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A rare glimpse: Ash shares his end-of-year diary

Posted in: Latest News

Hey guys, 

I hope I’ve managed to keep you all up to date as much as possible, and just wanted to touch on my time here in Dali, and leave you all with a little update before everyone clocks-off for Christmas :-)

It’s always so cool to hear people’s interest in the business side of my career.  After all, it is split right down the middle with as much going on in the admin world as the adventure itself, and the admin not only keeping everything afloat but catapulting me further in the right direction.

Many may assume that after my 3,000km trek so far, almost to the half way point of this 6,500km mission, that I’d be taking this opportunity to completely switch off, reset, relax, recoup and then continue. Far from it, and in fact I see it as an opportunity to cover as much workload as possible, whilst I’m not out in the field trekking.

I planned to have the time to address these aspects and liaise frequently with my dad who is like my office-based wingman.  I remember during the mission, a day before I was hit by my first snow blizzard on the Tibetan plateau, my dad and I spoke on the satellite phone and we arranged for him to fly out and meet me in Dali when I was due to arrive there in December.  This was so we could crack on with the business and create fluidity in the completion of tasks and objectives as two heads are always better than one :-).

When initially planning to meet my dad in Dali, it was anticipated I would still be up in the mountains near Batang - West Sichuan, if I was lucky! And would need transport from there to Dali to meet him.  But I stayed on with my A game, went solo and managed to pass Batang by almost 500km, meaning I was now much further south, well ahead of schedule and able to meet.

Since I’ve been here in Dali, it has been non-stop!

* My dad arrived and was here with my uncle for almost ten days, each one of those days has been jam packed! 

* I had my drone sent out to me by my Beijing team (Mandarin Films) and re-visited a few top locations, in order to capture incredible drone footage for the documentary and web-episodes.

Capturing drone footage over the Yangtze

* My laptop was sent back to me by my Shanghai team (Health and Happiness), in order to be able to plan the next section on Google Earth, have access to my keynote presentations for a few engagements I had, and in order to Skype through to conferences, schools etc. 

* It was great to have the Mission Possible Mandarin books sent to me by my Shanghai based publishing company (Shanghai Joint Publishing), for book signing events and talks that I had here in Dali also.

Signing copies of Mission Possible in China

* There was time to liaise with my China-based social media team for a social take over and talk further on getting the story out there even further in the Chinese market, with social influencers, car companies, delegates and possible consulates looking to join me the further east I trek along the Yangtze.

* It was great to have the opportunity to Skype through to a school in the Bronx, NYC, via News-O-Matic, and amazing to be able to answer so many great questions that the children had, since they’ve been following the mission from the source. it’s all about sharing the journey, motivating, inspiring and educating, as the younger generation are the future and the ones who will need to protect this planet.

 Skyping a school in the Bronx, NYC

* I also Skyped through to a Go North Wales Tourism conference - another great call, sharing stories and answering questions.

* There have been sponsor obligations to fulfil, with photo and video shoots (see my partners page for more).

* I have also taken time to reflect and record voice memos of the mission so far, as a prompt for the next book.

* I have also had the opportunity to liaise with my UK based team (solid members!) regarding where we’re at, what’s new, what we must tackle and what the next steps are.

*New kit was ordered from my clothing sponsor Kailas and it was exciting to receive the first co-branded product from the Ash Dykes by Kailas range. Kailas are the biggest outdoor brand in China, with top quality products that are breaking records all the time for the strongest material and lightest yet most durable equipment. They have over 300 stores and are in 1,000 retailers, making them a very dominant brand that have broken out of China and continue to grow.

* GoPro, our latest supporter of the expedition, sent the new GoPro 7, which I’m looking forward to putting into action as the next chapter unfolds. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it!  Let me know your thoughts regarding the new GoPro 7 if you’ve used it before.

During my time here in Dali, I’ve also had filming obligations too, needing to capture as much as I can on camera. In addition to that, I’ve had to think of sequences and how I go about capturing them. When I’m solo, I’m the producer, director, light man, sound man and cameraman. That’s all on top of the research aspect required to share the diversity of this magnificent country, steeped in culture & history that dates back thousands of years.

This is just a small snippet of the enormity before me and which contributes to the ongoing pressure I’m under.  Not that I’m complaining, I absolutely love what I do and would not change any of my decisions up to this point, but I guess I am a little scarred from my previous expeditions, as I was hoping that the footage captured would make their own one-hour stand-alone documentary on TV, but only became feature pieces.

That said, this time I have a production team on board (Mandarin Films), who have joined me at key locations and are a solid team with a wealth of global experience, recently partnering up with Bowmanbridge on this project, who are one of the biggest documentary distributors in the world.

In addition to these tasks, I’m maintaining my interest in learning Mandarin, one of the most difficult languages in the world, which I’ve got to admit, I seem to be picking up quite well ;-). The encouragement and patience displayed from locals, especially when solo, has motivated me to develop my language skills further.

All this aside, I make jokes with my close ones, that "I don’t have a team, I have an army - especially in China!!" Many, many teams, who support me for different reasons and work with me on different objectives.  I’m very grateful for this and always believe that hard work, dedication and team support is the secret ingredient to success. If your team is as hard working as you, then you become an unstoppable force!

I’ve recently been joined by my great friend Mat, a fellow traveller/adventurer who has joined me on previous escapades and who I mentioned several times in my book Mission Possible.  Back then, we took on a load of ridiculously low budget, dangerous adventures across Asia and Australia and it’s been a long while since we’ve travelled together.  Although this next section won’t be anywhere near the difficulty I faced on the plateau, I believe that for him, it will be his toughest challenge to date. But I know he has it in him and it will be a great three weeks!

Due to a recent visa delay, I have another few days here in Dali, before I push on, spending New Year in the wild. 

Here’s wishing you all a wicked Christmas with friends and loved ones, enjoy your time together.  When you’re out in the elements and stripped of absolutely everything, it’s the little things, moments and memories that glow within and keep you going, so don’t take it for granted, live in the moment and make the most of it.

Merry Christmas
Ash Dykes

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