Why We’re Going Back to Central Asia

We admit it. It’s confusing. Today, we boarded a plane in Hanoi to fly back to Central Asia. We’ll suddenly go from being 2,000 kilometers and a straight shot up the pacific coast from Shanghai, to being over 6,000 kilometers of frozen tundras and 12,000 foot mountains away from Shanghai.

Seems like a reasonable decision right? This post is to explain why.

I’ll start with a brief history. The Central Asia question originally dates back to August of last year, when we arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia after cycling 4,000 kilometers from Paris. At that time we realized we were stuck. We couldn’t go through Iran because we heard they’re not too keen to give Americans tourist visas right now. And we couldn’t go through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan because it was getting into winter — the mountains would be frozen over.  Logistically, it wasn’t possible for us to continue cycling East without taking a plane somewhere.

So we decided to hop on a plane to India, and made a pact we would return to central Asia the next spring when we could make it through the ‘Stans without becoming human popsicles. The trip would be split into three parts:

  1. March 2012 to August 2012 Paris to Tbilisi
  2. August 2012 to June 2013 Mumbai to Hanoi
  3. June 2013 to December 2013 Tbilisi to Shanghai


View Postulate One Itinerary in a larger map

Now I know what some of you are thinking. What’s the point – haven’t we cycled enough? And to be honest, we held our own doubts about the plan as recently as two months ago, even after we bought our plane tickets. After so much time on the road, we worried about spending more time together in isolation, as well being able to fulfill both goals of this project– cycling and reporting. Would there even be anything to write about in Uzbekistan, or would it just be days and days of cycling, black bread and vodka, and sleeping in yurts? The idea wasn’t particularly appealing.  It almost fell apart.

Then something changed. We got close to Shanghai.

Three months away from potentially finishing, it struck us that we’re not ready for Postulate One to be over yet. As tired as we are, as lean as we are, as much as we miss home, we realize this project is just too damned special to cut short. Not only do we have the means to do Central Asia (thanks to all our lovely supporters), but we’ve got one last adventure in us. Getting close to the end has revitalized us. Over the next seven months we’re going to need it; the final chapter of our trip includes boarding a cargo ship to cross the Capian sea; traversing the wind-swept plains of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan; and braving the elements of Tajikistan’s fabled Pamir highway. We think it best to end things with a bang.

Besides, I will get the irrational satisfaction of claiming we actually rode from Paris to Shanghai. (Half jokingly, I’m tired of telling people that we took a plane to India and then hearing “oh that’s cheating.”) And Morgan is excited to seek out more feature stories in the most challenging of circumstances yet.

What excites both of us the most however, is the enigma of Central Asia itself. We have no idea what we will find there, and that is what fascinates us.

To Mom and Dad: we’ll be seeing you in Shanghai on December 23st. Just in time for Christmas.

Bike Touring, Journalism, Travel Adventures, Permalink

5 Responses to Why We’re Going Back to Central Asia

  1. Ilya Libin says:

    Good luck guys! it is never too much cycling :)

  2. Jonathan says:

    “…we’re not ready for Postulate One to be over yet”

    Nor are we! This is one of the happiest lines I’ve read on this site. This is truly a positive note to know that you’re not getting sick of it and that you are as excited as the rest of us to see you take on the next adventure and grow in ever more diverse ways.

  3. pH says:

    (Nicely said, Jonathan)
    So, as this is written, I just got word you landed in Tbilisi…and that one of the really striking reaction you had was….”wow…so many caucasian…”
    One of the things I didn’t read in your explanation is…what’s your schedule in the Stan’s…And I believe from Morgan’s comments that a big part of the first time segment will be invested in waiting rooms of embassy admin offices, securing the plethora of visas needed for the whole passage. I believe that part of the logistics of this leg could make for both interesting and amusing reads. I’m looking forward to some accounts of that process, if I may make that request.
    Re: Shanghai Dec 23rd. Glad to hear your ‘rents are on board. It will be a fun pa’tee..I’ll make personally sure of it.

  4. VETA says:

    ride on riders and write on writers!

  5. tomas says:

    Wish I could join you guys! Good luck on the plains of Middle East!

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