dal with rice in India. Even if it is always the same dish it can turn out completely different. And a bed.
25 March 2018
After the long stage yesterday we slept long and had a long breakfast/lunch. The stage ran without any incidents apart from the extreme traffic in Silchar. During our time in Nepal and India we always had the opportunity to maneuver through the waiting cars but today there were not a few centimeters left for us. Really annoying. The terrain was really flat but we were exhausted from the extrem stage yesterday. Additionaly we both had a stomach ache after we ate five fatty fried Roti for breakfast. In the evening a friendly men showed us a spot for our tents in a village opposite of his friends motorbike store.
24 March 2019
Yes 157km. A new tour record. And that considering the fact that the route was not an easy one. After Jowai we first crossed some bigger villages, then the pine tree landscape developed in a deep jungle with only little rural villages throughout the hole day we faced ups and downs. The last long ascent really costed a lot of energy. In addition the sun set. After the next village on our map where we planed to camp turned out to be a resting area for trucks we went to a restaurant to eat something. We still do not know why. But suddenly the idea of cycling to Silchar in one day occured. Especially I was extremly exhausted at this moment. Maybe this was why I could not think that logic anymore and accepted Marian's plan to now cycle another 50km in the dark after we had already done 110. Just for fun, challenging ourselfes and also to finally make a big step towards the Burmese border we decided to book a hotel in Silchar and then continued cycling.
23 March 2019
After we woke up the first mission was to get some money from an ATM. The first ones were out of order because of a power breakdown. The next one was just closed and after a six kilometer long morning walk I found one. We had breakfast on the balcony of our appartment. We broiled some eggs and toasts and had coffee. An ample breakfast. We started our tour at 12:30 a.m.. The stage began with a lot of steep climbing but after that a balanced rate of ups and downs. The road lead us through a again european looking landscape with pine trees. The blue sky, the green pine trees, it's smell and cicadas remided us of our tour through south France. Nearly nostalgic when we though of that part of our tour which seemed decades ago now. In the end we reached Jowai. At the police office we asked for a place to sleep because Winward had given us the advice to do so. But we got rejected. As we later found out we asked at the wrong place. Because there was another police office not far away from the city centre. A bit disappointed because it already was dark we had food at a restaurant when two guys nearly in our age arrived. After a short talk the older one who was 20 years old and studied art in Jowai invited us to his flat he shared with his two younger sisters. We accepted his offer. In the flat we laid down a mattress and I directly fell asleep. I woke up when Marian touched my shoulder and asked to hand me his passport. Then I recognized that nearly ten people stood in the room waiting for me to show my passport. Another now less positive suprise on this evening. The houseowner had called the headman of the district and the admistration and so on. Precisely we now still do not know who stood there right in front of us. The youngest of them controlled our passports really precisely but he did not even understood that he was looking at the Nepal not the India Visa. Indian bureaucracy. Pointless. In the end everyone calmed down when we told them our story and that we are really glad meeting our new friend and really just want to spend the night here. They told us that they just want to make sure that nobody would harm us.
20-22 March 2019
We entered the city of Shillong in the morning after a long descent which led us directly to the city centre. We enjoyed pizza for lunch after the forced diet of the last days. Then we took some rest and cycled to the local bikestore where we bought some handlebar tape, bike shorts and lube. Then the big surprise. Suddenly a guy in our age entered, shook hands with us and introduced himself. Winward. After a few confused seconds we recognized why we knew this name. It was our Warmshowers host with whom we have been in contact. Actually he said he would not be in town at the moment. But now he supprisingly was there. He and his friends took us to a home of one of them where we could park our bikes and sleep for the night. But first we went out to a bar. The next day we woke up at 9 and then waited a whole day. Nobody knew for what but there was always that feeling that we would start soon. To do whatever. Then we started to the city where expected to go to the holi festival but Winward and his friends obviously changed their plans. Reminds us of ourselfes and our organisation. Thus we went back and packed everything together we needed for camping in the jungle. Just a few kilometers out the city and we stood in the jungle where we light up a bonfire and cooked rice, Dal, fried potatoes and scrambled egg. To be precise we watched while they cooked this really great meal for us. The next day we broke off our tent after a heavy shower we had awaited in it. Then we went back to the city, picked up our bikes and headed towards a lodge in the city where we wanted to spend our last evening and rest day and cook something. Soaking wet we arrived there because another even more heavy shower had suprised us on our way. After big hailstones had pattered on our bodies the hot sun came out again and a giant rainbow arose on the street directly in front of us.
18-19 March 2019
We started early this morning since already at 5 a.m. kids stood around our tent. We could ignore them for just 40 more minutes then Marian opened the tent to directly join a football match that took place on the schoolyard. When I woke up most of the kids had already left again. We waited some more minutes and then had breakfast. Our last nougat cream, peanutbutter and some toast. Then we had no more food left and just 350 Rupies for the next two days. 1€ per day per person till we would reach the next ATM in Shilong around 160km away. We have not made it to the city centre when writing this report but we are really confident even if there is not even a cent left. We found springs to get some water and bought a kilo of rice for 25 Rupies that saved us. The way itself was not really different to the days before. Really hilly and winding and therefore we needed really much energy. At least it was not that hot than the days before and it even rained at night. An extremely loud thunder storm scared us in this night. The green jungle developed in the end of the first day in a european-looking landscape with hills covered with grass and pine trees why we could enjoy some minutes in a familiar environment. What stayed throughout our tour through Meghalaya were the deforrestation by burning giant areas of wood and many tiny makeshift huts at the roadside that prevented the people under it from sun, wind and rain while they hammered at rocks, breaking and breaking them again to produce gravel for cement companies that seem to finance and control a whole really poor region. A picture that is only as impressive as it was when you really see the huts passing on the side of the road.
14-17 March 2019
Four days and nearly 300km although the last of these days we not really count as real stage. The first two days passed without any remakable incidents after we had left the Doaar floodlands, the jungle and West Bengal we crossed the Assam region on a highway 150km straight om. The only highway that connects the rest of India to it's northeastern states. The first day we had a lot of luck and were hosted at the katholic St. Claret school in Kochugaon. In the next days against our expectations we saw more churches and Christian churches than Hindu temples. Meghalaya the state we entered on the third day is virtual completely christian coined. After the night in the school we continued on the highway. In the afternoon we could leave it in southern direction. Directly the landscape became more rural and greener. We found a place to camp on a football field again at a school. Even if it was saturday at least 50 students watched us having breakfast the next morning. We left and crossed the Brahmaputra river after some kilometers. The rural and nicer villages disappeared and we now were back on a highway which lead to Guwahati the biggest city of Assam. We decided to leave the highway and cycle first southwards. It would be harder to reach Shilong on this hilly and winding road but it should be worth the effort. We crossed the border of Assam and Meghalaya we were back in the jungle and crossed villages that lived in the 18th century. The people smiled and starred incredolous at us when we crossed the villages. Children shouted "Tourist!" or "Bye Bye!" when seeing us. A bit confusing but we after a few times recognized that they just wanted to greet. Here in Meghalaya the official language is English not Hindi as in other states in India but the people living in villages normally just speak their tribal language. The illiteracy rate is extremly high in this part of India one of the guys we met this evening told us. We had met th by a view point on top of a hill. They invited us to have a beer with them and afterwards offered us a place to stay for the night at the Bock Departement at Rongjeng. We again had beer soo...
