Hello everyone!

I'm Patrick. For the last 10 years I've been going places and doing things, mostly by bicycle. It all started with a trip before university (which I should never attend, but I didnt knew that at the time), which kindled some love for the outdoors and adventure in me. I've since never stopped and accumulated a couple of interesting stories over the years.

After I finished school and did my military service, I did a 1-year backpacking trip round the world, then I started cycling, first in Europe, then through Africa to Capetown. I flew to India, walked barefoot for a month; hiked in Nepal to the Mt. Everest.

Then I did a 18 month tour through the Americas, starting in the south and cycling, hitchhiking and boating through every country in North- and South-America. I've seen the Easter Island, boated the Amazon river from Peru to the Brazilian coast, cycled through the jungle, hiked to the lost city in Colombia, before sailing to Panama and continued north till I hit Canada.

I've toured the Route 66, crossed the continental divide and survived even Detroit. :D

After that, I did a few more eccentric tours, like riding a road bike through the Sahara (Twice actually, once Egypt/sudan, once Mauretania/Morocco), or going through Russia in winter, cycling over the frozen lake Baikal. It was -45°c at night, which was a first even for me! I then reached China, had a look at Korea and Japan, climbed Mt.Fuji off season, before cycling the silk road back in summer, with a small detour into the Pamir mountains. With up to 50°c in Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan... damn, that poor bike had a lot to do that year.

This year I visited a couple of island states and other places by folding bike, even up to Darjeeling and Sikkim in the Himalayas; later on I solo-summited Mont Blanc, the highest mountain here in Europe.

In my down-time I love to play MtG, board games and video games. Currently the Gwent Beta... and I mod Dwarf Fortress, an awesome indie game with procedually generated stories. It's a bit hard to get into, but if you dare, have a look.

Now I'm preparing for next years trip. A bamboo bicycle tour through Westafrica. :) I'm working together with the YonsoProject for that tour, a Ghanian non-profit that helps education and developement in Westafrica. Among other things, they build Bamboo bikes, which are sold in Germany by MyBoo. Both MyBoo and Apidura helped me out with the gear for the trip; thanks guys for the bike and bags. :)

A couple of links:

  • Worldbicyclist.com, my website. Route and equipment info mostly. So far I've been to 141 countries... I really need to update that list. :D

  • My Facebook, with thousand of pictures, or if you like to follow me.

  • My Twitter, in case you like tiny updates from on the road.

My Proof: Expertly drawn Snoo, my bike and me.

More than anything else, I love helping people do similar tours and projects. Nothing is more rewarding than getting a message half a year later, telling me "I did this awesome thing, thanks to your help." Its the best. So, hit me with all the questions you got. I'm here to stay till they are all answered. :)

Cheers, Patrick

Edit: Thank you /u/somerandomwordss for the private message titled "Fuck you and your shitty nomadic way of life". It's always great getting positive feedback.

Edit: I'm heading out to a theater event nearby, which lasts about 5 hours. Do not worry, I'll be back and answer everything that came up in the mean time. :)

Edit: And I'm back. Lets continue :)

Edit: Its been 12h now. I'll take a break. I'm back tomorrow, read through the thread and answer the most thoughtful questions, and everything by people that need help with their own trips. Thanks guys! Lets keep going. :D

Edit: Alright, sleep well guys! It was fun :)

Comments: 2209 • Responses: 99  • Date: 

Davyjoetee1689 karma

I ain't no gold digga, but how do you fund all this 'running amok' ?

Sponsorship? Inheritance? Savings?

Meph2481439 karma

Bit of everything really.

I sold my MtG card collection when I was 18. That was 10k €. I saved the money from the military service, then I did that 1 year round the world trip with it.

Later I realized how much cheaper you can travel. For example if you bike and camp, you dont pay for transport or accommodation. I cycled half a year through the US and Canada, and I spend $0 on accommodation and $6 for transport; a bus through a tunnel that did not allow cycling.

Once I mad a website, I started to get sponsors. Free equipment, bikes, but no money so far. It does keep the spendings low, and after a tour I could sell it, if I like. Only done that once, a friend of mine bought one of my old bikes.

There was also an inheritance, but that was recently and I have not touched that money yet. It's on a bank, a rainy day fund, so to speak. I want to pay for my crazy tours on my own accord.

Besides that I do odd jobs (especially at the start, like working in hostels or on a cattle ranch in Australia); I program and write; and I have a Patreon for my Dwarf Fortress mod.

The most interesting bit is of course the fact that you can travel for almost nothing. $200-$300 a month are fine in almost any country worldwide, if you camp/couchsurf and hike/hitchhike/cycle. :)

space_adventurer_85640 karma

How can one own 10.000€ worth of mtg cards, especially under the age of 18?

Meph248711 karma

Play on tournaments. Win cards/money, buy more cards. It helps that the cards get more valuable with time... I remember I got the power9 for about 1000 Deutsche Mark total. You know what they are worth now.

adriantada198 karma

power9

what is this card youre talking about?

Meph248269 karma

Power 9 are the 9 best magic cards. The 5 moxes, the black lotus, the ancestral recall, the time twister and time walk: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Nine

Mariana90599 karma

moxen*

Meph248246 karma

Technically correct. The best kind of correct.

YouLikeFishstickz49 karma

Given them by your wealthy family, one assumes.

