This will be one of those very odd posts on The Spoken that don’t actually feature a bicycle. Unless you look very closely for it. Alex Hotchins is a Melbourne-based illustrator that, along with her best friend, rode her bike from Scotland to Cambodia — 17,000kms — and created these images to describe her journey.
Alex has been commissioned by plenty of cafes and restaurants, an architectural firm and even Emirates, but her globe-trotting trek must’ve been her biggest challenge yet. Upon her return, she compiled her memories into a series of drawings that was, for her, the best way of describing her adventure. Alex tells us more about each passage:
“Not so long ago I went on a big bicycle ride. I just rode out into the world with my best friend and some sort of vague plan — we ended up riding almost halfway around the world from Scotland to Cambodia. On returning we carried so many stories — our own and those of the characters we met along the way who had generously shared theirs.
“This collection of all these stories made us braver. But stories are meant to be shared. It’s not easy to explain the kind of life changing experience being thrust out into the unknown and unexpected on a bicycle can have on you. I really struggled to do it justice in words and photos so I set out to draw it.
In Istanbul it Snows Almost Every Day — Turkey
We decide to wait out a bit of winter before heading east on our bikes. We live above a man in a magic wonderland shop, in a street named after a Bulgarian prince. Every day, we make art to the sound of dancing on the roof. After many weeks and so many stories, we’ve fallen in love with a city and we consider staying, but we have a precious Iranian visa so depart we must. The night before leaving, under the cover of snow, we hang our art in the streets of Istanbul.
A World of Colour — Uzbekistan
It is here we enter a world adorned with spectacular color and texture. We ride the famed Golden Road to Samarqand. It is punctuated with bone-rattling potholes but Samarqand really was golden and took our breath away. You can almost hear the sounds of Marco Polo and Genghis Khan whispering through the walls. It’s that magic.
Yurts Silently Puff — Kyrgyzstan
We nearly don’t make it into Kyrgyzstan. At the isolated Tajik border crossing, corrupt guards threaten prison because of a missing passport stamp. You can’t outrun dogs and guns on a bicycle so we pay a bribe for freedom. On the other side, a magic descent welcomes us and all around the yurts silently puff while horses run free.
There’s an Orchestra in the Cambodian Jungle — Cambodia
In Cambodia, we wake to the sound of one of the last great hornbills. He lives above a jungle of orchestras. The day before that we meet Big Red next to a 1000-year-old temple.
Head to Alex’s website to see more of her work and to purchase her book, ‘Borderless’.