13 March 2019
As we found out this morning our camping spot was not only frequented by fireflies but also regulary by elefants. Not this night but when we met a group of ten men then told us that it would be dangerous to camp there. When we left the meadowland on a different side then we had entered it yesterday we saw the two meters high electric fences and look-outs. Oups. Obviously we had had luck. Then we went back on the highway today's destination was the around 100km distant Alipurduar because we had got an acceptance on Warmshowers. The way lead us through National Parks in the Dooars floodlands. Danger signs showed crossing rhinos, elefants, tigers and leopards. Sadly we could see none of them except some monkeys on the road. But even the seemingly endless green impressed us. Sometimes the jungle grew that exuberantly that we could see at most 20m into the forrest. In the end of the day we left the highway and some huts in the jinglei lined the road, the huts became houses and the green left for a dusty but now dark city. We arrived in Alipuduar.
11.-12- March 2019
We had not managed to get a SIM card yet so we wanted to buy one today but when we looked for some providers on the internet we came across some bureaucratic horror stories. Some people wrote that it would not be possible to get a SIM card within at least three days. So we decided to at least try it and then continue today afternoon or tomorrow. As we found out it is not possible for foreingers to buy a SIM at one of the small shops on the street. We had to go to an official vodafone store. There we had to submit a passport and visa copy, a passport photo, a local contact with an Indian mobile number and so on. We went there and a staff member filled in a long form which took us nearly 1,5 h but contrary to our expectations we got a SIM card in the end. In the evening the card would be activated and we had to call a number where we again should give information like the passport number. But it did not work. We waited till the next morning and asked the hotel manager who had given us some information about the SIM card and gave us his mobile number we needed to get a SIM if he knows why it is not activated. He called the vodafone shop. They told us that we had to go there again and exchange the card because it was broken. After we visited the vodafone shop it worked but it was already 1 p.m. when we left the city. First we cycled northwards in direction of Kalimpong. After we had struggled long we had decided not to cycle further up to Darjeeling but directly take the road eastwards after some kilometers. We crossed a bridge behind Sevoke and the amazing jungle. The highway lead us through tea fields and a lot of verdancy. In the evening we found a place in meadowland. After it got dark we could watch a natural phenomenon we knew but never seen in such a magnitude. Thousands of fireflies blazed in the dark.
8 March 2019
After a fretful night we woke up at eight when the owner of the bamboo wood where we camped came and reaped plantains. Afterwards offered us but we denied we never use our cooker here and to be honest we did not even know how to process them. Then he left. After we had some cookies and grapes for breakfast and dismanteled our tent a group of ten or more people arrived suddenly in the forrest. Obviously somebody had informed them that we would stay here. We took some selfies and they asked some questions about Germany and our tour. Then we left and continued on the dust road which should be a highway in the future but now even if the map already showed a fully developed road the dirt path lead us today through rivers and deep sand of dried-up streams. Gerrit's bike fell in the first river when we waded it so we had to wait for a few minutes in the hot sun and dry the things. Six month ago maybe a shock but now after the storm and rain on Hormuz it was just a short incident. Moments like these exemplary show you how you develope on the tour even if you do not seem to. Having no real breakfast was not the best idea at noon Gerrit felt really shiftless and after some more kilometers without finding anything to eat he had to stop hypoglycemic and ate some of the nougat we had with us. That should be enough for the distance to the next village were we could buy pastry and some fruits but still did not find a restaurant. Which we would in the late afternoon when we finally arrived on an asphaltic highway. Before we got there we got invited by the director of a English boarding school in Siswa when his students stopped us on the street to take some pictures. We sat in the middle of a group of thirty kids starring at us and asking questions. The director said that the kids are really happy to see us since it is not typical to see a foreinger in this part of the country and some of them had never seen tourists before.
7 March 2019
We left the small forrest and started on the dirt road after we had left the asphaltic road yesterday evening for the first time in Nepal. Many potholes, rocks and deep sand should hinder the next two stages. Welcome to Southeast Asia. 30 kilometers southwards were left to reach Janakpur were we wanted to lunch and then continue eastwards. And once again our experience were completely thrown over. What we saw today is hard to show somebody in pictures or explain. Kathmandu had been a shock for us after we had stayed in Dubai, then we had seen the villages becoming more rural and ancient in the last two days but now after we left the asphaltic road and riding through places with no real transport connection everything we saw before was put into perspective. Oxen karts, people carrying heavy goods on their heads, people in loincloth, kids starring at us like we are extraterrestial, open fires on the streets. Everything you may have seen on pictures and we had seen it before too but to cycle through these villages was completely different. We stopped in Janakpur and had to recover two hours from the mass of extreme impressions. Then we continued. Appart from the more than positive and enthusiastic feeling we had cycling through these places we also had the feeling of beeing foreign and lost more than ever before on our tour. Nobody could speak our language we could not asked for a place to sleep. When it already got dark we decided to build up our tent in a little forrest we found on the satellite map and hoped that nobody would find us. Another extreme feeling we experienced today is that we could never find a place to be alone and to abscond the impressions and people. Now it was dark but even in the forrest the loud music of tinny speakers from three different villages around us was to loud to sleep.
6 March 2019
After breakfast some cows visited our camping spot so we decided to not bother them and leave them their space for their morning walk. We continued uphill and as expected it took 15 km of constant descent. Then we reached a little village of shops for the small transporters filled with tourist our escort since Kathmandu. And also today they followed us till afternoon and with them many restaurants, stores and... bags with vomit. Not everyone could hold out the many serpentines. After seven kilometers even-tempered ups and downs and lunch break we could enjoy a nearly 15 kilometer long descent that brough us into the plain in Nepal's south and into the jungle the landscape changed but also the people and houses. Once again we believed to know what @danielvonvito meant when he gave us the suggestion to cycle to Janakpur and on the way cross villages that still live in the 18th century. In the evening we left this beautiful green sprawling and entwining landscape and ended in the city of Bardibas where we ate something and then found a camping spot in a forrest just two kilometers away from the city.
5 March 2019
We continued at 11:30 p.m. on the road after the heat had driven us off our tent. Today was a really hilly stage not many long and hard ascents except one in the afternoon but many ups and downs. The further we removed ourselves from the city the more rural and obsolent the landscape and villages became. People plouwed their 200 sq terrace-fields by hand and hoe or with oxen. The houses became wooden or clay huts on the roof tops the people sift and dried. In between giant bill boards which did definitely did not fit there and in this size and colour better in the Time Square. After hard 60 kilometers we bought some food in Khurkot and started looking for a campingspot and at the same time begun to cycle a acent which constantly held for 15km as we recognized the next day. But after the second serpentine we stopped exhausted and searched for a campingspot. We met three women. They told us that is would be not possible to camp at this spot but that there would be hotels in a small village on the hill. They waited till we were back on our bikes. We did not reach the village
After five more serpentines we were finally to exhausted to go on so we stopped at a similar spot and hid our tent in the bushes.
4 March 2019
Packing together and checking out took longer then expected. While Marian searched for an ATM to get cash and pay the two nights at the hostel a parade with a colourful wagon passed in front of the hotel. We started cycling for the first time since three weeks and saw the same parade some streets further. When we passed it and went on the highway to leave the city we suddenly stood in the middle of a crowd of tousand of people walking along the street. A big Hindu ceremony we speculated. As we later found out Maha Shivaratri. A high holiday or more precisely night in Hinduism and the highest among worshipper of Lord Shiva. We blazed a trail through the crowd and continued to Bhaktapur. After 17km we reached the city center where we wanted to see the old town. But we had to assert that this was only possible when paying a 1500rp fee. After we already had seen the Dubar Square in Patan and Kathmandu we decided to not pay for the ticket. Moreover we wanted to again establish our 10€ budget per day after we had spend more in the last weeks. So we had lunch an then continued on the highway eastwards and decided to not cycle uphill to Nagakot because we both felt a bit ill. We cycled along the first of all multi-lane road and watched it becoming a smaller rural road and gaining the first impressions of Nepal. Striking after 1,5 month in the desert were the green hills, woods and terrace fields. Furthermore the colourful busses and trucks sometimes the loading area chock-full with people and loud music because of the holiday. Despite the hilly landscape and the illness we advanced really easy. Another striking thing are the many shops and restaurants everywhere on our way that all look nearly the same. More difficult was the quest of a camping spot for tonight. We left the main road and asked a farmer for a place for one tent. He said: "No possible." Then we continued the small dirt road and build up our tent next to it on a small meadow. After half an hour three men came and said that it would be not good for us to stay here and showed us a place on the map where we could stay and some of their friends already camped.
2- 3 March 2019
After we came home from the club at 7 a.m. we slept three hours and then checked out. We sat down in the lobby really really tired with a hangover and booked a hostel in Thamel where we wanted to stay for two nights and wait for the bike beeing repaired till sunday evening. Luckily we could check in early so Marian cycled and I took a taxi to our third accomodation in Kathmandu. We entered the room and fell asleep for six hours then went out to eat something in a retaurant 100 meters down the street and then fell asleep again after watching some YouTube videos. The next day we could pick up the bike earlier than expected. Afterwards we again went to a restaurant, called family and friends and then slept again. Two really dull days. Interesting is just the fact that we could finally, finally cycle the first stage for three weeks tomorrow.
1 March 2019
Marian decided to let pierce his ears one hour before the reporters arrive. We left the hotel and arrived one kilometer later at a jeweler where we recognized that we had no money. While Marian got his ears pierced I rushed back to the hotel where I noticed that Marian had the key. I asked for a second key at the reception. It waited ten minutes in front of our room for the housekeeping then I asked once again at the reception and had to wait another ten minutes in the lobby wherw I then saw a staff waiting for me in front of my room. Not a tragic misapprehension but the reason why both of us got nervous. With money in my pocket I rushed back. And it happend what you maybe expected already when I went back to the hotel a motorbike in front of me suddenly braked and my brakes did not grip because of the road dust. We crashed. The person on the motorbike apologized a thousend times even if I crashed. Then I wanted to continue but my rear wheel brake blocked the wheel every meter. So I parked my pushbike and jogged the last meters. Arrived at the store Marian asked for the price. 100 rupies! Marian smiled and said that he had had a hundred rupies bill with him for the whole time. At this moment he did not know which consequences my little excursion had. Back at my bike we saw the reason for the reason why the brakes had blocked. My rear wheel had lifted when I crashed and when it thuded on the ground the whole wheel bend extemely and not fixable as we realised when we visited a bike shop in Thamel after the by the way really good meeting with the reporters. The article will be published in two weeks on thursday. The mechanic said the only option was to exchange the whole rim which could be done till sunday evening because on saturday the shops in Kathmandu are closed. So there is no other option then waiting. And the possiblity to experience nightlife in Kathmandu which we did untill we arrived at @the_dwarikas at 7 a.m.
Picture was taken on February 28 but we have no material from the last few days. Sooorrryy.
23-26 February 2019
We came back from Dwarika's
late and both of us were still ill so we slept long. Yesterday I could not complete my list of must-have-seen places so we took a cab to the hotel where we had left our bikes and then continued
to the most famous Stupa in Kathmandu. The Stupa in Bodnath in UNESCO Worldheritage. We circled it clockwise as it is tradition in Buddism. Then another time and then cycled the way back again
through the today extremely dusty and smoggy city. But we wanted to visit @shavisberlinsstreettreet. René and @shavonas told us yesterday that they had
opened a chippy in Thamel inspired by our local diner Waldmühle. So we now wanted to assure ourselves if it could keep up with Waldmühle. Result: you can not buy real German bratwurst in Nepal
why the currywurst is better in Borken, the sauce is on the same level buuut the variety of offers and fries which are handmade and from @shavonasorganic farm are even better than
Waldmühle. So if you should ever be in Kathmandu. Visit it. In the evening our attempt to make oven potatoes failed more or less. But we put them in a wok for around one hour and half roasted
half fried the potatoes so at least nobody had to go to bed hungry.
Maybe not the best idea to leave the house today with a cold which we had to realize the next day. We slept long and felt both extremely nerveless and our illness got even worse. We stayed inside for two days except two walks around the neighborhood. I spend 70ct at a barber. Both days we bought something for cooking so we could compensate for our unsuccessful potatoes with pasta and pancakes (ppp). The 26th I felt better and was tired of staying inside the hole day. I decided to visit an art gallery I found on the internet and the Garden of Dreams. The former turned out to be a exclusive little gallery with only ten pantings from the same artist. Great paintings but I did not felt welcome as somebody who was not interested in buying something. So I left as fast as I could. The Gaof Dreams made the little excursion worth it. An oasis in the middle of the dusty crowded city. I decided to eat at @shavissberlinstreetagain.
22 February 2019
Today we slept long both of us are really nerveless and Marian felt ill. He stayed at home while I visited some of the sights in Kathmandu. The Durbar Square and the Old City of Patan, the Monkey Temple, another part of Thamel, the Durbar Square in Kathmandu. Then we met at the Pashupatinath Temple in evening to watch the cremation of bodies at the river side. The monks sang, drumed, rang bells, wagged fronds and fans and threw flowers over their heads while the crowd of more than 200 people cheered and supported the songs with clapping to the beat. A indescribable atmosphere. Another indescribable atmosphere we faced when we entered @the_dwarikas . We were invited by son of a friend of Marian's father. He grew up in Borken and his father lifes who made the contact possible still lives there. His maternal Nepalese family owns a luxury hotel in Kathmandu. An amazing place that his grandfather build over the years by always enlarging his own traditional Nepalese house. He kept this style to preserve this part of Nepalese culture and collected many wooden ornaments from demolished traditional buildings and temples. The oldest is from the 13th century. Now some parts of the complex of buildings have five floors and it is still growing. It is traditional and beautiful but on the other hand luxurisous which explains our initial Dubai-like shock entering this place coming from the dust roads. Of course we felt a bit wrong with our outdoor outfits but we could cope with it and spend a really nice evening. Our ten euro budget would neeever enable us to stay there but sometimes you just need luck and to know somebody five degrees apart. And of course also the hotel profits from our visit aswell they had the honour to host the @chaoticcyclingclub among guest like Prince Charles, Selena Gomez and David Beckham.
21 February 2019
Today we had to get up early. We did but not early enough to reach the Indian embassy at the time we wanted to. In the internet we had found a blog where they advice to arrive 45min before the embassy opens at 9:30 a.m. maybe this does only hold good for the season when many tourist apply for an India Visa because when we arrived at 10 there where only 4 people waiting and we drew number 5 and 6 from an automat. Then we had to wait for five minutes. The lady at the counter window marked some mistakes on our visa form. We had to fill it in before our first appointment a the embassy on the internet. Luckily we did not have to fill in the formular on the internet another time since we had no SIM cards yet because there was a shop next to the embassy where two men filled the form correctely for 500 rupies. Then we dropped the form at the counter window, paid the 12.800 rupies fee. We have to come back on February 27th. Back at the main street we found a little shop had lunch and then continued in direction of Thamel the tourist district, walked along the reams of shops and got a little introduction tour on Buddism when we met a women at a cafe near the stupa in Thamel. She showed us a monastry and a shop where a the owner explained us everything about mandalas. Facinated by the first impression of Kathmandu, Nepal and Buddhist or Hinduist Asia we repaired to our way back to our Warmshowers hosts who had cooked Indonesian for us. We had time to introduce ourselves for the first time and listened to their story and why and when they came to Kathmandu.
