How are you going to do this?
So here’s the rough plan, I’m flying over to Beijing where I will start the tour. According to history, the Han-dynasty Silk Road began at the magnificent capital city of Chang an( xi an) – sera metropolis. From Beijing I will cycle my way south-west to Xi’An. Then, if I follow the ancient silk route, the route will take me took traders westwards into gansu province and along the hero corridor to the giant barrier of the Great Wall. From here, many caravans favorited the northern route through the jade gate pass ( yumen guan) north west of dunhuang, along the southern foothills of the heavenly mountains (tian Shan) and skirting the northern rim of the taklamakan desert, past the rich oasis towns of Hami, Turpan, Yanqi, Korla, Kucha and Kashgar. There’s nothing like cycling across the Silk Road, discover the past and how the ancient do the walk
I’m going to pack all my stuff and fly over to my starting point, Beijing, and make my way through Europe via the ancient Silk Road. There’s no particular road I will follow, i will make plans and ask for directions along the way. Just make sure I’m heading the west direction. I have not decide where would be my end point. If all is well, I will end up in Lisbon, Portugal. It will be a journey through Eurasia via the ancient Silk Road. It’s an ambitious goal but I believe it is achievable. I hope to complete it within 10 months because time is not on my side because I need to come back to Singapore for my reservist.
About a year ago, my initial plan was to fly to Beijing (北京), China and end in Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, three months before departure, I was forced to change my plans due to China’s strict Visa Policy. Currently, China only gives 30 days for tourist visa now. It’s extremely difficult to cycle from Beijing to Kashgar fully loaded within a short period of time. I guess the amount of time needed for the journey is more than three weeks because you need to factor in the time waiting for the Central Asia Visa to be ready, weather as well as resting days. Unless you can cycle a total of 4500km within three weeks and assumed everything goes according to plan (good weather, no police, no sickness, express visa). If you divide the distance equally into three weeks, it will be an average of 215km per day. It’s crazy and physically impossible for me.
Also, there’s another issue with army, initially, they were unable to grant me exit permit because I have to come out with day to day itinerary . So I have to come back to Singapore within six months. Right now, I need to return to Singapore by 24.01.14
All of these issues happened three months before my departure. I have already booked my flight ticket to Beijing last year December.Sadly, after so many months of planning, things did not go according to plan. Visas and exit permit can only be applied three months before departure;. If I knew this was coming, I would have more time to come out of new plans. Unfortunately time and luck is not on my side.
So, there’s a lot of thoughts on my mind. It has been very stressful because time is running out. I have three months left and I can’t afford to screw things up. Every day and night, I will visualize the map in my head and start mapping out the possible routes. After days and days of trial and error, I came out with a route that will fit within my time frame but I’m gonna lose out some of the greatest experience of the trip. I will have to skip some countries and may need to take trains, buses or taxis. Taking public transport will dent the integrity of this trip because I want it to be pure cycling only, I guess I just have to be flexible in order to make this trip possible.
Now, my starting point in is London and I will make my way across the Eurasia and make my way to China. The ending point is at Cheng Du which I have friends staying at the area. You may ask why Cheng Du?
- If I apply for China Tourist Visa, I will only have 30 days to get from the border to the Centre of China. However, not including the weather, resting days, packing of the bike, and booking of the flight back to Singapore. I think it is possible to cycle within three weeks. However, of time is tight, I will have to cheat and take public transport and I probably have less than three weeks of cycling.
- My friends will be there to take care of my accommodation and they know where to get my bike packed.
- Budget airline flights to Singapore with sports equipment is cheaper. If I have time, I would probably fly back to Singapore or Hong Kong to renew my China Visa, and leave my bike with my friends and fly back to continue my journey. Or I could just fly back to Singapore with all my stuff and end my trip
Of course, there are other problems such as Visas for Central Asia. But what I can do is to prepare all the necessary documents and hope that the Officer-in-charge that day would love me because the ever-changing rules for visa applications in Central Asia are enough to make even the most rugged traveler doubt his future travel plans. Applying for these visas is time-consuming, frustrating, confusing and sometimes downright scary. Well…. It’s all part of the adventure =)
If everything goes well, I will cycle back to Singapore.
As of now, I’m trying to finalise my daily itinerary in Europe so that if you happen to be there, maybe we can meet up for coffee =)