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Tourism-LiveIamA cyclist who's visiting every country in the world, so far I've been to 141 of 194, on a $15 a day budget, AMA!

Jun 14th 2016 by Meph248 • 74 Questions • 530 Points

My short bio: Hi everyone, my name is Patrick Martin, I'm a 29 year old cyclist from Germany. For the last 10 years I spend most of my time travelling, mostly by bike. I also hike, backpack and hitchhike, depending on the countries and tour I'm doing.

I often post on r/bicycletouring and do photo stories on Imgur. A couple of examples: My latest visit to India, seeing the root-bridges of Meghalay, Sri Lanka, or a month in the Middle East and, if you have a ton of time, going from Germany to Japan and back, which included the Trans-Sib railway in winter and the silkroad in summer.

I also cycled from Germany to South Africa, and from Argentina to Canada.

By now I've visited every country in Europe, in North, Central and South-America, Australia/NewZealand, all countries in Asia except 5 conflict zones, and half of Africa.

Please ask what you like, about budget, gear, routes... I love helping people get on the road. I'll stay and answer as long as questions are being asked. :)

My Proof: https://twitter.com/World_Bicyclist/status/742683228427984896

You can find more info on my tours on my website;

a ton of pictures on Facebook

or tour updates on Twitter.

Cheers,

Meph aka Patrick Martin

Edit: Late at night here now; I'll head to bed but will be back tomorrow answering more questions. Keep them coming. :)

Edit: And back answering more questions. :)

Q:

How much does your ass hurt from that much riding?

A:

Not at all. I'm Iron Ass.


Q:

Eisen Hintern?

A:

At least I've been told I have one.

Butt seriously, if you have good bike shorts and a good saddle, its not a huge issue unless you sit more than 10h on the bike in any given day.


Q:

How do you afford to travel like that?

A:

I rent out a house in Germany, I program sometimes (more precisely I run a game mod), I get equipment sponsored by outdoor/bike companies; and I sometimes do odd jobs if they sound interesting.

Travelling like this is far, far cheaper than living in a first-world country.


Q:

15 Bucks a day puts you at around 450 Euro per month give or take. Compared to here (also germany, Grüße aus Berlin!) Tjat is incredibly cheap.

Does this estimate account for traveling costs (such as crossing rivers on a boat) ? Or are those things counted in a an extra budget?

Do you have family? I could afford this style of living too but I think my fiancee and my dog wouldnt like it that much but im really jelly of your experience!

A:

That is my travel cost, minus occasional flights/boats. These are very rare though.

No pets, I did have a girlfriend for 5 years, who came with me, but we broke up, unrelated to travelling.


Q:

What country completely changed your opinion of it after having visited?

A:

China.

I was really looking forward to it; I ended up disliking it a lot.

That is partly the governments fault with their strange laws, super-blocked internet and dislike of foreigners (like the travel policy for Tibet or visa policies), and partly my own fault. There is barely any English being spoken; there is not infrastructure for independent tourism, so it was up to me to learn Chinese and figure everything out.

If I would have put in more effort, I think I would have enjoyed it more.


Q:

That's interesting, I read this blog on a man who cycled the silk road in 2004 and was also disappointed by China.

A:

Happens. Other people love it. For example I liked HongKong a lot, Taiwan too... but the people spoke a lot more English there. The mix of better communication, a more open government and better infrastructure does it, I think.


Q:

How many of them have you had sex in with the locals?

A:

Far less than you might assume, since sex-before-marriage is something almost exclusive to first world countries.


Q:

How many wives do you have worldwide then?

A:

I was offered several marriages, I had to decline all of them. Mostly in third-world countries.


Q:

Do you have been robbed in one of the countries?

A:

Yes, a few months ago in Lebanon. A soldier (?) robbed me at gun point while camping.

I wrote a lengthy piece about it, but its on gofundme because I asked the internet for help. If you want, I can post the link but I dont want to make this AMA about fundraising.


Q:

Did he just take your money or like everything?