MartMillz129 karma

Seriously, this dude is loaded and wants to play that part down and paint himself as a citizen of the world. That's how all these GoPro travel documentary kids are.

CallingItLikeItIs8840 karma

I'm trying to figure out how you don't "pay for transport or accommodation" while traveling across North America. How does one "cycle half a year through the US and Canada" and "spend $0 on accommodation?"

Even if you're camping, is the suggestion that you camp at the side of the road because even cheap, cheap campsites cost money. And if you're just camping at the side of the road, that's not legal in many places.

EDIT: Glad I posted this because there's a lot of solid info in the replies here. Good stuff. Learn something every day :)

Meph24845 karma

Stealth camping; I dont camp on camp sites. In cities I couchsurfed or used warmshowers. :)

BKNorton361 karma

So I get you don't spend much on your travels which is super cool. I guess I just wonder where you see yourself in say 5-10 years. Do you ever want to settle down? If you keep traveling and don't build up savings, what will you do for money later in life?

Meph24866 karma

In 5-10 years I'd either travel some more or do more specialized expeditions. But in 20 years... no. Probably not.

Yorshy55 karma

Holy cow, I only just realized that you're Meph! What an all-around interesting guy you are!

Meph24846 karma

Yes, I'm Meph. You know DF? :D

King_DK558 karma

I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee. How do you keep your knees safe?

Meph248811 karma

Dragonbone greaves.

Reagan_here551 karma

I have a dream of traveling the world, however I'm disabled (and 16). I don't want to let it stop me but I also can't walk more than half a mile without fainting (even with the assistance of my cane). Any advice for a sick kid who spends her time wasting away in the hospital?

Meph248913 karma

yes, but probably not in a Reddit AMA. Get in touch with me with more info, and I can see what I can come up with. Write me an email, I'll PM you. :)

scarywarlock264 karma

Are the adventures worth not making lifelong bonds with specific individuals?

My life has come to a point where I'm no longer happy. And have lost most of my lifelong friends due, I suppose to changes in my own attitude. So is it worth giving up on that to look at stuff I cant experience here?

Meph248501 karma

I don't think those are mutually exclusive. You can have friends, family, girlfriend, even with adventures. But don't think that you'd automatically happy if you leave and run away from your life.

I see that a lot in outdoor/travel... people are unhappy with their life, think that going away would magically fix it. It does not.

icarus1490 karma

We're getting the highlights of his bike journey. I'm sure there were days of rain, snow, hail, poor food and frozen extremities where he went "what THE FUCK was I thinking". But you get through those moments and enjoy the spaces in between. I tree plant in BC and thats my experience at life.

If you go into a travel situation thinking everything is easy, it's going to be fun and you'll never have a bad day, man you are wrong. Gotta be realistic and accept those shit days and keep on.

Personally the friends part of your question hits home, when you leave home for extended periods of time, your friends and family puts down roots while you're out chasing rides. I very much enjoy tree planting and traveling on my own because I feel free. And I've always made friends where ever I end up sleeping that night.

Meph248108 karma

True.

I guess I could make a post just about the negative sides of travelling, maybe the cynics will like it. :D

pmMeyourFDAUpics254 karma

If you were going to recommend ONE single (non-touristy) place that everyone should visit, where would it be?

Meph248874 karma

If everyone would visit it, would it still be non-touristy? :P

A place I'd recommend to everyone... I'd go with Sudan. Or Iran. Because of the prejudices against them, the evil middle eastern countries; while in reality the people there are the most hospitable I've ever met.

They are curious and interested about foreigners, will invite you into their homes for dinner or tea; listen to your story and tell you of their countries.

It would help so much, with all that right-wing nonsense going about in the recent times.

XxSharperxX139 karma

Even women?

Meph248334 karma

Yes. Foreign women are treated as honorary men; they'd even have more access than men, because they can enter the men and women areas.

For example I never met many Iranian women; not even when I was invited into a home, because they stayed in their rooms. A female traveller could meet them.

vanlefty46 karma

Liberal lies, everyone knows only white conservative Christians can be trusted;-)

Meph248104 karma

Good point. Everyone, visit the bible belt now!

Adoptedwuss199 karma

Excellent and inspiring work! I did a 2,700 mile bike tour this summer from Chicago to Portland. I found that I was burning so many calories that I had to eat nonstop. This was the biggest blow to my budget. What kind of meals/snacks do you eat to keep such a modest budget? Also, do you carry a stove and fuel? Thanks for the info and have a great upcoming tour; I am jealous.

Meph248240 karma

Hey, that question I just got. I'll copy the answer, hope thats ok. :)

Snacks, yes, a lot. And local foods. Eating in restaurants or street food is great in third world countries, in the first world I stick to supermarkets mostly. I do cook in hostel kitchens, if I have the chance, but I dont carry cooking gear while camping. Food is mostly selected based on calories... the more the better. Chocolate, chocolate milk, nuts, peanut butter, energy/protein bars, dates, avocados, that sort of thing. Fats, proteins. :)

Duke97_37 karma

Hey man ! I'm 19 and I've started saving up for a trip somewhere, I still don't know where, and this was one of my main questions. Was food covered by your $10k budget ? Have you ever worked in any of those countries you visited ? I'm super interested in all of that and will also look at your website when I get home.

