JD+1247 – Km 24.562
Several months ago, we had been nominated for the Liebster Awards. It is a “reward” based on questions asked between bloggers, to promote new blogs and to make internet users aware of new horizons and stories.
Lucas and Nicolas, two French who traveled on recumbent bikes for six months in Southeast Asia on behalf of the association called “Les Enfants du Mékong”, nominated us for the Liebster Award. This association ensures to accompany children during their education in order to improve their living conditions. Themselves nominees for the Liebster Award, Lucas and Nicolas (whom we met in Bangkok in May 2017), tell their experience on their travel blog V’Asie Roule. We’d like to thank them for the nomination and give us the opportunity to talk more about ourselves, through 11 anecdotes and 11 questions that were asked to us !
11 things you might not know about Frogs On Wheels
WE TRAVEL ON RECUMBENT BIKES
You won’t be surprised if we tell you we travel by recumbent bike, but do you know why we chose such bicycles ? Gökben suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, a rheumatic disease that mainly affects the spine and lower back. Due to chronic pain and reduced mobility, she could not have traveled on an up-right bicycle. Thanks to Philippe from Vélofasto and his very good advice, we opted for recumbent bikes made by Azub !
WE ARE (STILL) ON A HONEYMOON !
It was the crazy idea we had at the beginning. Once married, we would go see what the world is like. Married in October 2013, we set off a few months later after having left our respective jobs and solved some administrative problems so Gökben could obtain a visa for Europe. We have fun saying that the honeymoon keeps going as long as we enjoy doing what we do!
WE HAVE CYCLED IN TIBET !
Despite Tibet being limited in terms of tourism, it remains a vast region, historically and culturally Tibetan and freely open to foreigners. Easily accessible and known as Eastern Tibet, this region covers the provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan, as well as a smaller part in Yunnan and Gansu. We spent two months there, cycling in October and November 2016.
NO FLIGHT ALLOWED DURING THE JOURNEY
We chose the bicycle as our main means of transportation in order to travel slowly, at a pace that is ours, following the seasons and in order to see landscapes and cultures change gradually. We therefore forbid ourselves to take any flights, only traveling overland (bike, bus, train) or crossing seas (boat). After more than 24,000 kilometers, we have so far kept our promises!
WE VOLUNTEER AT SCHOOLS
Like in France, Turkey, Georgia, Iran, China, Laos or Thailand, we strive to contact schools in order to present students our bikes and our journey. Talking about topics as varied as geography, languages, technology or human values, the emerging glow in the children’s eyes push us to go further and continue to intervene in schools to make young and old ones dream.
WE’VE TAUGHT ENGLISH IN CHINA
With this experience we had with children during our trip, we didn’t hesitate a single second when we were offered to work as English teachers for one year in Chengdu, China. A unique experience, professionally and socially and humanely, which allowed us to discover China from the inside.
WE HAVE NO DEADLINE
While starting this journey, we didn’t really know how far we would go or how long the journey would eventually last. Having set off in April 2014, we are still on the roads. We like to say that we will end this adventure to start another equally exciting one, as soon as we get broke, bored or that we find a place where we could see ourselves growing old.
WE SPOKE TURKISH IN NEARLY 10 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
From the Balkans to Western China, through Central Asia, our Turkish language skills have greatly helped us in everyday life. Cycling in those regions, where over 100 million people speak a Turkic language, we have not suffered from the language barrier. A great benefit to cultural and social immersion!
MAGNETS, FLAGS AND ROAD MAPS ARE THE ONLY SOUVENIRS WE KEEP FROM THE COUNTRIES WE’VE CROSSED
Of course, all the moments we’ve experienced and all the emotions we’ve felt will remain engraved in our memories forever. But the only material souvenirs that we bring back from each country are a magnet, a cloth flag and another glued to the frame of the bike, and the road map used to travel through the country. Lightweight and space-saving gifts that have a story!
THE ACTUAL MEANING OF “FROGS ON WHEELS”
In addition to being a nickname given to the French, Gökben was nicknamed “Kermit the Frog” by his friends. Furthermore, by thumbing our nose at an american saying and naming ourselves “frogs on wheels”, all that seemed impossible eventually becomes achievable …
11 questions asked by Lucas and Nicolas from V’Asie Roule
1 – YOUR MOST MEMORABLE ENCOUNTER ?
Difficult to make a choice when these encounters actually take us from one place to another. But the first memories coming to our minds have particularly marked us: Vladimir and Vesna in Serbia, who spontaneously came to meet us and with whom we spent two marvelous days; Isabelle and Jacques, met in Laos and whose philosophy of life has marked and inspired us … The list of key meetings could be so long!
2 – THE MOST DIFFICULT MOMENT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED ?
Without the slightest hesitation, visa issues ! There are so many reasons making overland border crossings difficult (political or diplomatic issues, time constraints, etc.). In addition to this, we both travel on a different passport (French for Nicolas, Turkish for Gökben) and depending on the geographical regions we cross, the requirements for obtaining visas differ greatly and complicate everything. We both hope to get a world passport very soon once the aliens give a sign of life and thus make things a lot easier!
3 – WHAT DECIDED YOU TO SET OFF ?
