Manpower Express - To Vietnam along the Silk Road
13,000 kilometers (8,000+ miles) after ten months on the bicycle. Join Matthias and Tobias on their way from Germany to Vietnam.
In over 40 episodes they show their every day life and the big and small problems, they have to deal with.
All episodes have German and English subtitles.
Featuring: Tobias John, Matthias Schneemann
Director / Editor: Waldemar Schleicher
Length: ca. 12 Minutes
Years: 2018 - 2019
Episode 1: "I just wanted to do something awesome"
Tobias and Matthias want to cyle from Germany to Vietnam, following the historic Silk Road. Where did the idea come from?
Running time: 11:14 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 2: "Equipment for a year on the bike"
If you want to cycle for a year, you need a lot of stuff. How much gear will the Manpower Express bring along?
Running time: 6:14 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 3: "Test ride with packed bikes"
Eight days before diving into their biggest adventure, Matthias, Tobias and Waldemar do a practice run for half a day.
Running time: 6:15 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 4: "The journey begins!"
Manpower Express is rolling. When starting in Heiligenstadt on August 1st 2018, it's one of the hottest days of the year. 39°C (102°F) promise lots of fun.
Running time: 7:40 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 5: "Highlands, Heat and One Pot Pasta"
It's still hot, hills are in the way and Tobias shows off his cooking skills.
Running time: 12:06 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 6: "Straight Outta Kantwurst-Paddelwurst"
Tobias, Matthias and Waldemar cross the first border into the Czech Republic. Now the tour actually begins.
Running time: 10:27 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 7: "Do your butts hurt? and other urgent questions"
The first 1.000 km (600+ mi) are dead and done. In Hungary the boys look back and bid their farewell to Waldemar.
Running time: 11:54 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 8: "The Reiseduschenouvertüre"
After Waldemar went back to Germany, Matthias and Tobias follow the Danube for a bit and then fight heat and a sandy road on the Puszta plains of southern Hungary.
Running time: 12:54 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 9: "Der verrückte Maximilian: Zornstraße"
While crossing Serbia, Tobias and Matthias reach the Iron Gates and meet an extraordinary cyclist on the way.
Running time: 12:50 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Filler: "Travelling togehter and personal space / Delicious noodle mush!"
Tobias and Matthias talk about the living conditions during the first weeks and cook noodle mush in Serbia.
Running time: 5:12 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 10: "Wallachian Desolation"
Headwinds, plain fields and hardly any infrastructure - that's Wallachia in south-western Romania.
Running time: 12:31 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 11: "The only way now is forward"
Bulgaria, Thrace, Istanbul - Europe lies behind the Manpower Express. After 3.000 km (1,800+ mi) they reached the western end of the Silk Road and a new chapter is about to begin.
Running time: 8:30 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Filler: "The daily log"
Time for a break in Istanbul. The boys show the log, where they write down the facts about every single day. Also they clean their bikes.
Running time: 2:47 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 12: "At the Safranbolu Barber"
Safranbolu was an important Silk Road hub with an amazing old town - and it presents the perfect opportunity to visit the local barber.
Running time: 12:18 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 13: "Breaking Down"
Matthias and Tobias want to reach the Black Sea coast in Samsun to replace some parts on their bikes.
Running time: 9:30 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 14: "From 0 to 2470 meters above sea level: The toughest stage yet"
Tobias and Matthias picked up their Iranian visa and now have to leave the coast and go into the mountains. The toughest day is right around the corner.
Running time: 14:34 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 15: "Mutant dogs and flag problems: The last days in Turkey"
After 41 days, big bad dogs and being mistaken for terrorists, Matthias and Tobias leave Turkey and ride their bicycles to Iran.
Running time: 8:58 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 16: "Bazaar, taarof and malt beer: First days in Iran"
Matthias and Tobias visit the famous bazaar of Tabriz and learn that the Iranians are seriously hospitable people.
Running time: 10:27 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 17: "Leg Days Blues"
Who would have thought that cycling for thousands of kilometers might take a toll on the legs?
