The plan we had originally announced would follow Iran was to go north through Central Asia and the Stans then across China and down into South East Asia.
This was actually our Plan B. We had initially hoped to stay south through Pakistan and into India. It’s more direct, warmer and held more interest to us. However, we quickly ruled our Pakistan after speaking to other cyclists who had visited (they all said it was great but the asides about burnt out buses and the like told us it was beyond our safety threshold). Sadly, as it turns out based on recent events there, this was almost certainly the right decision.
I don’t think we’d given much thought to an alternative to Central Asia for cycling (take a look at a map and, if you rule out Afghanist as well as Pakistan then you’ll see the options east of Iran are limited). Indeed, if you are committed to cycle every mile and only using transport across water when absolutely necessary then there aren’t any.
However, I think we both realised that we would much rather visit India than China (and border issues makes it hard for this to be anything but an either/or choice) and would prefer a quick return to friends and familiarity in the Gulf (we lived in Oman for 6 months in 2010-11) than more winter hardship and austerity in Central Asia, not to mention the extra visa faff and expense of that route.
Many have told us that the Stans are fantastic. I have no doubt that they are – I loved my time in Kyrgyzstan ten years ago – but different people like different things and it’s not possible to fit everything into a single trip.
And so it is that we are taking a boat to Dubai with the intention of, most likely, cycling to Muscat and taking a plane to the west coast of India (a boat would be preferable but is not viable by the sounds of things).
Recommendations for places to go or routes to follow in northern India are most welcome. From there, the plan is much the same: through South East Asia, boat/plane to Australia and then a possible victory tour across the US.