“If you look like your passport photo, you’re too ill to travel.” — Will Kommen
For the first two weeks all we wanted to do was sleep or eat chocolate. If we did not manage to step outside the door once, well that was fine too. Trouble was, we needed to plan the next stage of our travels. We are off to Asia, and to be honest, we know absolutely nothing about Asia, and even less about cycle touring there. So we started with what we did know, you are going to need some injections. If cycling through most of Europe has taught us anything, it is that Germany has the worst WiFi provision in Europe and that is a simple fact. People refuse to believe this. You are looking at 3g my friend.
In the three months that we were last in Germany, a second company has entered the 3g market. When we last tried to get some connection, you had to take a year contract with Telecom. Goodness knows what file lies in a bottom draw or which member of the government it features, but Telecom had no competition and a lot of leverage. Enter one of the more surprising service providers, the supermarket LIDL and a ‘ pay as you go ‘ 3g dongle. Hurrah, it may be agonizingly slow at times, but we are connected.
If I had set out to find how I should go about the frivolous notion of keeping a Dolphin as a pet, I would have arrived at the answers faster. A list of injections needed for the countries we intend to visit remained elusive. When, after two days of phone calls, we arrived at a more or less definitive list, we were looking at a 6 week schedule of inoculations. Day one kicking off with three injections with a buttock, buttock, arm pattern.
Life is created by the onwards rush of life over the curved wing of the soul – Robert Macfarlane
It was not going to be anything like the quick turnaround that we had planned. We settled into the family cottage that sits in a remote spot on the most Southern point of the island of Rugen. We watched the Cranes fly, and the long shadows of late Autumn turn ever more golden. Twice we were near flocks of several hundred Cranes. They gather here, in their thousands to feed up for their long Southern migration. The sound is wonderful, melodic in a way that geese completely fail to achieve.
My camera had developed a small, but significant fault that may deteriorate. No problem, I have my Amazon receipt and it is just over three months old. ” We need the receipt on paper “. So we tracked down a friend with a printer, and off it went along with the camera. ” We need the original receipt “. This is Germany, and this perhaps was to be expected. People file things here, and keep things, just in case. They do it with a precision, passion and detail, that in any other country would have you ‘ internet self diagnosing ‘ obsessive compulsive disorder. We did not have the original receipt, of course not.
” Perhaps we could accept your credit card statement ‘. Brilliant,. But the online system ends after 3 months, and we had to wait for a paper statement to arrive from the UK. The last of the Cranes started their trip towards the Donana region of Southern Spain. Geese still flew over the cottage, and we had the first frosts of a new winter. The camera is fixed after almost a month of work.
Hours and hours of research, trying to get a plan together. Sketching out a route that would work within the constraints of the visas for each country. Thailand would be the key country, with trips to Burma and an exit through Laos to get to China. Thailand is a very long and thin country, and we stumbled across the idea of flying into Malaysia first. This is a wonderful touring destination, and has the added bonus of English being spoken. If the bikes are in a poor state when they get there, we are well placed to deal with the problem.
High winds, and trees now skeletal and leafless. Tickets are booked, we fly Nov 29th from Berlin to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. We still have to get our 60 day Thailand visas and would like to be a little more certain. It is a three day stay in Berlin to get it. We will be getting used to the trials of visa applications on this trip. A horrid complexity to a long journey by bike.
I can now be left alone in a room with a bar of chocolate. In the last week the wish to travel by bike has returned. Most of the trials of getting things in order have fallen into place and we now have a thought of including India. We must be feeling fresher.