26 September, 2022

What Were We Thinking?: Bicycling the Back Roads of Asia

WHAT WERE WE THINKING? Bicycling the Back Roads of Asia
Nancy Sathre-Vogel and John Vogel
Old Stone Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9837187-0-3

In 1990, Nancy Sathre placed an ad in a travel magazine – Wanted: travel companion for one-year bicycle trip in Asia. She doubted anyone would reply, but coincidentally John Vogel placed a similar ad in the same magazine. Both school teachers, the two met and made plans for the journey.

The pair started their trek in Pakistan and got off to a rocky start, literally. Pakistani youth were often violent, throwing rocks or striking them as they pedaled past.  Unappetizing food, poor road conditions, and frustrating bureaucracy were offset by breathtaking mountain vistas, genuinely friendly people, and an abundance of fresh apricots.

Then on to China, India, Thailand, Kathmandu, Nepal . . . every mile an adventure. Through Nancy and John’s memoir, the reader sees the colors, tastes the cuisine, and experiences the customs of the varied and vastly different cultures. These travelers were hardly tourists. Except on rare occasions, they avoided the tacky tourist traps and opted instead to immerse themselves in the daily lives of the native peoples. They spent days watching funeral customs along the Ganges River, bumped along dusty desert roads on camelback, explored ancient ruins, and searched for elusive rhinos. They were nearly stranded in an unexpected snow storm on a hike through the Annapurnas Mountains. Bland greasy bug-infested food, flea bag motels, hot sweaty crowded marketplaces, shady characters, and occasional illnesses were common aspects of their experience. Nancy and John tell their story honestly. The reader sees not only the natural beauty and unique cultures of Asia, but also the poverty and oppression in this corner of the world.

Somewhere along the journey, John and Nancy fell in love. They married a month and a half after returning to the States. They’ve continued to bike ride and travel through the years. Most recently, they spent three years bike riding the length of the Pan American highway, Alaska to Argentina, with their now thirteen-year-old twin sons. Find out more on their website, http://familyonbikes.org/. What Were We Thinking was released in August 2011. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy biking and travel adventure stories.

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