Frequently asked questions
We are often asked questions along the way so these are our answers...
How do I donate?
Donating is easy, click on the donate button on the right or go to the Child's Dream donation page. There are three ways to pay, Credit card, PayPal or bank transfer. You can donate in British pounds, Euros, Swiss Francs and Dollars.
How will you know that I have have donated?
Child's Dream keep us up to date on all donations recieved and you will recieve an email from Child's Dream once your donation has been made. The email will ask you where you found out about Child's Dream, please mention Bikeabout.
Thank you for your donation.
Does any of the money raised go to you?
No our cycling trip is entirely self funded with some equipment from our sponsors. All the donations go directly to Child's Dream to help build a school for underprivileged children in South East Asia.
For more info see our Charity FAQ page.
Are you rich, how do you afford to cycle for so long?
Richness is a strange concept. You can have lots of money but not be very happy or be very poor and super happy. Who is the richer person? In England our combined salaries were average, in other parts of the world those same salaries would make us rich. We saved for 3 years, before we set off, with the view that we would do some travelling, we eventually agreed on a cycling trip. We started on a budget of £10 a day for both of us for 15 months, but we recently increased this to £20 a day. Living off £10 for two people is quite doable but you have to be very strict and it also restricted our ability to see certain tourist attractions. Our new budget is worked out over a week, so we might spend a lot of money at the beginning of the week in a nice guest house or seeing a UNESCO site or other tourist attraction. The rest of the week will be eating a cheaply as possible and either finding a cheap guest house or camping for free. We, well Liz, Chris makes the tea, also does some part time work designing websites. We have taken nearly twice as long going bikeabout so far, so have extended the trip, this extra income will cover the shortfall.
How do you cycle across the water, will you swim?
We spent quite some time working with NASA to develop a sea pod that look like giant orb. There is the inner orb and outer orb. The inner orb is weighted so that it always stays upright with us inside it. The outer orb spins around the inner orb so we don't end up on our heads. Each bike is strapped in the pod and the wheels are connected to the propulsion device. Don't ask me how this works, it just does, it has about a gizzillan patents pending and if you were to look at the inner workings that are sealed inside a casing that can only be opened by a NASA shaped screw driver then you would probably be spotted by one of their satelites and zapped by a laser beam from outer space before you could realised you had asked a silly question and got an even sillier answer.
Ok, all joking aside, we have the choice to fly or take a boat across the water. We would prefer not to fly as we have a lot of luggage and the bikes have to be in boxes, and it can be expensive. Flying is also bad for our environmental and uses a lot of fuel. However sometimes we have no choice, between New Zealand and Australia we took a flight and from Australia to Indonesia we flew.
From Indonesia to Singapore we took a 28 hrs ferry which was very good value for money, although quite a long journey!
How far do you cycle each day?
We aim to cycle about 75 km each day, but if there are hills or a headwind we do less, flat or downhill and a tailwind we do more.
How many hours do you cycle each day?
About 4-5 hours a day with breaks in-between and a good break for lunch. If it's very hot then we get up very early and do the bulk of the cycling in the morning before it gets too hot, then have a very long lunch break before doing a few more kms. If it's cold we might lie in until the sun warms us up enough to get out of the sleeping bags and on the road. It really depends and every day is different. One of the longest days we did was cycling to Dali, China, where we cycled 114km and arrived about 9pm at night! Chris had some epic days whilst cycling in Sichuan, in the mountains... when you are cycling through a gorge with steep rock walls either side, for miles and miles and nowhere to camp, just got to keep going. Or pushing your bike up a snowy icy hill hoping to find a good camp spot, it could take hours!
How much weight to you carry?
This depends on the amount of food and water we carry. The bikes are quite heavy at 18 kg each then we have about 50 kg of kit and clothes between usm more in the winter months. If we have to carry lots of food and water the weight can increase by another 40kg (1 litre water = 1 kg). Chris takes about 2/3 of the weight, Liz a 1/3.
How long will you be cycling for?
We set off in September 2009 and plan to back in the UK by Dec 2011, so about 2 years and 4 months. It was originally meant to be 15 months, however we sailed for 1 month, taught English for 2 months in Thailand, Liz went home for 3 months, now we are teaching English for a few weeks in Mongolia. We haven't cycled everyday that we've been away, in fact in some ways this trip has been more about travelling and having interesting experiences, than cycling. The bikes have been our mode of transport, a very enjoyable way to see the world, smell the flowers and watch the butterflies. We haven't rushed and we are not looking to break any speed records, there is too much to see and do along the way!
Will you be cycling all the way?
As much as we can. We have flown or sailed over the water, taken the odd train to avoid a big city or catch a ferry on time. We have some big distances to do so in China we covered some of the country by train, from Chengdu to Beijing and then Beijing to Jining. In Kazakhstan we may have to find a way to get across in time, to avoid outstaying our welcome.
What do you miss the most?
Curling up on our sofa with a DVD, some popcorn and a blanket. Being cold and having a roaring fire. Proper mash potato or a sunday roast. Cider. But most of all family and friends.
Do you meet many other cycle tourers?
Yes we have met people from England, France, Holland, Australia, Japan, America, Switzerland, Mongolia and Scotland all touring on their bikes. We cycled with Margo and Ben for a few weeks in Yunnan, China which was great and we have many fantastic memories of our time on the road with these two. We are also in contact with other cycle tourers around the world, via twitter and facebook and their blogs. See our links page for more details.
Where do you sleep?
Hotels, hostels, guesthouses, parks, tents, school classrooms, random strangers houses that take us in, travellers networks like warm-showers or couchsurfing. In Australia and New Zealand we camped a lot, however in SE Asia it was very hot and sleeping in the tent is a bit like sleeping in a sauna, and with accommodation being quite cheap, we opted to stay in hostels, hotels and guesthouses much more than we expect to. In China we camped a lot, although finding a patch of land can be tricky, the Chinese use every square inch to grow or cultivate something! Mongolia is easy, there is space to camp everywhere and travelling through a truly nomadic country makes this much easier. Plus if you need a place to stay, Mongolians will offer you a place to stay in their ger (yurt) without thinking twice.
Does your bum hurt?
Not any more, but if we have not cycled for more than a week or so, the second day back on the bike is a bit uncomfortable but after that is OK. We take precautions to prevent chafing but it still happens occasionally, we carry sudocrem just in case!
Have you every been in any danger?
So far all the people we have met have been kind, friendly and helpful - we have never feared for our lives or been threatened. We have been ripped of a few times by paying more than the going rate but this happens in most tourist centres around the world. Watching the news can make you believe that there is a bad person around every corner but in reality the world is full of good people. That said we do follow our instincts and pay attention to what is happening around us. If we don't get a good vibe about someone or somewhere then we leave.
We did have some stuff stolen when we first got to Mongolia (helmet, light and water bottle) so we can't be too complacent. We are backing up all of our photos and files, just in case! And we have travel insurance that covers our kit (although not our bikes).
As we travel through the more remote parts of the world, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, we carry a SpotTracker, which gives a GPS location and allows us to send an SOS if we get into trouble. And we have Medivac cover in case one of us is serious hurt or sick.