Flipping Burma! How are we going to get round it?

27 03 2010

Right. SO….. The whole point of the project is to go overland? Right, this is correct. To visit as broad a cultural / religious range of Voices as we possibly can? yes.  Thus we have planned, thus we are committed. All good, except that Burma is slap bang stubbornly in the way. We can’t go through it (no land boarder will let us), we can’t go round it (we can SOOO close to a freight ship trip from India to Singapore but it doesn’t run any more! grrrrrr) …we can’t go under it!!!! .. The only options left are these…

Three options

a)      Fly from India to Laos and keep cycling. Cons – we don’t stay on the land. Pros – we get to visit all of the geographic areas we had planned and keep to schedule.

b)     Miss out Pakistan and India and cycle straight across China to Laos. Pros – we get to Laos quicker (?) and stay on land. Cons – One of the main aims of the project is to include as many different religions / cultural Voices as possible in our project.  If feels a real shame to miss Hindu / Sikh India.

c)      Try and get into mainland China from Nepal (through Tibet). Enter Laos from China. Pros – we stay on land. Cons – we don’t get to spend as much time as we wanted in India – in my head India is colourful and spicy, and China is barren and stodgy.

Key questions

1)      Is flying over Burma (because we can’t go through it) morally / ideologically incompatible with our trip? (setting an example of ethical decisions making)

2)      Is it possible to cycle through Nepal into China – Laos? How much will this compromise our India section?

3)      Is it too much of a sacrifice to miss off the Voices of Hindu / Sikh India?

Thoughts? What the flipping heck should we do???????????? rattle brain rattle!


By Bike… are you mad??!?!

21 02 2010

We are aiming to get to Thailand MOSTLY by bike (at certain points we’ll have to get a train in order to meet certain deadlines). Why though? Surely it is easier to MOSTLY go by train, or car, or bus or plane … why bike?

Well … here are our reasons .. such as they are…

1.  Travelling overland is the most environmentally sound way to travel. Key to this whole project is our individual responsibilities to make right and sound choices in our lives. This may not be the easiest way to travel 10,000 km’s but it certainly is the right choice for the health of our planet. The easy choices aren’t always right ones.

2. If you jet set from place to place you loose connection with the places you visit, you set yourself apart, for us, this project is all about connection. (And believe me that is no easy challenge for me.. I’m more of a head-down-don’t-make-eye-contact-Londoner type than a sit-in-a-cafe-for-hours-chatting-blurb-to-anyone sort… it’s time to change!)

3. This project is about posing questions and the process of searching for answers by opening communication.  We believe that there is no one destination, there is no one right answer, it’s all about the journey.

4. The project will visit a wide range of young people as it winds it’s way across the planet, but it also wants to be open to chance encounters; the young people who are sitting in a cafe, or walking down a road. Travelling by bike opens lines of communication that other forms of travel are too fast or too isolating to allow.

5. It’s fun! …..(or so Liz would have us believe!)

Anti-malarial’s. Yes or No??

26 01 2010

Yesterday I had my first lot of injections. Hep A and B mix (Twinrix) and a tetanus, polio, diphtheria combo. ‘Let your arm flop’, the wry nurse instructed as she flicked out the syringe, ‘let the shoulder drop all the way’, pudgy fingers clamp tight the muscle, ‘you’ll wana master this for the Japanese encephalitis’, jab, ‘It hurts like hell’. Great, something to look forward to then! We have to get rabies as well *sigh*

Liz is much better at these things than me. Where she is stoic, I am a pain announcer. Share it around is my motto, what is the point of bravery and endurance if there is no one to coo about it? As someone in a book once said; ‘pain can never be known it can only be believed’, so believe! small prick my arse.

Anti-malarial’s. We are going away for 9 months, I’m not sure how I feel about putting drugs in my body daily for 9 months. And if I did decide to, which set of chemicals should we take? We are going through so many different regions all of which have variously flavoured mosquitoes with all sorts of different resistances. I think I know that malaria is bad.. but isn’t it curable with the right medicines? And I’m sure I read somewhere that the drugs suppress a fever, so if you did get malaria while taking anti-malarials (which is possible) then you wouldn’t know! It is quite hard to get clear information; the bloggers are opinionated but dubiously informed and the medical centres want to cover their backs and get you to buy their products. I have been to India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Laos before and have never taken anti –malarials. I did take some homeopathic stuff once and some ayurvedic medicine in Nepal. But if I’m honest I’m not sure if I really believe they work. I cover up and go deet mad but I’m sweet blooded and seem to attract any needle-faced sucker within a 100 mile radius. Just the other day I got 4 big red throbbing mosquito bites.. in England! .. in the middle of winter! I suspect this will be a rumbling debate.

Kit – to laptop or not to laptop!

7 01 2010

Wheel, we’ve started to scout out bikes, bags, saddles, med kits etc etc etc (more about all that later) but one of our biggest quandaries is what electrical kit to take. We have been looking at the little Flip’s that are light (every gram saved will be a blessing in the Himalayas!) and small (we are aiming for only two back panniers and a handle bar bag each…. possible??), but it can’t focus and only stores about an hours worth of footage. So now we are looking at hard storage digital cameras – we have seen some that are pretty mini ones that store quite a lot of good quality footage (maybe the Samsung C10 SD camcorder for example) – swell! …. Now all we have to do is slush our way through a PC soup of info to make the actual final choice!

The next big decision is to lap top it or not.  If we have a PC we can blog more easily (or prep for the blog while we are off web radar) and thus be able to save money and time whenever we reach an internet cafe, we can also use it to edit our VOICES footage. But on the other hand it is extra weight, and something extra to lose or get stolen and we could probably manage by using just the internet cafes. …. .. Maybe if we found something small enough that was still usable (e.g. – big enough hard drive etc) AND under 1kg if possible. It’s all too easy to be seduced into forgetting that all those little gram shavings really will add up when being trailed over 10,000 KM and up some stormingly massive hills.

This way or that…

31 12 2009

Decisions decisions decisions. This project has been bubbling away for some months now, we are clear about why we want to do it (to raise money and awareness of HIV / AIDS), as clear as anyone can be about wanting to cycle 10,000 km’s! clear about the start point (our house in England) and the end point (my sisters house in Thailand), but the exact route has been a constant refiddle after refiddle.. will it be too hot,  too cold,  too volatile, too Political or  have too many ticks (my BIGGEST fear) … and so it has bubbled on. Iran is looking like it’s going to be just too Political this year after the death of the well known reformist cleric Grand Ayatollah Montazeri and Turkey is going to be very hot in August … so maybe down through Kiev into Russia and across the Stans.  Will keep you posted!