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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

In 380 days, couple cuts through 17 countries, 38 borders on bicycles

They have slept at a police station in Vietnam, a Buddhist temple in Laos, a mosque in Iran and a VIP maternity ward in a Turkish hospital. They have seen a captured terrorist 20 metres away in Iran, tasted wine from Armenia and Georgia, and even got lost in a desert. Bengaluru-based techie Sunil Kaushik and his Japanese wife Yuka Yokozawa, a teacher, have experienced all these in their world tour on folding bicycles.

It has been more than a year now (since January 2016) that they began their journey from Thailand. Today, they have already travelled 17 countries (21,000km), crossed 38 borders and have been on streets for 380 days. From tasting several cuisines to witnessing different cultures and festivals, this couple's journey includes a number of odd jobs they had to do enroute to fund their passion.

Speaking about the experience, Sunil said: "I was always interested in seeing the world on a bicycle. I rode from Kanyakumari to Leh when I shared my dream of staying on the road like a nomad, and Yuka loved it. We eventually married and started leading an ordinary life, saving up for the trip. I never owned a car and commuted to work on a bicycle. This is how my passion for a bicycle trip grew stronger."

The couple practised on touring bicycles till just a month before their trip. That's when they met two boys from Malayasia who suggested they use folding bikes as they are easy to hitchhike.

"We didn't have a budget for a folding bike, but thought we could find a sponsor and sent an email to all folding bike manufacturers. Brompton, one of the best folding-bike companies, agreed to give a very large discount, but they couldn't ship it to India and the parcel was very expensive. We went on social media to ask if anyone was flying from London to Bengaluru, and, luckily, a friend's friend was coming. We got the bike just on the day we were about to fly to Thailand," said Yuka. On social media, their bicycle diary is popularly known as Sushi and Sambar on the Silk Route.

To save money, they have knocked from door to door for accommodation, truck drivers became their saviors providing them with food, water and ice creams in the middle of some unknown road in a different country. Not just that, they have tried several jobs in all the countries they visited.

"Yuka taught in schools of Lao, China, Georgia, and I conducted training and provided consultation for free in every country. In Greece, I trained the European Union project managers and PhD students in Romania. Apart from that we worked as chefs in China and as farmers in the raspberry fields and vineyards of Georgia. Yuka has a project of inventing new recipes by collaborating with the local chef and mixing matcha (green tea powder) with local food of each country," said Sunil.

Speaking about the variety of cuisines, Yuka continued: "Being foodies, we love trying new food. Street food of Thailand and Vietnam was really good. Every region of China has its own cuisines, and a lifetime isn't enough to try Chinese cuisine. Dairy products are really good in Kyrgyzstan; Uzbekistan has nice samosas and plov. Iran and Turkish cuisines are one of the best. When we entered Europe we enjoyed Greek, French food."

(Source: ToI)

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