Xin chào from Vietnam
I am from Cheltenham in the UK and my wife is from Cork in Ireland. In 2011, I was offered the post of Head of Learning Support at an International school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and when we moved there we had a fantastic life.
After a brilliant 5 years working there I can honestly say that the pace of modernisation in Vietnam was mind boggling, and even when I left in 2016 to start my world cycle ride I could see the creep of western culture starting to happen. If you are planning a visit I would recommend that you do it now rather than waiting.
Before working in education, I worked for a number of years as a nomadic chef and backpacked my way around the world. The great thing about working in the catering business is that it is fairly easy to get a job anywhere in the world, and most employers are fairly flexible about the need for paper trails and work permits. It is amazing how far money can stretch when you put your mind to it, a few months of chefing in a developed country could fund my travels for a year or so.
I think that the brilliant thing about travelling is that you never really know what the next day will bring. A perfect example is that at the end of one very eventful hitchhike across the Sahara desert in stolen cars, and down to my last $100, I ended up with my own restaurant in Lome, Togo. Now, where else would you get that opportunity.
We live in a crazy world where we are repeatedly told how scary and dangerous the world around us is. I agree that there are some crazy people out there but, apart from the two muggers I met in Peru, my overriding experience has been that people are very generous to strangers. In America, people have come out of restaurants to give me money while I have been stood hitching in the rain, in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco families have offered to sleep on the floor so that I can have the only bed in the house, in Australia a taxi driver asked where I had found the tramp little knowing he was a millionaire and I was going to be crewing his boat 1000 km from Sydney to Brisbane having never sailed before.
With this sense of optimism it was time to start planning my next adventure. In 2016, my amazing wife gave me a 12 month sabbatical to once again head off in search of new adventures. This time, I would be doing it on two wheels instead of by the power of thumb.
When living in Vietnam I completed many multi day cycling adventures, but now it was time to really go and see the world on two wheels; at a pace slow enough to experience everything around me, and yet fast enough to cover upwards of 500 km in a week. The joy for me was that, even though I anticipated there were days when the cycling will be ‘hell’, life in the saddle is so rewarding as it lets you explore areas few other tourists ever get to see. I don’t think that there is a better way to meet local people as a bicycle really does seem to break down barriers among even the most timid of cultures.
While ‘on tour’ I kept a blog to chronicle my adventures. Hopefully, these blog posts are able to convey a vivid picture of the unique sights, landscapes and cultures that I was privileged enough to cycle through. If I successfully managed this then just perhaps my posts could even provide that little bit of inspiration that you may need to set off on your own adventures. If this happens please get in touch and let me know as it would make me so happy.
I know from experience that there were times when it got fairly lonely out on the road and I loved hearing from people who were following along with my journey. If you are about to set out on your own journey then here are the best ways that people could stay in touch:
- The easiest way to follow my cycling adventures around the world was by signing up to receive my newsletter. Just pop your email address in the form at the foot of this page to receive an email notification every time I update my blog. We can then virtually ‘share’ breakfast or lunch together as my blog updates get sent direct to your inbox.
- Follow Cyclingstew’s world bike tour on Facebook – Just click ‘Like’ on my facebook page to receive regular stories and photos from the road.
- Youtube – Watch the best bits of my adventures via video highlights. To make sure that you don’t miss any of the action just click the link and subscribe to my youtube channel.
- Instagram – They say that a picture paints a thousand words and if photos are more your thing, then please click the link and follow me on Instagram.
- Twitter – If you still crave more then the final way is to follow me on twitter.
I hope that those of you who have stumbled across this website as part of your research planning will have as much fun on your cycling adventures as I did as life on a bike is truly amazing.