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Are you a TRAVELLER? Does the smell of spices wafting
through the air make you think of Zanzibar, a cacophony of honking
horns is Cairo, or a swirl of brilliantly patterned clothing
Plan where to be when!
If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note
4th International Motorrad Reise Treffen (Motorcycle Travelers Meeting) in Gieboldehausen, Germany
(GPS: N 51 37'11.9" E 10 13'10.1")
September 1-3, 2000
Ralph Wüstefeld and Wolfgang Simmert put on a great little rally in the middle of some terrific riding country somewhere in the middle of Germany. Slide shows, lots of food and drink, a band and long distance Travellers only! What more could you want? Oh yeah, forgot about those Danish rallies... they're truly wild.
Note: You MUST register in advance! Contact Ralph for details.
Dargo High Plains Rally, Australia
"Talbotville, in the North Eastern Highlands of Victoria. The track between Dargo and Talbotville, while offering a spectacular view, is not recommended for the novice rider. The road is bitumen except for last 17km."
2000 BMW RA Rally: "RA at The Hocking Hills" Ohio, USA
RA's 28th International Rally. BMW Riders Association International
Tuesday September 19 to Friday September 22, 2000
"Fairfield County Fairgrounds in Lancaster, Ohio. Vendors, Door Prizes, Entertainment, Tours, a Brunch Ride to the AMA Headquarters & Museum, much much more. The rally site is in Southern Ohio ... home of the best riding roads in Ohio! Pre-Register NOW and save $5! Rally Info: Contact Eric Nyrop at 1-614/449-9409 (FAX 1-614/449-2226) or e-mail"
See you there! I will be putting on a slide show and discussion on travel. Grant
GET YOUR WEB SITE LISTED in the LINKS section by listing Horizons Unlimited on YOUR web site, let me know you've done it by mailing me a link to the page, and you may get listed here in the next newsletter and on the Horizons Unlimited web site Links page.
All sites will be considered for listing, but must be a MOTORCYCLE or TRAVEL site, useful or of interest in some way to travellers.
Links will be rotated regularly as needed.
Frank Campbell's "site is dedicated to riders who yearn to explore The World on a motorcycle. On this site we list resources and provide links to other sites which the prospective world wanderer may find useful"
UK Submariner plans Around the World trip on BMW R1150GS, departing May 2002, follow along with the planning.
Netherlands, in English, Interesting pages, lots of tidbits, nicely done modifications.
Overland Links website, "focus
is mainly on providing a list of current and past overland trips mainly through Africa. In the near future I will
be updating the site with Trans Australia trips as that seems to be another popular route ->UK to Australia
and visa versa!"
"We will/are try(ing) to cross the African continent from south to north on a URAL motorcycle with sidecar. We start in Cape Town (SA) on September 1st 2000. We hope to ride all the way back to Amsterdam (NL) over a period of about six months."
Chris Burt planning a RTW on my Triumph Twin next year (spring 2001) In the meantime I would be happy to help any Bike traveller passing through Southern England. I live near Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Ranjit Chagar West London, UK, near Heathrow Airport, Planning a RTW in 2002 with an Africa Twin, has a spare room for Travellers to crash in, and more
Ian Freeman has info on India by Enfield, London to Nepal, (especially roads in the Himalayas) and has also done Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Travellers are welcome to visit. Selby, Victoria - near Melbourne Australia.
Nick Westcott "I've biked around Southern India, Europe and the Alps, and some US. Any travelling bikers in UK always welcome! Essex, England" Coffee and conversation only.
More details on all these great people on the Links page.
Just remember the old adage, "Fish and visitors smell after 3 days!"
There are more "Helpful People" listed on the Links page, a huge thanks to all of them. How about you?
Do you know of a good shop "on the road,"
in other words somewhere there isn't a number of shops? USA, Canada, Europe etc. don't count. That's too easy. And too many! We're looking for those rare items, good repair shops in South America, Africa and Asia etc. I will create a web page for them eventually.
The BMW dealer in Darwin, Australia is now Port Darwin Motors,
tel. 61-(0) 8-8981-9444.
Thanks to Graham Marshall, WA, Australia
Anybody have an e-mail for them?
Owners and Service Manuals
"When I buy a new Haynes / Clymer shop manual for a newly acquired motorcycle,
Then I can write all over it with a dry-erase marker to trace wiring circuits when trouble shooting an electric gremlin. You can trace different segments with different colors or different systems that all join at one plug.
When you're done, just wipe off your marks and greasy fingerprints until the next time. You can use this handy little heavy duty wiring card instead of your new manual so you won't dirty it up so fast. And it packs easily for trips.
Chris Bell, Austin, TX"
Thanks for the tip Chris! I like it!
Continued from last months piece on Carburetor tuning:
Sparkplug / carb tuning tricks for BMW
"I just stumbled across your E-zine, and think it's wonderful! I'm not an international traveler, but I do put some miles on old BMWs. I just had an observation on your tech tips.
You, correctly, noted that sparkplug wires should not be pulled from a running BMW equipped with electronic ignition. Many folks also take the position that older BMWs with the old points/coil (Kettering) ignition can suffer some strain from such treatment as well.
A much cheaper, smaller, and lighter option than the Suzuki unit is two lengths of threaded rod (I think it's M4) that are the same as the threaded portion of a sparkplug. Cut the rod into two pieces about four inches long each, and equip each with a spare spark plug thread-on tip. But only thread the tip on half way, and either crimp the tip on with pliers, or lock in place with a backing nut.
With the engine off, remove the spark plug boot, thread the tip of this assembly onto the sparkplug in the engine, and re-attach the sparkplug boot onto the (now extended) sparkplug connection. Repeat on the other side.
With these little extensions in place, you can start the engine, and short out each cylinder independently with a screwdriver (insulation is recommended!), by touching both the extension and a cooling fin on the engine. This does the same thing as pulling off the sparkplug cap, but the high tension current always has a place to go, either through the sparkplug, or through the shorting screwdriver to ground. I have a pair of these in my Airhead's tool kit."
Brian Mehosky, USA
Carbtune II Special
The special on the Carbtune II is still available, but only until the end of September, so order now!
...the Carbtune II. I haven't tried one but it looks pretty good. Available in twin (UK£37) or 4 cylinder models (UK£49). Shipping is only UK£6 anywhere in the world, less if you're in Europe or the UK. It gets good reviews, and the size, while a little bigger than the Suzuki version, is quite reasonable and should pack well. And it's much cheaper!
And a Special Offer for Horizons Unlimited MC Travellers E-zine readers!
Free worldwide postage for subscribers or readers on the Carbtune II if ordered before the end of September 2000. To get the free postage just mention "Horizons Unlimited" in the order.
Don't miss out, get one now!
I've made contact with some of the people we were looking for last month, thanks! - but the following are still unaccounted for...
Lionel Marx, I have no e-mail for him...
Annette, Sweden, travelling solo, heading North from Nairobi ...(met by Dave Thompson in Nairobi)
A Brit heading for Timbuktu...?
a Danish guy, Pauly, travelling on a new R80G/S classic converted into a PD, last seen in Kenya.
Russel, a guy travelling on an old Yamaha XT600 Tenere, last seen in Kenya.
A Brit on an F650 in Kenya, heading north...
A Brazilian biker, Raphael Karen, travelling on a Yamaha Super Tenere, going from Sao Paulo to Alaska...
Chris van de Goorberg, Netherlands, XT600, last seen in Mali...
Johan ? traveller from Netherlands, last seen in Rio de Janeiro.
When you meet people out there, please get contact info and let me know so I can add them to my who's who and where list! Grant
Dan Walsh, UK, RTW, asks about Cameroon, CAR and Zaire/DR Congo;
"...The RTW is still on for October, but I'm still struggling a bit with the route, especially the Central African problem.
The planned route is Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal (I'm taking a KTM and there's a dealer
in Dakar), Gambia (visiting Riders for health), then Mali,
Here's the crunch - I can't see a way of avoiding Cameroon, CAR and
Keith King, UK, around South America, in Brazil,
as of Sat 26 August;
Left the UK in Feb. to tour South America. ...No problems so far and having done 20,000 kms from Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, I'm now in Brazil in the Matto Grosso area in Goiania and stuck as my engine for HONDA XR600 has problems.
I need a piston/ barrel/ rings/ overhead cam bearings so is there anyone out there who can help as parts are not available here in Brasil. Goiania is 200 kms from Brasilia.
I can be contacted by tel (62) 233 8051 Fax (62) 233 9002 as I'm with Tonin Bala a motor racing type and repair centre here. Temperature here is 38 -40 degs C and motor just cooked! Thanks and best regards Keith King
Andy Dickson, Arusha, Tanzania
Still looking for a bike, Andy wants to buy a bike in Tanzania from someone who wants to do a one way trip to Tanzania. Save yourself a lot of money on shipping and help somebody out!
Hi, and welcome to the 11th edition of the Travellers' News.
It's been a busy month for me, I've been travelling a lot, and planning on a lot more.
We have some big news, too! We have been working for some time on a co-operation agreement with Tourenfahrer, the premier German motorcycle travel magazine. We have finally worked out the details, and we hope to bring you some interesting things in the future. I will be at the Tourenfahrer stand at Intermot (11-17 September in Munich) to answer travel questions and show a few slides, so I hope to see you there. The bike will be on display too, so we won't be hard to find!
