The 25 most impressive portraits of my bicycle journey from Rotterdam to Singapore

Portraits of people. People who live in Europe or Asia. Men, women, children and families. In different countries. With different lifestyles. A collection of photos that I took during my bicycle journey from Rotterdam to Singapore.

1. The Bulgarian grandma

Local farmer in eastern Bulgaria mountains

I encountered this elderly lady in eastern Bulgaria. In the mountains she walked around with her small herd of cows.

2. The welcoming gentlemen

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

These gentlemen came to save me in my tent when I had to spare some money while I was waiting for an Iranian visa in Trabzon in Turkey. I got a place to sleep, breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I had to move on they even gave me some money for on the road. One of the most special moments of my journey.

3. The armed farmer

Turkish farmer

At first I was shocked. Where does he need a shotgun for? It was a farmer and in this way he protected his cattle and occasionally he killed one of his sheeps to take it home for dinner. 

4. The hurried boy

Portrait of a Georgian boy

In Georgia, I met this littl guy. He was in a hurry because he was late for school. He ran with me while I was cycling and sweating from a mountain climb on a stony road.

5. The helpful man

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

I met this man in Armenia. I asked him for some water. He brought me to his home and I was offered a cup of coffee and his mother gave me a bag full of food for on the road.

6. The soldier

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

100 years ago the Armenian Genocide took place. The border between Armenia and Turkey is still closed because of that. This old soldier holds a monument created as a memory to this cruel time.

7. The street vendor

Portrait of an Armenian street vendor

He tried to sell me a weird looking and smelly chewing gum. Successfully. It became the most expensive chewing gum of my entire journey.

8. The man on a horse

More amazing Armenia

An interesting appearance in Armenia. I ran after him for a picture. An adventurous man. Many Armenians still are using a horse as transportation.

9. The street artist

Streets artist in Tehran

Earn money with passion. This street artist was playing like crazy with his violin and sweated forehead. Even in the evenings it was still almost 30 degrees in Tehran.

10. The Persian kids

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

While their parents were praying in the mosque they asked me to take a photo from them. These children in Tehran, the capital of Iran were running around at one of the largest mosques in the city, the Imam Zadeh Saleh.

11. The signposts

Persian boys beside the road

They were holding signposts for cars probably to earn some pocket money from their dad. I gave them a little bit money which they proudly showed to their father.

12. A Turkmen family

Family in Turkmenistan

When I joined Ritzo who cycled on clogs, we cycled through the desert of Turkmenistan. We met this family. We could not talk to them but they made clear that we could take a photo. Many women in Turkmenistan wear beautiful dresses like this.

13. The roguish mother

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

She smiled at me cheerfully at a local market in Uzbekistan. I did not dare to buy her food because of stomach problems. Women like this make a day like this cozy while talking and joking to their friends. All day while they are selling tasty food on the market.

14. A lovely young lady

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

She sold bread but for us she made a special bread with the letters love. She giggled with her friends to our appearance. People in Uzbekistan are friendly and generous.

15. The little cowboy

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

Cute with his big brothers, he was riding around. Not in a buggy, no, with a donkey in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. I later tried to do this as well but I felt a bit too heavy for the donkey.

16. The staring nomad

Little lid on donkey

With few words he stood beside me when I was pitching my tent for the night. He stared in fascination at my tent while his white nomad tent was standing strong a mile away.

17. The man with the hat

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

With my camera, I went hunting in the city of Kashgar in western China. This man walked on the market at the Id Kah mosque in the center of this big city.

18. The watermelon sellers

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

They ate their watermelon secretly themself. After the picture I was allowed to eat with them. In the dry landscapes where the Uyghurs live they eat a lot of watermelon.

19. An Uyghur farmer

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

An Uyghur farmer in one of the little villages in the Taklamakan desert in China. Shortly after this picture I was arrested by the Chinese authorities who wanted to check whether I was a journalist or not.

20. The Tibetan boy

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

This Tibetan boy I gave my necklace. He looks cute but he was a smart liitle boy. He helped to pitch my tent and his mother made yak tea for me. I slept next to their nomad tent in my own tent.

21. The biker

Portraits - bicycle journey Rotterdam to Singapore

A staring Tibetan boy on his motorbike. The motorbike is a vehicle which a lot of Tibetan nomad people use to go from town to town.  

22. A Tibetan family

Tibetan woman and kids

A cheerful woman with her grandchildren on the Tibetan plateau. Tibetans wear colorful clothes.

23. The Chinese grandma

Ninety year old Chinese granny dressed traditionally

A Chinese grandmother still in traditional clothing. She proudly told me with hand gestures that she had already passed the age of 90.

24. The workers

Children and their mothers working with corn in a village in Laos

A photo I took in Laos. Children working and playing with corn. People in Laos generally live with very little. Nonetheless they are really friendly to the ‘rich’ western guests. “Sabai dee! Sabai dee!”

25. The Thai cook

Market lady giving me a omelet out of generosity

In Thailand a lot of things are possible. A restaurant you just start with a cart. Customers will come and eat anyway.

  • Bert

    Mooi Henk,al die herinneringen. Enkele ervan herken ik nog 😉

    • Dank je wel voor je reactie! En leuk! Ik heb idd een aantal ook gebruikt in de blogs die ik het afgelopen jaar geschreven heb.

  • Jan Makker

    bedankt Henk, bewaar ‘t goede en het mooie!

    • Komt zeker nog meer aan! Leuk dat je die jongens van wegen van de wereld ook volgt. Ik vind dat hij leuk schrijft

      • Jan Makker

        ja, ik geniet ook van die schrijfstijl en de taalvondsten

  • Ron Stoltz

    Mooie foto’s van prachtige unieke mensen! Tijdens je reis heb ik je gevolgd en genoten van je verslagen en je foto’s. Bedankt en Chapeau!

  • krishnaive

    Mooie collectie Hanks. Foto 17 is veruit mijn favoriet, knap vastgelegd!