Two years ago, the sheer number of unknowns regarding this adventure were mind blowing. We had no first-hand knowledge, no experience, and honestly, for all of our preparation, no idea what we were doing. Instead of letting this get in the way of following our dreams, we researched as much as we could, told ourselves we were ready, and ultimately, closed our eyes as we dove head first into a sea of uncertainties.
I used to be a person who wanted an itinerary for a trip. I liked to have everything planned. At the very least, I wanted to know where I would be spending the night! Tyler was perhaps even more obsessed than I, but on a larger scale, wanting all aspects of logistics nicely pinned down, then tied with a neat little bow.
We've come a long way over the past five hundred and some odd days. We've learned, sometimes the hard way, to loosen up, let go, and trust that we'll have the strength and smarts to handle every situation we're faced with. And its a good thing, too, because otherwise these unknowns would have surely driven us insane.
Compartmentalizing and focusing on one challenge at a time is the only way I know how to maintain happiness and sanity living a life like this. We must wake up each morning having the drive to make things happen, faith that everything will work out, and above all, an intense focus on the present moment.
One thing at a time, bird by bird, we figure out what to do. We don't have to get to Malaysia today, we just have to focus on the kilometer in front of us. We don't have to climb the mountain all in one go, we simply have to take it one hundred meters at a time. For the past year and a half, we've dealt with issues large and small, always coming out on the other side feeling empowered.
Back in England, figuring out how we'd cross Russia, Mongolia and China in order to resume cycling in Southeast Asia was still a distant and murky unknown. That unclear future is no longer safely in the distance.
We managed to get a car easily, thus clearing the our most major of hurdles: actually being able to see Russia without spending six months or more cycling across it. Even so, it still feels like there are mountains of things we have yet to figure out.
I have a growing sense of dread about this middle section. Though I know we'll only have to do one thing at a time, right now, I feel like there's a huge barrier between us and Vietnam. There are so many things to figure out before we get there, before we can just start cycling slowly again.
In order to relieve myself of the zillion fears racing through my brain, consuming and overwhelming me, I'm starting a list.
Things We Don't Know
How and where are we going to sell our car?
If we sell our car, how are we going get out of Russia without hefty fines or other problems stemming from the fact that we no longer have it?
If we get out of Russia, will we get into Mongolia without a car (I've read you can't ride through the border on a bike)?
If we get into Mongolia, how hard will it be to get visas for China in Ulaan-Bator?
What will we do if we don't get visas for China?
How hard will it be to cycle through Mongolia, if we do?
If we cycle Mongolia, will we cycle a loop starting and ending in Ulaan-Bator, or will we ride through the Gobi desert into China?
If we cycle Mongolia, will we encounter icy river crossings? If so, how will we deal with them?
If we cycle Mongolia, I am imagining it will be the most difficult cycling we've done so far. How unfit will we be after several months off?
How will we cycle Mongolia at all? By the time we figure all of this out, it will be winter there.
How will we get our bikes on a train through China?
How will we make it to Thailand by Christmas/New Years to see my family?
I will be so relieved when we are in Vietnam. Maybe, just maybe, by then, we won't have as many logistics to think about!