Susan and I made it to Zellerreit for the 20th Anniversary party of the BMW GS series, organised by Motorrad's Michael Schroeder (yes, he's the guy who "lost" an R1100GS in Mongolia...). Gregory Frazier, Helge Pedersen, Al Jesse and his wife Julie, (Jesse Luggage, very nice stuff now in Europe with a new distributor,) Rudi Denolf from the Belgium GS Club, Werner Zwick, and many many other travellers were there.
Special guests included one of the original designers of the GS, chassis specialist Laszlo Peres, the H and P in HPN, Alfred Halbfeld and Klaus Pepperl, who built the original Dakar winning bikes in the very beginning, and the head of motorcycle development for BMW, Dr. Braunsperger, and others from BMW, Berti Hauser and Hans Sautter.
Greg, Helge, Birgit Putz, Herbert Schwarz, Petra and Rainer Bracht, Michael Schroeder, Doris Weidemann, and Susan and I put on short slide shows of our travels with the GS.
If any of you think that a GS is too big - you should see Doris on her R100GS - she travelled all over Africa with it, solo, and she's very "light" ;-). Mind you, she also has the lightest GS on tour - not because she's done anything special to it, other than an Acerbis 45 liter tank and the usual aluminum boxes, but because she carries almost no luggage - her boxes are half full! Two t-shirts and no sleeping bag for Africa as I recall...hmmm, mumble... face getting redder... how much can I toss, gotta be able to lose some of this junk...mumble...
For those of you that didn't make it, you missed a great event. It was good to catch up with so many of you, I'm just sorry it didn't go on for longer so we could talk to more of you.
All the travelling back and forth means I don't have time to make it to Gieboldehausen, I will only be able to make Intermot in Munich.
Intermot is over on Sunday, then I have to flog the Beemerbago back to England quick-time (love those autobahns) in order to catch a flight to Ohio, USA, for the 2000 BMW RA Rally: "RA at The Hocking Hills". The rally goes from September 19-22, in Lancaster Ohio. Details in the sidebar. I will be putting on a slide show about our travels, and a "primer" and discussion on how to do your own world or long distance tour. Hope to see you there! I have a couple of days to kill after the rally, as my flight isn't until Sunday afternoon, so if anybody has any suggestions for accommodation or what do in the area - without a bike, sadly, please let me know.
Ooops, last month I forgot to mention the most important person of all in the Gordon Chase saga, (well maybe the second most, we'll give Gordon the title of most important) the one who brought it to my attention in the first place, Mark Staelens, Australia. Thanks Mark!
Chris Scott's Adventure Motorbiking website's bulletin board is now closed, and he's sending everybody here to the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' Bulletin Board.
Peter and Kay Forwood have converted their bulletin board to a guestbook, and are also sending people to our bulletin board, so the board is really hotting up! Lots of great information there, drop in and maybe you can learn something, or even better, contribute.
A big Thanks to Chris and Peter and Kay, much appreciated by all I'm sure, consolidating into one bulletin board as the resource for up-to-date information is a huge help to everyone!
For those of you who haven't been to their websites, do take the time to have a look, there's plenty of good info and stories on both sites.
We also have a special offer for our readers only
on the Carbtune II carburetor tuner/balancer. Details in the sidebar under Tech Tips and Bits.
Melbourne Bikers, from travellers based in Melbourne,
"After having spent years crossing the continents, some washed up decrepit old bikers are trying to find their kin in Melbourne, Australia.
Do you live in Melbourne? Or have you met a Melburnian on the road? There aren't too many Australian bikers out there on the by-ways of the third world, so if you know anyone please get in touch with us.
In the spirit of Horizons Unlimited, we are forming an interest group. Our aims are simple: to meet up occasionally; to go for a ride now and then; to encourage young people to give it a try; and to be a recognizable point of contact for anyone passing through. You don't have to have an arse of steel or a book credit to join, you're welcome even if you can't ride a bike.
If you share our passion for discovering the world on two wheels, or even if you've just met someone from Melbourne on the road, then drop us a line. Contact info on the Community page
...my plan is to have a network of email addresses of interested parties. If a traveller writes in then I'll forward it to everyone. If anyone likes the sound of this person or knows them or shares something in common with them or whatever, they can reply. If nobody likes the prospective visitor or if that person has a bad reputation, there is no name or phone number or address attached to the email address... (We) have had our hospitality seriously abused in the past, but neither of us want to turn everyone away - so this is the best way we know of filtering our prospective guests without having those awkward "please can I come and stay" phone calls."
If you're interested in doing something similar, let me know and I will set up a mail address for you, same idea, yourcity @ horizonsunlimited.com. Eventually perhaps travellers could send an email to their next anycity @ horizonsunlimited.com and easily contact the travellers there! Anybody on the "Helpful People" list that would like to take the point for their area please contact me. Note that the contact is anonymous. You decide who to respond to.
What do you think of this idea? Let me know.
Please feel free to submit news reports, web links etc. to me for inclusion here.
I try to link to your website if you have one, and also the photos in this ezine are generally linked from your website. If you don't want me to do that please say so!
This is a free service to travellers everywhere, both on the road and off. Editions are planned to be out approximately the first of every month, but will be more often if there is sufficient interest and support - and I have the time and energy.
Dirk 'Krid' Bernhart, Germany, to Cape Town, in Nairobi, and on to Uganda
This came too late to have much included last month...
"...Nairobi is a dangerous city. Very dangerous. Especially at night when it's dark in the treacherous alleys. My first walk ended in hospital, where the doctor sewed my wounds and where I left a puddle of blood on the green sheets...but more about that where it fits better...
... first, back to Khartoum. We had to wait for the Ethiopian visa...At last we could leave this boring, dusty and hot town.
...Gedaref, from where we wanted to take the track to Ethiopia the next day. In the evening we had to fiddle with the usual (secret-) police stuff. We were lead somewhere behind the checkpoint into a shabby shack, and a sleepy bloke wrote down our data into the usual huge book. The recommended hotel had a great entrance hall for locking away our motorcycles. Unfortunately, the whole entrance wall was occupied by huge steps, and therefore it was a sweaty business lifting my bike into the hotel. At night I sponged a milk from the local youth who was totally convinced that my white skin were the result of excessive consumption of mother's milk.
In the morning we had to get the bikes out again and repack them. Such an action always required about half an hour when the room was on the second floor (European counting!) and when we were preparing for a badly shaking track. By and by, the hotel steps filled up with people, like an ancient amphitheater. They had great pleasures watching us sweat. When we started our motors and waved good-bye, the people clapped an enthusiastic applause! Could there be a nicer farewell from Sudan?
Ethiopia. Whenever we came through small villages, the same happened, running from the right and the left, small children jumped in front of our wheels (and Ethiopia is full of children), shouting "you! you!" while pointing their slender arms towards us and jumping around like mad. They tried to make scaring faces in order to frighten us. The smallest of them could not yet shout you-you, but ran towards us with shirt and without pants anyway. As soon as we stopped, the Youyous shifted their comments to "where are you go?", "gimme a pen" and "hello, mister, money!" In order to get away from the mob we always fled to the nearest Pepsi-sign. The pub-owners then expelled the masses by means of splashing water or throwing stones. The bravest people stayed outside the reach of water and stones and stared at us hungry for sensation...
We stayed for two nights in the first village in a simple but friendly hotel (some rooms with beds around a tiny muddy courtyard) where we uninhibitedly consumed beer and injera. Injera is the national dish, a sort of huge rubber foam pancake. They grind the local (endemic) grain and let it ferment in a pot for three days. This stuff is then put on a kind of crepes-iron, et voila, there is the sour, vinegar-tasting pancake of a wheel's size. On top of it, they put all kinds of vegetables in sauces, sometimes hot, sometimes peppered, sometimes spicy. Once you get used to it, it tastes excellent.
The children of Salomon (the hotel owner) Jordanus (daughter), Bethlehem (daughter) and the neighbour-boy whom Salomon fed were all between 11 and 13 years old. We had lots of fun with them! The boy was from a poor family, he received food for helping out in the hotel. For his 13 years, he was strangely small. On farewell, we gave him our 2kg sack of rice.
One night, a 4x4 arrived at the hotel, with -- the German Ambassador in Sudan with his wife on a holiday trip to Ethiopia! The German embassy was very opposed to my plans to go to Ethiopia by land and was quite reluctant to give me the required letter of recommendation. I had to show them the plane ticket and sign a paper that I acknowledged their being irresponsible for anything in case I would get robbed or shot by travelling bandits on the way to Ethiopia (the way that the ambassador just had taken!!) Being confronted with this, the ambassador elaborated on his view of individual travellers like us, who destroy the social structures in the country by their wild looks and their huge motorcycles blabla. He went so far to say that we had left behind a track of de-rooted, now criminal locals. I guess these were his travelling bandits....
What we left behind in the hotel were Salomon's repaired generator, happy children and two nice days.
From Gonder we went to the Simien Mountains for a five-days trekking tour through the Ethiopian highlands. The driving up to there was great: green mountains, Eucalyptus trees, cool, humid air and a nice scent as if an Eucalyptus-candy girl had just kissed me. The Simiens were breath-taking; with a scout-guide and a mule we went through great landscapes and up high mountains...
In Addis, I had to do some work again: extending the visa, sending parcels and a life-sign back home etc. The streets of Addis were full of Naomi Campbells, that's how I liked it!
