For as much time as we choose to spend out in the world interacting with people, and as public as we make our lives, we've both found ourselves steadily growing more and more introverted as the weeks and months of this adventure fly by. As a result, we're equal parts curious and uncertain when we receive this email from another cycle tourist who wants to meet up with us:
Going Slowly Contact FormFrom: Kris
I hope you're both well?
Unbelievably, after following you since the beginning when I was still planning my trip to now when I'm 8.5 months in, we're going to be in the same country! I'm in Phnom Penh and leaving on Wednesday for Siem Reap, 2 or 3 days ride away.
If we'll be crossing paths it would be great to say hi!
Our paths have indeed crossed, here in Siem Reap of all places! Tonight, we'll be leaving our insular two-person bubble for an evening of socializing. While we get ready, we have a moment of pause when we realize that Kris has been reading our journal since the beginning of our trip.
That means he knows almost everything that has happened to us in the past two years, yet we know almost nothing about him.
Yikes, that's a little weird!
As we roll up to the restaurant on our unladen bicycles, Kris recognizes us immediately. While we lock the bikes, he walks over and introduces himself with a warm and disarming smile. All of our reservations about the evening being awkward dissolve.
We spend the next few hours sharing beers and enjoying meaningful, engaging conversation about life and love, and of course, cycle touring. What a fascinating experience it is to hear his stories, to learn what this way of life has been like for him, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.
At one point while we're talking, Kris nearly has us in tears as he tells us what our daily writing meant to him before he left. It was something he could count on to always be there, encouraging and inspiring him through the daily grind at work.
It is such an honor to know that our writing (especially back then, when we clearly didn't know what the heck we were doing) had this impact on him; we are practically speechless.
As the evening wears on, we don't quite want to part ways, but it's getting late and we all have things to do in the morning. So, we leave with hugs, and the hope that we'll meet again soon.
Kris, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you. We're so glad our paths crossed, and we wish you all the best of luck on your journey.
Since we're writing this from the future, we can add the kind words Kris wrote in his blog about our evening together. The section highlighted in blue is a beautifully written encapsulation that shares just how we feel about the meeting. We couldn't have said it better ourselves!
That evening … I was lucky enough to meet up with Tyler and Tara from Going Slowly—I started following their blog in 2009 as they set off on their bikes from Scotland (having flown there from the US) to ride the World and it helped me to overcome the fears that I had before setting off myself. They've since visited 20 countries including Russia, Mongolia, Finland and Tunisia, and through some incredible stroke of luck we found ourselves in the same town at the same time 18 months later.
They are just as nice in real life as their excellent writing leads you to believe, and it was interesting to swap experiences and compare thoughts over dinner—we have done things very differently, traveled in different directions at different speeds and with different mentalities, but the bond between people who have immersed themselves in the world and realised they love it was clear.
Sadly the non-stop nature of the ensuing days meant we didn't get the chance to meet up again, but hopefully we will find ourselves sharing time and space again one day.Kris, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, Effort and Reward