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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
On the Website
Plan where to be when!
If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note
at Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Cape Agulhas, South Africa, Goa, India and ??? Where will YOU be?
Christmas Day, 2000
Traditionally there are a number of riders meeting up at Ushuaia at Christmas, as it's a logical stopping point in the wilds of South America. Three years ago when we were there, there were over a dozen riders from half a dozen countries. For 1999, there were over thirty riders, and a tremendous party, especially for the Millennium celebrations. For those who make it this year, send us a pic so we can post it here in the newsletter.
A photo of a
Wherever you will be, post it in the Bulletin Board here or send an e-mail to me and I will post it here in the December 1 issue. Meet up with some fellow travellers!
"Day Ride - Newnes and the Lost City, Sunday 12th November,
This is a fun day ride to see the stunning rock formations of the "Lost City" and the ruins of the old shale oil mining village of Newnes. Newnes is in the Wolgan valley near Lithgow only 150km west of Sydney and part of the Wollemi National Park. The ride is from Windsor up Bells road to the Zig Zag railway. From the Zig Zag its onto the dirt and via Bungleboori camping area and Blackfellows Hand trail to the main Newnes dirt road. On this section there is a good detour to check out the rock formations of the "Lost City".
NOTE- You will need to bring a picnic lunch and some drinks as there is nothing available at Newnes.
Meeting--9am for a 9.30 leave at the Mobil Servo on Windsor Rd at McGraths Hill.
Give me a call if you need any more info, Greg--02 9399-5285(H)"
Cold Flame Rally, 10-11th March 2001
This rally is in a stunningly scenic area of the Snowy Mountains. At the junction of the Snowy and Pinch rivers on the Barry Way (the Barry Way runs from Buchan in Vic to Jindabyne in NSW) 65km south of Jindabyne and 15km North of the Victorian border. BYO everything (water available from the river, firewood can be collected around the site)
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.
Muddy Flaps, Ceasar and Christian, Germany to Thailand
Mullie and Nobilé in Africa, Africa from south to north on a URAL motorcycle with sidecar
Visa Requirements for nationals of all countries for any country
XT600 German only - for XT600's, links to others in English. They are also providing great technical help for the XT600 on our Bulletin Board! (In English! :)
Pnom Penh, Cambodia
"...For years political instability kept Cambodia's amazing beauty hidden from the outside world. But today, many of those problems are fading like the summer monsoons and the magic of the Kingdom is again available for any who seek to find it."
There are many "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. Post it on the HUBB
Last month's question:
Rachel and Richard Kempster, Paul and Jill Ackland, UK, enroute to New Zealand,
"...We set off with Odyssey dry batteries, as they were half the size of standard BMW batteries and supposed to be tough. However both have now been replaced with the standard batteries as ours went flat after riding only to Italy.
We were riding with lights on but didn't feel this should have caused it to go flat. Have been told by BMW mechanic in UK that they are not really compatible with charging system of bike and fail to charge fully during normal running. Interesting if anyone else has had similar problems."
Comments anyone - similar or otherwise experiences? What is the best battery for travelling? - Grant
I received replies from several people, and so far the general opinion seems to be that they SHOULD be ok, but the old BMW GS's do have a weak charging system. It may be that the big load from the electric start is flattening the battery so much that it just isn't recovering adequately due to the weak charging.
I will be exploring this further, so if you have any input or experience with this type
of battery, especially on the old BMW's. please let me know.
I've made contact with some of the people we were looking for last month, thanks! - but the following are still unaccounted for...
Daniel, USA on a KLR650 travelling the world.
Two Danes riding XT600's in Iran...
Claire and Mark from England riding two XT600's...
Lionel Marx, I have no e-mail for him...
A Brit heading for Timbuktu...?
a Danish guy, Pauly, travelling on a new R80G/S classic converted into a PD, 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.
