On 24 June and 26 September 2014, we reported on the progress of Daniel Schwerzmann who is cycling from Switzerland to Hong Kong on an amazing adventure to raise funds for Positive Steps! Daniel is making great progress on this incredible personal challenge, which is a journey of around 10,000 km, in which he will be travelling through Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Thailand, Vietnam and China!
Daniel’s Blog – 19th November 2014
“I left the Ukraine with good memories behind and flew over the Black Sea to continue my trip in Georgia. This is the home nation of Stalin, therefore I visited quite a few historic sites of World War II. Only a few people know that Georgia possess one of the world’s oldest vineyards and wine-making is an ancient tradition there. A fact, which I appreciated almost every night when sipping a glass of wine with my dinner.
Georgians are very friendly and traditional people and through all the places I rode, I was greeted heartily, often even stopped and interrogated about my travels. In restaurants I rarely ate solely and people would invite me to their table and even pay for my meal. A custom to which as a Northern European wasn’t used to at all. Actually, the trickiest part was leaving the country or rather trying to cross the border to the next! As I was ahead of schedule I wanted to enter Azerbaijan a few days early, meaning a few days before my visa was valid. The first border crossing was closed and terminated in a dead end. At the second checkpoint the Georgian customs officer wouldn’t let me leave the country with the words “What do you want in Azerbaijan?! Stay a few more days in Georgia! It’s more beautiful anyway!” And behind the officer was a sign saying “Good luck!”
Eventually, I was able to enter the Muslim country 4 days later, once my visa was officially valid. In Baku, where the Eurovision Song Contest was held 2 years ago, I stayed four days with local people. Again they were lovely and very hospitable. The mother of the family I stayed with still sends me text messages even though she hardly speaks English. In Azerbaijan the current president is omnipresent. He self-aggrandises with huge monuments and statues of himself and by perpetuating his name on every other building, street or poster. This is, too, something very strange to a Westerner.
Two weeks later I reached Iran, the country I was looking forward to most before I started my trip. It is still a politically controversial country and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But to put it in a nutshell: Iran is the one country I would instantly visit again! I met outstanding and generous people proud to be Iranian who shared their homes, beds, meals and customs with me. I was introduced to religious rituals and was able to attend prayers at the mosque. The highlight consisted of a night in the mountains with four local men sharing a small shelter and roasting half a lamb over an open fire. Never had I seen such a starlit sky before, not even in the outback of Australia. Teheran, the capital, was very liberal-minded and behind closed doors I was offered the occasional glass of liquor and women wore their hijabs more in a decorating way than actually in a covering way. To sum it up, I enjoyed my stay in Iran very much and made many new friends. But it was too quickly time to say good-bye and to now turn my attention to Asia.
After 3 months in the saddle, I made my way from Teheran to Bangkok by air. Currently, I am enjoying a 2.5 week cycle break travelling around the south of Thailand together with my girlfriend Daniela. The bike is safely locked up in Bangkok waiting to hit the road again and to explore Southeast Asia.
I arrived in Thailand having cycled 4777km through eleven countries!! And, I am proud to say that donations have risen up to £1500* by now!!”
See below the amazing photographs that Daniel has sent showing some of his adventures…
At the recent Positive Steps fundraising event on 22nd November, we presented a display outlining Daniel’s trip and invited donations to PS in support of his achievement … this raised a further £59 for Positive Steps on the night and shows how impressed we all are!
You can follow Daniel on his blog www.stan-goes-to-hong-kong.ch, where you can read much more about Daniel’s idea and his dream. Even though the website is in German, you can follow him on his way to Hong Kong – visualised by a map (select the ‘Karte’ tab) and also many pictures in the gallery.
And … it’s not too late to support him … with comments, a personal email to email@example.com or a donation of pp/km (pence per kilometre).
*Half of the total raised by Daniel will be donated to Positive Steps … Thank you Daniel for continuing to support Positive Steps in this way!