Episode 016: Onion Adventure | Going on a 3-year Bike Tour and Returning Home with a Tiny House

In 2017 Vroni and Jonas flew to New Zealand having just finished university and looking to go on an adventure before having to fulfil society’s expectations of getting a job, buying a house and having kids. Originally planning to go to Australia, they decided that they may as well start in New Zealand, as it is so far away from everything that the chances of them flying there later were pretty slim. When reflecting on the first three months of their trip travelling around New Zealand, they said that at that time it still felt like a holiday and that they really loved that New Zealand had mountains, deserts, grasslands, etc. all within fairly close proximity to one another.

 The hardest roads are, in that moment, the one that you kind of hate, but in the end they are the best experiences.

Having previously spent some time in Australia, Vroni had a connection for work at a cattle station, so her and Jonas decided to go there and spend a couple months working and saving money, but in the end spent 3 months working there, before driving to Darwin and then starting to bike tour around the country through Western Australia and then through the south of the country and into Tasmania. They enjoyed their time so much that they decided to go back to Australia after bike touring through SE Asia in order to work a bit more at the cattle station. 

Their SE Asian tour took them through parts of Indonesia which were way off the beaten path. While most bike tourers cycle through Sumatra, Java and Bali, Vroni and Jonas decided to start in Bali and cycle East through Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Indonesian Timor, and finally Timor-Leste. Crossing into East Timor and being asked by the border guard why they would want to come there, and cycling through the south of the country on unpaved roads the entire way, seeing NGO’s in every single town working to keep the population education, fed and healthy, and having some of the stuff stolen by a young boy in the middle of the night make you realize that they truly did go somewhere so few people actually go. Following their adventures in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, Vroni and Jonas flew back to Bali and cycled to Jakarta before catching a flight to Kuala Lumpur and then doing a more “normal” tour through the remainder of SE Asia up to Vietnam before flying back to Australia to work a little more and wait out the winter, as they decided they wanted to cycle back to Germany from China. 

To start their trip home they flew to Hong Kong and applied for a visa, and somehow, luckily ended up getting issued a 60-day visa. Their advice is to say you are social media bloggers and that you want to spend as much time as possible in the beautiful country of China and hope you get more than 30 days. Similar to other bike tourers, they also said they used Booking.com to build an itinerary of places they would stay along the way, which they cancelled after printing out their confirmations. Cycling in China can be tough at times, as they told me that Chinese drivers rarely look when changing lanes, merging, etc, and that the rule seems to be that whomever has the biggest vehicle gets priority. They said that compared to the organized chaos that is driving in places like Cambodia and Vietnam, China’s chaos was not organized. Not to make China seem like a bad place to travel, as it has many wondrous places to visit and amazing food to eat, but there are a lot of police checkpoints as you cycle west towards Central Asia which start to get annoying very quickly. 

Vroni and Jonas cycled the Pamir Highway to get to Tajikistan, and said that it was so tough that at times they had to work together to push one bike to the top of a hill before going back to get another. Taking this into consideration, they were cycling with a friend they made named Daniel who was riding a bikepacking setup and they would recommend to anyone else to not use panniers but to use a lighter setup. Crossing into the Caucasus by boat allowed them to spend some time cycling a bit more off the beaten path in Georgia and to even go for a multi-day hike up into the mountains before taking another boat to Ukraine where they would meet up with Jonas’ brother. Since it was still the prime of summer, Vroni and Jonas were a bit tired of cycling in the hot hot weather, and opted to skip Turkey and save it for a future trip where it wasn’t the middle of summer. 

Choose the path you want to go everyday again and just do the things you think are the best ones in this moment. That’s not something that you can only do on a trip like this. This is actually the freedom you can live like anytime.

After spending a few days in Ukraine, they started cycling again towards Moldova, which gave them the opportunity to cycle through Transdniestria, a small portion of Eastern Moldova which has a separatist government and is funded and propped up by the Russian Federation. This is somewhere I had previously travelled through in 2007 and it was interesting to hear about their experience.

Reaching Romania, Vroni and Jonas decided to visit a tiny-house factory, as they had developed an interest in tiny houses and living a minimalist lifestyle throughout the previous 3 years. After some careful consideration, they decided to build it there and will then have it shipped to wherever they move in Germany. Three years on a bike and they will be coming home having travelled the entire time with the money they made in Australia, a wealth of experiences, a new mentality, and a house, albeit a tiny one. 

Cheers Vroni and Jonas. Keep on pedalling.

Chris

Follow Vroni and Jonas on their adventures at:

Show Notes

~ 30 sec       Intro to episode and Vroni and Jonas … aka … Onion Adventure
~ 7 min        Cycling in New Zealand; what bikes they are using; why Rohloff is amazing
~ 18 min      The “to clip or not to clip” debate; 
~ 22 min      Cycling Australia; work and travel; getting a car for free
~ 32m 30s   Cycling in Indonesia; cycling the small islands; using the bum gun
~ 41 min      Cycling in Timor-Leste (East Timor)
~ 52 min      Why they decided to cycle back to Germany from China; tips of “maybe” getting a 60-day visa
~ 56 min      What they loved and hated about China; cycling the famed Pamir Highway through Central Asia
~ 1h 6m       Cycling and hiking in Georgia; taking a boat to Ukraine and skipping Turkey
~ 1h 13m     Building a Tiny House in Romania
~ 1h 22m     How they’ve changed over the past three years
~ 1h 26m     What’s next for Onion Adventures???
~ 1h 29m     Concluding episode

 

About the Author
Traveller. Cyclist. Expat. Over 15 years experience living abroad in six different countries. I've travelled to over 40+ countries and met countless travellers, cyclists, and other expats. As a passionate cyclist I've had opportunities to bike tour in some truly amazing places. While definitely not an expert at bike touring, I'm passionate about sharing bike touring stories and helping others learn hacks, tricks, and techniques to improve their touring experience. I look forward to you joining me on this journey of learning about and becoming a better bike tourist.

2 comments on Episode 016: Onion Adventure | Going on a 3-year Bike Tour and Returning Home with a Tiny House

  1. Vroni says:

    It was really great talking to you. Text and photos are also pretty cool :).

    1. Chris says:

      It was really great to talk with you as well. Hope things are going well with the house build.

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