“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop – The lion & The Mouse
The people we meet along the way is what makes this trip special.
Some of them have helped us beyond our expectations, whether it’s a place to stay for the night, a hot drink, or just a friendly point in the right direction. The wonderful thing about cycle touring is that these amazing people tend to pop up when you’re least expecting them and when often you most need them.
Without sounding too dramatic… these people help give us faith in the inherent goodness of the human race and have thus earned themselves the title of ‘Road Angel’
It’s therefore both fitting and important to us that these amazing folk who add to and in some cases make our trip are properly remembered and recorded…
Arriving back in the ‘western’ world we weren’t entirely sure how we’d be received. We could now, for the first time on the trip, communicate fluently with most of the people we met along the road but would this mean people were more or less friendly? Or would they just be indifferent?
In our society we’re so often taught that every ‘stranger’ is a ‘danger’. Well… here’s our list of ‘strangers’…
- Al and Charmain, Darwin – We had never met Al and Charmain before, but we had been reassured by a mutual fried that they were stellar. (They, on the other hand had been reassured that we were not axe-murderers).They started off by picking us up from the airport in their Ute (we were late), driving us to their house and plying us with delicious food, beer and copious amounts of gin and tonic. A good time was had by all! The weekend continued and they proceeded to treat us to more drinks and the most delicious steak that we perhaps have ever had. We only meant to stay a couple of days, but with a lost bicycle and NZ visa chest x-rays to sort out (plus Alice finding ‘shadowing work’ at a physio clinic) we ended up staying for over a week. They were so generous and looked after us mightily well, letting us use their house as our own (even their bicycles!). They sent us on our way with rehydration sachets and energy gels. Just a huge huge thank you. Your immense generosity did not go unnoticed. We just hope that we can return the favour. This time including our connector, Andy Cowie.
Before we go too far, we need to send our a huge cheers to all the Grey Nomads and fellow travellers who offered, and gave, water refills and countless cups of tea.
Anya and Rich, couple on their way to the Kimberleys in WA.We were having a terrible time with punctures and Alice had been reduced to tears because she was too enthusiastic with her pie order. We noticed a vehicle with mountain bike on the back, maybe, just maybe they would have a spare inner tube they could sell us. Anya and Rich were lovely, a refreshingly inspiring couple who were really nice to chat to. Oh, and they gave us an inner tube for free. You don’t know how much worry that has saved us!
Family on the way up to Darwin for a water skiing competititonWe were seeking shade behind a commemorative sign for a telegragh pole when we started chatting to a lovely family. The parents had met and lived in Darwin 25 years earlier, and now they were going back for the first time. Next thing we knew, we were being offered a choice of muesli bar or almonds. We chose the muesli bar, and were given another for later. It may not sound much, but when the temperature is soaring, you are ravenous and all you have are some old peanuts- an exquisite muesli bar may be the best thing in the world!
Couple at free campsite. We arrived to the free campsite as it was getting dark and teeming with mosquitos. We were so hungry and thirsty, but we would have to filter water before we could drink. Luckily Pete was chatting to two ‘grey nomads’ who asked us if we needed anything. Two bottles of drinking water were produced, and also an icy cold bottle of lemon and lime drink. Delicious. In the end we joined the couple by their fire to eat our dinner where we chatted away and they bestowed upon us a glass of wine and a bottle of cider. It really turned our mosquito-ridden trying evening into something verging on decadent!
Banka Banka Campsite- This should probably go in our ‘Recommended’ section, but the generosity and friendliness of the proprietors was beyond the call of duty, so deserves a mention here. Long story short, we enquired if they had any food for sale. They didn’t, but we ended up with fresh eggs, steak, more steak, bread and home made pasties- all at a nominal cost to us. And the kids even carried the goodies to the camp kitchen for us! But more than that, visiting a place which was so welcoming and had had so much effort put into it just felt good and was most welcome in this flat landscape. Also, when she saw that we were riding bicycles, she immediately halved the price of camping for us, “because you’re crackers!”
Kel, met at Banka Banka campsite on the Stuart Highway. Kel was 23 years old and was spending 3 months exploring Australia in his home customised ute. We were pretty envious of his awesome set up, he even had a fridge on wheels! Within that fridge he produced two icy cold beers for us! The day had been so hot our water was warm- a beer was certainly at the top of our wish list (I’m not sure if he knew how much we enjoyed that beer!) We stood around drinking with him when he discovered Pete had never tried ‘Bundy’ rum, “Ah! Well that’s your next can!” And then, on top of that he cooked us up sausages to go with our steaks, and even cleaned the BBQ as we munched away. This, we are learning, is true Aussie hospitality.
Baz and Curly at Banka Banka, Baz had been at Banka for a few days, fixing a motor for another motor to replace a motor. Long story. He had this big greying beard and twinkly eyes, and a pit bull terrier called Curly. We had great conversations with Baz, one of which was about roadkill. Over breakfast (thanks for the bacon) he taught us all about it, so we could go out and eat our own. But then, as he left, he strolled up to the camp kitchen, “If you don’t find any roadkill, you can use these” and produced an array of canned sardines and chicken. We haven’t yet found any road kill, so all the cans have now been eaten.
Whippet and Brad, on their way to a B&S Ball. For yet another day we were riding in the Outback. It had been a boiling hot day, our water was warm and our mouths were dry. We taunted ourselves with the impossible idea of an ice cold beer. Just then, a blue ute travelling in the opposite direction pulls up to stop on the opposite side of the road, “Fancy a drink mate!? You’ll need it on that!” So Whippet and Brad jumped out of their Ute and handed us an ice cold beer each! Magnificent! We couldn’t believe our good fortune. The even gave us another couple each to take with us! So, thank you Whippet and Brad for making the impossible happen, in the middle of nowhere.
Ashley, Xavier and Ghandi (the dog). After our appalling experience at the Barkley Homestead (essentially: getting physically assaulted for asking to buy rice) we met this lovely couple and their dog. They were shocked and disgusted by their fellow Australians, so in sweet irony insisting on giving us a kilo of rice for free! And fresh drinking water!
John from Byron bay, stopped his cement mixing truck on the road and hopped out and handed us a cool bottle of spring water each. Has water ever tasted this good?
Alan and Sheryl AKA the Easter Bunny! Easter sunday, Alan comes into our camp with a package. “The Easter bunny came last night, but I think he mush have got the wrong address. I think these are for you” and handed Pete a Tupperwarei box, nestled inside strips of paper were 3 hard boiled eggs and a load of mini chocolate eggs! We couldn’t help but just shake our heads and grin, they certainly made our Easter.
Nicky and Rich from Perth. We arrived at a free rest spot just as it was going dark, but had a very welcoming wave from Nicky. When it later transpired that the water tank had a label saying ‘Do not use for drinking, cooking or washing’ they saved the day by presenting us with a 10lt box of spring water! Yet another wonderful honeymoon pressie!
Lee and Roseanne. Having walked a long sweaty walk into town from our free camp spot in Camooweal, Alice arrived back at the tent and realised we didn’t have enough fuel for cooking dinner. 😦 We ended up asking fellow campers Lee and Roseanne if we might buy a small amount from them. They gladly topped up our bottle and wouldn’t take a cent. We then met them again at Mt Isa, where they saw us, greeted us, and then presented us with a bag of red snapper for our dinner! So friendly and kind, another great example of Australian hospitality.
