Category Archives: Khan Tengri

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Cycling 2000 kilometers through Iran and some practical considerations

As I ride through the green wheat fields around Fand I can hear the familiar sound of crickets typical of a summer night. Soon I enter the village itself and I stroll through the mud bricked house in search of my host for tonight, Hashem and somehow I find it hard to believe that less than one week ago I was cycling in subfreezing temperatures in the Iranian plateau near Miyaneh. Looking only at today the first part of the morning which I’ve spent in the traffic of Teheran trying to find my way eastwards through the network of expressways which runs through the city. Probably if I were to sum up my experience in Iran in couple of words it would be exactly like this day has been, great people but a lot of traffic.

After a quick search and a phone call I’m able to finally find Hashem’s house and what follows is an evening filled with the incredible hospitality the Iranian people are known for. Dinner with the family and with the neighboring relatives, with traditional dishes and with the crusty rice which I haven’t encountered before or after Iran, and most of all with genuine curiosity about how life is in other countries and in other parts of the world.

Before travelling through Iran I read stories about the Iranian hospitality and after almost a month of travelling through Iran I can only confirm it. The Iranians are also over polite between themselves, and it’s customary to refuse something 3 times just to be sure that an offer is genuine, but somehow when foreigners are involved this is combined with a genuine curiosity and with trying to somehow mend the bad image Iran has at a personal level. I have been asked countless times by locals what I think about Iran and about Iranians after travelling through the country and just as many times I’ve answered that I think that the Iranians are more or less incredible. There have been countless situations when complete strangers spent time and/or money to help with whatever problems I was facing. This of course doesn’t mean that everything is rose and perfect but the percentage of people doing seems to be way higher than in other countries.

La masa cu Hasheen si cu familia lui.

Having dinner with Hashem and his family

On the down side considering my route of crossing Iran from west to east through relatively populated and industrialized areas I can’t really say that I’ve actually enjoyed the actual cycling. The main problem is that for my taste there is an immense amount of traffic in Iran. Gasoline is cheap (something like 0.2 dollars) and it seems that almost everyone has a car. And the cars aren’t necessarily the ones you would expect to see passing you, from 40 year old Paykans and Peugeot 405 which is apparently still produced over there to huge and incredibly loud and inefficient trucks. Either way I can say that in 2200 kilometers there have been really few moments when I was riding without a car in site. Perhaps in the southern part of the country things are a bit different but both the route along the Caspian sea and the actual silk road route suffer from pretty bad traffic.

Regarding traffic on the other hand I can say that after getting used to it traffic through Teheran did seem a bit less dangerous than in Istanbul. I’ve spent a couple of days in both cities sorting out visa issues and I used the bicycle in the process so I can compare them a bit. Even though in Teheran there seem to be countless scooters humming away and the traffic rules seem to be non-existant everything seems to be happening at a slower speed than in Istanbul and you don’t have cars passing very close you you at 70-80 kilometers per hour.

Temperature wise in April in really changed a lot and there was a cold spell which brought temperatures way bellow freezing in the area around Tabriz only to encounter summer like temperatures in the the desert after Teheran. On the other hand I would wouldn’t chose another time do cross it as I’m not a big fan of the 40 degree temperatures which define the summer in Iran.

And now for some more practical informations

1. Visas (Iran and onward travel)

Probably the easiest place to obtain the Iranian Visa is Trabzon in Turkey, but for more information the caravanistan section is also very helpful. From Iran I picked up visas for Uzbekistan and for Turkmenistan (in that order). The Uzbek visa took 1 day with a letter of invitation and for the Turkem visa I applied for it in Teheran and I picked it up one week later in Mashad.

