It has not really sunk in yet, the whole 8 months that have passed from the seat of a motorcycle.
Riding across two continents to reach Ireland has been a challenge and a valuable undertaking. Dealing with corrupt cops, bureaucratic paper pushing consular officials, drunken angry men & twitchy AK-47 swinging border guards, has all be a new and exciting challenge (occasionally frustrating). But for each of the few rotten eggs that I met along the way, I have surely met one hundred gracious, welcoming & friendly people. People who invited me into their homes, shared their food with me, showered me with welcomes, and graced me with the warmest & most genuine smiles. These people are the ones that are pressed into my mind, I recall their faces and their smiles.
Squeezed into a small space on a plane, in an uncomfortable seat for 13hrs as I fly back to Singapore, the 42,000km distance I’ve covered sitting on my bike is just beginning to sink in. I would have never thought I would find the bike seat more comfortable than an aircraft seat, but at this point I would much rather be sitting comfortably with an engine between my legs. As I fly over central Asia, looking down at the lands and mountains of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, where my ride took me for days across deserts, steppe and peaks, I’ve thought of all the magnificent sights and sounds I’ve experienced and the wonderful people I’ve met. Such kindness I’ve received from strangers, huge welcoming smiles from the heart.
Meals shared with families without a common word of language between us. So many places of rest offered.
The most outstanding experience of this entire journey has certainly been the people I’ve met, especially those with so little monetary wealth, who would unhesitatingly offer everything they had, to share with me, a traveller on the road. Their smiles are impressed upon my mind, and I’ll never forget those smiles and the kindness they bestowed on me.
The family who warmly invited me into their ger in Mongolia, stuffing me with fermented horse milk, homemade cheese & moonshine. The friendly shopkeeper in Tajikistan who when seeing how tired & sunburnt I was, closed his small store so he could take me back to his home where his wife prepared lunch while I waited for a roadblock to be cleared. The kind lady in the Russian Altai who returned my money and insisted that I not pay for my log cabin, after she understood I was riding to raise funds for the kids of Lotus in Mongolia.
The many people who so warmly greeted me in Iran, with big warm hugs, huge smiles and homely welcomes. The group of strangers who invited and welcomed me to their huge new year celebration party in Laos.
We must remember to offer this same welcome to strangers in our own land, to be more gracious, giving, trusting and sharing. As I’ve discovered; everywhere in the world, kind people abound. All people want the same basic things, to look after their family & friends. We are truly no different, the whole world over. Governments may be different in policy, but people are truly the same everywhere.
Thank you, to the family & friends who encouraged and backed me, supported me and believed in this dream.
I am so grateful to the friends and family who have supported me through this journey. Their support of Lotus Children’s Centre in Mongolia was a huge support to me through the challenging times, picking the bike up in the mud, the days where I was absolutely exhausted, changing flat tyres three times in a day, having my bags searched by Police for hours. During those difficult times, I was able to draw on the support of those friends and knowing what they had done to support Lotus gave me the support I also needed at that time. For that support and backing I am so very grateful.
Many people have said to me, “well, I couldn’t do that” Well, don’t. But do something, do what you want to do. Do what motivates you, do what you love, do what makes a difference, to you. No matter how small you may think it may be.
If it is your dream, it is big, and it’s worth it.
31st October 2014 10-13℃ 147km
Kilkenny – Adare
I set out from Kilkenny in the pouring rain, and it wasn’t long before I was completely soaked through. I had decided to take the many small backroads and lanes between Kilkenny and Adare, and the result was weaving along narrow country lanes, drenched in mist and rain as I weaved along between the narrow hedges. Of course it was alot of fun, despite a few slippery moments riding through cow shit and silage runoff, the later being so corrosive that it stripped the paint off the bashplate on the bike.
I was starting to become very cold when I neared the town of Cashel, and I stopped at a pub that had outdoor seating with radiant heaters. On removing my gloves, I was able to pour water from them. My core was only just dry, but water had seeped in around my waist, sneeking up my shirt and of course up my arms. I was now sitting uncomfortably in a small puddle. But I was able to order some food and sitting out in the rain enjoyed my warm meal as the locals walked by giving me strange looks from under their umbrellas.
I finished my meal and rode out of town, passing the Rock of Cashel on the way and stopping for a brief photo.
As I reached the village of Adare, it was approaching dusk, the traffic was heavy and it continued to rain. For some strange reason I had imagined riding into the village of my Grandfathers birth in the early morning, the sun shining and little other traffic. It could not have been any more different to what I had envisaged.
Despite the dark & rain, after 7 months and 42,000km it feels fantastic to finally reach my goal and destination, Adare. And as I approached Graige Farm, the sky cleared momentarily, and a beautiful sunset appeared.