A butt-wrenching bike ride from humble Belgium, southeast across Europe and Asia, finally ending up in China... How's that for a romantic honeymoon?
Amy and Wim are an American-Belgian couple who decided to go all out for their honeymoon. Since August 2007, they have been riding their bikes across Europe and Asia. So far, they have cycled some 8,700 kilometres, but there's more to come as they ride the final stretch from Laos to China.
Amy and Wim: Biking from Belgium to China for their honeymoon.
What inspired you to turn your honeymoon into a full-blown bike trip from Belgium to East Asia?
It all started with an inspirational book about intercontinental biking. After reading it, I knew that Wim and I were destined to bike across large land masses. So, I mentioned it to Wim, and he totally shot the idea down. "No, no, that's not realistic," was his only comment. So, for a few months I indirectly worked at changing his mind (subliminal messages, internet success stories, etc...) Then one day he came home from work and announced that we should go to the bike store. It was the moment I had been waiting for!
Had either of you done long-distance bike journeys before?
No. We had never done any biking before. We didn't even know about butt pain before we started. A few days before we left we visited another biker to see how he plans his routes, where he eats, what he wears... We had no clue! I can say that in those first two months we did some intensive learning.
When you set out, did you have a basic idea of your route? How much have you deviated from that?
From the beginning, we wanted to make it to China and we had a general idea of which countries we would cross in the process. However, because I'm American, I was not able to get a visa for Iran or Syria. Surprisingly enough, India also denied me entry. So, we have deviated quite a bit. But every country we have visited has been so interesting, that we don't have any regrets.
What have been some of the biggest challenges on your trip?
In the beginning, the biggest challenge was physical. But now that our muscles are trained and our behinds are calloused, the challenges change with the country. A different combination of diffuculties presents themselves at each border crossing (i.e. language, people, food, places to sleep, finding good maps, bad roads). And yet, that is exactly what makes it an adventure!
Cycling through Egypt.
How expensive is a trip like this?
Our budget is 30 dollars per day. In Europe this meant (wild) camping, cooking our own food, and pedaling our hearts out to make it somewhere cheaper. However, in cheaper countries, we are often able to keep our budget down to 10-15 dollars per day. An advantage of biking is that it is so economical!
What do you think are the main advantages of traveling by bike?
Definitely the fact that you visit all the "in between" places. Although judging from your guidebook there might be nothing to see in between two towns, you can bet on it you'll meet some interesting people, and have some kind of an adventure. With your bike, you really can't run away from any situation: when you arrive late at night in a small village without a hotel, you are simply forced to go find someone that will sleep and feed you. Those are the most memorable moments!
Has this been a bonding experience for you as a couple?
We were a little worried about literally spending at least 24/7 within a 6 foot radius of each other. But is has proven to be one big bonding experience. When something is wrong, there is no hiding it. When we are upset with one another, we have to deal with it right away. It's taught us a lot about ourselves and really strengthened what we have together.
Check out Amy and Wim's blog to read all about their trip.
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