2. Money (what the hell is a tumen?)

Iran can be a confusing country and the subject of money is no exception. The first thing you become when you enter Iran is a millionaire as in 2014 the exchange rate was around one dollar to 30000 Rial. The best place to exchange money I think is at exchange booths at bazars, banks will exchange at the official rate which is considerably lower. But then when you start spending it you discover that almost everthing is handled in tumens, 1 tumen beeing equal to 10 Rial. It takes a bit to get used to it especially when you add in consideration the fact that all the prices are written using Arabic characters.

3. Prices.

When comming from Turkey Iran is a pretty cheap country and when you get over the fact that paper notes just keep flying away (keep in mind that they still have a 500 Rial note which is worth around 0.016 dollars) and when you consider that you do get invited a lot Iran has been quite cheap to travel through. Food seemed to be almost half of what it was in Turkey, with restaurand meals starting at 2-3 dollars and alternatively buying food for one day from a shop for a bit more than that. On the other hand there isn’t much diversity regarding things you buy in small shops. A night in a cheap guesthouse / hotel was a bit less than 10 dollars.

4. People.

 As I’ve said before the people are incredibly warm, curios and welcoming and they would be the main reason why I would visit this country once again. Just as an example, after being stopped by the police for a checkup after leaving Hashem’s house he came to the police station with me and tried to help as a translator, spending quite a bit of time in the process. Somehow the Iranians didn’t seem to be as conservative as the Turkish people (at least in the eastern part of Turkey), and even though religion is important there is quite a bit of difference between the laws and what the people think about them.

5. Mobile and Internet.

Yes there is internet, yes all social media is officially banned but everyone still has access to them using vpn’s. While in Iran I bough a cheapish sim card for my phone from Hamrah-e-Avvall, after trying an Irancell sim card which didn’t work and which seemed to be restricted for phones manufactured for Iran. I haven’t tried internet cafes but when I had access to an internet connection is was generally pretty slow.

5. Places.

Iran’s culture and history is amazing and my only regret is that I didn’t have enough time to take a detour in the southern and central part of the country. But from the places which I did see one there were a couple of places and moments which became stuck in my mind. Riding my bicycle through the narrow alleyways of the Tabriz bazar after all the shops were closed was one of them, and the entire place seemed to be taken from the tales of the “One thousand and one nights”. The huge dome of Soltanyeh on a crisp spring day was another one, together with the old caravan-sarais from the barren desert east of Teheran.

And now in short, 2200 kilometers in photos.

Heading towards the stormy border of Iran.

Heading towards the stormy border of Iran.

The first morning in Iran.

The first morning in Iran.

Morning invitation for breakfast, during the Nowruz.

Morning invitation for breakfast, during the Nowruz.

Pedaling on the bazar alleways

Pedaling on the bazar alleways

I think it was boiled sugar beat, a sweet treat popular in the Azerbajdjan Province.

I think it was boiled sugar beat, a sweet treat popular in the Azerbajdjan Province.

Winter on the iranian plateau

Winter on the iranian plateau

Improvised dinner in the spare room above a car-was.

Improvised dinner in the spare room above a car-was

Sisters.

Sisters.

Facing Soltanieh.

Facing Soltanieh.

Bairam.

Bairam.

Iranian style.

Iranian style.

Down with the USA!

Down with the USA!

Hashem and his mother.

Hashem and his mother.

Endless wheat fields in the middle of the desert.

Endless wheat fields in the middle of the desert.

One of the emergency (somewhat religious) rooms from a hotel.

One of the emergency (somewhat religious) rooms from a hotel.

After 230 kilometers through the desert with almost no villages in between.

After 230 kilometers through the desert with almost no villages in between.

One of the restored caravan-serais.

One of the restored caravan-serais.

Semna ale primaveri.

Semna ale primaveri.

The pilgrimage complex from Mashad.

The pilgrimage complex from Mashad.

The suspended village of Kang.

The suspended village of Kang.

One of the first camping places with grass, in Khorasan before the Turkmenistan border.

One of the first camping places with grass, in Khorasan before the Turkmenistan border.

