Painted Roads in Vietnam!
Through the sorcery of Apple Macintosh, Google and WordPress I am aware that despite my blogging absence a few folks have been checking in on Walks World over the past few weeks. That I have had little to say or show I apologise for, but, despite what you may believe, I have not been idle.
Over the past few years my future has been in a state of flux as my desires and imagination have flitted dramatically between passions and needs. To once again load a bicycle with stove and pot and tent and bedroll and head out into the Himalayas or Andes for a prolonged spell of living wild and free, testing myself against that most ardent, ferocious, beautiful and respected of adversaries, Mother Nature, was a strong pull. At the same time after 12 nomadic years I often find myself becoming tired with never knowing where I will next find a pillow, where I will eat, with whom I will next talk, or sleep. I have for two years – perhaps more – had a recurring fantasy of walking through a door in to a place that I could call home for a while; put a disc on the gramophone, pull the cork from a bottle and flop onto a big comfy cushion on the veranda. On the wall behind me hang my own photographs, before me a beautiful mountain vista. These two desires are of course poles apart and I well know that I am too long in the tooth to be able to settle into permanence in either of these life styles. Life is actually pretty cosy and has been for a long time but every now and then the need for change comes along.
The job I have been doing has suited me. I enjoyed it well and it gave me all I needed, freedom, human company, adventure, travel, cycling. I also enjoy indulging in a little creativity, photography and writing; exploring and creating new routes, sharing my passions with others. Tour leading allowed me to indulge some of these pursuits but not all. In my spare time I explored and created routes not because I had an outlet for them, but because I enjoyed doing so. I wished to share the tours I had created in much the same way that an orchestra desires an audience, because I loved what I was doing and wanted to share it with others. And so it was that I considered running my own tours. I have actually been playing with the idea for many years. Anyone who knows me and remembers the Osmosno blog and website may well be aware that Osmosno was originally conceived to tailor make adventure tours in Asia and South America for the discerning customer, alas is never went beyond the planning stage as we enjoyed reconnoitring routes, photographing them, and writing about them, but we never got around to the business side.
And so it could have gone on, but as is so often the case with life the twists and turns of fate were at work. Last year I created two tours, one in Vietnam and one in Thailand, this year Phong and I created another new tour in Vietnam. Several years ago I planned a route through Yunnan Province in China, that is a region that is particularly close to my heart and very much needs sharing. Having lived worked and played in Nepal I have a great fondness for the natural splendour and the ever friendly Nepalis; I have good friends with whom I can work and I have, you may not be surprised to learn, a route. I have lots of other routes and ideas and contacts, but for now the routes mentioned, plus one other that I am keeping up my sleeve, are enough.
So I had the products the experience and the contacts, but what I needed was the kickstart, and this came this year. Mike Hayes is a fellow adventure cyclist, a blogger, and a great photographer. Mike and I have known each other due to our mutual interests for several years now and have idly pondered the concept of sharing our passions with others for some time. Mike was looking to start a small business, I was looking for an outlet for my journeys.
By the middle of this year Mike had got on with the job and created a polished product around my collection of tours, my experience as a tour and expedition leader, and my network of contacts across Asia; he called it Painted Roads and said it was mine if I wanted it. I did, I needed it; it is the path I have sensed was laying ahead of me for some time now and I cannot thank Mike enough for all he has done.
Painted Roads is going to begin in a modest fashion and it begins today as I have just landed in Hanoi to prepare for my first tour. For next year I intend to have 5 tours, with a possible bonus tour that could well creep in. The tours on offer are all created by me and will all be led by me. They are tours that I know of because I have cycled the routes for my own pleasure and have now decided to share them with like minded people who wish to join me. Mike will remain an import part of Painted Roads. He has been working tirelessly on the whole project, in fact as mentioned earlier he created Painted Roads as a brand and an entity, and I very much hope he will continue to shape it, taking care of design and quite possibly joining me for upcoming exploration and perhaps from time to time on tours.
Painted Roads has a blog and for the time being at least I will be concentrating my blogging efforts there with stories and photographs of all topics relevant to Asian bicycle adventures; from tales of the countries I travel through and live in and the people of those lands and my experiences with them, to the creation and running of tours and many things in between. In short I will, as usual, be photographing and sharing the things that I find interesting in life, only on a different blog. The website is almost ready to go, I just have to have to tidy up some tour details and dates and then we will go live, for now though
dear reader, may I present, Painted Roads’ blog.