It’s been a while I’ve posted or written something. But now I have something special in store for you, a guest post from adventurer Henk van Dillen about his 15.000+ km cycling trip from Rotterdam to Singapore. Rip it away Henk!
My bicycle is standing against a motorcycle. I just bought an iced coffee on a local market. I use the plastic holder to hang the iced coffee on my handle bars. I jump on my bicycle and cycle my way on the paved road in between palm trees. It’s hot. Even in winter in Thailand it’s hot. These people living here have never seen snow. At least the people here in the local villages. They don’t seem to care. Maybe they don’t even know.
Don’t know? Well, I also don’t know. I kinda lost the fun in this. Yesterday was the same. The day before yesterday. Today. What am I doing anyway?
I take a sip from my iced coffee. It’s delicious.
Three days ago I had a conversation with a backpacker. He was complaining that Thailand has become too touristy. I told him that he might consider to buy a bicycle or do some hitchhiking to make his travels more interesting. He refused. Too much risk for him. You know, I don’t blame him for choosing comfort but damn boy, stop whining that Thailand is too touristy. Throw your Lonely Planet out and get off that beaten track! He told me that he liked the comfort in the hostels. Camping might be too dangerous with all that creepy animals in the jungle. And what about musquitos?
You’ve got to be kidding me!
I try not to complain. And to be honest, I don’t care. Dirty food, dirty toilets, creepy spiders, itchy mosquito bites, sweaty nights, dirty water, dirty people. I try not to judge either. People are nice to me. Like they say a lot in Thailand: “Everything purfect!”
Perfect? No, not at all. I don’t feel perfect in many ways.
“Hey Henk! You’re living the dream man! You have to feel good right now. You’re off the beaten track!”
I don’t know. I really don’t know. It’s so weird. Tears start to roll down my cheek. What is it what I’m feeling? I’m cycling but I am crying. I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel good either. It’s just that, it’s an intense feeling. Do I feel alive? How? Am I tired? Why? Why the hell am I crying? Is it the feeling of happiness? Is this the feeling of perfect life? Is this the feeling of a dengue fever? I really don’t know. Is this even what I want to do? Off course it is, isn’t it? Pedalling. Cycling. Another day. In another month. Stunning landscapes. But do I care? The sun deep in my red skin. Sweat along every part of my body. Pushing for hours and hours. To get there. But where?
I take another sip of my iced coffee.
Am I tired? No I’m not. Is it all too much? No it probably isn’t. But what is that I feel? Maybe loneliness?
The last 10 months I cycled from the Netherlands to Thailand on my rebuild second hand bicycle. Through mountains, seasides, deserts, winters, highlands, beautiful nights, horrible colds and almost every weather condition you can think of. From being robbed to having the most unexpected great generosity I even didn’t know existed. I might already have what I want but I’m still on the road. Lugging for more. More experience, more happiness, more sadness, some more of that addictive drug. That adrenaline. I have a goal within this trip. I need to achieve something. My journey isn’t finished until I got there. Where? In Singapore.
But today. I don’t know. It’s that weird day again. I just don’t know what I’m trying to make clear in my mind. All I know is that someone is cycling and another one is talking. They argue. They often don’t understand each other. An hour after I started this day I already came into a harsh conversation with myself.
“You got to take a break Henk.” But I only did 15km today and I want to go for a 100+ day. If I take a break now I’ll be lazy the rest of the day.
“No, you need one. Feel your legs. You are already a bit tired.” That’s just the thing in my mind. I’m not tired. I’m just doing perfect like this. I can even cycle a bit faster.
“Put on some music, you’ll need it.” No, it won’t help! Yesterday I cycled the whole day with music. I don’t even hear people shouting from the road. Why always cycle with music? Not today!”
“You’ll go faster with music. Anyway, there is a place where you can buy iced coffee.” What the heck!? Shut up! Don’t do it. Not after 17km.
“But the breakfast you eat today was just juice and some peanuts. You need some sugar!” Why? Why I don’t shut up? Why I don’t have any peace in my mind? Ok, 10 minutes, only for 10 minutes to shut myself up for a bit.
And 40 minutes later. I leave again. Repacked with new energy. With new thoughts. I forgot about that 100+ day. And who cares?
It’s just a beautiful day! The sun is shining. People are nice. I even got this iced coffee for free! Those Thai ladies they were so friendly. The older lady asked me to touch her son for luck. How weird was that! I tried to give him a handshake but he was too shy. It didn’t work. No. But those ladies! They were incredibly nice. I can’t believe it!
And then suddenly I’m crying. For God’s sake! Why!? “You’re living the dream Henk! Let it go!”
Yes, I will. But it’s hard living a dream.
I take another sip of my iced coffee.
I like it! I fucking like this dream! Look at that jungle! Where am I going to sleep tonight!?
Thanks for this great story buddy, I think this is very recognizable for every long distance cyclist.