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Riding towards Ararat through the Anatolian plateau

Ararat is a mountain which you see from far away when you come from either direction and if the air is clear it’s probably visible from at least 200 kilometres in each direction. And as beautiful as the Anatolia plateau might be it is very high and relatively rough and so I didn’t manage to ride more than 80-90 kilometres a day, which basically means that I’ve had Ararat in the background for 4 days.

It’s more or less understandable why there are so many myths related to this mountain as it has a clearly distinctive shape and it’s huge compared to the mountains which surround it. From Igdir it basically rises 4000 meters above the valley floor.

Anatolia seems much more rural than other parts of the country, with little villages scattered across the endless grassy hills and with small cities which are few and far between, and so I ended up camping a lot and spending a couple of nights at the locals. It was probably the part of Turkey which I enjoyed the most, with it’s harsh and vast landscapes. It’s probably a good preview and a good training of what I’m going to see later in my journey along the Silk road. In my opinion if time is scarce and if one doesn’t mind a relatively hilly ride it’s an alternative to the Georgia / Armenia route for getting into Iran.

Dimineata pe racoare, trezirea a fost pe la 5:40 si oamenii erau deja in picioare.

In the morning the hosts were already up at 5:40.

Impreuna cu tractorul familiei.

Together with the family tractor.

Sate din podis.

Life on the plateu.

Pietre de mormant, la aproape 2000 de metri

Funaral stones, almost 2000 meters high in the plateu.

O casa tipica, asemanatoare cu cea in care am dormit. 2 camere, acoperis de iarba. Hobbit style

Hobbit style and the grass roofs of these houses.

Drumul stepelor.

The endless road.

Lumina asfintitului.

The evening light.

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Miros imbatator.

Spring on the valley floor near Igdir.

4000 de metri deasupra drumului.

Rising 4000 meters above the road.

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Ani, the deserted city

In just a few minutes the sun is going hide behind a mountain in the background and I’m rushing with my camera in my hand in order to catch the last glimpses of light over Ani. I’ve been pedaling the entire day at altitudes over 2000 meters with headwind and I’ve managed to reach the site just before closing time. The guys at the entrance gave me 10 minutes, but that isn’t the problem, the problem is that the sun will set in less than 10 minutes.

I have no time to think about exposure and I just rush trying to make the best of it, because the place really does look amazing. It was once a city like Constantinople and 100.000 souls lived within with walls but it was abandoned completely 200 years ago. You can still see the old layout of the buildings, the city walls and the two ruined but still standing churches. And you can imagine for a short moment how would have been life in a city situated in such a scenic place.

I think that East Anatolia has been the most stunning part of Turkey I saw along my route, together with the mountains through which I’ve had to pass to get here from the coast. It’s completely different from other parts of Turkey and life here is harsh but maybe at the same time beautiful.

As I leave the citadel darkness sets in and I try to find the shortcut to Digor, and while asking to villagers I distinguish the “Misafir” word as one of the guys tries to convince me to stay at his house. I say yes as I’ve been really curios to see the inside of a typical rural turkish house. And during the evening and after the meal I’ve been offered by the family I find out that the guys from google translate really did something useful, and by using the smartphone we manage to exchange some information. For example I find out that military service is still compulsory in Turkey and that it’s 15 months long, that no wood is used to fire up the stove. One of the small girls is in her first year of English and she goes through her notebook searching for things to ask me, and in the process I manage to learn a few extra words in Turkish.

The next morning after I’m also offered breakfast I head towards Digor on one rough but beautiful road with absolutely no traffic. I really love this moments, somewhere in the middle of nowhere on a deserted road after experiencing a sample of genuine hospitality.

Plat ca o campie, dar la 2200 de metri.

Aventura!

Adventure!

Araratul in departare, la peste 200 de kilometri.

Ararat in the distance, 150 kilometers away.

Pedaland catre Ani.

Pedaling towards Ani.

