At the 16 of May 2004, Moni and Robi started their unknown journey with their heavy loaded bikes. Getting started was not easy, and a little tough on their bodies and minds. However, it did not take long to feel at home with each other and the road. Moni and Robi pedaled through East Europe and entered the Door of Asia. They crossed the Muslim countries of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan and received incredible hospitality from the locals. In less than a year, they reached India, their initial goal.
However, they didnâ€™t like to go home, after getting their first taste of independent cycle travel. It was only the beginning of their adventurous journey, as they knew there was so much more to see out there in this beautiful world! They pedaled on the strenuous, but breathtaking round trip path through the Himalayan mountains of Northern Pakistan, Northwest China, Tibet and Nepal. In this rugged terrain, they climbed several 17000 feet high passes and crossed vast high plateaus, before they entered India for the second time.
After the strains and the thin air in the Himalayas, Monika and Robi needed a rest and some relief from cycling. In Varanasi, in Central India, they stored their bicycles in a Guesthouse and traveled for 4 months by train, bus, boat and bike trough the central- and southern part of vibrating and colorful India. After this inspiring break, they felt again hungry for pedaling. They were ready for the big challenge Ladakh and Kashmir, close to the Tibetan and Pakistan border. In this remote and rugged area, they climbed the Kardung La, an 18000 feet (5500m) high pass.
Adventurous Sailing Boat passage
After the fascinating trip in the Himalayan heights, the velocos got to lower and warmer levels again. In Goa, in the south-west of India, they tightened their bicycles on the deck of a 40 feet yacht. As crewmembers, they fulfilled their duties and did different chores. In 6 weeks, they crossed the Indian Ocean, stopped at the island paradise of the Maldives and at the port of Galle in Sri Lanka, before they reached Penang in Malaysia. In Penang, they left the boat and recovered finally from a Malaria Infection, they had picked up, just before they boarded the yacht in Southern India.
The next stages, the velocos took it easy and on the way to Bangkok, they did visit different small islands. Beside the wonderful beaches, Moni and Robi enjoined very much the delicious Thai cuisine. From the capital and busy Mega city, they continued to Cambodia. After visiting the world famous ruins of Angkor Wat and a fascinating boat trip on the Tonle Sap lake, the velocos followed the great Mekong river. Mostly they cycled along dusty roads till Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The last stage from Luang Prabang, a former royal city to the Chinese border was very hilly and in the humid climate definitely very sweaty!
In the southwest of China, the velocos choose in the beginning the old and almost traffic free Highway. They biked near the Burmese border through mountainous regions, mainly home to various ethnic groups. In this diverse section, the velocos were also rewarded with culinary delights. Over the Qinghai plateau, which lies about 4000-5500 meters above sea level, they reached just before the beginning of a freezing Winter, the cultural melting pot of Xining. After Moni and Robi got a new Visa for China, they cycled all the way to Shanghai. In the biggest city of China, the velocos boarded a ferry to Osaka in Japan.
After the visit of Nara and Kyoto, which are famous for its many beautiful temples, the two fled the hot humid summer heat and got by ferry to Hokkaido. From the northernmost point of Japan, Moni and Robi push biked to Kyushu, in the very south of Nippon. Shortly after Christmas, the velocos took a ferry to South Korea. In the bustling harbor city of Busan, they celebrated another New Years Eve. Afterwards they explored Jeju do, the biggest island in South Korea. Like in Japan, the velocos did visit almost every day a public hot spring. This is the perfect place to relax aching muscles.
In the busy port of Busan, their heavy loaded bikes were lifted with a crane inside a huge ship. The 650 feet long container ship brought them in 2 weeks over the completely northern pacific, from South Korea to Mexico. Every day, there was something new to discover, and at night, they had the chance to practice their Karaoke skills with the International crew. That was fun! Once on the American continent, Moni and Robi cycled through the sweltering heat of Northern Mexico, and camped at gorgeous beaches, in the North West of Mexico.
