Another ten thousand kilometres pedalled, taking me from fishing villages on the Vietnamese coast to beyond the Simpson Desert in Australia. And from here in Adelaide I finally feel like I’m on the home stretch…
Eight Kilometres south of Song Cau in Vietnam I hit the 31 000 mark. It was a spectacularly flat ride down the Vietnamese coastline, frequently stopping by in small fishing communities dotted along the waterside. Just an hour beforehand I had enjoyed a nice ‘tiger balm’ massage by a local baker in the town, and happily rode on afterwards from his shop with a bag of coconut flavoured tarts!
After a morning visiting the Cambodian Killing Field’s, it was always going to be a solemn afternoon on the saddle. The ride out of Phnom Penh was perhaps the most potholed of all my roads in SE Asia, and with the hot humidity and endless stream of trucks, I had to wear the balaclava to keep the dirt from between my teeth!
King Rama IX is as popular as ever in Thailand, and while riding along the southern side of the River Kwai I reached 33 000, with the revered leader looking over us. My sister Chantelle had joined me for two weeks from Bangkok, while in Kanchanaburi we had met Mike at an evening streetside cocktail bar. It was my third visit to The River Kwai, but it was only with the bike that I could get a real appreciation of the surrounding countryside…
The most beautiful province in Thailand, beyond a doubt, is of course Krabi! Throughout the day there were countless Muslim communities that I passed through, while earlier in the day on a steep hill climb I was confronted with the backsides of two humungous elephants wedged together on the back of a truck. Priceless!
After so many thousands of kilometres my gel saddle had finally disintegrated, and here above a village for the main Malaysian underground hydroelectric plant the saddle is on its last legs! I had just spent a couple days amongst the tea plantations of The Cameron Highlands, slowly working off the numerous Christmas and New Years feasts in Penang and Ipoh.
In Sumatra teenagers regularly followed me out of their towns and pulled me over for a photo session! The Sumatrans were truly the friendliest people I have encountered on the road, and with the trillions of mosquitos under the palm trees each night, I was never alone!
I spent a few weeks off staying with friends in Jakarta, resting up the legs and visiting countless international schools in the Indonesian capital. On Sunday mornings the main street of Jakarta is closed to traffic, allowing cyclists and runners out to roam the streets in an ecstasy of exercise. I was invited along for a charity ride with students from the French International School (LIF), and whilst handing out my website and sharing my trip with locals I reached the next thousand milestone. Jakarta really opened my mind to the world of international schools, and for much of the next few thousand kilometres I began thinking seriously about life after the ride…
Creeping further and further into the Australian outback, each day the hordes of flies became mobilised. 38 was hit a couple days south of Katherine, and with only gentle breezes the heat was hard to cope with even in the shade!
Out on the Lasseter Highway, taking a detour off the Stuart Highway for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of sunrise and sunsets in Uluru. The headwind, of course, decided to follow me along for the ride…
Yep, still out on the Stuart Highway – but this time in South Australia! Dad had followed me along with the support vehicle from Darwin, and it had been an incredible month together sharing the road (and its chocking amount of mosquitoes and flies). You can see the damage to the car where Wilson is leaning; the result of a rather silly kangaroo! Thanks Dad for all your suppport :)