Ken, Mt Isa camp ground. We decided to stay at a lovely campground in Mt Isa. As we pitched up next to Ken, he presented Pete with an ice old beer. When Alice later commented that his food smelt good, he insisted on serving us up pork chops and chips!! We were so hungry, and it was so tasty and delicious. What a gem, Ken!
John and Debbie, from New Zealand. We decided to stay an extra day at that Mt Isa campsite, and we are glad we did. We met John and Debbie, plus another lovely couple (thanks for the beer!!) from New Zealand. We had great chats and their enthusiasm for our trip was infectious. As we said goodbye, they presented Pete with a T-shirt, a big bag of nuts (and these weren’t just peanuts, there were almonds, cranberries, white chocolate and pistachios) and $20 so we could buy an ice cream!! As a cycle tourist in a hot country, not much is more exciting than the prospect of a guilt free ice cream, apart from finding that there is chocolate in your nut bag. Thank you.
Dave from Mt. Isa. We had already experienced amazing hospitality in Mt. Isa alone. But this deserves some kind of award. As we were riding out of town we saw a guy riding, what turned out to be, a homemade electronically assisted recumbent tricycle. We waved and he came over to chat to us. The conversation moved onto our struggling rear wheel, and how useful it would have been to have a trailer. He announced that he had an old one we could have if we liked! So we went to his house where he showed us the trailer- he had made the entire thing himself- which was completely perfect for our purposes! So he spend the afternoon making a rack to attach it to our bike. We test-rode it in the car park opposite- it was perfect. We were so completely speechless at this mans generosity and a little overwhelmed that our limping bike might, just might, now make it to the coast. By the time we had fitted the trailer, it was a little late to start our days riding, so Dave invited us to stay at his house. We had a lovely evening chatting about all manner of things, and had great coffee in the morning too. Dave, you are a real inspiration.
The three couples in Cloncurry Picnic Area – Doris & Ian; Pete & Jane; Marica & Steve.After lunch we were chatting to these three lovely couples. When they saw we were drinking just plain tap water, they offered us a Ginger Beer. On seeing the joy having a a cold drink gave us. All three couples proceeded to pile on gifts: Apples and pears, crisps, tins of tuna, tins of sardines, bananas. Then we heard Marica’s voice, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to give them my chocolates.” She appeared, announced she was a chocoholic, and solemnly handed us a kit kat chunky each! 🙂
Mark and Gavin in the Crocodile Dundee Pub at McKinley.We decided to visit the Croc Dundee pub, full of paraphernalia from the film. Before we knew it we had been bought a beer by Mark (an English guy who had emigrated) and also by Gavin (a kiwi who was over here for work). We only managed 20kms further that day.. And cheers to Daniel for the Bundy Bikes.
Michael at the North Gregory Hotel, Winton. We were camped in the cheapest place in town, which turned out to be the car park behind the North Gregory Hotel (allegedly where ‘Waltzing Matilda’ was first performed). Pete got chatting to the manager Michael when he announced, “I think you should have a day off tomorrow. How do ya fancy a room tomorrow night, on me.” Wwoooooooooooo!! And then as we happily got ready for bed, he bought us a beer and got us talking to a group of very interesting locals, including Judy and David Elliot….
Judy and David Elliot, at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs. After chatting to this inspirational couple the previous night. We were invited to take a tour around their huge project, The Australian Age of Dinosaur. David had actually been the one to discover dinosaur bones in the area, sparking off a huge project to discover many more bones, and also new types of dinosaur- research on the front line of palaeontology. Anyway, we were treated like VIPs, given a full tour, held dinosaur bones and even tried a spot of excavating. And we were even treated to lunch! What a great and unexpected day off!
Free camp site, Longreach. We got chatting to Ray who donated to us a full tub of gatorade powder. Mmmm, now we good disguise horrible tasting water with berry flavours, and get electrolites too! Cheers for staving off the dehydration Ray!
Irene, Judy and David, Longreach. We were asked if we might pop into see Judy and Davids daughter, Irene. It all turned out to be a set-up, they had lured us to the restaurant where Irene worked and had opened a tab so they could treat us to dinner! Little rascals! (But it was very delicious, particularly the sticky date pudding and ice cream!)
Barbara, Dave and Steve at Ilfracombe. We met this travelling trio whilst eating lunch,and got chatting. We had mentioned our funny incidence with Whippet and Brad and their timely beer, when they turned round and invited us to the pub for a schooner! Well, we do have a never-say-no- to-a-cold-drink policy…
Michael the Dentist in Blackall. Poor Pete had been suffering with a big hole on his tooth for weeks. While he was chatting to a lovely old lady in the street, Alice popped into the local dentist. Not really sure what she was asking for as dentistry is super expensive in Australia, luckily they were reslly friendly and managed to dechipher alices ramblings. Before we knew it, Pete had been squeezed in and was in the dentists chair having a temporary filling. The whole thing only cost $20 (£10). Our first Dentist Angel!
Free internet in Augathella library.
Gayle and John, and Kerry – at Michell,Finally we had made it to mitchell, and we were going to have a day off the following day. Usually we buy some nice food and maybe treat ourselves to a glass of wine. This time, we arrived too late to organise such things. Luckily for us, we met Gayle and John who donated us their last 3/4 bottle of wine! Their friend Kerry donated us a beer. Well, every mouthful was fully appreciated.
Mici, an Estonian Road Angel in Roma,We were just coming out of the library in Roma when a lady bounced up to us and exclaimed, “Would you like to come to my house for lunch and a shower!?” She paused, and laughed, “I’m not being creepy or anything, I did a cycle tour too.” So we followed her to her house, enjoyed a hot shower and a great lunch followed by great conversation, cups of tea and tim tams. She then presented Alice with a new hand made dress which was more than welcome (you can imagine the disgusting state of most of our clothing!). So thank you Mici, you completely made our day and Alice had hardly taken off the dress!
Mystery Donor, just outside of Chinchilla.Riding along, we suddenly noticed a blue bag cellotaped to a lamppost. On it was written, “For the Kids on Bike, Happy Travelling” inside was an array of fruit, veg and fruit cake!! We were so shocked! So, mystery donor, if you happen to read this, thank you! (We sincerely hope the package was for us! Ha ha)
Mervyn, Rizza and Lady, Chinchilla.Sat eating lunch and using the wi-fi in Chinchilla, we got chatting to Mervyn, a local of the area. He told us that Chinchilla Show was on and we should go. And we could put our tent up in their garden if we liked. So we did. Mervyn took us to the show, getting us in for free. There was a sawing competition, pig-racing, horse racing, arts and crafts, produce competitions, hen competitions etc. Afterwards, he drove us home where we had a delicious home cooked meal and a hot shower. In the morning we were given a huge breakfast too. Really nice to meet everyone (not forgetting our fellow visitors, Kelly and Chris, Sarah and Kids) and awesome to be taken to a country show!
Beverly and keith austly and coral and trevor mcclintock, just outside Chinchilla.Feeling lazy, we decided to stop at a rest area 20kms into our ride and make a coffee. We are so glad we did, becuase that is where we met these lovely people. We were telling them about all the Road Angels we have met when Beverly handed us a $20 note!! (And she wouldn’t take no for an answer). Not wanting to be outdone by her sister, Coral dashed off to their car and presented us with another $20 note!!!!! They just said that they thought what we were doing was great and wanted to contribute. Yet another act of generosity that left us grinning, heads shaking in astonishment.
