We spent most of 2008 planning and researching our 2009 journey. During this planning phase, we produced this overview page. Links to further detailed preparation pages are:
Weather | Packing List | Visas | Route Options | Electronics.
Our preparations paid off and we leave these pages as a guide to others.
Bangkok to Europe
January/December 2009, ~15,000 km
We plan to give up our Vancouver-based lives and take to the road for a year. Why? There are many possible answers to that question, but allow us one: at 56 years old this is getting to be our last chance for such an adventure.
Why Bangkok? Because we can get there with Air Canada, and the flat terrain makes an easy start. Why start in January? The weather works quite well that way. Why to Europe? That means we’ll have been right across Asia. We can probably still do shorter trips in Europe when we’re older, but this will likely be the only time in our lives when we’ll be able to or want to travel for this long at a stretch. Realistically, we’re not quite sure where our trip will end.
Scroll down to see proposed routes.
These are among the details we are considering:
Coldest night temperatures indicate bringing a a sleeping bag good to minus 5C and a fleece jacket to keep warm at night in winter in southern China and at higher elevations. Warmest day temperatures show that Almaty and Tashkent will probably be too hot to cycle in summer months.
It appears the only strong head winds might be as we travel North through Lanzhou, China. Good tail winds are likely in Western China.
Rainfall along our proposed route is minimal compared to rainfall in Vancouver. Outer clothing layers won’t be used nearly as often for rain protection as in Vancouver, but the potential effects of the elements at higher elevations means that sturdy outer garments remain essential.
See weather details.
This is a major challenge. Chris’s has produced a preliminary proposal based on his research
Starting from our Eastern Europe packing list, and adjusting for expected weather and extended travel, we have begun to make a packing list.
The Silk Roads, A Route and Planning Guide, Paul Woods, Trailblazer Guides
It is a challenge to find a good map for China, but Google Maps has recently significantly upgraded its coverage detail for China, making it the best road map for the area. The upgrade is not yet complete, however, and will not include contours. To plan for China we are using:
Google Maps (best for roads)
Garmin World Map (has contours, but lacks new roads)
China-Mongolia, Freytag & Berndt (best overview)
Post Trip Note: We usually got a new paper map in every country and Chinese province.
Outside China we use :
Garmin World Map (has contours)
Silk Road Countries, Freytag & Berndt
South East Asia, International Travel Maps
Southeast Asia Phrasebook, Lonely Planet
Mandarin Phrasebook, Lonely Planet
Russian Phrasebook, Lonely Planet
Eastern Europe Phrasebook, Lonely Planet
Margo is studying Manadarin at UBC Contunuing Studies
Information to consider
In Wikipedia it states that there are 3 multi-regional networks: Cirrus –Maestro – PLUS … so having bank cards to access all of these seems sensible. We carried 2 bank cards that covered these three networks. We found ATM’s in all major centres. We found in some quite big cities in China no ATM’s but they were always available in provincial capitals. Iran has no ATM’s and cash is required.
As the map below shows we have researched several routes. For a detailed discussion see our route option page.