(just found this draft after 18 months at home… oops.) Written while in London at the end of our trip in October 2016.
The last few days this has been running through my head
This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end.
So here we are in London, at the end of an amazing journey, getting ready to begin another one at home. The last 14 months have been quite extraordinary, and I feel truly blessed to have had the time, motivation and especially the most amazing travelling partner to have made this trip with, Betsy has been brilliant… and Sal isn’t bad either 😉
As we rode out of Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of a wow moment with the realisation that this was the last time we’d be aboard Betsy in a foreign country. It was a cold Dutch morning and we were zooming along the icy freeway, but the sun broke through in spots, Betsy was purring and my heated grips were pouring energy into my cold hands.
For a little while it was complete bike Zen and I was king of the world, it was a moment of realisation that left me with a lump in my throat. We were going to arrive in London, in good health, good spirits, and even the bike was still running great. We’d done it.
Life doesnt get much better.
Then we (I!) missed 4 turns in a row on the 6 lane highway and had to make a 20km detour… (I find punching the tank to be quite therapeutic at these times).
Long distance motorcycle travel certainly isn’t for everyone, but I’ve learned that travel is never really rewarding unless it’s hard. If you can put up with the heat (or cold!), the long days battling insane traffic, the filthy rooms (or the tent!), the constant rhythm of arriving and leaving, and a complete lack of any creature comforts, then you can find a world of beautiful chaos filled with colourful foods, friendly people, absurd situations and amazing views.
This past year we’ve been fortunate enough to dive with the majestic manta rays in Indonesia, we’ve visited ancient temples in Cambodia, made fast friends and experienced extraordinary hospitality in all corners of the world. We battled the insane traffic of India and were rewarded with the seldom seen sights and sounds of the subcontinent, not always very nice, but absolutely unforgettable.
We’ve experienced the incredible bravery of the Pakistani military who guarded us from the Taliban as we travelled to China, we ate sheeps ass in Xing Xang, we were frozen solid in the highland grassy mountain passes of Kyrgyzstan but survived to see the most incredible scenery in the world. We spent a week following the Afghan border waving to small curious children and smiling shepherds, we followed the Silk road through the former glory of the blue city of Samarkhand, fought tooth and nail against corrupt police in Turkmenistan, and were befriended by countless people in Iran who showed us kindness that is sadly missing in our world.
We drank Prosecco in Prosecco, Valpolicella in Valpoolicella, Soave in Soave, Barolo in Barolo, Rioja in Rioja, and Bordeaux in Bordeaux!!
We slept in bamboo huts on the beach with million dollar views, $10 price tags and free bed bugs, we ate in roadside stalls where filthy shoeless children wash the plates in polluted river water, but they serve the best dahl and samosas you will ever find, we saw horses run wild in fairy tale landscapes and drank fermented mares milk from a pig’s carcass. Our hands and feet were frozen more times than I remember, and our eyes stung from the salt in the sweat pouring down our brows as we took in views of places and landscapes that will remain etched in our memories forever.
It’s been beautiful, it’s been horrible, it’s been brilliant, hard, fun, extraordinary, boring, frustrating, filthy, dusty, freezing, hot, non-stop adventure! It’s been EPIC.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning…