Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mission Complete

Well, we’re done.  We arrived back in our hometown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on August 21st, 508 days after we left.  We haven’t tallied the exact amount of mileage yet but it is comfortably over 57,000km.  Regarding flat tires, there were more than I would like to count but Trevor won that race with a total of 93 vs my 73. 

The last bit of cycling through Vancouver Island was pleasant.  Sun was out and there were tonnes of wild blackberry bushes.  They grow like weeds around the island and Vancouver.  Funny when we had people approach us and ask where we started and where we are finishing, we would answer straight up and say we started in Vancouver and are going to Victoria and then back to Vancouver.  Usually we didn’t tell about the little in between part right away because people generally ask more questions after.  But some didn’t and would say something like ‘oh that is a nice little trip, well good luck’.

Since being back I have done a number of media interviews and it has been a really cool experience.  First there was the newspaper article in the Vancouver Metro, and then we did a TV news story on Global News.  Then I did a quick segment on the Bill Good Show and if you recall, we listened to his radio show religiously en route so it was pretty neat for me to go on the show.  I then capped off this media run by doing a live morning news show at Global TV with news anchor Lynn Colliar.  After the interview she said some inspiring words to me and that I should seriously write a book.  I have thought about that in the past but never really considered I would do it since there is still more I want to do.  That said, I am now leaning towards maybe trying to put something together because I think I have a wealth of tips on how to travel on the dirt cheap!  And plus this world tour was a blast and I recommend it strongly to those who have thought about doing something similar.  Anyway, with regards to all the media interviews, I plan to put all the links up in the Media tab I will add soon.

Even with the media attention we received I never thought we would be recognized out in public.  But that actually happened today at a McDonalds in Abbotsford.  We were there with our mom and were immediately approached by a group of people upon entry.  One of them asked if we cycled there and I was confused.  Then she said she saw us on the news and shook my hand.  We were then welcomed by other people and given thumbs up and just positive vibes.  It was quite unexpected!  The staff told us our coupons and money weren’t good there and treated us all to a meal!  I have to say McDonalds was very good to us on this trip with their free Wi-Fi and $1 any size drinks with unlimited refills.  We did that a fair bit in North America.       

Now that it is all said and done here is my list of my top 10 countries:

1. Thailand – Warm, cheap, excellent roads with wide shoulders and a 7-11 every 20-30km.  The chocolate Ovaltine drink was a personal favourite in the land of smiles.

2. Malaysia – A continuation of Thailand but unique in its own way.  Great food.  Southeast Asia is just awesome. 

3. Australia – Best camping, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, cheap and delicious milk, new flora and fauna.  Seeing the many koalas along the Great Ocean Road was super cool.  Even though I struggled through the Nullarbor, it was one of the most rewarding sections of this trip.  You definitely look back at the tougher times with fond memories.  

4. United States – The most giving nation in the world.  So many friendly and kind people who supported what we were doing.  Extreme weather which wasn’t fun riding through but made for great adventure.  The Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Colorado Rockies, Mount Rushmore, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone provided some of the best scenery in the trip.    

5. Canada – Diverse terrain, wide shoulders, some great Easter deals when we went coast to coast, lots of wildlife.  The Canadian Rockies were the most scenic.    

6. Iran – Very friendly and hospitable people.  Almost every day people would approach us and want to give us something, help us out or take us in for the night.  An interesting and vibrant country to cycle through.  Solid camping spots.

7. Chile – Beautiful Lake District, and climbing up Volcano Villarrica was spectacular.  Cycling the Pan-American Ruta 5 was pretty nice with a continuous hard, wide shoulder.      

8. Denmark – Great cycling infrastructure with lots of bicycle paths.  Visiting family was very nice too. 

9. Germany – Plenty of roads to choose from, nice countryside, Lidl grocery shopping. 

10. Uzbekistan – The annoying bureaucracy and rough roads has now become overshadowed by the delicious, super cheap food.  I became fat but the ubiquitous samsas and the sweets I constantly snacked on made me one happy cyclist.  The best pomegranates I have ever tasted were around Gulistan.  There were a number of interesting cities to explore like Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent.  Central Asia in general was very fascinating to cycle through and a region I would like to return to explore further.    

My favourite city to cycle in which is also a country was Singapore.  I assume there is no surprise here, huh?  Real good times with friends and with the hawker sessions, ice kachangs, bandungs and kaya bread you really feel like you are in culinary heaven.    

