Tous les articles par Antoine

Back in Cambodia / Retour au Cambodge

I planned to spend one month in France, I spend three… Returning during the hollidays, I was expecting to eat very well, and I was counting to loose those small kilograms in few days. Except that I stay three month in France, eating like if I was cycling 100 kilometers a day,.. So, the verdict was irrevocable, the 10 kg weight lost on last two years came back… 2016, March 20th. I’m back in Phnom Penh, still hosted by Raphael et Claudi (see previous article) who accepted to keep my bicycle and my bags all that time… A huge thank you to them for their hospitality.

Returning on road has been difficult, , first, because between December and March, temperatures get upper, my first three days, they get up to 47°C (117°F) on my bike (also due to reverberation of the new road), I added to that a lack of hydration, and we get a nice sunstroke. So my first two days in Sieam Reap, have been dedicated to get back in shape, drink, drink, and drink again (water, of course). Once back, let’s go to visit the famous Angkor archeological site, the cradle of the Khmer empire. Faithful to the rest of the tourist areas of the country, the site in invaded from 5am (everybody goes to the famous Angkor temple). Making it well, it’s still possible to visit the site quietly up to 10am, like 90% of visitors follow the same route in the same direction, starting at the same time 🙂 So, in taking a little in advance (and avoiding the first temples) it’s ok, but the heat is still there, and temples quickly are overcrowded (Oh! I recognize here and there, chinese groups and their mass tourism, still invasive and disrespectful). I finally visit the site on two days, but I don’t keep a strong memories of these temples. The site is too tidy, with too marked and organized treks that don’t leave place for discovering it by yourself.

Finally, I visited temples like everybody, in the same order, at the same time (I had just 5min in advance on most of the people). I felt I had to visit temples mechanically instead of what, I could be drowned among Chinese umbrellas and speakers …

Now, direction Laos, the border is not so far…


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A trip to Cambodia / Un petit tour au Cambodge

I get back on my trips and go back in Cambodia
Arriving from Vietnam, I don’t have realy choice, I have to go through Phnom Penh, the capital. I still love so much big cities, so I find a nice place to stay with Raphael and Claudi, two german cyclists working for a NGO in Phnom Penh, they live in a small village on the other side of the Mekong river, this place is perfect to avoid crowded places and people while enjoying a stunning river views, just down of the garden. However, I’ll pass quickly there, the next day, I take the direction of Takeo, a hundred km south.

I get back in time. In may 2015, whereas she was still in France, Marion met on her road, Gilles, a french cyclist. Gilles sponsoring a young Cambodian girl in a child care center (Orphans and children from families in difficulty) in Cambodia. Learning that we’ll arrive in Cambodia around christmas, he ask us if we accept to get in the center to give a small gift to his goddaughter, Srey Penh. It is with pleasure that we accepted.

Here am I, on the road to Takeo.
Arriving there, I met Chanthy, a former resident of the center, who become a French teacher now. She’ll help me for translation.
These few days in Takeo are occasion to met Srey Penh and her friends from the center, to participate to an english course with her class, as well as going to visit her mother in a small village, 20km far from Takeo.
Well, a short stay rich in sharing and strong emotions, in total immersion with Cambodians

Back on the road, for the next days, I planed south of Cambodia:
Kept, a small nice city on the seaside, full of tourists and hammocks along the road. However out of town, I found an abandoned field overlooking the sea, perfect for me !
Kampott, city famous for its pepper (considered like one of the best in the world) it’s occasion for me to discover a bit more about pepper culture, and I realised that we met fields of it in Vietnam, without knowing what it was. I also discovered that from the same seed, we can make all peppers. Green (Picked in early maturity), black (picked in early maturity, then dried under the sun), red (mature harvested) or white (red pepper, soaked in water for several days, washed and dried) …

