This month, our featured member is Roger (aka Dodger), who is on a long-term, open ended trip that currently has him exploring Vietnam and Cambodia. I asked Roger a few questions about his current trip and his love for travel in general, and he was kind enough to post in from Saigon with his tales.
Roger in Nepal.
So you just got to Ho Chi Minh City last week, and your next step is to cycle to Cambodia. What inspired you to travel by bike?
Actually the plan was to rent a motorcycle in HCMC and ride up to see Dalat then over to Mui Ne and back to Saigon to drop off the motorcycle then pick up a bicycle, ride through the delta down to Phu Quoc then on over to Cambodia. I might have bitten off more than I can chew. As usual I've jumped into something only to realize it's not a simple 1-2-3 process. First strike was finding out that things have changed a bit in HCMC and motorcycle renters are now more reluctant to rent bikes for trips out of Saigon. I guess I could have lied and said I just wanted it for a local trip, or rented one of the cheaper crappy bikes I was offered, but the buses are so simple and cheap I decided to just jump on a bus to Mui Ne.
Because of a previous commitment to a race in New Zealand and the ticket I already had bought last year for a flight to India, it means I have 4 weeks for both Vietnam and Cambodia. I'm limiting myself to only southern Vietnam and even less in Cambodia. Even so the time is already flying past. I left my big backpack in Kuala Lumpur, so I could travel light here. But trying to get everything into my daypack, it's now overstuffed and bulky and will be a pain to carry on a bicycle. I can probably figure something out, but my biggest problem is I'm running out of time. Even limiting myself to the south of Vietnam on this trip it's difficult to get everywhere and see everything without it being a rush, and I hate traveling like that. The bike ride isn't totally out of the question, but I need to make a decision here really quick if I am going to try and do it. My inspiration? I have met a number of travelers on bikes, and since biking has always been a big part of my life I thought I really ought to try traveling by one.
Have you ever done a long-distance bike trip like this before?
I've never done a long distance tour, but I've raced bikes for years, so cycling has always been something I enjoyed and doing 3 hour races at a fast pace seems like I should be reasonably prepared for a tour pace. Just thought it would be a nice way to see the country and it's such an approachable way to meet with the locals.
I was looking at the map for your current trip and noticed you've titled it: "I don't know where this one will end"... Sound mysterious! Are you playing this trip by ear, or do you have a rough idea of where you want to go?
Well this trip is actually still a continuation of my current trip that I'm 2 years into. I don't have a firm plan of where it's all going to end and this current segment was going to leave me in India in October. I keep going back to New Zealand for their summer, partly because I bought a campervan there and my bikes are there. I'm a bit of a creature of habit and even with travel I find I'm going back to the same countries over and over. That's not always a bad thing. I enjoy getting to see different parts of a country or seeing the same place but in a different season. It's also nice to meet up with local friends I've made. But in the back of my mind I'm always feeling I should try new places too. When I planned this segment I was trying to make a decision about if I should return again to New Zealand, I'd sort of left things open as to where it would end.
Your first trip was when you were nineteen. Where did you go on that trip?
I told my parents I was going for a 2 week holiday to America and visit my brother who had emigrated there. In my head I had a plan to travel the world and not go back to England.
Looking back, do you think that first trip had a big impact on your life? Or more generally, how much do you think travel has affected your outlook on life?
It completely changed my life. Setting out on that first trip back in 1982, I used to meet all these great people that were backpacking around the world. Most of us didn't have a penny to our name, but getting work was much easier back then. The more I traveled and the more people I met the more I was inspired to keep going. It also becomes very difficult to stop wanting to see more places once you start. I traveled all over the US and even though I sort of settled down in America, it never felt completely like it was my home. I always dreamed of finishing what I started out to do. For a number of reasons I was stuck in the US and couldn't leave. So there I stayed for 27 years! until i finally decided to up end my entire life and hit the road again. Haven't regretted it yet.
Check out these past interviews in the Talking Travel series:
- Talking Travel with Derek Logan
- Talking Travel with Lynn and Paul
- Talking Travel with Tom Rhombus
- Talking Travel with Grant Gibbs
- Talking Travel with Claire and Chuck
- Talking Travel with Brendan Harding
- Talking Travel with Jennifer Johnson
- Talking Travel with Sander
- Talking Travel with Rob and Pol
- Talking Travel with Michael Johnson
- Talking Travel with Izzy and Marisa
- Talking Travel with Marlis
- Talking Travel with Gretchen
- Talking Travel with Andrew and Courtney
- Talking Travel with Purdy
- Talking Travel with Maria
- Talking Travel with Niels
- Talking Travel with Amy and Wim
- Talking Travel with Hien
- Talking Travel and HIV/AIDS in India with Dave Reidy
- Talking Travel with Utrecht