My bottom 5:

41. China – Too much chaos for my liking.  I like peacefulness and riding through the country there was constant noise, pollution, and people in my face.  Drivers wouldn’t obey traffic signs so it was a free-for-all most of the time.  The coldness made matters worse.  To top things off I fell off my bicycle in Yunnan leaving me with a hematoma above my right eye.  It was closed shut for a couple of days and took the better part of a month to fully heal.  One good thing though was the red date milk.  They do their milk very well in China I will give them that.    

40. Turkey – It was very hot when we cycled through.  Lots of up and down hills.  I was harassed and threatened in Ankara by some dumbass punk.  In the East we had to dodge sticks and stones thrown by young boys and teens who tried to get money from us.  Many dogs would chase us almost on a daily basis.  BIM was good though. 

39. Kosovo – That incident with those young punks in Decan who wouldn’t leave us alone at the school left me not liking the country very much. 

38. Turkmenistan – Tough slog through the desert with a whole lot of nothing.  Too boring for my liking after seeing endless road with nothing around for 4 days straight. 

37. Argentina – It had the makings of a great country, it could have easily made the top 5 with its cheap yummy food, in particular dulce de leche.  But this one factor has put it on the bottom and that is they have no hard shoulders.  As such, there was nonstop nerve racking riding throughout.   

Trevor’s top 10 goes as follows:

1. Thailand – It is Thailand, nuff said. 

2. Czech Republic – Cherry trees galore, summer started when cycled through, quite roads.

3. Iran – Interesting country and the people are extremely friendly and hospitable, really good bread.

4. Australia – Conquering the Nullarbor was rewarding, camping with kangaroos pretty cool, and Aussies are open to walking around in public barefoot.

5. United States – Being entertained by southerners and battling daily storms and southern heat.  The Grand Canyon was a spectacle. 

6. Malaysia – Almost as good as Thailand.

7. Austria – Almost as good as Czech Republic.

8. Canada – Only reason it ranks high is because he got to have his personal mixes which included peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and jelly beans.  If it wasn’t for that, Canada would have dropped big time due to the coldness. 

9. Turkmenistan – Camping in the desert and the challenge of getting through the country within 5 days.

10. Uzbekistan – He was annoyed going through the country but it has gone way up in his rankings since leaving because of one thing: samsas.  Plus the sugar cube treats and raisins he picked up from the Siob Bazaar in Samarkand were delicious.

Trevor’s top city was also Singapore and his reason is and I quote, “Have you been to Singapore?”  It is an efficient and warm city, who could ask for anything more.  It is the best of both worlds in that it has both western and eastern influences.   

Trevor’s Bottom 5:

41. New Zealand – The South Island in particular was depressing and cold with unpredictable weather.  It was also expensive and there were too many broken beer bottles on the road which most likely slashed and ruined his $85AUD Schwalbe Marathon tire.

40. China – Message to China: You don’t need to constantly spit, blow snot out your nose and honk your horn.  Also learn how to drive.

39. Turkey – It was great in the west with a BIM in every town where he could get chocolate hazelnut spread but as we headed east the pestering kids wouldn’t let him eat his chocolate hazelnut spread in peace.  Plus the young boys in the east that threw sticks and stones at us were a huge nuisance.     

38. Argentina – Would have easily cracked the top 10 had it not been for the absence of hard shoulders.  So Argentina: if you want to be a top country to cycle in, build hard shoulders! 

37. Kosovo – Wasn’t that bad but there wasn’t much there of interest.  Those punks in Decan were a piss off too.   

I thought after this trip I would be done with the adventure travel game.  But I am not so sure about that.  I would like to keep going if possible and tick off more adventures in the coming years.  Trevor though, might call it a day and really focus on other things.  But never say never to anything.  This adventure had its ups and downs but on the whole it was an incredible journey that I obviously do not regret doing and will never forget it.  The thing that I will take most from this trip is the friendliness and kindness of strangers all throughout the world.  I know the first attempt didn’t start off so great but this successful go sure proved that there are more good people in this world than bad.   

This will be the last post of this blog and if you were a regular reader or checked in from time to time, I thank you for your support.  It really made the cycling much easier knowing that there were people following our journey.  Until the next adventure, peace out!  


The Prince Rupert harbour and I really think this port has a lot of potential.  I was a bit disappointed with the town itself but I think with its location it could become so much more than it currently is.  


Do I have a whale of tale for you!  While scarfing down on the breakfast and dinner buffets on the Inside Passage ferry ride, we were lucky to see a pod of orcas.  I find whales really neat to view in the waters.  Not only that, we also saw a humpback whale making splashes later in the journey.  The oceans and seas are definitely places I want to explore more of.  Ever since I started scuba diving years ago, I have been amazed by what lies beneath the water.  It really is a whole new world under the sea.  And if you think about it, Planet Earth is covered just over 70% by water and just under 30% by land.  So we may have cycled a fair bit on land, but effectively, we haven’t really done this Planet justice in my view!   

