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Reaching the finish line

Written by Jess Dan. Posted in UK

It is a strange feeling to finish something so slowly. We have had months saying “we’re right near the end now”. Months. We saw our first sign to London marking the distance to go when we had just 21 miles left to cycle. We crept into London getting lost in suburbia. We take in the final moments. The first red double decker goes by and we smile, close now. Two motorbikes have a minor crash at the lights. People on the footpath stop walking and point at our panniers as we go by. Commuting cyclists with some place to be race past. A lady swings a punch at a man through the window of a van at another set of lights. We take it all in. We have ten more minutes of life on a bike.

Istanbul to Budapest

Written by Jess Dan. Posted in Australia

The European side of Istanbul is a land full of sunflowers at this time of year. Very colourful cycling. The turkish hospitality didn’t let up, and we continued to be offered free chai and food whenever we stopped.. There is something in this special culture to take back home. We camped at a truckstop near the Bulgarian border and were offered chai and Bulgar (like cous cous) by the truckies. They were driving through to Iraq which fascinated us to no end. I hadn’t contemplated that the trucks might be heading there with anything, or even stopped to wonder if that particular border was open as I had already heard that Turkey’s border with Armenia was closed as Turkey sided politically with Azerbaijan whom Armenia were currently in conflict with regarding the position of their borders….. I guess I had just assumed that the Iraq border would also be closed. I was interested on another day, to be scolded by an actually rather nice shop attendant as I was drinking coca cola, a product produced in this area of the world in Israel, an altogether not particularly popular country here, just at this point in time. We were really sad to learn more about the current Israel/Palestine conflicts and that Israel are bombing during a ceasefire, and that Palestine are continually putting their civilians in the line of fire. It is a very tricky situation out there at the moment, and it is hard to get a hold of all the latest while we are on the road. We do know that prior to things escalating, Ultimate Peace (the charitable foundation we are cycling to raise money for) we able to hold their annual camp in Israel for Israeli and many Palestinian kids, although not all of the Palestinians were allowed to cross the border on this occasion. We thank Ultimate Peace for their efforts, and all the staff and attendees for their courage to run the camp under this pressure at this time. We hope one day their will be an end to the fighting in this region, and Ultimate Peace is doing a great job to start building the bridges among the young people.

Tbilisi – Istanbul

Written by Jess Dan. Posted in Georgia, Turkey

In Tbilisi, after many skype calls and emails, we finally were met by our friend from home, Ewan. Leaving his helmet behind as it didn’t fit in his check luggage (he has made a note to next time bring it in carry on) he quickly rectified the problem by buying a watermelon helmet. The watermelon was very well received by the Georgian motorists, who typically are not so biker friendly. During our stay in the capital, we visited the treasury as well as a museum about russias hold of georgian territory. It all seemed very violent and very recent.

Georgia and Turkey: Guest blog with Ewan Wymer

Written by Jess Dan. Posted in Georgia, Turkey

GAMARJOBAAAAA!!! HONK SQUEEK HONK SQUEEK HONK SQUEEK HONK SQUEEK HONK

This is the sound of Jess, Dan and I passing you by while we were in Georgia. No doubt if you substitute the local word for hello, it’s the sound of Dan and Jess passing you anywhere. You can tell them from a mile off, there’s the matching maroon Bendigo Bank t-shirts (a donation from Creswick Bendigo Bank) which I made them wear only a couple of times, the panniers with mismatchy, sun faded but still bright covers and smiles almost as wide as the road. If you get the above treatment, i.e. a hello and some squeezes from the air horns, there is a 99% chance you will smile and wave at us. This is what makes cycle touring the most fun.

Kyrgyzstan

Written by Jess Dan. Posted in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan

We left you last in Astana, Kazakhstan and it has been quite some time since we last updated the blog. We are at an interesting time in the trip, well underway, but still a long way from the end and some days it can be hard to find the motivation to record the nitty gritty. But finally, here we are again.

Astana was great, we ended our stay with a few more games of ultimate and a brilliant local dish of Beshbarmak prepared by our friend Khapirat. Many of our new friends from Astana came around for lunch that day to farewell us but I think mostly to join in the Beshbarmak feast. Beshabarmak is a traditional Kazakh dish that translates literally to “five fingers” – how you are to eat it – it’s a dish of horse meat, potatoes and carrots and the fatty meat tasted just amazing.