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Stephen Peel


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Going Solo - Bicycle Touring
An article I wrote, expressing my views and experiences regarding long distance solo bicycle touring.
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Update: 26 September 2018

Hi, well I haven't been sat idle while I await my flight to Vietnam, I have kept myself busy.

Including rebuilding my website to make it more mobile friendly than my last one. The last one was OK I guess, but it just didn't show up well on anything other than a desktop or laptop computer.

I'm a bit of a fidget so it's kept me out of mischief, almost :)
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September Update

On a bad note, the reason I was having to stop every few km's for much of the last week of my tour through Cambodia, was as I suspected, that as a result of a traffic accident some time ago, I have arthritis in my neck.

Leaning over for many hours a day while cycling, plus the tension through my shoulders as I ride, made it unbearable to keep going at times, meaning I had to stop and stand straight for a few minutes before continuing on for a few more km's.

On this adventure, I have had so many set backs as you know, but I kept giving it my best shot, it's what I do :)

I'm so lucky that I gave myself the opportunity to take on this crazy and amazing adventure at this time in my life. Cycling in 12 countries, and finishing off in Vietnam! It's fantastic.

I've been completely self-supported, self-funding, and solo for other than 2 half days on the road.

I have met so many wonderful people, experienced amazing things, had hard times, setback after setback, climbing back on the horse - so to speak - so many times, gained more great friends and I'm STILL doing it, even now.

Because I'm not done yet :). You thought I was going to say i'm done didn't you?, but I'm not going to do that, not just yet.

Flights are booked from Manchester to Dubai to Vietnam on the 27th October.

I just feel I don't' want to stop right now, and my bike and gear are still out there at Saigon Storage, so I'm going to make every effort to make it through the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, through Cambodia and back into Thailand and to Bangkok once more.

When I planned this adventure, I pictured cycling along roads that had crystal clear water, white sandy beaches with coconut palms hanging over, and warm tropic sunshine. I've seen some beautiful places, but I've not seen the picture I have in my, so I know I still won't be completely content until I'm in that picture.

I will see how I feel. If I decide at Bangkok that I can't go any farther, it will be because I really can't go any farther, or I'm just content with completing my loop through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and everything I have done up to that point, and I will return home.

But if I feel I'm still able or want to continue on after Bangkok, I will head south of Bangkok and cycle the south of Thailand, the length of Malaysia, and see how I feel when I reach Singapore.
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Vietnam - The Return - Soon :)

In a few weeks time I hope to be back in Vietnam and continuing my crazy adventure.

Here is a little map showing the direction I will be heading from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to the coast close to Bangkok Thailand.

As I cycle south west from HCMC where I left off recently, the Mekong Delta waterways will be really interesting, with floating markets and an intricate web of canals and rivers to navigate.

Phú Quốc is a Vietnamese island off the south coast in the Gulf of Thailand, and is said to be very beautiful with white sandy coconut palmed beaches and crystal clear waters (that picture has been in my head since I first started planning this tour).

I will have to get a ferry out from Ha Tien to spend a couple of days there if I can.

I then cross the border at Ha Tien into Cambodia and follow the coast to Kampot where I hope to spend a few days to explore the salt fields, pepper farms, and maybe a motorbike tour.

Then it's Sihanoukville for a few days while I explore the beautiful tropical Cambodian islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem.

After that, I follow the coastline to the Thai/Cambodian border crossing of Cham Yeam.

Entering Thailand again, it will this time be all coastal instead of the weeks of wonderful rural touring recently, all the way through Trat, Pattaya, to Bangkok.

After that we will see, but I will have enough to keep me busy for a little anyway, and don't forget; My route is subject to change :)
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Bicycle Touring for Beginners Group on Facebook

For anyone thinking about bicycle touring or just starting out, here's a great Group on Facebook that you should join for help and advice or to just see how others are getting on.
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A little video of some of my tour around rural Thailand.

Heading North East from Bangkok, through, Saraburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani to Vientiane Laos.

