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A world of contrasts

Separating from the group in southern Laos meant I would be biking across Thailand and into Bangkok alone. A somewhat daunting thought yet I was looking forward to it immensely. For some time I had been planning my return, commitments I left behind, and new ones that had arisen were calling me home. So be it that my bicycle trip would end in the metropolis of Bangkok.

Five days and over 800 k later I found myself in another tourist mecca. Thousands of foreigners who had come to see the streets of Bangkok wandered around aimlessly trying to make it look as if they had someplace to go. I found myself, like all the rest of the tourists, ignoring the presence of other foreigners trying to become absorbed in what are the areas that funnel people into shopping districts, bars and restaurants that simulate what people left behind in their own countries, and street merchants who view me as a walking dollar sign instead of a person.

It is difficult to gain perspective on something until it is complete. As I sit in Minneapolis, with a 100 degree temperature swing tightening it’s grip around me, I have time to reflect. My flight from Tokyo to Chicago was just under 8,000 kilometers, just about the same distance I biked in five months from Beijing to Bangkok, but it took only 11.5 hours. The time I was not dozing off in my window seat was spent listening to the elderly woman sitting next to me from nashville tell me her life story, I was genuinely interested yet extremely tired. What I did hear from her confirmed my forever developing thoughts on how The United States truly is a unique country.

Surprisingly however I find it difficult to reflect, it is almost as if I am forcing myself to sit and write this not for my own sake but for those who are wondering what became of the fifth spoke in the photos of the FBR team. I have been back for four days and it seems the bicycle trip were in a different lifetime, I now fall back into the routine that drones out our differences in my all too much plebeian lifestyle here in America. I must force myself to think beyond the activities of next weekend and where I will find a job.

There are reminders however, I found myself driving an automobile yesterday for the first time in over 5 months. Not necessarily depressing but disheartening all the same. I look at the way our world compares to the one I was only just in. Different, or is it? I believe human nature is similar no matter where you are, opportunities, resources, and money however ultimately determine the fate of our culture.

I feel as if I hardly have the heart to write about it all, as if the daily routine of biking became just that, a routine that faltered little and began to lack surprises. People are coming to me and telling me that what I did was amazing, telling me their speculations on the incredible things I encountered, and even giving me some idyllic or heroic status I feel I am undeserving of. To sum it up we were simply observing at all times and trying to become involved whenever possible. But what we generally were observing was the slow-paced rural life of the countryside in third world countries. What seems crazy, amazing, and unique was really the lifestyle of millions upon millions of individuals everyday, their ability to live these lives day in and day out with no choice but to continue in this manner is much more amazing than my simple observing of it for a few months with the aid of a bicycle and gear that cost more than what many of these people make in a year.

We became comfortable with our travels, it was easy to experience incredibly different culture than my own, so much so that I began to take it for granted.

I am extremely happy to be home, to be with family, friends, and be an actual cog in a society instead of just watching from the outside. But even more so I am happy I was part of this trip. It is an incredible sense of accomplishment to have not only physically bicycled across the far east but to have self navigated it in other languages, to have encountered so many incredibly interesting people, and to have a more holistic view of our world.

Overall I believe this trip has changed not my view of the world as a whole as much as my view on my own home. I live, grew up, and am now sitting in one of the most unique cultures the world has ever known. Midwest America will never look ordinary or boring to me again, it provides something that no other place in the world can offer. It has it’s share of problems, like anywhere else, but it is unique, and I think this is important for me to remember.

So will I do another bicycle trip? I hope so. I genuinely feel it is the most intimate way to travel and provides you with opportunity to not only test your own limitations but see and experience parts of the world that no other form of transportation can offer.

I hope to continue updating and working on this website, adding blogs when I think fitting and now that I am home with reliable access to a computer I will be adding many more photos and videos that I was unable to add on the road.

I wish the best for the others biking and hope that they get as far as their interest in the trip carries them, be that India, Europe, or beyond.


10 Responses to “A world of contrasts”

  1. netzy Says:

    Hi Adam, I shall miss your photos with the group shots and your daily input with their activities. Glad you are over your sickness. Please hook up with Autumn, she would love to visit with you about your travels - and give us the story of Jimmy. Take care. N

  2. subi&sooji Says:

    hi~adam. are you go back?we also in thai. but not to go back? airplain? when? if you see this comment. plz e-mail me. i hope see u again.

  3. Peter Ehresmann Says:


    Great reflection. Glad to hear to arrived home safely. Air travel really is amazing, you were just here and now you’re in another reality, one that from my perspective in Cambodia seems just as distant as we do to you. You got back so FAST, wow. I guess I’m used to biking at 20km an hour.

    Thanks for everything and I look forward to seeing your new photos and video on here. I already miss the Black Panther & Tim Cat.


  4. Tracy Says:


    Sorry i’m afraid only Chinese at this moment can express my feelings. Hope you can find someone to translate it to you.
    All the best, Adam.

  5. Jeremy Gould Says:

    Well Done!

  6. michael durfey Says:

    Welcome home Adam.

    Mike in San Diego

  7. Rick Wagner Says:



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