Running time: 9:33 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 18: "Tehran: city tour and propaganda"
In Tehran Tobias and Matthias apply for Chinese and Turkmen visa. Meanwhile they learn a bit about the city itself.
Running time: 8:42 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 19: "Tehran: 3 weeks of forced hiatus"
Still waiting for their visa, the boys are stuck between embassy-runs and killing time.
Running time: 10:31 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 20: "Tobias' birthday. Motivation hits rock bottom"
It's Tobias' 30th birthday and Manpower Express has to leave the Iranian capital as they have 18 days to reach the border to Turkmenistan.
Running time: 14:15 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 21: "213 km in one day: The way to first beer after 6 weeks"
It's the longest day for Tobias and Matthias as they go to the border town Sarakhs. Once in Turkmenistan they finally have a beer to celebrate Tobias' birthday.
Running time: 14:31 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 22: "Turkmenistan (The Mouse Episode)"
After hearing many weird stories about Turkmenistan before, it turns out that pretty much everything is true.
Running time: 13:09 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 23: "Dumpling Days in Uzbekistan"
Winter is coming and kebabs get replaced by dumplings as Matthias and Tobias arrive at the next Silk Road hub in Samarkand.
Running time: 14:16 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Special: "Community Questions - Part 1"
In Uzbekistan, Manpower Express is answering fan mail. It's all about beer, food, breaking gear, the internet and underpants.
Running time: 27:37 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Special: "Community Questions - Part 2"
For the second part Matthias and Tobias talk about each of the twelve countries they visited so far.
Running time: 14:41 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 24: "The Train / The Thief / The Reunion"
The boys are stuck in Samarkand but need to arrive in Kyrgyzstan on time to meet an old friend.
Running time: 12:09 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 25: "Field Trip to the Holy Mountain: New Year's Eve in Kyrgyzstan"
Tobias and Matthias celebrate New Year's together with Waldemar and Luisa, visit the Kyrgyz holy mountain and finally get new tires for their bikes.
Running time: 11:31 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 26: "Kyrgyzstan: Riding Bicycles at -10°C"
After their break in Osh, Tobias and Matthias head towards the Chinese border on the Pamir Highway at -10°C (14°F).
Running time: 14:42 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 27: "Winter Blues in Kyrgyzstan: Taking a Taxi to China"
The guys have to reach China before January 19th. But Matthias' busted knee and the extreme conditions force them to take a taxi through the bizarre landscape.
Running time: 14:38 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 28: "Away from Surveillance: Flight from Xinjiang to Xi'an"
When Matthias and Tobias get a taste of the Chinese authority in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, they pull the ripcord and fly to Xi'an. Now they're further east than ever intended, but they get to discover the oldest of the Chinese imperial capitals, which also marks the Silk Road's eastern end.
Running time: 16:07 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 29: "Xi'an: Terracotta Army and Keule's Panda-Punishing Plans"
While waiting in Xi'an for their bikes and equipment, the guys explore some ancient sights and make emergency plans for when the pandas attack.
Running time: 12:43 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 30: "Reset in China (First Try)"
Manpower Express is moving again. The boys head towards Sichuan - the promised land full of pandas and a warmer climate.
Running time: 9:14 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 31: "Reset in China 2: Nasty Weather and Axle Fracture"
The police sent Tobias and Matthias back to Xi'an. On an alternative route they run into trouble of a different nature.
Running time: 10:17 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 32: "New Companions! Cycling to the Three Gorges Dam in a Team of Five"
Manpower Express is joined by two Chinese cyclists and a friend from home. Together they visit the mighty Three Gorges Dam.
Running time: 11:43 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Interview: "China: Of Street-Spitting and Chilling on the Bike"
The boys talk about their impressions during their first weeks in China.
Running time: 8:47 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 33: "Keule Pissed Off, Otti on the Brink of Croaking"
Tobias (Otti) gets sick and Matthias' (Keule) patience gets tested.
Running time: 12:42 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 34: "The Changsha Schism - and Finally Surpassing 10,000 km!"