"Japanese biker on a Suzuki Djebel 250. He'd ridden from Barcelona to Cameroon and then shipped the bike and his gear to Cape Town. When he opened the crate he only found his bike inside... He was heading north hoping to get to Egypt via Sudan although he'd heard the border between Sudan and Ethiopia is closed for the time being. After Africa he plans to go back to Japan via Russia although I'm not too clear on his intended route."
Annette, Sweden, travelling solo, last seen in Gondar
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
"As I told you previously my bro and I (virgin tourers !) are to set off on a RTW beginning of November end October 2000, I was hoping to milk you for some more quick advice. A minor dilemma seems which way to go, as we obviously want to follow the sun.
Our two possibilities are 1. Start in New York and head south to California, then Mexico, fly the bikes from Panama to Colombia and drive around South America and ship bikes from Chile to New Zealand. hop over to Aus and then ship to Singapore , drive through Malaysia to Thailand and fly the bikes to Kathmandu, drive to through India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Europe (to UK).
The problem seems to be our starting point and the weather, if we go this way then we will probably get to Australia around Feb 2001 and hit Thailand April/May, obviously we are then going into the heat / monsoon weather and India will probably be unbearable.
2. An obvious alternative is for us to reverse this trip and head straight for India /Thailand first. Not sure about weather Nov/Dec crossing southern Europe / Turkey / Iran / Pakistan, which route would you suggest or neither??"
I've given my suggestions, if you have any send them on to Robert - Grant
Welcome to the 13th edition of the Travellers' News!
Christmas... I know, it's way too early to even think about it - but it's coming, and with the time schedule of the e-zine, and the distances many of you are travelling, it's time to think about where you're going to be for the holidays. See the sidebar for more.
We've had a great response to the "Horizons Unlimited Community of Travellers" idea and the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Community system is finally set up and running.
As has been reported here before, the Melbourne group kicked off the idea, and it seems to have sparked a chord in people around the world. We have 8 communities running already, and it's only been fully operational for 5 days!
The idea of the Horizons Unlimited Travellers Community is to enable motorcycle travellers, both those on the road and those at home, to meet up with like minded people. By joining the Community in their area, people at home that are willing to help travellers on the road will receive e-mails on occasion from travellers looking for information on the area, help to solve a problem, or a place to stay and visit. They can choose to ignore the message, in the hope that someone else in the area is willing and able to help, or can respond directly to the request.
Eventually perhaps travellers could send an email to their next anycity @ horizons unlimited.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.
For details on how you can join, go to the new Community page.
Good Deals for Horizons Unlimited people:
Roy Truelson has worked out a special deal for us with BatteryWeb's Randy Walker!
BMW riders can get a special deal on BMW batteries, the Horizons Unlimited Group Discount, by contacting Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free (877) 746-2288 in the USA or 1-954-746-8868 from everywhere else. Quote our Group Discount Code, "B91" for a great deal!
We're working on bringing you deals on more bikes soon. If you have a specific request please let me know. Grant - and Thanks to Roy and Randy!
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.
Mullie© and Nobilé, Netherlands, Cape Town to Netherlands with Ural sidecar, in Zambia,
"...October 2nd, we took the ferry across the Zambezi river and entered Zambia on the other shore. Border formalities went smoothly, no problems with the carnet, and no difficult questions asked. We had been warned about the road conditions in Zambia, and the first part of the road to Livingstone was indeed in very poor condition. Lots of potholes that forced down our average speed even more. However, in general the condition of the major roads in Zambia wasn't that bad. Only some stretches with potholes but in general ok (as long as you stay on the major roads). In Livingstone we stayed at the pleasant `JollyBoys' backpackers. Livingstone proved to be a nice, lively town.
...we headed of to Lusaka with one stop in between at Lake Kariba. Lusaka isn't the nicest town in Africa, and supposedly people don't go there if they don't have to...on to the Luangwa Bridge camp, a beautiful campsite close to the main bridge over the Luangwa River (obviously). We had to shower (cold) with candles and flashlights (some problem with the generator)....
