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Author Topic: Social Rehabilitation (and bike touring burnout)  (Read 1057 times)

On Two Wheels

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Social Rehabilitation (and bike touring burnout)
« on: November 28, 2010, 12:35:17 AM »
I've been on the road for 232 days now, and I think I've lost the ability to socialise properly.

It's been a long time since having a proper conversation without using sign language or broken english. This morning, I took a short walk around (45 minutes) the locales of the guesthouse I'm staying at in Bangkok, and it dawned on me that I am absolutely, 100% truely alone in my journey.

I saw many people, but the nerve to go up to them and trying to start a conversation (without asking for directions, where to buy food or water) was beyond me.

Have any other long distance / long term travellers suffered this syndrome? How did you over come it?

Even as I read this back to myself it comes across as merely having the chance to say something as opposed to saying something interesting or constructive. Have I turned into a sad lonley old man, but still content with my cycling?
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 08:52:23 AM by Stephane »
You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us, And we can cycle the world as one.

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world...

Stephane

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Re: Social Rehabilitation
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2010, 08:51:57 AM »
Hi there,

Perhaps you are referring to as to what Amaya referred as to "bicycle touring burnout" in her blog - http://www.worldbiking.info. At least for me, the feeling of becoming "socially disabled"  was one of the feeling I had when "bike touring burnout" striked me after spending several years on the road. This is part of the email I sent to Amaya in response to her post, perhaps you'll find some answers in it (she is the one who suggested to share this email with the bicycle touring community):

"... I read that you are feeling a little down lately, and there is not much that I can do to help you in this regard ... but I can tell you that I know the feeling of bike touring burnout.

Although my wife and I didn't cover the distance you guys did, we still traveled for 5 years. Our last countries were NZ, Australia and USA. And by the time we reached Australia, I was really starting to feel like I had enough of it. Everything seemed far away (even the next town), everything felt like boring and meaningless.

And yet, unlike you guys,  we were in the comfort of western countries. Nice roads, comfortable home to welcome us, warm showers, you name it. At the time I thought I was just missing traveling in Asia and that maybe traveling in developed countries didn't satisfy my thirst of traveling and exploring anymore.

Later on, I realized that the burn out mostly came from the length of time spent on the road. We live in the open on our bike but when you think about it, it is also living like hermits. Family, friends, roots, anything familiar are far away; the only social contact we really have is the one we travel with (solo travelers are on their own!). Everything else, every encounters are ephemeral. Strong, exciting, beautiful maybe, but ephemeral.

Anyway, we were there sitting in Australia and I was looking at the map of USA, the next and last country we planned to cross. It was totally depressing. I was thinking this is going to be so boring, soooo long, crossing Texas is going to be painful, and for what? maybe we should stop now. But I tried to ignore my feelings just like you are probably doing now, and we flew to LA.

I don't know what it was, maybe just the change of scenery, maybe the friendliness of the southern people in the US, the month off we took at a friend's house in LA, the desert (I love deserts)... probably a mix of all of this but all my bad feeling went away rather quickly and the USA became one of my favorite country to cross and I don't regret any of it nor I regret to not have given up when I felt like it. I think when you hit the bottom, going to somewhere different might help. A "cozy" break might be good too.

I don't know if you guys did any long trip before but when you will end it, let me tell you that you are going to miss every seconds of your trip even the miserable one. You will be SO happy that you never gave up during your trip. Don't forget that many more wonderful moments are waiting ahead of you. Those magical moments that give so much sense to travel.

If today you didn't see or feel these little things that make every day special; keep going, keep looking, tomorrow you'll find it! ..."


I truly believe that "bike touring burnout" really affects your social ability just like feeling a bit depressed back home affects you relationship with others. My best advice is to clear your mind, take a break off the road, spend a few more bucks and get a nice room in BKK, spent a couple hours on Skype with your friends and family at home, change scenery and in no time you'll be feeling much better and next thing you'll know you'll be back feeling yourself and having fun hanging out with people who have the same culture and language than you.

Stephane
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 12:07:39 PM by Stephane »
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On Two Wheels

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Re: Social Rehabilitation (and bike touring burnout)
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2010, 11:36:39 AM »
Ya know, when I first posted this here, I was reluctant to leave it going, I wanted to delete the whole post and say 'what the heck, just buck up you sad person', but I left it here.

Stephane, I'm glad I left it, and I'm glad you replied.  It just proves to me that I am still rational, and that I am still thinking clearly. If I were able to notice the signs, then I am too able to overcome the situation. Thank you most sincerely for showing me that I am experiancing something that is a known complaint within our circle of friends.

.
You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us, And we can cycle the world as one.

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world...

petervanglabbeek

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Re: Social Rehabilitation (and bike touring burnout)
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2010, 06:56:17 AM »
I also experienced a similar period in Thailand and Bangkok. I didn't call it a burn out. I just didn't like Thailand. I decided to fly to Australia and became very happy again.

I have another idea for you too. Do a Vipassana 10-day meditation course. There are a few centers in Thailand. It is an amazing experience that well definitely change your view on life. After it you will appreciate that time that you spend alone and in silence much more.

Peter
Peter van Glabbeek