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Tuesday, 16th of February 2010 at 08:00

Why such an adventure?

Sandra pushing her bike and trailer on a forest path in the french Jura

Two recumbent bikes and two trailers attached to them. In our luggage a tent, our stove and clothes for every climate. Certainly our odd caravan is going to give rise to infinite encounters all along the way.

It’s the story of a crazy dream which took form about four years ago just after birth of our first son Manu. We began cycle touring with a trailer for our son. He was rocked to the rhythm of our excursions, and the landscapes which scrolled along allowed us already to “tell” him about the world.

Manu and an old woman in his ancestor's village in northern Vietnam

The original plan was to leave Geneva by camping car to go to Vietnam and work there as doctors. Since then the project has matured, after a first trip around Vietnam by bicycle to introduce our five month-old son to the village of his ancestors. This method of travel proved less demanding than we had imagined and we were able to keep pace with our child and reassure him.

When our second son Leeroy was eight months old, we all flew to Uzbekistan on the Silk Road. This bike trip was a one month long test of 60 km per day, marking our steps, often in places devoid of tourist facilities. Home stay, surprising friendships and sharing the everyday life of the families we met there invited us to travel otherwise.

Our host family in Dashtabad and us, Uzbekistan

Following this second Asian tour, we had made our decision: we would leave our home for two years’ cycling on the Silk Road to Vietnam.

Since then our family has grown with the birth of our third child Ella. At the outset she will be 3 months. We will begin by crossing Switzerland, joining the Danube and following this river down to the Black Sea. A warm-up of 3000 km, gently, on a marked route.

Why go to Vietnam? We do not have all the answers yet. Journeys do not need any reason and suffice by themselves. It is a return to the source desired by a son, 40 years after the first trip of his father in the opposite direction. Choosing to travel like this is also a way to reclaim one’s history, to return a better person.

Sandra, our bikes and the trailer with the two boys at the Furka mountain pass at 2436m, Switzerland

Wishing to share this experience with those left behind, we will write a blog, which will give the dual perspectives of a man and a woman, both actors and observers of an extraordinary adventure.

Sunday, 1st of March 2009 at 08:00

The Honeymoon Trip

God, our respective families and friends came together on the 6th September 2003, on our wedding day. It is said that to the generation of the seventies, marriage was trendy again. Wedding, family, tradition. We had gone out together for three years after having met in medicine school on our University’s campus. The classic, the close to banal story, the one just about foretold. We shared an interest in strolling through flea markets, bargaining and haggling, collecting wares and granting them a second life. And then… Then the degree and the first job. Me as an intern in a clinic, Patrick in research. Week-ends spent celebrating as if we still had been students. Later the first easy enough mountain trekking trips, subtly negotiated, to keep my man away from the Saturday night fever evenings and the Sundays spent in bed recovering from the day before.

What happened to the honeymoon trip? In December 2003, it got forgotten and drowned in the confusion of a big family expedition to Madagascar. Around our couple my brother and my two sisters, my mother, my father in law together with one of our wedding witnesses. We lived through a trip which much resembled a ritual passage, with a bride still much being her Mom’s daughter and not quite her newly wed husband’s wife yet.

200312-madagascar-001Sandra en Voilier à Madagascar

200312-madagascar-098200312-madagascar-133200312-madagascar-155

This wedding trip left me longing for something unachieved and the solid excuse to stick it all somewhere in my secret ‘bucket list’. Quietly storing it there, just waiting for the opportunity to fish it out later as ‘the’ argument to undertake a great voyage.

Today I am 36. I was 26 when I first met Patrick. Thirty when we got married. I turned 33 and 34 respectively when my sons Manu and Leeroy were born. I am a medical doctor in psychiatry and a psychotherapist. Making and giving sense that’s my trade.

We are 9 months away from hitting the road. Nine months ? With Patrick thinking that I am not ready. He is right somewhere he cares for the practical side of it all, the gear, the blog, the logistics… And me, I am a bit like the fiancée, I said ‘Yes’ , but I have not worried about the celebration date yet.

The date of departure however is public knowledge. The family, friends, colleagues, employers, all know about it.

I can’t help it. I keep thinking ahead. In 21 months from now I’ll settle in an another state, at some distance from my family, closer to Patrick’s family though. I keep thinking about my career, which I am interrupting, only a few months away from the end of my postgrad schooling. I keep thinking about traveling all on our own, the four of us, so far, with two young children. I keep thinking about the cold and next Winter when we’ll be pedaling away down to the Mediterranean Sea with travel packs full. I keep thinking about Sam Mendes’  movie “Revolutionary Road”, this couple’s destiny sinking into social conformity and I dream about keeping my sweet comfort. I keep thinking about my responsibility as Mom, about our responsibility as parents and I dread striking the wrong path.

This trip has more than one facet, it’s not just a honeymoon trip. In its more intimate aspect it’s the project of a couple daringly free, realizing this within a family circle counting two kids. At the same time it’s a great project for the kids, since it is a unique chance to spend plenty of time with them at an age when they are still so much dependent on us. Manu will go to school on our return.

I took up the decision to go since I love my husband. I am not sacrificing myself. I do this since I very much want to prove our marriage to be a success by spending 21 months on our coming honeymoon trip.

Thursday, 18th of March 2010 at 08:00

That’s It: We’re Off!

Geneva / Hanoi - We are coming!

We are now committed to the adventure of our lives. After almost 3 years of preparation it was time at last to put our feet to the pedals, staggering under the weight of our baggage, but nevertheless very liberating. Moving from dream to reality. Or from reality to dream? We feel just like we did on our wedding day right now. A mixture of excitement, anguish, joy, doubt and detachment. Sensitive to the slightest little thing. It will probably be this traveller’s sensitivity that will sharpen our senses to avoid mishaps along the way, and especially to make us receptive to those encounters and special moments of happiness that lie ahead.

We are often asked about our fears for the trip. It is probably difficult for most people to put themselves in our place and they no doubt conjur up every possible disaster scenario. It’s impossible not to. Yes, we have concerns. But the force pushing us forward is stronger. Our previous experience and preparation give us comfort. In our medical profession we realized that you don’t need to go very far to fall victim to any kind of misfortune. But above all we are setting off with a conviction. The conviction that we can realize our dream, that we have been given the chance to choose the life we wish and that we have taken it. We are holding it firmly in our hands.