Meph24848 karma

I did work a bit in Australia, they make it very easy for backpackers to get jobs. I think the minimum wage is $23 atm.

Otherwise you can go to Japan or Korea, to teach English.

DjBminus2 karma

How rich are you?

Meph2483 karma

I'm rich in nutrients.

tiimmy_tiimmy_turner172 karma

Were there moments in your travels where you thought you would die? If so what's the strangest reason you would've died from in your travels?

Meph248462 karma

When I was young and stupid (now I'm older and stupid), I did climb free-solo a bit. My foot-hold broke off while climbing on a canyon wall in Jordan, near Petra. Luckily I didn't fall, because I had a good hold with both hands, but that was close; since it was almost 90m off the ground.

I wedged myself into a nook afterwards for 10-15mins, hands shaking. I didnt make the top, I climbed back down into the valley.

Strangest reason to die... eating fugu in Japan?

Ehh_Embb146 karma

Was riding a bike under water as underwhelming as it sounds?

Meph248230 karma

Kinda. I was doing my wreck certification (PADI) and there was an old bike that someone had thrown away next to the wreck. I had to do several dives at the site, mapping the wreck (and learning how to use Nitrox), so I had some time to play around with the bike.

Its more like swimming and slowly falling over while trying to sit on a bike.

Swimmy23131 karma

I see that you were robbed at gunpoint and bitten by/wrestled an alligator. Could you elaborate at all on these please?

Meph248106 karma

Can you remind me in a few days? Those are longer stories and there are... a few more questions I have to answer. I dont want to write a short answer now, which leaves out most of the details.

Angelic_Hunter9 karma

Robbed at gunpoint story reminder

Meph24871 karma

A different kind of hospitality: Getting robbed

The day before was already pretty bad. I was staying one night with a couchsurfer in Tripoli in the north of the country, but he lived with his parents and whenever he leaves the house, I had to leave too.

It was a flat in an apartment block that belonged to his family and apparently they were afraid that I would steal. This is word for word what he told me, his father would not like a stranger in the house, and since the family are devout muslims, the mother would have to wear her headscarf because a non-family member would see her. Why he, the son, invites couchsurfer, I do not know.

He also told me that Lebanon is safe and that I can leave my bicycle, value 3000€, unlocked in the stairway, because no one would steal. I was a bit stumped by this, because in essence I was asked to trust people that do not trust me.

The son himself was very friendly, regretted the circumstances, but unfortunately very busy. When I came back the next day from the old town, looking at the castle and bazaars, his father called him home and gave me 30 minutes to pack my things and leave.

Great.

Leaving Tripoli a bit alienated, I cycled towards Beirut, which is less than 100km away. But instead of facing the heavy traffic and paying for a hotel or hostel, I wanted to enjoy the ride, took the more windy ocean road and ended up on a trail near the town of Anfeh. The road went through a tunnel, but next to it was a walking path along cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was a really nice spot and I decided to stop early and call it a day.

I pitched my tent, took my book and spend the afternoon reading, watching the sunset... only 5-6 people came by that have seen where I am and that I might stay the night.

At 08:30 I was in the tent, on the last pages of my book, when I heard what sounded like a jogger. A lamp was shining at my tent and I thought "Please dont stop, please just done mind me."

Of course the footsteps stopped right next to my tent and I heard some Arabic. Now I don't speak Arabic besides a few words, I just replied in English, when the person suddenly tried lifting the tent, looking for the entry. He ripped out 2 tent stakes and half of it collapsed.

I was rightfully pissed about that, opened the zipper and asked firmly wtf was going on, when I saw a soldier standing in front of me.

"Well, ok, that makes sense." There was a military base 10km down the road, lots of checkpoints across the country and someone probably told them that there is a foreigner camping there. I tried talking to him, but he spoke only Arabic, gestured towards my backpack. I took out my passport and handed it to him, but soon realized that this was not a proper control, when he grabbed the backpack and started rummaging around in it. In the end he just poured the content out, snatching my Euro notes that I carry as a backup with me.

At that point, I was really pissed, told him "NO" and stared angrily, which was obviously the smart thing to do. Unfortunately the kind man did not put the things back into my bag and left, but instead unholstered his pistol, put a bullet in the chamber (*clack-clack, everyone knows the sound, one of the sergeants in my unit once called it the universal-translator) and aimed it at my head. "No?" he asked, upon which I raised my hands, rolled my eyes and told him to go on, do what you like.

So I'm sitting there, in the dark, barefoot, no glasses on, and had to watch some stupid shit go through my equipment, that I painstakingly selected, assembled, modified and took with me on a yearlong tour through Asia. I was pondering the success chances of pushing him over the cliff, but after 3m it got flat again, with a large bush blocking the long, long way down to the rocks. I could have shoved him, only to watch him be stopped by the bush, walk up and act unfriendly towards me.

But there was something I could do. While he was distracted with the backpack, I pushed my laptop underneath my camping mattress. Because the tent was partly collapsed, it was a mess of tent fabric, sleeping bag and mattress. Which was very good for me, because he did not see the second bike bag I had.

You have to imagine the setup like this: Folding bike, partly folded, together with one bag in the tent apsis, backpack and second bag at the top of the tent, which was falling down on it. He saw the backpack, because I took it to get the passport in the beginning, but not the other bag, with my credit card and camera.

