Journey Reports

Vietnam   May 16th 2017, Saigon, Vietnam
A dream came true

At the destination


Dreams are a product of our brain and imagination as we sleep. Often, however, we also dream in waking and we are very aware of our thoughts. Often, or almost always, we consider these dreams as something that is practically impossible to achieve, unrealistic fantasies that exist only in our minds and elsewhere.

 i20160410-07So, I have learned that our dreams are not at all unreal or impossible. Certainly each of us has a dream, or more than one. Dreams are thoughts that make us jump up with joy when we think about them, thoughts that inspire and even stir up. I think it is very important to have dreams to make them a reality in the future.

Sometimes, as in my case, the dreams are not clearly defined in your head, and you can not recognize them one hundred percent. My dream was to make a long trip after the end of my apprenticeship, but I did not know where, nor with whom, nor how. About four years ago, when Jakob and I met for the first time and he told me about his idea to ride by bicycle through the world, it was already clear to me: from the first moment, his idea inspired me. This was the journey of my dreams, to ride half the world by bicycle. My dream had taken a form and was clearly drawn in my head and ready to be fought.

 i20160428-03It was four hard years. The training was in German language, of course, and together with a very intensive work in the hospital it was not an easy way. But I had only one idea in mind: to make this dream a reality. While we were still learning, we had already worked in out-patient nursing, since this was possible before the final exams. At this time, we started saving money, for three years. The hardest phase was the exam time at the end of the apprenticeship, because we had to learn and work in two different places. When I look back, it seems to me almost impossible that we have managed this without going down. After the end of the training, we have intensified our efforts to save as much money as possible.

It was hard, but it was sufficient. A thought of our dream, and everything became much easier. When the trip started, we were very proud of ourselves. We had fought hard, and the road had been full of obstacles. But clearly, I do not think there is any other way. Without endurance, dedication, and overcoming it is impossible to make a dream come true.

Pedal for Humanity

Why did we call our project like this? There are two aspects.

 i20160509-07On the one hand, there is a concrete motive for this name. We connected the trip with a donation collection for Don Bosco. Whoever has followed our travel reports will have noticed what a great humanitarian work Don Bosco is doing all over the world. Thus we have connected the journey (pedal) with the work of Don Bosco (humanity).

On the other hand, as a second motive, we chose this name to convey a clear message to our readers: A message of humanity, a testimony to the fact that there are many more good people in the world than bad ones. A message against the ironic remark: "It looks as if there are still good people in this world". And they do exist, they are out there, very many.

At this point, I will give an example to make it quite clear: Iran.

 i20160601-07When planning the route I was concerned about crossing Iran, and I had great respect to go there. Often we have prejudices about things, and in most cases they are caused and influenced by the media, or simply by lack of information. The uncertainty and the strange make us afraid, and if one is afraid, one distrusts.

​Irni Happy B-day​After we were informed that there was a good security situation, we decided to enter. That was our best decision. Of all the countries through which we came, we experienced the highest level of hospitality in Iran, unique. People stopped us on the country road to give us bread, water, fruit and even plates of rice or hot tea. People, who did not know us, invited us into their houses, handed us the keys and went shopping.

As you already know, we spent three weeks in Tehran, due to visa problems, but thanks to our newly formed friendships with Hamed, Marzi, Mohammed, Reza and Hossein, we spent the time there in the most comfortable way.

 i20160713-12In Iran, we often met people who told us, "How do you find Iran? We Muslims are not terrorists ... ". On these occasions, we explained how we experienced them and how this incredible hospitality impressed us, those people who are always ready to help and do so without expecting anything.

This was hospitality with all one’s heart. And we were ashamed that they were trying to convince us that they were probably Muslims, but not terrorists. We already knew that! Islam is a peaceful religion, and the Muslims are very respectable people who care about their neighbors. They are friendly and generous people. We frankly said that we are Christians, and the dealings remained always unchanged, without rude or any discrimination or criticism.  i20160718-17On our journey we traveled through many countries with different religions. Turkey and Iran, the only two Muslim countries we have crossed, were by far outstanding in terms of hospitality. The problem comes when one mixes politics and religion, as do powerful regimes of fundamentalists, when religion is abused to oppress a population with medieval laws. Radical groups like the IS as a first example do just that and use religion for their own interests and do not live an inner faith. Instead of being martyrs of religion, they serve terrorism.