Riding down Vancouver Island we passed all this shrimp along the roadside.  Very tempting to pick up and eat but we didn’t do it.

This spot in Campbell River reminded me a lot of our days riding through Japan back in 2008 on the Asia trip.  Japan is another country I think is a joy to cycle in with their manga kissas which are internet cafes where you have your own cubicle with a computer and other entertainment plus free drinks.  That was our accommodation all throughout the country.  Good times.

Back to the official start of the trip, Mile Marker 0 in Victoria, BC.  If you check out the starting photo and compare it with this one, you’ll note that my yellow jacket has experienced a little bit of wear and tear.  But it made it back. 


Taking a breather in Chemainus, a nice spot on the island with many cool murals.  

We thought there would be many wild blackberry bushes throughout the USA and into Canada but there really haven’t been any until this last stretch.  I guess we are lucky to have so many wild blackberries bushes around Vancouver and on the island.  I really don’t understand the need to buy them at a store around here when you can just pick them for free. 

Our first sight of Vancouver!  We decided it would be nicer to ride in from West Vancouver into Downtown Vancouver so we took the ferry over to Horseshoe Bay from Nanaimo after going down to Victoria.

Trevor actually had one more request on this trip: climb up some of Cypress Mountain before entering Vancouver.  So that is what we did.  Luckily the day was great with clear skies and the sun out.  We could even see Mt. Baker clearly in the distance.  Pretty cool.  I have to say every time I have been away from Vancouver for an extended period of time, I return thinking it really is a nice spot.  It is tough to beat its scenic beauty with the mountains and water at your fingertips.   


Some art that I believe is rather new to Vancouver. 
Inuksuk at English Bay.  I know there are a number of Vancouver pictures here but just trying to do my part and promote Vancouver tourism.  Please come check us out!  If you enjoy the outdoors, the Pacific Northwest is a great spot to be.   


I guess this would be the official endpoint of the trip.  I wanted to end it somewhere with a nice view in the back so this is it.  The ever changing skyline in Vancouver really does impress me.   


Or maybe this is the official endpoint.  Back where our official start of the first attempt was: City Hall.

I know the finish line should be a joyous occasion but I was a little down and out when I cycled by this house.  What is so significant about this house?  Well, it is the house I grew up in.  Since we had left on this trip, our parents have retired out in the suburbs and so the house you see now is in the planning stages to get torn down and redeveloped as a multiplex.  This is something that is done a lot in Vancouver, especially in this particular neighbourhood.  Just seeing the property not being taken care of and the garden overgrown was hard to look at. 


I like dogs.  And so I was happy to meet Moses again at my aunt and uncle’s place.  When we left he was still less than a year old and wasn’t yet fully grown.  Now he is a fully grown St. Bernard who loves to get right up close and personal and sit on me.  He is a funny dog.

Question: What do the Hulkster, Hulk Hogan and Trevor have in common?  Answer: They have both been on the front page of the Vancouver Metro!  I must admit I was surprised to see the picture I took of Trevor in the Andes on the Metro before going to do the radio interview on the Bill Good Show. 


Not going to lie, this was pretty cool.  It also was neat in that I got to see how things work behind the cameras in a newsroom.  I thought there would be producers and camera people in the room but nope, it was just the anchors.  The cameras move around by themselves.  All in all, very cool to see the whole operation in person. 

A lot has certainly changed since we left.  The house in the back or ‘Casa de Hansen’ wasn’t completed before leaving so it was interesting to see it finished.  But the real highlight for me was to see goofy boy, Cody, again.  He is a goof. 


6 comments:

  1. Having followed your journey around the world, I am both wowed and inspired. Living vicariously through your posts has been thrilling, and maybe someday I'll follow in your example, jump on my bike and travel the world. It is somewhat fitting that this blog ends with the words "he is a goof" after reading all the goofy situations you pedaled through. And should your adventures take you toward Philly, drop me a line! I'll miss this blog, take care, sean Duffy

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  2. Thanks Sean for the kind words! And thanks for following our journey!

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  3. Hey Kevin,

    I just responed to you on my journal but wanted to comment on your too to just say good job on finishing! I'm surprised to see that you finished your trip within a day of us finishing ours. Good luck from here on out with whatever is coming next.

    -Adam

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  4. Thanks! Yeah I always wondered who would finish first. lol.

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  5. At 508km total climb you guys would have reached the ISS and then some.

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  6. Hah! Yeah, if only we could have cycled all the way up there. That would have been real sweet.

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