Willpower ! We had the chance to meet each other and aspire to the same things, share the same dreams and have similar projects. Our desire to discover the world, the excitement the journey brings us and the opportunity to share this adventure together are the reasons that made up our minds to leave everything behind, without fleeing the life we had until then and that made us just as happy.
4 – HOW WILL THE TRAVEL WILL INFLUENCE YOUR RETURN ?
What will happen at the end of this journey, not to mention return, will follow on from the journey itself. Without a doubt, we are excited about building something in a nature-friendly environment and advocating the same values of travel, hospitality, caring and open-mindedness that have been leading our lives for over 3 years now.
5 – WHAT IS YOUR TRAVEL BUDGET ?
We had first set a budget of 10 euros per day and per person, without knowing exactly whether it would be enough. With the lifestyle that we have adopted and the help we sometimes receive (postcards, donations, volunteering), our budget is around 15 euros per day for two people. This includes everything : food, accommodation, visas and expenses for technical equipment.
6 – ANY SURPRISING CULINARY EXPERIENCE ?
We don’t know which one of the dog and cat meat that we might have eaten in China and Vietnam or the insects in Thailand was the most challenging one. Yet, fried silk worms are rather appetizing when it comes time for an aperitif!
7 – THE MOST UNUSUAL THING THAT YOU’VE DONE OR THAT HAPPENED TO YOU ?
Each experience during this journey is both unique and has made this trip emotionally rich enough. As a whole, let’s say that this journey is the craziest thing that ever happened to us!
8 – WHERE WOULD YOU GO BACK IF YOU HAVE TO ?
The Pamirs in Tajikistan for the surpassing of oneself (physical and psychological) that it required, in addition to traveling in a region which is hostile, isolated and wonderful. Memorable memories with fellow travelers we’ll never forget.
9 – THE DESTINATION YOU’VE BEEN DREAMING OF ?
Nepal. Gökben, a high mountaineeering guide out of interests, has long dreamed of being on an expedition to the Himalayas. With the present border issues between India and Myanmar, we can no longer go there overland. We could still give up on this rule that we set about taking travelling by plane !
10 – THE MOST WELCOMING LOCAL POPULATION YOU’VE EVER MET ?
Turkey, Iran and Thailand were the countries of which population have welcomed us the most warmly. We had to learn how to say no and most of the time reluctantly so that we could continue to move forward as so many people sincerely invited us over !
11- WHAT DO YOU MISS THE MOST ?
The things that have made who we are and that we have left behind: family, friends and great food!
The nominees for the Liebster Award 2017 are …
This is our turn to make you discover the blogs that we like following and which deserve to be known because of many reasons, either the projects carried out or the funny and quirky literary style which makes the travel diary even more exciting …
CHARLOTTE & ERIC (PLQA)
Cycling from France in 2014, Charlotte and Eric (with whom we traveled from Armenia to Kyrgyzstan during 4 months) are now in New Zealand where they live a different adventure. They will be back on the road anytime soon to go “farther than elsewhere” !
AURELIE & ROMAIN (BIKE KITCHEN)
We met this French couple in Central Thailand, on their unusual tandem bike that almost stole the spotlight on our recumbent bikes! From Singapore and focusing on culinary arts, they collect and experiment all kinds of recipes in Southeast Asia. The ascents will be even more difficult !
FRED & OPHELIE (PARTIR LES PIEDS DEVANT)
Two recumbenteers also riding Azub bikes and that Nicolas follows since their trip in South America. They have traveled 20,000 km between France and Asia and have recently returned to Europe. We were in Laos at the same time, unable to meet the two legends, whose blog site is always written with style, sobriety and tact, one of Fred’s trademarks.
SARAH & SCOTT (LONG RODE HOME)
Australian couple on roads by bike since 2014, they crossed Europe, Asia and lived with us in China for a year, teaching English in the same school. They are now in North America, riding towards … Patagonia! Their blog is full of humor and good mood.
NICK (CYCLING ELSEWHERE)
Nick also travels by bike and was also one of our guests at home during his visit to China. He was the first one who decided to stay there for a year to teach English! A blog full of relevant thoughts and beautiful photos. He is currently in Australia.
MELIKE (MELIKE ON THE ROAD)
Melike realized a year ago that her life as a lawyer, although enriching, was no longer enough for her. This 27-year-old Turkish woman then got on her bike and set off to discover the world, from Iran to India. She then traveled backpacking in Thailand after having taught English and is now volunteering in the Swiss Alps. Melike shares her adventures around the world and opens herself up on her blog (in Turkish and English).
The (sometimes indiscreet) questions we would like to ask them:
1 – How did the trip change who you are ?
2 – Advantages and disadvantages of traveling alone / as a couple ?
3 – A secret place to share ?
4 – What is the object you are carrying, which you’ve never used but which you wouldn’t get rid of ?
5 – The most unusual thing you’ve done / that happened to you during the trip?
6 – Your most memorable encounter ?
7 – The blog post you’ve written and that you are the most proud of?
8 – What was your biggest laughter about ?
9 – What is your travel budget ?
10 – Your best argument to convince the most skeptical person to embark on such an adventure?
Any questions ? Any blogs to recommend ?
What are the questions you would like to ask us or the indiscretions you would like to know ? Do you also follow any blogs on a regular basis that deserve to be known ?
Leave your comments to enrich this blog post !