Alex, an illustrator based in Melbourne (Australia), has released Borderless: a rather stunning series of storytelling adventure maps, each inspired by her 17,000km overland bicycle journey from Europe to SE Asia. She has an exhibition running at the City Library in Melbourne (Aus) until July 30th; the publication itself is available via her website now…
My name is Alex, and I currently live on a giant island in the southern seas.
Not so long ago I went on a big bicycle ride with my best friend. We closed a business, threw a party to say goodbye and prepared ourselves as best we could to meet a new world. We flew from our island home to another island. Then we just rode out into the world with some sort of vague plan. In August 2011 we rode out of Glasgow, Scotland and 17,000 kilometres later we rode into Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In between we peddled through the colours falling in Europe, a Turkey blanketed in snow, a world of dreams in Iran, across the roof of the world in Central Asia, and through air and wind, fire, water and earth in Asia.
Along the way I found my freedom. My mind and imagination grew as big as the skies around me. 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 an adventure 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…
Borderless – the Story of a Two Wheeled Adventure is my telling of the worlds I encountered. A series of 15 illustrated maps, it’s a tale of what the world has to offer when you go out on a limb and open up your heart to it. It’s my travel diary, and my thank you.
The Beginning… Scotland
We meet one of the most ancient creatures on the planet, and the landscape is so sublime we keep running off the road. But, we live every day with the burden of rain on our back.
An Iranian Prophet… Iran
An Iranian prophet and Zoroaster once wrote, “Doing good for others is not a duty – it is a joy, for it increases our own health and happiness”, and the Iranian people embrace this with every part of their being. Most of the wonderful people we meet are unable to travel themselves, but this only seems to energise their exuberance in welcoming two travellers from other places.
Roof of The World… Tajikistan
There’s nothing like being on the Roof of the World to be reminded of your place in it. These are the majestic Pamirs in Tajikistan. These are big mountains and they are surrounded by some other beastly neighbours – the tempestuous Tian Shan is north, the monumental Himalayas are east, and the enigmatic Hindu Kush live south.
It takes days to climb up to the roof of the world, and only a few exhilarating hours to roll down the other side. But to have climbed and seen is worth the blood, sweat and tears.
There’s an Orchestra in the 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 we meet Big Red next to a 1000-year-old temple.