Bravely I decided to go out for a haircut, my hair had grown quite long again. Full of confidence I entered a hut on the side of the road. On the inner side of the entrance door a yellowish old poster praised the quality of the hair-cutter "Mastercut"; around the cool bloke in the middle holding the apparatus, there were black US-Americans with keen haircuts that must have been fashion in the mid-80's Bronx rapper scene: the sides cut very short, with the curly hair draped steeply upwards. On the top, the hair formed a horizontal plain. The poster showed different variations of this basic theme: guys with keen razed-in partings, others with hip patterns at the neck, arm-crossers boldly displayed from below wearing sunglasses, and guilty-looking doorguards.
I sat down in the deranged dentist chair. Obviously trying to reassure me about the low HIV-infection risk in his institution, the maestro cleaned his mastercut with an antiseptic-looking blue liquid... I showed a pass foto that I made in Egypt just after my last successful haircut to the Figaro. I took off my glasses and the Maestro stuffed little pieces of cotton into my ears.
Next to the chair there was a TV set within my eye's view range. The national channel broadcasted a folk show, a native sat on an uncomfortable bar stool in a cold studio in front of a beige curtain. Singing and playing his guitar, he desperately tried to bring the gorgeous mountains, the green acres and the scent of the eucalyptus trees into the studio. At some point the camera swifted to the side, showing three men clapping and dancing to the music.
Mastercut had fulfilled its duty, so I put on the glasses again. A stranger stared at me from the other side of the mirror. What a shitty haircut!
Never, ever again, I promised me that night, will I let a black guy who is only used to cut black people's hair, touch me with his mastercut.
That night I was glad to have the baseball cap I bought in Gondar.
In Awasa, I changed the tyres and saw the first hippos on a boatride.
Before Arba Minch I mastered my first really difficult river-crossing. In Jinka I bought a lip-disc from a disc-lip-woman. Those Mursi people were not very nice to be with. Quite "raw", aggressive and not interested in ferenjis (strangers) at all. Thinking about it now I realize that this might be the only way for them to preserve their great culture.
In Jinka we met Daniela, a Swiss woman on an XT600, whom I had heard about during my journey over and over again. We decided to go along Lake Turkana into Kenya together. Other travellers had praised this route as stoney but beautiful.
About 20km away from the road, following a small track through the bush, there was supposed to be a police check point. Leaving Ethiopia this way is illegal, you know. After 14kms we reached a small tribe village.
Some policemen came running from a hut, one of them fiddling around with his Kalashnikov. The recommendation of the Mago National Park's supervisor did not help us, so Daniela had to go into the hut to discuss the bribe.
While I was waiting, an old tribesman approached me, black as the moonless night, bare-breasted. He pointed to his eyes, then to the sun, blinked, and pointed to my tank bag. There was something wrong with his eyes, and surely I could help him. Of course. I took out my snow-white sunblocker and painted an excellent pair of sunglasses on his black skin, blew on it and mumbled some secret magic words. I pointed towards the sun and made him understand that he wasn't to wash the sunscreen-sunglasses off his face until the sun went down. Proudly he walked away, showing this magic witchcraft to everybody. I drove through the police barrier with a huge banana-smile under my helmet...
So, there we were in Nairobi some days later. Stefan (who Krid rode through Sudan with, see last couple of months issues) did not have much time left, and so we said good-bye with a nice, expensive Indian meal. Nairobi was overwhelming: I could get almost everything I wanted, chain lube spray, pizza, batteries, ...
Stefan's taking off was quite a sad thing, so Daniela and me decided to cheer us up with a visit to the movies, "The Matrix" was on, and we decided to take the short walk from the campground to the cinema. It is dark. I could not see the hand before my eyes. We go on the fringe of the road.
Stepping out confidently, my foot suddenly hits --- nothing. No floor. I fall into a man-hole, about 1.5m deep, my breast hits the opposite edge of the hole hard, my chin kisses the ground. Heavily breathing, I manage to crawl out of the hole. Still laughing about my disappearing, Daniela inspects my chin with a lighter. There's lots of blood coming out of a hole behind my chin, and I can taste blood. I can hardly breathe, I fear that a rib is broken or something. We manage to get a taxi to the hospital, they X-ray me -- nothing broken -- and deal with my chin-hole by applying some stitches. I am to stay in Nairobi for some days until they can take out the threads again. 15,000kms without anything on partially hair-raising tracks through the wild, untamed Africa, and now this.... Nairobi is a dangerous city. Very dangerous. Especially at night when it's dark in the treacherous alleys...
Carl Santora and Sue Yin, USA, in Malaysia,
"Greetings Grant! Thanks so much for posting our inquiry in one of your monthly newsletters concerning info on paperwork in the Thailand area. We made it there and back all in one piece, only with some of the pieces mended and in need of further recuperation and attention.
The bike made it via air transport to Penang, Malaysia without any glitches. We...had the bike out of customs and at the parents flat within four hours! We were riding the next day. It was bliss.
We said our good-byes to the parents (Sue Yin's) and headed northbound to northern Thailand. We had plans to visit China via foot/bus/car etc. and needed Chinese visas...(available) in Bangkok. The ride to Bangkok was great. Whoever says that one needs the latest greatest machine to enjoy life needs to refocus on different ways for different people.
The (BMW) R60/6 I set up for the ride was perfect for the two of us.
We arrived late Friday the first week of the trip and missed the open hours of the Chinese Consulate. We decided to wait it out in Bangkok until Monday and were guests of a friend who owns a hotel, which is approximately 1 km from the Chinese Consulate...
We decided to take a short ride into the city to snag lunch.
THAT WAS OUR HUGE MISTAKE! We left the hotel without our riding suits. We had our boots, helmets and gloves on, yet no riding suits. We were approximately 150m from where we were staying at our friends hotel when a yuppie cage sideswiped us. We were in a batch of cages and bikes that had just completed a u-turn when a speeding cage decided to squeeze between us and the curb. My one piece engine guard was caught by the left side of his cage. We were slammed to the pavement quite abruptly!
To make this pitiful story short, I'll say that Sue Yin received severe road rash and I had surgery that night for a broken/shattered/snapped clavicle. A week in Bangkok allowed us to mend and I was tortured by two stainless pins and k-9 wire in my shoulder, along with the torture of Thai law which allowed the cage driver to admit guilt and his insurance agent saying 'screw you, take us to court'. My insurance was going to fly me back to the states or wherever necessary for the surgery. I took the risk of a Thai private hospital that our Thai friends were familiar with. The medical care there was fantastic. At least so far, so good, until the hardware in my shoulder is removed w/in 3-4 weeks.
I had all my documents/paperwork in order which helped. The next snag was we decided to ship the bike back from Bangkok. When we crossed the Sedao border, Thai border/customs officials would not sign my Carnet. Sue Yin holds a Malaysian passport and it was if they figured we were just vacationing/crossing the border like all other locals do daily. Thai Bangkok customs then made us jump through hoops to get the bike out of the country. They knew the bike was legally brought in. They simply insisted on a bribe. Believe me, there was no getting out of this mess.
We crated the bike and waited for a flight to China. We went to China for 8-days and transited back through Bangkok to ship the bike out. We then went back to Sue Yin's parents flat in Penang to hang out for awhile.
It was one crazy month! The next trip is already being planned. All the best to you and your next ride."
"I had the k-9 wire and two pins removed from the clavicle on 8/8. The doctor and facility here in the Cleveland, Ohio area are some of the best in the world. He said after the surgery that the ortho dr. in Bangkok did fine fiddling on me considering how the bone was shattered. All the best to your Wife and You. Enjoy your summer travels and keep H-Unlimited churning.
Take care, Carl & Sue Yin" (...always wear ALL your gear! Grant)
Mika Kuhn, Germany, around the world, in Siberia
"...and again I had to wait for my Russian visa for some days to be valid to enter the country. The visa agency made a mistake and mixed up the dates and of course charged too much for bad service. But on Tuesday I will hopefully enter Siberia again and go east to Vladivostok.
And also this time crossing the border at Sueh-Bator, the only open border for me to Russia, I will have to put the bike in the train. Don't ask me why, I don't know, this is just the law, only Mongolians and Russians are allowed to drive over the border.
Travelling thru the steppe, the halfdeserts and the mountains in the west of Mongolia is motorcycling offroad pure, and good fun. Only the Swiss biker I was travelling with had bad luck and broke his ankle as he fall off and his foot got under the alubox. But an Africa Twin, this is the bike he is using, is too heavy to travel Mongolia off-road. So he flew back to Ulan Baator and I did the journey back twice to get his bike back to here....
...leaving Mongolia was even more difficult than entering. It was easier to deal with drunken Russians to put the bike in the train than with Mongolian officials. I nearly ended up in jail, for trying to leave Mongolia just by riding over to Russia, as I refused to pay any fine for entering a closed border zone. But with some luck I could leave Mongolia the same day by train from Sueh - Bator, without paying any fines or any bribes. Not even a ticket for me and the bike was needed in the end. And as I arrived at 3 a.m. in Naushki / Russia, I was surprised to see all the the custom guys sober and on duty. So it wasn't a problem to do all the forms and stamps within a few minutes.
And again I was in Siberia, and the third time on this trip I am in Russia. Visa costs are high, but I just love to travel in this country. The people are just fantastic and I can not count any more how many times they just gave me food on the road or offered a bed for the night. And they are the best mechanics I have met in all my travels. A Russian mechanic is just about to fix everything without spare parts or special tools. So no worries.
