I hope you all had a great Christmas Day yesterday, and are all still enjoying the festive season. I certainly am, perhaps a little too much, but hey, it's only once a year!
As it's Christmas, and we're all now well practiced in the art of giving and receiving, I thought I would try a little something on here. First - my gifts to you!
1 - I have created a Newsletter from which you can follow my adventures! Please sign up via the submission form on the right of this page. It'll come out fortnightly with updates of where I am, any interesting news, and as the trip takes shape, links to the latest videos on this site.
2 - I recently wrote a short piece for the Guardian on my perfect Boxing Day cycle - check it out here. I'm aware you can't all ride it as it's in Northern Ireland and most of you aren't, but there's 4 other ideas on the page so maybe you can give one of them a go.
Okay, so maybe my gifts are a little self-involved. Please forgive me. I'll also put some new photos up, maybe you can enjoy those as well. Which brings me to - what would I like from you?! Well...
1 - Please sign up to the newsletter and read my piece in the Guardian!
2 - Join my Facebook group for the trip here, or follow me on Twitter if you're that way inclined here.
3 - Attending lots of parties and dinners over the Christmas period? Stuck for conversation? Try telling people about my trip and my website, and encourage them to donate to the UNICEF cause here.
4 - Have any wealthy friends/acquaintances? Print off my sponsorship pack and give them a copy, or direct them to the link on here.
So there you go. I'm getting lots of positive feedback on everything I'm doing so far which is great, as the more people that get involved, the better the film will be, and the more money I'll raise for UNICEF.
A quick bit of other news - I'm delighted to announce a few more sponsors for the trip. Check them out here. A special mention for Kata, the fantastic resource for videographers and filmmakers. They're providing me with the R-104 camera rucksack which will carry my camera, accessories, laptop and tripod. It will be indispensible as this bag will rarely leave my site during my trip - it'll go everywhere with me out of necessity (so my camera doesn't get nicked!) They're also giving me a rain cover for my camera so I can film whatever the weather's got in store. All of which is good news!
Finally, here's a few Christmassy photos from where I am.
"I had nothing to lose but the chains, and I hoped to find down the country roads Ma in her beanery and Pap over his barbecue pit, both still serving slow food from the same place they did thirty years ago. Where-you-from-buddy restaurants."
- William Least Heat Moon, 'Blue Highways'
My great friend Lizzie recently bought me 'Blue Highways: A Journey into America' by William Least Heat Moon. In the late '70's, Least Heat Moon got bored with his life and travelled round America in his van, following back roads and seeking near-forgotten boondocks. On the old highway maps of America, these back roads were marked in blue, hence the title. It's a great travel book, to my eye a quirkly blend of John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac if that makes sense. Anyway, this paragraph really grabbed me by the throat. This is exactly the kinda thing I'm looking for in America! I like to think me and Least Heat Moon would have got on well. The places that get forgotten about in the shadows of the cities, the people with the real stories to tell. That's the America I'm going to find.
Unrelated, but not worth another blog post for are some more photos I've taken this week - another early morning walk, this time in the unseasonal sun. I hope you enjoy."
Once again, sorry for the lack of activity on the site - it's not good enough! However, I have been keeping all the boring bits of the planning process ticking over and have been immersed in books and maps regarding South East Asia, trying to get my perfect route. So that's why I haven't been blogging. Honestly.
Anyway! Enough of my excuses. The latest in my injury/delays saga is that I had to come back to Ireland for another appointment with the surgeon who operated on me. This was another big one; he was basically going to tell me whether the muscles were healing properly and essentially how much longer my recovery would take. After the disappointment of the last meeting with him I was pretty nervous, but luckily it all seemed to go rather well. He was of the opinion that everything was healing at a good rate, and I should continue to rest until Christmas, but after that it's all systems go! I obviously can't jump straight back on a bike and cycle 50 miles before hitting the gym, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. So I'll try pedaling a few short routes around here in Northern Ireland, and start with some baby dumbbells - My ego may take a knock but at least I'll be being sensible! That's the plan anyway, and I will now feel less guilty regarding the inevitable Christmas overindulgence.
In light of the good news, I felt healthy enough to attempt an early morning walk in the beauty of the North Coast of Northern Ireland. I'm desperately trying to find time and energy to improve my photography skills, which are at the minute, not great. I've never really got into photography the way I did with filmmaking, and I don't have a particularly good camera, but I'm going to give it a shot. Who knows, if I get better may I can blag a decent camera to take with me. So here's a few of my efforts from this morning, although I can't say it was a roaring success as my camera battery died before I'd even left the village. Lesson learned for next time.
That's it - with any luck, expect a couple of announcements regarding my expedition before Christmas. Otherwise, thanks for reading and following my adventures so far!
Hope you all enjoyed the first, informal Vlog, and thanks for the feedback. It's been kind of a quiet week for me - lots of emailing and that sort of thing, but very little worthy of blogging about. EXCEPT! One exciting thing has come out of the seemingly endless hours spent with computers, maps, notebooks and calculators, and I would like to share.
I've always said that Sydney was only a temporary end point, because that was as far as I reckoned my meagre savings would take me. I also made no secret of the fact that I wanted to go further, and if the finances were there to keep me fed and watered, I'd keep going. Unfortunately no-one has yet come in with a large cash injection for my expedition, but I did finally get round to adding up what I've spent so far versus what I've got left for the road. Assuming I can have a frugal Christmas, and a tame time in New York, I've decided I'll be at least able to finance my trip as far as Hong Kong!
It's worth taking into account that I get very bored of mathematical tasks very quickly, but I'm pretty confident on this one. My thinking is affected firstly on the fact that I know I can get guaranteed transport from Australia into SE Asia, and secondly that the cost of living will be so much cheaper than I'll have experienced previously.
I'm working on the route as we speak, but for now I can confirm is that I'll definitely be pedalling my merry way east from Bangkok into Cambodia, North into Laos and then East again through Vietnam, China and Hong Kong. The brighter sparks among you will have noticed that I'm heading in an Easterly direction, whereas my 'home' is to the West. I've also noticed this. But the places that excite me more are in the other direction, so that's that. The rest will come.
View SE Asia in a larger map
Time for another blog I think. Today I should have been waking up in New York City. But I didn't. As previously blogged about this was due to an unfortunate instance involving hospitalisation - but on the plus side, I was pretty happy to be waking in Canterbury today. It was a lovely Winter's day - you know, the type that are sunny, blue skied and fresh. A long walk in the woods reminded me just how great some of the British countryside is. I also had a productive day yesterday with the logistics part of this trip, and am feeling enthusiastic once more. So things are good!
I also finally got round to uploading the very first Video Blog of "The Cycling Reporter"! I can tell you're excited. I'm not sure of the correct internet terminology for one of these, so I'm going to call them Vlogs. This is Vlog #1, and is an introduction to the trip. I hope you enjoy it. Generally they'll be short and sweet, 1 or 2 mins max, but for this first one I made an exception. They'll be worth watching anyway, I promise. I'm also working on doing a couple of interviews before I leave the UK, now that I have this extra month. So keep an eye out for those as well.
In other news, Buff Headwear are the latest company to come on board as sponsors, which is great news because Buffs are awesome. Later this week I'll hopefully be heading to Sussex to pick up my Santos bike, which is something else I'm getting psyched about.
So, enjoy the Vlog and I promise you some more news before the end of the week.