At night, one of the owners of the campground invited us to cross the river in canoes and spent some time at the Mozambique shore under a clear and almost full moon sky. This guy also gave us a hand drawn map of a shortcut to the South Luangwa national park. The road is almost only doable with a 4 wheel drive, although he told us he did it a couple of times in his old VW van. He also warned us about the chance of running into lion in the last 50 km or so. He said the lions (like dogs) love to chase motorbikes, or so his brother had experienced some time earlier. As we hadn't had any problems before concerning dogs chasing the sidecar, we decide to go for it. This proved to be the first real off road test for the Ural. The road started out ok; just a stretch of gravel. But after we had to turn off this road, it started getting nastier and nastier, with a a couple of fairly steep rocky sections, and a lot of really bumpy sections. The Ural made it through ok, we had to use the sidecar drive a couple of times, so that turned out pretty useful, and Nobilé had to dismount the sidecar twice and help a little by pushing. All in all it took us about 8 hours to cover that 170 km, and we did not run into lions, only a couple of elephants (of course :-) and some giraffes...
At Luangwa park, we stayed at the Flat Dogs campground, which was recommended to us by many. Indeed, it is a nice campground. It is run by a guy called Jake, and apparently a lady called Jungle Jane is also involved... The campsite is right on the Luangwa river, where on the other bank the park is situated. Well, this natural park border is not very well respected by the animals. During the day, there are just a couple of monkeys on the camp site. But during the night, the camp site is invaded by other animals as well. And let me tell you, it is pretty scary lying in your tiny tent at pitch dark while you hear all kinds of noises right next to your tent. We sat up straight in our tent for what seemed like hours. Then, when things quieted down a bit, we went to the nearest ablution block to catch our breath (which we had been holding all the time). Then we saw what made the noises: four elephants. Two adults and two baby ones were calmly walking over the campsite in between the tents ripping the trees apart eating the leaves. In addition, we also saw hyena walking in between the tents (In SA, we heard a story about a hyena who had killed a child sleeping in a tent). We stayed at the ablution block until it got light and the staff from the campground as well as the other campers came to life again. The elephants then left the campground.
At first, we considered moving into one of the chalets for the next night. However, during the day things always look different (safer) and after we heard that this happened all the time, we decided not to move but to stay in the tent. The second night things got even scarier. The elephants (and hippos?) again came right next to the tent and made lots of eating noises. On top of this, we heard a new noise of which we both were sure was a lion growling (we only spoke about this to each other next morning). The (male) lion had been spotted near the campground that afternoon as well. Only after one of the elephants raised hell, the noise disappeared and at that time the noise of the elephants even sounded somewhat safe. Still, again we didn't sleep that well that night.
We also did a night drive through the park. Such a drive starts at about 4:00 pm, and ends at about 8:00 pm. From about 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, when it is dark, a guy with a spotlight in the car searches for nocturnal animals. We did not see that many. All in all we saw more exciting animals during those nights at the campground than during that night drive so you might want to save your money from the (expensive) drive and stay a couple of nights longer on the campground if you want to see nocturnal animals ;-). We must add to this however, that we did see a leopard during (the daylight part of) the drive, which was lying beautifully and gracefully (she also looked pregnant) up in a tree.
After two (sleepless) nights at Flat Dogs, we headed out towards Chipata, to go to the border with Malawi. Had the road to Luangwa been an exiting off road experience, the road to Chipata was terrible. For large parts it consists of what we in Dutch call `wasbord' (washboard, I forgot the English word for it). You either have to go very slowly, or go at least 60 km/h. Otherwise, you're shaken to pieces. The Ural did it's best, and nothing broke, shook loose, or was lost on the way, but it had some trouble keeping up speed. After a brief stop in Chipata, we headed towards the Malawi border...
We liked Zambia very much. We found it to be very different from SA and Botswana. Much more the 'real' Africa, if such a thing exists. The route led us through some beautiful hilly surroundings. We didn't see that much game along the way, but we were told that is because the main road we took is on top of a ridge away from the rivers where most game resides during the dry season.
Here are some more notable quotes we heard:
'I've never seen such a thing before in my life, and probably will never see one again.'