Di and Bill, Ipswich. We first met Di in Mitchel, where she commented on our bike. When we randomly met her again in the next village, she joked that we were following her and then invited us to her home in Ipswich so we could have a real bed and a homecooked meal. It really became the shining light on the horizon- making our bike problems much easier to cope with, knowing we had a bed waiting. On arrival, Di and Billy made us feel so welcome, they washed all our clothes for us, gave us huge steaks and veg, apple pie (and custard!) and had even bought a new scrubber for us to use in the shower! Oh, and then invited us to stay another night so we had time to do some errands. Di, Billy, your house is wonderful (it will look brilliant for your party) and your dogs are fantastic- thank you so much for your kindness. (And we love the silver echidna!)
Denise and Paul Moir, Rohloff distributors Gold Coast.From the moment they heard of our wheel troubles (2,500kms previously), the Moirs had only been supportive. When we finally made it to the Gold Coast, we were invited to stay in their beautiful home and were given a meal. When our plans (plan A,B and C) all fell through, they invited us to stay in their house while they went away for the weekend! Denise also took us walking, showed us around and gave us a lift so we could visit our friends down the coast. Their service for sorting out our Rohloff Hub was impeccable: Professional and hassle free. Thank you.
Kate, Leaf and Aquilla and the two dogs Ella and Gypsy, Nr Tweed Valley, NSWFriends Pete had met 6 years ago on his travels. We were only meant to stay a couple of nights, but they made us so welcome we found ourselves still there a week later! We were positively showered in hospitality, and talking of showers, their shower might just be the best we have had (outside with a view of Mt Warning, stunning). Oh yeah, and let us use their ute for a few days too! We can’t wait to return the favour one day, actually, maybe you can just help us to build a house!
The Sugar Lounge, Manly, Sydney.We had arrived! We had reached the Sydney coast, the end of our Australian leg and actually the end of our cycling full stop. We thought we should probably have a beer to celebrate so wheeled our steed over to the Sugar Lounge. Unsurprisingly a bright yellow tandem loaded with scruffy panniers and two threadbare cyclists to match caused a bit of a stir. We told our story and when the manager found out we had just completed our journey we were presented with a bottle of fizz on the house!
Emma and Nick, Manly, SydneyEmma is an old school friend of Alice’s and a visit was waaay overdue. Emma and Nick gave us a gorgeous place to stay, cooked up great food on our arrival and even made sure they were stocked up on shower gel! They took us out for drinks and a delicious meal (and the busiest ice cream parlour we have ever seen!) helping (and laughing at) our slow acclimatisation back into society. Awesome.
CJ at BondiAlice had met CJ on her yoga teacher training course in India- and now they were both in Sydney. We met up in Bondi and went out for tasty Belgian Beers – CJ decided to be very generous and treat us to all of them, the absolute star! Brilliant to catch up too! 🙂
Charlie Lark and Nisha, SydneyWe had met Charlie on the road, way back in the Northern Territory. We just hadn’t had enough time to finish all our conversations, so he invited us to stay at his home in Sydney.. Great hospitality, food and conversation. A bike box hunting and packing mission, and even a ride to the airport! Next time, UK 😉
- The Boss of Pelni (Tanjung Priok). We had wasted almost a whole weekend in Jakarta trying desperately to get tickets for a ferry that we believed existed. We were sent all over Jakarta, and met with the same response “not possible.” A little bit stressed and pretty last minute we decided that we would cycle across Jakarta in the pouring rain on the off chance we could find the boat and get ourselves on it. Our luck was in, we found the office straight away and bumped into the Boss of Pelni. Turns out, he was a massive cycling fan. He sent somebody to dash off and get our tickets, he got in his car and escorted us onto the ferry- allowing us to park with the cars at no extra cost. He then took us up to the 1st class dining lounge where we were given lunch with his compliments. He instructed his staff “these are my friends, you must look after them.” So later when we were preparing our ‘bed’ in a hot room full of people smoking, eating, sleeping, snoring a man dressed in a very crisp white uniform appeared and announced,”Excuse me Sir, Dinner is served”.
- Wynney-ji – We galloped across Indonesia to meet Alice’s Mum in Bali. Completely worth it, it was so wonderful to spend time with family. Relaxing, laughing and lounging was the order of the day- a great finale to our year in Asia.
- The Aunty and Uncle of a good friend welcomed us into their magnificent Singapore home. They gave us delicious home-cooked food, countless cups of tea and cake, washed our clothes (and shoes!) took us to the local Club to go swimming, gave us numerous pointers for what to do in Singapore and bestowed upon us an amount of luxury we could only have dreamt of. Their company, conversation and inspiration was a real pleasure.
- Family at the Durian Stand – On the road to Taiping we had to fix another awkward puncture, luckily for us, the lovely people at the nearby food stand fed us coconut durian while we repaired it. It made the whole experience much more pleasant!
- Indian shop owner- He had moved to Malaysia in 1947, was impressed by our journey so he appeared out of his shop and presented us with a big, chilled bottle of 100plus (best electrolyte drink in the world. Fact.)
- Executive director of White Coffee, Ipoh.- Pete was trying desperately to find a tailor to sew a mosquito net adaptation (ventilation!) to our tent. Nobody would do it, all the tailors said go to the tent shop, all the tent shops said go to the tailor. Luckily Pete bumped into this Road Angel, who escorted Pete to a shop that would do the work, explained the job it to the tailor (convincing them that it would be possible) and then paid for the work to be done! He even gave Pete a lift back to where Alice was waiting before rushing back off to work. We now have a breathable tent, and it was down to this man!)
- The Wise Chinese Man, Ipoh – While Alice waited in the street with the bike, she got chatting to many passers by. As she got hungrier and hungrier her stomach growls were answered. A friendly man arrived bearing Chinese style fried sweet potatoes. He looked 45 when in fact he was 74 years old. A much appreciated gift, and a lovely conversation.
- The Lords Inn, Tanah Rata – In the Cameron Highlands, we decided to be very British and get a cream tea(!) at the ‘Lords Inn.’ It was delicious and the staff were friendly, so we went back the next day… We ordered our cream tea, but also received a complimentary Cameron highland strawberry scone (so we could taste the local variant on a British cream tea!). What a treat!
- Moon River Lodge – Feeling a little tired and jaded we pulled up to the Moon River Lodge and pleaded to them to let us camp -which they kindly did. Wow. What an inspirational family- grand scale projects afoot including forest replanting and sustainable farming. We were invited to join in with Chinese New Year celebration, fireworks flying everywhere our cheeks hurt from grinning. We were also given a gift to welcome in prosperity to the New Year.
- Sme’s family, al muktafi billah shah. Sme is one of Pete’s sisters best friends, although he wasn’t in Malaysia when we were, his family invited us to pop by for a shower and a bed for the night. We stayed much longer than a night. We were meant to arrive on the Thursday but this was when our Rohloff got a crack in the casing. We called them to let them know we would arrive the following day by hitching. Nope. They insisted on coming to collect us- a 2 hour drive away, with a minibus for the bike and a car for us. They took us for delicious eel soup on the way home and continued to bestow an overwhelming array of tasty Malay foods on us. While we waited and waited for a Rohloff solution we were shown even more food, had trips to markets, dinners out, band jamming sessions, lifts to other towns, trips to waterfalls, to beaches, to the jungle, and then more food, oh and a wedding too! They even kept our tandem in the kitchen to keep it safe. And if that wasn’t enough, they also gave us leaving gifts of food, clothing and jewellery.
