Having originally moved to Vietnam for work, Thibault was fortunate and met Lea through mutual friends. Unlike many expats, Thibault felt a desire to give back to the community and country in which he was living and started to do some volunteer work with the NGO Poussieres de Vie. This NGO works to provide children in Vietnam and chance to a better future, through education and by enabling their families.
Having previously done a 4000km tour in Europe with his brother, Thibault always had the idea, mindset and desire to do another bike tour. Luckily, Lea also shared Thibault’s joy for adventure, and only had to focus on convincing her family that a bike tour as a fundraising activity was a good idea.
For us the non la represents all the values of the Vietnamese farmers, like, hard-wording, endurance and solidarity with others if you want to be successful.
After building up their bikes with traditional bike touring equipment it was time to figure out exactly what gear they should bring. Luckily, with Thibault’s previous bike touring experience and after reading ample blogs and resources, they managed to pack just the necessary things and don’t feel that they overpacked at all.
The decision to cycle from Europe to Vietnam was well thought-out by Thibault, as he knew Lea would need time to get accustomed to bike touring and that European roads are generally flatter with lots of bike paths, food spots, and ample locations for camping, both wild and paid. As the tour proceeded, they would slowly be pushed into more challenging environments, overcoming the mountainous regions of Asia.
Although they had planned their route, there is always a level of flexibility that must be taken into account. While most cyclists spend lots of time cycling through Turkey and really making the most out of this country, Thibault and Lea had to give it a pass due to passport related issues. In order for Lea to go into Turkey, they would have had to fly in and they would have been limited to a 1 month visa. In the end, they decided to give it a pass and take a boat from Bulgaria to Georgia, where they then cycled through Georgia and Azerbaijan before entering Iran.
After arriving in Iran, and being immersed in a country filled with such loving and giving people, Thibault and Lea decided to extend the length of their Iranian journey and to cycle all the way down to the south of the country, before making their way to India, and then cycling east towards Vietnam, rather than making their way up through the stans and into China.
For the Indian portion of their trip, they were a little apprehensive as they had heard and read about stories of cycle tourists being attacked at night, particularly incidents against women. Luckily for them, for this portion of the trip, Thibault’s brother came out for a month of cycling up through Northern India and into Nepal, allowing for an extra measure of comfort and security. After a month cycling through India to Nepal and then across Nepal, it was time for Thibault and Lea to go back into India and ride through the North-East towards Myanmar. As with many other tourists, it was at this point that they got comfortable and stopped being as careful with what they ate and Lea got a real bad case of food poisoning, forcing them to take a few days off the bike for her to rest and recuperate. Luckily, the goodness of the Indian people was again proven and the doctor at a local clinic gave them his room and they spend the next few days getting to know their hosts.
Having now passed through North-eastern India, through Myanmar and into Thailand, they are nearing the end of the trip, and it is starting to feel much more like home is just around the corner. They have now cycled across Thailand and are heading north from Vientiane to Luang Prabang.
To find out more about their project, NGO and their journey, you can click the links below to go to their social media and website.
Cheers Thibault and Lea.
Keep on pedalling.
Follow Thibault and Lea on their adventures at:
~ 01 min Intro to Episode 25 with Thibault and Lea and how they started fundraising for the Poussières de Vie NGO
~ 06 min Getting ready for the tour and getting her family on board
~ 08m 30s What is the Non La Project and all about their bikes
~ 13m 30s Three favourite things in their bags
~ 17m 20s Why cycle from France to Vietnam and cycling in Europe
~ 30 min Why they didn’t go to Turkey and cycling in Georgia and Azerbaijan
~ 37m 30s Cycling in Iran and their amazing first days, challenges, and the Qashqai People
~ 50 min Cycling in India and food poisoning
~ 59 min Route through Myanmar and advice of how to stay in temples
~ 1h 4m What is Poussières de Vie
~ 1h 6m Dangerous situations they encountered
~ 1h 14m Challenges of cycling as a married couple and what’s next for them
~ 1h 19m Where people find out more about them
~ 1h 20m Next episode … Adam Hugill