After motorcycling from Australia to Istanbul, Kickstarter-funded traveller Tyson Cable told Lottie Gross about his exploits around the world on two wheels.
Over a crackly line from his hotel room in Istanbul, Tyson Cable introduced himself to me as a traveller first and foremost, and a photographer second. He is the creator of the Adventure Photo Challenge Kickstarter project, where people can donate to his epic trip from Australia to Estonia, in return receiving digital photos, a photo-book or "photo-challenge credits", with which they can challenge Tyson to take a particular picture on his route.
With an intention to raise only £1000, Tyson quadrupled his target quickly, selling his challenges to family, friends and strangers alike, enabling him to travel to even more far-flung corners of the world.
"I love the change that travel brings, the new people that I meet, the situations I have to deal with, and the lack of a routine," he said. Tyson had been on the road for almost a year when we spoke, having covered just under 30,000 kilometres across Australia, Indonesia, Iran and Turkey. When I asked him about Iran, he said two things struck him: the oppression, and the peoples' optimism.
Sulphur mines, Java, Indonesia © Tyson Cable
"I found Iran to be a beautiful and sad place, with some of the most amazing and open minded people," he said. "They’re suffocated by their government, unable to express themselves and experience different cultures."
"But the hospitality is great: they offer a place to stay and they don’t want money; they just want to help, they want to have a cup of tea with you and have a chat and try to practice their English or learn something about you."
The benefit of being on a bike, he told me, is being out in the open and able to see and feel everything around you. Having motorcycled through some pretty hair-raising terrain, Tyson says he was glad to arrive in Rajasthan, India. I raised my eyebrows – not that he could see, of course – and thought about the many near-death experiences I've had on hurtling Indian buses. I had to question him - how Indian roads could be a relief was a mystery to me.
Tyson speaks of his experiences in Rajasthan:
"I loved Rajasthan. I could relax: the roads were in a good condition and there was hardly anyone on them. And you’re always at risk of being killed by someone in India but in Rajasthan I felt more safe."
Beyond the terrifying roads however, Tyson has seen some of the most incredible scenery from the seat of his bike, so I asked him what's been the most spectacular.
"The Island of Flores in Indonesia has some of the most beautiful mountains and there are three amazing lakes, each of which can change colour based on bacteria. It’s like driving through a perfectly manicured park, but it’s not deliberate, it’s just the way that it is."
Tyson began his journey from his home town in Western Australia. Even though he'd grown up there, he was still bowled over by the scenery.
Karijini National Park, Australia © Tyson Cable
"I sawAustralia present itself in its natural beauty, all pristine nature and quiet tranquility. Sometimes there’s a tourist floating around but most of the time there’s no one. That’s where I feel my heart is. I love that. If I want to go back and be somewhere I wouldn’t mind being back there."
Covering such long distances, Tyson told me he'd sometimes drive for 12 hours at a time, which is tough, not just on the body, but also on the mind. "You just have to constantly be focused, constantly scanning, trying to find an escape route if something does happen. If you don’t do that then you open yourself up to the bigger risk of being killed."
Fortunately, Tyson and his motorcycle are still safe and en route to their final destination, Estonia, just over 30,000 kilometres and a year after his journey began. Tyson hopes to complete his adventure by 30th August 2014. You can follow his trip on his Facebook page here, and check out his Kickstarter project page here.