Saturday, January 28, 2012


Now, when our trip looks like a nice dream, it’s time for a final chapter of our story. 
Many times we were thinking how to describe our feelings but we still cannot find the right words and finally we stopped searching for it - whatever we would say it would sound banal.
But some conclusions we can make because during this trip many things happened to us for the first time.
We never smiled so much as we never saw so many people smiling to us. We never met so many wonderful people. We never learned so much. We never had such a good and positive influence on our thinking and behavior. We never had so strong emotions, both good and bad. We never got so much inspiration on doing what we like to do. We never got so many ideas.
This trip made us rich and happy…
And all this happened to us because we were open and curious. Because we were not afraid and always tried to stay positive. And now we realize that only then the nicest things can happen and you can come back home with full heart.
This trip broke many stereotypes about bad countries and religions we had before we left and taught us more than any university or working place could teach. It gave us knowledge which was often based on feelings and emotions we had while meeting different people and facing different cultures. Now we know very good what the words of prophet Mohamed means: “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled”. This trip was the biggest investment in ourselves!
We can also conclude that we have chosen the best way of traveling. First of all the bike was the best vehicle to travel with, especially looking to our goal to discover new cultures and be closer to locals. Our V Strom was the most popular member of our team. Thanks to it we got many invitations to chat, have a drink, eat or stay over. It helped us to break cultural and religious borders between us and people. And it gave a lot of freedom to drive off the beaten track and discover the things that are not so easy to get access to when traveling by car or local transport. Almost all the nicest things happened off road thanks to our bike!
Four months was a perfect period for us not to get tired from driving, move further with full power and keep interest in discovering new countries and cultures. After four months we felt the routine coming and it was time to come back home and take rest before making next plans. Just nobody told us that the hardest part of the trip would be the coming back...
Traveling low budget offered many nice opportunities. By saving money, eating on the street with locals and trying to sleep as much as possible in their place let us meet the most wonderful people and realize how little you need to be happy.
And what about us? We saw each other in many different situations, had sad and happy moments together, sometimes didn’t want to see each other and even felt lonely, but enjoyed every single moment of the trip deep in our hearts. Now, back to cold Lithuanian routine and fighting with nostalgia we have each other to share the feelings, discuss about the nicest memories of the trip and make new plans. 
Not only traveling plans…

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Malaysia, 30-12-2011 - 11-01-2012

Through the rain towards the sunny beach
If hard rain in New Years Eve means luck, then we must be very lucky in 2012. And if celebrating New Year with Chinese businessmen and businesswomen brings a good business year, then this year must be our business year!
Without knowing that we came to celebrate New Year in one of the most Muslim towns of Malaysia where only a few legal bars could be found. In one of them we quietly met New Year with friendly Chinese friends who all had their business in Malaysia. It was a nice new experience for us discovering that Chinese can be so relaxed people and such a fast drinkers.
The next day it was raining so much that we were afraid not to be able to leave this quiet Muslim town. But despite the rain we left and drove through the flood until we found a sunny beach. We found our beach paradise in Cherating, a quiet surfers beach with little tourists and very relaxed atmosphere. We met two local guys, Pang and Denny, and had a great time together.
The moment we were sitting in their car listening to Guns n' Roses and feeling Malaysian wind blowing through our mind we felt like being with our old good friends. There is no better feeling after four months of driving the globe! We enjoyed many nice moments together. The guys were surfing, we were running kites, making fire in the evening and introduced to the guys a Lithuanian way of barbecue. They enjoyed a lot our potatoes, garlic and onions fried in fire.
It was such a perfect time that we couldn't resist the charm of this quiet and pure beach and instead of two nights we stayed there four nights. It was so sad to leave and say goodbye to the guys, also because we both knew that our adventure would finish in Kuala Lumpur...

As soon as we reached our last stop, a giant piece of concrete and metal emerging in the middle of the jungle, we could scream from happiness - we did it!
We came to Kuala Lumpur a few days before our flight to be sure that we would have enough time to prepare the bike for shipment as until the last moment we didn't know what would be the best way to do it. Our first try was very successful, we went to the cargo department of Malaysian airlines and were provided with a very nice service. Our bike, like a real team member, would fly back with us in one plane!
We had a few more days to enjoy Malaysia which appeared to be a great country for the end of our trip - beautiful, green, with very friendly and helpful locals. At the end we made a conclusion that the nicest moments during our trip we had in Muslim countries.
We had our last beer with Danny and Pang and spent our last days with Arman, a very nice man who we met in the cargo department of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. He invited us to visit his family and we had a chance to discover Malay hospitality. Arman was so happy to have us over that he introduced us to his friends, let us taste delicious Malay food and showed the nicest places around.
He made us feel such a special guests! We felt a lot of sympathy for his family and his special daughter who is mentally handicap. We couldn't expect a nicer and better end of our adventure!

Last day of our trip 
Before we started our journey Milda was often wondering how the last day of our trip would look like. And there we were - happy, surrounded by great people and thankful to each other for making this journey possible. Our hearts were full of warmth and our minds were full of positive thoughts. We felt special and Johan found the best words to describe that feeling - we felt like after getting our diploma with commendation for finished studies. Now it's important to make use of all the knowledge we got during the trip.
The first thing we took care of during the last day of our trip was the preparation of the bike for shipment. We managed to make the bike very light and were very glad that we did everything ourselves. All the preparation and documentation took us only a few hours.

Arman was around us all day long and his family joined us later to spend the last hours before the flight.
When we found ourselves alone in the airport we had a few thoughtful hours. It was so sad to realize that our adventure was finished. It might sound boring but this trip was the best thing ever happened to us and now, after four months and four days of driving and making 28 100 km. (we expected to make maximum 24 000 in total!), we would come back to the beginning within 13 hours...
We did it.....!!!

Some numbers
KMs driven in total: 28 100
KMs driven during this period: 1850
Money spent during this period: 470 euro (not including the shipment of bike and flight tickets)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Thailand II, 16-12-2011 - 30-12-2011

Thailand off the beaten track
Thailand looked so different from Cambodia. Rich and developed. There were no more naked kids on the streets, no more wooden houses on pillars and no more ladies with pajamas. It was a different world with less charm and cultural subtleties.
Since we re-entered Thailand it felt like the adventurous part of the trip was over as Thailand is an easy country to travel through looking to its developed infrastructure. Now our resting and chilling time was supposed to start as we were planning to move further to the sunny South. But knowing that little time is left until the end of our trip kept us curious and forced us to seek to discover more and not to relax yet. Having this in mind and after servicing the bike in Bangkok (chain, oil, oil filter, rear braking pads were changed) we went off the beaten touristic tracks of Thailand for the last taste of adventure. We just locked our Lonely Planet in the pannier and planned the route ourselves with detailed local maps.
Just 60 km's away from Bangkok we found a cozy Thai town where we got a lot of attention just for being the only tourists around. People were smiling and greeting us. When moving further we discovered beautiful scenery with still no tourists around. This was Thailand we expected to see the first time we were there - wild, natural and tropical. It felt like traveling in a different country as we traveled before. When we ended up on a gravel road going through the rocky hills and covered by the jungle we wouldn't be surprised to spot a dinosaur - so much the scenery reminded us Jurassic Park.
We didn't see dinosaurs, but we found another prehistoric trace - a three thousand years old painting that doesn't see many tourists.
In this wonderful piece of nature we slept in the open air in a raft house floating on a lake. It was a great part of wild Thailand discovery, just the sounds of nature didn't let Milda, a concrete kid, have a good rest. We slept on wooden planks with a very thin straw mat on it, only covered by a mosquito net.

Our Lithuanian Christmas
Since the beginning of our trip Milda was dreaming about sunny and hot Christmas. Everything looked promising as we could enjoy good weather all the time and we planned to celebrate Christmas on the Southern coast of Thailand. But on Christmas day it was raining so much that it felt like celebrating Christmas in Lithuania and not on a tropical beach. The sea was wild, the wind was blowing hard and we couldn't drive much because of constant rainfall.
We had a cozy and nice Christmas eve dinner with Lathoya, Roy and his mother. They became friends with who it was very nice to share our Christmas eve meal far away from home.
And we got a nice Christmas present - an inner tube for our V-Strom. It was more like returning it back to us, as we gave our spare inner tube when Roy got a puncture in Laos. 

Our Lithuanian friend Agnyte was one of the biggest fans of our journey so on our way to Malaysia we couldn't miss Koh Samui island where she lives and works as a brilliant manager of one of the best restaurants on the island. 
She and her boyfriend Jura welcomed us in their cozy house next to the beach where we felt being at home after a long time of driving.

We came there to spend our last days in Thailand and to relax. We didn't notice how three days on the island passed by spending time together with Agnyte and Jura, tasting good food, swimming, enjoying sun on the beach (except for Johan) and just doing nothing. They took good care of us, Agnyte showed her favorite places on the island and introduced us to her friends.
Thanks, Agnyte and Jura, for the good time we spent together!