Bente Bråthen and Dag Jenssen, (Rocinantes' Travels) Norway, North and South America, in Mexico,
"...the road sign... pointed us in the direction of Creel. The back road we took saved us a long detour through Chihuahua and led us 100 kilometers on dirt through marijuana growing country. We kept to the main road to avoid confrontations and the going was good. This dirt road was like riding the US Interstate compared to our Baja experience. In Creel we ended up in Huespedaje Margarita with, according to one of the managers, every backpacker in town. The price was good though. For 200 pesos we got a nice double with bath including breakfast and dinner, both good meals. The next day Peter showed up, a twenty-four year old Canadian carpenter with big hands, red curly hair and a Kawasaki KLR 650 which he had decided to ride as far south as he could before it broke down or got stolen. When he told us about the puncture he had on the extremely hot coastal highway earlier in the day, we didn't know what a magic impact it would have on us. Neither did he. The next day he went for a bicycle ride around town on a hired bike, and when I asked how his trip was, he shrugged and said: 'I had another puncture and had to carry the bike back'.
Later Peter, Bente and I talked for hours with Sheamus, an Irish street vendor and maker of colorful bracelets, who stayed in Creel for a few months every year with his wife and two children. He sold each of us a leather bracelet, and as he tied it to each one's arm, he said a few words about ridding us of trouble and asked us to make a secret wish. Peter later revealed he had wished for a trip without no more punctures. Still, we didn't suspect anything. (did you see the grammar problem?? ;-)
...we headed for Batopilas. This little town was one of the reasons for coming to this area, and I looked forward with joy and anticipation to the 130 kilometer trip, where 65 kilometer is on dirt roads leading down into the canyon. The altitude change is 1800 meters and the temperature change about 35 degrees Celsius, from early morning temperatures just above zero in Creel to the afternoon heat in the canyon... After 70 kilometers the road left the highway and went dirt. It was easy going... Another 25 kilometers and we finally saw the canyon. It was huge... The going got slower as we declined through a series of switch-backs, keeping Rocinante in first gear and using the rear brake a lot... every meter we descended, we got warmer... we both laughed at how bad some said this road was. Never ever talk like that, we have always said. Just then the road narrowed along a cliff, and the road surface changed from decent to fist size stones. Of course, this was one of the three spots on the whole trip down we met a car coming up. He came around a blind corner, but luckily the road hadn't invited the driver to push it. Even so, we met in a very narrow turn, and when Bente got off, I moved Rocinante into the rock wall to the right of us. The driver didn't hesitate, he simply gassed it with, as it seemed to me, two wheels off the road.
Eight kilometers to go... Both felt it at the same time, something hitting hard on the rear rim and a slightly wobbly feeling. We stopped and looked at the rear wheel. It had gone flat. For the second time only, in 22000 kilometers so far on the trip, we had a puncture. With only a short distance left and the heat at it's daily peak, it was a real disappointment... time for our first tyre repair 'in the wild'... We had stopped just outside the little farm house, and now we had two young Tarahumara Indians watching us. With almost no traffic and not a neighbour in sight, the strange couple sweating and swearing in the dirt must have been the highlight of the day.
'We have to get hold of Peter and blame him for this', Bente said, and I agreed. One unlucky puncture in the driveway of West Hovland's house in Eugene, Oregon, was our only experience with flats on the trip, and through my ten years of biking I had never had a puncture. There had to be a connection.
.... I hadn't imagined how much air it takes to get a decent pressure in a motorcycle tyre. Why should I? In my experience all it takes is a squeeze with one finger and watch the pressure rise. After about a zillion pumps - we had to let the pump rest from time to time to avoid overheating, and a few liters of sweat later, we were satisfied and mounted the wheel. The Indian girl who had been sitting on the fence watching us doing the whole job smiled and said, "Ya esta?". Yes, we were done and ready to go to Batopilas and find that beer...
