For Paul: To have a break from his work as a GP. To experience a hugely diverse people. To have time to stand and stare. Carpe Diem.
As far back as 2013 Paul has been exploring how to take time out from his busy GP Practice. As a Partner he could just about manage to take a four month sabbatical. Question was, when and where? Africa? Voluntary work? He knew it would always have to be with a bicycle.
Timing became a deciding factor. To find a locum to cover time away and to fit in with children’s education, November 2015 would be the most logical month for a departure, with a return for the Christmas holidays and off again January 2016 for 3 months, maximum.
So, where’s the best place to be in November? Probably not cycling across Europe. With around 30 days to travel for the first leg of our adventure, Sri Lanka appeared to be a very good choice: A very different culture, a long and fascinating history, good climate (mostly, dodging monsoons), stunning scenery, amazing food and wildlife. Quite importantly, not too large a country to be able to feel that we could explore a large area of it.
It feels right to be home with family and friends for Christmas. It also gives us an opportunity to fine tune our equipment list and to make any repairs on the bikes.
Second leg… With the maximum time of 10 weeks, logistically where could we fly to with our bikes arriving and departing from the same location to be able to store bike bags for our return home? How far could we travel, realistically, by bike in 10 weeks? What variety of culture, topography, tropical diseases (no,don’t really want those) could we experience in the time available?
With a combination of some organised cycling trips, probably a bus or two we decided on a starting point of Hanoi, Vietnam. Neither of us have been to this part of the world. Our plan is to cycle across to Laos, to Luang Prabang and then head south, through Laos and into Cambodia, back across to Southern Vietnam and then head north to our starting point in Hanoi. A lot of planning, so far.