20 February 2018
We woke up at 10 a.m. and realised that this was to late to go to the Indian embassy when we looked for some information about visa application on the internet. So we decided to have a long breakfast while discussing what we are planning to see and what we have to do the next days in Kathmandu. Then we did some blog and social media updates and catched up on the sights and places in and around Kathmandu. 8 hours elapsed quick and we decided to at least see a bit of the city organize a SIM card, money and some food. The former was not possible without a copy of the visa and a passport photograph but at least the noodles where delicious but extremly cheap. We paid 200 which is 1,50€ for two portions and some water.
19 February 2019
As Thomas and Antonius had done two days ago we took a taxi van to Shardsha Airport in the morning. Early for us especially because the two Spätaufsteher were now left alone. Today our adventure reaches the next phase. We had breakfast for the last time with our hostfamily (@jorgme@rmvidalmeyer @marcomeyer_ and Carlito) who had acommondated us in the best hotel ever for now nearly one week. All inclusive garden-camping with barbecue, cold beer and pool, hot coffee and shower, washing machine, crazy test verhicles (sorry for the broken Penny board), a free city guide and a really great hotel personnel. Thank you! The three hour flight elapsed quick and without any incidents or nervousness. Probably because we did not realised that the plane would take us to Nepal and that we were now a chaoticcyclingclub with only two members for the next three and a half month. Also the Visa-on-arrival was easy to get and rather a joke and that is not an exaggeration. A guy from the airport staff helped us to fill in the visa form at an automat by leaving two pages empty and just fill in some abbreviations on the last page. Only our name, our date of birth and our email we had to fill in. It took us two hours to screw together our bikes always under the surveillance of at least five Nepalis. Then we finally could cycle our first kilometers in Nepal, our first kilometers in this new constellation and the first kilometers in...oups... left-hand traffic suprisingly for us always extemporaneous guys. Arrived at our Warmshowers host we fell asleep quick at 10 pm even if we had gained 1 hour and 45 minutes.
18 February 2019
8 September 2018 the day when we started in Borken. As some of you already have noticed we sadly have to announce that two of us, Thomas and Antonius, left us today and flew back to Düsseldorf for private reasons. But we can put your mind at ease we did not seperate aguing nor the private reasons were that grave that they had been forced to break our tour off against their will. The decision was hard but after five month and more than 6000km on the bike and the possiblity to choose in Dubai between two equal flights east- or westwards two of us decided for the way home and the reunion with family and friends in Borken. Now a new adventure with completely new conditions starts for us (Marian and Gerrit) in the east. The second flight and the second cut on our tour marks the begining of our tour's last chapter. With regard to our blog and Instagram we will take in hand a cut too. The last reports of our Iran stage will be uploaded on the website subsequently and we will start afresh on our Instagram with daily small reports and pictures from now on. Because we are now only two staff members in our blogpost-production we will confine our reports to short English Instagram captions and a weekly German report. We are still ponder on wether we will communicate it in form of a longer text or a weekly video message.
12 January 2019
In the morning sun suppressed the icy cold. We knew that today's stage should be a hard one but what we did not know yet was that we would cycle a 2700m high pass and by doing so the highest point on our tour so far. The road did not run in many serpentines but had a constant steep ascent. After three hours and only 20 kilometers we found a restaurant in a little village on 1900m height. We had a great lunch and a hot cay and continued. The restaurant's owner showed us in sign language that the road would go uphill only a few kilometers and from there just downhill. Our research on Maps showed "only a few kilometers" meant 10 kilometers uphill. And these 10km were really tough. Right behind the village we reached the snow line and it became colder. But the landscape was great. Behind every knoll we hoped to see the long awaited peak. Shortly before we reached it a car stopped and the driver invited us to his home in 25km on this road. Maybe we could have reached it if the road would have had a constant descent but the sun set with it the icey cold set in again and the 35km downhill started often disrupted by little ascents. Luckily another car stopped and one men of the group in the car invited us to his house just 5 kilometers away. 15 minutes later we arrived with freezed hands and feet that we could thaw in the livingroom under a giant blanket we already knew from the desert yurt. We ate fruits and Mojataba told us about his rosewater production, his studies and invited us for futsal after dinner. An hour later we stood in a gym with 20 other Iranians. Another unespected event on this exhausting but great day. Nevertheless we could not sleep very good this night. After the extreme cold today evening we were now in a room with sauna-like temperatures because as we experienced before Iranians are used to sleep in for us too warm and stuffy rooms. Anyway we fell asleep somehow.
12. January 2019
Kashan - Qamsar, 29km
From Kashan we decided to take a small road over the mountains to reach the next plain and the next big city Isfahan. We left the hostel at 12:30 a.m. and having polished off our purchasings we left the city on an initially fully developed highway. 25km straight on with a permanent slight ascent claimed our psyche and our physis. Shortly after we left the highway and started the small pass we left the road an pitched camp behind some smaller hills. The landscape had changed and now we were surrounded by a stinted but beautiful lonley mountain landscape. The height made itself felt when a extreme cold set in after the sun disappeared. Thus we left our dinner and lay down in our sleeping bags.
11 January 2019
After our desert expedition we decided to stay one more day in the hostel and visit the city of Kashan since we really liked the first impressions. After breakfast our tour lead us to Agha Bozorg Mosque only a few meters away from our hostel then to the Bazaar, the Sultan-Amir-Ahmad-Hamam and the Fin Garden a really beautiful place. In the evening Marian and Antonius had the great opportunity to climb the roof of the Bazaar and enjoy the view of Kashan's clay houses from above.
8-9. January 2019
Before we started our desert expedition we had to fix Thomas flat tire and buy some bread and water for two days in the desert. And an extra portion in case we had to stay one more day. We left the city eastwards with 16 breads and 20 liters of water. Of course that was to much but at this moment our calculation seemed logical. On our way to Maranjab we visited the undeground city of Nush Abad. The asphalts streets developed into dirt roads when we tried to drive round the military checkpoint to avoid the 300.000 Rial toll to enter the desert. We followed this road around 30km and the sun slowly set when we arrived at a clay yurt a suggestion of @piggybackriders who stayed there some weeks ago. There we wanted to stay for the night and store all our baggage to visited the sand dunes and the “real” desert the next day. We spend a warm and comfortable night in the yurt. Listening to a podcast and relaxing under the giant warm blanket which covered a heater in the middle of the circular yurt and our legs. The next day we started with our now lightweight bikes and watched the landscape transforming into a desert. The bushes disappeared and the stony hills became sand dunes. While the others stayed at the first sand dune Gerrit cycled some more kilometers. One the horizon some dromedaries grazed. After we spend the afternoon jumping and rolling around in the dunes we headed to Kashan at the yurt we took our baggage and arrived at the historical hostel in the city shortly after sunset.
07 January 2019
Today we woke up to blue sky and warm and bright sun. We enjoyed our breakfast barefood and in tshirt when we saw five men approaching us over the knolls. Our first encounter with the Iranian police should not be the last one of the day. After we showed a copy of our passports they took a group picture of us and left. Easily we covered the first kilometers with tailwind and a constant slope. The break after 25km took longer than expected because after Thomas exchanged his flat tube the valve of the new one broke when he inflated air. During the second attempt two friendly Iranians stopped and offered their help, Cay and something to eat. Back on our pushbikes the wind had changed and now a heavy headwind hafted on the last kilometers to Kashan. We heared that it is possible to camp in parks in Iran so we stopped in an outer quater of Kashan and assured ourselves int he town hall. Even if we had the permission some of us were not sure if it would be the befst idea to camp in the middle of the city especially because we were watched by a huge group of teenagers. So we decided to book a hostel in the center of Kashan. Before we could advance we had our second encounter with the police on that day. Appearently the major had called them because the group of teenagers had molested and hurted us. We disclaimed that but to not be there in vain the police escorted us 7km in the direction of our hostel where we had our privacy and quitness.