What he did take is my money, several hundred Euro in cash. My GPS. My kindle. (god damn it, I was 95% done with the book) My phone. Bike computer, cables, bike lock (guess it was heavy, heavy = valueable?), the lights... and worst of all: My external HDD. 2TB of data gone.

When he left I was running after him, yelling at him that he should leave the harddrive, but that only made him angry and in retrospect it was pretty pointless, since he didn't understand a word I said. First thing I did when he was gone was throwing my laptop and bike bags into a nearby bush, in case he comes back.

On the way back to the tent I realized what is on that harddrive, I just stopped walking, fell down, curled up into a ball and allowed myself to cry for half a minute or so.

My pictures.

All of them.

I moved out of my flat in Germany and stored my belongings, taking every bit of important data with me. I wanted to set up an online backup once I arrived in India and have some time, but that stupidity might have cost me my entire collection of photos I took since 2007. I'm sure I still have some, maybe, on a harddrive in Germany, but I guess that at least half of them are gone forever.

Which makes me sad. The rest just made me angry.

I packed the rest of my things, walked back to the road and started cycling, because staying in the same spot would be a hilariously bad idea.

The rest of the night was all highs and lows. It started to rain almost immediately after I started to cycle, a thunderstorm that would later end up becoming a hail storm.

I stopped at a restaurant that I knew from my way to Tripoli, the manager gave me a free tea and allowed me to use the wifi, so that I could book a hostel in Beirut and tell people what happened.

I was stopped by the police at a checkpoint and questioned what I was doing, riding a bike in the middle of the night. When I told them I was robbed by a soldier, they said "no, no, that was no Lebanese soldier, it was probably a Syrian guy." They were more interested in smalltalk and my bike than in the robbery.

At the next military checkpoint I tried telling people what happened, but no one understood English.

Then I got a flat tire.

After midnight by now, I was just done. I remembered that this place was not far from the beach I camped at a couple of days earlier, when I first rode to Tripoli, so I ended the night like it began:

I camped on the beach, looking at the ocean.

Plasticene_Porter130 karma

Do you ever get the urge to just sit inside for a week and read?

Meph248209 karma

I do that now and then. For example the Shadowrun books and the Wheel of Time took some time to read... but thanks to my ebook reader, I can do that on tour too. Take a day or two off, read. Or in the tent, in the evenings.

I just finished Peter F Hamiltons Commonwealth Saga.

Plasticene_Porter84 karma

Kudos for getting through a Wheel of Time. I'd sooner get through a wheel of cheese, that series is so long. Sort of like Boatmurdered.

Meph24861 karma

Now that I think of it, I didnt... I got book 1-10, which were all that existed at the time. I never finished it, reading the books written by the second author, after Jordan died.

Boatmurdered is cool, its what brought me to DF.

Eagle20654 karma

You should finish wheel of time. Sanderson did a pretty damned good job with it.

Meph24835 karma

You think I can find a summary of the first 10 books somewhere? Its been 8 years since I read them... ;)

SuperPilotLicense128 karma

What's the best item/s that everyone should have if they want to travel the world?

Meph248405 karma

Passport, credit card, wifi-able device, ebook reader, a buff, your towel (never leave without your towel), notebook & pen, and a good attitude. :)

yakhauler118 karma

What's a buff?

Meph248178 karma

a tube scarf, which doubles as almost anything... towel, bandage, hat, sun protection, wash cloth...

icarus1437 karma

Hey OP, you can get small solar chargers for less than 30 bucks Canadian that power small devices. Hella recommend adding one to that list !

Meph24856 karma

Bike dynamos are a bit better; but I did try a solar charger on the silk road. They work great, if you have the space/time for them. :)

IT-Vagabond5 karma

never leave without your towel

... towelie?

Meph24814 karma

Douglas Adams. ;)

paroxysms_lalala114 karma

.have language barriers ever posed a challenge? .in very remote areas of some countries, for example?

Meph248200 karma

Yes, especially in countries that have a language that has a different alphabet. Like Arabic or Chinese. That makes it extra difficult.

But often enough, smile and wave works wonders. And Google Translate. ;)

paroxysms_lalala55 karma

.do you speak any languages other than English?

Meph248143 karma

Yes, German and Spanish. I can understand, mostly in written form, some French, Italian and Portuguese, but I can barely catch it when its spoken... pronounciation too different from text.

HendrixThePigoo108 karma

Will you take me with you?

Meph248205 karma

yes

Ohalrightmate93 karma

How do you get the money to do these things and also to make sure you have a home to come back to after? The flights, insurance, clothing...everything costs money?

Meph24873 karma

Flights are few and far in between, usually 1-2 a year. Lately a bit more, due to island states I visited.

Someone already asked about the money, so here:

Bit of everything really. I sold my MtG card collection when I was 18. That was 10k €. I saved the money from the military service, then I did that 1 year round the world trip with it. Later I realized how much cheaper you can travel. For example if you bike and camp, you dont pay for transport or accommodation. I cycled half a year through the US and Canada, and I spend $0 on accommodation and $6 for transport; a bus through a tunnel that did not allow cycling. Once I mad a website, I started to get sponsors. Free equipment, bikes, but no money so far. It does keep the spendings low, and after a tour I could sell it, if I like. Only done that once, a friend of mine bought one of my old bikes. There was also an inheritance, but that was recently and I have not touched that money yet. It's on a bank, a rainy day fund, so to speak. I want to pay for my crazy tours on my own accord. Besides that I do odd jobs (especially at the start, like working in hostels or on a cattle ranch in Australia); I program and write; and I have a Patreon for my Dwarf Fortress mod. The most interesting bit is of course the fact that you can travel for almost nothing. $200-$300 a month are fine in almost any country worldwide, if you camp/couchsurf and hike/hitchhike/cycle. :)

SIrFluffsalot3571 karma

How exactly does one bike across the Sahara?