- Latfy and family, Kuala Lumpur- Another Sme connection. Latfy is one of the most easy going and good natured people we have met, he almost seemed to glow as he helped us out. And help us out he did, far beyond the call of duty. We had arrived in Kuala Lumpur on the bus with a wheel for repair so he started off by picking us up from our bus at 6am, then we went for breakfast, after he took us to a very nice hotel where he had booked and paid for a room for us!!!! “Ah, my house might be a bit noisy and cramped, so I have booked you a hotel!”. It didn’t stop there. Meals, coffees, a stylus pen, a mobile phone, lifts, entry fees, insect repellent and more were all gifted to us. But above all that, it was a genuine pleasure to meet Lafty and his wife and spend time with them. Next time in the UK!
- Wan and family, Kuala Lumpur- Another Sme connection- this time his brother Wan. This lovely family welcomed us into their home in KL, took us on an outing, bought us clothes and gifts, meals and even our bus ticket back to the East coast. A superb little family, such good hearts, thank you.
- Haji on a moped- As we were checking the map, a man pulled up on his moped. We asked a question and before we knew it we were in a cafe and being treated to coffee and satam (cuttle fish baked in banana leaf). He then escorted us to a shady spot, told us we could nap there, bought us water, and escorted us back the main road.
- Abdullah and wife, restaurant at Kemacik Beach. It was the end if the day, we were tired and hungry so we decided to go to a welcoming looking restaurant at the road side. As we ate our delicious meat and nan bread, we got chatting to a fellow cyclist, Abdullah and his wife. Getting dark we went to pay our bill, nope, Abdullah had signalled over to the restauranteur that he would treat us to our dinner. We had only had a brief conversation, yet had been treated to our entire meal. So incredibly generous.
- Two lovely ladies – we were a little bit stranded, inner tube repair glue exploded, other glue failed, all spare inners now with holes and our last ditch attempt at repair (knots in inner tube) had finally failed just 20km from the next town. We would have to find a new way to get to the next bike shop. As we were arguing about who would stay at the side of the road and who would hitch, a car pulled up. The two wonderful ladies were confident that both of us and the bike would fit (boot open Pete holding onto the bike). They breezed into our life, deposited us at the bike shop and carried on to their meeting at work unfazed. Definite road angels.
- Running club, on beach near Desaru- we had just ridden our longest distance to date, 150km. For our last night in Malaysia we thought showers were in order and had followed signs to a possible camp site. The following is an extract from Alice’s Journal: There were no staff about but immediately we were invited to join the runners get together. They are all marathon runners and very jolly! We were invited for dinner. So we showered and then were made to eat ridiculous amounts of delicious food: steamboat, duck soup (pete ate a duck head); we had a whole fish cooked for us by a guy whose birthday it was. We ate it with chopsticks and i think it might have been the best fish i have ever had, it was cooked on a banana leaf and was so delicate in taste and body it just melted in your mouth, we also had bbq’ed crab, and birthday cake and a red boiled egg (red=prosperity). They even gave us beer and wine. Such nice people, so excited about what we were doing and so eager to chat. We felt so welcome and so spoilt by a group of people we had never even met before. What the perfect end to our Malaysia leg!
We re-started our journey in Thailand after over 3 months of rest and back rehabilitation. We could not have started in a better place. From the very beginning we were made welcome, we were fed delicious food and truly looked after. Nothing was a problem and we were invited so much it almost become embarrassing. So to our family and friends, old faces and new, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
- Wandee in Bangkok. Made us feel most welcome as we arrived in Thailand! She prepared us noodle soup for our first breakfast and set us up with a mobile phone and sim. She was always on hand for advice and was a pleasure to meet and chat to.
- Wendy, Scott and Gavin in Bangkok. Amazing. They gave us a huge en-suite room to stay in their wonderful house in Bangkok (and also provided space to stay for Pete’s mum, sister and sisters partner!!!) TWICE. We were only meant to stay for one night the second time, but ended up stopped for 5! Not only that, they took us out for a slap up meal, plying us with wine, beer and cocktails (removing Alice’s stomach bug in the process)! And gave us free rein of the fridge (wise?). They also gave us loads of invaluable advice and made time for us. We appreciate it so much! The ironic thing is, Wendy, Scott and Gavin live in Alice’s home town, but they had never visited them there – instead choosing to jump in at a total of 8 nights in their house in Bangkok instead. Mwah ha ha!
- Paula, Trev, Rob, Anna and Sally. These representatives of our wonderful family (and Sally Wheatley) made the effort to come over from the U.K so we could all be together at Christmas time (and enjoy some sunshine!) Seeing them all was so magical and such a tonic, but it made us realise (even more) how important family is. It was AWESOME to see them all… And so funny how normal it all was! Ha ha…..xxxxx
- Yudi, Sukjai, sisters and Nit, on the road west from Bangkok. They kindly allowed us to stop in the grounds of their newly opened cafe/shop and use their shower! We ate in their cafe for dinner and breakfast and it was delicious (banana bread to die for). All 5 dogs were lovely too.
- ‘Hot’, ‘Sheep’ and family. We stopped for lunch at this family’s great smelling cafe. When they heard about our story they invited us our tasty noodle soups and our drinks!! So very generous!
- ‘Gob’, ‘Kim’, their lovely families and villagers. After kindly filling our water bottles we were then welcomed to put our tent in the garden. We also were given lots of snacks (all personally delivered by their young son Thai Thai) a dinner and drinks! And a hot shower! Oh, and breakfast too. Nope, two(!) breakfasts in the morning!
- Teek, from the pineapple stand. Our bike was having a temperamental day, the bottom bracket was making horrible noises and then another spoke snapped and started rubbing. So we pulled over in the burning sun, a little fed up, hot, sweaty and tired. Teek comes over to us and hands us a bag of freshly cut pineapple. It melted in our mouths and melted away any bad feelings we had harboured. The power of its timely tastiness prompted us to proclaim 2014 as the year of deliciousness!
- May and mother. The end of a long, hot 140km day saw us at May’s family restaurant. We asked if we could put up a tent if we ate in her restaurant. Before long she was plying us with cold water and fruits, making us feel very welcome and relaxed. Good luck with your studying!!
- William the Monk. On asking where would be a good place to camp, all the villages pointed to the temple. So we visited. There we found William, a monk originally from Australia. It was no problem for us to put up a tent, and the monks even rigged up a light on a pole for us! We had refreshing showers and in the morning were given a feast of a breakfast from the alms from the villagers.
- Po, Champ, Pauline and Paupeing. When we asked in the shop if Po knew a place we could camp, she immediately said we could stay in their garden. Not only that, they cooked a delicious dinner for us, gave us water and just generally made us feel so welcome. Thank you. This onslaught of hospitality is making us wonder how we are ever going to have enough time to repay it all!
- The Lovely Old Lady, on the road to Ranong. It was getting late, so we decided to ask if there was anywhere to camp in a busy but unlikely cafe. The proprietor read out our letter in Thai, describing our story and asking if there was anywhere we could put our tent. The room was full of ooo’s and ahhh’s and an inundation of ideas of camping spots. One lady, however, powered through the crowd shaking her house keys telling us we could stop in her house. So we followed her scooter 1km down the hill to what we can only assume was one of her houses! She showed us around and then left us with the key telling us to come back to the cafe to eat. She seemed to say, I have a spare house, you need somewhere to sleep, it’s no problem. Yet another example of the unobtrusive yet very generous Thai hospitality.
- Casa Theresa, Ranong. The owner of Casa Theresa very kindly let us camp in their garden for free (their rooms are normally 500baht/£10) and even opened up a bathroom especially for us. She didn’t do it for any other reason than to help out because she could, and we thank you for this.