06. January 2019
Hoseynabad-e Mish Mast
Mish Mast, 45km
Our first night on a proper persian carpet had been more comfortable than expected for what reason we woke up not before Hamid came back from the store with some bread and cheese. After we had finished breakfast Said entered. He had brought the bicycles and our bags from the farm. Since we wanted to advance today we had to knock off the offer to have lunch with them but they could convince us to visit the Holy Shrine. The second most important place of pilgrimage in Iran and therefore an ostentatious building with a giant golden dome and pompous embellishments. Said was there for the first time because he thinks nothing of this whole thing however he guided us determined through the security check an in the yard of the building where we took some pictures just when we put on some shoe covers to enter the shrine a safety deputy came and accompanied us to the exit confusingly apologizing really polite. Sahid did not explain what he had said but said to us that this guy wanted to show that he is the boss. With provocative loud German rap music and dropped window we left the car park. Then we put on our cycling clothes and pedaled the first three kilometers accompanied by Said and Hamid showing us the right way to the highway. Even if would liked to cycle the "Old Road" they somehow forced us to take the highway because it is more safe in their eyes. But we rascals left the highway two kilometers after we said goodbye to our hosts looking for a supermarket. In the middle of the ugly and industrial suburb of Ghom we discovered our first dromedaries in Iran, on our tour and in our life. We recorded it photograficly and then continued our mission to buy bread and cheese and the leave Ghom behind. After 30km we found a spot on Google Maps where we could hide out tents behind some little hills. Definitely one of the coolest spots on our tour.
5. Januar 2019
We spend a calm first night of wildcamping in Iran but there was one question in the morning: who had stolen the bread? We found the empty plastic bag ten meters away from our tents where we had stored it in the evening. Therefore we had to content ourselves with some fruits. But it was another sunny day and we started downhill on the road and could enjoy the beautiful Iranian landscape. The first twenty kilometers passed real quick then we bought a little snack at a service area. We continued along the highway and in the afternoon we stopped at another service area with a supermarket 25km away from Ghom where we bought some food. On the parking we met Bernahm who invited us to stay at his place in Isfahan. Isfahan was around 300km away but on our route to the south. But much more important was the gesture so we left the service area with a smile, another great impression of this country and another great encounter. We should collect many new encounters on this day but we could not forebode what would happen this evening when we arrived at a little store 20km before Ghom where we asked if it would be possible to place our tents somewhere there. A group of ten or more men tried to help us but only one of them could speak English and invited us to his farm 5km away from the store because he declared this place to be "not suitable'' for us. Our bikes were bought to Said's farm with a pickup. He was a spare-time farmer but actually a police officer. For dinner he wanted to take us to the city. We changed our clothes and the chickenfarmer transformed into a men with suit who drove us in his car with an inside temperature of 32 degrees to the city where an unforgettable evening and an ardunous marathon of hospitality and encounters should start. On our way we distributed some eggs and were introduced to the first acquaintances. Then back in the car and further. Next stop a milkshake store and his fitness studio. We took some fotos and drank a milkshake. Not finished yet Said and his friend Hamid from the fitness studio took us to a restaurant in two cars. A restaurant "for rich men like
4 January 2019
Ali Abad- Bāqak
The hospitality in Iran is not comparable with any other country on our route. After we had stayed two nights in the container at a gravel quarry Ibrahim offered us breakfast and Cay before we had to say goodbye and left. It was the first time we could see Iran's landscape: desert, reddish sand and stones and a hilly relief and in the backround mountains covered with snow. Just beautiful and completely different from what we had seen before. Furthermore we could strengthen our first more than positive impression of Iranians. People waved to us and honked. After a few kilometers a car stopped us and asked for a photo another family gave us oranges. We found our campingspot aside the road on a hill with the beautiful view over a saltlake and the sunset which dipped the stinted but beautiful landscape in warm colours.
2.+3. Januar 2019
Since we had already packed everything together yesterday we could have started our first day on the bikes since two weeks very soon after getting up. But we of course did not! After we changed money from Euro to a crazy amount of Rials we left the hostel after four nights at 12:30 a.m. when we realised that we had not downloaded a map for our Teasi. Therefore Thomas and Marian returned from the street in the hostel to use the wifi but as always in our digital world when you have to do something really quick the device needs an update and even with it the download did not work out. At 1:30 p.m. we finally left the hostel and Marian started to lead us with his smartphone map through the streets of Teheran. The traffic is crazy and seemingly without any rules but it is really slow so we could along with hundreds of motorbikes find our way between the cars. Then we stopped for the first time at a shop where we hoped to get a metall piece for our cooker which we already lost in Croatia and since then always replaced it with our own constructions made from cans. But we did not succeed. But a least we met some Iranians proudly showing us photographs from their visit in Germany which is not common for the people here. Back on our pushbikes we pedaled in direction of the airport in the south of the city where we landed a few days ago always on shoulder of the highway number 7. Without any noteworthy incidents accept the Holy Shrine we saw from the road we cycled 30km. Grey sky, noisy and fast cars and with the reek of a refuse incineration plant in our noses. Maybe not the best start for our Iran stage but we had not even reached the airport and left the industrial capital area by doing so. When it got colder we left the highway and looked for a good spot on our satellite map. To make sure that we could stay there for the night we asked a man in a car if it would be possible to place a tent somewhere there. "Here is... Read more on our Website
31 December 2018- 2 January 2019
The next day we visited the Azad Tower, Milad Tower and Tabiat Bridge and in the evening we celebrated the New Year in the hostel. Different to our New Years parties because in Iran loud music and alcohol are forbidden plus the Iranian calender is different from ours for what reason the next day was a regular working day. Nevertheless we enjoyed the atmosphere and had some funny encounters. An advantage: the next morning we could start our tour without hangover after now nearly two weeks rest. Anyway we started slowly because Thomas and Gerrit exchanged money in the city center while Marian and Antonius bought some food. And then waiting for the manager to come so we could pay our stay by card which is complicated in Iran because foreign people do not have access to Iranian bank system for what reason we had brought dollars to Iran which we could change here to Rials. One Dollar is around 100.000 Rial. Thus at 2 pm. we still stood in the kitchen with @sebventure2018 talking about New Year's Eve. He laught at us that we as the Chaotic Cycling Club stood true to our motto and still had not made it out of the hostel then we decided to cook dinner in the evening and stay one more night.
28. December - 30. December 2018,
From now on the real adventure starts by leaving Europe (barring the crossing of the Bosporus) for the first time in our life. We had collected some information on visa policy and decided to get a visa-on-arrival at the airport which would not be possible by arriving over the country way. Tired we arrived at Teheran airport at 1 pm. At the Visa-Büro we had to answer a few questions about our stay in Iran and to wait and wait and wait. After three ours we left the room to our bags which were left lonely on the luggage belt next to them our bikes. Because it dawned and we were not fit after the night at the airport we took two taxis to our hostel in Teheran. The @heritage.hostel should actually just be a first place of refuge we needed to write down in our Visa formular but remained our accomodation till January 1st. In these days we gained a really great first impression of Iran, Iranians and Teheran. We spend nearly our hole first day in a bikestore @jabbaristore repairing Marian's gear change and Antonius' bottom bracket ball bearing and seeing nothing from the city but the second day @koohyar_ghafari (@why_not_iran ) took us on a tour and showing us Teheran's sights and it's history among them the Golestan palace, the old American embassy and the Bazaar.