A:

All my cash, most of my electronics. Didnt find the laptop, which I pushed under my mattress. Worst was the HDD with my pictures, I lost a couple thousand photos... should have done a backup earlier.


Q:

How much does all of your gear weigh including tent and food? How often do you restock with food and supplies?

A:

Restock several times a day.

My current setup is around 12kg, almost 4kg of that are electronics. I barely carry food, 2-3L of water and 1 meal, thats it. So with consumables I get to 15kg max.


Q:

What keeps you motivated?

A:

Different things, but I don't really believe that I need motivation to do this. It just happens to be something I love to do.

Some obscure countries are boring, yes; but for the most part its either fun or a challenge. I like challenges, for example the two Sahara crossings I did, or the camping in Siberia in winter.


Q:

What is your diet? I spend more then $15 a day on just food.

A:

I eat anything. :D

Depends on the country and what I'm doing. If you are in India and a full meal costs between $1-3, its hard to spend $15 a day, even if you exclusively eat in restaurants.

I'm very German in my choice of cuisine usually. Lots of bread, muesli, energy bars...


Q:

I'm currently doing research in India. The food is awesome here. Be honest, how many Samosas did you eat?

A:

All of them.


Q:

What were the worst mechanical breakdown you experienced while riding about? And how were the natives during your breakdowns?

A:

I never had a complete wipe-out, but brakes, gears and hubs fail now and then. I once cycled 4000km with only 1 brake; or 3000km with only the front derailleur; which brought me down from 27 gears to only 3. It was fine.

The people are super friendly; if something happens, they help.

One very memorable occasion was in Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. I had a lot of punctures because I was riding off-road with 25mm road tires. One of my tubes of vulcanizing fluids was empty, the second one dried out in the heat. I had patches, but no glue, so to speak.

I had to walk with a flat tire through 20km of dirt track in the heat till I got to a village. 10-20 huts, no electricity, real bush. No cars in the area, locals come by on motorbikes or bicycles; obviously they have to know how to fix tires. They also speak Portuguese, which I can just barely understand.

They instantly knew what was going on and helped me fix it... with tree sap. They literally dragged a big branch of a special tree to the bike, cut it with a knife, and used the sap as glue to put my patches on the hole. I wish I'd taken any pictures, but I had other things on my mind back then. :D


Q:

What's the most friendly place you've visited so far?

A:

Middle East... Sudan stands out, just like Iran.


Q:

Did any of the locals there or anywhere offer help with your journey such as food or water or offer to accompany you?

A:

I barely spend anything on the tour through Sudan, the locals constantly offered my accommodation, food and tea. I had to decline most of it, otherwise I'd still be there. :P

Same in Iran. You have to decline invitations to stay at someones house and have dinner with the family almost every day... or you agree every time, but you'd need to 3 month visa in that case, the 1 month I had wouldnt have been enough. ;)


Q:

Haha sounds like everyone was pretty welcoming and helpful :) I've got some more questions sorry :') I've got a friend who is going backpacking through Europe soon, I know you cycled but would you have any tips to offer? And have you had any troubles trying to across borders before?

A:

No tips without more infos. :P Europe has tons of countries and I dont even know what your friend likes.

Troubles with borders, yes. But only in Asia and Africa, the places with dictatorships and no tourism. Rest of the world is easy.


Q:

What is the worst thing a bird has done to you on this trip?

A:

Death glares from Cassowaries?

Nothing really; never got shit on, if thats your question. :D


A:

I saw penguins, but I'm sure they wouldnt appreciate being set on fire.


Q:

What are your go-to touring foods? Do you consider macro nutrition or calories?

A:

CALORIES!

If you have long days and end up with 12h+ of riding time, each hour burning between 400-700 calories, plus your 2000-2500 base need... you end up with a daily requirement of almost 10000 calories.

So go with fats. Nuts, muesli, chocolate, peanut butter, energy drinks, chocolate milk, protein bars, carbs from pasta... sugar and coffein are always good to do a few extra KM, but obviously not a good long-term food source.


