For the past 12 months Matteo has been riding his Honda Transalp XL 650 V through a total of thirteen countries. As covid-19 may have put a hold on his adventures, this avid adventurer is already planning his restart. The itch to feel free on two wheels became unbearable.
Matthew on the roadMotorcycle Diaries
Italy to Indonesia by bike? Yes! Read the story of motorcyclist and adventurer Matteo Nanni. He has been on the road for quite a while.
It all started back in 2011 with an unexpected burnout and a very badly planned motorbike trip to getaway.
Matteo’s idea was to take some time off to heal his soul and head to the ocean. His escape plan lead him from Italy to Portugal and - as expected - planted a seed of desire for long travels. Traveling on two wheels, crossing countries, landscapes and cultures became a daily vivid dream. The dream came true, later. Seven years later, to be precise.
In November 2018 Matteo decided it was high time to give his dream a proper chance. Stuck in his job he handed over his resignation letter and started a new chapter.
With no strings attached and the whole world in front of him, Matteo had no difficulty in choosing his destination: Asia!
“I fell in love with Asia fourteen years ago, when I traveled to India and Nepal. I was backpacking with my brother and it was my first big trip outside Europe. It was really interesting to me. I loved the people and their culture. Afterwards I always had the idea that I wanted to go back to Asia with my motorcycle. So, with a bit of research on the internet, and after talking with some people I realized I could easily realize my plans.”
“Travelling to Asia is ideal during the European winter; you follow the summer, you know. On top of that I could do the trip by bike. No need to ship it like I would have to have done should I wanted to head to South America. The cherry on top? If you manage to travel through Asia on your motorbike, riding the rest of the world becomes a piece of cake.”
From Italy Matteo took a ferry to Greece, crossed the country, arrived in a very cold Turkey, went to an even colder Iran, rushed into and through Pakistan and, once in India, slowed down his pace and traveled through Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, again Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, again Malaysia and finally reached Indonesia in a small ferry with his motorbike loaded on the roof!
“My plan was to ride overland, going into the Balkans too, but I had a problem with the Pakistan visa. They gave me a one-month visa, but also just one month to use it. I had less than one month to reach the border, so I had to push a bit more. For that reason, the first part of the trip did not go all that well. I also left home later than I expected, due to a problem with the bike. By the time I arrived in Turkey it was really cold. Zero degrees in the mountains and lots of snow. The same in Iran. Just when I crossed the border and got into Pakistan I could finally relax and slow down the pace.”
We consider it as a general feature of over-landers and two-wheel travelers: the will to escape the ‘tourist itinerary’ of each country and dive further into the raw areas where the true culture arises. Matteo is no different. For him, it’s all about staying on the road and choosing to stop in small villages instead of large cities.
“To be a traveler you need to escape the touristic places as much as possible. This can be a bit tricky, because if you go to Iran or India, you’ll visit some of the main touristic attractions, because you just can’t afford to miss them. But sometimes, in the small villages where there’s “nothing to see”, there’s much more to feel. You see how people live, their culture and you feel welcomed by their curiosity. Sometimes you just move 10 km away from the touristic area and everything changes!”
Cappadocia, as touristic as it can be, still didn’t fail to impress him. The same happened with the hot desert in Iran and its “Kaluts” (sand mountains), with the vast, flat and bright green rice fields in Bangladesh or the bottom part of India which suddenly made him feel he had entered the jungle.
But mainly, what impressed him the most, was the Asian approach to life and existence:
“The big difference I felt between Europe and Asia was about how present people are in their lives. The Asian live in the present, their minds are not in the future. They also have a strong community feeling and a family atmosphere. They are much more open-minded than the Europeans; they like to know what’s going on in the rest of the world and often feel amazed by the differences, not scared. They have honest curiosity and admiration, and therefore, a great sense of hospitality.”
After Bali, Matteo flew back home and left his motorbike (also a bit worn at this stage) resting on the Island. Chapter two was going to be a nice trip to discover Oceania. He did start it, but by the time he arrived in Australia… it was March 2020.
He was forced to abort the mission, as we all had to, and stay home.
We all wish to restart our trips soon and we’re all planning. Matteo wants you to know he’s there to help you if you need tips to travel to and through Asia. So, make sure to check his contacts at the end of this article. He benefited greatly from the help of members of the "Horizons Unlimited" community. You can try to get in contact with them if you’re in trouble, there are always people with valuable info. You might end up with your motorbike loaded on the roof of a ferry from Malaysia to Sumatra… but hey, at least you’ll be on your way!