...At the moment I stay with the Iron Tigers, the local bike-club, and fix with their help a few small things on the bike. And I have to wait for a new carnet (a custom document) been send over from Germany, because for Japan I need a carnet again. So next week the ferry will hopefully take me to motorcycling country Japan and my address book is filled with address there, because to pay for a hotel in Japan I can't afford. So I have enough time here also to make further travel plans, September in Japan, October to February 2001 in SE Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia) and then for about a year to Australia, time to work again.
Greetings from the Japanese Sea, MIKA"
Erwin Thoma, Germany, around the world, in Colombia,
Hola... I am now in Colombia. Once again I have not written in a long time, but that's because I met too many nice people (and not just girls :-)), and I had too many things to see, so the computer went untouched. I sent my last email from Guatemala, where I studied Spanish. I still do not speak it very well, but at least I understand the people when they speak slowly and use simple words.
Guatemala is beautiful, but after a few weeks I had to leave, and very quickly passed by Lago Atitlan and through Antigua. The lake is surrounded by volcanoes and is blessed with a pleasant temperature - it is a nice place to hang around. Another nice place to stay a few weeks would be Antigua -- its colonial charm is not disturbed by the large number of tourists. The permit for the bike (valid just one month) was running out, and so I spent only a couple of days in each place.
After leaving Guatemala City, it again got hot. Very soon I started sweating in my riding gear, and missed the cool temperatures up in the mountains of Guatemala. I arrived at the border to Honduras in pretty bad shape, but was happy to find the roads in good condition. The rainy season will start soon and some small roads will become long mud holes. I reached the Honduran border, however, without rain.
Honduras welcomed me with arrogant corruption. For a simple form (one sheet of paper), the customs guy asked for $10 US. I asked for a receipt, and he answered with a smile. Then he told me that if I did not pay, I would not be allowed to pass the border. I had no choice and paid. Apart from this, the border crossing was no problem and took thirty minutes.
Traveling in Honduras is no problem either. The main roads are in good condition. I did miss the colorfully dressed natives that I very much liked in Guatemala...
I went to the Caribbean ocean to learn diving. This is a dream I have had for at least ten years. Utila is one of the cheapest places to take scuba-diving classes. It was great to look at the surface of the water from sixty feet below. All movements under water are smooth and calm; humans, however, do not fit into this world. We are the only ones unable to be calm, and air bubbles prove that we are foreigners here. I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.
...So I crossed the mountain range in central Honduras, doing some nice hikes along the way. I had a brief look at the capital, Tegucigalpa, which was not very nice. It's a busy, loud, and fairly modern city. From my point of view, most of the capitals I visited in Central America are not that interesting. Since I left Mexico all the countries are easily reached, and after some hours mostly on gravel roads, I came to the border to Nicaragua.
The border was no problem - Nicaragua is great. It's full of sympathetic people with interesting stories. It has a wonderful landscape, especially the Lago Nicaragua and mountains in the northeast. I had a very good time there, it's just that the economic situation is horrible.
It's cheap for travelers, but in my opinion Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America. My impression though, is that traveling is safe - I camped often at restaurants, on the street. The people are always very friendly and helpful. I especially recommend Granada: a colonial town on Lake Nicaragua - just a few tourists, and very natural, not like Antigua in Guatemala, which is much more touristy.
Once again I had to work as a tour leader -- this time in Costa Rica and Panama. So I did the trip from Lago Nicaragua in two days (as I mentioned, all the Central American countries are a short distance away) to San Jose the capital of Costa Rica. Once again I arrived in a Central American capital that I did not like. Besides the beautiful girls, and a very nice BMW dealer in San Jose (Euro Autos, tel.506-253-5873), it wasn't that interesting.
The next three weeks I traveled in Costa Rica, but instead of riding my Beemer, I rode a bus with thirteen German tourists on my neck. It was horrible. It was the worst group I ever had, but at least I saw the highlights of the country, and earned a little money. Usually I like this kind of job, but if people only complain about the country and do not try to enjoy themselves, then it is hard to bear. Costa Rica is nice, but for Europeans it is very expensive at this time due to the bad rate of exchange for the Euro (the European currency). Tourism is the biggest economic factor in Costa Rica, and most of the tourist spots are overpriced. They try to make too much money out of waterfalls and horseback riding also. Foreigners generally pay at least ten times more than Ticos.
On the other hand, there is good access to nature, with nice hikes in the national parks. Another highlight is the Vulcan Arenal. It is an active volcano, and you can see burning lava rolling down - awesome. We had only short visit in Panama. The big attraction was the Panama Canal. Huge cargo ships, passing by only a couple of meters away, made me feel as small as an small insect.
After the tour group flew from Panama City, I tried to find a way to get my bike to Colombia. I finally decided to take an airplane as it not much more expensive than a boat, but it is safer and faster. I picked up my bike at Euro Motors in San Jose (in perfect condition, thanks a lot Max and Rudi), and two days later I returned to Panama City. I had not seen skyscrapers for a long time, and I enjoyed the more western life there - but I was looking forward to seeing Colombia.
Now I am in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. I am staying with a family. I met their son in Panama, and he invited me. Very nice people. I also like Bogotá. It's very modern, but with some dangerous areas. I, however, think it is safe in the daytime. Do not always trust the media. The news reports cover only what happens on some days in some areas of a country. And mostly bad news are good news, because they sell better. I like Bogotá and its people. I feel safe, and it is a pity that it is not possible for me to see the whole country. I try to avoid the guerrilla areas, and will use the Pan American Highway to travel to Ecuador.
Keep in touch, Erwin. PS I will send further information about border crossings
Rob and Dafne de Jong, Netherlands, round the world, in Australia and New Zealand,
"...Alice Springs seems ages ago already, though we have some real good memories. First we were stuck there for four days because of cyclone Rosita whose rain flooded huge areas, got to take a camel out to dinner (yahooo!!!) thanx to Michelle and Nick from the Frontiers camel farm and visited the school of the air and the flying doctors to do some research for one of our articles.
When the roads opened up we headed south to find the Kings Canyon still closed, but the Flinders Ranges open, which is a lovely area to ride around... The gravel roads are well maintained and there are very nice picnic and camping areas. We enjoyed seeing all the kangaroos and even a big red hopping around and got crazy of all those screaming birds, that look beautiful, but never ever learned to sing nicely...
We drove down to Adelaide, where we occupied ourselves a few days with the children of the SOS-Children's village over there... The children SOS cares for in Adelaide are those that have fallen out of different foster families and need professional help to get their lives together again. We were pleased to see how flexible a big organisation as SOS can be as to give children in need what is necessary for a better future and did our project 'The World on a Children's Drawing' together with the children in Adelaide.
From Adelaide we headed towards Melbourne. The day was nice and sunny and the Great Ocean Road was even better. It twists and turns and is the love of the Aussie motorcyclists and a must for every visitor...
We had a great time in Melbourne. Visited Ian Drysdale who built the Drysdale V8 motorcycle and is now building one for the road rather than for the circuit. (Think that's not quite right, he's doing both - see www.22000rpm.com)
We were invited by Global Ballooning to go on one of their flights over the Yarra Wine Valley and have a champagne breakfast afterwards... The pilot told us that in the beginning of ballooning, in France, they would fill the balloon with black smoke. The farmers that saw the balloon flying always though that it was a sign of disaster that would strike soon, for the balloon left the filthy black stripe in the blue sky. To save the balloon and it's occupants, they would bring champagne.
From Melbourne we drove the Alpine Highway, got up in the Mountains close to Canberra and bypassed Sydney on our way up towards Brisbane,along the New England Highway... Outside Brisbane is a small island, where Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort (yes a resort) invited us to come over.The island is a real paradise for nature-lovers and the resort one for tourists that like to be amused all the time. We had a wonderful day out and a night in a very luxury resort bungalow. It was detesting though, to see how much food the guests were filling themselves up with.
Slowly we headed south for Sydney, where we would look for a way to ship our sidecar to Los Angeles in the United States... Our next newsletter will tell you all about our travels through New Zealand.
Rob and Dafne, Ride-on World tour
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overhead on the BMW GS list...
"'Of course, I've been told by acknowledged experts in the field that it is absolutely impossible to ....'
Nothing is impossible. If there is one thing I've learned in the
Or, my favorite engineering rules of thumb are:
A. You can have it done economically.
B. You can have it completed quickly.
C. You can have it designed / built properly.
You can pick only two.
Ron Hipkiss, Sacramento, CA, USA
"Sheesh! Leave it to an engineer to over-complicate things ;^)
Good, Fast, Cheap... choose any two!"
Ian Schmeisser, USA
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most in that we like to keep up with where everyone is on the road rather than for planning. Particularly people
we have met along the road and wonder where are they now!!! On the size, sometimes it is a little too long to read
at the exorbitant rates of some countries internet cafe's. But don't leave anything out we just have to read quicker...
actually your site has reduced our emails considerably as most people we keep in touch with get E-zine and so keep
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get back on the road???"
Don't worry, I intend to keep it up! And thanks for all the nice compliments. Somewhere around 2 am on the 31st it's a nice reminder of why I do this...Grant
My top ten list of junk on the road;
#10 Refrigerator on the 380 overpass onto 101 North by San Francisco Airport. I didn't think I could shit and ride at the same time!