Q:

At what point did you decide you couldn't just wear regular clothes and had to upgrade to the ridiculous spandex outfit?

A:

At day 1?

Regular cloths offer too much wind resistance and no padding on your bum.


Q:

Where do you sleep for the night? How long on average do you stay in one country?what country are you in currently?

A:

I think you double-posted, so I copy+pasted the answer:

I sleep either in a hostel, a hotel, my tent or with a couchsurfing/warmshowers host. When I camp, I stealth camp somewhere, I dislike camping sites.

Average stay is around 2-3 weeks, but it heavily depends on the country. Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein? 1 day each. Australia, Argentina, India, USA? 3+ months each.

I'm in Germany, my most recent tour was to India, Bangladesh and Bhutan. I'm currently planning my next step, which will be some mountaineering in the alps, before heading to West Africa in winter.


Q:

How do you get by with a $15 day budget?

A:

I do get a lot of the equipment sponsored and I fly only 1-2 times a year. That means I only have to spend money on transport, accommodation and food. Since I ride a bike, I pay next to nothing for transport. Since I camp or couchsurf, I pay next to nothing for accommodation. That leaves food; which is the biggest part of my spendings on tour.

Another big factor is the country. While I'd buy food in supermarkets and cook myself in Europe, I can easily stay in a hotel and go to a restaurant 3 times in really cheap countries, like India or Bangladesh.


Q:

Interesting, thanks for the AMA!

A:

No worries; that's why I'm here. ;)

I know of a couple that cycled a year through Europe. While on tour they spend 4€ a day for food, bought nothing else. Others spend $50 a day; its mostly up to you.


Q:

Have you tried to organize such trips for others ?

I know there is a niche in tourism for example, where one traveler which already visit a country organizes a trip with and for other 10-20 people to tag along and using his experience to guide the others.

A:

I did not try, but I would. The issue is the payment. People that want to do such independent tours are usually low-budget travellers; I'd feel bad for taking their money.


Q:

ask yourself if you would pay someone and maybe avoid that military person who robbed you at gunpoint at one time.

A:

Never.


Q:

Most people aren't like you though. Which of course you know, or you wouldn't have sponsorship and interest in your travels.

A:

If I'd pay someone to plan my trip or camp with me, he/I would still have gotten robbed. ;)

Its hit or miss, and I had one bad experience like this out of thousands of good ones. The amount of hospitality I've gotten outweights the stolen items by far.


Q:

How did you start? I'm an aspiring traveller too but just 18 years old. I'd love to travel the world but I don't know how to arrange it. This summer it wil lbe the first time I'll be going without my parents to Iceland and I'm absolutely hyped for it. You said you've been travelling for 10 years which means you started when you were just 19 years old. So first question:

  • 1: Hoe did you arrange it when you were younger?

Myself, I just bought a 75L backpack for a two-week groupvacation to Iceland, together with stuff like DEET, a fly bag etc.

  • 2: What are some accesoires you take with you that other might t forget or not think about?

Some random other questions:

  • 3: What is the best/worst unknwown food you ate while in a foreign country?

  • 4: What's your motivation?

I'm eager for you answers, I have been following you on Twitter and Facebook for a while and I love your stories and pictures :)

A:

I started when I was 19; my first trip was a 1-year round the world tour.

How did I arrange what exactly when I was younger? I had a huge backpack, like you, and tons of unnecessary stuff, and just went with trains through Europe, then buses through the Middle East, then in South East Asia it got a lot easier. Sorry, without a specific question I can't give any specific answer.

Gear: Here is my three-season gear list http://imgur.com/a/p4iqq it includes everything I take for any tour, except deep winter.

Best food: Sushi in Japan (lots of unknown stuff on/in it), or grasshoppers fried with mint and soy sauce in Thailand.

Worst food: Ugali/Nschima in central Africa.

Motivation: I just like what I do, I don't need to be motivated. If I dont want to ride when I get up, I dont. If I do, I do. Its rather... simplistic. Only real deadlines I have to follow are visa timings.