- Franck and Camille, Ranong. We met Franck and Camille while we were doing our visa run to myamar…turns out we had sent them a couch surfing request! So they invited us to stay, eat their delicious food, drink their beer and use their wifi… So hospitable, and so lovely to spend time with. If you ever fancy doing a diving trip in thailand, check them out at: http://www.thesmilingseahorse.com
- Rosie & Andrew. Alice’s second set of ‘mothers’ from back home. It was enough for us just to see Rosie and Andrew again, but they went all out, treating us to an awesome room with a balcony (and deckchairs!). It didn’t stop there, they proceeded to ply us with beer, cocktails, food, ice cream, exquisite g & t’s and, amazingly, a real british pie! Yes, we will look after you when you are old…
- Helen, Barry, Bethan and James. Part of the Rosie and Andrew contingent, this wonderful family treated us to lots of drinks and snacks as well! Plus as much coffee/coffeemate/shampoo/soap as they could get their hands on! They opened their arms and welcomed us into their family holiday (which we had effectively gatecrashed…) And now we have sweet smelling clothes thanks to the donated washing detergent!
- Mars, Khao Lak. Originally from Alice’s home town, Mars has been in Thailand for the last 7 years. We rocked up to his cafe, Mars Bar, and gorged ourselves with pie, chips and gravy. Mars in return bestowed upon us: Beer, rehydration sachets, coffee, road tips and trolleys of enthusiasm. Mars, you legend. 🙂
- Choway. Let us camp in the grounds of his hotel for free, opening up a bungalow so we could have a shower. A kind and happy family that welcomed us in just as we were thinking about panicking about where we would sleep that night. The whole place had an atmosphere of contentment and calm- we had the best nights sleep that we had had in days.
- Mukesh in border town Messinagar. Less of road angel, more like a road whirlwind! Mukesh befriended us, shared lots of conversation, went out and got a sim card for us. So enthusiastic, and so helpful to two random strangers! A great welcome to a new country!
- Ranjan in Kathmandu. Ranjan, Ranjan, Ranjan. What a legend! You were a friend of a friend, but you treated us as if you had known us for years. Not only giving Pete all the advice he could possibly dream of about the Annapurna circuit, he helped arrange retrieval of Alice’s keys (when pete mistakenly took them into the mountains), he allowed us to store luggage, then bikes and then our tandem in his shop in central Kathmandu for, what amounted to, over 6 weeks. Without Ranjan, we would have been faced with an expensive, stressful and logistical nightmare. It is these people in the world, the one’s with the time to help others, that are so special.
- Muriel, Yannick, Victor and Robin (AGAIN). We met up with this lovely French family again in Kathmandu. So nice to see them again, and catch up with their stories. They appear here again as they filled us with inspiration for a second time, and treated us to lunch 😉
- Ajaz and family. Another couch surfing contact, Ajaz and his family looked after us in Srinagar in Kashmir. It was so nice to have a place to go to on arrival in India, drink Kashimiri tea and eat tasty Kashmiri food.
- Manjoor, cousin Abdullah and family. As dusk approached on our first night ‘on the road’ in India we started chatting to Manjoor. When he realised we needed somewhere to stay he immediately invited us to his house for chai and biscuits. We were then shown to a room which would be ours to stay in overnight. After an evening walk around the pretty village we were taken back to our room and told to relax. The next thing we knew, a delicious chicken curry and rice had been brought up to our room for us! Thanks to the whole family for making two cold and tired McNeils warm, well fed and welcome.
- The TATA truck driver. When Alice’s back finally gave way for the second time (on the second highest road pass in the world..) we spent a total of 8 hours trying to flag down a ride to take us to Manali. After our first short lift dropped off on a desolate plain in the wind and sleet we were starting to get cold and a little desperate. Eventually we were picked up by a tata truck driver. First he tried to charge us ridiculous amounts of money to take us to the next town, but finally agreed to take us all the way to Manali for a fair price. We are so grateful that he actually stopped and was able to take 2 adults and 2 fully loaded touring bikes. Thanks also too to all those at the tea stand who looked after Alice, keeping her warm (tucking her up in bed as the tears streamed down her face) and loading all her bags onto the truck.
- Kiwi Pete. Pete breathed new life into our time ‘stranded’ in Manali. He brought fresh ideas, enthusiasm, great conversation and kept on buying us beer! I’m not sure he knows how timely and welcome our meeting was, so for that (and the beer*) he is officially a Road Angel. * beer makes a great muscle relaxant by the way.
- Shashi in Mandi. All the hotels were grotty and expensive, but the bus ticket seller had said we could stay in the Gurdwara up the road. Maheed had befriended Pete and was assertive enough to notice that we probably needed a hand. So he showed us to the Gurdwara, negociated with the staff there and paid the fee for us to have a private room to ourselves! “Visitors are like Gods, you will not pay!”. He then bought us mango juice and crisps, took us the the Hindu temple, and then showed us around the town, also buying us chai. He was truly hospitable and generous and only 18. A pleasure to meet you, we only hope we can be this hospitable to visitors to our country!
- Muriel, Yannick, Victor and Robin. This awesome French family gave us a lift across the Kazakh border in their huge bright yellow ex german army truck!
- Tas the Australian pilot, Almaty. Tas was our couch surfing host in Almaty. Within moments of meeting us, he was taking Pete on a MTB ride. The following day we somehow squeezed in a 3,500m hike in the mountains (in cycling shoes). It turned out Taz was piloting our flight to India! So he got us on his staff bus to the airport and really looked after us during our flight. It was Pete’s birthday too, so looking over the Pamir mountains and the route we had just ridden was incredible.
- Man who gave us a melon- Camping at a popular evening picnic location, a guy came over, borrowed our penknaife and then gave us an entire melon in return! Nyam!
- Man in a van – Alice ill, being towed by Pete, storm clouds gathering, we decided to hitch. An ambivalent but very kind man stopped in his red Ford Transit. (Our expectations were low – usually all vans would be jam packed with people. All he had was a roll of wallpaper!) He gave us and the bikes a lift for 150km over 2 passes and though a dangerous tunnel! Thank you!
- Joris, Bart, Randy and Tim – These guys saved us!! At the ‘Adventurers Inn’ in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe our 3rd wheel rim split. When you are about to cycle in remote mountains at an altitude of over 4,000m this isn’t good. Luckily (oh so luckily!) Bart was finishing his cycling trip and returning to Holland. However, it wasnt his bike, it was Joris’ best friend Randy’s. He kindly said we could buy his rims (incidentally the daddy of touring rims). However, being a uber special surface, we would also need super special brake pads. Enter Tim… He had a spare set which he sold to us at a nice price. So.. a day of wheel building ensued (Pete hand built 5 wheels in one day!) and Pete and Alice had a shiny new rim each! No more braking fear- priceless.
- Motorcyclists from Luxenburg and France – Had left from France 10 DAYS AGO!!! But they still had the time to stop, give us water and a gift of an energy gel each!
- Sahib and Zubaida at the Pamir Lodge, Khorag. What stars! Day two of our short stay in Khorag and Alice’s back spasmed rendering her unable to really move very far. 10 days into our stay the owners came to us and told us that we should pay a reduced rate for the ten days and after that, there would be no accomodation charge. We could stay as long as we liked, and they meant it. “How is your back?” “Its about 98% better” “Well you must stay 2 more days, until it is over 100% better!”
