The project: 3 months, 18 countries, 22 000 km!
A motorbike rally from Marseille to Hanoi.
The Project's Origins
Max (French) and Hong Thinh (as you may imagine, Asian)
Michel and Maryse, Bruno (me!) and Monique (Eurasian)
All six of us have been avid motorbike lovers since we were "quite little", but are also enthusiasts when it comes to traveling, paragliding, high-altitude trekking, sharing group experiences … and in the end, it was during a Vietnamese course that we met.
The Vietnamese origins of two of our participants was a decisive factor when it came to selecting our destination, and it was during a merry dinner party that this slightly "nutty" idea was born: travel overland from Marseille to Hanoi by motorbike.
The idea of roaming halfway around the world on motorbikes to reach Southeast Asia was planned to take place a "few years in the future". However, one morning the phone rang ... and our friend Max "The Adventure Traveler" told us: "I'm leaving next year, do you want to join me?"
Our project was thus planned for 2016.
It wasn't easy for all of us to get three months off work. Monique works for Orange, and was fortunate to have boss, Christophe, who shares the same passion: motor biking.
With his assistance, she was granted several months' leave for our roadtrip. I'm a self-employed website creation and referencing coach, so it was easier for me to re-organise my training sessions around the period of our project.
Max the adventurer, and instigator of this "rushed" departure is a recent retiree, who is free to use his time as he wishes. On the other hand, his wife Hong Thinh, currently a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Montreal, has variable employment commitments. We hope she will be free to join us for this adventure. Finally, although Michel and Maryse, who are both retired, love trekking in Nepal, this time they chose to exchange their climbing shoes for their motorbike.
Yes we will go, but with what sort of motorbike?
In order to cover the (not less than) 22 000 km of our trip, there will be no room for mistakes ... with his 1984 R80GS BMW, Max has already covered more than 300 000 km worldwide: from France around the Mediterranean as far as Egypt, South America, America, Canada ... no matter what breakdown he experienced, he always found the solution. That's the kind of our mechanical insurance we need! And it was thus obvious that we should choose the same type of motorbike as his.
In my case, I had to buy a 'new' bike. In view of our expected route, we will need basic, robust machines (?), without electronics, without injectors, capable of running on any quality of fuel, and above all relatively simple to disassemble and repair on the roadside.
After searching for many months, we were lucky enough to come across a first-hand 1992 R100GS BMW with just 60 000 km on the clock. We're now in the process of preparing it for "Paris-Dakar" conditions and optimising its reliability, so that we can face this adventure under the best possible conditions: 45 litre large capacity Acerbis tank, reinforced engine spoiler, various protections, LED lighting, new shock absorbers, Rotopax Jerrycan brackets ... and of course many more items.
Once we've departed, we'll have to be self-reliant, with no form of assistance. Michel has exactly the same type of motorbike as me, which will certainly be very useful when it comes to diagnosing mechanical problems.
Adventure is Adventure!
Our departure is planned for May 2, 2016 from the "Four des Navettes" in Marseille, with our arrival in Hanoi expected around July 20, if all goes well.
If everything goes as planned, we should manage to drink vodka in Russia, eat some excellent Peking duck in China, go meditate in Tibet, have a Turkish delight in Kathmandu, enjoy the happiness of Bhutan, and discover the beauty and charms of Asia as far as Vietnam.
Currently, in view of the countries we want to cross, it's difficult to define an accurate and definitive route. Indeed, we will have to face a number of obstacles - in particular, entering countries where foreign motorbikes are not normally allowed, except under exceptional circumstances ...
The exceptional character of our trip will depend on our media profile and the interest and sympathy we raise with a large audience, through the publishing of many written accounts, photos and video clips.
Although some have succeeded and many have failed, this doesn't deter us, we will make the best of our journey. We believe that our numerous encounters, innovative spirit, and letters of recommendation written in the language of the countries we visit, will be the success factors of our adventure.
If we are unable to enter China via Kazakhstan, then we will go further north to try again via Mongolia. We should then go through Beijing and head South-westwards across to the north of Vietnam. Too bad for Tibet and Bhutan, maybe next time ...
Five of us plan to fly back home, and two motorbikes will be sent back by sea. Max plans to continue alone on his motorbike for three more months in Asia, before returning.
Concerning accommodation, we will be relying on "couch-surfing" (free accommodation with individual hosts) within Europe, and no doubt various motorcycle clubs in Russia. For the remainder of the trip, China in particular, we will have our own gear, tents, sleeping bags, etc? ... however this remains an unknown quantity.
Finally, as far as our budget is concerned, we will be adopting the recommendations of other "explorers": Christian Rothen and Laurent Reuling circumnavigated the world in 28 months. They achieved something that should serve as the biker's bible for budding adventurers like ourselves.
"The purpose is not only the goal, but the path that leads to it." Lao Tzu
Although for us, this adventure is in a certain sense the journey of our lives, there will clearly be lessons to be learned.
We have a very strong desire to share this experience with others, especially with children … we have organised outreach to them through our affiliation with two associations:
- L’enfant@l’hôpital which develops educational programs for children or adolescents who cannot attend normal schools and have major physical (cystic fibrosis), psychological (autism), or emotional difficulties.
- Vision du monde which takes care of children in the world suffering from extreme poverty.
This type of indirect sponsorship can contribute to the lives of these children, in terms of improved health services, food and schooling. These organisations have many centres around the world, and our journey will take us to meet these children in Burma and Vietnam.
We wish to increase awareness of these associations, by asking all of our followers to make a small contribution in the form of a donation, however small it may be, thus increasing worldwide solidarity towards unfortunate children throughout the world. Such donations could be used, for example, to buy a goat that will be given to a child's parents, allowing them to have milk, produce cheese, and sell any surplus production on the market. The money raised should thus contribute towards a sustainable improvement in the family's access to food, and in the child's healthcare and schooling.
This type of voyage has, unfortunately, a considerable carbon footprint.
However, there are several ways in which our carbon emissions can be offset, one of which is the planting of trees. For our part, we have decided to offset our emitted CO2 through a financial contribution to the L'enfant@l'hopital association. This money will directly benefit the association.
The calculation of our CO2 footprint can be found here.
In order to improve the organisation of this adventure, we created an association: "Roadtrip Adventure".
Any form of aid is welcome, and will contribute to the success of this global adventure!