Q:

I wasn't really looking for a specific answer, I just love to hear about travelling and other experiences.

That's a very big trip for such a young age though! You must've had an amazing time I can imagine. With arranging I also meant like, how did you arrange the money at such a young age, how did your support you in travelling that much at that age etc. etc.. Because I just started travelling without my parents, I'd love to hear what problems you encountered 10 years ago and how you solved them. :)

I will look into your album of packed stuff soon, it's kinda late but thanks for the long answer!

A:

I sold my Magic the Gathering card collection. I played professionally on tournaments, won money, invested in more cards, rinse repeat. In the end I sold it for almost 10k. And I saved the money from my military service. Thats how it started.


Q:

I can imagine getting visas to restrictive countries like Belarus and North Korea (and a lot of the middle east countries) is really difficult. Any stories about troubles trying to get into or out of countries?

A:

Sure. Belarus only gave me a 48h transit visa; North Korea only with an organized tour group. Never been to Tibet since they dont allow independent tourists either.

Eritrea didnt give me a visa; and when I was in West Africa the borders were closed due to Ebola, I had to cut that loop short and never visited the Ivory Coast or Ghana.

Lots of silly things like this... but mostly Africa and Asia, the other continents are easy. Central Asia is tough, I had to rush through a lot due to how my visas were lined up; I could have done that a lot better.


Q:

Were you ever worried about being robbed or theft? Some of the lesser-traveled roads don't seem like the safest places. and where would you put your bags when you went to a restaurant or to sightsee? I get that you could lock up you bike but surely you didn't carry your supplies around all the time.

A:

No, not worried. But I've been robbed, does that count?

Restaurant: With me inside, or I sit next to the window with my bike outside. If I go sightseeing, the bags and bike are in a hostel room or with a couchsurfer.


Q:

do you keep a checkbook or something to write down all your expenses ?

A:

I did for the first year; I do now and then on specific sections; but I stopped doing it... maybe got a bit lazy on that front, I certainly spend less when I keep an eye on it like that.

Thanks for the reminder. ;)


Q:

What are the top 5 countries you enjoyed?

A:

Nepal.

New Zealand.

Germany.

Sri Lanka.

Thailand.

Not in any particular order. Also Korea, Japan, Tajikistan, South Africa...


Q:

What was your impression of Australia? I couldn't blame you for liking NZ more, they also have brilliant mountain biking so I'll be back for a bike tour eventually. Smaller country with more variety in landscape over shorter distances, and possibly nicer people is my take.

A:

Flies.

Long distances and heat and flatness.

Sorry, New Zealand wins by several landslides. :P


Q:

Unpaved roads are where all the fun is! good luck on your adventures!

A:

I should have been more clear: https://www.google.de/maps/@4.1932151,73.5090873,13.71z

There is not that much road. Its maybe a 5km loop around Hulhumale. :D


Q:

How do you choose which country are you goint to go to next? Edit: How much time do you spend in each country?

A:

Good question.

I'm thinking about West Africa, because its a large region that eluded me so far. Other than that I'd have to fly a lot to get to islands... Safety is also important, I'm not going to Yemen or Iraq next.


Q:

Are you going blind into each country? Or do you have your route/activity very planned beforehand?

A:

Neither.

I read a lot about the history and the culture, and I know the maps very well; but I dont plan a specific route. I ride in, look around, talk to people, if I like it, I stay, if I dislike it, I ride on.

You really only need to plan the next couple of days; and within these days you plan to ones after that. Step by step.


Q:

What are you going to do, when you'll ran out of countries?

A:

I can always visit the same country twice. :P I havent seen everything there is to see in each one.

But really, hobbies change, and I do love reading, programming and playing PC games; I might start writing or start my own company. I have lots of ideas, not enough time for all.


Q:

Great to hear that! Thanks for Iama by the way. What region would you reccomend to fly to with the most attraction per square inch? Besides Europe.

A:

Legoland! :D Only place I could think of that has attractions measured in inches.

South East Asia for sure. Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia...


Q:

Great. Visiting restricted areas, often? ( I will tell noone;)).

