Adventurer conquers 12 000km cycling trip

Elred on a practice run in Cape Town, prior to his epic trip.

Eight countries, 12 000km, Elred Lawrence, 66, of Kirstenhof reached his goal of travelling from Singapore to Hong Kong on his trusty expedition bike, Bobbie, exactly eight months to the day that he began.

He arrived back to his Lente Street home where he has lived for 36 years with his wife, Maureen, and two children, Keith and Tarryn (who are now living in London), on Tuesday November 13.

In excellent health, although 24kg lighter, Elred sports a beard that will earn him the Father Christmas title of the year. His exciting travels have brought him into contact with locals and travellers from all over the world, adding 133 new good friends to his already burgeoning list of friends.

Elred cycled from Singapore through Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China ending in Hong Kong. “I loved every country and was privileged to meet delightful, friendly people, both local and travellers, that made my journey so amazing. Add to that, the incredible scenery, wonderful beaches, delicious food, and crazy cities. It was an absolute dream come true, one that was planned for several years,” said Elred.

He is an intrepid adventurer and along the way he qualified for his diving licence and embraced the Eastern food culture (cooking classes and tasting delicacies such as a
tarantula donut, insect skewer – washed down with beer) and went on a caving explora-

“One of his most humbling moments was volunteering at the ThaBarWa Meditation Centre in Yangon, Myanmar. I walked with the monks, barefoot, to collect alms. Pouring with rain, with the monks and volunteers walking in a straight line in silence for about two hours, carrying the silver bowl for money and traditional begging bowls. The locals poured out of their homes and shops and gave money and food, all with great respect and generosity. The food is blessed by the chief monk. It was an eye-opening experience,” said Elred.

Random acts of kindness were numerous
and overwhelming throughout the trip. The
first being Qatar Airways crew arranging a surprise good luck taste treat, compliments of the airline. And cycling through a town in Cambodia on a very hot day, a man on a scooter came up to him, handed him a bottle of water and said, “enjoy your trip” then buzzes off before he
could be thanked.

In Myanmar, Elred stopped for breakfast at a place that looked popular with the locals. When he realised that this was not actually a restaurant, but a celebration for the opening day of a store, the locals made him sit down, enjoy the meal and refused pay-
ment, saying it was a donation to him.

Elred said that Myanmar, as well as the other Asian countries he visited, are so deserving of their international reputation of the generosity of their people.

Elred said the online retirement lifestyle platform for South African over-60s, You’ve Earned It, was there to see him off and also welcomed him back. “They avidly followed my blog, written up regularly from all over the Far East,” said Elred.

Elred retired from Pick * Pay in 2011 and is self-employed, an independent electronic data interchange business process consultant.

* Marilyn Hallett is founder and editor of You’ve Earned It.

(Additional reporting by Karen Watkins).