Meph248103 karma

There are three paved roads through it. 2 in Sudan, 1 in Mauretania.

eeeboo61 karma

Have you ever tried to go back to normal ( non adventuring life)? If so how did you adjust to it?

I just got back from a big trip myself and I'm finding it difficult

Meph248159 karma

Yes, but never for long. A few months here and there. Its scary how easy you get back into it, at least for me. Gaming, watching Netflix, a daily routine... scary.

Once I notice that I take the western luxuries for granted, that I'm nice and rested in my comfort zone, I do my best to get away from it, out into the open world. ;)

NotAlienHippie58 karma

Which place had the best food?

Meph248172 karma

It would be unfair to pick just one, so I'll give you three:

  • India

  • Japan

  • Mexico

:)

NotAlienHippie41 karma

How different are the authentic foods in those places from the restaurants elsewhere?

Meph24897 karma

Extremely. I'm almost always disappointed if I try ethnic food in a country that has a "chinese restaurant" or "italian cuisine" when not in China or Italy.

Only exception is when its run by immigrants. In that case, go all in. Especially Indian food is often authentic.

paroxysms_lalala57 karma

.what kinds of foods do you carry when you're on the road? .dehydrated, canned, snacks? .do you cook? .if so, how? (type of fuel, stove, pots, etc)

Meph24863 karma

Wow, you managed to ask 4 questions that all have the same answer: No. No dehydrated food, no canned food, dont cook, no stove.

Snacks, yes, a lot. And local foods. Eating in restaurants or street food is great in third world countries, in the first world I stick to supermarkets mostly. I do cook in hostel kitchens, if I have the chance, but I dont carry cooking gear while camping.

Food is mostly selected based on calories... the more the better. Chocolate, chocolate milk, nuts, peanut butter, energy/protein bars, dates, avocados, that sort of thing. Fats, proteins. :)

Chahles8827 karma

More on food: I feel like a lot of the culture you experience is through their cuisine, do you feel as if you experience local cuisine to its fullest, or do you strictly budget for calorie dense foods that sustain you while biking?

Meph24859 karma

I eat anything new at least once. I love japanese and indian and mexican food; and I agree that it tells a lot about the culture.

On the other hand, after a while you notice similarities. A german Grill, an American BBQ, a south-african Braai and an Argentian Asado... they are just different variations of grilled meat. ;)

avrachan44 karma

Did you try marijuana anywhere ?

Meph24851 karma

No.

mhusslage43 karma

Have your bikes had any mechanical break downs that were difficult to fix in precarious situations?

For instance, breaking a crank arm on Lake Baikal, and then having to repair in the field?

Also if you have broken pieces of your bike in distance parts of the world, how is it finding repairs in those distant places of the world?

Meph248123 karma

I've had countless of small and large problems with my bikes, but not insurmountable. I had to replace the front hub once in Kenya, no fitting spare parts to come by, so I just build an entire new wheel made of cheap Chinese/Indian steel parts. :D

Finding repairs is easy, but finding the same quality is near impossible. I usually replace it with whatever is available.

In Guinea-Bissau I once ran out of patches for my tubes... the locals showed me a trick, they glued a piece of old tube on it, using tree sap! Not making this up.

smack30041 karma

How many countries have you been to? Also, one that you are dying to go back to and one that you never want to see again.

Meph248116 karma

141 of 193 (according to the United Nations)

Japan I really want to see again.

Lebanon, not really. Worst experience I had there; getting robbed at gun-point.

davekingofrock39 karma

Did you visit that super morbid forest in Japan?

Meph24851 karma

No. I knew about it, but its most likely just another forest. ;)

oathkeeper6027 karma

Aokigahara, located in the shadow of Mt. Fuji.

Meph2489 karma

hu... I did climb Mt. Fuji though. :)

DrunkCanadianGuy38 karma

What has been the best meal you've had from any place you've been?

Meph248134 karma

Probably any meal I've eaten when I've been really starving. ;)

Otherwise I'd go with takoyaki in Japan. I love those.

vanlefty37 karma

How did/do you plan your itinerary through places?

Meph248115 karma

It mostly comes down to the seaons/weather and visa timings. I just look at a map, select all the places I want to see and try to combine as many of them with as short a route as I can.

Then it depends on the visa length (China for example gave me 2x 30 days, which is a joke, considering how large the country is) and the weather. The first 5 years I followed the summer, always switching between northern and southern hemisphere. That way I had no winter for 5 years and didnt need to change my camping gear/clothing much.

camdotcam68 karma

Op is master of the travelling salesman problem

Meph24835 karma

Is that still unsolved?

Gunshybaberino36 karma

When traveling you say to camp for free. Where do you do this, as where I am from that is illegal and can land you a hefty fine or in jail or facing an unhappy land owner with a shotgun. How do you find spots to camp for free world wide?