A:

Sure.

Nghorno-Karabak was interesting.


Q:

How feasible would it be to take a hammock instead of a tent for camping?

A:

Only ok-ish in regions with temperate climate. Just google "pamir highway" and you will see that there are limits to what a hammock can do.

I'd never take one instead of a tent, it would limit me too much.


Q:

What kind of bike do you use?

A:

Seven different bikes so far. All here: http://imgur.com/a/7t3Ap

Hardtail MTB, city bike, rigid hybrid bike, cross bike, road bike, FS MTB, folding bike.

I love trying out different setups; otherwise I'd be doing the same thing all over again. I like to challenge myself and my gear.


Q:

Is there much open space in India? While biking between cities in that country are there still villages and people everywhere?

A:

Yes. There is a backpacker circuit, but if you travel with your own you get to a lot of remote places. I especially liked the area around Cheranpunjee and Shillong.


Q:

I want to do what you do eventually. Even if it's just around Asia.

Why'd you go with a folding bike and the tiny wheels and not a touring bike? Though IIRC you got mugged or something in a tent, or maybe that's just my bad memory. Was it due to that or is it something else entirely?

Hope you manage to hit your goal safely.

A:

Folding bike because I never toured on a folding bike before; because they have their advantages, and because I was going to visit a lot of island states on that part of the tour. I used other bikes too. ;)

Yes, I got robbed in Lebanon a couple months back. Mostly electronics stolen, the guy even picked up my folded folding-bike to check for valuables underneath it. Idiot, the bike is worth 3000€ and by far the most expensive item I had with me.


Q:

if he robbed you of your bike what would you have done?

A:

Continued by public transport.

I once had a bike stolen, on the 4th day of my tour to South Africa. I was still in Germany. I bought a new bikes (well, a used bike) for 100€ and kept going... till I reached South Africa.


Q:

What was your favorite country while in south america?

A:

The Guyanas. Guyana, Suriname and French-Guyana.


Q:

thanks for the fast response! what did you like about them?

A:

At that point I've been to South America for almost a year and its all Spanish, machismo, same same...

Suddenly, I'm faced with french-speaking white people, dutch speaking carribbean-africans, and creole-speaking indians. All within a few hundred kilometers.

And since they are remote and have barely any visitors, the people are super curious and treat you as a guest. Not as a tourist that leaves money everywhere, like they do on the Gringo Trail, trying to sell you tours, hostels and stuff no one needs. The Guyanas were very relaxed, off-world... I like that.


Q:

Are there any countries that you can't/refuse to visit? Why?

A:

North Korea (I only stepped across the border at the UN building that is half/half north/south Korea), because it is only possible by organized tour that costs a lot. The money would go mainly to their government, which is nothing I'd want to support.

I cant visit Saudi Arabia, since they dont do tourists visas. I'd have to find a job there, or convert to Islam to get a pilgrimage visa.


Q:

Where do you sleep for the night? How long on average do you stay in one country?what country are you in currently?

A:

I sleep either in a hostel, a hotel, my tent or with a couchsurfing/warmshowers host. When I camp, I stealth camp somewhere, I dislike camping sites.

Average stay is around 2-3 weeks, but it heavily depends on the country. Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein? 1 day each. Australia, Argentina, India, USA? 3+ months each.

I'm in Germany, my most recent tour was to India, Bangladesh and Bhutan. I'm currently planning my next step, which will be some mountaineering in the alps, before heading to West Africa in winter.


Q:

Hey dude. When you say 'stealth camp' what do you mean exactly? I think I get it but I'd still like to hear an explanation of the kind of places you like to camp, and some weird ones.

A:

Different people call it different names, road camp, stealth camp, wild camp... it just means that you go to some public property and pitch your tent.

Can be the side of the road, a field, a forest, I even met someone who camped on a traffic island in the middle of a round-about. Its technically illegal in most countries in the first world, but the police never bothered. Once I got relocated by the Argentinian police because a dog was barking and that bothered the neighbours, but they just drove me to their police station and told me to camp on their front lawn.