La poarta cetatii.

At the ancient city gates.

Ultimele raze ale soarelui.

The last days of sunlight

Momente magice.

Magic moments.

Si a tinut 5 minute.

And it lasted less than 5 minutes.

Si dus a fost soarele.

And there it goes.

Drumul principal din fosta cetate.

The old main road.

1 luna.

1 month.

Sot si Sotie.

Husband and wife.

Si unul din cei 5 copii.

And one of the girls.

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Turkey, an introduction in Asia

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve entered Turkey and up until now I didn’t have the time to write a decent blog post in English and somehow it seems that writing in my native tongue will always be more tempting, hence the Romanian version of the blog is almost up to date.

It seems that since I’ve left Romania I’ve switching a lot of times between spring and winter, and while I think it’s normal for March the weather changes I’ve encountered have range from snow to a lot of rain to only a couple of days of real spring in Istanbul. All in all in the first 20 days I’ve had less than 3 days of sunshine which does seem a bit low.

But now back to Turkey, I think that coming from Bulgaria and with the experience of other European countries Turkey was a bit of a cultural change. Edirne, the first city I’ve stayed in was a world away from the empty and almost desolate towns of Bulgaria. So full of life, so full of people and so full of sounds (it seems that in Turkey the elections are coming and the way the political parties are campaigning is at least loud).

Edirne was a stunning city and a good introduction to Turkey, at least in comparison to Istanbul which can be a bit too much as a first experience. And now the compulsory lines about the traffic from Istanbul. After two days of pedaling against the wind I finally entered Istanbul from the east on the infamous D100 motorway. Nasty as it was I managed to survive it and after 60 kilometers of travelling to the city I managed to reach my warmshowers host, Yucel.

Istanbul is incredibly big and the entire city seems to be planned towards cars and public transport and the cyclist are almost missing. The traffic was a bit of a shock in the beginning, even though I’m pretty used to the traffic in Bucharest and while I was riding on the D100 there where moments when I felt like a gold-fish flushed down the drain with all the cars. But after 3 days spent in the city and after almost 100 extra kilometers it didn’t seem to bad in the end and it was only a question of getting used to it.

The good news was that I did get the Tajikistan visa really fast and that I managed to solve quite a few problems in Istanbul while also discovering a bit of the city and it’s history. The time spent at Yucel together with Maja and Jan, a german couple which is bike touring through Europe was also really nice, as was the fact that I managed to wash all my clothes thanks to Yucel.

The days after Istanbul were rough and really wet though and the 450 kilometers to Safranbolu took a bit of willpower with long and wet days averaging at around 110 kilometes with around 1200 meters of climbing and downclimbing. At the same time as it was so wet I did practice my negotiation skills quite a bit in search of Turkish guest houses (pansyon) at the end of wet days when I wanted to dry the sleeping bag and the tent. A fair price seems to be around 40 Turkish Lira (or around 13 euros) with breakfast include, so it’s not so bad especially when the next days are just as rainy.

Semne ale primaverii.

Signs of spring.

Moscheea Selmye,vizibila de departe.

The Selmye Mosque, visible from far away.

Caligrafie.

Caligraphy

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Caligraphy – 2.

Caligrafie turca.

Caligraphy – 3.

Din categoria iola.

In front of one of the most impressive mosques I’ve seen until now.

Inchis.

Closed.

Renault Taurus e inca la putere in Tucia.

Renault Taurus still is a very popular car in Turkey.

Ascultand Imamul.

Listening to the Imamul.

Moscheea albastra

The blue mosque.

Privind catre un alt continent.

Looking towards another continent.

Hagia Sofia.

Hagia Sofia.

Bine am venit in Asia.

Not a sign you see too often..

Ploaia de dimineata.

The morning rain.

Prin ploaie puterica, coafura si Polartec rezista.

Still dry through the rain and the wind thanks to the Polartec clothing.