24.-28. December 2018
On our first christmas eve without family we wanted to eat something special which is not that difficult for cyclists always eating pasta or rice. After we visited the Grand Bazaar made a shoppingtour including around 10 different supermarkets searching for shrimps because the fishmmarket was already closed. We collected potatoes, dates, olives, Baklava, Schokopudding and much more. Daily life in a muslim city of course went on and without family, christmas tree and the advent it felt like a normal day for us but we tried our best to make the day or the evening something special and somehow it worked out. Our last days in Istanbul we tried to cross as many things from the Istanbul-to-do-list as we could and visited the Ayasofya, crossed the Bosporus and visited the Asian side of the city and Marian and Gerrit visited a turkish bath or Hamam on the last day. When they came back we started to pack together everything to leave our Hostel after four nights and head to the airport where we laid down our matrasses and waited for the flight daparting at 10 a.m..
18.-23. December 2018
The first thing we tried to manage was to buy air tickets to Teheran and to get information on how it would work to fly with our bikes. We took the metro to the airport where we asked at several counter windows but nobody had enough information, English knowledge or a convenient offer. Desperatly walking around in the terminal a woman behind one counter window turned around a plate which said that she could speak German. Apparently she had heard that we are German. As it happens we left the terminal with four tickets for a flight departing on 28 December to Teheran. Before we took back the metro to our host family we drank a cup of mokka or turkish coffie in a café The talk with the really friendly Kurdish café owner Tuncay gave us a first insight in Istanbul's society and what people are like.
After three great days of rest time, recreative sleep and beeing spoiled by our host family we left their flat to move nearer to the citycenter in an AirBnB flat in the district of Fatih. Of course we woke up late and after the excellent breakfast we could not knock of the offer of lunch after we had spend two hours on packing together our stuff. In the end we started our 32km tour through the nocturnal Istanbul at 6 p.m. . After some kilometers a man in white car stopped us at the side of the road. He wanted to know from where we are and what we are doing with our bicycles in Istanbul. After a smalltalk we sat down in his car where he offered us whisky he bought at Frankfurt airport. Definitely one of the funniest and strangest encounters on our tour so far!Later that day we found a bar in Beyoglu. Here Erasmus students, the political left wing and blatant Erdogan critics met. It felt homelike #daffisfeeling why we decided to come back the next day and celebrate ourselves for reaching Istanbul. We pushed along and danced till the early morning in a techno club in the vicinity.
18 December 2018
A special day for us. Unfortunately the beds in our hotel were to pillowy for which reason we said goodbye to the hotelier not untill 11:45 a.m. and apologised for the sand and dirt we brought with us from our last camping spot. We, the only guests, left the yard and pedaled to the promenade of Sultanköy where we had breakfast. It was really windy, overcast but at least it did not rain. Starched we headed to our Warmshowers-Host 60km away. The last real stage towards our destination Istanbul and end of our first part of our bike trip. A hard one! The initial marine breeze developed to a heavy opposing wind when we hit the road and the initial 2m shoulder demagnified to 50cm. So we battled against the conditions with 13 km/h and trucks passed dangerously close to us. Also the attempt to exit the highway and use the rural roads through the small villages did not work out. Frustrating! Even if we all though it would never become worse than yesterday. But it did. In addition a cold heavy rain started. Then everybody plugged earphones in the ears and listened to music to cope with the last 30 kilometers. The highway expanded, with four instead of two lanes, the traffic became closer and high-rise buildings seamed the street. Exhausted we tried to find our way through the grid of tunnels and bridges. The moment when we recognized that we reached the metropolis Istanbul. We could not believe that we made it. It seamed so unrealistic that we cycled more than 5000km through whole Europe and now standing in the middle of a 20 million inhabitants city. But we even had no energy to celebrate it. Two kilometers before today's destination we stopped to once again to check where we are and where we have to continue. A motorcyclist asked us if he could help us. We showed him the adress like it was a matter of course he lead us to the appartement. Finally we arrived! Unfortunately it was the wrong street but only a few meters away from the adress which we got to know when we called @adventuresssevgi our Warmshowers-Host who then came to bring us to her appartement where she lives with her three brothers and her parents.
16.-17. Dezember 2018,
Cycling in Turkey? Not the best experience we had on our tour! But in three month on the road there can not always be moments of glory. The first problem was thar we had no other option then constantly riding on the highway. The second is that the road was not flat but continous went up and down. Interval training! The third problem was the weather. Cold, rainy and headwind. Our first three days.
But not everything was as fatal as described. The turkish people faced us heartly and welcoming. Especially in the cities people asked from where we are and if we need any help. When we exited the highway to Malkara on 16 December to buy a SIM card we were first stopped by some younger boys - one of them lived in Hamburg for a few years - who showed us the way to the center where we could find a mobile phone shop. On our way a group of four kids followed us running to the shop. They could not speak a word Englisch but observed us interested while we bought our SIM cards and then showed us a fountain where we could refill our bottles. Great encounter! Nevertheless the fear of strangers especially refugees is very common in the turkish population. In the evening many cars stopped at our camping spot on a muddy field to supposable check if we are refugees. Completly covered in sticky and clayey mud we decided to book an accomodation in Sultanköy around 100km away to gain some kilometers distance to Istanbul. After 50km, soaking wet, freezing and exhausted we entered a Kebap shop in Tekirdad. We met some nice people among these a guy living in Germany who could explain us the best way to Sultanköy. Our aspiration that the road would be flatter there on the seaside did not fullfill. And since days were not as bad Marian's gear ran down. We coped with the last 30 km in the darkness and after a warm shower we nestled down in our beds knowing that there where only about 100km left till Istanbul.
15 December 2018
We woke up with sea view and it was not raining. Perfect day to make a big step towards our first big destination and cross the turkish border. Having no aim we pedaled in direction of a "warmshower" even if she had not replied hoping that she would during the day. That we would not accomplish the 100km distance became clear during the first kilometers and when we already had lunch after only 23km. Apparently the tiredness was still there since we had done many kilometers in the last week. So the plan was to just cross the border and then find a place to sleep. The border crossing was different to all we experienced before. Most of them were Schengen countries but even Albania and Montenegro were not comparable to today. First we passed the greek border control. Then two greek soldiers stopped us in front of a bridge. We never got to know the reason but after five minutes we could continue. At the end of the bridge painted in blue an white we passed some heavy armed turkish soldier and then another bridge painted in red and white. Then the first passport control where we got aittle white paper which we should keep during our stay in Turkey. After we were asked if we have drugs or alcohol with us we could advance. Then we had to show the little paper and our passports again at another booth. Turkey welcomed us flat as far as the eye can reach, the horizon hidden in fog and silent. Creepy. In the first village we turned right only a few seconds after we had stopped looking helpless in the vast plain a moped stopped. He lead us a few meters to a place nearby the street surrounded by fields. It was asphalti so we camped on the muddy ground next to it. Only a few minutes later the police came walked around our tents throw a glance at it with a phone flashlight and then disappeared. Strange. At least we could sleep calm but accompanied by a dog barking aggressively.
14 December 2018
The plan to ride around 140km of course had not worked out. To be precise we had "only" pedaled half of the distance. Thus today's stage would lead us again 70km to Alexandroupolis. In the citycenter of Komotini we bought our daily supplies and the went back on the route. The fit for agricultural use landscape changed in the afternoon and became hilly. Hard for the legs but good for the psyche. Beautiful in comparison to the landscape we crossed the last days. Then we met "flash" the dog. Flash because he ran about two kilometers with us, our tempo, around 50km/h downhill and did not pause. Untill we came back to the coast where we turned eastwards to Alexandroupolis. Exhausted we visited the Lidl maybe the last one for half a year. Then Marian checked "Park4Night" if he could probably find some spots in the vicinity. And there was one directly at the beach. We asked some fishermen if it would be possible to pitch camp. And it was. Comparing to other spots it was quite urban because we had reached the periphery. But we had sea view and were tired wherefore it was not a problem.