Some numbers: 
KMs driven in total: 26 250
KMs driven during this period: 2 650
Money spent during this period: 690 Euro

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cambodia, 04-12-2011 - 16-12-2011

Cambodia today and in a few years
On our road through Cambodia we had a constant feeling that we were too late to visit this wonderful country or just on time to come there.
First of all we were disappointed to discover perfect asphalt roads in the areas where we expected to drive on gravel, if not on mud roads. In some places the nature is already dramatically replaced by concrete and asphalt. Chinese and Russian investors have found a perfect country for rich tourists - the new casinos and hotels are growing fast replacing the nature and changing the face of this charming country.
We were too late to discover a ghost town which was a former Hill Station. Hundred years ago this place was a popular French resort with hotel, church and school. It was abandoned two times and finally became a ghost town which attracted tourists who were not afraid of bad road conditions. But a good asphalt road guided us not to a mysterious abandoned place it once was, but to a new construction site where huge modern buildings are growing to fulfill soon the needs of rich tourists. Among those scary giant constructions we were still able to find a beautiful church which is now used as a shelter for construction workers. We could still walk around the remains of a school and a few other abandoned buildings searching for the traces of the glorious past. The ghost hotel, the biggest tourists attraction, was already under reconstruction and we were just on time to see from distance its ancient beauty hidden not only under the moss but also under scaffolds and fence. In a few years it will be just one of the fancy hotels in the area.
But we were just on time to discover a very pure and primitive island called Rabbit island. There were no roads and no vehicles, only a few fishing boats could be spotted next to the beach. There were no hotels, only a few huts built along the coast. There were no shops, banks or internet cafes, only a few primitive bars and massage tables. The generator was the only source of power and was running only from sunset to 11 or 12 pm, depending on when the last tourist would finish his beer. And there were almost no tourists on the island! We spent a great evening there with locals, having barbecue on the beach, drinking beer, chatting and playing beer games. We had a fire on the beach and were swimming among shining plankton.
Just before leaving this peaceful paradise we heard a sad rumour that the island is sold to Russian investors who are planning to transform it to a comfortable and modern resort with hotels and casinos!
We were also just on time to visit some still very remote areas in Northern Cambodia which contain many ancient temples and traces of ancient cities, but are not yet overcrowded by tourists. Maybe because the area is remote and just recently cleaned up from landmines.
Even thought Cambodia is changing fast, it will take some time for locals to change under the influence of booming tourism. We were very happy to meet one more warm and welcome nation in the world. Cambodians still have no tourists orientated smiles and keep pure and not money oriented interest in tourists which is different from the feeling we got in Thailand.

The nicest day in Cambodia
Even thought each day was nice in Cambodia, for an adventure seeker Johan the nicest day was the day when we fell with the bike for the first time during our trip.
It happened when we were visiting the sites related with Khmer Rouge era located in the Northern part of country. It was a very remote area and we ended up on a sandy road which doesn't see many tourists and has a lot of holes. After visiting the remains of the house of Pol Pot and his grave covered by garbage we fell on the most challenging part of the road. On the steepest part Johan lost his balance and couldn't reach the ground with his feet. The falling down was like in slow motion - first the bike, then Johan and only then Milda with the camera in her hand.
Of course nothing happened to us as we were almost standing still. Also the camera was instinctively saved. The bike and panniers didn't have damages either, just a few small scratches on the sides. But when we lifted the bike with the help of few locals Johan couldn't start it! Fortunately, there was a local man who guided us to Pol Pot's house, he went back to the town to bring a mechanic.
We fell next to the door of a poor family's house and our small accident was the biggest event of the year for them, their neighbours and especially their kids. While Johan was searching for a reason, reading the bike's manual and sending SOS messages to Holland for advices (thanks, Bjorn!), Milda could observe the family. Two small boys were so happy walking around the bike and touching it, impressed by its size and us, two blonds sitting on it. A very cute little girl was playing with twigs and leaves next to the bike. Once in a while she went to her mother who was sitting on the ground to be breastfed while the mother was searching for the bugs in the little girl's hair. Their world looked so different from ours - not worse or better, just totally different!

Everything went so smoothly on our trip, maybe even too smoothly, that finally it was nice to have our falling with the bike kind of story!

