Few thoughts about the world
I. Everywhere around the world people do what they think will maximise their happiness in the long term. Their actions differ only because social constraints are different. A woman in India marries a man picked by their parents when she is 18yo and spends her whole life raising kids because she knows not agreeing with her parents would make her life miserable and truly believes it’s the best for her. The same woman in Romania plans her studies and career because she can and she knows it is the best for her. There is no difference in motivation or mindset. Social habits and constraints are what steers people. Many people on the road did not understand how I could waste my life for cycling. For them, the right thing to do in life is going to work and starting a family. And that’s OK. I postponed my career and obligations for one year to make the trip happen and I am very grateful that I did.
II. It is great to live in Poland. We have free education. Someone from a poor family can still get the education, pick his/her life path and the success depends in great extent on making right decisions and working hard towards achieving your goals (with a bit of luck). It’s not the case in most Asian countries. In Uzbekistan boys in Nukus told me that they have a cap on salary, the government tells employers how much they can pay its employees. Kids are working for free for one month on cotton fields and 90% of profits from cotton goes to one ruling family. In Tajikistan over 50% of GPD is made out of illegal drugs smuggling from Afghanistan. Unemployment has been the high two-digit % since the creation of this country. These are just a few examples of how extractive economic and political situations prevail in most of the world and there is not much we could do about it. I recommend the book “Why nations fail”
III. The world is not as dangerous as you may think. What you think about many countries is not always true. Many people are curious whether cycling in Pakistan was safe. Pakistan was the 1st/2nd best country I have travelled. Policemen and local people went an extra mile to welcome me in the country. Police presence suggests that there may be some safety alerts there, but I never felt in danger and I never felt so warmly welcomed as in Pakistan. OK, there is a terrorist attack in Central Asia on tourists once per few years. But how many are in Paris or London? How many people die in Poland every year in a fight in a club after drinking? Don’t get fooled.
Few thoughts about travelling
I. Travelling by bike is awesome. Not only because I like to cycle, but because I actually pass the country and not transport myself among few dots called tourist attractions. From my experience, the most interesting situations happened on the road somewhere “in between”, the situations which would never happen if I took a backpack and go to a local bus or train.
II. When you cycle you have to split your time among four activities: cycling, meetings, resting, sightseeing. For me, this is the right order. I enjoyed cycling itself, but what I remember the most are not cycling moments but random meetings. I took a rest when I had to or if I really enjoyed the place where I was, e.g. Fairy Meadows, Wakhan Valley or Danube Delta. I resigned quickly from sightseeing. I could always go to famous tourist places in the future (I think retirement age is good for that) and I did not enjoy it.
III. There are some people who think that my trip was something “big”. I do not think so. I did not feel even for a moment that I am doing something big. I just connected many small trips in one big. And most of the time I just cycled. There is nothing unusual about it. You could spend your life doing something more productive. I could not because I enjoy cycling and travelling 😉 And I plan to repeat it in South America in 2-3years.
IV. What I liked about my trip at the beginning was that almost no one knew about it. After some time, I started writing a blog and post on Instagram. I quickly resigned from the first and reduced number of posts on the second. If you want to earn money on travelling, first of all: good luck, second: you are obliged to let the world know. But if you want to enjoy your life, there is no need for that. Instead make a small diary, 3minutes per day no more. Make it personal and focus on what you experience instead of constant sharing. I write a blog after getting to Poland and I will present the trip in a few places. Maybe I lost some details, but who cares.
V. If you pick a bicycle for travelling, get rid of a speedometer on your handlebar. Mount the distance counter somewhere to know how long you travel, but do not focus on things like average speed or daily distance. It will make you enjoy less and resign from many pleasant situations. Also, do not focus on making a nice footprint on the map. I made few strange things on the map: by resigning from Qolma Pass in China and cycling down to Kashgar, I made a small loop: for a week in Tajikistan I was passing 100kms from the place where I was in China. I could not even think how much I would regret taking this part (Karakorum Highway in China and the highest passes of Pamir Highway) out of the trip. I made a similar thing in Europe: instead of cycling on a boring highway across superhot Turkey, I took a ferry and spent the time chilling out on the Bulgarian coast and making a loop in Ukraine, which interested me much more than Turkey. On the map, it looks weird, but again: who cares?