13 December 2018
Neon Xerias - Komotini
After a day pause there were no excuses so we sat on our bikes at 11 a.m. . 500m on the dirt road and Antonius already hault of his bags from his bike because a branch had been jammed between tire and mudguard which broke as a consequence. Unlike yesterday the sky was overcast and similar to our last cycling-days in northern Greece: dismal, nippy and deserted. Even the integral nature reserve was mostly agriculturally cultivated and the rivers were loaded with plastic waste. Around 15km before Komotini we found a spot behind some raised sand piles. Our evening meal ended when it started ro rain suddenly.
11-12 December 2018
Kavala - Neon Xerias
Getting up is always a toture but even worse when you slept in a cuddly bed after a 100km stage. Therefore it was 1 p.m. when we boarded our bikes. Less motivated we pedaled the first kilometers to the town exit where we bought some food and plastered it directly. Back on the road in direction Alexandroupolis we always moved along the seaside though an industrial area obstructed the view. At least the sun shone and the relief was flat. Unfortunately the sun set slowly. We turned right and attained an olive grove on a dirt road. Our camp for the next two nights. Two nights? Yes. The next morning was freezing why we first of all stayed in our sleeping bags and waited for the first warm shafts of sunlight. And they came. Under the blue sky we had breakfast but as we were all tired really exhausted after the last long stages to Thessaloniki and Kavala we decided it was a good day for a rest. The first day we paused in the verdancy without water, electricity and internet. We spend the time drawing, writing, listening to music and fighting with sticks. Childhood revival. The day elapsed quick and ended abrupt because our scheduled relaxed cooking session was interrupted by an extreme drop of temperature.
10. December 2018
A broken ukulele and desperate screams. That's how our day started. Heavy rain, extreme crosswind and temperatures under 6 degrees let us loose our mind. But cycling in rain was maybe a better option than desperatly standing in the rain waiting for a miracle. But after 6km we could not persevere the cold anymore and we stopped at a café where we booked an appartement in Kavala around 100km away for the night. It was 3 p.m. and everyone who can think logical knows that it's a stupid idea when the sun sets at 5 but we could not. But at least the rain stopped and the darkness hid the hills in front of us, a psychological advantage that continued over 100km but then a shortly in front of Kavala we saw laterns in the sky. As a high point of todays stage an extreme ascent that put us over the edge. Antonius demonstrated how beat-up we were when he called the hirer and answered his "Hello?!" with "Yay!".
9 December 2018
Even if yesterday ended unexpected bad we woke up on a beutiful clearing where bee hives are assembled during summer, in the middle of a pine forrest and above the blue sky. The first 12 kilometers lead us through the pines on a light traffic road. Continous uphill but we were rewarded with a five kilometers long descent which ended in a valley with two lakes we could see from the top the hill. 23 kilometers further we rested at a playground. After we lunched ample and revived our childhood. After 47 km we all were exhausted why we settled near the second lake on a really beautiful and deserted beach.
8 Dezember 2018
A spectacular view could eclipse the freezing temperature this morning. Hooded in all our clothes we started downhill. Submontane around 20km later we reached the city of Veria which is as Martin's brother-in-law told us the ugliest city in Greece. He was right. However the people were kind for one of the staffs in the supermarket who played by the way handball in Greece's national team gave us a bag full of kiwis since he believed that we would need the vitamin. Some of them we already ate during the afterward break when we planned our remaining day. We had the possiblity to stay in Thessaloniki at a "warmshower" so we decided to take it upon us to cycle 80 kilometers. The route was easy and shallow but the environment just nasty and it reminded us of nothern Italy. Fields, decayed houses, extinct villages and grey sky. We arrived in Thessaloniki at the warmshowers-host's place and called him to let him know that we arrived. But he did not answer. We wrote him a text message...no answer even if he read it. We tried it once again. While we waited Gerrit and Marian decided to go and get some food because it was already to late to cook something and it was freezing. Three hours after we had arrived we decided to give up and rode in the nearby forrest.
7 December 2018
Mountain, 35km gefahren
Before we began today's stage we started the bonfire again. With warm feet we pedaled the first 20 kilometers. Then the ascent began. The sun shone and the higher we climbed the beautifuller the landscape got. The road meandered through an american-westcoast-like vegetation. Because we know that the ascent would be around 15 kilometers long we approached the stage slow so we could enjoy the view on the landscape of nothern Greece. A few hours and serpentines later we finally reached the top where we put on more layers to prepare for the descent. Suddenly we saw a white spot between some trees the first snow on our tour. After merely hundred meters we stopped on a lift from where we had a perfect panoramic view on a lake, the circumjacent mountains and the sea far away on the horizon. We struggled a while if we should continue downhill to have some more kilometers on our tachometer in the end or stay here at this beautiful place. We decided to pitch camp, light up a fire and enjoy the sunset which dipped the silhouette of the mountain chain in beautiful shades of red.
6 December 2018
Today it was Antonius 19th birthday. Even if the sun was shining it was cold when we woke up. Relaxing a bit we lighted up the fire can. A flat tire protracted our late start in direction of the pass we wanted to cross to reach Thessaloniki. In Konzani we where lucky that at least one of the supermarkets were open during the St Nicholas' day. As a special birthday-purchase we bought a bottle of ouzo. Then we left the city and it slowly got darker and colder even before we could reach the pass so we left the main road into a little wood. On a clearing we found some bigger stones and a bench with table where we settled down and started our first big bonfire without our little can and cooked on the table. We drank some ouzo and put some hot rocks in our sleepingbags and hoped that we would undergo a less freezing night.
5 December 2018
Kastoria - Siastia
Siastia, 51km gefahren
Before we started our first stage in Greece we drank a coffie with Martin and around 11 a.m. we sat on our bikes and enjoyed the shafts of sunlight and the blue sky. We followed the country road and filled up our provisions in the next village. Today's destination was Siastia which could be reached the shortest and the least steep on the highway. Why we again dared to take it. As yesterday there were no cars on the highway but comparing to yesterday the sun and the blue sky changed the overall appearence of the scenery and more people were on the move in the presumed dead landscape. After 51km we were on the Old National Road in direction Siastia where we asked a resident if it was possible to camp somewhere near. He said that it would not be a problem to build up tents and gave us the suggestion to start a fire because it could be cold. Even if we had some concerns because we now where on the other side of the bear fence which protects the highway we pitched the camp. At night we only got visited by six to ten dogs that stood right in front our tents and barked aggresively but at least no bears.
4 December 2018,
Kastoria, 61 km gefahren
2 December 2018
Elbasan - Hotolisht
Hotolisht, 42km gefahren
1 December 2018
Elbasan, 46km gefahren
After some meters downhill a loud bang startled us. We suspected a boy of the same age as us of detonating a small canon on the street. But then Gerrit stopped. A flat tire. Not the best start in the day. The first inspection showed that the repairmen in Shkodra had fixed Gerrit's wheelfork but forgot to adjust the brakes after rigging them. The brake shoes had touched the tire and the steep descent caused that this friction had cut the whole tire and the tube untill it exploded suddenly. A shock but we repaired it within a few minutes. The tire and the tube landed in the waste container and where exchanged. Luckily we had bought a foldable tire in Germany. We continued on the highway to Elbasan. But only after a few kilometers a site blocked the way we and the other road users took a country road over the mountains. Steep uphill but then again steep downhill. We crossed as tunnel and then again downhill less steep but 10km long to Elbasan. In the city we made a short break on a roundabout and purchased some food for supper among 2,5 kg tomatoes in a tin to build a little fire can. Winter is coming! Afterwards a few kilometers to the countryside where we found a place on a meadow on the bank of a river where we made the first bonfire of our tour.