The country that touched Milda's heart
Despite its fast changes Cambodia is still a very pure and special country. Its charm is mainly based on local people and after a very short time Milda felt a big sympathy for Cambodians. This sympathy was influenced by every small detail we faced on our road.
It was impossible to hold the smile while seeing Cambodian ladies fashion to wear pajamas during the day. Their reason of wearing it because of cold mornings and too hot sun during the day sounds so innocent when you see their pajamas decorated with teddy bears and bunnies. Cambodian children are the cutest and the most natural creatures. We enjoyed so much seeing them running naked in the street, playing with wooden or plastic handmade toys or picking up the lilies in the lake.
Their chorus of "Hello" was the nicest music for our ears while driving through the villages! Less pleasant but still very charming was the music of cocks-alarms very early in the morning. We could hear it even in the big cities of Cambodia - the village life is so close to the city life!
But the most touching was the dramatic and so recent past of Cambodian people. We couldn't stay indifferent witnessing the cruelty of Khmer Rouge regime. Whenever we went we could hear or see the traces of this black spot in the country's history - somebody told us the story of all his family being killed, somebody begged for money because he was unable to work with one leg or arm lost in a landmine field.
Realising  that people who went through hell and back can be so friendly and warm touched our hearts the most!

Today is the right moment to visit changing Cambodia and fill your heart up with warmth and love, so hurry up!

Some numbers:
KMs driven in total: 23 600
KMs driven during this period: 2800
Money spent during this period: 510 euros

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Laos, 25-11-2011 - 04-12-2011

Sleepy land of a million elephants
After crossing a river-border we arrived at slow and sleepy Laos, also called a land of a million elephants.
Very little cars, only few main roads (the map of Laos looked suspicious already in Lithuania) which drown into the darkness right after the sunset, a few traffic lights in all the country (the only ones we saw were in Vientiane), slow monks hanging around with umbrellas protecting them from the sun, lazy dogs lying on the side of the streets, dusty villages and no feeling of any rush. It let us feel the time slowing down.
Even Lao people were slow. Beside this, these mostly one meter and a half tall locals don't show much emotions and expressions, don't smile much to each other and to tourists.
Only the children were real sweeties standing with amazed faces and often naked bottoms next to the road and waving at us or playing with their amazingly primitive toys.
Even we became lazy in Laos!
But this sleepy country didn't disappoint us even though we had enough of its boring cuisine and the locals were not so warm towards us. The perfect match of Johan's open mind and Milda's curiosity let us take as much as possible from it. Already the first night in the village where we stayed over we heard the music sounds and went to have a look. We discovered a family celebration in a big tent. We were right away invited to join them and from then our glasses were always refilled with Lao beer (pronounced as "lauw bier") or local home made vodka.
We could witness how slowly the locals sing and move on the dance floor. It was very nice and funny because people around us were pretty drunk and we became quite tipsy as well.
Another time we celebrated the Independence day of Laos in another small town, this time with less beer, but we could show our dancing skills in Lao way - slowly move from one side to another and do very slow movements with both hands.
We were not only partying in Laos. We also enjoyed nice, just very dusty and sometimes tough gravel rides through the villages hidden under a layer of road dust.
We discovered very relaxed and cozy capital Vientiane which has the size and atmosphere of a small town and reminded us Vilnius. We took a boat through the most spooky cave we ever saw. We even crossed Lathoya and Roy who did the same route as we, just started from Cambodia.
And, surprise surprise, we had the fastest border crossing during our trip!

Paid homestay
In Laos we did our best to sleep at locals' place -  asked for it in many villages by showing the international sign of sleeping, several times requested for a couch on Couch surfing. But nobody invited us to stay over and local Couch surfers didn't event reply to our requests!
The locals were not "impressively friendly" and it was hard to get a chance to experience "the most authentic way" of locals life by staying in their place as it is described in our travel guide which, apparently, is not up-to-date anymore.
Once the search of homestay ended up at... a prostitute house. Just before the sunset we stopped in at the first glance empty and quiet resort. During dinner Milda payed Johan's attention to the beautiful local girls which were hanging around, waiting for something and smiling. There was even one shemale among them! It was already quite suspicious, and when we found a used bag of condom in our room it became clear that we will have our rest not in a resort but in a brothel. Later on a few men appeared, the music became louder and real life began. Fortunately we had our earplugs and didn't hear when the working day of the girls ended. Anyway we couldn't complain as we were not the main clients...
When finally we had the opportunity to see from closer how locals are living we needed to pay for it! A symbolic price, but still the homestay was not for free. Already after the sunset, when the hope to find a place to sleep was almost lost, we were invited by a family in a small village. Their straw hut consisted from a shop in the front of the house, a bed just behind the goods, a small kitchen and a dirty toilet. We slept on a mattress next to the family and their teenage son shared bed with his parents.
Just behind the straw wall there was a shelter with a pig and piggies. We went to sleep at eight o'clock and woke up just before the sunrise because of the noise of crowing cocks and squealing pigs.
Finally we got to taste the life of local villagers and it was quite tasty, with some spicy Lao flavour!