(Overnight in Batopilas) ...After a few hours we came to the plateau and had only kilometers left before we would meet the pavement again. Then the bike started to wobble and hit again. We couldn't believe it, but a look confirmed that we had our second puncture in two days. We laughed silly and called out loud for Peter. Had his wish for no more punctures left a spell on us?
The wheel hadn't lost all the air, so, hoping for an early meeting with a gas station along the southbound road, we pumped as much air in as we could and headed on, doing dangerously high speeds on the dirt to get as far as possible before the next pump stop. After another two stops, where we sweated through the process of filling up the tube, we came to Guachochi, a town with a gas station and a Desponchadero, a tyre repair shop. This time I took the wheel off while Bente went to get us lunch. We ate in silence while the guys at the work shop repaired both tubes and mounted everything, all for a little less than five dollars. When we were shown the tube that had just punctured, I realized that we had forgot to check one basic and important thing when we put the new tube in the day before. We had let the tube fold between the tyre and the rim, creating a ten centimeter crack in the tube.
and again... Three times in three days, when was this going to end? Armed with a six-pack of beers we started the repair job outside our room.
and again... On our way to Durango the next day, we punctured. We knew we would. We had been talking the night before about the magic spell cast on us in Creel, and figured that the combination of a badly worn tyre and no-more-puncture wishes were just too much. After three days and three punctures, why shouldn't there be a fourth.
... Another 300 kilometers and we entered Guanajuato. There was a festival going on, Festival Cervantino, in honor of Miguel Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote, and hence the father of the name Rocinante - the remarkable Don's horse. The town is almost beyond description in beauty and uniqueness. It lies in the hills south east of León, and it has centuries old tunnels that penetrates the town. The tunnels are now the main traffic arteries, and they are as far from regular tunnels they can get. It's like riding in subterranean halls, often coming out in the open to something reminding me of the channels in Venice, Italy - even though I've never been there. High stone walls on both sides of the "channels" with stairways leading up to the street level boasts houses and buildings hanging over the channel, just like over a water way. The town had numerous plazas and there were people and life everywhere. It was fiesta time in this university city, where the cafés were modern and served excellent cafe espresso, and where artists entertained a young and educated audience.
The next day we strolled the city for hours, drinking numerous espressos, and we met up with Dana and Sarig again. This time a third Israeli we didn't catch the name of, sat with them. We exchanged travel plans, and when he revealed that his final goal was Chile, where he wanted to be before March when the roads closed in the south due to cold and snow, Bente turned to me and stared with wide open eyes.
'Snow! Roads closed in March? Did you know that, Dag?'
I had been staring at some point in the ceiling since the mention of snow, knowing Bente's aversion to her natural Norwegian climate. The others started to laugh, seeing the two of us, one trying to avoid the other's stare.
'Well,' I said, dragging on the word, 'I did and I didn't. You know, the forecast always exaggerate, and I'm sure we're on our way north by then....'
Bente gave me a 'yeah, sure' look, as if this was according to our plan, the two people who were suppose to travel slowly and be in Ushuaia sometime next spring. I didn't like what I had heard either, but the situation had become comical in the presence of the others, so we broke out laughing as well. Later checks on the internet proved that it's only half true. Some sources say you can travel safely through March, but either way we had miscalculated and probably had to speed up a little. Priority planning stinks, although in retrospect it seems a bit stupid not to have checked the climate more thoroughly than we did."
Richard Humphreys, UK, UK to New Zealand, in Turkey,
"I wobbled my bike (which has gained the name mouse) off it's stand way back on the 25th of August after a few hectic weeks after getting back from Dubai (in retrospect I should have bought a camel over there and used that for the trip but hindsight is a wonderful thing - they use less petrol and people are less likely to nick your stuff off a camel). A quick trip to Toni to get UK .... NZ shaved into my head, and down to Bikemart for a couple of photos. They were the bike shop that helped me out loads planning this trip and gave me loads of great discounts, coffee etc...