I planed to continue through Sihanoukville, famous for its nice beaches, and it’s turquoise water, but the cyclists I met are unanimous, the city is overgrown by tourism, to flee … So I continue my road to Koh Kong. From here, let’s go for 200 km of dirt track in mountains. It’s probably one of the most difficult track I cycled up to there, with gradient over 14% (So I discovered that over 13% my bike is rocking back… Anyway, 14% on track, it’s time to push my bike). For the rest it’s 3 wonderful days, alone in the middle of the Cardamome Mountains. I just cross a small village, along a lac, but I’ve been hosted here wonderfully, with a house only for me, to put my tent, and dinner offered by my one day host family. Next days, it’s the same, red track, blue sky and wonderful green vegetation. For me it’s remains the most beatiful place in Cambodia.

I had planned to go visiting Angkor temples, but two german cyclists informed me that it was possible to make myanmar visa in Phnom Penh for only 30$ in three days. So if I can avoid to go in Bangkok only for that… I change my plans and get back to Phnom Penh. I’ll see temples later.

Here I’m back to Raphael and Claudi’s place. While my visa application is running, I suddenly decided to get back in France, just to spend the Christmas and New Year with family and friends… Not time to think about it, I take the first flight back. I get my passport at the Burmese embassy and I go to the airport.

41 hours later (including 17 of stopover in Singapore and 6h in Jeddah), here I am, in Paris. 🙂

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Two month in Vietnam / Deux mois au Vietnam

From Hạ Long to Hô-Chi-Minh

Short stay in Vietnam, after two month in China. We are happy to finally pass the border, and arrive in South-East Asia.

We main change is welcome from local people, here a smile call an other one, kids with bike join us after school, trying to communicate with their few english words. Our first feelings are quite positive.
In the north, we found mainly rice fields out out of sight, and more we go south, more crops are diversified, now we have coffee, peper, cassava and hevea (rubber tree)
So ,it’s a bit difficult to find places for camping in the north.

Our first stop will be at the Ha Long Bay, more exactly in the Lan Ha Bay, not classified by UNESCO, it is less touristy and very similar to Ha Long.
For that, we go to the small Cat Ba island, where we found Colline and Mathieu that we met at Yangshuo (China). We decided to rend kayak to visit by ourselves the bay, we also get with us our tent to go to sleep on a lost beach of that bay.
Lost between many island, and floating villages, this bay is magic, but a tropical storm is approaching, we have to get back earlier than expected .
Next we get the « motorised » option to visit rest of the island, with motorbike.

Then we take Hà Nội direction, Vietnamese capital. The idea was to make a visa extension, but we arrive too early, our visa have too long validity, impossible to extend it here… Meanwhile, we don’t realy found interest to this city, most of people move with scooter, so street are full, creating traffic jams of motorbike. Here we can go up to two, three, four, five and even six on only one scooter, here, if there is place, you can go. So, we remains quitely on our bikes, then we get back on the south road.

In Vietnam, there is two main roads:
Road 1, which go from Hà Nội to Hô-Chi-Minh, following the coast, and the HCMR (Hô-Chi-Minh Road) which follow the same direction, but more in the inlands, these two main axes are too big for us, so we use small and quiter roads

More in south, we go  to Tam Coc, a nice place, but for us, it looks too much to Yangshuo that we’ve seen in China. We still take time to visit a bit before continuing our way to south.

A bit more in south, we arrive at Dong Hoi, we have to make a forced break, Marion have problems with her lens contact (due to dusty roads). So here it’ll be before all, rest. Then, now me are here, we rend a scooter, to go to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National park, and visiting one of its caves. It’s in this park that in 2009, the world biggest cave has been discovered. (Sơn Đông cave, is 5 km deep, 200m high and 150m wide), but the expedition is around 3000 $us, so we shall merely visit Dộng Thiên Đường cave (also known as « Paradise cave »), discovered in 2005.

From Dong Hoi, I quickly go to Danang, to request our visa extension, it’s on our way, we’ll get back there in few days.