Set goals

Before the start of the trip we had many goals: we wanted to get to know new cultures, new people, new countries, wanted to know where our limits are, both psychologically and physically. We wanted to get to know each other better and test our reactions in different situations, or to discover how far our friendship would go. All these things we have achieved, and with much depth.

Host family in TiraboluBut I want to talk about the goal of driving from Cologne to Vietnam by bike. Many have asked how it is possible to pedal a whole year. Aren’t you getting tired? Aren’t you tired of it? We noticed how important it is to set goals in order to reach the stage. Motivation plays a key role in everything. To get there, we have set small targets, for example a city at 300 km distance. And so it was bit by bit. When we arrived at one of our small destinations, we gave ourselves a reward. Motivation is essential to get some place on your way forward, and you have to find something to be motivated every day, however.

Second pass madeFor us, the satisfaction of achieving each of the goals was sufficient to motivate us to overcome the difficult stages. Often the motivation came from on its own, without us having to search for it. For example, when we were driving through stunning landscapes, or when good things were happening on the road. Or as far as I'm concerned, when Barça (FC Barcelona) won 6:1 against PSG (Paris Saint Germaine), I was so motivated that I would have managed 300 km in a single day. I think to set goals, only small and then bigger, can be applied absolutely in everyday life, in order to be always motivated, and satisfied and proud of yourself, when you have achieved something.

Learn to appreciate what we have

Besides the essential things like having a family that loves me, or health, this trip has also helped me a lot to appreciate what I have when I live at home. I became aware of this when I had to take a cold shower for a month, in Nepal; or when I ate only rice with vegetables for a month, because there was nothing else, also in Nepal. Gvantsa and ErnestI realize how happy I can be, as I can choose what I want to become, as I can study what I like, and as I not have to work at the early age of 10 years so my family has to eat. When I see a 70-year-old woman striking stones 12 hours a day, for 3 Euro daily wages, I think that what I receive is perhaps not so bad. What a blessing to have a 40 m² apartment, with heating for the winter! In the slams of Mumbai live 15 people in a room of 20 m², without window, without toilet and with a power supply that comes and goes. While others work all day, every day of the week, I have free time and free days to meet with friends or take an excursion. How funny it will be to be able to drink water from the tap again when I am back. ​Last pass in ArmeniaThe last 10 months we have had to filter or buy the water. In dry areas people walk 10 km on foot to get water. What a blessing to go to the hospital, if something happens to me, and to know that I am assured and that the family isn’t getting ruined for the sake of paying the treatment. I can sometimes choose between four different means of transport to travel from one place to another. Others have only the possibility to take a bus which takes 5 hours for 40 km, because the roads are so bad that they do not allow driving faster than 10 km/h. Well, all this has helped me very much to appreciate what I have, and not to complain so quickly when I do not have something.

Jakob, friend and travel companion

What can I say about a person as extraordinary as he? He is one of those everyone would like in one’s life, be it a friend, brother, son, grandpa, grandson, work colleague, or even as a friend and chess coach; a cheerful person with unprecedented optimism, always in a good mood, even in the morning before breakfast or in difficult situations; a generous person, friendly, respectful, intelligent, strong, very strong, both physically and mentally. Without him I would not have gone so far. When the forces went out, he drove me. When I was irascibly, he had the patience so necessary. He’s a person you can trust, and you know that he will not let you down; a man who gives everything for his loved ones.

Javad and familyHe even gained a quality during the trip, which I think was missing before the trip: the ability to get angry and show character, if he does not agree with something or someone wants to beat him.

