Different Parts of Everywhere

Chris and Dea

CHRIS


Hey, hello there. My name is Chris Pountney. At the time of writing I am 31 years old
(well, actually you are 32 Chris. Just saying, never mind), although that keeps changing with a frequency I find quite alarming. I'm originally from a little village in Buckinghamshire, England, but I haven't spent much time in my home country over the last few years. As a result I have a fantastically weird accent these days. It's a bit English, a bit American, a bit Australian, and it can be made to go Irish sometimes.

I would describe myself as an 'adventurer and author'. I describe myself this way because it sounds considerably better than admitting I'm an unemployed homeless man who really likes riding his bike around. I've just finished writing my first book, No Wrong Turns, which is available to purchase from all good book stores Amazon and my e-store. It's a book all about the time I cycled around the world. Which I'm still doing. I've actually been travelling by bicycle for about seven years now, covering something like 120,000 kilometres on four continents.

I'm currently getting very close to becoming perhaps the first person in human history (that I know of, I haven't asked everyone to be honest) to make a continuous circumnavigation of the Earth, primarily on land, without at any point ever using motorised (or animal-based) propulsion on land. In other words, I'm trying to go around the world using only my bicycle and boats. This challenge will be completed if I make it back to Mori in China, and we're getting close now. (For a map of my route and more info on this click here)

All of this started sometime in 2008 when, post-university and unsure of what I really wanted from life, I accidentally got a job in an office. I didn't like it much. I wanted something more from life. I'd always dreamed about travelling the world, I just didn't know how. Then I realised that you could travel by bicycle. I quit the job and, after trying and failing to swim the English Channel (another story, for another time), I went on some short bike tours, realising in the process that cycle touring was both the cheap method of travel I'd been looking for and also just ruddy brilliant good fun.

So in May 2010 I set off from London to cycle around the world. I didn't have much of a plan, but I had a good time, riding around the UK, then east to Denmark. From there I took a ferry to Iceland, cycled there for a while, then flew on to Canada. That's where the story gets a bit messy. 

There was a girl, you see, who held me up a bit. Then I had to fly to Mexico, to meet another girl actually. Then I had to fly back to Canada to meet the first girl again. This is not as bad as it sounds. Anyway, the upshot of all this was that I didn't cycle around the world. I spent about two years going around North America, every so often flying places to meet girls, and making very little progress around the world.

By the summer of 2012 I was back in Europe and feeling lost. I decided that I needed to start again. I'd ridden 50,000 kilometres on my 'first trip', and I'd had a great time, learnt a lot about the world and myself, but it was not the continuous global journey I'd always dreamed of making.

So in July 2013 I stood before the Eiffel Tower in Paris with my bicycle and a list of seven targets. The most important of these was to make a continuous circumnavigation of the planet using only my bicycle and boats. No cars, no trains, no planes, ever. No getting distracted by girls this time either, I was quite sure.

Well I won't tell you everything that happened after that, because I want you to buy my book, but after cycling east for over a year I had a little trouble with the Russians, and they made me get in a car for one kilometre. So I started the bikes-and-boats circumnavigation all over again in Mori, China. That's why we are trying to get back there now.

I didn't do too well at the not getting distracted by girls, either, of course. I met Dea in outer Mongolia. For years I'd dreamed about finding my ideal girl. I thought most likely she would be a solo female travelling the world on a bicycle. And then Dea came along. She was on a motorbike, and she was surrounded by men, but she was close enough. We met again in China, and by the time I reached Laos she'd swapped the motorbike for a bicycle, and the rest is history.

There's a lot more to this story of course. I went on to travel with a pirate on a cruise ship to get to Australia, then got hit by a kangaroo in the outback, a bear stole my food in Canada, not to mention the whole drama with Dea's eye infection mid-Pacific, but all of this you will enjoy hearing about much more, I'm quite sure, by purchasing my book (available from all good book stores Amazon, very reasonably priced, I'm told).

Our mission now? To first return to Mori, China, by bicycle and boats, crossing Europe, Turkey, and Central Asia in the process. Beyond that, India, Africa and South America still beckon.
There's a lot more out there. This time, I'm not doing it alone.