Then we arrive in Hội An, a small city, with well preserved colonial style, the street atmosphere at night is very nice, and has the advantage of being a few kilometers from the sea, and its surroundings are well suited for cycling. We’ll stay one week there.

Next step is Kon Tum, small village lost in mountains, Around it, are several small villages of ethnic minorities. Thanks to Banh, a contact in Vietnam, we discovered more about ethnic minorities, although not realy respected by the governement. We spent two days over there, but our visa reminds us it’s already time to go.

From this moment, things start to get complicated…
1. We are close to Laos and Cambodia’s border, and this area is forbidden to tourist (we still don’t understand why). , However, after 15km of descent, a military announce us that we have to get back, back to our starting point and climb these 15km… It attack troop morale.
2. Next day, we take a « shortcut » and most of all, a road to avoid too much elevation, it’ll prove that it was a bad strategy. Our road become track, then we cross water, then rivers, track become mud then sand… Here no more choice, we have to push.
Late afternoon, people we met tells us that we are on wrong way, they show us the good one but our GPS is like us… lost in the middle of nowhere and sand still is there. So it’ll be pushing on next 15km. We miss time to join next willage (and we don’t know how far it is) and night came, so we sleps in the jungle tonight, hoping to find a village tomorrow (we are missing water, so we’ll apreciate it). It’ll be done next day, after 10km.

After few days, we enter in Buôn Ma Thuột, small city lost in one of the most important region for caffee production (Vietnam is second productor of coffee worldwide, after Brazil). So, difficult not to test the local coffee, and I have to admit that it is good. Nothing to compare with european coffee, first because it is roasted with cocoa beans which gives it a slight chocolate flavor, and also because here it is drunk iced and with sweetened condensed milk … delicious!

From here, we decided to take a bus, the team is exhausted, gradient too hight, we’ll arrive directly in Ho Chi Minh city in few days.

In Vietnam, we found some traces of french dated from Indochine. On the roadside, some nice Michelin kilometer marker give us some precious informations about next village, we also found with pleasure, baguette, quite the same as the french one, it’s just a bit smaller, but the taste and crispness are there.

So, last days in Ho Chi Minh, it’s time for us to separate with Marion.
After seven month cycling, she decided to came back in France, not to stop all trip, but only cause she wanted to have a break.
Next start, when, how ? I hope our roads will cross again.
About me, I go back on the road, direction Cambodia.

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Japan – China, the big gap / Japon – Chine, le grand écart

There is two month that I arrive in China, today I just start writing this paper, and I wonder, What have I seen, what I liked ? What I’ll keep in memory ?
So difficult to answer these questions, I remains a bit confused about China.

China has been a cultural choc, maybe more difficult because we arrive there from Japan. Few month ago I was still thinking those two country so similar!
True, they both have slanting eyes, but to be honest there is nothing more!

On one hand in Japan, shop’s welcome might look a bit excessive: two hello, six thank you and three goodbye, on the other hand in China you can forget “hello”, “goodbye” and any smile!

Japan was beatiful for its green countryside, and its rivers, in China, we are lucky cause they have a lots of rivers more or less everywhere, but there is no way I go to swim on it, streams are so polluted. One time, I’ve seen a dead piglet floating on it while I was washing… Even if I have to admit, after a day cycling on 40°c, if we found a river with a bit less plastic and rusty cans, we are going there…

About drinking water, in Japan you just have to open a street tap, to refill your bottles, in China, most of groundwater are polluted (more than 60% are, some with arsenic), so even the tap water is not recommended for drinking. Fortunately we found “Sinopec” and “uSmile” two gas station a bit everywhere in the country, they became our best friends. We stopped there at least two times a day to empty a bit their drinking water stock (or from gallon or boiled water), but it was also a good opportunity to have a break out of sun and eat a bit.

About roads, its the same, in Japan, I could imagine to eat on the floor, in China, I don’t cycle anymore without my glasses, not for the sun, but because there is too much dust. I don’t look anymore sides of road, it’s full of rubbish 🙁 Chinese don’t care at all about their nature, and a piece of grass will become a trash, more than a garden).
Moreover, we can note that they have an excellent primary road network.

