– ”Now the real adventure begins!”
These were the words said the second we were separated from our friends in Thai Airways. Friends who led the way during the first week of our great adventure. Friends we will always remember and friends who do not seem to let go of us, even when it’s now over a month since we met. An example of this fact is when we just before our flight from Bali to Australia was pleased to pick up a package at Bali’s airport. A package sent directly from Bangkok, which consisted of a new set of cycling clothes. This is something that makes us so well pleased, proud and happy at the same time. And although it’s a long, long way to go until we reach Thailand again, it’s hard not to imagine the scene in your head as we cross the border and into the northern province of Chiang Rai where our friends hopefully waiting with smiles and who knows; maybe a new set of clothes.
Not having a clue about how a day will look like from the second you wake up till you close your eyes again can be described as an adventure, whether cycling around the world or not. If you choose as we do, to actually ride around the world, this is usually everyday and each day therefor turns into an adventure.
To plan every day a little extra to be sure the food is enough that the water does not run out in dry areas or making sure not to put up the tent where the crocodile family lives is a spice in a pot full of unexpected events.
Until now when as we are traveling in northern Australia we have only spent time in Southeast Asia, a continent filled with those pots of spicy food. You will find it literally everywhere, it’s incredibly cheap in most places and suddenly your biggest “problem” for the day is which of the hundreds of restaurants to choose.
We have also been very lucky and spoiled when it comes to where to stay the night. Until we reached Australia the nights in tents can be counted on one hand and we haven’t payed for accommodation until we got to Darwin.
We have stayed at the homes of new friends along the way, we have used the online community: “Warmshowers (created by and for touring cyclists) and in Indonesia, we were lucky to sleep not less than 6 nights in a row at the sheriff.
It has clearly gone well so far. The world and its people, as you can imagine, continued to take care of us in different ways and we haven’t been alone, thats for sure.
At the end of our time in South East Asia, we experienced five fantastic and not least important days on Bali where we could rest both body and brain.
These days turned out to be just wonderful and this was thanks to the amazing family that we stayed with. The hospitality and the relaxed style was just fantastic and after 20 minutes it felt like we all known each other for years.
Mark & Peggy along with kids Loek and Sasha made our stay unforgettable and as long as they are on Bali, we promise to come back to drink at least a cup of coffee and talk about life in general. We hardly know how to thank you for those days, we only know that a hundred thanks are too few.
But before we got too used as to a normal life that that didn’t include to ride 100 km a day it was time to leave our friends as well as Southeast Asia. A part of the world that we actually will come back to eventually …
As a Swede it feels a bit strange to land in Australia after only spent 3 hours in the air. It should take about 24 hours the rumored says. If you are traveling from Sweden to say.
Now we flew, as I said from Bali which is not very far from Australia’s north coast and Darwin to be exact.
We are in the Northern Territory, home for many crocodiles, kangaroos, big cattle, frogs and some humans actually.
No begins a new chapter of this adventure. A chapter that will put our mental strength to test more than the physical as we now have about 3 000 km in front of us before we reach the east coast of this gigantic continent.
3 000 km which will consist of a lot of remote areas. Flat remote areas fortunately.
Now we must convince ourselves that this is as well fun, awesome, exciting and increasingly so. Otherwise, these 3 000 km probably will feel much longer.
And how many out there have actually spent an evening and night in the village of Adelaide River with its 200 inhabitants? I know three people who have done just that.
None of us had previously visited Australia and although it is a western country in many ways, it is still many new impressions and thoughts that fill our heads.
Not least the one just mentioned about the surface that covers more than the whole of Europe but at the same time is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. This is something you so well heard and read but to experience it in reality is quite different. During the first 100 km we didn’t see a single person. The only sign of people were those who probably drew the cars that passed us regularly.
Suddenly I did not feel the scenes from dystopia movie Mad Max that far from reality.
And speaking about vehicles; in Australia they use something called “Road trains” (a type of vehicle that plays a major role in that movie just mentioned if I’m not wrong).
