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Senior SA cyclist conquers epic cycling trip in the Far East

Nov 12, 2018
Senior SA cyclist conquers epic cycling trip in the Far East

8 countries.  8 months.  12 000 kms.  Elred Lawrence, traveller/cyclist of note has reached his goal of travelling from Singapore to Hong Kong on his trusty expedition bike, Bobbie!  Lawrence arrived in Hong Kong on the 8th November 2018, exactly 8 months to the day that he left Singapore.  Lawrence will be arriving home in Cape Town on Tuesday 13 November 2018. 

In excellent health, although 24 kgs lighter, Lawrence sports a beard that will earn him the Father Christmas title of the year.  His exciting travels have brought him into contact with locals and travellers from all over the world, and he has added 133 new good friends to his already burgeoning list of friends!

You’ve Earned It (www.youve-earned-it.co.za) / YEI saw Lawrence off at the start of his trip, and we now welcome him back with great fanfare.  What a remarkable achievement for a 66 year old Capetonian!  From the time he left Singapore in style, having just quaffed a Singapore Sling at the renown Raffles Hotel (for good measure and good luck, of course), YEI has avidly followed his blog, written up regularly from all over the Far East, and learnt that one of his most treasured memories that he has is the kindness of others. 

Lawrence travelled from Singapore to Malaysia to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China landing up in Hong Kong.  Lawrence says “I have loved every country and been pleased to have been there and met delightful people.  I have had such fun, and one of my countries of choice is Vietnam.

I have been privileged to meet fine people, both local and travellers, that have made my journey so amazing.  Add to that, the incredible scenery, wonderful beaches, delicious food, crazy cities and such friendly people.  An absolute dream come true.  One that was planned for several years”. 

One really could not hope to meet a more intrepid adventurer.  Lawrence decided to get his diving licence in the first few weeks of being in Malaysia so that he could dive wherever and whenever possible.  Lawrence has embraced the food culture in the East, not from the street markets, where the insects, bugs and spiders were a little dicey, but at places like the Bugs Café where the delicacies were cooked in a manner that was a little more familiar and edible!

For example, the Discovery Platter where he tried a Tarantula Donut, Wild Spring Rolls (red ants and termites mixed into a normal spring roll filling), silkworm and tarot croquettes, cricket and silkworms wok and the Insect Skewer, comprising 2 locusts, a scorpion and a tarantula!  He says that with a little Dutch courage and a pint of beer, it wasn’t too bad, and parts of the meal were actually quite tasty!  He did, however, decline the cricket cheesecake with passion fruit coulis!

Lawrence has attended cooking classes in Laos, Vietnam and in Thailand, the Thai Charm Cooking School and the Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School in Georgetown, Malaysia where he learnt a uniquely Asian style of Peranakan cooking – a blend of two cultures where the people are ethnic Chinese but whohave been in Malaysia for centuries. 

Lawrence has volunteered at the ThaBarWa Meditation Centre in Yangon.  This was one of his most life-affirming experiences when he walked with the monks, barefoot, to collect alms.  It was pouring with rain, but the monks and volunteers walk in a straight line in silence for about 2 hours, carrying the silver bowl for money and traditional begging bowls.  An eye-opening experience when the locals poured out of their homes and shops and gave money, food, rice, fruit and vegetables, all with great respect and generosity.  The food is blessed by the chief monk, and Lawrence experienced one of his most humbling moments  on this treasure-trove of a trip.

The kindness of strangers has been completely overwhelming.  Countless strangers have come forward with offers of help in one way or another.  From the outset, Ki Kie Zaw Lynn, a cabin crew member on Qatar Airways arranged a surprise good luck taste treat, compliments of the Qatar Airways crew.  Random acts of kindness have been numerous throughout the trip – events like cycling through a town in Cambodia on a very hot day, a man on a scooter comes up to him, hands him a bottle of water and says “enjoy your trip” then buzzes off before he could even be thanked.

In Myanmar, Lawrence stopped for breakfast and saw a place that looked popular with the locals.  As he sat down, the table was laden with food, not ordered by him.  As it turned out, he realised that this actually was not a restaurant, but a  celebration for the opening day of the store!  When he profusely apologized, everyone made him sit down and enjoy the meal and refused any payment, saying it was a donation to him!!   Lawrence agrees that Myanmar, as well as the other Asian countries he visited, are deservedly renown internationally for the generosity of the people.

The stories are endless.  This has been the most rich experience of Lawrence’s life. Let us give a resounding welcome home to this incredible man, adventurer of note who has not only realized and conquered a long-time dream, but experienced some of the absolute wealth that this world has to offer and will forever be able to relive stories that most of us mere mortals cannot even comprehend. 

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