'To those who, by the dint of the glass and vapour, Discover stars, and sail in the wind's eye' - Lord Byron
Starting from December '07 I will be cycling from Philippines to Hong Kong (where I was born and raised) via Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China. The total length travelled will be at least 7000km over a 6 month period (want to take in the sights too)!
I will have a companion in my friend Lloyd, who has been volunteering with the Peace Corps out in the Philippines for the past 3 years. I eagerly snapped up the opportunity it presented, as it allowed me to have a couple of awesome trips; to see sights that would have otherwise been overlooked and really sumberge myself in the Philippino way of life. You can check out his blog about the great work he is doing and his awesome adventures at http://www.lloydbanwart.blogspot.com/ - if you are planning a trip out there it would prove very fruitful to do so. Lloyd has been very active in his cycling recently and I have some training to do if I hope to keep pace!
Whilst I hope to have an awesome time on this trip, I will also be using it as medium to raise awareness of bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depression. I was recently diagnosed with this illness after 12 years of seeing various health professionals and receiving various incorrect diagnoses. Unfortunately, this is a typical problem amongst people with bipolar and a correct diagnosis is not often made until a severe and destructive episode occurs. This can be several years after the first symptoms present themselves.
I was not even aware of bipolar or its symptoms until I saw the recent Stephen Fry documentary that Rethink helped to produce. I was extremely reluctant to admit to myself and others that I had a long-term mental illness, particularly since it had destroyed nearly everything I cared about. But once I became aware of the illness and its symptoms, I began to seek the right kind of help and am now riding the rocky road to recovery; this trip is part of that process.
I will also be raising funds for the leading mental health membership charity, Rethink. They do tremendous work in an area where there is so much neglect, helping people with severe mental illness recover a better quality of life.
Tom Griffiths, the founder of this awesome website, is lending hand with his expertise and experience and I have found his advice very useful - see the Trusts and Grants section for ideas http://www.gapyear.com/fundraising/trusts_and_grants.html.
I am passionate about tackling social issues and this passion is rivaled only by my love of travel and this trip will unite these two passions! I will be writing regular blogs with updates, retrospection and anything else that seems worthwhile!
If you are feeling generous and would like to make a donation to Rethink check out www.justgiving.com/icaruscycles - all donations will be gratefully received!