We honestly believe that we are a little bit special... so here's a few words about why.. both from us and those that have joined us for adventure!
Painted Roads was created as a result of one man's passion and enthusiasm for travelling Asia on his bicycle. With the realisation that his adventure cycing experiences were simply too good to keep to himself David began indulging his passions for bicycle adventure, photography, and writing by creating cycling tours of the part of the world he knows best. Having explored and documented several tours the time inevitably came to share his discoveries. Subsequently David, along with the girl who was to become his wife, retreated to a little cottage in the hills between Thailand and Burma where, with the valuable assistance of web developer and fellow adventure cyclist Mike, created Painted Roads. With much experience gained from operating as a tour guide for other cycling holiday providers David was knew that Painted Roads would be different, better. That was five years ago, and since that time Painted Roads has become known for its intimate, relaxed cycling holidays a world away from the offerings of large commercial operators.
I very much enjoyed my first cycling holiday with Painted Roads, I’m sure there will be others. David was a fantastic tour leader and looked after everyone splendidly. The scenery was amazing and there was a good balance of relaxing time and cycling.
... or what makes us unique? Painted Roads was created to indulge a passion rather than to grow a business, and it’s the man with that passion who is responsible for every step of the way with your tour. When you join us for a cycling holiday we are sharing with you our love of the places we cycle, we want you to experience the joy that we do when cycling through Asia.
How It Works
Having dreamt up an idea for a tour David usually has an immediate and inextinguishable desire to see if his notion will bear fruit. He quickly gathers up his camera, iPad, and a few essentials, packs his bike, and sets out to have a look.
He visits the land in question and rides the route, either alone or with a friend. He photographs what he sees and journals his adventure. Sometimes a route is not quite right (Burma for example), and is either forgotten or put on the to one side, but sometimes he is overwhelmed with just how wonderful a destination is, which is when it is polished and perfected into a Painted Roads tour.
Not only is it David who dreams up the idea for a tour, explores the route, photographs it, and documents it, it is also David who answers your emails and explains things about the tour to you when you are unsure. He will also be on the tour with you, and will be involved with you at every step of the way from your initial enquiry until the end of your tour. Being on the tour means the advice he gives has been very carefully considered and is as honest as can be, after all, no one wants to spend two weeks with people who feel they have been led up the garden path.
Having just returned from the Mekong Delta my second Painted Roads bike tour, the first being southern Thailand the main question I have been asked is " Which was better" my answer " The one your on is the best tour". How can one better great company, pedalling a bike through beautiful country side, good hotels and excellent food, of course the odd beer or three. In my opinion David Walker is to bike tours is what Willy Wonka is to chocolate, it doesn't matter what package one chooses or what it says on the ingredients one can rely on a fantastic product and wanting to come back for more. Mr David Willy Wonka Walker and your team of Oompa-Loompas just carry on doing just what your doing.
A Unique Experience
Well, if not quite unique, Painted Roads is at least a rare and special thing. Many cycling holiday companies subcontract their tours out to local business to run, with he result no one really knows the route or the accommodation until they arrive, including sometimes the guide and tour leader (yes, this does happen). And the all too often the person answering your emails and advising you on your adventure pre-tour has never been anywhere near Asia, let alone ridden the route.
Fresh & Interesting Routes
David, Phong, Natt, and the rest of the crew share a curiosity for routes, accommodation and restaurants. With David and his in country agents personally being on each and every tour means that this curiosity is often indulged in the form of new and interesting route options, dining opportunities and characterful new lodging. And this is why, rather than become old and stagnant, PaintedRoads tours mature with age. We can tell a lot of stories about our routes, but that is best done over a post ride beer, or whilst riding through a little bit of paradise.
We cycled through some amazing parts of Vietnam. I'm sure parts you wouldn't normally get to see on a bus tour. The people are so friendly and excited to see some people from a different country, albeit briefly as we cruise past. but as we cycled through each town/village, cries of "hello" "hello" greeted us and even the odd high-5. All the kids would run onto the streets to get a glimpse of the tourists, wondering who was visiting their distant world. It was very humbling and we felt like movie stars. They don't have a lot but you wouldn't know it based on the big smiles and waves that came our way. An experience hard to describe and impossible to capture in a photo.
Your tour will be lead by David, often his wife Echo, and his in country partners. In China for example David and Echo work alongside Cathy and Li, husband and wife, keen cyclists, experienced guides, and all importantly they are all close friends.
In Thailand we work with Natt, not only a great guide but also a good friend and our in country agent.
In Vietnam it’s Phong and Ngoc, again a husband and wife team. Ngoc takes care of preparations with amazing attention to detail, whilst close friends Phong and David will be with you, guiding you and taking care of your needs from your arrival in Vietnam until your departure.
You can find out more about the people we work with on our About Us page.
Groups that are 'Just Right'
If a group is too small it may lack the dynamic edge, humour, and interesting conversation that make group tours so much fun. However if a group is too large we are less likely to enter a restaurant than to swarm upon it. Likewise once a group goes beyond a certain size the logistics become exponentially more difficult to take care off. With this in mind Painted Roads groups are made up of between four and twelve group members plus David, ensuring a most convivial time. There are occasional circumstances in which we may stretch a group size a little. For example we may have eleven people already booked onto a tour when a couple who are good fun easy going PaintedRoads regulars ask to join, a situation where it may be deemed beneficial to swell the group to thirteen.