Currently in Kuantan, Malaysia (12/03/2014) - 33600km cycled

12 Mar 2014

Technical problems – 12 March 2014

Posted by Will. 4 Comments

Carry on Cycling recently went offline for several weeks, as you may have noticed, after suffering a bout of garbled technical flu. Although I foresaw a struggle with maintenance on the road, I imagined it would be of the oily-hands-screaming-obscenities-through-the -wind variety rather than an error-screen landslide.  Like when the bike breaks down, I fixed it slowly.  My thanks to all those who expressed their concern and for anyone who is still wondering.  I’m OK.

spannerSo what happened?  Well, a few weeks ago, the company hosting my website discontinued their service despite agreeing to provide their service until March 2015.  They did send several warning emails over the course of a month, but to an email address I no longer check.  I hadn’t backed-up for a while so Carry on Cycling temporarily went back in time, transported back to October 2013, back to the depths of inner China.  For a while I worried I wouldn’t be able to recover the lost data.

Over time, I managed to persuade the runaway provider to let me onto their server one final time.  After a few tense minutes searching, I clicked open an inconspicuous looking folder and there lay the most up-to-date version, including the all-important database file.  Praise be to the bicycle gods!  Then there was the fiddly process of transferring the website to the new server.  That should have been easy but the files were jumbled and some of the code needed tweaking.  This morning, I’m confident everything is back to normal.  I apologize to all those who rely on Carry on Cycling for a regular dose of cycle-orientated sustenance.

Now, I am in Kuantan, Malaysia where I’ve spent a glorious month here soaking up limitless sand and sunshine.   By year’s end I plan to finish my trip, with Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, the USA and Canada still to come.  My eyes are now keen on the prize; less prone to wandering.

12 March 2014.  2 Years In.

14 Dec 2013

Two stories from SE Asia: Dog eat dog and the vicious ant attack

Posted by Will. 11 Comments

I’ll tell a story or two this week, written from a quiet balcony in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I love the giant banana plants less than 3m from my nose. Every now and again a lizard creeps down the adjacent wall. The sound of a scooter drifts up lazily from the street below.

p1070171-800I’m getting hungry, as usual, so soon I’ll head round the corner to a lovely old lady who ladles the city’s signature dish, Khao Soi, into colourful bowls. After 5pm, I’ll wander through the street-food stalls for sticky rice and a pre-made green curry. I’ve arranged to meet friends this evening too. While I still have reservations about Chiang Mai, it’s starting to grow on me.

Dog eat Dog

Back in Romania I wrote that dog isn’t man’s best friend. That was after I’d been hounded across the country, my packed lunch incessantly whined for and my stealthy, scenic camp spots routinely discovered. I was chased by packs of the beasts in the Kurdish lands and thrown over the handlebars by a stray one in Vietnam. They’ve frightened me out of asking for water and growled me away from getting directions. In short, they have never welcomed my great journey eastwards. Like the postman, I am a constant target for their abuse. … [read more]

7 Dec 2013

Laos – It’s like they know something we don’t

Posted by Will. 4 Comments

From what I’ve seen so far, Laos is the poorest country I’ve visited. I travelled across the less developed north, skirting at times less than a hundred kilometres south of the Chinese border, through an uninterrupted wave of wild, sunlit jungle. It’s a shame money doesn’t grow on trees: if it did every owner of Laos’ radiant smiles would be millionaires. dsc_0331-800But it doesn’t, and to the passing eye it is quite clear that past a smile, community spirit and enough to eat, the ordinary people of Laos don’t have much else. So how is it they’re always smiling, laughing, beckoning, calling, jumping and dancing? Why are the children readier than all the world’s others to shout ‘sabaidee!’ (hello) at the top of their lungs, little arms swinging excitedly from side to side? Outwardly, they are the happiest people I’ve ever seen. The more I ride through villages with nothing but faces alight with everything I can’t help feeling they know, or understand, something we don’t.

In a week and several hundred kilometres’ cycling I don’t consider I passed through a town, let alone a city, in Laos. The biggest red dot on my map, Luang Namtha, seemingly one of the country’s main cities, turned out to be little more than a village with a few coffee shops and guest-houses pandering to tourists. Other dots on the map contained a village shop or two selling no more than coffee sachets, dried noodles, eggs, tacky sweets and a few other similar, insubstantial products. Past that, tiny houses, almost always made of wood and sometimes standing on stilts, where kitchen huts used open fires and were separated from other rooms, composed the rest of a typical village.  Communal taps stood along the roadside where everyone washed themselves, their clothes and their pots and pans. Countless times I cycled past naked children washing unabashed beneath fountains of gushing cold water. They always found it funny when I stopped to scrub my neck and face.

Gone were the smartphones of China and Vietnam. Gone were the ‘wifi zone’ signs, designer trainers and the compulsive need to be noticed. Food was cooked over smouldering fires, washing was done under taps, flat footballs replaced iPads for child’s play and sandals stood for shoes on their feet. A rare man to speak English told me his village had been hooked up to electricity only two years ago. The asphalt road had come a year before that. The villages looked only partially emerged from the surrounding jungle, entirely out-of-sync with the standard of living expected almost universally around the world. … [read more]