Archive for the ‘Info’ Category

Singapore is a ‘fine’ country (sorry…)

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Singapore is sterile. I am not saying in anyway this is bad, just that everything is a bit too German. Everything works, everybody waits for the green man to cross the road… its that type of place.

If you do business and have a materially driven lifestyle then its a dream. For me its all a bit strange. I have this overwhelming desire to start running round with a marker pen but then the last time somebody from the UK did that they ended up with interpol after them…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Fricker

It is like being back in Iran when you suddenly wanted to start drinking, just because somebody has told you that you can’t. childish I know but it is simple psychology. They say no, you do it just to prove that you can. If on the off chance that you are in Iran I recommend the following recipe for making your own brew…

http://www.blacktable.com/gillin030901.htm

Have fun.

Singapore is a ‘fine’ country

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Cycling training alone, is truthfully, pretty tough. Long runs done to prepare for marathons are definitely lonely, but hanging onto the handlebars of a bike all by yourself and pedaling on and on is a much more solitary undertaking. It’s the same movement repeated over and over. You go up slopes, on level ground, and down slopes. Sometimes the wind’s with you, sometimes against you. You switch gears as needed, change your position, check your speed, pedal harder, let up a bit, check your speed, drink water, change gears, change your position… Sometimes it strikes me as an intricate form of torture. In his book the triathlete Dave Scott wrote that of all the sports man has invented, cycling has to be the most unpleasant of all. I totally agree.

Haruki Murakami

It was a slog here, but I got here. On a different topic it would appear that if you want a functioning website it is best to pay the fees to the right people… that and if they send you emails its probably best to read them…

anyhow :) Singapore. 25 dollars for a singapore sling at Raffles but it had to be done.

20,000km and the end of this bit of land, OZ lies ahead and thats it, done. Flight is booked for Monday to Darwin and only a big sand pit, customs and finding the stuff to pack up the bike stands in my way…

Chinese state TV appearance is here: http://english.cntv.cn/program/rediscoveringchina/20110127/102651.shtml

I retract every word, the food is rubbish :)

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Building up the courage to cycle out of KL… which is why I am still here…  ahem. Cracking thunder storm yesterday and I think another one is in order today. Anyhow thought some of you might like to read the ‘machines’ blog

http://www.getjealous.com//judezebedee

I had an email from judi (aka the fastest female cyclist known to man) yesterday informing me that I just made Chinese state television. A link to the video will follow when I can find it.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

“Come down off the cross, we can use the wood.” Tom Waits

So on the way into KL I met this guy:

http://www.sylvain-autourdumonde.com/

Who was with these guys:

http://toutenmarchant.com/index_eng.php

But split due to something or other. Living on a diet of vegetables and instant noodles that are eaten cold because he has no stove he managed to walk to Hotan in China on pretty much the same route i have taken. From there he bought a bike to push the water he was carrying, then decided to get on the bike and cycle the rest.

Still say that this woman beats everybody hands down:

http://www.rosiearoundtheworld.co.uk/

So after taking the all roads lead to Rome mentality to get through Malaysia in the abscence of a map, my plan was only broken when the one road I had to stay on diverted me off into the middle of nowhere. the middle of nowhere transpired to be a motorway where I had a nice friendly “you are cycling to slow on this road. get off’ from the Malaysian police. The irony was that the road they told me to take was significantly more dangerous. If you have ever stood in the middle of five lanes facing backwards with all the cars doing 70mph trying to converge into a three lane road which is the little bit of ground you are occupying then you will understand.

I managed to get into KL by sighting the Petronas Towers and then taking a compass bearing. Old fashioned but it works. One of the worst places to get into and that includes Istanbul and Tehran. how I a am going to get out is something I do not like to think about at the moment…

So in KL I get asked ”Do you know Kris Fowler?” (http://riding-east.blogspot.com/) in the dorm room I am staying in.

