The route at the moment is only a very rough plan and will no doubt evolve and possibly change drastically over the coming months. Being able to go where we want and keep our own schedule is one of the main attractions of travelling by bicycle. Obviously we’ll be restricted by visa limitations in some areas, but for the most part we will be very flexible with our plans.
August –November 2015 The Far East
Japan – from Hokkaido, after a final camping trip and farewell to friends at our favourite spot, Lake Shikotsu, we’ll catch the ferry to Hachinoe in Aomori. From there we will cycle down the East coast of Tohoku and then through the mountains towards Tokyo. Leaving the bikes in Tokyo, we’ll have a quick 3 week trip back to the UK to see family and friends and to take back a load of our stuff that we won’t be carrying on our bikes. On our return to Tokyo, we’ll continue South and West probably following the Sea of Japan coast to Fukuoka. From there we’ll catch a ferry to Busan in South Korea.
We’ll travel north following the ‘3 Rivers Cycle Route’ to Seoul, and from there we’ll take a ferry over to China, probably to the city of Lianyungang, a little north of Shanghai. We’ll follow the coastline South and West. Hopefully we will have secured China visas from the embassy in London whilst on our trip to the UK. Ideally multiple entry as that’ll allow us to stop into Hong Kong to visit friends and arrange further visas for South East Asia.
December 2015-February 2016 South East Asia
From China we’ll enter Vietnam and travel down through South East Asia. This will allow us to stay in warmer weather during the winter months. Travelling across Western China during mid-winter is not an attractive prospect. We hope to travel through Cambodia, Thailand and Laos over this period.
Spring-Summer 2016 Central Asia
From South East Asia we’ll head back into China and head north through Yunnan and Szechuan and then head west across the desert towards Urumqi. This is a LONG way and we are certainly not too proud to jump on a train or bus for this stage. Once in Western China, we’ll cross into Kyrgyzstan and follow the Pamir Highway through Tajikistan and then to Uzbekistan. At the moment, with Iranian visa restrictions for Brits as they are, it looks like we’ll need to head through Kazakhstan and catch a ferry over the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan. We are really hoping that the visa criteria for Iran changes to allow British passport holders independent travel through the country again. If this were to happen, we’d be really excited to travel through Iran to get to Turkey.
Autumn 2016 Into Turkey
Either from Iran (unlikely) or Armenia (probably) we’ll enter Eastern Turkey. We’ll travel West and South through the country, hopefully getting through the mountains before it gets too cold. Once in the South West and the Mediterranean we want to catch a ferry over to the islands of Greece.
Winter 2016-Spring 2017 Europe
From here, the plan is very vague. Once in Greece and Europe, we won’t be restricted by any visas so we really can take our time and go where we want. Depending on funds and enthusiasm, we might want to string out the trip for as long as possible. Or we might be eager just to get back to the UK as quickly and directly as we can. Hopefully we’ll still be enjoying it! It’d be nice to travel around the Greek islands and then up through Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and into Italy. We got married in 2008 next to Lake Garda in Italy, so it’d be really cool to ride past there. We’d also like to head over to Sardinia and Corsica. If we’re really having fun, we could continue through southern France, and Spain and even across the Med to Morocco, just to tick off another continent. As spring turns to summer, we’d definitely start to make our way back north to Europe, through France and a ferry across the Channel to reach the UK.
I’m writing this at my desk at work in June 2015, two months before we even set off. I’m sure this plan will bear very little resemblance to the final route we take, but it’s what we’ve got in our minds at the moment.