A very difficult decision!

Virtually since the inception of this trip, it is the exotic and unknown lands of Central Asia that I have been most looking forward to. I’ve read countless tales of friendly, inquisitive locals, and incredible, adventurous landscapes. I knew when I left for the trip I would be arriving at winter, a problematic time, with chilly mountain passes up to 4,000+ metres covered in snow. I thought that if I went fast, I would be able to just avoid the beginning of winter and sneak into China.

3 things have happened over the past week that changed my plans.

A very friendly local piling me up with food!
A very friendly local piling me up with food!

 

Time Pressures

Since leaving Slovenia it has become amazingly clear I have left Western Europe and am approaching Asia; there is more liberal use of the horn, prices have dropped rapidly, and people seem to live a more simple, purposeful, hard-working way of life. Currently in Bosnia, I have passed close by minefields, been greeted by friendly locals, and seen a man drive by holding a 8 metre plank of plywood onto his roof with his left hand out the window. It really is a different way of life.

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BUT…

I have had to get to Istanbul, and then China quickly. I’ve been on the main roads, pushing the miles, with little chance to explore. I want to get to know these areas I am passing through, and don’t want to miss out on so much!

Injury

In Croatia, I cut my thumb with my penknife, very deep. Thankfully I bumped into bike trousers, one of

Sorry if squeamish! Like something from a horror movie...
Sorry if squeamish! Like something from a horror movie...

whom happened to be a nurse (the road always helps you meet the right person at the right time!), who bandaged it up. We went to hospital, who cleaned it and bandaged it up, before refusing to accept any money. It would however need fresh bandages everyday for 5 days. The bike tourer said I could stay with them on a campsite for a few days and they would help re-bandage it. And thus, I fell further behind schedule.

 

Two Crazy Germans

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I met a German couple cycling back from Singapore, along a very similar route to me, and they encapsulated the bike touring lifestyle for me; so friendly, full of life, taking it slow, choosing the adventurous backroads and savouring the places they were passing through. Like everyone, their tales of Central Asia were exciting, the highlight of their trip, and their pictures beautiful. They recommended I get on a bus/train immediately, or I would miss out on so much, or even find many roads impassable.

Some of their photos which helped my decision!

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Decision Time

I knew they were talking sense, and I didn’t want to maintain my current pace until January, but I didn’t like the idea of getting a bus or train to Istanbul. I was slightly worried many would view it as a failure, even though that’s not something I should be worrying about, but also I’d still be late in the season and have time pressures, and I also didn’t think I’d feel the same sense of achievement upon reaching Istanbul, having skipped much of Europe.

I tossed and turned all night considering the alternatives, even considering abandoning Asia for now, and turning south and heading for South Africa (still an option!). I thought about whiling away winter with a job in Turkey, but these were both problematic.

I reached a difficult decision:

I will cycle along my route to Turkey, at a more relaxed pace, really exploring and following an indirect, adventurous route, before leaving my bike there in October/November. I will then change the mode of adventure and (maybe) give it a shot hitch-hiking back to England, where I will get a job. In April, I will restart the adventure from Turkey, hitting everywhere at the best time, and hopefully with the money to extend the trip, into Australia, New Zealand or who knows where!

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I found it an incredibly hard decision to make, particularly splitting the trip up in such a way. I had fallen in love with the idea of cycling from my front door, and returning year(s) later a wizened and new person, but this plan makes more sense and enables more adventure.  I’m so excited for what lies ahead!

 

This is not the end of adventure, only the beginning!

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16 Replies to “A very difficult decision!”

  1. Hi Jo. Your decision sounds like the wise one. A few years ago I was the captain of a sporting event. A very long story short but the weather conditions changed and affected the safety of the entire team. Although we all wanted to go on it was the right decision to desist and return to be challenged another day. Life can be long game and we must sometimes play it like a game of chess.

    I hope you’ll come and see us during your intermission and entertain us with your stories. A comfortable couch awaits you!

    All the best, love Monty.

    1. A very wise lesson. Patience is definitely a virtue, and hopefully it pays off here! All the best!

  2. Gill Holden says: Reply

    The thought of not receiving any more blogs for a while leaves me feeling sad but it does make sense. You mention you were wishing to return in a year a wizened and new person but I think you are very wize now, it has been a difficult decision but one you have given thought to. I hope you enjoy the rest of your journey to Turkey. Istanbul is a wonderful city, try and spend some time there before you make your way back to England. I wish you well and April will soon be upon us and hopefully you will be able to. Continue your dream.

    1. Thanks Gill!
      Well, there will still be the occasional blog post on adventures back home, but as you say, April will come around quickly.and then I look forward to sharing the adventure with you once again!

  3. Margaret Smith says: Reply

    Think you have made a wise decision. Good luck x

    1. Thank You very much! Stay tuned 🙂 x

  4. Hi Jo, enjoying your blog and it makes good sense enjoying each country that you travel through, it’s also logical to wait for the passing of winter before moving on. Hope you enjoy the journey to Turkey. Take care. Love grandma and Grandadxx

    1. Hi there! Yes, I think it is the best decision! Means I’ll get to spend Christmas with you which will be a bonus too! Still plenty of fun and adventure to be had over the next few months though!

  5. Paul Gofton says: Reply

    Hi Jo ,

    Paul from Slovenia here, that injury looks nasty ! Glad it didn’t happen when we were sharing rooms as I don’t like the sight of other peoples blood
    I do have some pictures to send you not quite sure how to attach to this response so will send on to your Dad for him to send on.
    Hope the accommodation in Croatia was good
    I can believe the decision you made re carrying on at break need speed or taking more leisurely would have been a tough one.
    All I can say is you will know when you have made the decision if it is the right one.
    Look forward to reading more of your blogs

    Paul

    1. Thanks for your comment, and the pictures Paul! It’s a good job we didn’t have anything sharp in our room! Turns out I’m a hazard hehe!
      Appreciate the advice – I think I have made the best decision 🙂

  6. Emma Thomas says: Reply

    Jo, you have to do what is right for you and don’t spend another moment worrying about others views. They are not you and do not know how you think and feel. I know this is the right thing to do.
    Deferring the Asia leg of your tour will not make a difference. You can enjoy the end of this leg, come home to your family for Christmas, let the winter pass and continue in spring to Asia. Just take care during this final section of this leg, don’t cut anymore digits, stay vigilant and safe. All our love from the UK xx

    1. Your comment about not cutting off any more digits really made me laugh! You’ll be happy to know I’ve done a good job so far! There are positives in both options, and spending a Christmas at home with family and friends is definitely one of them!

  7. That’s a very honest & real post & I’m dead proud of you! We get so worried sometimes of being perceived by others as failures we don’t remain true to ourselves ~ not you.

    I’m sorry you are having a break in your journey …. NOT REALLY!!! Who the hell am I kidding!! It’s FANTASTIC that you’re going to be having a mini intermission & I can’t wait to see you & I know your friends will feel the same (although be warned, I’m not sharing you😉!).

    Jo, in the words of Dr Seuss “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

    Love you xx

    1. Thanks a lot! Appreciate the message, and it will be nice to have a Christmas at home! xx

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