Antarctica and Magic Letters

Hong Kong:   In my countdown to round two in Europe I have also been finalizing a November expedition to Antarctica — without the bike, but with a kayak.  It’s been a chaotic and at times a surreal experience contemplating a visit to the polar region in sweltering Hong Kong heat while trying to prepare for the more pressing two-wheel expedition through southeastern Europe.   This feels like multitasking on steroids.

I am definitely trying to get every ounce of satisfaction and experience out of this sabbatical and my F U (Fabulously Unemployed) life.  Antarctica is a big Bucket List item, an aspiration I have deferred for many years.  It also ties to my Go Green campaign, though admittedly my traveling to Antarctica isn’t very green.

But what’s really on my mind right now is tying together the loose ends for Europe.   I have been picking up various supplies (e.g. replacement tires, energy gels)  while micro planning the first stage of my expedition next week.

One of the tricks I’ve learned from other long distance cyclists is the power of The Magic Letter, a simple written explanation of the expedition when verbal communication fails.  In Western Europe I could get by with some combination of English, French and German.  My French and German are far from elegant, but I managed to express myself. On this second leg I expect language to be a much larger barrier.

This is my Magic Letter.  I hope I don’t have to use it, especially the last sentence about pitching tents in fields.  But just in case…..

Hello!  My name is Todd Miller.  I am a father of a 7-year old son and live in Hong Kong.  My mission is to cycle around the world one continent at a time, for Asian children’s charities.  Last summer I cycled 6,000 km across the  United States.    This year I am cycling more than 6,000 km across Europe.   I started in Lisbon, Portugal  on June 5
and plan to reach Istanbul, Turkey by the end of October, 2011.   

This adventure is to help disadvantaged children in Asia.  Last year I was able to raise
funds for a Cambodian children’s charity, and this year I am raising money for
a Thai children’s charity.   The charities provide these deserving kids with a good education so they can lead productive lives free of poverty. 

I am excited to ride across your country and to see it at a slow bicycle pace.   I apologize that I do not speak your language, but I am trying to learn a few words. 

I hope that you can help my journey to continue safely and happily. By assisting me, you are also helping the hundreds of kids that my adventure assists. 

When I get home I will write a book about my cycling journey.  I look forward to telling the people in America and in Asia about the safe and exciting times that I enjoyed
in your country. 

Thank you for helping me.

Ps:  I am a tired cyclist.  Please may I put my tent in your field for 1 night and may I have some water?  Thank you.

Courtesy of Google Translate I have translated and printed versions of this letter into Italian, Slovenian, Croatian, Albanian, Greek and Turkish.   This is what the Macedonian version looks like:

Здраво!   Моето име е Тод Милер. Јас сум татко на 7-годишен син и живее во Хонг Конг. Мојата мисија е да циклус низ целиот свет, еден континент во еден момент, за
добротворни цели азиски деца. Минатото лето јас cycled 6.000 км низ САД. Оваа
година сум велосипедизам повеќе од 6.000 км низ цела Европа. Почнав во Лисабон,
Португалија на 5 јуни и планираат да стигнат до Истанбул, Турција до крајот на
октомври, 2011 година.

Оваа авантура е да им помогне на сиромашните деца во Азија. Минатата година бев
во можност да се соберат средства за добротворни цели на Камбоџа на децата, а оваа година сум средства за добротворни цели тајландски децата. На добротворни организации обезбеди овие заслужуваат децата со добро образование за да можат да водат продуктивен живот ослободени од сиромаштија.

Јас сум возбуден да се прошетаат низ вашата земја и да го види со бавно темпо
велосипед. Јас се извинувам што не зборувам на вашиот јазик, но јас сум се
обидуваат да научат само неколку зборови.

Се надевам дека може да помогне во моето патување да продолжи безбедно и
среќно.

Со помош на мене, вие сте исто така, помага на стотици деца кои ми авантура е
да им помогне.

Кога ќе стигнам дома ќе напише книга за мојата велосипедизам патување. Со
нетрпение очекувам да го кажувам на луѓето во Америка и во Азија за безбедно и
возбудливи времиња дека
уживав во вашата земја.

It all looks Greek to me.  But I just hope Google Translate is accurate.  Otherwise I might find myself having to high-tail it through a village for mistakenly expressing something politically incorrect.

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About Todd

Around-the-world cycling, one continent at a time
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One Response to Antarctica and Magic Letters

  1. Mark Scheer says:

    The letter is a great idea. I bet it pays handsome dividends. Best of luck on the rest of the ride

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