Drum liber si cu multe suisuri si coborasuri.

Empty roads, but with a lot of ups and downs.

Singur pe drum.

An empty main road on a wet Sunday morning.

Impreuna.

Impreuna.

Prognoza pentru urmatoarele 3 zile.

The weather forecast for the next 3 days.

Prima intalnire cu muntii, pe un fel de Valea Cernei in varianta Turceasca.

The first meeting with the moutains after an entire day of rain.

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Bulgaria – an exercise in solitude

It seems that besides the main cities almost no-one lives here. In comparison with Romania the villages are much smaller but further apart and just as in Romania partly deserted. And if you add the relatively cold weather I’ve add during the last week of February, and that the villagers where probably all inside their homes trying to keep warm it was relatively hard even to find someone to ask for directions.

The network of secondary roads is wonderful though, and I must return here for shorter trips during the late spring or during the early summer. During my crossing of Bulgaria the plan was to use the main roads as little as possible, and after 600 kilometers I can say that even though some bits where a bit longer and tougher the experience was clearly better. If I have enough time I always prefer a longer detour through rural areas to the busy main roads.

he other thing about Bulgaria is that it’s quite hilly, and during an 80 km day of cycling it wasn’t uncommon to gather around 1000 meters of ascent and descent. What I didn’t like about Bulgaria was the lack of human contact. In some places it was hart to find people but even if I found them the language was sometimes a barrier which I couldn’t overcome. I know few words in Russian but it seems that their Bulgarian equivalent is spelled sometimes quite differently and the few words which are the same in Romanian and in Bulgarian weren’t enough to really communicate with the locals. English was really rare and I was a bit surprised that I was able to even use German once. It was at the same time a really useful exercise in reading the Cyrillic script with all the signposts scattered around.

As highlights of the crossing I passed 3 UNESCO world heritage sites, the rock churches of Ivanovo, the Madara rider near Shumen and Nesebar, the island-town on the coast of the Black Sea. But besides these I have to say that I also enjoyed the rural countryside, with a mixture of old abandoned houses, sheep and cattle grazing on the outskirts of the villages and the remnants of abandoned communist buildings. And it all blended together the brown-grey colors of a sunless week with a weather which reminded me that even with all the climate change which is going on February is still February.

While I enjoyed the feeling of solitude which I experienced during this crossing maybe it was an too direct introduction to the journey ahead.

Prin Bulgaria profunda.

Through rural Bulgaria.

Atentie gropi.

Take care, potholes which could swallow a car.

Aripi frante.

Broken wings.

Locul de cort din seara precedenta.

Cold camping in february.

Adin, dva, tri.

Adin, dva, tri.

Tunel.

Tunel.

Prin viscol spre Shumen.

Riding through the storm towards Shumen.

Fortareata din Shumen.

The Shumen fortress.

Scarile ce duc la rege.

The stairs which lead to the Madara rider.

Privind de pe locul fostei fortarete.

Standing on the place where the fortress once stood.

NU!

NO!

Locul de inoptat.

The bivouac spot.

Nu trebuie sa mergi pana pe BAM pentru astfel de drumuri.

You don’t have to go to BAM for such roads.

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The departure

As the date of the departure was closing in it seemed that time started to contract and in many moments I was beginning to wonder if I will be able to fix everything before I leave. But by reducing the list to the critical items working overtime on them in the end it seemed to work out. The things which I couldn’t solve I will try to solve along the way.

Probably the climax was the the day before the departure, when in the end the tent I’ve received from Decathlon arrived and I rushed to fetch it at 7 o’clock together with a number of other relatively important equipment pieces, like the shoes and a down jacket. The rest of the evening was spent finally packing the things and with a final dinner with my wife and my parents. At one point I quit trying to organize everything and I just started throwing the things in the bike bags with hopes of organizing everything along the way.

