On Wednesday 9 July we flew out of Sydney on the first leg of our journey home. This meant packing up the tandem: cardboard bicycle boxes, padding and cable ties were procured and it took about three hours, but so far John’s dismantling and wrapping method has ensured that the tandem emerges intact after a flight. Packing the other things was easier, although we had accumulated a few extras during our time in Sydney, including jars of Vegemite for Atul and Amanda with whom we are staying in Singapore for a few days (they came to meet us in Vientiane). Tonight we fly to Rome and head up to Umbria for a Taylor family reunion, followed by the annual Kennedy summer week, conveniently being held in Tuscany again this year. At the end of August we should be back in London and starting to look for jobs.
We have had a great time off the bicycle – spending time with the Packman family, sightseeing and meeting up with friends in
Sydney, diving on the Great Barrier Reef, walking in the rainforest near Cape Tribulation, seeing crocodiles and kingfishers on the Daintree River – but we do miss the cycling. We hired bicycles a couple of times during our trip to Queensland. It was lovely to potter about for a few hours, although I felt a bit wobbly having to deal with steering, gears and brakes as well as pedalling! Here in Singapore we have joined Atul and Amanda for early morning rides alongside Lycra-clad locals and expats, in my case feeling even more jittery on a lightweight borrowed racer than I did on the mountain bikes in Queensland. As well as getting used to cycling on a ‘normal’ bicycle, we shall have to plan some short trips on the tandem when we get back to Europe – partly to stay fit and keep the kilos at bay, but mainly for the pleasure of riding, being part of the landscape and meeting people along the way, those simple things we have enjoyed so much over the last year. There may even be the occasional tale to tell you, until our next long trip.
Some of you have asked what was the most memorable part of this journey. Rather than one place or incident, we think it will be the friendliness of people everywhere, whether they were waving as we cycled by, taking the time to chat, or offering us a bed for a night or three or several weeks, in the case of amazingly hospitable Richard and Rachel in Hanoi! We feel very fortunate to have stayed in so many places with old and new friends, including the generous Warmshowers hosts and people like Neil and Cate, whom we met when we stayed with Joch and Louise near Adelaide and who gave us dinner and a bed on one of our last nights on the road, even though it was a busy evening for them with work and four children to get to school the next day.
We shall also remember the enthusiastic support given to us by friends and family before, during and at the end of our journey: those who saw us off in London, those who cycled with us in France, Switzerland and Italy, those who came to meet us in Parma, Croatia, Istanbul, Delhi, Vientiane, Perth and Melbourne, those who welcomed us to Sydney, and everyone following this blog and sending comments and messages.
To all of you: thank you for being part of our journey, thank you for thinking of us, and thank you for making us feel connected, in a way we could not have imagined before we left.