Q:

What kind of tires does your bike have?

A:

Schwalbe Marathon Plus or Mondials atm.


Q:

How was Vietnam? Pho or bun cha?

A:

Vietnam I liked :) Crazy traffic though, and a shame that Saigon is not called Saigon anymore. :D

The boat cruise through Halong bay was my highlight for Vietnam, sorry if that sounds very touristy.


Q:

Hello. At what point in your life did you start referring to yourself as a cyclist rather than someone who rides a bicycle? Please explain the transition. Good luck on your journey 😊

A:

I don't usually refer to myself as a cyclists. Its just for convenience sake, that I put that in here. Shorter title and all that.

Usually I label myself an adventurer or uneducated buffoon, depending on the audience. :P


Q:

how do you overcome the language barrier?

thank you for the very inspirational AMA btw!

A:

Thank you :)

In most places you find people that speak some English, for Latin America I learned Spanish. I'm in the process of learning French for West Africa, my last visit there was hindered by my lack of understanding.

Hands and feet and pictures and google translate work well too, but only to a limit. Getting by, getting food and water and a place to sleep, no problem, but anything above that requires some more effort on your part.

With English, Spanish and French you can almost cover the entire planet though.


Q:

German not any useful? ;))))

A:

Our great iron chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, had a distinctive dislike to the habit of colonizing people, so we never did. Only a little bit in Tanzania and Namibia, both speak English now.


Q:

My brother is currently cycling through the 'stans at the moment. I noticed those were the countries you were heading to now and wondered when you'd be there?

A:

I've been there, came through there last year. :) Beautiful places.


Q:

Yeah, he seems to be really enjoying them, if a little hot! Where are you off to next?

A:

The European Alps for mountaineering. :D

Next bike trip will probably be in West Africa: Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast.


Q:

Have you ever given up? Like, "fuck this im going home".

My dream is to cycle through Japan someday. Do you have some simple tips for me?

A:

I had a few streaks of homesickness etc, but I only went back once. I was on a tour with a friend, friend cancelled after 2 weeks, I didnt want to go on alone. I went back home for 2 months, then did another, bigger tour on my own.

Cycle to Japan from where?


Q:

is it lonely? I mean I'm sure you are meeting a lot of people, but in the end these are only shallow short-termed relationships.

A:

Sometimes. I travelled about 50% alone, the other half with people and/or my ex-girlfriend.

It mostly depends on the country, first-world countries are seldomly lonely, third-world countries can make it harder to connect to people, because your backgrounds are far too different.


Q:

What makes for a good day's ride? Are the good days dependent on the weather, scenery etc.

What was the best day you've ever had in the saddle?

A:

A good days ride? A 2 at the start of your daily distance. :D

I dont think that scenery and weather are that important, unless you lack the proper clothing. Of course there are pleasant days with 20°c, sun and a nice road with no traffic, but the more memorable days are the tough ones.

Best day for me was from Carlsbad to Amarillo. 513km in 22.5h. :)


Q:

How reliable is your electronics? How do you charge it? I'm a freelance programmer myself, I could tour for long periods of time if I could reliably have my laptop battery charged every evening. Is this realistically achievable?

A:

Dynamo hub charges everything EXCEPT the laptop. Sure you can do long-term travelling and programming, I have a fancy laptop and program myself, but you wont do it in your tent much.

If I stop to program, I either sit in a cafe or a hostel. Or you rent a place for a week or a month.


Q:

Do you have a recommendation for an entry level bike? I recently started going on bike rides lately (~20 miles) and I really enjoy it. Just looking to replace my shitty mountain bike haha. Thanks!

A:

Entry level bike for what and in what country? I might recommend you an entry level road bike from a UK brand, and it turns out you want to go mountain biking in Colorado...


Q:

What the fastest speed you have ever gone on a bike?

A:

80kmh with a fully loaded touring bike.


Q:

When I first saw the thread title, I read it as "IamA cyborg...". So let's imagine that you had a chance to become a cyborg, what one thing would you enhance and why?