In the morning I pedal through a light rain to the place which I’ve chosen as a last meeting point for some friends and family, with a million thoughts going through my head. But probably the one which always came back was “Did I forget anything?”. I was really surprised about how many people came, and how many friends decided to share the road with me for the first day, despite the weather and despite the fact that the it was Saturday morning. I thank you all for coming, it really meant a lot.

After spending almost half an hour taking pictures and saying goodbye it’s time to finally leave, and together with a group of friends we head for Bulgaria and for Basarbovo, a place where were climbing a bunch of times before. At 110 kilometers from Bucharest it seemed like the perfect destination for the first day. As for the road we chose a secondary road through Comana which avoids the heavy traffic from the main road and it also is way nicer.

At the first border crossing I failed to impress the border guard with my Kyrgystan viza as he was speaking only bulgarian and I didn’t understand when exactly he asked the question “Where are you heading to”. After crossing the border I spend some time in Ruse trying to change some money and trying to get a pre-paid card and after succeeding at the former and failing at the later we ride the last 20 kilometers to Basarbovo, where I spend a final evening with my wikfe and with the friends which accompanied me until here

Distance: 110km.
Total Climb: 200m.
Morale: 9.
Landscape/Things to see: 6.

Prietenii stransi inainte de plecare.

The friends gathered in Bucharest before leaving.

Pinguin bulbucat.

The big-eyed penguin.

La poze.

Taking pictures

La kilometrul 0.

Kilometer 0.

Plutonul care m-a insotit.

The friends which accompanied me.

Fara aparatori, rastignit.

Without mud-guards.

Nu trebuie sa mergi departe pentru a da de locuri mai salbatice.

You don’t have to go far to find wild places.

Suspendat.

The suspended bridge.

Catre comana.

Heading towards Comana.

Pe camp.

Riding on the field.

Masa campeneasca.

Lunch time.

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Before and after photos

In Romania there aren’t a lot of people who haven’t heard of Mihai Barbu and of his trip to Mongolia. Before him other travelers did long adventurous journeys but probably he was the first who told a really good story of the trip, and by doing that he managed to inspire a lot of other people to start on intereting journeys. And in a way I hope to do the same with my journey.

At least in my case the travel journals I have been reading the past years played an important role in deciding that I actually want to do this. Now getting back to the photos I’m really glad that Mihai spared some time for a couple of shots, and I cannot help but wonder if I would take the same photos after 9 months how changed would be the person standing in the photo. I’m pretty sure that the clothes and the bike won’t be as new.

I could write a lot of things on the subject but with two days until the departure time is short and the posts will be even shorter.

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Visa

The first visa – Kyrgystan

Probably one of the most daunting problem when trying to plan a trip through Central Asia is the visa problem. And besides the bureaucracy and the costs which pretty high the main issue is that the rules change rather dramatically from one year to the other, and not necessarily for the better. Probably the best example is last year when during the elections in Iran it became a bit more difficult to get the Iranian visa. Perhaps sometimes it’s necessary to to bump into these problems just learn to appreciate the advantages an EU citizen has while travelling through Europe. It’s easy to get accustomed to this fact and to forget that 90% of the world doesn’t have this freedom of movement.

The first and only visa which I got before leaving is exactly the visa of the destination country, Kyrgyzstan. At first I planned to get them along the way but after finding out that the Kazakhstan embassy in Romania also issues Kyrgyzstan visas on a relatively short notice, and that they are considerably cheaper than in other embassies I thought it was worth the effort.

And thus after a couple of visa papers which I managed to fill incorrectly a number of times, after 35 euroes and after 3 days I got my first visa. The consul, a young Kazakh with Asian facial features fortunately spoke some English in order to clear up some details of the Kyrgyz visa (for example you can use it in an interval of 3 months). On the other hand if I would scale things and if this is the English which is spoken by a consul in an European country I think I’d better start learning some Russian, or at least the basic things which are needed for filling up visa forms.