The clock is ticking. The boys separate from their Chinese friends. And they finally reach the 10,000 km mark (6,000+ miles).
Running time: 12:26 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 35: "Lucky Charms, Selfies, and a Machete"
Cycling through southern China, the Manpower Express meets some fans, a dog and the destroyer of plants. Gifts from a local host and cyclist Ivan make sure the guys are well protected.
Running time: 11:06 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 36: "Matthias Turns 30: The Closing of the China Chapter"
The last days in China are wet and dirty. Also Matthias is the last one to turn 30 on the road.
Running time: 15:12 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 37: "Hello Vietnam!"
Finally in Vietnam! Tobias and Matthias indulge in local customs and plan a well deserved break on the islands of the Ha Long Bay.
Running time: 10:10 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 38: "The Foot of Contention: Recovery on the Beaches of Cát Bà"
Feces hit the fan when Tobias injures his foot on Cat Ba island. There are more weeks of waiting and another change of plans.
Running time: 12:11 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 39: "So that's where they put the guy: Otti and Keule in Hanoi"
The boys explore the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and take a round trip to Bangkok to renew their visas.
Running time: 11:31 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 40: "Why do you call yourself Manpower Express?: A Fresh-Footed Continuation"
It's the moment of truth. Will the foot hold up? Also the guys struggle to find something to complain about.
Running time: 11:27 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 41: "Over the Ocean Cloud Pass: Only 1000 km to Go Until the Finish"
Manpower Express is riding along the South China Sea to Da Nang. The Ocean Cloud Pass marks the last barrier on the way to Saigon.
Running time: 15:48 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 42: "Why Can't You Be More like Your Brother!: On the Road with Waldemar"
Waldemar joins in Da Nang for the last 1,000 km (600+ mi). His taste in bicycles used to be better and it's hot. Very hot.
Running time: 18:30 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 43: "The Final Spurt"
The last days are tough. So Tobias, Matthias and Waldemar take one last break at the beach to wind down and grill.
Running time: 15:12 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 44: "Finale in Saigon: How many countries were we in, again..?"
The journey ends. After exactly ten months and 13,007 km (8,000+ mi) Manpower Express reaches its destination - Saigon's Main Post Office.
Running time: 11:58 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Episode 45: "Epilogue: Do you still hang out together?"
Matthias and Tobias are back in Germany. How does it feel to come back after ten months on the bicycle? And why did they do the whole thing in the first place?
Running time: 11:05 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "A Tent-Heavy First Month"
Some bonus scenes from the first month between Germany and Romania.
Running time: 5:38 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "Who likes short shorts?"
Some bonus scenes from the second month. Leaving Europe and crossing Turkey.
Running time: 6:12 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "Turkish Tunnel Troubles"
Some bonus scenes from the third month. Struggling in Turkey and finally reaching Iran.
Running time: 5:04 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "Mihan Cocoa! It's Fantastic!"
Some bonus scenes from the fourth month. Manpower Express gets some free cocoa.
Running time: 5:10 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "Wasteland, Winter, Willies Cream Cheese"
Some bonus scenes from the fifth month. The desert lies ahead and winter's coming.
Running time: 6:04 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "8 Reasons Why It's Dumb to Cycle from Kyrgyzstan to China in Wintertime"
Some bonus scenes from the sixth month. Why you shouldn't be cycling from Kyrgyzstan to China during winter.
Running time: 7:36 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "I really don't know why they're complaining all the time"
Bonus scenes from the seventh month. Police, shitty weather and a major breakdown in China.
Running time: 5:49 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "Otti Puts His Foot Up"
Bonus scenes from the ninth month. Finally in Vietnam. The joy is not exactly long-lasting, though.
Running time: 3:42 minWatch on YouTube ⬀
Bonus: "Taro Fruits and Plane Trees"
Bonus scenes from the tenth and last month. Manpower Express meets some animals, enjoys the local cuisine, picks up Waldemar on the way and finally reaches Saigon.
Running time: 10:12 minWatch on YouTube ⬀