A:

Mh... first I'd wanted to say legs and arms, like Adam Jensen, but after giving it some thought it would make a lot more sense to get a better brain and/or replace all the vital organs with something that lasts longer.

So I'd totally be up for cybernetic lungs, hearts, livers, kidneys, that sort of thing.

Or we go the Shadowrun-route and I'd like some monofilament whips grafted into my hands please.


Q:

Is there really only 194 countries in the world?

A:

Depends who you ask. There are 194 united nations members.

Ask the US if Taiwan is a country, they say yes. Ask China, they say no. Just as an example.


Q:

TIL. It just seemed like a low number to me.

A real question thought - after traveling to nearly 75% of the world, I'm sure you've came across some countries you really enjoyed. If you had to choose one to relocate to, which one would it be and why?

A:

Germany. Super good social security, high wages, politically stable, speaks my mother tongue... or Switzerland, for pretty much all of the same reasons.

I also like mountains and countries that have seasons... 12h day, 12h night, 30°c all year long, like in the tropics, gets boring after a while.


Q:

There I go assuming again. I thought Germany was your native country. What is your native country if you don't mind me asking?

A:

Germany.

I would move to Germany, if I could pick out of any of the countries I visited.


Q:

Who has the best food?

A:

you'd probably have to arrange a deathmatch between India and Japan for that.


Q:

What place would you most want to move to?

A:

If I want to move to a place, I do. :D

So... none, really. The places I really wanted to see and spend time in, I've already seen and spend time in.


Q:

I opened your Middle East album hoping Qatar would be there, and the very first picture is of the Corniche!

Growing up there, I know that Qatar is notoriously bad for it's roads and sidewalks/pavements, so much so that biking there seems like such a foreign concept. So basically:

  • What was your overall experience of Qatar like? How long were you there, were you only in Doha? Obviously given not being able to get into Saudi, you didn't physically bike into/out of it, so how'd that work?

  • What was it like cycling in the country? Seems like it would be a nightmare.

    Edit: Having seen there was a Part 2 to your Middle East album, I see some of my answers in there. Feel free to ignore something if you've already answered it in your album.

A:

Qatar was actually one of the better countries in the Middle East for cycling. Out of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, I'd even say Qatar is the best. You have actual bike trails, one of them going to the airport, which was awesome and a rare sight for me.

I also met another cyclists from Poland in Qatar, he made it his base for the region.

That being said, there is not that much to ride to, so I just spend a few days riding around Doha, sightseeing, and thats it.

I did fly in from Bahrain with a folding bike in my luggage.


Q:

Oh right, that's good about the trails. I left three years ago so perhaps those are new (as is the airport you flew into).

What was it like seeing the disparity there, and in other Gulf countries? You mentioned how weird it is to see something like Souq Waqif and then the downtown core, but how did you feel seeing billionaires sharing the roads with what are essentially slaves? Sharing the city with them? Living in luxury right next to where they sleep 20 to a room?

I moved there when I was four, so it was just normal for me to see that growing up. I imagine it can be quite weird to see that as an adult.

A:

The difference is striking, more so than in other countries.

In Bahrain I was couchsurfing with a Phillipino chemist. He had a tiny room in a shared apartment with some cloth on the floor as a bed.

In Qatar I was couchsurfing with a South African girl, who lived with 4 other South Africans in a house in the sub-urbs. 3 stories, 60" flat screen, 9(?) bedrooms...

WTF...


Q:

Are all areas navigable by bicycle? For example, have you had to turn back and find another route because the way forward couldn't be ridden?

A:

Bicycles can take roads that are impassable by car, so no, never had to turn back. But step of the bike and push or carry it, yes. Mostly due to sand.


Q:

Warst du schon mal in Marokko? Wenn ja wie fandest du es dort? :)

A:

Ja. Fand ich super, weil ich gerade aus Mauretanien und West-Sahara kam. Marokko war da eine Bastion der Zivilisation. :D

Aber ehrlich, fand das Land echt gut.