...the bike felt like someone had let all the air out of the tires and replaced them with foam. ...due to my brilliant packing skills half the stuff was strapped onto every part of the bike hanging over the edges... with that much weight on the bike, when I tried to put the side stand down it was way too long and would just push the bike over in the opposite direction. Leaning a motorbike up against a wall every time you stop is less than ideal! I filled the new 28 litre fuel tank up (yeah good idea Rich add another 50 odd kilos to the weight enough fuel to get me to Paris - well you never know when you might find another petrol station!) and weaved my way off down the good old M4.
Off across the middle of Greece, beautiful sunshine and amazing scenery, there's nothing quite like sunshine great quiet roads and a bike. I was in heaven, that is until some dozy Greek driver decided that he would use the back of my bike to slow him self down - well more the side really - as I turned left he crashed straight into the side of me bastard!
...bike and me parted company, which is always a good thing, and I just remember thinking what's going on here then as my bike spiraled down the road. I landed fine wrapped up in all my body armour and the rest a bit of a bruise on my bum (which is what I landed on) and one random one on my side.
Lots of helpful people pick my stuff off the road. I was a little angry to say the least. This old Greek lady came over and held my face in her hands almost in tears. Some bloke who spoke English told me that she was just glad I was ok which made 2 of us. The cops turn up and all my stuff gets piled into the boot of this blokes car and I have to follow on my bike to the police station. A big thank you goes out to Steve who built the boxes and rack on the back of the bike because they took the full impact and although squashed into the wheel and bent had saved the bike. Ten hours at the police station achieved nothing, the only English the police were able to muster was 'Don't worry Greece is paradise.' Easy for them to say. I got out of there at about 11pm starving and wondering how I was going to get my newly modified bike back in shape.
...I spent the night in some strange 24 hour coffee shop where my story was recounted to most of the people there one way or another... Some bloke bought me dinner even though I made it very clear that he didn't need to. He had a bike and just wanted to help. Then another couple who had a bike stuff a tenner into my hand and said, 'for your next petrol.' I was starting to feel a bit of a charity case. Morning eventually rolled on and I rolled the bike round to the Honda place. I couldn't have asked for more; a bit of um and argg and hmm a cup of coffee and the bike was in the workshop. Hammers bars and an amazing amount of skill had it all back together again, how I don't really know. The most interesting part was trying to straighten the frame of the bike with an 8 foot bar and four of us bouncing up and down on it. It seemed that most people from the town popped in at one time or another with tea and fruit. The cost: a whopping 10 pounds and a promise of a postcard from New Zealand. A big thanks to Steve and Joe. So off I wobbled to Thessalonika - the 3 fingers sticking out from the top south coast of Greece!? Top south oh well never mind.
...yes maybe the police are right, Greece is certainly beautiful in the right places. Bouncing down the road no, beautiful coast yes.
So I left there and headed on to Turkey only once again finding myself no where to stay some little dodgy restaurant no English but buddy said I could stay in his half built workshop perfect. As I was stumbling round the front to practice my 'speak slowly and loudly English' on the bloke again, this time to get some food I saw a bike with British plates. As I walked over to have a look the guy who owned it came over. Turns out that he is Greek but studies in England and drives back every summer. His family is eating in the bar and his mum comes over, babbles something to him and I figured he was getting told off because his dinner was getting cold, but she was inviting me to join them. Turns out both the sons ride bikes and I was treated to a proper Greek family dinner baby goat roasted on a spit by the table loads of dodgy Greek wine and a fantastic evening which they refused to let me pay a penny for!
The next morning the Greek brothers turn up on their bikes and give me a little tour around the area and then escort me off to the border. a big thanks to them.
I managed to stumble through the border in about 3 hours, which so I hear is pretty good. It took me about 2 hours to find it... the main border crossing was up a deserted coned off road with the sign post pointing the other way. Well of course it would be, I don't know why I didn't figure it before!
...Turkey has so far been the most amazing country I have ever been too the friendly people who greet each other as brother, even I now have a few new brothers. There willingness to help in any way they can.
