After a long day of cycling, I needed to find a place to rest and recharge. In this article, I will share some of my experiences with accommodation, food preparation, and communication while on tour.
On this tour, I did not pre-book accommodations so I slept wherever I stopped cycling for the day. One of the most important pieces of equipment for a tour is a good tent. Having a four-season tent is important given the different seasons (and weather conditions) along the way. With a tent, I was not worried about not having a place to sleep.
However, the challenge lies in locating a good and safe campsite. I usually camp at a 24-hour gas station as they have toilet facilities, a convenience shop and some space to set up my tent. Most of the time, the workers at the station would allow me to spend a night.
The remote wilderness is the best place to camp because the views are stunning. I had been fortunate to see some of the most jaw-dropping sunrises, sunsets, and landscapes while camping in the wilderness.
Staying with locals on request or through invitation is always a treat while touring. It’s the best way to experience their daily life, culture, and food.
I met a family in Kvareli, Georgia, and after getting acquainted they invited me to stay with their relative in Telavi, the next city I was heading to. At Telavi, I was provided with a comfortable room and generous meals the whole day. Her genuine actions truly made me feel welcome in her country.
Food and rations
Food is very important for energy. I had to eat whatever food that was available along the way and I cannot be choosy. Besides that, I carry some food and a stove on my bicycle so that I can cook along with my journey.
I use an MSR stove that can take multiple fuels (petrol, kerosene, benzene) and I also have compact cooking utensils for camping. I am traveling on a tight budget so I will try to cook most of my meals using fresh ingredients available locally.
Communicating with the locals
Being able to communicate with the locals is necessary, especially when I needed to order food! Sometimes I used my mobile phone to photograph the food I saw on the menu or the food other customers were having and showed the picture to the waiter.
At places like the market where there was no menu, I looked for the most crowded food store and observed what the locals order. I then use my magic finger to point and indicate the amount I wanted.
There are a number of phone apps you can use to communicate with locals. One is the ‘Translator’app, which you can download for free and use without a data plan. There is also the ‘Translator for All’ app. You speak into it and it will automatically translate your words into the language you have pre-selected. However, you will need Wi-Fi or data for this app.
Keeping in touch with the family
Not all countries have good Wi-Fi or mobile data, so keeping in touch with your loved ones or friends is challenging at times. I always notify my family members when I arrive at a new location using the‘Maps.Me’ app, or I use Google Maps to share my location.
There are some countries that are strict about foreigners purchasing a mobile data plan, and you will be required to present documents such as a passport, hotel registration, and others. Sometimes, I was lucky to meet other touring cyclists leaving the country I’m entering; we can exchange SIM cards or they’ll just give theirs to me for free since they no longer had use of the SIM card in another country.
It gets easier along the way
I’ve found that with a good tent, cooking stove, food rations, mobile data, and simple sign language, it’s not that difficult to see the world on my bicycle after all.
And, just as having the right equipment and skills give me the confidence for my tour, equipping teachers with the right training will help them be better teachers.
Support my fundraising initiative for World Vision Malaysia’s Education Fund so that teachers from vulnerable communities can be trained and the quality of education for children improves.
About The Author
Peter Yoong, a cycling enthusiast currently on a two-year solo cycling tour around the world. As part of his trip, he will be raising funds to give vulnerable children access to education through World Vision Malaysia’s Education Fund.
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