26 November 2018
Shkodra, 0km gefahren
The rain pattered on the tin roof over the staircase this morning. Chuck had told us about a repairmen who could fix Gerrit's wheelfork so we decided to spend one day in Shkodra. We set out for the garage with Chuck and six of us cyclists. After 100m we had to speed the Suisse Shrimps on their way to Tirana and turn right from the main road into the turmoil of a market. After we attained the garage Chuck left and we explained shortly with pointing what our problem was. In our eyes it was still an insolveable problem after we had located four professional bike-shops in Zadar. But Chuck and the repairmen gave us the impression that it would not be a problem at all. To bridge the waiting time a friendly looking pensioner who had waited on couch in the garage accompanied us to a café. As we got to know it was his job and he earned a little percentage of the money we paid for the repair which was 1000 Lek and around 9 €. And less because he payed the coffies. And the repair succeeded. We do not know how but the wheel fork had its primary shape. "The Albanian manner!" To visit the city we parked our bikes at the warmshower and plunged into the turmoil of Shkodra. Many small shops sell householdarticles, food or clothes. On the pedestrian bargainer sell local fruits, tobacco or fish from small market stalls or from a blanket. People haggle. Others sit in cafés drinking espresso, smoking long slim cigarettes and discussing lively. A little probably six-years old girl asks us for money. In general one can notice the poverty comparing to the EU-member states. Used Mercedes, busses and odd verhicles share the street. The traffic seems unorganised but it flows without incidents because the road users act conciderate. Shkodra is a "bike-city" without any measures taken to support cyclist like we know it from Amsterdam or Münster. Like bike pathes or slowing the traffic. Exhausted by so many impression we knocked on the door at our warmshowerhost's. Susan opened: "Welcome to the east!". Which describes Shkodra perfectly.
25. November 2018
Marian's day started already at 6:00 a.m. because his mattress was flat since 4:00. Two hours later our host asked him if one of us wants to join him on his way to the supermarket where he wants to get some traditional pastries and drink a coffie. Of course Marian could not knock off this offer and also Thomas crawled out of the transporter. Back at his house Gerrit and Antonius were waken up and we were lead in the living room where we had breakfast. We ate Byrek and the pancakes, we already had had yesterday. Our hosts parents and another guy joined us. They discussed very animated and we did not understand a word sometimes they smiled in our direction. It felt like a different universe or at least continent but in a more than just positive way. Albania seemed to be the gate to the eastern hemisphere and now our whole trip developed into a real world tour. Outside it still rained but we had to get to the border on time because a friend of Antonius Albanian collegue would wait there. Our host proposed us to take the transporter with all our stuff and our bikes to the frontier. No problem! With five people in the first row on three seats. No problem! Calling a friend while driving. No problem! Driving with a steamy front shield. No problem! A different mentality. Then we had to say goodbye to our host. And again we want to thank the family @avdullah.naile.hajdari for their hospitality here. After crossing the border we waited in a café for Blendi and used the wifi to contact a warmshowers-host in Shkodra when suddenly the french couple passed we had already met a few days earlier before Dubrovnik. The warmshower accepted and we got to know that the couple, Marine et Michael, were en route to this warmshower too. Shortly after them Blendi and his friends arrived. A funny constellation. That only rested half an hour but we would see both groups again on our trip. Marine und Michael in the evening and the three in Tirana in two days. Chuck and Susan welcomed us in their little hotel: an appartment which the American couple had chosen as their base-camp. They had collected 180 guest-nights since october. Today they accomodated nine other cyclists.
24 November 2018
Vladimir, 49km gefahren
In the morning we started on schedule like we had done yesterday. Today's mission was to get close to the Albanian border so that we can cross it early tomorrow. In Bar we met a young Montenegrin in front of a orthodox church who showed us the best way to the frontier. We left Bar into the inland and had to tackle a longer gradient. After the lunch with a view on Ulcinj we continued to the border. A man on the wayside who sold local products out of his car told us that we are merely a few kilometers away from the border when we bought some mandarins and kiwis. Shortly before kilometer 50 we left the main road to get to a small group of buildings where we asked for space for our tents. Why certainly! We build up our tents and started to cook when the first few raindrops fell. An elderly lady came and offered us a plate with a pancake-like Albanian traditional meal. The plate was empty and the few raindrops had developed to a rain. We stored everthing in our tents and went to the lady's house to bring back the plate. And suddenly we sat on the couch in a warm living room in Montenegro together with an Albanian family. It felt like a different planet, totally new for us and different to everything we experienced before. Unfortunately the communication was nearly impossible but google translator helped us a bit. Then Antonius called his Albanian colleague in Germany who could translate. Amarildo talked to one of the men in the livingroom. He offered us his garage to protect us from the now heavy rain. No sooner said than done, our gear was freighted with a transporter to his house which was just 50m away. He drove the transporter backwards in the garage and explained us with tooth and nail his idea that it would be better if we slept in the transporter. Another noteworthy abode in our collection.
23. November 2018
Petrovac, 45km gefahren
Because the sheepherder's dogs barked since 7:00 and the sun was shining, getting up "early" wasn't too hard this morning. We resumed the way along the bank to Kotor. The historic centre and the above lying castle is World Heritage Site since 1979. As the entrance through the old city gate is forbidden for bicycles we split up in teams of two. After shopping we took a tunnel through the mountains to get back to the coast. 1,8 km abiding ear-piercing noise. But the view from the 30m high cliffs on turquoise water was a more than just satisfying reward. After a lunch break we followed the signposting to Bar. Always with the coast on the right side. We crossed many small villages and got an insight in what life is like in Montenegro. A country under construction probably similar to Croatia a few years ago. Everywhere poster advertised new hotel and appartement construction projects. Too bad about the pristine coast area. Eye-catching aswell: the large-scaled wildfire areas that closed in many smaller hamlets and single buildings. In one of them we found our abode for tonight: an orthodox monastery.
22 November 2018
Today it was finally time to cross the border and reach a new country. Finally! After nearly one month in Croatia. We love its nature and the coast but somehow it was now time for a change. For three of us the night had passed without any incidents while Gerrit heard the noise of animals crossing the big puddle. Scary. Maybe sheep? Then one animal came closer to the tents and started to snort dangerously. Not a sheep. A wild boar?! We'll never know.
The morning started with a beautiful view on the foggy plain and the moutain's peaks piercing the clouds. Today our way lead us to the 15 km distant border, then downhill with 60km/h back to the sea where we had lunch. The landscape was somehow the same but the people and buildings changed their appearence. We continued towards Kotor, a city a few kilometers away from the coast in a large bay. To get there we took the ferry, free for pedestrians and one euro per bike, and then left or northward alongside the bank. On the way we met a sheepherder and asked him if it would be possible to place our two tents on his herbage. A matter of course! Our really positive first impression of Montenegro and it's people was underlined.
21 November 2018
A short first stage after the four days rest period. The allure of a comfortable bed was to strong to wake up early, pack together our things and cycle some kilometers . We had to get ahead after such a long pause to not waste time in a small appartment which we had not left for four days with a few exceptions. Of course we enjoyed it and had some time to process all the impressions we collected over the last two and a half month but the world outside waited to be discovered. Finally the weather was good and there were no excuses and no reason to stay one more day. At 13:45 we left the appartement and continued on the coast road. Around 50m over the sea level with a beautiful view on Dubrovnik's Old City and the nearby island. Game-of-Thrones-Feeling. We had only two hours on this street untill the sun already slowly went down. On the last few meters our way lead us away from the coast, and a large plain opened in front of us. We decided to place our tents on a giagantic appearently idle meadow which maybe belonged to the adjacent airport. To reach it we had to cross a 25m long and sometimes 30cm deep puddle. A little adventure. With the spectacular view on the mountains we cooked and talked till it slowly got dark.