Then I followed the Mekong River on the Thailand side down to Bueng Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Ubon Ratchathani, and over to O Smach Thailand/Cambodia border crossing.

I chose to see rural Thailand and the Khorat Plateau rather than all the really touristy places, and it was the right thing to do, I loved it.

It had its ups and downs, and it was tough going sometimes, but over all it was an amazing experience to be doing this in the rainy season.

The next leg will see me continuing through Vietnam to the coast, along the coast through Cambodia, then back through Thailand and down the coast of Southern Thailand.

So it will be great to be by the ocean and the islands, I'm really looking forward to that.
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Great to return to the UK for a little while to sort a lot of things out, and catching up with loved ones is by far the best bit.

Going cold turkey on my med's from India to Vietnam due to not being able to source them was not good as I've mentioned in my posts, and has most definitely effected my health in a number of hopefully temporary ways.

My spine injuries as a result of the RTA have been a real problem, and not being able to get hold of testosterone to help my joints has been my biggest concern.

These last few weeks my neck has really been causing problems, with me continually having to stop to rest.

I originally configured the bike to keep me in a more upright position to help, but of course there is no getting away from leaning forward, and 6 hours or more a day of that for quite some time has taken its toll.

It's not just the leaning, it's the tension in the neck that is created by the rest of the body while cycling.

Back on med's as soon as I landed, and I'm feeling much better already, neck still pretty bad but I will have some x-rays to make sure there is nothing more than the original injury. The rest will do it good no doubt.

Regardless, I will soon be returning to Vietnam to collect my bike to continue on, and as you can see by my map, I have a very long way to go.

I will be returning at the end of the worst of the rains, and the temperatures and humidity will be much lower, so that’s great.

I will be heading south west from Ho Chi Minh City to the coast and through the Mekong Delta river system to Cambodia once more.

I then travel along the coastline through to Sihanoukville and to Thailand again to continue the coastline past Bangkok and down through Malaysia to Singapore.

Once I reach Bangkok I will decide whether or not I’m well enough to continue on into Malaysia or even if I want to, if not, I will be returning to the UK from Bangkok and will have absolutely no regrets.

I’m so chuffed with what I have achieved to date, and every new km is a bonus.

I don’t believe I am changed in any noticeable way from my adventure, but I have experienced things that have had a real affect on how I view many things.

The Australia section shows 2 routes, one from Perth and the other from Darwin. I am undecided as to which route I will take, but I have plenty of time to think about that.

Having lived in Western Australia for many years, and visited it many times, I have always wondered about Darwin in the Northern Territory, so maybe I could cross to Brisbane from there.

My sister is moving out to New Zealand in a few weeks time and it would be great to pop by and see how her and her husband are getting along.

As for the USA, I have road-tripped all over the West Coast and all the Southern States, covering more than 10k miles of roads, and would love to cycle right through it from San Diego to Miami. We will see how things go hey :)
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Day 204 - My last daily blog, for a little while anyway :)

A big thank you to Saigon Storage here in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam for looking after my bicycle during my absence.

My bicycle and some of my bags were taken in, and to help me out and because I am supporting JUMP Children's Charity and I'm a jolly nice fellow, no payment was asked for.

I of course insisted that I at least contributed something, and that was that. Great, my gear is stored and ready for my return.

So if you're struggling to find storage in Ho Chi Minh, for even the smallest of things, including your rucksacks and suitcase, as well as pretty much anything, contact Saigon Storage.

Thanks also to Rohloff for putting me in contact with a great guy in Ho Chi Minh who also offered to house my bicycle, and thanks also to him.

My flight is now booked for 9am in the morning, 18 hours long too, but really looking forward to seeing my loved ones and friends and getting a few things sorted.

And so, look out for my posts in the not too distant future, as I continue on my merry adventure.

Catching up later with a fellow bicycle tourist Raymond Lei for a few drinks while he is still here in HCMC.


Image from Day 1 of my Tour. 12 Countries ago.
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7am and 50 km’s to go through such busy traffic. Actually I’m now just 6 km’s to my destination on the other side of Ho Chi Minh City so it wasn’t so bad.
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