Last December, two amazing Italian bicyclists who are traveling around the globe passed through Krabi province. We were lucky enough to meet and talk with them.
We are Giovanni and Marco.
We are two Italian guys who are doing something different, something off-road. We left Italy two years ago with a big dream: The World by bicycle.
We are from a town in Italy called Ravenna and our goal is to return in five years, and to cycle every continent.
We have two simple rules:
- Follow a nontraditional route
- Stay as close to the sea as possible
Our story is one of friendship, as we have known each other since childhood. After sharing experiences at school, with sports and friends, we decided to make our dream come true by having this adventure and discovering the world together.
Now the big question, “why by bicycle?”
To be honest, we are not professional cyclists, but in a previous trip we rode bicycles and found them to be the best friend and friendliest vehicle to travel on. By riding a bike, we go slow and have more opportunities to see and understand the places we visit.
We reached Krabi the first time in October 2013, after 9500 km of road across Europe, West Asia, India and Nepal. Krabi was a wonderful place for us to rest and recoup our much needed energy. In Krabi, we met Renato the owner of the restaurant Viva in the heart of Krabi-town.
To date we have traveled 25,000 km, and we are headed towards our 21st country, Vietnam. After this, we will go north to Laos, China and Mongolia but we keep Krabi in our hearts, like a second home.
Our travels are simple and cheap – fortunately everywhere we go we find good street food. Our habits are rustic, sometimes we eat without cutlery or live without showers, but traveling simply teaches us that with a smile, everything turns into an experience to remember.
I remember a night in Indonesia when we camped in a mosque. After 7 hours of cycling, we cleaned ourselves in the basin where Muslims wash their feet before praying. We ate plain rice with chicken and prawns and we communicated with body language. We finally lay down on the cold floor, and were lulled to sleep by the mosquitoes buzzing and truck noises. What we lost in comfort that night, we gained upon awakening: a colorful dawn, the minaret imam song and a hundred kids around us, laughing and hugging their new white-skinned guests. It seemed a dream, like a hymn to life.
But our story is also one of mountains – of enemy and lover together.
One morning in Sumatra, after 3 days of hills and swamps, I woke up stiff but rested. I washed my face in the nearby water tank, which was filled from the nights’ rain, and I wore my dirty, sweaty bike clothes of the day before. It seemed just another brave day, but the mountains were waiting for us. It was the real climb.
There was a woman with a veil washing her clothes in a stream next to her house, a young Indian loaded with heavy bunches of palm fruit, and throngs of men sculpted the rock roadside with hammers and pickaxes – this reminded me of forced laborer. I felt privileged in my freedom of choice to travel the world this way.
We rode along ten, twenty, thirty kilometers and then the road went up, up, mercilessly up without respite. I was sweating and fighting. I devoured all of the energy in my body then I stood up on my pedals. I turned back and looked at Marco. His eyes told me that he too was exhausted, also clinging to his handlebars, as was our fate. My calves, like stone ready to crack, my breath as a gale of wind, unable to find oxygen, but my heart was a crazy piston, and it kept me driving on. Bicycle and mountain. My feelings were a mixture of effort and triumph, challenge and motivation, lost in the eternal question of whether to stay or leave. That day, the limit was the imaginary line of the equator, the zero parallel. That day and always, the limit was my mind, the finish line that we create as our goal..
Exhausted, I pushed on, trying to overcome my limit, to overstep the equator, to arrive a little bit further. Call it curiosity of my limits; it has always been my heart that lets me go beyond my mind.
And beyond my lonely soul.