This has been a tough letter to write. It is tax
season again (USA) and Cindie has been hogging our laptop, screaming at her
accounting software, and searching for this elusive concept she calls
"balance." I do not understand any of it and it baffles me why I
have to pay taxes in a country we do not even live in. She tries to
explain but all I hear is something about self employment taxes and
penalties and jail terms if we do not pay up. Being the "Nomadic
Accountant" does not look like any fun. I wrote this letter during her
short breaks and it may be a bit disjointed.
I have only one announcement to make. Although the
American media has largely ignored us the media in the United Kingdom (UK)
has taken interest in our endeavors. We have been mentioned in British newspapers and magazines in the past but our biggest break just
occurred. We were asked to answer several interview questions for a UK
based publishing company called Black Dog Publishing. This interview
will be included in a widely distributed book about cycling culture and the
bicycle lifestyle. This interview is posted at the link below.
Please let me know what you think.
March 30 will mark our four year anniversary of living
nomadically on our bicycles and in cyberspace at DownTheRoad.org. It
is hard to believe that we have made it this far but there is still a long
way to go. We are always planning more. It is impossible to
reach the end of a road that has no end. This is why we are not in a
This past year in Asia has been remarkable because of the
interesting sights, sounds, and people that make this part of the world fun
and unique. Oh yes, another very important part, the food in Asia has
been excellent. The language barrier has caused us to be creative in
our communication, we did a lot of pointing and drawing pictures.
Of the six or more languages we were immersed in we really made an attempt
to learn Mandarin Chinese and to a lesser extent Thai. Learning the
local language is always a big challenge but extremely rewarding. Asians have a
completely different way of looking at life and the world around them
compared to my own.
I could have spent months picking the brains of the common farmers
we met on the side of the road. There is never enough time. They
have to work and we have to ride. We are always saying "goodbye" to
the most remarkable people.
This past year our online existence has evolved into
something new. The size and
rapid growth of our website is hard to keep up with. Our online presence has
reached some kind of critical mass and has created endless opportunities for us.
DownTheRoad.org started as an easy way to organize our photos and keep in
touch with family and friends via Cindie's daily journal. (see a link to
Cindie's daily journal below) We never dreamed it would grow beyond
I have counted visitors to DownTheRoad.org from the very
first posting in February, 2002. Fourteen months later I can remember the celebration
Cindie and I had when we reached 1,000 visitors/month or about 35
visitors/day. Our website has grown and grown until it feels wonderfully
out of control. Today we are receiving over 3,000 visitors/day and we
are expecting to reach the real milestone of 100,000 visitors/month sometime this
summer. This number is significant in the online world and starting to open a lot of doors we never dreamed of
four years ago. Much of the thanks has to be given to you, the regular
readers of our website. We would never have gone this far
without your enthusiasm, encouragement, and your important word of mouth
(email) referrals to our website. THANK YOU all very much.
All of this attention and traffic to our website is
providing the opportunity to continue our travels for longer than we
originally planned. As many of the long time readers know we set
off thinking we would travel for seven years. Now we are
planning much more. We often feel fortunate that we have come this far but at the same time believe that we made this
happen. When I think about it; luck had very little to do with how
our lives are turning out. We earned this through hard work and
thinking beyond conventional limitations. I truly believe that
everyone reading this can make almost anything happen in life if they choose
it. I know from reading your emails that this is a special
group and most are living their own interesting and fulfilling lives. I also
know a few are looking to break free of the routine. My advise to
this minority is to make a long term but realistic plan, stick to it no
matter what, and never listen to the nay sayers tell you that your dreams
Now that we have made it this far the questions I am
constantly asking myself are
all this going" and "now that I can talk to the world what do I have
to say?" This is far more responsibility than I bargained for.
THE DOWN SIDE
All this traffic and interest in our trip is not without
its costs. We outgrew a couple web servers as traffic increased. We
finally had to host DownTheRoad.org on our own private virtual server to handle the traffic.
I spent seventy three hours in a noisy internet cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam
watching files slowly crawl through the third world connection. I was
accompanied by a bunch of rowdy teenagers playing military shoot-em-up computer games
while I moved the entire (8 GB) website to the new server. Only a
generation ago these kids would have played this terrible game in real life - and
death. In Vietnamese video games (and history) the Americans always
The email we receive from the thousands of daily visitors surfing
around DownTheRoad.org is overwhelming. Cindie and I try to reply
to everyone but
regularly fall behind and many go unanswered. The
vast majority of emails we receive are heartwarming accounts of how we
inspired someone to travel internationally or think outside of the box when
determining life's priorities. We love reading these emails and we
thank you for sending them. We would like to request that your comments and
questions be posted on our interactive forum or discussion board (see link
below). Messages posted on this public forum receive the highest priority
from us which means that when we answer your question it is answered for
thousands of others.
We more or less have a plan for the next eighteen months.
We will leave Bangkok and continue riding south through peninsular
Thailand. We will make a very short crossing into Burma and back to
receive another thirty day Thai tourist visa. This is called a visa
run in international travelers lingo. Then we will spend our remaining
time enjoying tropical beaches and riding south through dense jungles.
Next we cross the border into Malaysia in mid April. In Malaysia, we will
be staying with a friend of ours, David, who owns a guesthouse about a weeks
ride south of the Thai border. It is rare when we know where we are
going to be staying and provides us the opportunity to receive mail. You
know, the old fashioned kind that requires stamps and paper. Years ago
we made a similar announcement about a mail pick up in Peru and were
delighted at all the wonderful notes and postcards that came in from around
the world. See David's address below and please send soon. It can
take several weeks to send mail half way around the globe.
Munusamy Reddie @ David,
59, Jalan Bangau Dua,
14300, Nibong Tebal,
Seberang Perai Selatan,
Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.
Also in Malaysia we will be taking a much
needed two month break and do some hiking in the Cameroon Highlands National
Park. During this time off the bikes we will start the long process of
completing our second book about our tour in South America. I have
actually been chipping away at it for months and
have written 85% of it but the editing, layout, and cover design can take
longer than the writing. I will make an announcement as soon as there
is a publication date scheduled.
After our break we will bike tour in
Indonesia and then work our way to Singapore by mid September to fly to
Adelaide, Australia. If we succeed in scoring our extra long - special
permission Australian tourist visa we will spend twelve months in Oz.
From there we hope to fly to New Zealand for at least six to twelve months
of travel and book writing. None of this is set in stone because we do
not have the Australian visa or airline tickets yet but it is our current
I am currently playing around with the idea of offering
video downloads about our travels on our website. It is not widely known but we have carried
a digital video camera from the very start. Almost all of the over
10,000 pictures you see on our website also have a video recording of the
same scene. I recently watched some of the raw footage and was amazed at how
sound and motion really captured the moment. I originally recorded
this video as a memory for us to watch if we
ever stop but there is growing interest in publishing an edited version. Cindie is very enthusiastic about this
and even bought me a book (to lug around)
called "Digital Video Editing for Dummies." I am not sure if
she is optimistic about digital video or pessimistic about my skills. This is a fascinating art form
that I really think I can get into. My first release
will be a simple mix called Video Postcards from The Road.
My first attempts will most likely be comical and amateur. I am
wondering if any of you reading this would be interested in watching?
Well, that is it. Cindie is asking for the computer
back. I just want to thank all of you again for being involved in our
travels and helping us Down The Road. Without you none of this would be