Getting Nowhere: Polish couple bikes aimlessly around the world

Posted: Oct 28, 2013 10:56 am EDT

(Markian Hawryluk) When last ExplorersWeb caught up with Polish couple Ania Poltorak and Mateusz Emeschajmer they were in Tehran, just a few months into their bicycle journey aptly named Getting Nowhere. Now 18 months into their adventure, they have seemingly been everywhere.


We touched base with Ania and Mat in India for an update on their travels.


You’ve been on the road now for 18 months now. Does it get easier or harder the longer you go?


Being on the road for so long made a lot of changes to our life. It is definitely easier body-wise - we have lost some weight, gained strength, our joints and muscles are now used to hard and long uphills and we don't get tired so easily anymore. We have much more confidence than at the beginning. When we enter a new country we need only 2 to 3 days to adapt and we are less distanced. We crossed quite a lot of borders and applied for some of the hardest visas to get and now we know all the procedures, so we do quite a lot of things automatically.


Our daily life is full of outdoor routines - in Central Asia and Ladakh we lived in the remote areas where we used to cook, eat, wash our clothes - all in the nature. As a couple - we spend 99.99% of the time together, so we argue a lot about small things. But being together for so long and so intensively tested and reinforced our relationship thoroughly, so now it would be very difficult for both of us to travel separately. We miss our families and friends more and more and this is definitely a hard part of traveling for so long.


We also feel, that our life is completely different from the lives of our folks and it will be probably impossible to be fully back one day. We also realized that we became very picky - regarding the food, landscapes, tourist attractions. We have seen and done so much in Asia that it is not so easy to impress us. We do not like that fact and we miss the times when we were still "fresh".


Has the vision or goal of your adventure changed from what you originally envisioned?


From the beginning we were sure that we did not want to have a fixed plan or destination. We knew that we wanted to follow the former Silk Road and get to China, but did not plan a detailed route. Our website is called Getting Nowhere and when you check out our route and some blog entries, you could have an impression that we are getting further and further away from the concept of having a destination or a goal - and this is definitely good! This will never be different, we will always search for new adventures on our way!


Setting off for this epic journey we knew from the beginning that we will change and develop ourselves, learn and observe the world around. We feel that we changed a lot already, but we still want to know more, see more and experience the joy of traveling as long as it would be possible. We value our freedom very much and we believe that our way of traveling (by bicycle) is the best and most liberated kind of discovering the world.


However, we would like to remain free also from the idea of cycling itself - we would have no problem doing it in a different way just to try, for example living on a boat, sailing, might be a nice, new experience. What did change though, is the way we look at our journey now. At the moment it is rather a series of adventures, deeply connected with each other but with its own specifics and atmosphere, so different from each other, that they live their own life in our memory.


How are you resupplying along the way?


We buy mostly local food, we usually eat in cheap local restaurants (since China we only cook in the mountains or other remote areas). It is difficult to find nutritious products in some places - we have lost weight (especially Mat) due to a poor diet and the lack of proteins during some of the hardest days on high altitudes.


When some of our equipment breaks, we write an e-mail to the producer and in most cases they are willing to help us. Either they provide us with a replacement that is being sent to our parents' address, or we are being served by a local distributor. We bought top of the shelf equipment for this adventure - that means good post-consumer service.


Also our parents send parcels from time to time, with spare parts or replacements, protein powder and European chocolate. We were visited by Anna's parents in Thailand. They brought a lot of things for us - almost a full suitcase filled up with different bicycle parts, outdoor equipment, clothes and snacks! We do the same the other way around - we send some things back home, mostly souvenirs or stuff that we do not need anymore. When we see nice, local artifacts we buy them as a reminder of our journey.



What lessons have you learned about the gear to take on such a long ride?


For sure buying the best quality bike components and outdoor equipment pays off. Our bicycles survived some of the roughest roads you could imagine, flew twice with us, went through deserts, jungles and very high mountains and all we had to do was to fix a punctured tube every couple of months and put a bit of oil here and there. Otherwise - nothing broke, not even a single spoke. The only over-invested part of our equipment are the everyday clothes that we wear while cycling.


Merino T-shirts and expensive, light outdoor pants do not last long when exposed to sweat, dust and UV light. Besides that we think that we made a good decision and bought the right things. If we had a bit more time to prepare however, we would have made more of our gear by ourselves. We made some pieces at home before the trip and almost all of them serve us well till now.

What do you miss?


Apart from the family and friends we miss small things, everyday things that we had and used before the trip and which are taken for granted by most of the people: a full fridge, a blender to prepare delicious soups and shakes, a desktop computer to edit pictures, a stable Wi-Fi connection. A big dream of ours is to have a workshop to tune the bikes, make outdoor equipment, design new pieces of our adventure kit and create whatever we want or need.


We spend quite some time in Norway and we would like to be back there one day. The nature and the way people appreciate and use it is special. We miss Europe, with its charm of a daily life, beautiful cities and great food! We have so many plans for numerous small adventures here and there that if we return, we could cycle in Europe for two years. What we do not miss is to wait for the weekend to come - our life is a never-ending Saturday.


Part 2, continued here... 



It's about the road, not the bike, they say. And the goal is not on a map. Thus the expedition name. With global economy in the toilet, after University the couple decided to skirt bleak outlooks of a job and hit the pavement instead. "I wanted to travel," Mat said. "I never lived a predictable life and didn't want to either."
Caming in Alborz, a mountain range in northern Iran along borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia.
courtesy, SOURCE
The Getting Nowhere route
courtesy, SOURCE
Mat and Ania climb Khardung La in the Ladakh region of the Karakorum. At an= elevation of 18,379 ft, the route is the world=92s highest motorable road.
courtesy, SOURCE
Lunchtime in Kinnaur, India
courtesy, SOURCE
Gear tightly packed for transport
courtesy, SOURCE