In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Back Home.

The trips over.

The Southeast Asian experience is over thanks to the theft of Adi’s bike and all her belongings. I know that some people are hard up and think of tourists as having ample money but I think anyone that steals the bike and gear from a visitor touring the country is pond slime basically. In fact I think locals committing crime against visitors are below pond slime. A visitor to your country is already at a huge disadvantage with language and cultural problems to overcome. To take advantage of that and put them in even more stress shows that you are a total disfunctioning retard.
Must Be a Bike Shop Around Somewhere.

We had successfully negotiated Saigon during the morning rush hour and were stopping for our first drink break 30kms out and on our way to the Cambodian border. The day before we’d arranged visas for Cambodia from the embassy here in Saigon.

Anyway we lent our bikes on top of each other against the café/stalls wall with my bike on the inside and then had sat down at a table not 2mtrs away. Unfortunately although Adi was facing the bikes I had my back to them. I should have known better and while sitting there I thought of shifting but didn’t. Ten minutes later in which time Adi reckons she saw nothing, we went over to the bikes and Adi’s was gone! It was obviously a huge shock to Adi but I immediately realised that the bike had been stolen virtually right before our eyes. I jumped on my bike and did a cycle around the area as did the café staff on their bikes and scooters but of course we found nothing. They then rang the local police and gave Adi a ride down there.
One Cambodian Visa Please. No Make That Two.

This is the point where I learn first-hand how useless the Vietnamese police are.

I’m not totally naive; I thought that reporting the bike stolen and filing a report would take some time. Especially with the language problem.  I won’t bore you with the details but after 7 hours (I kid you not) the officer finally had all the information and this was with the help of a police translator who had extremely marginal English. During this time we were witness to the officer and translator playing games and looking at pictures on their I phones, joking with other officers about my bike which I’d parked near the interview room and finally entertaining their friends some of which were drunk on rice wine. After all this time and after we had signed countless statements the officer then refused to give us any kind of a copy for our insurance company ( something I knew we would need).

In an act of anger I finally said enough was enough and slammed my fists down on the table, which made all the officers including Adi jump, and told them to arrange a taxi to take us back to the hotel. Useless officer no.1 then said that he would contact the Captain to see if we can get a receipt for reporting the loss. And we should come back tomorrow to discuss it.
U/Officer No.1 and Translator with Her i Phone.

The thought of another wasted 7 hours tomorrow at the police zoo left me with a restless night. I contemplated cycling there and back to save the taxi fare but in the end after ringing in the morning from the hotel with the help of the hotel staff I decided the whole thing would be a waste of time.

Adi persevered with the help of the hotel receptionist and in the end they both went back to the police station and got a statement from the Captain which consisted of a report written by Adi and stamped by the doubly useless “Captain”. I didn’t go because I knew that it would probably end in bloodshed and me being locked up.

Earlier in the year British Airways lost my bike and all my gear when I was flying to Casablanca so I know how poor Adi feels . (Bike later recovered). But we were really luck in that my bike this time was carrying 80% of the gear and being a hand built Mercian is worth considerably more than Adi’s off the Shelf GT Zaskar. So the idiot that stole from us chose the wrong bike and got just Adi’s clothes, her camera, and a bike that I can replicate when I get home.

While gently simmering in the police station I contemplated dropping Adi off at the airport and carrying on to finish the mission. But quite honestly earlier in the year cycling for two months across South America on my own was enough for me. It’s no fun I have found going through the daily motion just to say you have cycled yet another country. We contemplated buying Adi a cheap motorcycle for her to continue on but useless officer no.2 seemed to think that you could not take a Vietnamese scooter across the border to Cambodia.

So tomorrow Adi, Mercian and I head back home to good old New Zealand and we have to leave Adi’s bike here to rust in the tropics.

I think it is worth noting though that cycle touring these sorts of countries is all good while things are going well but once you need the authorities you can be pretty stuffed. I find as I get older I am losing patience with dirty and disorganised countries.  I think I would consider coming back when as much effort is being put into renewing the countryside as is currently being put into renewing the population.

It’s time for me to concentrate on our cottage in the countryside and to get that vegey garden growing. Time to batten down the hatches as the world economy tail spins.


  1. Oh Shit!!!!!
    I feel for you both. Not a nice position to be in. Im with you people who steal are just plain & simple "f..k Wits"
    Hey i've heard its getting warmer in Nelson so go enjoy a few Mot Valley, Tap, Spooners loops & hey if ya vegie garden is a bit slow off the mark im sure ya neighbours is lookin good by now….

    1. Thanks for that. When i get home I will indeed start doing the lovely circuits of Tasman again and will start training for the Paris Brest Paris.
      Its in 2014 and by then I will be happy to fly to France and maybe catch up with some friends and do a bit of additional cycling.

  2. Holy crap - so sorry to hear this, not a great way to have to finish a cycle trip! Hope you manage to get the insurance company to pay up... Safe travels home and it's nearly summer back here in NZ.

    1. Thanks Wayne, Your trip looked good. Think I will concentrate on long distance events for a time and travel to them when i can afford it.
      Just have to cross my fingers and hope that the Mercian makes it back to NZ. At the moment we are in KL airport waiting all night for a connecting flight to Auckland.

  3. nice blog..........if anyone know about combo wheels.tell me ?

    1. Thanks Ravi, If they're made in Italy and would look good on a retro Mercian I want to know too.

      If you can fix them with your own hands when they need it using parts obtainable in far off lands then they would definitely be on my xmas list. Otherwise i'm not interested.