On road, Japanese are very careful, they don’t overtake me if they don’t have two meters between me and their car, in China, they are honking 300 meters before, and to stay alive it’s better to move.
Here it’s a free interpretation of traffic laws, It’s the law of the strongest: trucks > vans > motorbike > scooters > bicycle > pedestrian… So, yes, we are quite nothing compare to motorized (and polluters) vehicles, but we still keep a bit of authority over pedestrians :). Here horn means everything “hello”, “warning”, “get out”, and sometime nothing, they looks liking to use it… but when we cross over 800 trucks a day (and more than 1500 cars, honking too) you finish your days with an aspirin.

The last difficult thing in China, is politeness, Chinese spend their time to take picture of us, from their car, motorbike, or on sidewalk. Once, it could be ok, but in reality, it’s more fifteen times a day, and of course, not even a “hello”, “thank you” or a smile (Chinese remains true to himself), just a car window opening, a camera out, and a car gone.
And even when we take time to explain them that we don’t want they take us a picture, they say they understand and put away their camera, but as soon you turn back they take it out, take a picture and go…

So, it’s a bit difficult to stay positive in this Chinese world.

Fortunately, there are some nice places, Yes, we found two, on over 25000 kilometers.

Huang Shan (also known as “Yellow Mountains”), is a great natural park, classified on UNESCO world heritage list (since 1990), so I have to translate: Entrance 35€ + bus (5€) + cable car (15€ each) + expensive gift shops and water overpriced! So we paid the entrance, then we walked.
Lost among hundreds of Chinese tourist, hard to find a track, but the good thing is the Chinese is not very patient (he walk, take a picture, and move to the next crowded picture sight). Whereas waiting few minutes and the veil of fog where mounts are hiding, slowly get out, and leave a magic place appears. The pictures speak for themselves.

1200 km far away, we arrive in Yangshuo, small village lost between hundreds of karst mountains, Here we find Joana and Christophe, friends of Chloé, Marion’s sister. We join them in their guesthouse where we met Mathieu and Colline (two french backpackers, here for volunteering) and Pauline and Akio, two others backpackers. Very nice atmosphere, drinks, walks, and climbing during these days. All are going to South East Asie, so maybe our wheels will cross their backpack again.
Meanwhile, we had a good week there, just time to receive our Vietnamese visa, So just 800 km to get out of China.

I know that this paper is not very positive about China, but the country is so huge, that we had to make choices, why not coming back and going to Sichuan and Yunnan, two nice regions that many backpackers recommend us, but for us it was 2000 km more this time, so, maybe next.

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Immersion in Japan / Immersion au Japon

It’s been two month that I’m in Japan, It was for me the opportunity to share Japanese daily life, living a bit with locals without my bike.
While arriving here, I had two objectives: make a new passport (my current one is full of visas) and asking for my Chinese visa. Meanwhile, I wanted to visit Yohann, a French friend living here since around ten years. I hadn’t seen him since 2002
Small story about Nippon’s life

Barely down of the ferry linking Korea and Japan, that I meet Mizuki. He just came to talk with me while I was eating on a bench. I planned cycling a bit today, but when he invite me to his home, I find this proposition much better than cycling…
One hour later, I’m relaxing in a deck chair, under a warm sun with a fresh beer in my hand… No, Japan, couldn’t start better. On top of that, tonight it’s BBQ with Mitsuko’s parents, his wife and kids and some of his neighbors.

Few days later as I was Leaving Shikoku island to join Honshu (the main island), a man came to me on the ferry, His name is Jiro and he is living on Shōdoshima island.
He belongs of WWOOF program (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), so this is naturally that he proposes me coming to his farm.
Barely down of ferry at Shōdoshima, I took direction of his small farm… it climbs slightly but it’s a happiness getting a shelter (it rains for three days) and having a warm shower. Tonight I also have my own bedroom and a true bed. To top it all, we eat some vegetables of the garden deliciously cooked by his wife and, Oli and Ploy, two English who came to give a hand for few days.