DEA

That's right. Chris finally found his long longed for hapless sidekick, although he was crafty enough to never call me that. Instead he charmed me by calling me 'the most beautiful girl in the world' (among several others, mind you), and with me being haplessly romantic it worked, I'm all in.

My name is Dea Jacobsen and I'm a Danish woman born the penultimate day of the year 1986. I'll let you do the calculation to find out how old that makes me.
Until I met Chris I had never heard of cycle touring, although I grew up in a country with a strong cycling culture, had several outdoor interests and always had travelling first on my list of priorities. I never put all those things together though, but was quite content with my life as a student living a very social life with my friends and family and laying the first bricks for the career I had in mind as a high school teacher in Music and Danish.

However, my parents had cultivated travelling as the true beat of my heart by taking me and my siblings on various trips around Europe throughout my childhood. As I grew up, I went travelling whenever I had time and a bit of money. I never fancied group tours and a tight schedule of sightseeing much. Sitting on the curb in the early morning hours seeing Beijing come alive fuelled by steaming dumplings, being crammed together with staring Mongolians on day long, bumpy busrides in seats far too small for my Scandinavian dimensions and playing the game of obtaining official train tickets at Delhi train station from an office hidden behind dozens of deceiving touts, that were the kind experiences I was after. Not only was it cheaper than arranged tours with agencies and airconditioned first class transport, it also felt true. 

What I loved the very most about travelling, was the coincidental encounters with people, locals and other travellers, that always seemed to happen, but never could be counted on. Those encounters that would change my direction and lead me to new experiences I beforehand couldn't have imagined. For example riding a motorbike for the first time in my life out of Ulaanbaataar in Mongolia with three guys I've only met the night before (and who too had never ridden a motorbike before). A wonderful adventure in itself, but also where I bumped into Chris travelling around the world on his bicycle. And that was absolutely the most crucial coincidental encounter I have had. Maybe the moment everything beforehand had always been leading to, dreaming as I had, of galloping over the Mongolian steppes since I was a little girl?
On a horse, motorbike or bicycle - it was all about a deep longing for a simple freedom. But even though it was somewhere in me, it still took me a while to comprehend the approach to travelling and life that Chris revealed to me. It was so different from my settled, stabile and social life back home and yet, it spoke so true to my inner personal preferences. Proposed to me together with the title of being 'the most beautiful girl in the world' I knew I had to do
 the most radical change of direction I could imagine: leaving my great life at home behind to join Chris and travel the world on a bicycle. A decision that still challenges and excites me daily.

The bike offers a combination of aspects that appeals to me:
The modest lifestyle living with only few, necessary things.
The direct, physical encounters with the landscape, weather and people along the way.
The unexpected events of the day I wake up to every morning.
To experience every inch of the way between destinations making the destination itself both well-earned and linked to its surroundings, making the world a less fragmented whole.
The freedom to take the road you like and sleep anywhere but where you're supposed to.
And most of all the simple, slow movement through the landscape in a unique moment in time and space, without any other purpose than just being there.
Being alive.
Being a part of this incredible world.

FACT: I also like horses very much

Being less a part of the social and official society and system is both extremely liberating and nerve wrecking to me. I was raised with a strong sense of community that I still value and never will dismiss, but I don't have much experience with what exists beyond it. Sometimes I find the genuine me there, my unknown strengths, my intuition and certainly my weaknesses. Sometimes I find absolutely nothing and that can be either a blissful peace or absolutely terrifying like free falling without a parachute. Sometimes I feel connected to the core of it all - and it thrills me.

Unfortunately, a vicious amoeba infection in my left eye forced me back home from our joined travels in the spring 2016. A massive disappointment that only made me more keen on going again, more certain that this was what I must do. As soon as I could I was back on my bike exploring what was close to home from a traveller's perspective while my eye recovered.

The two years before we began this trip I had thus built up some experience with cycle touring. I built my touring bike in Melbourne and cycled about 10,000 kilometres on it in Australia and Northern Europe. I learned most of what I knew about bikes and wild camping from Chris, but I did about half of the distance solo which I enjoyed greatly and learned a lot from too. And now that we are living the life on the road, I still feel there is so much more for me to experience, overcome and find out there and inside myself. I still have so much to learn. What I've already learned is that I am where I want to be when I´m out looking for it with Chris by my side.

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