*****WE HAVE MOVED****(so that we can continue to report in countries that would prefer we didn’t!
ALL updates will be at that address from now on!!
The idea is very simple: To cycle from Germany to China roughly along the Ancient Silk Route. This means following the Danube through Europe and then cutting across to Istanbul to reach Asia. From there the plan is to go through the former Soviet Stans through some deserts and some rather scarily high mountains to reach Western China.
**ROUTE UPDATE** (28 June)
For a while now we have only included a map of our intended route through Turkey, but having crossed Turkey, we have now added a map of our three option routes to reach China.
Plan A (solid red): Cross through Iran and Turkmenistan to reach Uzbekistan (visa already obtained) and then take the Pamir Highway through Tajikistan to Kyrgystan and then China.
Plan B (dotted red): We have been waiting since the beginning of June for Iranian visas and are unsure whether we will be issued visas at all given the current political situation. We are also closely watching to make sure that it is still a good idea to take that route. If, by the time we get to Baku, we do not have the Iranian visa, we will change our route and get a visa to Turkmenistan, crossing the Caspain by ferry to Turkmenbashi, and joining our optimal route in eastern Turkmenistan.
Plan C (dotted orange): Two separate groups of travellers this week (June 23rd) have told us that the visa we would have applied for, the Transit visa, is currently not being offered by Turkmenistan (with issued visas even being voided) because they are trying to combat swine flu. This seems an unusual move to take, particularly for a Muslim country surrounded by other Muslim countries, but Turkmenistan is perhaps an unusual country for many other reasons. We hope to find out! If this visa proves to be impossible to obtain, we will opt for the Kazakh visa and catch the ferry to Kazakhstan (for make benefit cultural learnings of HappyPedalers), taking a train from there into Uzbekistan. The only problem with this option is that we hear the boats go between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan at most once a week and according to no specific timetable, so we could end up being stranded in Baku/Azerbaijan for up to two weeks waiting for visas and ferries. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!
As you can see, the bureaucratic element to this trip may end up being the hardest to overcome! But we are thankful that even our worst visa nightmares pale in comparison to citizens of many other countries around the world, who must often show proof of their heritage and entire livelihood before our home countries would deign to let them in!
Why do we do this?
Well, quite frankly it’s one of those great ideas that have been floating in the back of our heads for a while. It’s one of the most ancient trade routes going through hugely diverse countries and cultures and the idea is that by bike you’re just about slow enough to take in everything and just about fast enough to cover some real distance. In addition to this comes the fact that we have both been sitting in offices without moving much for far too long which makes cycling a nice change and although we’ve been to a lot of countries, travel by plane and especially business style travel does not remotely do justice to the different countries on the way so it will be a fantastic oppportunity to experience them first-hand.
People often ask whether we do this for charity. We would be lying if we said that this is purely a charitable endeavour and that we purely do this to raise money. But we have chosen two fantastic charities and would really like you to take a look at the projects we are supporting and donate to these causes.. For more info, check out the Giving Back page on this blog..