THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Tieme Hermans left home when he was 26. Off he went to see the world, on a bicycle. After being on the road for two-and-a-half years and travelling to 32 countries, he finally settled in Vietnam for a while. And now he is back on the road, along with his partner Elske Huising, pedaling the unknown terrains.
“I was always curious about the world, about the people, their culture and life. I knew what we read about places was only the superficial reality. I wanted to know more, like the daily life of people, their worries,” says Tieme. The journey began from Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam, a year ago. The couple has been on the road, travelling on their bicycles to learn about the Eastern philosophy and wisdom. Having traversed through Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Sri Lanka on the bicycle, the couple has arrived in India.
“The West was never satisfying. You have everything there, but something was always missing,” says Elske, also a Dutch who went backpacking through South East Asia, years ago. “I wanted to challenge myself, leave every possession and bonding,” recalls Elske. It was after she arrived at Vietnam that she met Tieme. Though both of them hailed from Zwolle in the Netherlands, and had met each other once, they never knew each other. And in Vietnam, they fell in love.
“Vietnam is done,” says Tieme. The duo was working as kindergarten teachers in Vietnam, loving the country and its ways, when one fine day Elske pitched the idea of cycling to India. Tieme’s jaw dropped at the suggestion. “While on the road, you are always in the middle of nowhere. There is no fancy food, you sleep in a tent. But then she kept talking about the ride,” Tieme recalls.
Now, after a year of travelling, they have reached India. “For us, India was like the cherry on the cake. India is so different unlike all the countries we have visited. Each state is like a different country, with its own culture, cuisine and geography. We were in Tamil Nadu last week and it was all long, endless plains. Here it is all lush and green,” says Tieme.
For the couple, it is not about ticking off places on the map. They chart their journey to be in tune with the local people. “I would rather get lost on the streets. We are just throwing ourselves to the world. It is all about the simple interactions with the local community,” says Tieme. They are documenting their journey in facebook through a page ‘twoyogisonabicycle’.
Tieme and Elske duo intend to ride to Nepal from India. Eventually, they intend to head back home and teach yoga. “We are collecting all kinds of experiences. We hope to start a yoga and meditation centre there. People are very busy in the West. They could use some Zen,” smiles Elske. The duo is enamoured by India and the people. They even received Indian names on a journey through a countryside in Tamil Nadu. “Deepak and Nila!” Tieme adds merrily. The only thing Tieme misses is the Dutch cheese. “Dutch cheese is something! But the cuisine will come nowhere near Indian cuisine,” he laughs.