Unfortunately I cannot stay long time there, I have to be in Kyoto in two days to redo my passport. So, next day, I’m back on the road.

Quick passing through Kyoto. Hard to visit the city due to my bicycle and all my luggage, so I decided to have a rest in a park, waiting the evening where I’m supposed to meet Koki my host.
While I was resting, I met Toako, who intrigued by my bike start, as she can conversation, with a mix of Japanese, English and Spanish… I’ll meet her again in the afternoon, while leaving the park.

Next day, while I was visiting a bit Kyoto (enjoying to leave my bike at Koki’s place) a car honks me, It’s Toako again, this time she invite me on her Mexican restaurant, not so far from the place I was. So tonight to change on pasta, it’ll be mexican salad, tacos, burritos, paella and home made mango yogurt…

Next destination: Iijima.

In Iijima, I meet, Yohann, a French friend who have found happiness in Japan (His wife and their 3 kids). It make 13 years that I haven’t seen him, so I couldn’t imagine coming in Japan without coming there.
No really plans while coming there, I’m here for an unknown duration… I still have 3 weeks waiting before my passport arrive in Tokyo, so I enjoy. My bedroom is Japanese style with sliding doors and tatami on the floor, and of course i slept on a futon.
About communication, Yohann is my translator, and fortunately, cause just arrived, press is already there…It owe me three articles in the press and a meeting with the mayor.

After all, I stayed two weeks there, just time I was needed to clean and dry my stuff, cause with humidity everything start to mold and smelling very bad. It’s also occasion to clean my bike. And of course occasion to get out a bit, meeting new people and visiting Nagano province. A huge thank to Yohann for these two weeks.

My passport is arrived in Kyoto, it should follow in Tokyo so it’s time for me to leave.

On my way I pass by Tokyo airport before going to Tokyo. There I meet Marion, she is arriving from Italy with Fol’Dingo her bicycle. After a bit more than 2500 km in France and Italy, she took a flight to Japan, so we’ll continue together. Up to where, when ? Like with Amir, the future will tell.

My solo adventure is over after a bit more than one month, but it’s with pleasure that I leave with Marion.

In Tokyo, we are first hosted by Roman, a Romanian who teach Japanese literature… then we move at Mio’s place, a friend of Aya that I met one year ago in Istanbul, this is also a good opportunity to see Aya. Then we move to Kazu (Kazumoto) and Tomo’s place where we met Tom, an Australian cyclist and the Saito’s family (owner of Kazu’s home)
Tom get back on the road next day, we stay a bit with Kazu and Tomo, waiting for our Chinese visa. While waiting, we visit Tokyo and in the evening, play with Mr. Saito’s daughters.

As soon as we get our Chinese visa, we can go, but a typhoon is in approach, so we stay one day more. The typhoon season is there, weather is wet and hot. Next typhoon is already in approach from Japan

Small bend to call on Yohann before leaving his paradise island, we take the opportunity to send back in France a box with some useless stuff… Still 9 Kg!
We also book our ferry to Shanghai, it leaves Osaka 31st, which should be ok to join Osaka if the typhoon leaves us, but nothing is sure.

Daily, temperatures get over 40°c, humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, we sweat, we tights. Today around end of morning, we ended last pass of the day, this afternoon, it’ll be downhill only, so let’s have a break close to a very small lake, but under shadow of course.
While were having a rest, a woman came to us talking in French, it’s Emi, a Japanese woman, she learned French in Africa. She is living close to here and came to see us for talking a bit (after her neighbor warn her that he have seen a French flag on bicycles). She invites us to her place, and it’s with her husband, neighbor and their kids that we have lunch today
Unfortunately our ferry is booked in Osaka, we haven’t time to stay there longer. But it was really a nice meeting. Thanks Emi

We are almost in Osaka, but tonight, weather is getting bad, we have to find soon a place to camp, all right, it’ll be close to a dam (well, not so close). For shower we are going little bit upper on the river. While Marion was having her shower in the river we met a woman, walking with her dog. I think she had pity of us, regardless, she propose us to have a « true » shower at her place, not so far. Let’s go.
We are arriving to Takeki and Kazumi’s place, not really time to sit down, that we have a meal ready.