Yeah, actually i do. Small world isnt it :) Look who I just met:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3110136/58-days-in-Iran-prison-for-photo.html

Who was there in Iran at the same time as Kris, Adam and myself. Ho hum :) Nice to see that the Iranian hospitality was extended that little bit further…

So from here just a shade over 4000km left. Nearly there eh..

Day 364

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Number of free meals within 24 hours of arriving in Malaysia? 3.

I crossed the border after another meal in a thai restaurant where the woman asked me if i would like to stay for a massage… Crossing the border itself was a piece of cake, how long would you like to stay sir? 30 days? ok, stamp

Makes a change, another free country to get into…

Keyboard is playing up will finish this later.

————————————–

Right new computer… so this is where I am:

georgetown1

photo stolen from

http://www.expatify.com/malaysia/monday-escape-george-town-malaysia.html

go read the only comment under the picture :)

No pleasing some eh?!

Right so Malaysia is wonderful, very friendly people away from the tourist traps and some incredible food. The first night I passed over the border and was forced to ride down the main motorway/duel carriageway the E1. Having no service stations I started to get a bit worried and decided to call it a day and take the next junction.

I cycle into surburbia which was strange enough as it is not something I have seen for a very long time and end up camping behind a small open air restaurant that was closing. The guy running it gives me a boiled egg and two rice and fish parcels that where beautifully wrapped in banana leaves. He then comes back at 10pm scaring the hell out of me with all his friends on scooters to give me more food. At 6.30am his father and grandfather make an appearance to give me yet more food for breakfast including tea in a plastic bag to be drunk with a straw. Thank you gents.

As I pack up I realise that there are at least 30 cyclists all on very expensive mountain bikes across the road. Just as I finish packing they leave only for me to be shouted at to come along. the last rider stops and I ask if they are heading south. He says no but then spends the morning taking me to the good road that leads down to singapore which is a hundred times safer and actually has some shade (sitting underneath a fly over mixing up re-hydration sachets gets old quick). It turns out that Ali went to Liverpool as a 19 year old and studied at John Moores for three years. Now back in Malaysia 20 years later with three kids it was a shock for both of us to run into one another, how often do you meet a Malaysian who can hold a topic on Tranmere Rovers?!

Yet another good person that treated me to food and gave me a brief insight into Malaysia. I have his blog where he took photos of our ride together but it is not with me at the moment so I will post the link the next time I am on the net.

So from there I cycled, ate a curry, cycled ate another curry. Discovered hot milo which they put ice into; it’s good.  Ate another curry, slept next to a river and endured a thunder and lighting storm and the biggest ants I have ever seen in my entire life. (Did you know that you can get ants with wings the size of a bee?)

Then seeing a sign for a ferry I came here on a whim and I am now sleeping in an old Chinese warehouse with cockroaches the size of mice running round. Its cheap though.

So tomorrow marks the one year anniversary so far. Just shy of 12,000 miles on the speedo. Bearing in mind that it spends half the time not working – you have to take it off and lick the contacts to get a connection at the moment :)   I am more than happy with how far I have been able to get in a year. As for the rest of the bike, well scotty and jane very kindly took all my winter gear with them to Melbourne. It has made a huge difference getting one very big pannier off the bike. Its a bit of a pain in the arse having to sleep without a sleeping bag but its so hot at the moment it makes no difference until about 3am when I have fumble around and find a jacket in the dark to use as a blanket.

Day 361… getting closer :)

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Right first off for those of you in countries with decent internet links go straight too…..

http://www.cyclingnomads.org/the-deserts/

What can I say…. good effort :)

Back again, good, right now go and see Benny’s site at http://www.cyclingnomads.org/ben/ which I have only just found….

