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Bags packed, homeward bound in a few hours.

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IMG_4665 IMG_4654 IMG_4655 IMG_4658 IMG_4661 A bus, 2 free hire cars, and a ferry and all of a sudden I find myself in Auckland ready to fly home tomorrow morning.  As you can imagine, this snuck up on me rather quickly.  To be honest, it won’t hit me that the whole trip is ending until I find myself sitting my my flat in a couple of days.  For anyone that’s interested, I have cycled 6684km (give or take 20 or so) since leaving home last November. That’s 4153 miles.  When I set out I had no idea how far I would cycle, though to be honest even though it was me turning the pedals, the number doesn’t really mean anything to me.  I just know it’s a long way.  On the subject of numbers, here are some more:

 

I had  6  punctures (only 1 due to sharp object)

I replaced 1 tyre

I cycled the 5 main mountain road passes on NZ South Island (no wonder I found NZ hilly)

I slept in 68 different beds (at least 4 of which were also brothels, though I didn’t know when I checked in, honest!)

I had bedbugs 2 times

I slept under canvas 37 nights

I caught 8 flights, 3 boats, 3 trains, 3 ferries, 7 buses 1 car and 1 van.

I have been bitten by sandflies and mosquitoes countless times, one of which got so infected I had to get antibiotics and stay off the bike for several days.  I got hit by a van, run off the road by trucks several times (always New Zealand).  I struggled with heat rash, which prevented me from cycling after 1pm much of the time in Asia.  These aren’t the things I’ll remember though – what will stick in my mind the longest will be fantastic people I met in every country I visited.  From the man in Khoun Kham, Laos who insisted buying me a beer, even though we couldn’t even have a conversation (this was quite common), to the man who randomly stopped his car and gave me a plastic bag with some lunch in it near Nelson, NZ (I had a brief conversation earlier in the day with him), I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people.   I really feel much of this wouldn’t be shown if I was to travel by more conventional means. 

I really have to thank a number of people who helped throughout the trip – The Canadians of godspokeleduc.com including Lyle & Cricket who gave me lift in the only wet day of the trip.  The countless people who gave food/beer to a weary Scottish cyclist.  Natalie in Battambang, Cambodia for putting my up for the night, Gordon Anderson for showing me an alternative side to Bangkok.  Mat & Amy, Sanji and Asela for putting me up, and more. Amy Hansen for putting me up also. Liv for serving as a mobile banking service and not running off with my card & PIN.  Rob & Neish for the contacts, the useful advice, and inviting me to the event which got me thinking about doing this trip in the first place. Also, a huge thanks to those who donated to my charity. If you haven’t and would still like to, you still have until the weekend.  Apologies to those I have forgotten.

So, what next for the Pedallingscot?  I should really think about getting a job, most likely back on ships again.  Though I have my sights on another trip – perhaps South America.  I hope you have enjoyed following the blog, I have certainly enjoyed writing it – something for me to look back on when I am old and wrinkly!  See most of you soon.  As for the followers in Martanique, Bangladesh, Japan, Slovakia as well as several other countries – I have no idea who you all are, but thank you anyway!

Over and out.

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Final full day of cycling.

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From Greymouth, I made it to the small town of Reefton, known as the ‘Town of light’ due to it being the first place in the southern hemisphere to have electricity for the general public to use, as well as being the first place in the world to have electric street lighting.  This was all possible due to the gold rush in the area, which by all accounts is still going on.  In the town’s small (and very cheap) hostel I met a truck driver from on of the active mines.  He told me this immediately after I had been slating truck drivers attitude towards cyclists of course.  All taken in good humour though.  I also met an interesting American – a Vietnam war veteran who used to work for BP, flying round the world to oil production platforms, ‘problem solving’.  From what I could work out, his role was to find the person who was the weak link in oil production output, fire them, and get the right person in there.  He was pulled out of retirement to deal with the recent BP oil disaster in the gulf of Mexico.  I strongly suspect he is a millionaire given his position in BP was right near the top, and here he was in an a tiny hostel, sharing a tiny dorm room with a sweaty Scottish cyclist and an English hitch hiker living porridge and blocks of cheese.  Good fly fishing nearby apparently. The mind boggles.

The next day I got over the top of Lewis Pass, and stopped at a small DOC site just on the south side.  Sandflies galore, so the German look socks/sandals combo was broken out, along with the Buff set to anti-fly balaclava mode.  That night was a chilly one, testing my one season sleeping bag to the limit.  I’ve noticed a turn in the weather – though the days are still fine, the mornings are bitterly cold.  That next morning, I spent the first half hour of cycling with a down puffer jacket on.

As I made my way down from the Lewis Pass, numerous short steep uphill sections faced me, there to test me on what turned out to be my last ‘full’ day of cycle touring.  It was really strange – knowing I was within 40km of the end (Hanmer Springs) played with my mind and I felt exhausted, knowing I was nearing the end.  However 10km from Hanmer Springs, I felt the need to give everything I had.  I’m sure some psychologist could explain that one.