Meph248110 karma

In most countries, no one cares. In some, its legal, some its illegal, but even in the illegal ones, the police doesnt do anything. If I'm spotted, which is rare, people usually talk to me, invite me.

Only once the police was called, because a dog wouldnt stop barking. That was in Argentina. What did they do? They drove me with their pick-up to their police station, told me that I can camp on their lawn.

Never met an unhappy land owner with a shotgun. If possible, I ask the owner first; or I camp on public land. I dont camp on other peoples private properties.

sushideception36 karma

Have you ever had any safety concerns with any countries you were visiting?

Meph24854 karma

Just to be clear: Did I have concerns, or did anything unsafe actually happen?

I do a lot of research for each place before I go, so usually I'm very aware of both the risk and dangers and on how to avoid them.

sushideception22 karma

Did anything unsafe happen? Sorry that was unclear.

Meph24884 karma

Well, I got bit by a crocodile, I got dengue fever, I got robbed at gun-point once... guess those count, right? ;)

poop_hadouken34 karma

How does bamboo compare to carbon, chromoly or titanium frames?

Why not 2x11 seeing as how you already have the 105 shifters?

What groupsets have you used on your other tours?

Meph24833 karma

Bamboo is heavier, though more comfortable/flexible. Frame is thicker, probably more crash-resistant than carbon/aluminum, but not as much as titanium/steel.

Because I've never used the setup I'm using now. I've already toured with 3x10 and 2x10, 1x11 is new to me. I like trying new things.

I used 3x7, 3x8, 3x9, 3x10, 2x20, 3x2 (Brompton)... and I think thats it. Alivio, Shimano SLX, XT, XTR, Ultregra...

0neShotSpaghetti32 karma

What are the three tools you brought with you that you were most thankful for? (like trapped on a desert island what would you bring?)

Meph24878 karma

Thats two very different questions. :D

Tools I have with me, that I'm most thankful for:

  • Kindle

  • Chess board

  • GPS

Things I'd bring to a desert island:

  • Satellite phone

  • SPOT GPS tracker

  • water filter

007Aeon27 karma

Why the Chess board though? Do you have someone to play with?

Meph24853 karma

/u/oshtep is perfectly right. You can play with anyone, even if you dont share a lanugage. I spend 2 days playing chess on the main square in Chisinau, capital of Moldovia, with the locals. All spoke Russian, none English.

thinkB4WeSpeak30 karma

I'm not a fan of the cold. If I also traveled the world and skipped the cold areas would I be missing much or could I just see more of the warm areas?

Sorry for the run on sentence.

Meph24880 karma

I think you are missing out. First of all because the places are different, but also because the experience is a different one. Sadly, cold usually also means less sunlight, more problems with your gear, higher prices for the equipment...

But if you avoided high mountain areas because of the temperatures, you were really missing out: http://i.imgur.com/DIfweOJ.jpg

aguyfrominternet30 karma

Have you ever been to Sri Lanka?

Meph24885 karma

Yes, this year. Love the place, its like a tiny, much friendly, cleaner India. (sorry Indians)

aguyfrominternet20 karma

Did you see any places affected by the war?

Meph24840 karma

Hard to say, because I dont know how it was before.

annabannabanana29 karma

1) how do you keep your electronics charged? I did the Pacific Coast in 2010 and that was a big problem for me, and I didn't even have a smartphone yet!

2) you went to Japan, did you tour it by bicycle? I've looked into this and I'm told you simply can't ride a bike on many connecting roads, meaning you'd have to take a train between many locations.

Meph24827 karma

Dynamo on the bike charges most everything. Otherwise you could try a solar charger.

I did tour through Japan by bike. You are allowed to ride bikes there on roads, only highways are closed. Never heard about someone forced to take a train; although I once had to take quite a detour, including a hike up some stairs.

icarus1425 karma

OP how do carry water on your trips? I really want to bike to BC next year from Ontario, but every small test trip I do is limited by water. Do you have a small bike trailer? Water purifying pills?

Meph24827 karma

I have around 3L of water on the bike; which is more than enough when you dont cook. Max was 15L, when I crossed the Sahara. No trailer, just more bottles. I have free space in the bags and usually about 20L of empty space in my backpack.

I did try different water filter systems (UV, pump, pills, drops), but I found them to be overkill. I carry a small water filter though, for emergencies: https://www.careplusshop.eu/de/wasseraufbereitungmini-wasserfilter-outdoor/?utm_campaign=shopping&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=&utm_source=AdWords&utm_content=&gclid=CNjjzreP6tACFRW3GwodyvcGCg

but if you plan ahead, there is no need for it.

_ShowMeYourKitties_22 karma

What branch of the military were you in?

And also, have you ever been to Charleston, South Carolina?

Meph24831 karma

The nicely-named Special Security Squadron of the airforce; teamed up with the 702 Munitions Support Squadron of the US military.

Nope, no Charleston for me.

thatboyfromthehood21 karma

How did you decide where to go first and do you always travel alone?how long do you spend in each place you visit? Last question, how many places did you visit in the 1 year backpacking trip around the world?

Meph24841 karma

First trip I just got a world map and made dots on it. I want to see this, and that, and this place, and that thing. Then I tried connecting them with as short a line as possible. BAM! done.

I dont always travel alone, about 50/50.