Finally they invite us for sleeping on a true bedroom, for them, the riverside looks too dangerous for us… We leave only the next morning after a good night and super breakfast. Osaka is not so far.

Beyond these meetings, and moments shared, Japan is a green island, where as soon you get out of city, you can get lost in mountains, cycling up and down, and up and down again… So as soon as possible I left main roads to get lost in this jungle, taking roads as small as possible and all right for gradient. This is the way I discovered japan, alternating between rice plantation landscapes and forests, rivers and temples lost in mountains here and there…
But for that pictures tell more than words.

And some pictures of Tokyo

Now, direction Shanghai…

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from bike trail to bike lane / De piste en piste

Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar) – Sandy trail side

After 1800 Km in Mongolia, here we are, in Ulaanbaatar (the capital).
We don’t really have time to waste, we have a flight in two days for South Korea, so we have to find quickly a bike cardboard and making them getting inside.
In UB, we’re hosted by Sebastian, a Warmshower, whom we transform the living room into our bike disassembly workshop. Even with small cardboard, everything finally squeeze inside, on weight side… we’ll see at the airport.

We’re lucky, MIAT, the national flight company is not very fussy about our luggage, we get our bikes registered with a “light” overweight (15 kg more for mine), same for checked baggage (25 kg instead of 20 kg). On Cabin baggage side, it’s more 12kg than the reglementary 5 kg…
We did have the right to visit the airport basement to empty our bags, some of our objects seem to worry customs checks: Stove, bicycle chain, Spray, bike tools, … Nothing serious, just enough to lose an hour. In short, everything ends up going well and we take-off to Seoul.

Korea (Seoul) – Bike lane side

Here either, no time to waste, we have to find a new host for tonight, the one we had, just had cancel our request 🙁
We’re lucky, we have Internet at the Airport and in some clics and mails, we find a new place for tonight. Good !

Now, we have to leave the airport. Our bike are quite well mounted (but we’ll see that later). Here we are on one of the two roads leaving the airport island. No realy time to enjoy it, we get arrested by police just after few kilometers, « bike are forbidden here… ». We suspected it a bit, but we didn’t realy have choice. Now we had a choice, staying to negotiate or to turn back and go to take the subway (we tried the first option, and finally use the second one). Here the subway have been designed also for cyclists, so no problem for us.

South Korea is a paradise for cyclists. Governement recently invest on 4000 km of bike lanes, they are all new and infrastructures are awesome. All along of the 600 km crossing the country, we found toilets (still with paper), drinking water point,  shadow, bike parkings, wifi, and even some showers and free campsites (with better standing than we found in Europe).

On mountain side, no problems, cause we have our own tunnels (just for cyclists) through it. For camping, we were told « Here, no one will tell you yes, but no one will tell you no… » so we don’t ask and we camp a bit where we want… without any problems.

About all the rest, we follow the « 4 river trail », a bike friendly itinerary through the country, from Seoul to Busan (633 km). Befort going on that one, we get a « bike passeport » that we can stamp all along the trail.
This is it, a big change that coming from Mongolian sand trail to Korean bike trail.

Besides we haven’t really visited the country (except Seoul city), it is one of the disadvantages of cycle routes, we get many advantage of the infrastructure, but we probably lack beautiful meetings with local …

Special thanks to Jieun and Jinju for their last minute hospitality in Seoul 🙂

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Mongolia: The challenge / Mongolie : Le défi

It’s been long time that Mongolia was on my wish list of countries to visit. Even without knowing exactly why, this country has always attracted me.
More I come closer, and more I understand that it wouldn’t be as easy as I wished. Mongolia will be a challenge, physical as well psychological than mechanical.

