NEW YEAR 2019
I fly out of Athens in time to spend Christmas and New Year with my family in Scotland. However, my bike remains in the Greek capital as it didn’t make financial sense to bring the old thing back with me. The cost of putting the bike on two separate flights and then paying for it’s numerous repairs would cost about the same as buying a new one. I gift my old transport to the reception bloke at my final accommodation in Athens. He seems surprised, but well chuffed by this turn of events, shaking my hand and telling me ‘Thank-You, I have not had bicycle since ten years !’ I’m pretty chuffed too, as I’ll soon have a brand new bike to play with.
As dawn breaks on 2019, I know that in a few months time I’ll need to make a reluctant return to the hamster-cage grind of daily life. At some point I know I’m going to have to get another job, find somewhere to live and generally sort my shit out. Unfortunately, my motivation to go down this path is lacking somewhat. The usual career / property / relationship goals that seem to drive most people aren’t really a big factor in my thinking. Although there’s a chance that this may actually be a good thing. I’ve seen so many people stuck in jobs they hate, tied to mortgages or subconsciously trapped in relationships only because it’s become a habit and just more convenient than being single. So, maybe it’s me that’s the fortunate one ? I dont know. The bottom line is that I’ll still have to sort my shit out soon … But not before I escape normal society one more time and take off with my bike again.
In continuing my trip, the obvious solution would be to carry on from Athens and cycle towards Turkey and beyond. Or, now that I’ve finished Europe, I could fly across the Mediterranean to Cairo and start riding down Africa. I discount the Turkey option as I’d much rather be escaping winter and cycling somewhere warmer in January. Africa is a serious consideration but I discount that too, as I just don’t think I’m hardy enough for it. I tried in 2015, but had to abandon the trip ingloriously after getting very sick in Egypt. There’s still a feeling of ‘Unfinished Business’ with regards to Africa, but I’m not sure if that itch will ever be fully scratched.
In the end I choose to go off on a completely different tangent and head for South East Asia. The biggest factor in this decision is that I’m due to meet my kids in Thailand in April anyway, so by cycling towards them I now have a destination and a finish line. I decide to start the trip in Hanoi, Vietnam as I’ve not been to the Indochina part of South East Asia yet. Plus, it’ll be cool enough there in winter so that I can acclimatise gradually before moving southwards into the more oppressive heat.
So, by mid January I’m ready to go with a new bicycle and a brand new pair of waterproof pannier bags. My first new bags in twelve years. However, as per usual I don’t have an airline-recommended bike box for getting onto a flight. The day before departure I spend almost an hour in my sister’s garden on a cold, wintry Glasgow afternoon wrapping my bike with bin bags and packing tape. It looks a very messy and amateurish job, but it will protect my bike and, more importantly, the luggage of other passengers. As long as Emirates Airlines are happy with my efforts, then I’m off to Hanoi tomorrow !