Thursday, April 7, 2016

Vince and Karen - the real riders!

Imagine you're travelling from London to Australia for your honeymoon... Of course you'd love to and there is no better way than doing so on a motorcycle... right? It certainly would be for me. But as we are in the 'imagine' phase now anyway, also imagine you're not an adventure girl... have never done any long distance overland motorcycle trips... love your luxury... are at an age where most would be thinking about a bigger caravan perhaps or even a motorhome... but instead are about to start a trip on the back of a motorcycle which will lead you through places like Iran, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia... In short, imagine you're on your honeymoon and seriously out of your comfort zone... recipe for disaster, right?

Most relationships break up during or shortly after the holidays. Mine broke up during our trip around the world. And, as we all know, things do go wrong. They usually tend not to work out as planned anyway but as Murphy's Law will tell you, they will go wrong too. Today was such a day. The person I described in the intro is Vince's better half called Karen. We have been travelling with them for quite a few months now as we are getting along very well. They are lovely people who truly appreciate and embrace the life they lead, see it as one big adventure and no matter what happens always look on the bright side (something I'm not always known for...). Karen and Vince are on their honeymoon, a honeymoon that almost didn't happen as Vince had a serious health scare just before they left... followed by the same for Karen! Just to give you an idea of how determined these two are: Karen left their home in Perth, Australia to ride on the back of a motorcycle from England to Australia, while still on chemotherapy... 

Vince survived a bad motorcycle accident in his 20s, which left him with a leg so badly broken that his foot ended up next to his head... Needless to say it's a wonder he's still alive, let alone able to ride a bike! But he does, and guess what he rides? The biggest adventure bike out there, the BMW1200GSA! He doesn't have any movement in his right ankle and thus has to lift his whole foot off the peg and onto the brake pedal to slow it down.

You'd think that would all be more than enough problems for one trip... but there's more. In Iran Karen had another visit to hospital to have a lump removed from her neck. In Pakistan they spend their first night inside a prisoners' interrogation camp... with all the sounds and discomforts that went with it. In India she had a health scare again which saw her go into hospital again for an operation. Their trip through India wasn't without its ups and downs and then in Thailand disaster struck again. Condensation in their tent meant the fly had to be hung out to dry, she slipped, fell and broke her arm in two places... more than 200 km away from a hospital that could operate on it. No ambulance available meant Vince took her on the back of the GSA to the hospital... with a double broken arm!

So, the trip was now surely over... nope, not for these two. They were determined as hell to continue! They weren't even cutting it short, not at all as they went north into Laos and continued through Cambodia. Vince is one of those always optimistic persons, maybe not always realistic but positive nonetheless :-) Karen, being well and truly out of her comfort zone, sometimes misses things from home, yet they both want nothing more than to keep traveling.

Back in Thailand the unimaginable happened... after cancer, chemotherapy on the road, being hospitalised in India and broken bones in Thailand, Karen received a phone call informing her that her son had died in a motorcycle accident... How much can one couple take? Obviously they put the trip on hold then and returned to Australia and obviously she vowed never to ride a bike again... But still the hardship didn't end: Karen's dad ended up in hospital with serious injuries shortly after... then Vince's mum died in hospital... and Vince's dad ended up in hospital too... like I wrote above how much can one cope with. But then their beloved BMW returned to Oz and needed to be picked up... and guess who rode it... and who was on the back seat? Yep, you've guessed it! These two are unbelievably strong. Forget the wheelie popping, corner sliding, dressed up like Darth Vader types: people like Vince and Karen are the real tough cookies in my book. They have a dream and even though they are in the dumps at the moment, they will be back on the road! It has been an absolute honour to be part of their lives and being able to travel with them!