In 400 days, Anthony Laguerre’s dream to cycle round the world on a bicycle will come true. Together with Caroline Lopez, the couple started from their home in the France in October last year with a plan to visit 35 countries and will end their journey in America towards the end of this year in November. We met up with the adventurous French couple on their stopover in Malaysia.
Laguerre and Lopez made a smart choice to travel the world on ‘foldies’ aka foldable bicycles, specifically infamous English-made Bromptons. This provides them flexibility and anytime they choose not to travel by bicycle, they can simply fold up their bicycles and carry onto boats, buses, trains or planes. This also reduces the risk of having their bicycles stolen as they can carry it with them all the time.
Lopez was fortunate to have a beautiful red P6R Brompton, a front bag and some equipment sponsored by Brompton before the start of their trip.
Journey to the East
Travelling eastwards passing through 15 countries across Europe, the couple entered Asia through Turkey, went trekking in Annapurna, Nepal, experienced culture shock in China before going south towards Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Surprisingly, both Lopez and Laguerre take to Asia’s spicy food easily, and have been in awe at the different ways of life, even the different cheeses. Perhaps they discovered Yak cheese in Yunnan, China too?
They’ve also enjoyed the immense hospitality of Asians, where everyone is your friend, and they are much treated like superstars as everyone wants to have photos taken with them all the time.
The Brompton community in Thailand and Malaysia have also been extremely welcoming, with numerous people hosting them as though they were close friends. The Thai and Malaysians’ hospitality have out weighed the beautiful landscape they’ve seen in these two countries.
Lopez especially loves Cameron Highlands, Langkawi, and fondly remembers the trunk road leading into the idyllic town of Taiping in Perak.
Reality of the touring
When the topic of cycle-tourism comes about, Lopez mentioned that most blogs only talk about the beautiful encounters, weather and landscapes. That’s endearing however in reality, you do encounter problems – mechanically and emotionally – being homesick or simply feeling frustrated with your bicycle.
Both Lopez and Laguerre have been fortunate not to fall sick during their adventures. They only had a scare after getting Chilbains (small, itchy swellings on the skin that occur as a reaction to cold temperatures) from the Himalayas during their time in Nepal.
There might even be a chance that you might not even find a place to stay at the end of the day of touring. Lopez felt that it’s important to talk about the bad with the good, and it’s not always perfect when you’re travelling.
Frightening encounter in Turkey
In Turkey, the couple were in countryside, and they were running late as it had been a day of climbing hilly terrain and Laguerre suffered a puncture. They decided to camp in the field, just off the main road as they couldn’t fix the tyre and reach the town before night fall.
Unfortunately, it was winter and it was getting very cold at -10 degrees, so they camped in the valley with villages around them. As night fell, the villagers likely took notice of the lights of their campsite, as they were reading in the tent. They heard some cars stopped outside and saw flashlights, searching for them.
Laguerre stepped out of the tent to discover Turkish hunters armed with hand guns approaching him. Due to the language barrier, he failed to communicate and to explain why they were camping there. Fortunately, the hunters left peacefully but fired a gun shot shortly after leaving their campsite.
Little did they expect, within the next 15 minutes, another car stopped to search for them again. This time was the Turkish Military Forces armed with automatic guns. Fortunately, one of the officers spoke English and they managed to convey their reason for camping there. They only found out the next day, that they had found shelter in the vicinity of the Military Forces headquarters.
The jokes on the French couple instead, as the local Turks laughed heartily, when the couple related that they had travelled from France with those small bicycles.
It’s been almost 200 days, half way through their journey. From Malaysia, Lopez and Laguerre will travel to Singapore and Japan before flying to Vancouver, Canada in search of cooler weather.
View their photos on Baikbike’s photo album here.