As for me.. well I am good thanks for asking 910km left to Singapore and opnly 50km left in Thailand. That makes it a good enough time to leave you with my top ten highlights of Thailand:

1/ Being offered amyl nitrate and cash by a Thai cyclist who accompanied me 20km on the journey towards Trang. Even better was his Bob Marley singing and when a particularly bad lorry went past belching black clouds of smoke he shouted “CAR-BON-MON-OX-SIDE” half a dozen times in my ear. I hope you got to Trang and I apologise for cycling off and leaving you to fend for yourself…

2/ The Thai guy who came alongside me on a scooter looking very urbane and serious before coming out with:

Thai guy on scooter (TGOS): I love you

Me: I love you too

TGOS: I love you (Then points to what I thought was his stomach but later transpired to be something a bit further south…)

Me: I love you too, but I have just eaten, Noodle soup mate, Noodle soup. Its great, only a dollar back up there pal.

TGOS: You want to come to my house

Me: No. I have to go to Trang. I meet my friends in Trang, but thankyou

TGOS: I love you

Me: Jesus wept, I have to go now but thankyou goodbye (at which point he rides off only to repeat this entire conversation minus the noodle soup bit 200 hundred metres down the road. It ended up with him blowing me a kiss goodbye with a very sad look on his face…)

3/ Sleeping in a rubber plantation and having the owner of the shop next door cook me dinner. Then her two daughetrs aged about 6 and 7 came with a yoghurt drink as a gift for me. Then in the morning after I had made my own breakfast of 4 eggs and a packet of biscuits they invited me to sit down and have the breakfast they had just cooked for me… when was the last time you ate so much you thought you where going to collapse? added to that when was the last time you ever stood butt naked behind a shop in full view of the road having a shower out of a 44 gallon drum? Thought not.

4/ The thai hells angels who where all on scooters :) I thought that a collection of open exhausts and ripped denim jackets with patches on was too good to be true but they where all very nice. Born to be mild eh…

5/ having how can i say it… problems that are saddle related due to the heat and then by sheer luck finding a can of http://grocerythai.com/thailand-prickly-heat-powder-gram-p-622.html and standing next to the road dispensing it into my shorts. The pain when this stuff touches skin, well I can only describe it as if somebody has decided to hold a cigeratte lighter underneath your scrotum. I then stop 10km down the road in the vain hope that changing my shorts would help, so standing in a state of undress its the perfect time to pose for a photo with a random thai guy who did an emergency stop on a duel carriageway in his car to come and say hello to me… I would very much like to get a copy of that photo as I can assure you I was not smiling on that day…

6/ Dave’s girlfriends mum’s peatnut sauce. That meal.. my god that meal… right you will probably never find sticky rice in tescos but you can all make this…

(I am copying this verbataim so you might have to play around with it a bit…)

3 tablespoon (tbsp) fish sauce (do not use chinese stuff if they do this with soy lord knows what they use for fish…  http://boingboing.net/2006/07/27/soy-sauce-made-from-.html )

2 tbsp sugar (dissolve the sugar for a finer sauce, leave it for a crunchier one…)

1 tbsp lime or 1/2 a lime juice (like i said i am just writing this as it was given to me..)

pinch of salt

1 tea spoon (tsp) of msg or half a tbsp (?)

pinch of pork powder (not required)

Spring onion (chopped)

Corriander (small amount that is fresh)

3 tbsp of peanuts (crush then fry off)

1 tsp of red chilli peppers

Mix and serve with a fish that has been on the barbie, wrapped in lettuce leaves and sticky rice. Fry off some lemon grass whilst your at it as well.

7/ The random Thai people that have stopped and helped me. Be it bringing out buckets of water when I have been trying to fix a puncture, the countless meals that people have given me for free, all the places that I have slept for free, the never ending range of smiles from young and old alike or simply flagging me down and giving me drinks. Thank you.