#9 A large stainless steel sink on 880 in Oakland.
#8 A 6 ft tall stack of cardboard boxes...nicely stacked and folded on 880 in Oakland.
#7 A recently mowed down pedestrian on 19th Ave in SF at 6 AM. Unconscious and bleeding. The driver of the car had failed to see him crossing the street as she made a right turn. Reason: Her windows were fogged over...I don't think the fogging was limited to her windows.
#6 5 pieces of 3 inch angle iron about 5 ft long. 880 in San Jose. Cars all about with 4 flat tires each.
#5 A load of I beams and the recently removed upper edge concrete of the 280 extension in San Francisco .
#4 A new, unboxed, case of oil, Castrol I think , by the quart on 880 in Oakland. I couldn't get the grade...
#3 A lost and frightened Abalone still in it's shell in HWY 1......A menace that is seldom discussed.
#2 A frightened marmot on Hwy 88. AKA a moving bag of grease.
And the #1 thing found on a California road is... a smallish redwood tree trunk, dropped by a logger, in a turn on HWY 9. Oh, about 4 or 5 ft (1.4m) in diameter and 40 or so ft (12m) long.
If you didn't get the hint....HWY 880........BAD! BAD!
Cheers, Jorge Carbo, USA
(and people worry about the roads in the third world! Grant)
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Ricardo Rocco Paz, Ecuador, "Around the World for Peace," in Brazil
"July 1. I am about 100 km to the north of the city of Recife, in the interior of the state of Pernabuco...I am going again towards the coast, to visit Joao Pessoa, but in the horizon, towards the side of the sea, blacks clouds predict new storms, I feel sleepy, the typical laziness of noon time. I decide that I do not want city, I want nature, in the first crossing I turn around and return to the 101 ... I am entering the city of Natal, is an ample freeway, with very good signaling, and it is raining here. Suddenly I see a signboard that says: "Welcome to Natal, the bride of the sun". Signboards exist, to which I do not resist the temptation to take a photo, and this is one of them.
I arrive at the Praia du Meio, is very pretty here, and I prepare myself to take some more photos. Suddenly, a very short, but very pretty girl, approaches me. She does "the questions", that I answer patiently, I am so customary already. I ask her if she knows a place to stay economically, answers to me that she is staying in one, but thinks that only accept ladies. We go towards the place, a block from the beach and I observe that it has a safe place to park the bike I speak with the owner and accepts to lodge me, for a really economic price.
A clean room, hot water, safe parking and a hotel full of women, what more can be requested? While I take my things to the room, girls enter and leave. Once I freshen up, go to the lobby, a group of girls watch television, I sit with them and we talk, they are curious of the reason that takes me to travel "alone" around the world. While we make conversation, I rub my neck, because it hurts much. One of them observes that, and she asks me if I want a massage. I accept thankfully. While we watch the news, this small candy is in charge of my stiff neck, she is of the Amazonian region, has very strong hands and knows how to handle stiff necks. She tells me that her father, is one of the indigenous heads of his ethnic group, he is shaman and she learned from him how a to heal. After that demonstration of human nobility, from a total stranger, I go away to sleep as a baby.
...Fortaleza...During my second night in the city, I walked by all the zone of Iracema, all the places were full of people, beautiful women circulated throughout, nevertheless I walked and walked and didn't encounter my destiny. Or is it that the destiny finds you? Its 7 at night, I am leaving shopping Aldeota after an afternoon with my friends of the club and speaking with the people about my trip, I am going to my hotel, when in one of the traffic lights one a girl rides by my side, she's very beautiful and she's riding a scooter. She's very serious and not even watches me. We continued circulating with the traffic and in the following traffic light I attempt to say something to her, but nothing comes out. About the third traffic light, I think: "Rocco, do something", and I happened to say: "Why are you not using a helmet", since she was riding without one, she smiles at me and answers that she does not need one. That's how I met Maria Luiza de la Concepcion.
Not only that Maria Luiza helped me to know Fortaleza intensely, and took me to enjoy its extraordinary nocturnal life, and was my personal tour and cultural guide, but also did my hair and my nails, since that is her profession, hair dresser. Fortaleza is a city very frequented by European tourists, specially Italian and French... At night, we go to the Praia do Futuro (Brach of the Future), where we enjoy a great show of samba, without even having to pay the entrance, since we settle in the outside part, from where we can see the scenery.
My last day in Fortaleza, I go towards the Future Beach, want to see during the day, settle in one of the many cabins that are in all beaches of this place. The beach is crowded, a Coco salesman, installs me in a small table, to the front of the beach under a straw parasol, after I promise to buy coconuts only from him. I settle down to rest and to take notes for my book. Alongside, is an enormous group of young people, the majority women.
I don't manage to concentrate... I find out that they are of a university of Sao Paulo. You can imagine the "sacrifice" it is to observe these beauties, I don't know if they competed in doing more racket or who used the smallest bikini!...
I rise early. Maria Luiza helps me to organize my stuff,... I must reduce the excess of weight (on) my bike. Maria Luiza is going to ride her scooter to guide me out of town... We say good-bye with a long, long hug. Damn, it's so hard to leave!
...The day is beautiful, moderate temperature, radiating sun and 700 km to cover. Traveling, visiting other countries, discovering others lives, have their ups and downs, moments of immense joy and others, of matchless sadness, but I have my kids waiting for me at home, there is a mission to fulfill, an itinerary to complete, a route to ride. That is the life of an adventurer, for Peace."
(...why is it that I think Ricardo isn't suffering too much? Grant)
Julia Powell and Kevin Sanders, UK, from USA to South America, back home - but the story continues,
"...we had just left Bolivia, crossing into Brazil at Corumba...
In Corumba, we encountered the worst entrance formalities of any country to date...as expected, we arrived at immigration just as they closed for lunch and a 2 1/2 hour lunch at that! We arrived back twenty minutes before opening time only to find around 25 Bolivians in the queue ahead of us...only one person at a time was allowed to go into the office to be dealt with. Each person seemed to be in front of the reception for at least 10 minutes, being grilled with questions, sometimes getting a stamp, sometimes being directed over to a side office to await further interview. We stared in disbelief and calculated that the office would close again before it was our turn, we would have no entrance stamp, no permit for the bike and would have to start again tomorrow. And then it started to rain. We were totally frustrated and exasperated.
Then suddenly the "stamp rate" of the officer increased five fold and we finally got to the reception. We found out that the problem was a group of Bolivians who seemed to be working in Brazil and had not got the right paperwork. We were dealt with in less than 2 minutes and the young officer was very helpful in explaining in English where to go to get the bike paperwork done. The Aduana was in some office on the opposite side of town and with 15 minutes to go till 5 o'clock we raced across hoping that we caught them before they disappeared...we were dealt with in 10 minutes. Again, no carnet was required, just our title, passport and international driving licence.
Now we were in Brazil, the rate of progress we made to Rio was now down to us - no more borders to cross, trains to catch, just us and the open road.
...1800kms to Rio, so a steady 3 days. We left the open skies and flat marshlands of Corumba, touching some of the Pantanel, before the road just arrowed through rolling grasslands, but not before we were treated to a toucan flying straight over us!
...The roads became better (there were even ring roads round the bigger towns), the traffic heavier, the lorries bigger and the journey less of an adventure.
Large towns would loom on the horizon, skyscrapers reaching out of the endless flatness and we would ride the ring road, passing retail parks and signs for McDonalds, KFC with heavy hearts. Brazil, for the most part seems dominated by the American culture. For the better though, there seems very little by way of racial tensions, despite the diverse mix of people that live here and the Brazilian music is simply unique and unstoppable, despite whatever onslaught there is of British or American bands. The beat of Brazilian music is mesmerising and how the Brazilians love to dance to it!
...we stopped at a small town called Agua Clara. It was a mild night as we strolled to the local restaurant and feasted on barbeques meats and a buffet of salads and vegetables. It was "as much as you could eat" and once one piece of meat was finished, the owner would appear, grinning widely and carrying another spit of skewered meat fresh from the grill and would slice more chunks onto your plate. This continued until Kev threw his hands up in defeat, admitting finally he could eat no more (having eaten at least three times the civilised amount!)
Our second night saw us caught up in horrendous motorways about 60 miles outside of Sao Paulo (which we were desperately trying to avoid), but ended up on the motorway that was taking us straight there, with hardly any turn-offs and few service stations to rest at...
As we pulled off the slip road we spotted a red hotel sign and made straight for it. At the gate we realised it was a motel sign and not hotel and with the rooms offered described as "tropical" "romantic" "velvet", we knew that we were outside the Brazilian institution of the love motel. It was to be our second stay in such a den of iniquity (!), our last such motel being Nicaragua. (we ran into them in Chile as well, Grant)
This motel was in a way different league to its Nicaraguan counter-part - the giveaways were the large overhead mirror, the room service menu which did not consist entirely of food and drink, the choice of viewing on the video channel and the fact that everything in the room could be controlled by a panel just above the bed! Neat! We stuck to the conventional room service items, ordered beers, capairinhas, and pizza and got an early night. Our rate was for 12 hours use only and this meant we had to leave by 7.30am the next morning!
