THE PROPOSED ROUTE
THE ACTUAL ROUTE
SO THINGS DIDN’T QUITE GO TO PLAN
As you can see, our actual and proposed routes look rather different. To be honest, we started to stray from months of planning after only week three on the road. We had planned to go directly through France into Italy, but after a heavy bout of cold rain, we headed to the sunny south coast of France for a week’s holiday instead. You’ll also notice that we chose to go to Latvia and Estonia rather than Finland. That was literally a last-minute decision, made at the time of booking our ferry, or not as it turned out, to Finland.
Then the big change happened. This one was a tough one to take. The visa mishap in Russia meant we had to leave immediately. Well, after a long, drawn-out court case. Since we didn’t already have our Mongolian visas, and you can’t get one on arrival, we had to come up with another plan – and quick. We were heartbroken. Mongolia was one of the countries we were most excited for.
After frantically googling countries that offer visas on arrival, it was in a taxi ride across Moscow where we decided to fly to Nepal. India was in our original plan, but since we didn’t have visas for there either, Nepal seemed like the gateway back to The Slow Race route. Except it wasn’t just a gateway, we ended up spending three-months there, two of which were spent off the bikes.
In Nepal we debated a lot about where to go after India. The original plan was to go overland for most of the trip. Now we were stuck in India, having to fly somewhere. Again. But where?
China didn’t interest us anymore. It didn’t feel right going to Myanmar, due to the persecution of Rohingya muslims. And we’ve both backpacked around the rest of South East Asia, although we admit it would be totally different by bike. Then, just before we exited Nepal, everything fell into place. We came up with a route that excited us both so much, we couldn’t sleep for two nights after booking the flights – East Africa.
Upon leaving Asia, the penultimate leg of the trip saw us pedal across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. We finished up after four-months with a family holiday on Zanzibar island. Then we popped to Sydney, where Jen’s Mam and Paul surprised her for her 30th birthday, before finally landing in New Zealand fourteen-months after departing from the UK.
Now we had planned to ride the Tour Aotearoa – a 3,000 km trail from the most northern to the most southern tip of New Zealand – but winter, jobs, and money put that temporarily on hold. Instead we spent a month cycling then campervanning around the North Island, before crossing the finish line in Auckland.
And that’s that.
Seems we’ve got unfinished business all over the globe, from Russia, to Everest, to Mongolia, to Australia, to New Zealand. Yet if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that having a fifteen-month plan is all well and good to get you started, but be prepared to change it in week three – and then probably every week until the very end.