Tom’s Bike Trip Continues: South East Asia Edition

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A couple of years ago I had a big idea. I felt compelled to realise that idea, and it quickly consumed my life. One of the side effects was that I stopped writing this blog. Suddenly all my time and energy was being channelled into something new which had very little to do with cycle touring. This wasn’t planned, but it happened anyway. Circumstances dictated it.

I’ve had mixed feelings about this. For many years my blog was the focal point for my creativity, my means of contributing to society, and the source of a large portion of my income. On the other hand, I’ve never seen life as a steady-state endeavour. Progress and change and the continual renewal of ideas seem to either follow me or pull me along. So in a way it felt natural to leave this blog behind. I didn’t even notice when the 10-year anniversary of the departure of Ride Earth – my first big transcontinental trip – ticked over on the 17th of June last year.

But this wasn’t just a blog, was it? It became a community project, built around a shared, romantic notion of exploration by bicycle and all the many topics that spiral outwards from that simple concept. As time went on, the proportions and the focus swung towards the contributors, the riders, the shared ideals and the debates, and the blogger became a guide.

Hence my mixed feelings. Is my disappearance having the unintentional effect of disbanding that community? Of course the words and ideas are still here, but what’s a museum without a curator? Judging by the contents of my inbox, I could easily fill these pages with paid advertorials disguised as guest posts for the sake of having new content, but wouldn’t that undermine the personal and nonpartisan foundation on which it’s all been built?

Anyway. This is all a long-winded way of getting to the point, which is that my ‘big idea’ has grown wings and is learning to fly, leaving space for me to drift once again towards the two-wheeled life I used to know. There are huge parts of the world I have never been to; times are constantly changing; the allure of discovery for its own sake has never diminished; and I feel it’s about time I let the winds of travel take me somewhere new again.

So the bike has been dragged from the basement, the panniers patched up, and a mental map of potential adventures is once again beginning to form. Because I can, and because it makes me feel alive. And with a return to the bike – and I can feel this tangibly – is coming a return to writing about it.

On a more selfless note, I was wrong about that ‘big idea’ having nothing to do with cycle touring. Working on the hiking trail in the Caucasus has shown me how I can marry the love of bicycle travel with an intimate knowledge of one small corner of the world to create opportunities for other riders. I can see this blog evolving in that direction too.

These aren’t New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not promising anything, making public commitments to create false accountability, or anything like that. I’ve only ever done this out of love, and if that’s not enough of a motivator, I probably shouldn’t be here.

So yeah.

But most of all, it’s just nice to be back.

Comments (skip to respond)

53 responses to “Tom’s Bike Trip Continues: South East Asia Edition”

  1. Well Toms, My comment will be very funny actually i was looking for Toms brand (Garments) but i read this article i read all your post. Honestly it is good to see you back with your audience. Keep sharing good posts and take good care of yourself.


  2. Good to hear from you again Tom and look forward to more interesting blogs.

    Chris M

  3. woodbine avatar


  4. I’d lost my mojo and at 58 my life had been in limbo for over 3 years as I gave up my job, split with my wife and have been living with my dementia riddled dad and dreaming,just dreaming of wheeling my bike down the garden path and heading out into the unknown. 3 weeks ago my dad passed away and the funeral was yesterday. Now I’m left with a house,a decent lump sum of money…but I’m scared! All the pieces of the jigsaw are nearly in place now,but having not really travelled properly for 35 years it’s suddenly seeming daunting! I was considering putting the bike travel on the back burner again and doing the ‘normal’ stuff and looking for a job again. I needed some inspiration from somewhere and your timely return with your email the other day Tom has hopefully provided it. I’m hoping to leave Inn the summer. Thankyou…

    1. astratow avatar

      Hi Al, I haven’t seen you for a while, where have you been hiding? lol Happy New Year!

  5. Hi, glad life is treating you well.
    I used to follow your blogs after being diagnosed with stage 1 bowl cancer, they helped inspire me to keep the cycling going and complete my own modest cycling holidays and events.
    Good luck
    Know the symptoms of bowel cancer? Check

  6. Ted Edwards avatar
    Ted Edwards

    As others have said Tom glad your back out there. Probably will never do it myself but who knows by reading of your adventures I might be inspired to.

  7. You are a great motivator .I was 46 inch belly to 36 now 46 again glad your back very cold in CANADA right now.

  8. Marc Verlinden avatar
    Marc Verlinden

    Nice to see that you are back again Tom. My best wishes for a healthy and active New Year!!

  9. Jean-Louis (from Bordeaux, France) avatar
    Jean-Louis (from Bordeaux, France)

    After reading all those comments from Tom’s followers, I felt like I should write something…but what? Maybe just to say that Tom’s attitude to life is the right one, just doing things out of interest…no matter what it is because those interesting things you might enjoy doing quickly become a passion. Tom’s bike touring has become a passion for him, so is his writing. I am 70 years old now and I have done only 3 bouts of bike touring of roughly 10 days each because each time my bum got very sore. I plan to cycle along the Loire river from mid-May to mid-June this year, alone unfortunately…if anybody ‘s interested please let me know.

  10. Chris Greenwood avatar
    Chris Greenwood

    Nice to hear from you again, as others have said you were an inspiration for our first bike tour, now we are also following people like Ed Pratt , Solo Stan and Super Cycling Man on their exploits.

  11. Wish you all the best whatever you get up to. I too felt inspired to finally get off my butt after reading your blog. Took my first longish cycle trip last summer, now everything seems to revolve around doing it again, for longer.

