>> Prologue

Ubud rice paddies

Plowing rice paddies in the rain, by hand-tractor. This photo was shot on my iPhone, from our balcony in Ubud.

After ten years of traveling to Asia, from the islamic countries in the Middle East and Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent and tropical South East Asia, I’ve covered quite a bit of ground, and in the meantime, so has An. But it’s a vast continent and many blind spots remain on our travel maps. This new trip is about connecting the dots, places we’ve skipped on previous trips, mostly due to lack of time or because they were too far off our route, as well as a few countries we’ve never been before.

To start this trip we’ve taken a one-way flight deep into South East Asia. We chose Bali as our starting point because it’s easy to fly to, not affected too much by the prevailing monsoon and the perfect place for relaxing a few days before hitting the road. After a few hectic months at home we indulge ourselves in Ubud, watching other people work in the rice paddies and savouring delicious food at its many excellent restaurants.

From Indonesia we’ll work our way up through South East Asia and towards China. The exact itinerary is still very much undetermined, but to quote Paul Theroux: “tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” What we do know is that we’ll be traveling overland as much as possible, crossing land borders instead of traveling through time between sterile airports that all look the same. Unfortunately, we don’t have our own transport this time. Instead, we’ll be taking trains whenever possible, as trains are certainly the next best way to travel after motorcycles, at least if you ask us.

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