Regarding visas probably the best resource for Central Asia is Caravanistan but also the information provided by Ionut and Ana from Into the World were very useful. The plan with the other visas would be to get the Iran visa in Trabzon or in Erzrum (it’s easier and you don’t need a letter of invitation), then the Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan si Tadjikistan in Iran, filling the papers in Teheran and trying to get the visas in Mashad. The biggest problem will probably be Turkmenistan which only issues a transit visa which is only 5 days long and has fixed dates and thus it’s hard to specify the exact dates until I will get close to the border. The return visas for Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia I’ll get either in Almaty or in Bishkek, but that’s at least 6 months away so I can start worrying about them a bit later on.

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In front of the microphone

In a January month which was incredibly full and in which I split my time between spending time in the mountains and between organizing the trip, I also tried to make the project known to the Romanian media. In the end the only thing which I can offer in return is a story, a story which may seem interesting and which may inspire in turn, a story which I will write for me but which can also be read by others.

And so from the benevolence of several persons which resonated to the idea of a long trip to a mountain at the end of the world in ended up twice in front of a Radio microphone, once at the national Romanian Radio Station (Radio Romania Actualitati) at the “Like on wheels” Radio show and once at Radio France International at an interview with Andreea Orosz. The first one was live during a weekend show while during the second one we had more time to talk about the project in detail.

And now regarding the experience of talking on the Radio, as it was the first time for me, it’s interesting because you don’t realize that there are people listening on the other end and things are more relaxed. At the same time it’s a bit weird when you use the headphones and when you hear yourself and realize that you don’t sound like your normal self. And when time is limited it’s really hard to try to reduce everything to the essential parts, and I feel like given enough time I could go on for hours regarding the adventure which is in front of me.

Unfortunately all the recordings are in Romanian, as the main audience is in Romania.

The live condensed version from Radio Romania Actualitati.

And the long version from Radio France International and a short article can be found over here.

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The Polartec Challenge

First of all maybe I should start a bit by explaining what is the Polartec Challenge. Each year the guys from Polartec decide to support a number of daring projects around the world, with the aim of encouraging exploration challenges around all the corners of the world. When I first found out about it, and when I scrolled the list of adventurers which have been nominated in the past years it was hard not to feel intimidated, with adventures spanning from ascents nominated for the Piolet d’Or to explorations of the most remote places on this planet. And it’s incredible that the Polartec Challenge has been going on for the past 20 years, and quite a number of big names have benefited from them.

As intimidating as it seemed, I also thought that it was worth a try, and from the moment when I decided that I will go on this trip the thought was somewhere in the back of my mind. And even though my expedition surely seems challenging to me(which basically means hard but doable at the same time) I had no idea if others also see it the same way, especially because it combines at the same time a bike touring expedition with alpinism, and taken separately each part isn’t something special in itself. The length of the expedition, the style and the combination is something a bit different though, and it’s not every day that you start a 15.000 kilometre journey on a bike from your doorstep with the goal of reaching a distant 7000 meter peak half way around the world.

The news came right after trying to raise some sponsorship for the expedition (without success up until now) and after trying to obtain some media partnerships (still ongoing and partially successful). And after hearing no for so many times it’s hard not to start doubting the entire adventure, or at least to doubt that it also seems interesting for other people (after working through the organisational details in the past weeks it seems even more interesting and challenging to me). And I still find it hard to believe, but it surely did come like a breath of fresh air in the maze of getting all the needed equipment and I was starting to cut of the list the things which I could do without for the journey.

And so I have one extra reason to write everything also in English besides Romanian, and to tell a good story through photography and through writing. A big thanks once again to Polartec.

As a side-note I find it very interesting that in Romania (just as in other post communist countries) is that lot of pieces of equipment are named after the first large name which became known in those countries. For example every burner is called primus, every running shoe is called adidas and last but not least every fleece jacket is called Polar.

The full press release can be found here.