The Secret to the Best Adventures
My best travelling days and my best regular days are better when adventured on two wheels - fact! Whether that’s a bicycle, a scooter, a foot powered scooter or hey, maybe one day roller-skates. Often, the best adventures have started out with simply filling in a rental form.
A few years ago in Laos, my friends and I had heard about a motorbike trek you could do called ‘The Loop’. It was supposed to be beautiful and for once, it wasn’t in my travel guide so it seemed like the perfect chance to get off the beaten track. Only slight hitch; none of us knew how to ride a motorbike and everywhere we looked were bandaged and broken backpackers who had also decided Asia, the continent of seemingly non-existent road rules was the place to start. Still, we wouldn’t have been true South East Asia backpackers if we didn’t give it a go, plus we weren't fools(!) - we were getting a lesson first from Mr Ku! He showed us how to start the bike and brake, sent us down a dirt road for a trial run and took our money. Safe as houses. There was actually a paved driveway as well - still not too sure why Mr Ku opted for the treacherous dirt road to teach us on? Perhaps, as complete and utter beginners, he thought we needed a challenge? After a few laps of the 'easy' driveway under Mr Ku's disappointed watch, we set off on The Loop quickly tackling 4 days of dirt roads, slippery mountain roads, boulders in the roads, lorries overtaking on bends, bikes breaking down and headlights not working (a fun night time discovery), miraculously all without a single injury. Eight months of backpacking around South East Asia and ‘The Loop’ still remains one of my greatest travel experiences.
Throughout my trip in South East Asia, whenever there was a day with not much on the itinerary we sought out bike rentals, preferably motorised. They cost next to nothing to rent and we found a thrill in getting lost for the day, driving to places we wouldn’t have been able to see on foot. In Sapa in northern Vietnam, we drove the most incredible twisting, flowing, picturesque road high into the mountains. And then drove back. We had no destination but the freedom, the fun and the potential of what we might unearth was what the day was about.
Another one high on the list, was a scooter tour I did in Singapore. I was staying at The InnCrowd Backpackers Hostel in Little India and they offered free scooter tours of the city. Now before you get images of me cruising around Singapore on a cute little vespa looking naturally chic, this time I actually mean foot-powered scooters, the kind you commonly see children riding. So not quite so chic. In fact, after five hours and fifteen kilometres, probably quite the opposite of chic. But hey, I saw a lot of Singapore; felt like a giddy child speeding past boring regular old pedestrians and quite frankly, had an absolute blast!
More recently, my two wheeled adventures have sadly been more exclusively spent on bicycles - mopeds ain’t so cheap or easy to come by outside of South East Asia! Still, bicycles have provided some of my favourite days; from exploring Byron Bay, Australia to cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransisco to peddling the Vancouver Sea Wall. On a bright, sunny day, there is nothing better than cruising around on a bicycle, wind in your hair and miles covered surprisingly quickly; earning you of course, lots of tasty treats (as you’ve technically been exercising)! Plus my favourite thing about these more recent adventures is definitely capturing a willing, but not so enthusiastic James, in a cycling selfie! My work pals got the same treatment on a recent cycling brewery tour of Vancouver. They all initially resist the selfie and yet soon, the grins speak for themselves. (Also, cycling brewery tours are FUN! That might crop up again in another post).
Any day of exploration makes me happy but the ability to go further and see more on two wheels just brings an automatic sense of excitement to the day. Next on the two-wheeled list will have to be a Segway! Unless anyone's got a penny farthing going spare?