Last night I spent several hours chatting to a German couple in their 60s over several glasses of wine who were (in their words) ‘skiing’ – apparently a Kiwi expression – Spending the Kids Inheritance on lots of holidays.  Living in Berlin, and obviously having gone through the raise and fall of the Berlin wall, with family members on both sides, they had some fantastic stories to tell.  Shamefully, all I remembered about the collapse of the Berlin involved David Hasselhoff singing some shocking song in 1989.  Strangely enough, I read in the paper a few days ago that he was back there recently, trying to save the last remaining few sections of wall which developers are trying to build offices on. 

So that’s almost it for the cycling – 10km down to the end of the road to catch a bus to Christchurch tomorrow and that’s me.   Somehow, I have (without planning to) cycled all the main east-west passes on the South Island. That’s Takaka hill over to Golden Bay, Buller Gorge, Haast Pass, Crown Range between Queenstown & Wanaka and Lewis Pass  No surprises I’m tired then! 

 

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Only a few days left!!!

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I had planned to cycle on over towards the Lewis Pass today, though the combination of rain and St Patricks day celebrations put a stop to that.  Another day hiding in the rain.  As you can see from my previous post, I spent a fair while organising getting myself, bike, clobber as well as another bike I’m shifting as a favour, up to Auckland in preparation to flying home.

Even though I’ve been in NZ for 2 months now, I am still surprised by some of the cultural differences.  Last night in the Irish pub, I saw piles of money left abandoned on the bar next to empty glasses.  Apparently this is a signal to the bar staff that the glass needs filling up again.  Could you imagine this anywhere else in the world?  It would either be taken as a tip, or someone would help themselves to it.  Quite astonishing.  The other thing last night which made me realise I’m not back home was only something men will appreciate.  Whilst standing at the urinals in the gents toilets, I witnessed strangers talking to each other while having a pee. And it wasn’t like they were drunk or anything…  That’s a faux pas in the UK, even in rural Scotland.  What can I say – the Kiwis are friendly!  I can just see it now – I’ll go into my local pub back home and start talking to a stranger in the toilets and end up getting some strange looks, or worse, given I live in Leith!

Not so many pictures, as I’ve not been on the road.  One of the hostel’s (spoilt) dog and a couple from Paddy’s night.  I’ve no idea where the hat came from!IMG_4618 IMG_4606 IMG_4615

What I ate today.

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4 portions of porrage with NZ honey
1 apple
2 cerial bars
1 slice of bacon & egg flan
1 coffee
1 steak & mushroom pie
2 more cerial bars
Numerous handfulls of nuts
1 ham salad roll
1 large bowl of ice cream
1 electrolyte drink
1 packet of salted crisps
3 bowls of pasta consisting of:
    250g (dry) pasta
    1 onion
    4 large mushrooms
    sun dried tomatoes
    1 tomato
Another large bowl of ice cream
1 glass of red wine

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Up to Greymouth

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A bridge both vehicles and trains use.  I had to be pretty careful to avoid the tracks!

A bridge both vehicles and trains use. I had to be pretty careful to avoid the tracks!

I'm sure the British Roundabout Appreciation Society would get excited about this....

I’m sure the British Roundabout Appreciation Society would get excited about this….

A long straight section of road (with fast cars)

A long straight section of road (with fast cars)

Showing the prevailing wind.

Showing the prevailing wind.

I’ve made it up to Greymouth, a town I was at a few weeks ago having cycled down from Westport. This means I have now cycled the entire west coast of the South Island. I saw much less ocean than I expected to given the proximity to the coast, as there was a rainforest blocking the view most of the time, though this has been pretty spectacular in itself.

Last night was at a ‘historic’ pub in Ross – they had a number of motel style cabins which were in a pretty tatty state, though I was more than happy with it, especially as they only charged $15 a night for a private room. They also served up gargantuan sized portions of steak and chips which appealed to my huge appetite. There was a couple next door who were also cycle touring, though I didn’t get to chat to them – for some reason they decided to get up (the walls were pretty thin) at 6.15am, over an hour before it gets light. I’m guessing they are not 4 months into their trip like me, who got up at a more reasonable 8am. It was another day of running the gauntlet on narrow sections of road with aggressive drivers as the coast becomes more populated near the bigger town. One of them, without a doubt, deliberately drove as close to me as he thought he could joking with his friends as he did so, continuously sounding his horn as he passed.

I’ve booked into a hostel in Westport for a couple of days, as it’s expected to dump down with rain over the next couple of days. Couldn’t be cycling in the rain now could I?!!? I’ve only done so once in the entire trip since starting in November. For the first time in 30 years the entire North Island is officially in a state of drought, and today, Westland, here in the South Island had a meeting and decided they should be too – for the first time ever… Like I say, It’s been pretty dry.

I was going to stay here, but couldn't find anyone.  I wonder why...

I was going to stay here, but couldn’t find anyone. I wonder why…

I think this is used to kill possoms. Not much water about to drink though.

I think this is used to kill possoms. Not much water about to drink though.

One of several dry riverbeds I cycled over today.

One of several dry riverbeds I cycled over today.