- Pete McNeil – Pete had to be mentioned here. Alice spent the most part of their 18 days lay flat on her back reading. She didn’t even leave the guesthouse for 7 days straight (and only then with the assistance of a motorbike!) Pete spend the whole time running around, shopping, feeding (Alice became like a hungry newborn chick), sorting paperwork and massaging. A very good husband. 🙂
- Pete MacSorley – Dr Pete arrived exhausted at the Pamir Inn, but on having previously heard about Alices back was already asking questions and helping to diagnose and sort the problem. He gave a full and through examination, and liaised with various professionals and family though Skype to make the most accurate diagnosis and solution he could. What a star! Who would have thought sitting cross-legged could cause such problems!
- Hugh and Pauline – We had heard about the inspirational Hugh and Pauline from Cumbria weeks before actually meeting them! When we finally did, we sat chatting to them for 9 hours straight!! It also happened to be their 38th Wedding Anniversary, so they treated us to a slap up Indian meal. This definely helped in the back healing process..
- Little girl on the road to Khorag – Speaking a little english, a small, competent girl invited us for butter tea (with butter separate) and watermelon. They wouldn’t accept any payment, so we bought her an ice cream.
- Chinese Truck Driver, Pamir Highway – It was reaching the end of the day and we were waning. Just then a large Chinese truck drove past, but stopped 200m down the road. Strange place to stop we thought… When we approached the truck, the driver excitedly waved us to the front of the truck where he had carefully sliced up a melon for us to eat! To his clear delight, we unashamedly devoured the entire thing. Just what we needed- what a star.
- Ilavera at the Ghanijon Afandi guesthouse in Khiva. As we were leaving the guesthouse, she came up to Alice and pressed two homemade Uzbek slippers into her hands. Completely unexpected, but very kind. (And the slippers are wonderful!)
- The gentlemen in the desert between Khiva and Bukhara. We paused momentarily on the road, considering asking for some water… Just then three guys sprinted out of their cafe(?) holding out chilled bottles of water for us. Such a nice gesture, we decided to ask if we could eat at their place. “Plov?” and they bundled us into their outside eating area, gave us sparkling water and chai- plus bread, a salad and a huge plate of steaming Plov (we also got seconds). Being a very hot part of the day they brought out cushions and insisted that we have a siesta by our bikes for the afternoon. Truly lovely guys and as we left, they refused to accept a single penny. Such a wonderful contrast to the teahouse earlier in the day that had tried to charge us 4 times the going rate!
- Police (!) – Arrival at police checkpoints is always a nerve wrecking experience. However, on one occasion we were stopped and furnished with cold water, pink biscuits and fresh bread (also vodka drenched declarations of love: “Alex, I love you!”). A second police checkpoint gave us bread, biscuits and water. Not what we were expecting!
- Man in Gozli (and 3 daughter) – Helped us in our hunt for bread by sending off his daughters to the bakery, but then gave us the bread as a gift. (A drunken lady in the same town also took at shine to Alice and insisted on trying to kiss her on the lips)
- Samsa cafe family- After asking for water at the start of a sandstorm, we ended up eating samsas (central asia version of cornish pasty), dining with a family, meeting all the family, drinking vodka with the family, and staying in their home (although Alice did have to stir the milk before bed). They also gave us an incredible breakfast – including beer and vodka before 9am and more delicious samsa.
- Village girls – Setting up camp in a rural area, we had been chatting to the local people. A little later, two village girls arrived at our camp bearing gifts (and an Uzbek-English dictionary). One produced a large gift wrapped box containing a picture frame, the other, not to be outdone, had obviously gone to her kitchen and swiped a few items including biscuits, stale bread, sweets and a chai cup (with washing up water still in). We were very grateful nontheless!
- Kiss and bread by gold-toothed man. (need we say more?)
- English Teacher between Sahrisab and Guzor. Invited us to his family home to practice English and to feed us eggs and chips! He was very excited and it was a great honour to spend time at his home.
- A guy painting his shed- Turns out he spoke German and had ‘Campingplatz.’ He showed us to a beutiful spot with natural swimming pool, changing room and toilet. He left us to our own devices until later when he shared a beer and yogurty soup with us. What an idyllic place, what a kind family to share it with us.
- Man with bushy eyebrows – On looking for a place to camp one evening, we were approached by a kindly looking guy who invited us to stay at his home. And what an incredible home, an extremely basic set-up but there were babies of everything: Human, cow, donkey, chicken, cat, and dog! And so much happiness. They gave us a simple rice-puddling dinner and we all slept outside together. We have a lot to learn from such a contented family.
- Girls boarding house – Our last night in Uzbekistan saw us staying in a Girls Boarding house, where they gave us a room to ourselves and fed us too! The English teacher of the school came and chatted – and in the morning brought us gifts from Uzbekistan. Very generous.
- “The Mayor’ and Eduardo. Lots of wine and chacha to wash down the delicious Sulgani cheese and homemade bread. Who necks wine!? Oh dear.
- Another Mayor. No chacha this time but a place for all 6 cyclists in a hotel at the top of a snowy pass.
- A man pruning vines…. Runs over and gives us a bottle of his homemade wine. 30 paces down the road they wanted 20 lari…
- The Georgian Beer Trap
- Klaus Buchholz – thanks for giving us free run of your apartment, wifi, washing machine & esspesso maker for our stay in Tbilisi!
- The trunk road to Istanbul didn’t throw up too many obvious camping spots so thanks to the dairy farm shop and the fuel station that kindly put us up for the night – numerous cups of tea included!!
- The Guys at the picnic spot in Gokturk – We turn up late looking for a space to sleep and these guys not only give us a very nice hut to sleep in but we’re also invited to share their dinner, shisha and i don’t know how many cuppas. We’re even woken up for breakfast in the morning! 5 star wild camping indeed! Thank you so much! Turkish hospitality at it’s best.
- Regina & Can – Our wonderful ‘warmshowers’ hosts in Istanbul – these guys saved our bacon whilst we sorted through the bureaucratic minefield of import tax. Not only sharing a welcome place to stay & feeding us awesome food for almost a week but also helping us with numerous phone calls and e-mails to get a package out of customs. Loads of good chat and happy times too with fellow touring cyclists! Thanks Guys, let’s hope we can return the favor one day!
- Sener Karakus – Sener somehow managed to track us down in our hidden camp spot. Determined to make sure we were okay we brought us kebabs, ayran, fruit juice, lokum, and two bottles of water. We have never met anyone with such dedication to hospitality.
- Omer, Ibrahim et al… A taste ‘warmshowers’ hospitality. Our host Omer was working, so a group of his friends took us out in Eskisher, buying us beer, haggling for bike parts and helping us to buy bus tickets. Cheers guys!
- Ozge and Ela- Ankara. These kind girls gave us a lovely place to stay in Ankara – very much appreciated!
- Gungorler Bisiklet in Ankara.The guys here were absolutely fantastic. They helped us wash our bikes, service our bikes in their excellent workshop, replaced a chain, gave us lots of tea and let us use their internet. We spent hours there but they wouldn’t take a penny and even bought us breakfast!
- Nico and Gokben. A lovely French-Turk couple who gave us a place to stay in Ankara, took us out for a meal and fed us lots of wine. Alice was particularly enamored by the choice of slippers to wear around the house.
- Rasim, Alice’s classmate from university. It was pleasure enough to see him again but he decided to treat us to a delicious 3 course meal in Divan restaurant – located inside perhaps the coolest museum ever! Really great to catch up Rasim!
