Vietnam to UK

Where The Hippie Trail Meets The Silk Road

The Hippie That Cycled Home is a spiritual adventure. This is the story of Eastern Mysticism meets Western Conformity.

Stepping out of the traditional path of money – success – marriage, this story is about one mans’ struggle with convention, his escape by bike and subsequent awakening.

We first meet James and Rose during the easy London days; James working the 9-5 salesman gig, the relentless craft beer and dinner parties, and ultimately, the failed attempts to persuade an unwilling girlfriend to join a round-the-world bike trip.

After this initial detailing of the conformity of life in the West, the story arc follows the three Bigs; The Big Buddhist Culture Shock, The Big Indian Spirituality, and The Big Nature. These three Bigs are the major geographic and cultural backdrops in which the story develops, expands and peaks; South East Asia, India & Nepal, Central Asia.

Cycling from London to Istanbul, the pain of the break-up with Rose is soothed along the dry, dusty, sun-soaked Croatian coast. The road is full of wonderful moments, simple acts of kindness and generous hospitality. As the kilometres stack up the suffering abates. It’s the height of the Greek financial crisis; a Greek motorist stuffs 20 Euro into my palm. A year later a Greek trucker attempts to rob my entire belongings.

Scrapping his initial London – China trip, James hatches a new plan with his ex-girlfriend to travel together overland from Vietnam to the UK, taking a flight from Istanbul to Hanoi – the adventure starts anew. Mutual intentions go awry and the bust-up in North Vietnam hints at finality. The ‘will they won’t they’ narrative is an epic – a decade in the making.

In Bangkok, James is joined by John, an old friend and cycle touring newbie, and they traverse the foothills of the Himalayas in winter, meet Christian convert former Animists, spend a week with the headhunters of Nagaland and escape with just enough sanity to continue on.

Having found Vipassana mediation in India, through a beautiful sequence of coincidences; recommendation from Rosie to try this technique, a chance meeting with an old friend at the Burmese Embassy, and decisive intervention by Roses best friend; James sits a ten-day silent retreat in Kolkata and this becomes a tipping point in the spiritual and physical journey; a metamorphosis from Sales Wanker to Spiritual Being.

The long journey home is still full of challenges, particularly the Big Nature of the High Pamir, but the Big Change has come and James sees things from a different perspective; he’s climbed his metaphorical Everest (actually Annapurna circuit); people are good and the world is safe. Sudden death in the family ends the trip prematurely. Can the Wisdom of the East prove successful in these dark times?

The Hippie That Cycled Home: