5 days rest to look forward to now and Jon gets to see Holly again for the first time since Dubai. Shame she got sunburnt on the day we arrived and couldn't venture out until the last day! I think we definitely earnt it this time. Get out the cigars and Moijitos - we even found a fat lady singing away on a sun lounger, as we watched the sun sink into the ocean. One big reflection on our successful adventure around the Tropic of Cancer
Wow - an awe-inspiring country with a landscape which takes your breath away - literally. This is what our training was for, because after the first 1 1/2 days (and our first live snakes!), the hills started. And they didn't stop for the next two weeks! Rich joined us for 3 days and was like an excited teenager racing up and down the hills as fast as he could! Every place continued to amaze us, and the best day was cycling down from 10,400ft to 4,000ft and the views can only be described as looking out of a plane window with your feet (or tyres) on the ground. In total we cycled the equivalent assent of 1 1/2 times the height of Everest (45,000ft). As we reached Cancun, the realisation we had cycled over 8,000 miles around the world took over. Apart from some photos in Havana, we had done it!
Luckily the roads improved, but the language barriers got worst! One night we could only find an array of chicken and other animal fried feet to eat - a bad hotel saved us from what could have been our worst meal! Jon's iphone translation app when into overdrive and we survived on noodles , rice and sweet&sour pork. The best thing was that every town/city we stopped at, we had our own teenage fan club!
100 miles of good roads, and 100 miles of terrible roads! The second day cycling in Vietnam was one of the toughest so far, cycling through oily coal river roads, then sticky, slippery mud gravel for 70 miles. Of that 25 miles in the dark with wild dogs chasing us (terrifying) and the booming sound of toads (which we imagined the size of turtles!
Hills, hills and more hills! Dom's new word for Laos - smiley! Everyone wants to wave and shout Sabaidee or Bye Bye as we cycle through the mountain villages. Unfortunately Ronnie's wheel broke half way through the country, so car, bus and tutuk to get from Udomxai to Hanoi in Vietnam for some serious repairs!
Left the bustling, lively city of Chiang Mai with its alfresco restaurants and live music bars, into the calming foothills of Northern Thailand. Lush forests, national parks and temples, which are typical of the area. Hard work on bicycles, rising to over 3,000ft, the searing heat ensured a couple of British lobsters, but the locals just smiled and waved as we cycled past. A must is the SuanThip Vana Resort (a big thank you to the manager for the special charity rate), a stunning mountain retreat, where the bungalows are built around a forest, so the balconies are like tree houses. An air of calm greets you here, which we think sets the tone for Northern Thailand as a whole – a hidden gem.
I have never seen so many people, and from the bedlam we create when arriving in towns, not many people have seen two brightly coloured cyclists either! Fighting for space amongst cows, cars, tutuks, lorries, buses, mopeds, rickshaws, goats and even monkeys. What a hectic but fun country!
Arrived at one of the most bleak border crossings in the world, in the midst of a battering sandstorm. Luckily the next few days it was pushing us along at over 25mph. The most terrifying day of cycling yet was from Alexandria to Cairo - 100 miles and arriving in the dark along potholed dual carriageways with no hard shoulder. Our Egypt leg is unfinished as we had to fly from Cairo, but we will return later this year.
A subtle low key approach to the Libyan border ended when Jon slammed the brakes on and we crashed into each other! At least it broke the ice. Our guide (more than a passing resemblence to Borat) was waiting, and we then cycled across one of our more adventurous countries. Desert camping, TV appearances, hospital visits, Libya certainly found a place in our hearts.
Arrived in Tunis at 11.30pm after a traumatic customs queue, not knowing where we were going, staying or even what the currency was. Not very clever! But an amazingly warm hearted country, getting used to everyone waving at us as we cycle through the towns along the east coast. And such an improvement on road surface to Italy!
750 miles through some beautiful sleepy French villages, down through the Rhone valley. Highlights included the stunning wine regions, lots of french bread & pain au chocolat, the first views of the sparkling mediteranean and the 15 miles of downhill bends leading into Nice. Lowlights included torrential rain, 50mph head winds, map issues and moody french truckers!