The next day we hit Rio or "Hio" if you are Brazilian....We had hoped that when we got to Rio there would be a nice big sign pointing us in the direction of the international airport. Seven months away and I still think European! Suffice to say that getting to the airport was a nightmare, not helped by the fact that there are two in Rio nor that once on the ring roads, getting off was impossible. Annoying concrete dividers, too high to get the bike across to do a "U"y, were far too common. We zigged and zagged and double backed and forth, slowly homing in on the airport, and no doubt doing double the necessary miles to get there. Once there, it was the hunt for the "Carga" section, and once there, the hunt for an Air France office.
...It was 3pm on a Friday and we were racing against the week-end lethargy. It was a welcome relief to find that the lady in the Air France office, spoke English and took it upon herself personally to get us sorted. She whisked us down to a cargo agent to do the paperwork, who sorted out the crating of the bike.
The agent was great too, although he explained to us that Customs were on strike and were only working Mondays so we all had to work quickly to get everything ready for then...The bike had to be crated over the week-end and the craters knew it. Bastards wanted to charge us $400 (we were expecting $100). Eventually we managed to get $350 quote but they would not budge any lower. In situations like this you just have to bite the bullet or else hang around for another week (which was not an option).
We had another hour of "heavy traffic, no signs, worst part of town" riding sufficient to rub up our already frayed tempers to do the few miles to where the bike would be crated. In the middle of the warehouse, we had to sort out all our belongings - what could stay in the panniers to be crated, what needed to come with us on the flight, what we should dump. There was a lot of stuff for the dump pile - worn out, faulty camping equipment, stinking clothes, cans of uneaten tuna and bags of pasta and rice...
When we had finished and re-packed the panniers, securing what we could, it was time to leave Franky. That was hard... got the taxi to take us back to the Hotel Braganca, Ave Mem de SA and where our previous South American adventure had finished back in 1998... we were welcomed back to the fold with many hugs and kisses - the local punters had remembered us from before, when they had nick-named us Kevin Costner and Julia Roberts and we had ended up dancing on the bar with them (no wonder they remembered!)
We now had the week-end to ourselves. But there was no bike to travel on. No more outlying villages to visit. No more curious looks from locals as we pulled up and they showered questions on us. We were just your common or garden traveller again, even (god forbid) "tourist". We felt naked without Franky.
Our falling spirits were revived somewhat by finding out that Jeff and Linda were in town and if nothing else, it meant that we could spend our final few days in Brazil sharing it with the 2 bikers who seemed to have been there on many other of our significant bits of the journey - leaving behind the Ecuadorian coup, visiting the Equator line, photos at the "End of the World", Ushuaia and now the final days of our travels. Our reunion meal the following night became a rather drunken affair, manically re-telling all our experiences - the obnoxious officials, the unfortunate punctures, the humiliating splats, the disgusting meals, the bribery attempts, the shittiest roads.
Monday...back down to Cargo to check that the bike was successfully crated and cleared by Customs, and (most painfully), depart with hundreds of $$$ ($900) to be exact for Franky's air flight.
...on Tuesday 23 May, Franky, Julia and Kevin flew from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, Charles de Gaulle. An uneventful flight, over 10 hours of boredom, before touching down to a grey and drizzly Europe; it was chilly and miserable which matched our moods. Still stepping back onto European soil gave me a little shiver of pleasure that momentarily shook away the blues. With South America now firmly behind us, it was starting to dawn on us what we had actually achieved...
We had expected the worst when it came to getting Franky out of Customs... We could not have been more wrong. Maybe the fact that it was 5pm meant that we got an easy time. A simple confirmation that we and Franky were English and were en route to the UK was all the French official wanted to sign and stamp our papers. He didn't even have a snifter at the bike. In fact the help we got at Air France too was second to none. They completed our papers and brought out the bike from the warehouse, uncrated it for us and even took Kev with the gas tank to the nearest petrol station to fill up with petrol (since the tank was dry for flying).
It was around 6pm by the time we had got fuel and then repacked the bike again, with all our flight luggage...The ride on the motorway north was a shock to the system. Suddenly we went from being one of the faster vehicles on the road to the slowest. Even at around 75 miles per hour, everything was thundering closely past us, with the wind drag shaking the bike around.
I felt it was ironic that in all our travels through South America, the most scared I felt on the roads was when we were back in Europe. All the gossip one hears about the crazy crazy Brazilian lorry drivers is utter trollop compared to how we drive over here. Most of the vehicles in South America are lucky to be able to get up to 60 miles an hour; the majority are so old they should be fodder for the crusher, or else they are so overloaded that they creak up to 40 miles an hour with the most evil thing about then being the black smoke that belches from the back, or else their attitude is "manana" so why rush? We were always safe in the knowledge that most of the time we could accelerate ourselves out of danger.
Back on the motorways of the Continent, being splattered with the dregs of the speeding lorries, being buffeted around and being constantly harassed by drivers wanting to overtake and being right up our arse, I had a sinking feeling about being back; it was the glimpse of the rat race again and I didn't like it!
We made the 9.30 am ferry from Calais to Dover...it felt strange standing in the coffee shop on board and actually ordering a coffee in English and even stranger hearing the strong English Northern accent come back at me. My ears were totally out of tune! And so we sat sipping coffee and watching the White Cliffs appear on the horizon.
We slipped outside to watch as they drew closer and we could not help a few tears, whether of joy, relief, sorrow, homesickness, success, I don't know.
As we climbed aboard the bike and revved up for that final journey to London, I felt quite sick in my stomach and then rolling off and being in England again, an overwhelming burst of "We did it" came from my lips, we both punched the air in triumph and I hugged Kev tightly and enjoyed the elation of the moment.
EPILOGUE When Kevin and I took the decision to do our first travelling we did not know each other. We met in Quito, Ecuador, when I was on my first long trip and he was doing his second. It was fate! When you travel for longer and differently than the socially acceptable two to three week package holiday, something changes inside you. You have uncaged that dormant restlessness and I don't think it ever goes back. You see things in the world that help you to reassess what you are doing and why you are doing it, that puts your own world into a different perspective, that gives you the ability to see it from the outside.
Almost 18 months after returning from Rio, we returned back to travelling, but this time by motorbike. To combine two loves into one and to do that thing with the person you love is an empowering and humbling experience. I would almost say that we are lucky, but then I remember all the hard work, planning, saving, and that fact that we chose to seize the opportunity which turned our dreams into reality.
Kev's motto is "Just do it" . . . . and we did!!"
Franky is for sale by the way, if anyone is interested, as Kevin now has an R1100GS and Julia is going for it on an F650!
This month's - and the first - winner is: drum roll please....
Lever Rukhin, from the USA!
Lever recently completed an around the world via Europe and Russia and back to the US, where last I heard he was trying to sell his story and make a few dollars so he could travel some more. Note that he did it all with no carnet, an expired drivers license and no insurance..."what, me worry?" should be his motto.
Lever, you have to reply to me by the 25th of September to claim your prize - just let me know which book or video you'd like!
Dr. Gregory Frazier, round the world traveller and author extraordinaire has very generously contributed a FREE book (or video) a month to the lucky reader whose name gets drawn. That's right, you don't have to do a thing, you lazy sods, just sit back and wait for an e-mail - this e-zine - telling you that you've WON!
Here's what you get to choose from when YOU win!
Gregory Frazier's books:
Europe By MC, book
...is posted on the website. Yes, he made it to the Pacific! Now he just has to get the little bit he missed at the beginning...
along the way he said...
"The rest of Colorado was just the same--absolutely jaw-dropping but, if I'm honest, a bit on the gnarly side for a bike which, loaded and fueled, probably tips the scales at 400+lb. In fact, given the choice I'd probably say the Trans America Trail was absolutely perfect for an XR400 and a backpack, because now it's hit the high country it's become decidedly technical in places, and 'technical' on a packed mule like mine means 'whooooaaaaa shhiiiiiiiiiit'........
And now I'm out of the mountains and holed up for a day or so with the wonderful Fred Hink of Arrowhead Motorsports in Moab... This morning we took a 90-mile loop through Canyonlands National Park -- up the Schafer Trail among others. And while it may be some 6,000ft lower than the rockies here, it's none the less spectacular -- I'm getting bored scraping my jaw off the dirt."
"Presently in Bucharest, Romania organizing visas for Iran Pakistan and India."
"...'Dag, come over here and have a look', said James, one of two mechanics at Rocket Motorcycles in San Diego, Triumph and KTM dealer with 50 years of Brit iron traditions.
I didn't like the tone of his voice, since this was supposed to be a minor service and the last check on the bike before heading into Mexico. He raised his hands in a gesture saying he was sorry, and replied, 'You have to see this, I'm afraid.' He was looking at a spot in front of the rear wheel. As I leaned down and followed his pointing, I was shocked to see that the lower left engine mount was gone. I held my breath and looked at the opposite mount. It wasn't gone but had a crack right through it.
'How the hell can this happen?', I asked...
Mark, the senior mechanic came over as well, and after a quick look, he said, 'I have never seen this before'.
Triumph...to my great relief... agreed to replace the whole crank case on warranty, replying that they had never seen this happening either. But, replacing the crank case meant not only taking the engine out of the frame, but dismantling every little bit inside...
By the time we left for Mexico, we would leave with something close to a new engine, mostly paid by Triumph...The downside was that we were looking at a three week job...Our schedule, called a "pool table schedule" from some of our contacts to describe how random it was, was by now just a faint memory of the past...
more on their website...
"hello/buenos tardes etc.