He gave me the ultimate idea to give my dream a shape when it was still unclear and blurred. He has been the perfect companion on this trip. I could not imagine doing it with anyone else. His straightforwardness has been the key to our success because we have always been a team in the most difficult moments, and we have understood each other immediately. It seems impossible that we have not even quarreled the whole year. Instead of arguing, we have communicated with each other to resolve the few differences that we had. The teamwork has been decisive. The only problem with Jakob is that he is very ugly, but it is as it is. I have already told him that there is probably no solution for him, and he has accepted it :-).

 i20161210-06He’s a person with impressive vitality, always motivated to achieve his goals. And what I like most about him is that he is a dreamer. He has dreams of every kind and color, and that leads him through everyday life with as much energy as if he wanted to devour the world. Thank you, Jakob, for this great journey and for having put me with so much joy and strength that were necessary to face the challenge.

Don Bosco

The size of this project is largely due to Don Bosco. Before the start of the trip I did not know this organization. And today I can say that it was absolutely right to combine this trip with Don Bosco. It has been a great honor to be able to help (if only slightly) in an organization that does such an admirable job and is doing so much good to so many people in need. The Salesians are people who live their lives only to help all those children and young people who would otherwise have no future. They pick them up from the street, give them food and a place to live and an excellent education in thousands of schools worldwide. In each of the projects we have visited, I was impressed by their great work. The Don Bosco Family is a very special family that provides essential values for life, a family with a unique spirit, a spirit of hospitality, generosity, joy, care, loyalty, reward...

 i20170111-23This great work is appreciated when you see the children and adolescents living in Don Bosco centers, children with a very hard past, but thanks to Don Bosco they found a family, that cares for them and gives help. In all the centers where we’ve been, you can breathe bliss and happiness, a practically unimaginative ambience, if you have not experienced it yourself. In addition, Don Bosco people have welcomed us in every country through which we came; they helped us in all possible ways and more. We are incredibly grateful for their help, a help that has accompanied us from Germany to Vietnam. Thank you, Don Bosco, and thank you for the great service you are doing for humanity!

Thank you, thank you, and thank you

There are quite a lot who have made this project possible:

First, I would like to thank my parents and my brother Albert for this brutally constant support. Without them in the background I would not have come here. The psychological support has been essential throughout the time.

On top of the passThanks to my girlfriend Gvantsa, who got through until the end like a winner. She has overcome all the difficult moments - and my absence. Thank you also for your support and your patience all the way.

Thanks to my friends, who pedaled with me thanks to the multitude of skillful messages. Thank you!

Thanks to our translators of the homepage, Carolina, Ursula, Jessica and Indra.

Rebuilding a new school. 3rd school visited (5 hours from Kathmandu)Thanks to our sponsors, visible on the right side of the homepage. The sponsored material was of great help, especially to overcome bad weather we had to face. Thanks to all the private sponsors, families, friends, acquaintances and even strangers, who have supported the planned and the unforeseen expenses by their financial support. Whoever analyzes the numbers of the survey will see that you all together helped us with an incredible amount: 7,930 euros, more than a third of the total cost of the trip. Without you, we would have run into serious financial problems to continue our journey. Thanks to you we can make a decent donation to Don Bosco, a sum of about 1,000 euros, without counting donations transferred directly to Don Bosco.

 i20170310-09Thanks also to all the people we met on our way, people who have welcomed us in their homes and who have given us their trust. These people have helped us overcome the difficult moments when it looked really bad. I will always keep each of them in my heart.

And finally, I would like to thank all those who have followed us through our homepage, Facebook, Instagram, etc. The constant encouraging and supportive messages have been very important for us to move forward and share with you our experiences through the reports and photos. We always liked to do this and with great satisfaction.

Fritz (Webmaster)

I want to dedicate a few lines to the third team member. He was a member as essential as ourselves who has made sure that everyone could follow us so spectacularly and perfectly by means of the project’s homepage. Without him, this project would have remained secret. He has invested many, many hours and worked hard to create a page like this. He’s a great webmaster who always carried the laptop in his backpack, so our followers would know at any time where we were.

