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Friday, 19 April 2019 04:23 pm

Troubadour cyclists getting creative on planet Earth


SHOWTIME: Monica Yeoman (right and centre) and David Henley bring their show to a bigger stage

INTREPID travellers David Henley and Monica Yeoman took their audience on a bike ride through Asia in their show Somewhere on Planet Earth at Wellington’s Mac’s Brewery recently.

The pair have pledged 15% of ticket sales for their creative showcase to Bicycles for Humanity and plan to use the rest of the proceeds towards their next travel goal – biking around Africa.

The adventure that inspired Somewhere On Planet Earth began last year with the duo pedalling around nine countries in nine months – a journey which took them from South East Asia to China, Pakistan and the Himalayas.

Their destinations were Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

“We really love hearing stories and sharing stories, and when we got back from Asia we put together this package to share around New Zealand,” Monica said.

While the nine-country excursion was at heart an intensive bike ride, they did some travel by boat, train, plane and rickshaw.

A rough encounter with altitude sickness meant a donkey had to be a temporary bike replacement for Monica to travel through the last bit of the Himalaya range.

At the show, the night’s entertainment kicked off with performances by Wellington taiko drummers and the Natraj Indian dancers while spread around the venue were art and market stalls.

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TOUR DE FORCE: Displays took people around the world in nine stalls.

David and Monica’s double act lit up the space with a combination of music, photography, video and freestyle dance interludes.

Performances by the pair playing traditional instruments they brought back from their travels were a highlight.

Ivan Trigueros, a freelance photographer originally from Madrid, was impressed.

“So many different instruments, it’s quite amazing how they do it.”

A team of more than 20 volunteers were working behind the scenes to make the show happen.

On their trip, Monica and David were confronted by social issues and collective experiences of the cultures they immersed themselves in.

“It was really something that stood out for me in the trip,” said David.

“More bombs were dropped on Vietnam during the years of 1939 and 1945 [Vietnam War] than the whole of Europe during World War II. The perspectives of how events like that affected peoples’ lives were a very memorable part of our journey.”

Priceless but lighter-hearted experiences they had along the way were also shared – anecdotes such as David growing a beard to fit in with Pakistani men only to find it wasn’t common in the region they ended up in and Monica singing Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On  accompanied by traditional drum beats on request from a local.

The 100-strong audience at Mac’s Function Centre was much bigger than their usual couchful of people in friends’ lounges and various pop-up venues where they have toured their show around the country.

“This is by far the biggest living room we’ve played in,” David  said.

Somewhere On Planet Earth’s upsized venue still had an emphasis on a cosy atmosphere for the crowd to take in the show and be a part of the journey.

On their bike trip around  Africa, they will again document their experiences for use in creative projects and educational resources.


EXPERT OPINION : David’s alter ego, geologist Norman, explains the finer details to the audience

GLOBETROTTING STALLS: Audience members check out the exhibits and art by local creatives, such as this photography by Astrid Trigueros


WHEEL WISDOM: An audience member takes an opportunity to share a favourite personal quote


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