Hey Eric, what have you been up to today?
As we speak I am literally holed up in an underground campsite in Coober Pedy [South Australia]. Nowadays it is very rare that I sleep inside, so this seems even more surreal than usual. But then this whole trip has been like a big dream.
Ah yes, the trip… Why?
I wanted to celebrate my return to full health after almost 20 years living with ME (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Postviral Fatigue Syndrome). I thought
it may bring awareness, raise money and inspire others to overcome the condition.
Good for you. Any favourite countries along the way?
Every country offers something different so it is difficult to pick a favourite place. Having said that, Thailand and Indonesia were especially warm – the people as apposed to the weather. They just smother you in smiles. Many of the folk have so little, but are more than willing to share what they have; incredible openness and generosity. France had stunning scenery, the Canal Garonne and the Canal du Midi being especially nice. Turkey was bitterly cold with snow covered mountains providing a beautiful terrain. India is a crazy dynamic and exhausting country, but also exhilarating.
How were you treated by local people?
The biggest impression throughout the trip has been the warmth, generosity and love which has continually flowed my way in every country. Nothing stolen, no acts of violence and no moments of trepidation in 17 months, 16 countries, and over 14,000 miles. I sleep on the streets, cycle throughout the night and eat, shave and sleep whenever I want. Regardless of the time of day I meet folk, or whatever the current state of cleanliness I am in, people are always the same: welcoming.
Did you have any accidents?
I crashed many times: Broken collar bone in Italy; over the handle bars in Azerbaijan (as I tried to repair the bike in the dark, I could hear wolves howling); I crashed into a dog in Indonesia, when kids were riding too close too me; a motorbike ran over my fingers and one night whilst sleeping rough in Oz I was woken by a pack of dingoes scavenging through bins – one came and growled at me to indicate who was boss! A highlight was being policed through Pakistan by six armed men following me all day in a truck. (I slept in police stations.)
All character building stuff eh?
How big does a character need to be? I was reasonable happy with the size of mine before I left!
Has the trip cost you much financially?
My budget has been 20 pounds per day. This has had to cover all costs; food, clothing, bike repairs, accommodation, visa fees, flights, ferries etc. I’ve had a lot of help from family and friends, but raised about 80 per cent of the money myself.
What will be your main memories from Australia?
The vastness of the country, interacting with nature on night-time rides and the generosity of grey nomads. [One evening] as I cycled along, the setting sun streaked my view to my right whilst the full moon rose on my left. I lay down in the middle of the Stuart Highway to saturate myself in the moment. Very special!
What are you up to next?
As I still have some months, muscle and money left then I will extend the trip to include, NZ, USA, Ireland and then back to Scotland in seven months time. [After that] I am already thinking of cycling from Alaska to Patagonia, but perhaps I should finish this one first then see how I feel!
You can read Eric’s blog and/or donate money at www.aberdeen2adelaide.blogspot.com