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Bicycle Luke in SE Asia – Letter to the Editor

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<- – Letter to the Editor from Bicycle Luke, a long term around the world bicycle traveler, who I rode a few days with in Hungary – ->

Hey Wade.

Finally got my act together to bring everyone up to speed with what ive been up to. Below is the email i sent out, so feel free to use anything from it on your travellogue if you wish.

I have now been back in Australia for a month and for too many reasons find myself avoiding sitting down to catch everyone up with what has been happening. It is really scary how fast the weeks roll by when you are back in the routine of a normal life. Four weeks on the road feels like such a long period of time, yet back at home I have not even found the time to write a simple email. I think i left you at the end of my time in Istanbul, so I will pick up from there. I will keep things snappy and let some photos tell the rest of the story.

Onwards from Istanbul and at the end of my European leg of my journey, I had ahead of me a month to explore the United Kingdom before meeting up with my cousin in Thailand. Everyone had told me how incredible the highlands of Scotland are, so my first task was to jump on a train and ride as far north as the rails would take me and begin riding back to London from there. I had over a week of perfect weather which allowed me to explore some truly beautiful places which might have otherwise been a tad miserable had it been raining. Of all the places I have traversed, Scotland has by far the most stunning scenery crammed into the smallest area. Everywhere you look you see water and hills. There are no moments where you ride along wishing you were 100kms ahead of where you are now. Its all good…

Of course I could not have spent time in the UK without a serious punishing from the weather, and the further south I travelled, the worse the punishment got. In the end it got the better of me and forced me back onto the train for the last crawl into London. On the plane and off to Asia…

I met my cousin, Reid, and we rode the train out of the chaos of Bangkok. Our plan was to ride in a big clockwise circle through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia before ending back in Bangkok. We found Thailand, Lao and Cambodia to be all relatively easygoing and enjoyable to ride. Plenty of great food, adventurous ruins and temples and happy faces waving as you go. The scenery changes slowly compared to Europe and there were times when it felt as though a motorbike might have been a more suitable ride as the kms dragged on.

Everything about Vietnam is chaotic and right up in your face. Horns blare, voices shout, people touch and prod. Of course the Vietnamese people don’t think that they are all that I have just described, its just me and my personal space bubble; fattened nice and wide from 23 years of cushy and comfortable Australian lifestlye. All of that aside, Vietnamese society is really quite fun! You always find yourself chatting, picnicking or playing some sort of game with a smiling face.

For the cycling traveler who enjoys open spaces and sleeping under the stars, South East Asia can feel a little restrictive. It is so easy to roam around rural Europe with only a compass pointing the way and nothing more to worry about. I found that in Asia, cheap accommodation is so much easier than roughing it that you do not make yourself camp out as much as you might like to. It is also much harder to find a piece of land or clump of trees in which to pitch a tent that does not already have some sign of civilisation engraved on it. Im sure it is there, you just might have to look harder.

Now, one might think that if I am writing a nice summarising email from the comfort of my home computer that I am done roaming about…. Definitely not! Time away from Australia has made me realise how little I have seen of my own country. So, in 3 days time I will load up the motorbike and hit the road again. The plan this time is to head clockwise around our coastline, occasionally dipping in towards the centre for a taste of the open road. The goal for this trip is to hop from one National Park to the next, camping out under the skies once again.

Pictures… Roll…

bicycle vietnam

Bicycle inspection Vietnam

christmas in vietnam

Christmas in Vietnam

fun in laos

Bicycle Luke having fun in Laos

Game in Vietnam

vietnam travel photo

Vietnam travel photo

asking permission to hang a hammock in asia with a drawing

Drawing of a hammock

mountains of laos

Mountains of Laos

bicycling down vietnam coast

Luke Bicycling on the Vietnam coast

water machine on street of thailand

Water machine in Thailand

Bicycle Luke travel update – March 2009

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Filed under: Letters to the Editor

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Polis, Republic of CyprusMap