Sunday 19 August 2018

Global diversion for Dermo!

Rush teacher forced to reroute on epic cycle around the world as China refuses to let him in

Dermot Higgins from Rush is continuing his epic cycle around the world.
Dermot Higgins from Rush is continuing his epic cycle around the world.
Dermot Higgins has made it to Astana in Kazakhastan where he visited the Bayterek Tower which features a gilded hand print of Nursultan Nazarbeyev, mounted in an ornate pedestal.

John Manning

A retired teacher from Rush who is cycling 40,000km around the world has had to take a rather massive global detour after being refused entry to China.

Dermot Higgins and his trusty bike were stuck in Kasakhstan for over a week waiting on the slow-moving machine that is Chinese bureaucracy to kick in the gear and decide on his visa application.

It was a frustrating delay for the global adventurer that came to an end last week when he finally accepted all hope was lost of gaining entry to China and a dramatic detour would have to be taken.

Explaining the decision, Dermot said: 'All of the possible options for pursuing the Chinese route proved to be too expensive, dangerous or time consuming. So after exhaustive research, much of it over the late night pivas, I've decided to abandon China completely. Of course I'm really disappointed about this but it feels like the right thing to do.'

In order to comply with the Guinness Book of World Records rules, Dermot will have to go south and start again at the same line of longitude he paused at and cross the vast sub-continent of India instead of China.

He explained: 'I'll fly from Almaty directly south to Mumbai, formerly Bombay, on the west coast of India. From there I'll be back in the saddle again and will take a direct route all the way across India to Kolkata on the West coast.'

This part of the trip was only going to be rife with difficulty and taking the Indian route will not be without its risks either, as it may lead the Rush teacher into the troubled country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

Dermot explained: 'My route from there (Kolkata) is undecided as I have to wait and see how the situation in Myanmar evolves over the next few weeks but I'll almost certainly be flying over the danger zone on the Bengal/Burmese border.

'This is permitted under the Guinness rules. I'll somehow find my way to Yangon, formerly Rangoon and proceed all the way from there to Thailand. I hope to spend November cycling through Thailand into Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, completing this leg of the tour in beautiful Bali.'

Detailing the new route, the Rush teacher said: 'This route provides me with about 6,500k of cycling, almost exactly what I would have done if I'd been able to cross China to Shanghai.

'Also by opting for the South East Asian route, I'm not skipping any lines of longitude, Almaty being directly south of Mumbai and Bali, Shanghai and also Perth in Australia being on the same parallel.

'My intention is to fly from Bali to Perth in late November, giving me all of December to cross Australia in time for Christmas in Melbourne. It's all a long way off and in reality, who knows where this route is going to take me.'

There are some weather challenges developing too as Dermot leaves summer behind him.

He explained: 'Winter has already arrived in Central Asia. Astana is the second coldest capital in the world and by taking the airlift to India, I'll be experiencing the tail end of the monsoon there but avoiding the freezing conditions in central China.

There is a nice family bonus to choosing to take this new route for Dermot, as it means a meeting with his son who he hopes to encounter in Thailand. He explained: 'I'm also thrilled that by taking this route, I'm going to cross paths with my eldest son, Diarmuiid who makes his living on the high seas. We hope to spend some time together somewhere in Thailand.'

While his time in the capital of Kasakhstan, Astana has been a frustrating one in some respects, Dermot has made a lot of friends there and shared his extraordinary road trip stories with them and will leave with some fond memories.

He said: 'I've had a wonderful time in Astana. It's easily the most spectacular city I've ever visited and while, at least in my opinion.' Dermot added: 'The friends I met here will never be forgotten. I've become an ice hockey fan having been to two Barys games, (pronounced 'Borris', -the local Astana team) and surprisingly enjoyed them.

'I was introduced to Barys by my good Indian friend Sundip, who's a biology teacher in a prestigious school here. By a strange coincidence I'm cycling through his home town next week and will be hosted by his family.'

By the time you read this, Dermot will be crossing India and continuing his extraordinary journey around the world.

Before he left, Dermot explained why he took on the adventure to the Fingal Independent, saying: 'Dermot explained: 'To be honest, I don't really know why I'm doing it. That seems a very odd kind of answer but it's very complicated. Part of it is that this is something I've always wanted to do. I've always been fascinated by long distance travel.

'I remember, when I was a kid, I read Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne and I was fascinated by the movie too. The whole concept of going around the world has always been fascinating to me. Even when I go on short trips it's always in circles so this notion of circuitry appeals to me.'

Dermot also has a broader reason for taking on the challenge and is using the trip to shine a light on the work of Trocaire around the world and the so-called 'Global Goals' to combat climate change and end extreme poverty.

You can continue to follow Dermot's progress around the world and read his always entertaining blog on his website at

Fingal Independent