...after crossing the Mexican border with a minimum of fuss and travelling via Casa Grande and the Copper Canyon, I am writing this in an internet caf in Durango. The route is south: Zacatecas, Guadalajara, Patzcuaro, Tacso, Acapulco, Puero Angel, Oaxaca, San Cristobal..... etc (get an atlas...)
The bike is fine and norman is attracting a lot of attention. Mexicans are great. Will write a big report some time. Mexican beer is good and tequilla is nasty.
adios muchachos, el loco"
see the website for more...
last month Sara and Chris said "... we're setting off from London in the direction of Dover on 2 August - ... Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. You'll have to wait to find out where the rest of the journey takes us but it involves South-East Asia, Australia, the States, Central and South America, and Africa! We'll keep in touch, Sara and Chris" Well they haven't but Sara's mother sent us a picture! What would we do without mothers to keep us sorted eh?
"...Tomorrow we drive across into Pakky. The KKH is calling! Good luck with the next ezine (It's a great read and I use your links page regularly)... Mika's trip is giving me ideas for my next little jaunt (Nik doesn't know yet...)
...You ARE a wealth of knowledge about these lovable flat twins, aren't you! (we've been discussing some tuning problems he's been having, I guess we got it!) Yes, we are having fun (a blast!), and I love having my bike on such a trip - gives me something to play with. I'm sitting in the air-con comfort of the British library in Islamabad, which is a lot like Canberra. The main difference is you don't see any women about the streets, and if you do you certainly don't see any skin. We're here getting a visa for Iran and hopefully buying some camping gear before heading up the Karakoram highway, back into the Himalaya. We plan to go up to Chitral, Gilgit and Skardu and maybe even do some trekking up to K2 and Nanga Parbat.
I found the right size of tire in Rawalpindi, only it's made in Taiwan. If I can't find a Bridgestone or Dunlop I'll go for that. I'm sure they're overcharging my white ass at $130 AUD for the tire but you get that...if its of any use to anyone in the future, Saddar Bazaar in Rawalpindi is the place to get tires of most sizes in Pakistan, at reasonable prices.
...ran into Simon Milward (millennium-ride.com) in Kathmandu - he was busy with trying to drum up sponsors and recovering from an accident with a rickshaw. I'm not sure if HE was having fun yet.
Might see you in the UK in Feb or March, all the best, Luke"
"...I am on A BMW as you know and my girlfriend, Kirstin, is riding a Yamaha XT600E. We are presently in New Zealand refinancing for the next leg, Kirstin is from NZ so it is nice for her to be home for a while...
No we don't have a website, couldn't be bothered updating it. WE are not that organised. We had a look at yours, excellent. Nice of you to make contact.
We have met a lot of RTW motorcycles on our way thru to here and had some great fun. All is going ok apart from the BMW now needing a new gear box, lucky we are here and not in the outer reaches of Cambodia. We are in the process of putting the feelers out for a secondhand one and hopefully we will come up with something. At least we are here for a bit of time so we don't have to rush with it.
Tom and Kirstin"
"...First stop is Frankfurt airport, then an ICE train to Gottingen where Wolfgang Simmert will collect us. We are going to the motorrad Reise Treffen. Will you be there? Then we are off to the States to tour the West Coast on a couple of R80GS's."
(no, sadly, can't make it. Grant)
Attached photo is of Liam McCabe, Brooke (local friend), Erin, and Chris. Imagine, in one month the summer Olympics begin here."
from Nicole and Roland, "...Mid July Tanguy left Kenya to Tanzania. He is now in Dar-es-Salaam after a 10-day trip in Zanzibar island. Before leaving Nairobi he sent us box with a number of films and between other items a "massai hamac" that you'll see on the site, (and)... many images of the life at the Nairobi campsite, water colour paintings by Tanguy, friends and bikers, trip in 4x4 to lake Turkana,..."
at last word are in the Amazon somewhere...
We'll have more on their travels next issue if they emerge from the jungle in time...
"We are back in Australia having left the motorcycle in Johannesburg South Africa on the 5th of June. It's starting to show signs of wear from being lived out of for 1079 days in over 90 countries on four continents and 200,000 km of carrying two people for almost all of its life.
We didn't achieve all our goals for this trip as we didn't manage to visit four of the countries in the Middle East or Somalia, Sudan, Angola or the islands off the West coast of Africa. I guess this gives us an excuse (if one is needed) to return to the area in the future. Still we did visit 18 new countries on our sojourn from Turkey to South Africa, including some rarely visited by motorcycles in recent years like Yemen, Rwanda and Burundi. The last seven months has been the hardest so far, for both us and the motorcycle. The requirement of an armed escort for 900 km and another 450km of dirt tracks in Yemen combined with the political instability, violence, personal security dangers and bad roads in Africa become very wearing over seven months.
Despite the difficulties (or because of them) it has been an exciting area of the world to visit. The poverty and troubles in Sub Saharan Africa far outweigh those anywhere we have visited. It seems a continent trying to drag itself into the 21st century needing but not trusting the rest of the world who has used and abused it since slavery started almost a millennium ago.
The wildlife that most tourists come to Africa for was as spectacular as we had imagined. To be able to walk through the jungle and watch the gorillas at play or to see lions tearing apart last night's kill or to see the largest land animal picking up small tree seeds in its trunk seems like a dream.
The highlights, Yemen because of its uniqueness, it's vast deserts of no roads, political instability but with friendly Arab hospitality and their ability to happily solve almost any problem we threw at them. Namibia, again the challenge of off road riding but more so the experience of sharing a country with fellow Australians on their world tour, Ken and Carol Duval. Malawi, for its lake shore beauty and relaxation. Tanzania, for the wildlife of the world famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Oman and the UAE, Arab worlds smothered in expats from scores of nationalities enjoying the weather and wealth of the region. South Africa, still being concertina'd by black white issues. But the greatest part of the trip were the people we met. Other travellers and those who helped us from simple directions to accommodation and meals or assistance with the motorcycle.
We head back to Africa again on the 5th of Sept. This time to hopefully head up the centre and across to West Africa and finish by shipping the motorcycle to the U.S.A. This will most likely be the hardest section we will attempt on the whole trip. It involves crossing countries at war where there are no roads or bridges, making it necessary to float the motorcycle in dugout canoes and ride on bicycle tracks through the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Full details, maps and photos of the last trip Peter and Kay Forwood"
Greg obviously didn't get enough of Brazil last time through, where he told me about waking up underneath his bike at the bottom of a too-steep hill...with a thief trying to clean him out...
"Brazil will find me on an Amazonas..." poor Greg...
"my plan (which I confidently expect to go up the Swannee within 24 hours of leaving home) is as follows - depart date 8th September, travelling through France and Germany quite rapidly, then a few days in Czech republic, moving on through Slovakia at an unhurried pace, through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, into Turkey and hopefully meeting up with a couple of Turkish friends for a day or two. From here I hope to follow the (presumably) usual overland route to Mount Ararat and through Iran by Qom (avoiding Tehran), entering Pakistan at Zahedan. Following this, through Baluchistan, heading North to Islamabad, and continuing via Karakoram highway to Gilgit. Unfortunately turning round here to head for Islamabad once more, where I hope to put myself and the bike on a train for Karachi, and ship it out for the UK. And if things turn out exactly as above I'll eat my hat.
Best of luck - thanks again for your help - you are providing a much needed forum! Connor."
"...I'm leaving on a 2-3 week trip to Namibia on Thursday...My next trip is the week after the Springbok Rally. I'll be doing the Swartberg pass, Die Hell/ Gamkaskloof, Rooiberg Pass, Cloetes Pass, Du Plessis Pass towards Mosselbay, Hamington and Phantom Passes towards Knysna and De Vlug/ Prince Alfreds Pass towards Uniondale. And then the guys ask me why I didn't bought a superbike! That's why! If there is anybody that would like to join me on this ride, mail me. I'll be camping as far as possible. Hotels and Gest houses are for yuppies with Harleys or road BMW's, and for me when it rain hard! Enjoy the next two weeks WORKING!!!! That exclude Chris Bright, who is on a 2 YEAR trip, lucky him. Cheers! God Bless
Johan and Skeelie( my bike's name, Afrikaners wil understand better why)"
"Am reading your interesting chronicles. I am seeking current info on touring Latin America and to post a message for those who may be interested in joining me. I'll be riding a KLR 650 with my Yorkie dog as company. Intending to depart W. Palm Bch., Florida, USA 5-1-01 heading north to Newfoundland / Labrador then cross Canada to the west/Alaska with stops in Yellowknife & Inuvik, NW Territories. Then on to Deadhorse, Alaska before heading south hitting all 23 countries between there and Tierra del Fuego/Ushuaia. Expect at least 2 years to complete this tour with an avg. $40/day expenses. I have been in touch with all consulates concerning entry of me, my dog and KLR. Most info I have seen is 2 years old. Do Mexico & Ecuador still require posting a surety bond for the bike? Colombia is the only country I have serious security concerns about. Keep up the good times, Lew Waterman"
(I gave Lew the good news that no bond or carnet is required in North, Central or South America. Grant)
Leaves in August heading east...
Three Canadians leaving August 29, 2000 for Ushuaia. (Amazing how some people can set an exact day - I feel lucky if I leave in the right season...Grant)
"We are three Indians from Bangalore planning to do a world tour on motorcycles. We plan to travel across 86 countries over a distance of 100,000 + kms. We would like all those like minded individuals give us some information or help or both regarding this. All advises are welcome and will be highly appreciated."
