After 6000 kilometers on my bike, 120 nights in my tent and 13000 photos I came back from southeast Asia on the 14th of March 2018.
I learned a lot on this trip and a lot of things came differently than I had expected in my text „the plan“ before I started.
I never went to Myanmar. Apart from the touristic routes the country is very difficult to travel. It’s only possible to stay in officially certified accommodations. If you don’t do so you almost always will get caught by the police (as I read in some blogs). Finally, there were enough impressions to gain by cycling through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Maybe the biggest fail was my plan to navigate only by paper maps. I have to confess, in the first morning in Bangkok I opened GoogleMaps and as long there was Internet, I used it during the whole six months. While I normally couldn’t find the small secondary roads on which I cycled during the day on the printed paper map, I was able to zoom into the satellite photos of GoogleMaps to check where I am, where no settlements are and to look for a place for my tent. When there was no Internet, I used MapsMe which does not provide photos, but the maps are working perfectly offline.
My photo equipment survived the tour and the climate wonderfully. Also, the power supply by solar panel and power bank worked very well. I think the panel would have been enough by itself, but I often used available sockets to charge the power bank. My tablet used up most of the power. Although the camera was used a lot, it needed the slightest amount of power.
Backing up my photos by a cloud service didn’t work out that well because it was difficult to find an internet connection which was fast and stable enough to load up tens of gigabytes in a realistic amount of time. What was easier instead was to find some computer and use it to copy the pics onto an external HDD. But looking backwards there was indeed quite a high risk to catch some viruses that way. In the end, I think an own laptop is still the best solution for making backups.
Regarding photography I gained a lot of experiences. Especially important was the time after the trip, when I was able to work with the pictures on my computer. Overall, I had not expected how much energy the travelling by itself cost. When you arrive to some village where almost never a foreigner comes to, after cycling up slopes to whole day, you usually don’t have the nerve to ask for a photo session, especially when you don’t speak the language of the people. The way you’re moving forward has a big impact on the pictures you are going to make and, in the future, I will separate more clearly between travelling for travel, and a photographic project where I focus on the pictures.
My respect for people who are doing this kind of trip for years became even bigger after my own experience. I was never able to fully recharge my batteries during the six months and I often came into some mood where I felt unable the stay open for more new impressions. The more impressive it is if somebody is able to have this energy for a long time – always being the foreigner, never staying a longer time, always having to decide how the trip is going to go on, telling again and again how the trip was so far and constantly reacting to the unexpected. A condition where everything is more intense, the good as well as the bad, and in the same moment you seem to be able to withstand more than in so called everyday live.
I recommend everybody to have such an experience by himself, especially alone. I cannot say that it going to be fun the biggest part of the time. It is something better, something you cannot tell in words.