Some numbers:
KMs driven: 20 800
KMs driven during this period: 2350
Money spent during this period: 578,5 euros

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thailand I, 15-11-2011 - 25-11-2011

Thai Venice
Few days in Bangkok passed by preparing the bike for further trip, visiting the giant statues of Buddha and hanging around with Lathoya and Roy.
Johan changed the back tire which had two cracks already. We got an off road tire in order to control the bike better on dirt roads which we expected to find in Laos and Cambodia.
After one week of standing still (the flight from Kathmandu to Bangkok didn't count for us) we felt so free and happy to sit on the bike and move further again. We missed the feeling of exploring the world 2up!
But we couldn't enjoy this freedom long as the flood stopped us as soon as we reached the Northern part of Bangkok. At the beginning it was a nice adventure for us, especially because Johan just bought a new camera that we could mount on the helmet or on the bike. We could film the bike crossing the streets-rivers and facing the waves made by passing trucks.
But we reached the point where we couldn't move further because the level of water was too high. For a moment we were even thinking about turning back and going first to Cambodia. But Bangkok's developed infrastructure proposed us a solution -  a sky highway that goes above the Northern part of the city avoiding the areas under the water. As it was the main road going to the North it took us a few hours even with the bike to get out from the traffic jam.
From the sky highway we could observe the areas suffering from the flood. The view was impressively sad, especially knowing that the situation was much worse few weeks ago. Some districts were totally abandoned because of the high level of water, the streets became rivers and the cars were replaced by boats.
People were taken by trucks from one place to another. The airport that provides mainly domestic flights was covered by water as well, its landing field was just a big lake.
After leaving Bangkok around 200 kilometers we could still witness the damages of the flood. The road became dry but the road sides, fields and the courtyards of some temples were still under the water.
But the locals we met on the way kept smiling to us despite their wet tragedy.

When the time to get back to the initial path comes...
On our way through Thailand we visited several touristic places like ancient temples complexes which were quite impressive for the first time, but lost their charm when we saw several similar spots. We also tried some touristic activities like elephant ride and white water rafting, but it didn't impress us and gave a feeling of a touristic conveyor operating all around the country. The tourists groups were coming and leaving all day long, doing the same activities and making the same pictures. We only had a lot of fun with rafting, but even this joy took only half an hour as other tourists were waiting for their turn.
And the last drop was Milda's visit in a Tigers park which offers the possibility to touch the tigers and make close pictures with them. As the couple we met one day before told that it was a highlight for them, it sounded like a nice thing to experience. But the atmosphere there was very sad and so called Tigers kingdom was just small cages where animals didn't have much freedom. The big tigers looked drugged and baby tigers wanted more to sleep than be touched by hundreds of tourists.
This disappointing experience with Thailand's touristic activities let us feel like we were not on our main road anymore. We didn't make this trip to be one of many tourists going from one touristic place to another. It was the time to get back to our initial path and follow our initial goals - meet locals and get to know the country and its culture through them.
For this purpose Johan bought an off road map and we could escape all the touristic places and discover Thailand in our way. This plan worked out right away - suddenly we ended up on a beautiful forest road going through the villages and passing the rivers, with no tourists, only a few locals who crossed our path just on time.
Finally we ended up at a monks camp where they were building a new meditation house. For them our arrival was a big surprise as no tourists are passing this way. For us the meeting with them was one of the highlights of our trip. We were invited to have a meal and to stay over in their camp. We couldn't miss the opportunity to discover their life and religious principles!
We were lucky to meet a Canadian monk among them who was our translator that evening. We spent an afternoon hanging around and helping monks with construction works. Our visit influenced their daily routine and in the evening, instead of meditating longer, they sit with us and told about the life of monks and the main principles of Buddhism.
It was great to discover the religion which is so close to traveler's, so also ours, ideology. The seek to have as little as possible enjoying everyday, trying everything you want without thinking too much about "what if...", being good to each other and helping everybody around you fit a lot with what we experienced during our trip.
And finally it was like a confirmation for us that we are on the right path in our life as well as on our trip. 
The monks were very welcome and warm to us, and at the same time so simple and relaxed. The leader monk let us participate in their daily rituals, shared his food and at the end gave us his amulet wishing us good luck on the way.
It was hard to fall asleep that night because of many thoughts in our heads and very noisy nature around our tent.
We had a special time with monks which allowed us to leave feeling very confident and gave some new good feeling in our hearts. Even Johan, who is often very skeptic about religious issues, felt special after that evening.

We moved towards Laos convinced again that the nicest things happen off road and thanks to our bike and the way of traveling we can experience that!

Some numbers:
KMs driving in total: 18450
KMs driving during this period: 1400
Money spent during this period: 877 euros, not including a new toy of Johan