  12. One of the first posts I’ve seen from you because I only found you a few months ago and now I’m leaving tomorrow! First ever trip from Exeter to Berlin and then who knows, wish me luck!

  13. Adrineh avatar

    Best news I’ve heard today, and what a great way to kick-off the new year. Welcome back, Tom — you’ve been missed!

  14. ROberto Daniele avatar
    ROberto Daniele

    Hi Tom
    Great to hear you are back on the road again and look forward to reading your inspiring posts again!

  15. Excellent Tom. Looking forward to your new adventures!

  16. You inspired me to take up bike touring. I was planning to ride to Jerevan from Vienna to meet you next summer, but if you are not there, maybe we meet somewhere on the road.

  17. Welcome back, Tom!

  18. At last some news to be glad about! Happy New Year Tom.

  19. Thanks for the update, glad to hear you’re back in a position to do things that make you feel alive, like bike travel!

  20. Phiroze Palkhivala avatar
    Phiroze Palkhivala

    Hi Tom, great to have you back.
    You were one of the primary inspirations for my starting to tour on bicycle. I followed your blog, decided to take time off from my legal profession, and have toured Taiwan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia, with Croatia, Slovania and Italy coming up this May. It has totally changed my life, and you have played a big role in it.
    Have been missing you. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Warm regards,

  21. Great to see you’re back Tom. Your blog has been inspirational and has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and have a crack at adventure touring. I’ve completed a few now, the fever has also passed onto to my son who joined me on my last tour. He also announced that he plans to do some global cycle trotting when he finishes school. Keep it up!

  22. Tom Lais avatar


    It seems odd writing you. In a good way. I have returned home from a year of global bicycling. Your comments ring so true. I’ve seen so much and experienced so Little.
    You’ve made a wise decision to get back on the bike. I ve been off it three weeks and I am totally lost. 

    I love your blog and look forward to reading more 

    May I leave you with a thought that has carried me from my fist adventure through today. 

    “You can not know the path until you become the path”. The Buhdda.

  23. Tegan Taylor avatar
    Tegan Taylor

    It was good to read that bit. I remember a stop along your travels that I received a postcard from Tehran, Iran. Where will you go next, as I look forward to your future travels, cheers!

  24. Good to hear from you. Your website has been a huge help to many. 

    Like the chap who wrote from a tent in NZ, we’re 2 weeks into our first big tour in Thailand and hit the 1000km marker today. We got a lot of our info from your website. 


    Mark & Siubhan

  25. We’ve all missed you. Wonderful to hear that you’re dusting off the panniers. Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

  26. Great to have you back!

  27. Good to hear from you, Tom. Wishing you all the best in the new year. I like that part about doing it for love. Good Stuff !


  28. Good to hear Tom! Happy New Year to you

  29. Erin Snow avatar
    Erin Snow

    Yes, welcome back, but no pressure! For me, the inspiration of your traveling and writing has been from your living your life according to your best sense of vitality and adventure. This has been true even though I haven’t seen your blogs for all this while! The spirit with which you live has remained quite alive for me. 

    Best happiness to you in your new stuff!

  30. Chris Murphy avatar
    Chris Murphy

    Awesome to hear about this!

  31. Salomé avatar


  32. Welcome back, Tom! I’ve missed you.

  33. Definitely good, welcome news to hear you coming back !
    Happy New Year Tom

  34. Au plaisir de vous lire à nouveau !

  35. Hahaha, I was/am in the similar situation. 11 years ago I started my blog while touring on a bike around the Himalayas for 5 months, truly the adventure of my life, and then life took over… Just getting back to my blogging, writing to clear my head and plan my adventures… 

    Glad you are back. Love reading about your travels;)

  36. great to have followed your progress through the years . hope that you will continue to blog about cycling adventures. I am still having my own small cycling adventures too.

  37. Great to hear. Funnily enough I am writing this from my tent in New Zealand, four weeks in to our first ever bike tour for which your exploits were a big inspiration! Happy New Year!

    1. Hi. If you are coming through Wellington amd need a stop, plz do be in touch.

  38. Welcome Back! You’ve been missed.

  39. Andrew Mcfarlane avatar
    Andrew Mcfarlane

    All the best for 2018

  40. Pleased to see you back Tom. You’re an inspiration.

  41. Welcome back!! Can’t wait to read about your travels. To better days 🙂

  42. It would be great if the transcaucasian trail was also made suitable for bicycles. Any chance of that?

    1. Ryan Armishaw avatar
      Ryan Armishaw

      That’d be AWESOME! I’d be there in a heartbeat 🙂

    2. Watch this space…

  43. Nice to hear from you again, your words are inspirational.

  44. Ryan Armishaw avatar
    Ryan Armishaw

    Great to have you back Tom! I look forward to hearing about your new adventures

  45. Welcome back. Blwyddyn newydd dda (happy new year in Welsh)

  46. Hi Tom,
    How are you? Good to see you back. Your blog has a lot of value now as it comes up on top of google searches under various requests. I hope your wife is still as good as she was initially (Armenian women claim to be the best wifes in the world) and perhaps better. In New Yeat day I wish you plenty of ideas, time and energy to plan, prepare and make your adventurous (and others too) dreams reality.
    Kindest regards,

  47. Good to know you weren’t hit by a truck or something. As one voice from this community, you write it I’ll read it, welcome back maybe.

    1. Bob Bray avatar

      Hi Tom, longest puncture repair in history, glad ya rolling again. Bob

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