Random... on average 2-3 weeks per country, but it differs much between places. USA, 4 months. Barely seen anything. Liechtenstein, 1 day. ;)

On the 1-year backpacking trip, I took trains through Europe till I hit the Middle East (Istanbul), went further by bus through Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Israel till Egypt. Then spend 3 months in South East Asia, 3 in Australia, 1 month in New Zealand, 1 month in the US and 1 month in Central America.

sa85520 karma

In your travels how many other professional adventures / DF mod programmers / Magic card collectors have you met? It seems like a pretty typical combo.

Meph24839 karma

One. Three times though. I first talked to him on the DF forums, then we were in Southamerica in Peru at the same time.

Later I bumped into him in Tunesia, he was staying in the same hostel.

Later the same year, I invited him to stay in my place in Germany; couchsurfing.

TubabuT11 karma

This is the most incredible response for me. The world is so enormous, but you ran into this guy several times.

Meph24813 karma

First time was on the internet though. Second time by chance. Third time on purpose.

helfini20 karma

What about chaffing ?? How do you deal with that?

Meph24826 karma

Mostly by ignoring it. If it hurts, it hurts. I do change underwear often, and make sure they have different cuts with the seams in different areas.

WaterWaster9119 karma

Are you saying you haven't been to Canada yet? You should come! We have a trail all the way across Canada, plus you can travel all the way across by canoe if you'd rather do that.

Meph24825 karma

I've been to Canada. Great lakes area, Toronto, Montreal... and the center, Alberta towards the rockies.

YouLikeFishstickz19 karma

Do you have a family?

Do you have a stable place to live?

Meph24836 karma

I have a mother, father and brother. I'm not married, if you mean that.

I live in Germany when I'm not on tour. So yes. :)

tennis198718 karma

I'm going to lake baikal tomorrow. Any recommendations?

Meph24833 karma

Yes, ask the local authorities how thick the ice is and if its save to cross it. Any inlet from a river will be dangerous, because the water is moving and less ice forms.

Stay save and have fun :)

danfreedme18 karma

Is finding quality healthcare services often challenging, particularly in emergency situations (e.g., croc bite, dengue fever) or when in developing countries?

Meph24830 karma

Croc bite I treated myself. No medication exists against dengue fever, you just sit it out in a hotel room and wait.

I found medical care to be quite reasonable while on tour, but I never needed much of it to be honest. I did a Malaria test once in Malawi. Took less than 10 minutes and cost $3, so that was a good experience. It came back negative, too. :)

IVANISMYNAME16 karma

How did your subzero gear fit on your bike during the russia winter trip? Seems like it would be a lot of bulk.

What is the best way you've found to quickly study a foreign language?

Meph24847 karma

Here is the equipment for the Siberia tour: http://imgur.com/a/KLwb7

Best to move to the country where the language is spoken.

AUX1_Dub16 karma

Old money?

Meph24819 karma

I work while travelling, programming and writing now and then. And spending only about $500 a month helps. ;)

neildegrasstokem11 karma

Do you settle down between trips? Have a home base that you pay rent/upkeep on?

I guess I ask because I'm always worried about the things tying me down. Seems you need to be pretty financially stable and independent to leave for 6 months to a year, not to mention being employed by someone who requires you to be at work or a wife or girlfriend who wants you to be at important events.

I just don't see how I could ever take that much time away from everything and be able to safely return to it and it all still be there when I get back.

Meph24828 karma

I have a home base, but I only pay for it when I'm there. I did not always have one, its rather new.

I'm not employed. Almost no one who travels like I do is. They either quit, travel, get a new job (which is very easy, once you realise that you can work in any country you like); they work online as freelancers, or they have their own project, like a blog, books, etc.

There is a big difference in the mind set between what you describe and what most people are doing: They have no "safe return", there is nothing they "get back" from going where they came from. You abandon such safety for the promise of freedom.

Almost everyone, including me, just... go. and figure it out on the way.

boxerhenry12 karma

I'm currently an American living near lyon, France for a year! Have any good stories from France? Also how do you have time to update your dwarf fortress mod everyweek?

Meph24814 karma

I can update it because I'm in the first world atm. Starting January, I'll have to put that on hold, Westafrica does not allow such luxuries.

France... yes! I've been there this year, climbed Mont Blanc. That was a blast, Chamonix is amazing! Go there, if you have any love for hiking, mountains, etc.

thetwaz111 karma

Any regrets?

Meph24826 karma

Tons.

I need a time machine and live forever to see everything. Cant do that, most likely.

Coopd1zzle11 karma

Cycling through the Sahara looks absolutely amazing. I'm sure you came upon valleys and mountains that have been seen by very few people, and are astoundingly beautiful. I admire your sense for adventure and wish I could do the same. Hopefully some day I will be able to do so.

You mentioned going on a ride through Africa. Where exactly do you plan to go, East or West Africa? What's the plan for travel, locations you specifically want to go to? I just think about how dangerous it must be to camp in a place like the Serengeti with wild, carnivorous animals and wonder how you would address safety? Have you ever felt like you were camping somewhere that presented wildlife danger, and what are some stories about that?

If there were a mountain you HAVENT climbed that is high on your bucket list, what would it be and why?

Any particularly good stories about women you've met along the way? Where did you think the women were most beautiful?

Good luck with your adventures. I will be following your web site, this is great stuff.

