An Interview With Hamish

Hamish Keith originally set up SpiceRoads in 2001 following many years of running cycle tours in Asia. We caught up with Hamish to get his views on cycling in Asia.


Why did you decide to start SpiceRoads?

SpiceRoads was the result of a number of years experience as a tour leader and a long love affair with cycling. I had developed and set up a number of tours in Southeast Asia for various overseas tour operators but for various reasons they were not selling very well and I didn’t have much work. I knew the tours were really good and that the people who joined enjoyed them very much and felt there was an opportunity to market them directly to the public using the internet. I built the first SpiceRoads website from my home in Chiang Mai.


What was the first “SpiceRoads” trip you did?

The first official SpiceRoads trip was in 2001 in Thailand and Laos following some of what is now the Cycling Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang tour but starting in Chiang Mai and finishing in Vientiane. It departed in July 2001 and I am still good friends with everyone who joined that first tour.


What is the toughest cycle trip you have ever done in Asia?

The toughest cycle trip I have done in Asia was probably the mountain biking in Vietnam’s Northwest Mountains research trip with Struan in 1999 or 2000 when we rode from Lao Cai to Dien Bien Phu unsupported with panniers before the roads had been resurfaced. I remember watching my panniers bounce past me every time we hit a downhill.


What is you most memorable cycle trip you have ever done in Asia?

Every trip is memorable for different reasons. I am lucky enough to have cycled in dozens of countries in Asia, sometimes with groups, with friends and sometimes solo.


What is the most stunning trip you have ever done in Asia?

I still think most stunning trip visually is the ride from Sapa to Dien Bien Phu. Although riding in the Alps and the Himalayas takes some beating. I guess anywhere with mountains works for me.


Are there any places in Asia you have never cycled that you still want to go to?

Are you kidding? There are loads. I want to ride in Mongolia, Tibet, lots of places in the Himalayas. The new SpiceRoads tour “Biking Pakistan’s Karakoram Highway”  looks amazing. I would love to join one of those departures.


If you could pick your favourite SpiceRoads itinerary what would it be?

I think my favourite itinerary is the North Thailand by Bike tour as that still has many of the original routes I researched and led back in the 90’s.


Any tips for someone who is thinking about a cycling holiday for the first time?

Just do it!!!

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