- Lisa and Griff – Two fellow Brits we met in the Uzbek embassy in Ankara. We camped with them later and they fed us yorkshire tea and rum and coke. Angels indeed.
- The tea drinking men in a village near Hamani… We asked if there was a spot we could camp and they gave us a room!
- Abdullah and Kamile Toplu- We went to fill up our water bottles at a petrol station in Serefligokgoz Koyu and ended up staying the night at the home of the director Abdullah and his wife Kamile. They spoilt us with a delicious dinner, gave us our own room with a roaring fire and fruit & nut platter, and then a subtantial Turkish breakfast in the morning. Incredible hospitality.
- The ‘keeper’ of a nature reserve/bird area. We camped in a bird hide on stilts while an electric storm raged outside. The keeper fed us a wonderful homemade fish dish with chill in the evening, and then again at breakfast. We could have eaten it for lunch too!
- Mustafa- The owner of the campsite in Sultanhani showed a very caring side and plied us with apple tea throughout our stay, and gave us lentil soup when Alice was upset.
- Muharrem and Demir – 2 shepherd who waved us over for tea, which they made on a little fire in the mountains. They ended up sharing their lunch with us too. And we saw a tortoise.
- Alaettin Sahin – The kindly guy who picked us up on a snowy pass in his 40 year old ford transit. We had tea, coffee and lunch with him before setting off into the snowy mountains. When the road was no longer passable and visibility was almost zero, we turned back and Alaettin welcomed us into his home again. More Genie than Aladdin…
- A quick note on Greek hospitality: The warmth, generosity and kindness of the greek people has astounded us practically every day of our stay in this wonderful country. So rarely will a local encounter pass without a wave, a smile or a gifted orange that it would be easy to apply ‘Road Angel’ status to practically whole nation! Here are our stand out experiences:
- The village store in Sagiada – barely a couple of hours in Greece and regular shopping trip left us with armfuls of delicious homemade xmas honey biscuits (which sparked somewhat of an addiction) and Loukoumi (Greek delight!). Your kindness and enthusiasm towards us set the tone for the next couple of months.
- Galaxidi in general: This great little town on the North coast of the gulf of Corinth was one of those chance finds that will stay with us for ever. The whole place made us feel very welcome and at home really making the week we stayed there over Xmas with Anna (Pete’s Sister) very special at what could otherwise have been a difficult time to be away from home. We made some wonderfull acquaintances with the people here who treated us very kindly. From free olives every time we went shopping, a coffee or tsipouro (spirit) on the house, or our nightly chats over a beer with Nick as the Farka’s Fast Food van (where we never bought anything but were always gifted something!). Thankyou everyone!
- Our friends Alice & Stella in Galaxidi – our Xmas would not have been nearly as special if it hadn’t been for meeting you two! Stella gave us a great deal on a truly wonderful home for the week, which otherwise would not have been possible, along with gifts of delicious home cooked food and biscuits! And Alice, who helped arrange the whole thing, as good as adopted us throughout our time there, making us feel almost as at home as we would with our own family, feeding us, washing our cloths and letting us use her internet to contact home! Such kindness and friendship we shall never forget! Thankyou.
- Stefano the kind farmer & his mum – in the Mountains past Delfi: We were very wet, cold, tired and in need of somewhere to stay when we were shown to a dry church doorway that provided shelter for the night and were welcomed into the warm and dry in the morning for coffee & tea with the cats. Our damp spirits were lifted! Thanks.
- The guys at the Ski Hire spot near Parnassus- at the bottom of the coldest decent of the journey so far we were welcomed into the warm with wine while we dried out. Very appreciated!The village and Mayor of Mavrommati- When you stop at a bar & ask if there’s somewhere nearby you could stop for the night you really don’t expect to have half the village buy you drinks, and then have the mayor called and be given a room to stay in the town hall! But that’s what happend here! What an experience! Thankyou!
- Kaplanis Taverna outside Corinth- one of the more unusual free places to stay- inside the a disused part of a restaurant, usually the sole residence of a white rabbit? (Alice?) the food was awesome too. Thanks.
- Roberto, Barbera & Lorenna Taverna from our HelpX month in Elea- Our month with you is such special a part of the trip in itself that it’s too much to tell just here. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as special without being as welcomed as we were into your home & lives. In this you’re road angels too! 😉
- The Taverna in Veligosti near Sparti- a roaring fire and being bought a cup of coffe made a very wet day seem more manageable. Thanks.
- Loyla & Antonis Amalias in Kouroutas by the sea- we’re just riding along when we here a voice saying “come back!” so we do and there’s Loyla handing us a massive lemon over her garden fence. we chat about what we’re doing and ask if we can camp somewhere nearby. After initially offering us a (very welcome) spot in the garden next door, the next thing we know we’re being invited to have their whole summer house to ourselves! Amazing, kind, trusting and generous people. Thank you. Little do you know that you really turned around our perceptions of humanity after a difficult week.
- Pannas, our couch-surfing host in Patras- it was great to meet you and thank you for letting us stop over for a couple of nights in your lovely apartment and feeding us so much great food (especially the muffins!) and for your gifts of homemade honey and soap. True Greek (& Cypriot) hospitality!
- Harry from Topodilato bike shop in Patras.http://www.topodilatopatras.gr/ – Really good to chat to you about bikes. Thanks for the much needed trousers and the kind gift of a Co2 puncture repair kit. I’m sure it’ll help us out of a tricky situation one day! Good luck in the new shop, we’ll drop by when we’re next about!
- Dimitri- No. 1 member of our Patras fanclub! Imagine sitting on the street just finishing off your beer and pitta when someone you never met before runs up to you and says they heard what we’re doing and then buys our lunch! Incredible! Thanks. Happy riding!
- Giorgos Sakellaris & All of Hotel Akti (www.akti.gr), Nafpaktos – This one has left us grinning for days! It’s Valentines day and we don’t fancy just being in the tent so we get in touch with what looks like a friendly hotel, explain about our epic honeymoon and ask if they might cut us any deals. Little did we expect to have a lovely room complete with cheese & wine on arrival, followed by a massive & delicious continental breakfast in the morning. All at NO CHARGE! Amazing, really amazing. Thankyou so much. I think you made our week! Obviously we can’t recommend these guys highly enough people! If you’re in the area, go and stay! True Road Angels.
- Guys at the Mini Market in Glifada- When you think that all the last 5 angels came along over 3 days you can imagine we were on somewhat of a high! To top it all off we stop at this place to buy some bread for lunch and end up being plied with wine, salami & cheese. by the time we leave there’s no longer any need for lunch! More amazing Greek hospitality. Thank you.
- Once again we were taken in and fed & watered by surrogate mum, Alice in Galaxidi. Thanks again!
- Filopimi & Maria in Thessaloniki – (Guys, you’re off the hook… we lost your photo – Doh!) These guys took us in through ‘warmshowers’ when we needed a hand with pete’s broken wheel & helped us find a bike shop to fix it. Great people, lots of fun, shared interests, and good conversation. We even went skiing (of all the things to do on a cycle tour!) with them. Thankyou!
- Rea in Thessaloniki – Waiting around to get our wheel fixed we were amazingly offered the use of a whole flat to ourselves for 6 days by Rea. What amazing trust and hospitality. As a fellow cycle tourer she has some idea of just how much a bit of your own space can mean to you sometimes (especially with a bout of man-flu thrown into the equation!) The best gift anyone could give us! & thanks for the Thessaloniki tour. What a cool place! & what a cool person! good luck with things to come! (sorry, we lost your photo too, doh!)