Meph24832 karma

Westafrica. Ghana to Ghana, a round trip, 6000-8000km, through Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and the Ivory Coast. :)

Carnivorous animals are no trouble at all. They barely exist in Africa, because man killed most of them; except the few kept in National Parks. And those dont allow cycling/camping.

Trouble is Malaria. Traffic. Buses and trucks.

I have been surrounded by hippos once while camping: http://global-goose.com/bad-idea-camp-near-african-waterhole/ and other smaller encounters. Like the croc mentioned in the title, but that was my fault. ;)

Mountains on my bucket list: seven summits. I've only done one of them, but next year want to do a second one. So yeah, in the end I want to climb Mt. Everest too. :)

Haha, most beautiful women... how could I even start comparing? :D

Vandergrif11 karma

How are you not dead?

Meph24828 karma

Dont discriminate against the dead, we have happy lives too.

jafeelz9 karma

What were your favorite experiences with animals and people?

Meph24841 karma

The hospitality by people, especially in poorer and/or more remote regions. It is such a vast gap between the indifference of the western world and the behaviour of most people in developing countries. Thats the one thing I'm glad of the most, experiencing human kindness.

Animals... street dogs that adopt you, while you hike. So often I spend days, long, hard days hiking in tough terrain, just to have some dog come along. I always wish I could take them with me.

I also fed hyenas, played with tiger cups, walked with cheetahs, but all that more exotic stuff feels a bit forced. Its for tourists, in Cat sanctuaries and such.

Chahles888 karma

Do you maintain a home/apartment? What do you do when you end a trip? Where do you go?

Meph24812 karma

I currently sub-rent a room in a shared apartment.

Most of my stuff is in my mothers basement though. ;)

Swimmy237 karma

Is there a specific moment from everything you have done that stands out most in your memories?

Meph24840 karma

They 11th of May 2007. The morning I left home, turning the key in the lock, thinking "I wont be here any time soon".

Dont regret that for a moment.

Imprisoned5 karma

What places are you planning to go next?

Meph24810 karma

Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and the Ivory Coast, in that order.

optigate5 karma

What luggage do you bring on your trips?

Meph2486 karma

Here two examples: Winter http://imgur.com/a/KLwb7 and Three-season http://imgur.com/a/p4iqq

cyan7165 karma

How was Venezuela?

Meph24816 karma

Strange place. There was a black market for the money changing, so I couldnt use credit card or banks, except if I wanted to pay twice as much.

The favelas are worse than in Brazil (at least it seemed to me that way), and the government is weird. But the people were friendly, I was there close to christmas and ended up in several peoples homes, because they kept inviting me in. :)

Oh, and gas prices are a joke, something like 2-3 cents for a liter... its just that my bike runs on calories. ;)

cyan7168 karma

Would you recommend going given the current situation?

Meph24819 karma

No.

ta7e3 karma

What's the one place in the world you would recommend everyone to go once and why?

Meph2487 karma

Already been asked. I did say Sudan or Iran, because people would see how kind and welcoming those cultures are.

BISCUITS-AND-MUSTARD5 karma

My wife and I have traveled a bit. When asked about my travels this is what I like to emphasize. Everyone everywhere are basically nice people. Egypt and Jordan, and Israel are the only middle eastern countries we've visited. It is the ONLY place (Egypt) that someone stood up and offered their seat in a train (I'm not old). There was many many times strangers showed great hospitality. We brought our daughter who was two at the time; family was furious. The only thing we had to watch out for was all the Muslim women KISSING her hand!

Meph2489 karma

Thats great to hear :)

When I first got to Cairo, I was totally overwhelmed. and the minibus dropped me off at the city edge.

A local man saw me, told me to come along... he paid for the mini-bus into the center; brought me to an internet cafe (that was 2008), helped me find a hostel; walked me there, made sure I had a room... when I offered him some money for everything he did, he didnt want to take any, wished me good luck and walked on.

Curiously enough, I managed to do the same for a lost tourist in Cairo many years later. I walked him to the same hostel and made sure that he has a room. Karma, and all. ;)

badf1nger2 karma

Why?

Meph2481 karma

For the glory of Satan of course.

BravoBuzzard2 karma

How do you afford to do any of that?

Meph2482 karma

Has been asked several times so far.

Evoloner2 karma

How much of your parents money have you spent so far?

Meph2483 karma

My mother gave me 1000€ once, when I first started. :)

anonuser4041 karma

1 horse sized dog or 100 dog sized horse?

Meph2487 karma

What happened to ducks? I'd take 100 duck-sized horses. You can stomp them.

[deleted]1 karma

[deleted]

Meph2482 karma

In the beginning it was the countries/sights that interested me the most; now the point "I havent been there yet" is more than enough. Not that many places left. ;)

I do read a lot about the countries, check the climate, maps, visa regulations, safety... look for flights or other forms of transport to get there, and then I plan the first few days, maybe 1-2 weeks in advance, but not more.

Then I go there, and start touring, making it up as I go. There are certainly some areas that are a lot more welcoming to travelers than others, so the level of preparation differs. For example you could drop me (or anyone else) off in Bangkok with no gear and $100 to buy necessities, and I'd be perfectly fine. On the other hand, try that with the Arctic or a desert, and it gets more tough.

CorkyBingBong1 karma

Guess you think you're pretty hot shit, eh?

Meph24812 karma

I do like myself, yes.