8/ Scotty stacking a scooter twice in front of the guest house in Trang only to be given a banana for his endevours and the promise of free use of it the next day by the owners of the guest house…  Where else can you ghost ride a scooter down the road into oncoming traffic and the owners reward you for it?! In fact where else can you travel where you go to see a waterfall and stop and have lunch in a little cafe only to be accosted by a bi-polar language teacher (his description not mine) who then gave Jane a minature human skeleton in a box as a present. (I want those photos please :) )

9/ Cycling past mile after mile of upmarket beach resorts that i could not afford to stay in, populated by people who would not make eye contact or return a smile. Speaking of which to the two touring cyclists who went past yesterday whilst i was sat in the road mending the fourth puncture of the day… ever thought of saying hello? Nice lycra guys….  Camping on a beach at the end of the strip was worth it all though.

10/ My little thai note that dave’s girlfriend wrote for me. Seriously this thing has been gold. “Hi, my name is andy, I am cycling from England ra ra ra” On the reverse “This is the 18th country on this trip and the people of Thailand are the nicest so far” A bit saccharine but it works a treat :)

Day 358

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

http://www.airfreetires.com/default.asp

http://veryvietnam.com/2011-01-22/china-makes-fake-rice-from-plastic-vietnam-reacts/

Friday, January 28th, 2011

normal_20100611_Tabriz-Zanjan_038IMG_0676

Why am i putting old pictures in now? because this post is completely out of order. If i dont do this now I will forget where i found them. So it should be ignored :)

as a brief aside you know that what you are doing is a bit strange when a midget without any legs (forgive me for not being very pc) who is pushing himself round on a skateboard begging stares at you and the bike like your a complete and utter freak… mixed in with the thai boy in the sandwich shop who  keeps on winking at me slowly and asking if i will “remember him” whilst he flicks his hair away from his face, and the homeless man this morning who picked up a dead fish next to the river and had a conversation with it whilst a beautiful girl in a bikini swam in the pool of a 5 star hotel not 20 yards away…

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

So this morning I woke up at a buddhist temple where I was given rice and two small tins of sardines for free and now I am on the Khaosan road which is a bit different..  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khaosan_Road

If you want to cycle into Bangkok I would suggest that you don’t. Not as bad as Tehran or Istanbul but cycling down a motorway with cars and scooters coming at you for a day in the heat is not that much fun. Until you discover the delights of M150. what is M150? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-150_%28energy_drink%29

The nice thing is that when a Thai through either myopic vision or sheer crass stupidity does try and kill you they wave to signal it was their fault. Not like in China where you quickly descend into.. well lets not go there shall we. ahem.

So ahead of schedule. I thought it would take five days top get down here but with the road being so flat I managed to do it in four. A successive series of days spent sleeping at petrol stations and being cheered on by lady boys. No really. Hard life no :)

11 months and a few days…

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Ok, not much time so I have to try and get as much down as quickly as I can…

So to start with Thailand is nuts. You think you travel to places and the local inhabitants have a different mental state that means a large number of things that they register as completely normal are to you strange and even on occasions offensive, well Thailand for me raises the stakes somewhat. The Internet café I am sat in at the moment doubles as a marriage agency. The girl on my left is chatting to some random western guy, as is the girl in front of her etc.. To read off the wall “Find a farang…” oh I can not be bothered typing it all just read the companies site -http://www.thaipersonalconnectionltd.com/marriage-agency http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farang  and off on an interesting tangent http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_slang_terms_for_white_people_in_non-Western_countries

Crossing from Lao after a 15km “detour” (read as getting Martin and I getting lost) the first thing I saw was a 7/11.. Actually that is not strictly true, the first Thai thing was a big sign saying that if you smuggle drugs you will be executed..  Smooth wide open roads where they drive on the correct side of the road (read as the left hand side) friendly people and a climb in living standards that is comparable to many countries in europe was a complete shock. (I spent 30 seconds rooted to the spot with my mouth open in one of the largest supermarkets I have ever been in staring at the carrots on display. No holes, no dirt just perfect carrots all of an identical size, all washed and neatly dressed with a nice little sign… When was the last time I saw that? Kashgar? Speaking of which, for those who follow China… http://www.newsweek.com/2010/09/25/china-s-hottest-cities-and-kashgar.html )

 I am in the north eastern corner at the moment and this is supposed to be the poorest region of the country (Newsweek which the above link comes from is running an ad soliciting donations to help Thai kids in this very area) so lord only knows what it’s like down south. The marked difference in affluence to its surrounding neighbours has meant a huge number of ex pats are living here. When you can get an English breakfast, a pint of Guinness, tescos, emmerdale and corrie on the box and hoards of simpering woman then for a lot of men this is about as good as it gets.