Unlike as many people think, no, Mongolia is not an altitude plateau. There is even no more than 2 consecutive flat meters. Here, you climb up or get down…
We come in Mongolia by south-east, from China. The road is good, low mountains make an idyllic décor, We cross end of Altai to join the Gobi Desert. Everything is beautiful, asphalt road, everything’s gonna be ok

But that, was before.
But it was too nice to stay longer, Mongolia is more than 80% of unpaved road, so one day, we have to go on it, we leave our nice road and take the first trail on our right. This trek is still good, now we are following our instinct, every 500m our trail is divided by two (or more) so we are following a kind on overall cape that we correct more or less at the following intersection.
It’s difficult to know exactly where we are going to, we are searching some marks on the horizon, but mountains limit it to the next 300m. So as we can, we are looking far away, the first village, helped by our two GPS and a paper map (but no one is coordinated with the other).

We are obliged to cross all villages on our road, or, rather, making our road crossing all villages possible (these one are sometimes distanced than more than hundreds of kilometers) cause we don’t have more than two day of autonomy in water (17 liters for Amir and me).
So, in each village is the same scenario, we are looking the well (cause there are no life without water, each village is on a water source and have it own pump for the community) and we refill in water for next days, it doesn’t seem but it’s almost 10kg more each…
However, accepted in the north of the Gobi desert, we haven’t been more than one cycling day of the closest village.

Hundred faces landscape.
Kilometers goes, landscapes too, everyday they are different. We started by these old mountains that finish the Altaï to come in the Gobi desert (well, just a small part in north). Then we come inside lands and sandy mountains, more we go, and more they became earthy and green before seeing first trees apparaître. Then trees become slowly forest…
All that in a spring décor where grass grew up everyday making steppes greener every mornings.

It goes or… break !
We knew that Mongolia will put our bike within their lines, already tired by our firsts 15000 km, we make care of our bikes, but it was not enough.
Dust, sand’s tempête, cold get right of our bikes, and start killing team moral.

Resume of that we broke :
1 rear suspension (Antoine)
1 bag (Amir)
2 bags fixation (Amir)
1 chain support (Antoine)
2 bottom bracket (Amir + Antoine)
1 chainring (Antoine)
1 freewheel (Amir)
+ Our shoes, that disembowel a bit more everyday.

And all that in barely five days ! Fortunately we had (quite) everything to fix it.
(A special thought to Amir, who make last 800km without freewheel… My cycling friends will empathize!)

And when it’s not mecanic, the weather is in. We cross desert on almost 50°c on day, without and small piece of shadow to protect us during our lunch. Few days later, whereas we were more in the country, we wake up with almost 30 cm of fresh snow on the road, our bikes were already heavy, they become even more when we have to deal with fresh snow and push it.

Fortunately, it stays humans.
Fortunately in that story,like almost, it stays peoples. Mongols are a nomadic people, very welcome and warm.
All along our stay we’ve seen here and there some yurt, most of time with a  herd, where sheep and goat are playing together. As well, that even with immensity of this country (Mongolia is countries with the lowest density in world, with less than two people by km2), we never feels realy lost.
It’s difficult to camp close to a yurt without being invited for the night (and when it’s snowing outside, we can’t refuse). This habitat offers a very rudimentary comfort, but, by the way, it make it an undeniable charm…
What about Mongols themselves, they are incomparably sympatic, discret, and respectfull. Still a bit curious when the see our mecanic mounts getting on their land. When through their long view (they used to keep an eye ont their herd) they can see us, they came to speak a bit, saying hello, and gone.

Mongolia is one of the best countries I’ve crossed up to now, but also one of the most difficult. I’ll get back for sure, to see the northern part, and see again all these mongols. But probably more at the autumn, when rivers furrow the country.

Now I have to fix my bike, then get back on the road.

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