Russian truck brocke inHowever, he did not only care about updating the site, but also did a lot of other things to keep us going. As a manager, he has controlled the accounts and ensured that they were always balanced. He has helped us like a travel agent to solve problems with the visas or warned us of dangers along the way or gave recommendations for every country we traversed. And much more, so much that I can not remember anything. He always stayed in the background, but his work was very important. And apart from all this, he was also one of the first motivators. Sure, that had something to do with his son being one of the cyclists ;-). Thank you, Fritz, for your work!!!

And now?

Yes, it is like this: we have to accept that the journey is over. But now it is about getting the most juice from this story. As some of you may already know, we made many videos with our GoPro cameras of interesting situations, which we have experienced throughout the trip. We have a lot of material to make a documentary about the journey, with the help of Gereon and his company Koliview. If everything works as planned, we hope to be able to present the film at the beginning of next year.

As for me, I will write a book, with the help of my mother, in which I will try to describe this great adventure in detail and with all the details. A book is a lot of work, and we do not believe it will be finished in a year’s time.

{Translation from German: Webmaster}

14.000 km^ 14.000 km ^
At the destination^ At the destination ^

Comments to this report:

Indra writes:

May 24th 2017, 18:31

Aiii per favor!!!! Tinc llàgrimes als ulls!!!!
Molt gran això que heu aconseguit. Felicitats de tot cor :) m'encanta la cara del Jakob plorant i rient a la vegada aquí als 14.000km.

martin heilscher writes:

May 28th 2017, 13:08

Oh man, meine Freunde wie stolz ich auf euch bin. Ich freue mich so über euer erreichtes Ziel, dass ich tränen in den Augen haben, als ich diesen letzten Bericht las. Ich kann euch nur beglückwünschen und euch beneiden um eure Erfahrungen, aber auch um euren Webmaster!!! Voll klasse, dass wir so immer bei euch waren, euch begleiten und zusehen durftet, bei der Reise eures Lebens. DANKE FRITZ!!!.
Und Ihr 2, lasst es euch gut gehen, auch wenn die Beine wahrscheinlich nicht so lange Ruhen wollen. Ich würde mich sehr über einen Film freuen und mich schon jetzt zur Premiere anmelden. Ich hoffe auf ein Wiedersehen in Köln, oder Rothenburg.
LG ihr Wahnsinnigen!!!

Fritz (Webmaster) writes:

May 28th 2017, 20:30

Danke Dir, Martin :-)
Du warst einer der treuesten Fans des Teams.
Falls Du es einrichten kannst: am Donnerstag, den 8. Juni um 17 Uhr werden Ernest und Jakob im Domforum gegenüber dem Kölner Dom etwa eine Stunde lang von einem Profimoderator interviewed.
Viele Grüße an die ganze Familie

Olga Müller writes:

June 03rd 2017, 04:41

Hallo ihr Zwei,

es fiel mir schwer die Berichte und die abschließenden Worte von euch beiden zu lesen. Ein Taschentuch nach dem anderem habe ich zücken müssen. So sehr hat mich das bewegt und umgehauen! Dabei heule ich noch nicht mal bei Sterbeszenen in einer Romanverfilmung.

Auch wenn wir das Jahr 2017 inzwischen haben, leben wir dennoch in einer ignoranten Welt.
Das Vertrauen in das Fremde sinkt und die Vorurteile steigen. Das habt ihr gut erkannt. Erkenntnis ist der erste Schritt zur Besserung. Besserung auf das Zusammenleben ALLER Menschen auf diesem Planeten.
Ich selbst habe meine eigenen Erfahrungen zu diesem Thema machen dürfen. Zwar nicht in so einen großen Umfang wie bei euch, aber dennoch meine Erfahrungen, die mich einiges gelehrt haben in meinem Leben.
Und dafür bin ich dankbar. Das ist noch so viel mehr als wir sehen können.

In tiefer Verbundenheit und mit lieben Grüßen.....bis bald

Alexander Bunje writes:

June 03rd 2017, 19:59

Lieber ernesto,
das vorletzte bild sagt mehr als tausend worte!! Unfassbar was ihr erlebt habt. Ich freue mich auf den tag an dem ich dein buch in den händen halte und eure reise noch einmal mit dir erleben darf!!!
Peace & Love,

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