The women are something else, imagine a second hand car salesman with a nice smile accompanied by a fat german man in his early sixties. Is it a symbiotic relationship? Sometimes it is better not to over analyse things. Other topics though should promote disgust in even the most cynical of people, there are eleven year girls openly available in Udon Thani…

Yeah.

So, good and bad, good and bad. To add to the change has been the separation of Martin and I. That makes it sound a lot like a marriage but after spending four pretty intense months with the guy well yeah he is now conspicuous in his absence. His road heads east to Vietnam, Cambodia and back into China (good luck with that one mate!) to finish in Hong Kong. After that, Japan and then the Americas on the way back home to Uruguay.  Follow his journey (and keep your fingers crossed for tailwinds for him) on www.bossanovabikeride.com and be witness to the first Uruguayan to cycle round the world J Mate it’s yours if you want it…. Ride safe pal, I could not have done China without you.

With one friend gone another old one has turned up. Dave is living here in the north of Thailand and I have spent the last couple of days with him and his girlfriend Pookie looking at monkies, elephants and more randomness than you can shake a stick at…

DSC_7032-email

(I do not have a lead for the camera so i am just going to rip off other peoples photos from the web… :) this is Khumpahawapi 14km from Daves village  where you can feed the monkies that roam around the central square, that unlike their crack smoking Lao counter parts that are chained up seem to be well taken care off and do not want to rip your face off…)

Life is a lot slower and more traditional in the villages whilst the food is simply sublime. (Try melon fish with peanut and chilli sauce, fresh spring onions out of the garden and sticky rice out of a beautiful bam,boo basket  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sticky_rice)   wrapped in a lettuce leaf in the same manner you would roll a tortilla… hell just sticky rice and pookies mums peanut sauce. Or the special bbq’s they have here which is a metal bucket lined with cement to allow charcoal briquettes to be burnt. We cooked beef sat leisurely on the floor and also ate buffalo whilst visiting a local zoo. Grasshoppers have also been tried but I drew the line at going out and catching field rats to bbq… ) The Thai whisky which is about a lot, has a serious kick on it but helps in talking with the locals when you do not know a single word in thai let alone the regional dialect which is Isaan.. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isan  )

 Dave is teaching English in the local school and I have just chickened out of standing up and doing a presentation for them tomorrow. I will stick to the cycling and leave moulding impressionable young minds to people slightly more responsible. A couple of acres, a manic two stroke 150cc Honda bike and some friendly locals.. village life has a lot going for it and I can see why Dave has put his stick in the ground here. His girlfriend and him have show wonderful hospitality and I am reminded of how difficult it is at times having good friends scattered around the world…

So from here I head south tomorrow solo for the first time in a while. Uzbekistan was the last time I cycled on my own, barring a couple of days in Tajikistan. I am going to miss Martins company for certain but I am excited to be by myself again as when there are two people I think a little bubble of companionship forms that prevents the random people that make the journey so memorable intruding upon on occasions. But when it comes to camping solo or watching bikes or a million and one other things well yeah..

The other person who has been floating round my head of late is Malte. It was always his intention to get to Thailand before what happened, happened in Turkey. I never in my wildest dreams thought the roles would switch. I remember sitting in a field in Greece laughing at him saying you have over 16,000km to go, Nepal is easy it’s only getting through Pakistan that poses an issue… Life is very strange at times and the one thing that is being reinforced of late is that the more you see the less you seem to understand.