The most important year in my life

Two years ago, I quit my job, bought a second hand bicycle, a tent and a sleeping bag and started to cycle from Rotterdam to Singapore. January 20, 2016 I arrived in Singapore. It took me a year. In this article I look back on the year of returning. Perhaps the most intensive year of my life.

2016 was intensive for several reasons. A year in which my biggest dream became reality. But more important a year in which back home reality hit in again. In March it was time to get used to a job, to a daily routine again after traveling for 12 months. And that’s how 2016 became a year of turmoil, because was I ever going to do something like this again? Could this be the year in which my life took that one and only adventurous peak?

Seven years ago I got into the idea of traveling. At that time I decided that I wanted to explore the world some day. The plan was to first finish my studies. In the time I got my degree, my wallet was completely empty. In two years I saved up almost 5,000 euros to experience a journey of at least six months. The travel plans changed with the years. From the idea to go backpacking in Australia I started to dream about hitchhiking in Asia. Until the moment that I started reading books from bicycle travelers. I realized that at least once in my life I would do something like that.

The up to date status of my bicycle - kinda challenging!

I gathered the courage and fixed a departure date (I think the most important thing I’ve done in my planning). February 2, 2015 was placed solid in my agenda for a half year long. And that date I departed from the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam to arrive in Singapore one year later on January 20, 2016. An intense experience. I was often mentally and physically challenged, especially when I got robbed twice in month in Iran.

But I got to say that the most remeberable moments were that moments of euphoria. Moments when I screamed over the mountain peaks, of joy, of happiness. My feelings always told me that this whole journey has been one of the best decisions of my entire life.

Enjoying being in nature

25 January I arrived at the airport in Amsterdam and was welcomed by family and friends. I was back, and damn, what next?

I didn’t know. I didn’t dare to think about it too much. I had no expectations. Two months later I rolled into a job, at the HipHopHuis in Rotterdam. It was immediately a job that fitted me perfectly. Soon all my time and energy I was putting into this new challenge. I didn’t have much time left to finish a book. A book? Yes, my resolution for 2016 was writing a book. I did wrote stories, many stories, but really shaping it into a book? No, it didn’t came that far.

Now, a year later, and steps further, little by little everything falls back in place. I got new energy. 2017 is the year that I want to put more time into this website and writing that long promised book. Many stories that I have written, I would like to share.

Also, there are some new adventure destinations on my wish list for 2017. I would love to pay a visit to Iran. The immense hospitality in this country made a big impression on me.

Our final amazing Iranian hospitality

I also think about a shorter bicycle journey in the Arctic Circle. Cycling in very cold but white snow landscapes would be a wonderful challenge for me.

What are your plans for 2017? Do you have any travel dreams? If you have, please share them below in the comment section!

Here you can read how I plan my year ahead.

Oh! Before I forget! If you’re living near Rotterdam or somewhere in Holland save Thursday, March 16th in your agenda. Along with fellow adventurer Erwin Zantinga I organize the Rotterdammer Adventure Night in WORM Rotterdam. Do you have adventurous travel experiences you want to share? Please contact us, because we are looking for do-it-yourself adventurers who are eager to tell stories about it!

I wish you all an adventurous 2017!

  • I hope you make it to Iran and the Artic Circle this year 🙂

    For my part, I’m planning to walk the West Highlands Way with a couple of friends in October. And this summer I’m hoping to travel from Lille in France to somewhere in Luxembourg with a longboard. This trip is not set in stone yet though… But if not this year, definitely 2018.
    And all year long, at least one local microadventure per month 🙂

    • Thanks Allysse 🙂 west highlands way looks like a really beautiful

    • That sounds like wonderful adventures. I was longboarding Scotland last year and sometimes regretted that I didn’t do it on foot. Walking you really can go off the grid and Scotland has some wonderful beautiful nature for that. And one local microadventure sounds too like a good idea. Erwin and I are planning one for the coming weeks. Maybe somewhere in the Veluwe.
      Thanks for the comment Allysse, and I hope that you’re gonna make it to Scotland and Luxembourg this year 🙂

  • violisteschrijft

    Helaas heb ik niet van die spannende plannen die ik je kan mededelen maar ik vind het erg leuk om te lezen wat jouw plannen zijn. Wow, fietsen in de poolcirkel!
    Ik geniet vooral van mijn eigen, veel kortere, fietstochten op mijn ebike. Elke week ga ik op de fiets van Kortenhoef (vlak bij Hilversum)n naar Utrecht en vind dat al heel stoer. Als ik terugga en er na mijn training in Utrecht nog wat energie in me zit, kies ik een leuke route terug. Dan kan zijn dat ik, na Utrecht achter me te hebben gelaten linksaf ga richting Maartensdijk en via Lage Vuursche terug ga of zoals gisteren, helemaal langs de vecht terug, zo’n 27 km. Een prachtige route waar ik erg van geniet. Ik vind fietsen een fantastische manier van bewegen. Je kunt zitten, bent toch in beweging en komt redelijk snel vooruit. Geweldig.
    Af en toe zit ik stiekem aan een racefiets te denken om dat eens te proberen. Lijkt me ook wel gaaf. Je ziet het, kleine dingetjes in mijn leven maar ik ben er blij mee en geniet er van. Op afstand geniet ik enorm van jouw belevingen en wat mij betreft kun jij niet snel genoeg weer op je fiets zitten in die poolcirkel zodat ik hier kan meegenieten.
    Veel plezier bij al je voorbereidingen.
    Vriendelijke groeten van Marianne

    • Wat leuk om te horen! Tijdens de Rotterdam Adventure Night gaat er iemand vertellen over een tocht naar Istanbul op een ebike.
      Dat vind ik fijn aan het zelfstandig avonturieren, je kan zelf je grens bepalen en voorzichtig verleggen. Tof dat je dat aan het doen bent.
      En heel leuk te horen dat je geniet van de verhalen die ik deel. Ik wens je veel fietsplezier toe! Wie weet komen we elkaar nog is tegen 🙂

  • Gea van putten

    Hoi Henk, als je nu komende weken nog de Veluwe op gaat en geen zin hebt om in een tentje te bivakkeren, ben je welkom bij mij thuis. Vorig jaar ben ik lid geworden van Warmshowers.org (via jouw website ben ik op deze superhandige community terecht gekomen). Je schrijft aanstekelijk en als ik het lees krijg ik gelijk zin om ook te vertrekken.

    • Wat een leuk aanbod! En dankjewel voor je compliment. Ik hou het zeker in mijn achterhoofd!