A prolonged, monster truck used to transport everything from cows to furniture. They get a 18 meter Scania in Sweden to look like a small Fiat in comparison and is simply something you’d rather not end up in front or under. Therefore, we must be careful and constantly keep an eye backwards to see if a monster is coming and then step aside on the gravel beside the road as these vehicles can’t make any major excesses from the course they already hold .
And it is somewhere here we can start talking about adventure for real.
Kilometer after kilometer without a single person in sight.
Kilometer after kilometer with wilderness in all directions.
Kilometer after kilometer where you will find neither water or food to feed your hungry body.
A huge contrast from the countries we have traveled thru before this where the food is always waiting around the corner and if we missed a restaurant another one would just appear 50 meters ahead.
I think it’s incredibly useful to get the feel of this. As well physically and mentally.
We have started to ”cook” our own food which is not too advanced yet. Mostly to save money as well as fuel for the stove. And believe us when we say it is not that important how it tastes after a day on the road.
We have to tell you about our new found friend here in Australia. Arnold Ramos is his name and he appeared as unexpected as fortunate as we were on our bikes approached Darwin from the airport 10 kilometers away.
First he almost scared the life out of Eva and Lovisa just by saying ”Hello” as no one could see that coming.
Arnold also came on a bike and were going in the same direction which led to our train of three cycles increased to four.
An incredibly pleasant gentleman in his forties who now spent five years in Darwin and as well as we he liked to get around on a bike.
When we arrived to the city it was time for good bye but before that Arnold thought it was appropriate to give us his phone number so we could be heard by the next day. We thought it was a brilliant idea.
Said and done.
At lunchtime the day after Arnold picked up the whole gang for a tour of Darwin where we had the opportunity to make some necessary stops and purchases for what was to come.
In the evening there was pizza on the meny before it was time to say goodnight but not goodbye.
Arnold is Arnold and as we said, Arnold also liked to cycle.
Therefore he joined us the next morning to escort us the first 25 kilometers before a goodbye sadly inevitable.
However, it’s not impossible rather quite likely that we will see each other again when we land on European soil sometime around March / April next year.
Arnold is now in the process of applying for vacation from his job at the Australian Air Force in Darwin and as it looks now it seems the managers are in good spirits when the vacation looks to be granted.
The plan is that he accompanies us through as well as Portugal, Spain, which of course would be the dream! We will return with more information in a few months.
Something amazing with time we live in are all the ways to communicate. This makes it possible to continue keep in touch with many of those we meet along the way. This feels fantastic and we can clearly see how these people are doing everything in its power in various ways to continue to help us along the way as long as we are in their country.
Many of them talk about that sometime go to Europe. We keep our fingers crossed for this and that they then also take the opportunity to visit Sweden (summer time of course) so we have a chance to meet our heroes again and gradually pay back for all the help we received.
Running into problems is part of life. Same thing if you bike around the world.
Problems with the bike is not at all uncommon occurrence, rather the opposite and we have now bumped into a few of them.
Evas rim of the rear tire got a crack four days and 400 kilometer after leaving Darwin.
In these areas you don’t find a bike shop around the corner.
The solution and salvation came through two incredibly friendly gentlemen by the name of Steve and James who were in the same village as us when the problem appeared.
To make a long story short it ended with signed (Calle) went with the men back to Darwin in the car to pick up a new rear tire and then jumped on a bus for another 6.5 hours back to the village of Mataranka where we stayed the day before .
Not a cheap story all in all then this part of Australia is very expensive to stay in but very necessary for the journey to continue to Sydney where we hope to arrive in mid/late December if all goes as planned
And that you can never be too sure about.
We now continue with what we do best, which for the moment is cycling 100 km a day on the dead straight roads that only offer a crest about every 30 km we always hope something amazing, incredible and absolutely wonderful to be meeting our eyes on other side.
So far another straight road is the only thing we got to see.
The adventure has now begun.