"I will fly with my girlfriend in November 2000 to Argentina and will drive the Pan-American to Mexico within 15 months. I would like to exchange info with motorcycle travellers who come down the other direction from USA to South America."
...planning a trip from South Africa to Tanzania on an F650. He would love to hear from South Africans who want to join him on the trip - and/or the climb of Kilimanjaro.
...getting ready to start their motorcycle trip north to the USA.
...depart in August 2000, for a one-year, 5 continent trip around the world. Nice site. (Note that you may have trouble accessing it for some reason - my IE5.01 hangs on it, Susan's IE 5.01 is fine, my Netscape 4.7 is fine.)
"This trip has been a wonderful experience. We didn't have any big problem, and we had a lot of positive experience. We are already planning our next trip. Nepal, West Africa, South America, we don't know yet. But one thing is sure, it's just the beginning of a long story..!
P.S.: Thanks for your support and your e-zine."
"...we flew back to Europe from New York. The whole thing took eleven months. Our Moto Guzzi Quota 1100 is still in very good state after 62000 km. As soon as it arrived in Slovenia (ten days after us) we took a ride. It is difficult to stay in one place and we'll have to get accustomed to it. We are thinking our next trip, which will take place, as soon as we raise some money.
Looking back at our journey, we are proud to cross the most difficult part of Africa: Cameroon, CAR and DR Congo. Because of the war there it was a real challenge. The driving conditions are hard even to describe to someone, who hasn't been there. I would like to go there again and it might be our next destination.
South America was nice in it's easy and smooth way. It was nothing comparing to Africa. Maybe it was a mistake to visit two different continents, one shortly after another but we took advantage of our limited time and I am glad that we could do it.
Anyway, we are home now, trying to organize things, but our hearts are in far-away countries. Nothing is the same as before. (Fortunately, this condition may be permanent. Grant)
Best regards and good luck with your excellent web page.
Uros Blako and Metka"
"...finally have a few days with not much to do. Am waiting for a diveplace to come available for the SS Thistlegorm in the Red Sea , so have decided to let all you overland bikers in on my my findings, cost wise for some of the countries traversed so far.
I am Travelling on a South African Passport. Have a Carnet from Britain and am riding a British registered machine. My bike is an XT 600 z Tenere 1990 twin Headlight and she has been more than faithful so far. My biggest suggestion is take as little as possible, believe it. You do not need that extra T shirt , or the shampoo or that role mat.
My route so far has be across France and Germany , to Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. I then entered Turkey and travelled down through Syria and Jordan, crossing into The Sinai via the Aqaba - Nuweiba Ferry.
...costs (in US dollars and approx date this year ) from Hungary onwards, as in the EEC countries do not incur extra costs.
Hungary - ( 18/5 ) road tax cost me 8$ for two weeks road tax, border crossing was hassle free and friendly.
Romania - ( 22/5) no road tax or insurance asked for and the border crossing was easy - no extra hand outs no hassles with the police. Be careful with non lockable luggage as a few petty thieves are always about.
Bulgaria -(26/5) one of the friendliest helpful border crossings. - cost for 2 weeks insurance 22$ (you pay per week so the cost varies per time spent. Limited spares availability in Bulgaria for Yamaha.
Turkey- (28/5) border crossing a cinch ( 4$ ) quick and easy. No insurance asked for. Plenty of Yam spares available everywhere.
Syria - ( 8/6) border crossing a nightmare. Had a letter from the head of the Automobile assoc. in Syria as to the costs I would incur. New price list with lots of pocketing of your hard earned dollars. Road tax / temporary import permit 30$, insurance 40$. An official pocketed 10 dollars in front of me. Much paper work. You can temporarily import your machine without a carnet and excluding these Syria and Jordan from your Carnet brings down the amount lodged with the AA by 200%. Temporarily import the bike is my suggestion. After that all was smooth - no police hassles. NB no ATM machines in Syria so have sufficient cash ( this is to change shortly under the new president ) No Yamaha spares available - you will have to fly/freight them in.
Jordan - easy border crossing (20/6) 8 $ road tax/ temporary import document, 17.5$ insurance (this is on a sliding scale dependent on time you wish to stay. No hassles and the police are ever keen to help bikers. NB bikes are officially outlawed for the Normal Jordanians so only the police ride old Hondas and some new BMW's. Some people ride old machines pre-dating the ban. - NB no spares or Yamaha dealers - local populace very interested in any bike. Leaving Jordan 6$ port tax.
Egypt - 13/7 paperwork bun fight. ( I had a letter from the undersecretary of state for Egypt and he stated that it should cost +/- 100$ with a carnet. It has cost exactly 94$ but I believe I have to pay to hand in the temporary number plates that I was issued with. It is a mammoth paper chase taking 5 hours and many little windows and handing over lots of small Egyptian denominations. No backsheesh - just ask for receipts for anything that looks/sounds dodgy. Learn your Arabic numerals - comes in handy! Costs 32$ road tax, 15$ insurance, the rest plates and sundry charges. (Egypt never seems to get much better for entry/exit, although I hear that it is improved - slightly. Grant)
No such thing as fork oil in Egypt - even the bike shops use hydraulic oils mixed with kerosene.
I hope this helps some of you with your budgeting. Asphalt Roads on the whole have been good, though lots of opportunity to go off road from hard piste to mud in Turkey, to soft soft sand in Jordan and the Sinai.
Lightness for the sand can not be stressed enough. My bike has shed countless kilos in a very steep learning curve since leaving on this trip.
Shortly my web site will be up so you can read a bit as well as follow my Tales from the Wheeled Perch in Grants excellent global biking e-zine.
...The Sudan Visa is in the passport and I am shortly heading in the direction of Luxor, via Hurgarda in time to negotiate exorbitant ferry fees for my faithful perch.
Keep it upright, Kev Storie
Do I feel like a dummy - last month I had a report from "Pete, unknown, Dutchman" - it was Peter Theuwissen, a frequent contributor to our Bulletin Board and the newsletter! And it was out of date. Sorry Peter, I should have known it was you!
Hi Grant, I left Russia, my report from Japan:
JAPAN! Japan is certainly one of the best countries in the world for bike traveling.
CROWDED? The roads in and around the cities are disastrous but once you leave them behind bike heaven is yours. That's to say if you like twisty roads, spotless pavement, mountain passes, scenic coastal roads, bush camping, hot springs and delicious (camp-)food.
EXPENSIVE? Yes, if you like hotel rooms or hostel dorms. But with a tent you can camp free everywhere on very nice spots. No worries about theft or hassle. Count on a min. of $30 a day (fuel: $1 a liter).
HOW TO GO? Ship your own bike, and use a Carnet. It is possible to import your bike without a Carnet, but this will cost more at the end because you have to pay inspection, 1 year insurance, road tax, registration etc. I paid $200 shipping from Australia + $150 landing fees in Yokohama harbour. From Europe you pay maybe slightly more. Insurance: $75 for 3 months 3rd party. I left Japan to Vladivostok (ferry): $250 person + $100 bike (2 days, incl. food)
IMPORTANT! You need a detailed map to find the nice backroads (Shobunsha 1:250.000). It is very handy to have a Japanese biker friend to help you with customs and assistance in case of problems. Almost nobody speaks English.
Japan is CASH country, no credit cards accepted. There are just a few ATM's available for foreign cards. Ask a VISA-office for a list to make it easy to find them. Cash withdrawal in some banks is possible. For everything else Japan is a No-Worries-Country. Take at least 1 month, but 3 is better...
Dutch Peter Theuwissen RTW
"I just want you to know that I arranged a Carnet at the Dutch ANWB (AA). The Carnet is valid for a year but we can ask for another one just before the end of the first one. This will only cost us administration costs (NLG 265,- for a 25 page carnet) and the "guarantee-money" (NLG 4000,- for a Unimog 404 of 1963) will stay on their account. Hope this info helps you in providing more info to other travelers.
Regards, Thomas Ezendam, Tilburg, Holland
Send me your national AA address or wherever you get Carnets from, and I'll post it. Fees etc would be very useful of course! <bg>
and he has recently added a number of useful pages for the traveller.
"I can highly recommend the Celestial Mountain tourist agency in Bishkek for letters of invitation and transport to and from Kyrgyzstan. Ian Claytor, a British gentleman, runs the office and provides timely, meticulous and conscientious service. You may find cheaper assistance, but you won't find any better.
Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine
to a friend! Just forward it to them, or send them the link to the newsletter on the website.
I am working on a listing of people who have ridden around the world, as well as what I call "significant journeys" e.g. the first across Africa. Any information you may have on this topic, please let me know. Preferably post it on the Bulletin Board, or e-mail me direct. I currently have around 89 world travellers listed, but there are many more. Some people think there are around about 100 people who have done a full around the world. And there's at least 20 enroute now, although some won't make it all the way. Have YOU done it?
Bernd Tesch has produced a very comprehensive list, at his website of long distance travellers. Just updated 28 August, much more info and summaries of their travels. Bernd now lists some 211 travellers. Not all have actually done an around the world, but are in progress.
I'll let you know when we have the actual count to date. We have some overlap, and some new to each other. We'd like to think that we have everybody, but of course we don't, so please continue to send any new information on any travellers you meet.
We hope you've enjoyed this issue, and do please let us know your thoughts. It's your newsletter, so tell us what you want to know about!
See you next month, or on the road somewhere, someday...