Moni and Robi followed the winding and breathtaking Pacific coast north, pedaled along the steep cliffs of Big Sur, before they left San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge. Mostly they camped in State parks, or in the shade of tall Sequoia trees and often they pitched their tent just next to the wild and rugged coast in Oregon. When they arrived in Canada, they decided to spend some time in the Okanagan valley, where they helped on different organic farms. In the fruit basket of Western Canada, the velocos picked tons of delicious fruits and vegetables and learned a lot about organic farming.
In order to escape the worst cold, Moni and Robi cycled to Vancouver, and boarded a ferry to the southern Gulf Islands, which are famous for their mild climate. On Pender Island, they did feed a hungry flock of chicken, goats, sheepâ€™s and even a grumpy Lama, before they took another ferry to Salt Spring Island. There, Monika and Robi stayed with an artist couple on there beautiful property at the northern end of the Island. Beside garden work, they planted trees and got the opportunity to build a compost bin and a clay oven.
Another ferry brought the velocos from Vancouver to Alaska. In six months, they crossed Alaska, Canada and the USA. Mainly away from the civilization, they rode in the footsteps of the pioneers and prospectors. In the still largely pristine wilderness, they pitched their tent almost every night. That included a daily bath in the cold river, or lake, which belonged to their daily ritual. It often occurs in Alaska and in northern Canada, that they encounter some local wildlife, like bears and moose. Truly an extraordinary experience!
From northeastern Mexico, Moni and Robi traveled via the Huastecas region to Puebla. From the Megacity, they pedaled to Oaxaca and then continued to the hot humid Pacific coast. From Tapachula, they followed a steep and sweaty climb to the highlands of Guatemala. From Quetzaltenango (Xela) the velocos biked to Lake Atitlan and then on to Antigua. After a longer stay in the beautiful colonial town, they left the highlands and cycled the last stage until the Salvadorian border.
From Santa Ana, the first bigger city in El Salvador, the velocos pedal first to the Pacific coast, popular among surfers. Afterwards they continue their journey through San Miguel all the way to Honduras, the second biggest country in Central America. They followed for once the Pan-American Highway, which follows unspectacular and not even close to the Ocean along the Pacific coast. From Choluteca, they do a trip to the island of Utila, known for their huge coral reef. On the same trip, the visit the famous Mayan ruins in Copan. Back in Choluteca, the velocos load their bikes and cycle the last stage to the border.
In Nicaragua, there were not too big obstacles, like mountain ranges, and so Moni and Robi reached soon Granada, at the west coast of the Nicaragua lake. From here the velocos took a ferry to the mythical island of Ometepe, which is home of two volcanoes. From the volcanic island, they continued on the waterway and crossed after a short ride on the Rio Frio the border into Costa Rica. Via the Aral lake, the velocos biked to Heredia, which is located close to San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital. Along smaller roads, Moni and Robi cycled through hilly and scenic terrain to the Caribbean coast and then biked along some gorgeous palm fringed beaches to the border of Panama.
Panama Canal and beautiful palm fringed islands
After visiting the island of Bocas del Toro Archipelago Moni and Robi had to cross a mountain range to get to the Pacific side. Lack of alternatives, the velocos had to follow most of time the busy Pan-American road. They made good progress, but as closer they got to Panama City, the traffic increased constantly. The last stage in Central America was quite a challenge, than on the way to the mooring place the velocos faced some tough 20 % uphillâ€™s, butÂ they were reward with a passage on a sailing boat. The visit of the beautiful San Blas Islands in the Caribbean left the antecedent strains quickly forgotten. For that, the last stage over the open and rough sea wasnâ€™t a real pleasure and so Moni und Robi were glad to reach the Colombian Caribbean coast and feel again solid ground among the bikes.
A long detour on the way home!
Moni and Robi like to cross the completely American continent, they will cycle from the north of Alaska to Patagonia, the southern tip of Argentina. There, they will catch another boat, to cruise the Atlantic Ocean to Africa, their final continent on the long way back home to Switzerland.