- The guys at Action Bike, Thessaloniki – Loads of help and good chat whilst getting the wheel fixed. Thoroughly recommended for pre-Asia repairs! cheers!
- The Grocers & butchers on our road in Thessoloniki (sorry guys your images were lost too….:-( – You don’t expect when you walk into a shop to be given more than you buy but this was consistently the case with these guys. Amazing Greek warmth and generosity!
- All the various cycle tourists we met at once on a random hillside. – Sometimes a chance encounter can lift you so much & the idea that there’s others doing just the same as us and with such happy enthusiasm sent us on our way from this sunny hillside with a fresh spring in our step. – Quote from the French guys who’d made it across the globe from Cambodia (& beyond) “oh my god you’re so clean!” (everything’s relative!)
- Kiki & Ioanna from Alexandropoli – Great couchsurfer hosts: fed well, hot showered, awesome bed and even let us fix our sleeping mats in their front room. Thanks guys, great to meet you both!
- The Friendly guys at Bike Center in Alexandropoli – not only kitted us out with a few last minute spares before heading into Asia, we also got a couple of complementary inner tubes and a first aid kit thrown in too. Thanks Guys!
- A kind woman at the side of the road in Albania. We stopped to buy a couple of oranges (for about 5p) and came away with half a pannier of free fruit & veg!
- The guys at a petrol station between Fier & Vlore in Albania – a much needed, if a little unusual camping spot! we were then treated to beers and burek (pies) in the bar!
- Lorens & Walter – curious kids at the mini service shack on the Dukat road by Albania’s Llogara national park- another kind camping spot and tea in the morning!
Tony & Laura in Montenegro – The Famous Xmas Dinner Episode! – Put in touch through an old family connection and under the kind offer of a Xmas roast we pedalled through the storms and arrived on their doorstep like drowned rats! We were welcomed into their extraordinary, lovely family fold (and of Montenegro’s ex-pat sailing community!) so warmly and with such enthusiasm (& plenty of mulled wine!). You guys are an inspiration! We had a great couple of days it was a real pleasure to meet you all.
- Pier & Raffaella in Udine, Italy. Never did we expect to have our own attic apartment when couchsurfing! You guys were awesome. Two wonderful people! It was good to get to know you and thanks for feeding us.
- De Munari Attilio Agritourismo, Near Eraclea, Italy. One of the rare nights when we just couldn’t find a place to camp before dark. We asked at this place if we could camp in their garden and i’m afraid we wouldn’t take no for an answer…
- Emiliano & Ana in Venice. Thanks for your hospitality and a comfy sofa to sleep on in the center of a pretty flooded Venice.
- Lois the sheep farmer in the hills south of Padua, Italy. The first person to cheerfully accept that we might just camp on the floor outside and didn’t need any comforts, only to ask permission.
- Kris, Matteo, Elory, Jora & Rasmus. Our first HelpX experience in Sassaleone near Bologna, Italy. Thanks guys so much for your warmth, hospitality and inspiration. We stayed at their idyllic little farm in the hills for a week and tried (i expect futilely) to work off the amount of delicious, home grown food we ate! Your place, lifestyle and family were an inspiration to us. (Look out for their project www.comecookandeat.net coming soon. A great concept)
- The lovely Joanna, Silvia & Grandmother near Borgo San Lornzo, Italy. Who let us stay in their garden and then proceded to bestow on us coffee, bread, oranges, kitchen roll, breakfast, half a bag of monkey nuts, some maps, a guidebook and i suspect anything else the could have got their hands on! Despite not a lot of language shared we had a lot of laughs. Thankyou.
- Andrea Gennai from the Parco Nazionale Foreste Casentinesi who we met in Poppi, Tuscany. Yet another chance meeting led us onto new adventures. Andrea kindly suggested we stay at Casa Forestale Montenino, a research house in the forest park with Adrian, Belen & Alba who lived and worked there. We liked it so much that we stayed for 2 nights with these guys and Andrea kindly invited us all round to his house for an amazing dinner. Thanks, the forest was beautiful and we even saw a porcupine! 😉
- Adriana the happy farmer near Peive Santo Stefanto, Umbria, Italy. We he found us camping in his garden he laughed and invited us to sit by his fire and fed us home produced wine and grappa with alot of laughs!
- Robert in Mondsee, Austria. Our first Couchsurfing recipient! Thanks for putting us up while Austria dumped it’s first snows on us and for cooking lessons (however unsuccessful!), beers & late night chats!
- Michael in Salzburg. Another couchsurfer! Unfortunately we didn’t get to hang out much because of you just starting a new job but thanks for your trusting and generosity in letting us have free run of your place without even knowing us!
- Our saviour from the cold in Werfen, Austria (www.obauer.at). Despite not being able to afford even a basic room and there being too much snow to camp, this wonderful woman took pity on us, gave us dumpling soup from her butchers shop, tea, a luxurious room in her guesthouse for the night and breakfast in the morning. When she heard of our trip she would accept only a token payment from us. Thanks.
- Ingrid from Haus Schiefer, Neuolsach, Austria. After having been rejected from staying in a number of places that were closed on all saints day or too expensive we were saved from the snow again by Ingrid with a reduced price room and hot tea. We were even allowed to cook our food in her kitchen where we promptly set all her family choking by frying up chillies…! it was pretty funny. Sorry again and thankyou.
- Volker and his wife at Gegenwind who not only gave us beers and a place to stay in their garden but who’s enthusiasm and German cycle route knowledge saw us on our way right when we needed it.
- The guys at Outdoor Aktiv in Dieburg who gave Pete a coffee cup! Thanks guys – good coffee means more to me than you may ever know!
- Ben & Tessali in Kleestadt, Germany. You guys are true Road Angels! – Alice walks into Bantschow & Bantschow to ask if we can fill up our water. Then from this simple request, Ben gives us a place to stay in his garden, a hamper of local food and wine to chomp on, beers and good chat into the night with his lovely wife Tessali then breakfast and warm showers in the morning.to top it all off, they set us up with friends Phil and Steffi in Miltenburg who we end up staying with for the next two nights. Guys, if scruffy nomads ever rock up at our doorway we could only hope to remember how cool you’ve been!
- Phil, Steffi & Phil’s mum in Miltenburg, Germany. A random night out in the best home-made nightclub i’ve ever seen, listening to tunes spun by Heiko MSO, good chat, great kebabs and a place to stay in the beautiful Miltenburg. Thanks guys, definately one of our more random adventures!
- Louis The Austrian Touring Cyclist. A chance meeting on the banks of the Danube as he was returning to Austria after an African tour. Turns out he’d been everywhere on his bike and gave us some really useful route advice right when we needed it: cross the Alps & DON’T go through Central Asia in Winter!! We met several more times along the road. Thanks, your advice set us in a new direction 🙂
Jutta & Seb in Ladshut, Germany. We met these lovely people while they were jogging in the woods! We were looking for a place to pitch our tent for the tent for the night and asked if they knew a place. Without even knowing our names they invited us back to their place, gave us a bed and wonderful food. I think we’ll forever remember the Wassabi cheeseHOLLAND
- Our friend Matt Berkelbach and his wonderful family who gave us a place to stay in un-earned luxury on our first night of the trip. Thanks for the Cheese!
- ‘Marco’ – the most chilled out dutchman you’re ever likely to find living in a log cabin in the woods. We stayed in his abandoned caravan on a rainy night.