...it takes 2 hours for something that should take 10 minutes because you have to sit and drink tea before after and during. I rarely manage to fill up with petrol without being invited to sit down for tea. The amazing countryside and buildings, the ruins on every corner, but most of all the people. I think this will have to be the next chapter. I'm into Iran in the next few days, and so will try and write it in the busy evenings. Playing chess only recently made legal again, or listening to my Walkman (oh no, they tape them shut at the border to stop you spreading infidel music)... Rich"
Dirk 'Krid' Bernhart, Germany, to Cape Town, in Zambia,
"This is just to say hello, I escaped the Ebola virus in Uganda and am now in Zambia. Tomorrow I'll be at the Victoria Falls.
I miss Uganda a lot, and am not really sure if it was right to go on, now I feel quite lonely again. But... well. Dingsbums.
My plan now: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, then being back home for Christmas. A detailed report about the not-so-very-private stuff in Kampala and from my way from there to here will follow, I am too busy driving and being busy right now :)"
"...From Kampala I went straight to Lake Bunyonyi, a nice deep water lake with crayfish - camping there is really cool. I met Niklas again, he runs an island camp in the middle of the lake, and grows tobacco for rolling his own cigars.
The next day, I went for Rwanda. The Ugandan police officer was mumbling around about it being a weekend with lots of work and there's no money for beer, and what's a weekend without a beer, and maybe I can assist him? I told him, yes of course, I can assist you, just hand me my passport back. He gave it to me and I told him 'thanks, so now you have a weekend without work and without beer, that's an improvement, isn't it?'. Hehe. I guess my malaria tablet did me no good.
...next day I got to Tanzania. The road to Kigoma around Burundi was not very good, so I had to split the trip into two days. I slept in a hotel led by a Ugandan guy (felt like home listening to "Makoma"), and reached the port of Kigoma just an hour before the ferry to Mpulungu/Sambia left. I had to rush to get my customs/carnet worked out, but then I was on the ship, first class, in a nice cabin. There I met two Mzungus who had waited six days in Kigoma for the ferry.
Playing card games, swimming, playing chess, reading... I was really lucky that I got to the ferry in time.
The ferry stops at several points on the lake, then small dugout canoes and bigger ships approach it, clearing loads of sacks filled with small fish and selling food. There was always a big fight for the best food-selling position. Sometimes that looked really scary... Arriving at Mpulungu, I had my motorcycle lifted out of the boat to the pier 2m above by a crane (US$10).
The next day I headed for the Kapishya hot springs, next to the "Africa House", a strange castle-like building in English style in the middle of the bush. The book "The Africa House" describes the weird life of the guy who built it.
...Lusaka. It's a strange town, both deeply African in places, and totally modern in others. Everyone is busy making some business, not many smiles on peoples faces... In short, I did not like it too much and headed to Livingstone.
Vicfalls was very nice - the Jolly Boys Backpackers in Livingstone were a cool place to hang out with a pool and a nice bar.
At the falls you can go swimming just on the point where the water falls down - quite scary to see over the fringe and see it dropping for hundreds meters. Must have looked scary on the Zimbabwean side, too ;-)
...Maun to check out the Okavango Delta. The cheapest one for flying in, camping and canoeing was USD400 for three days and nights. Are they nuts or what? I left for Windhoek on Saturday (850km, iron butt). Now I am in Namibia, and it felt great from the time I crossed the border. I have some memories of Namibia back from the age of 14, when I was here with my family. Wow.
So, now I am looking for someone to team up with me to go to Etosha Pan National Park, then go to Swakopmund through the desert, do some sandboarding and skydiving there, and then up the Skeleton Coast and back to Windhoek. After that to Sossusvlei and Fish River Canyon, and to South Africa.
I still miss Uganda, but the show must go on. Keep in touch,
Note: it is official Botswana government policy to have very priced tourist facilities, as they don't want the budget backpackers - and us - only the high-end luxury tourist. The idea is to reduce the impact of tourism on the country.
Nikki Gaudion and Luke Timmermans, Australia, to India and Africa, in Pakistan,
"...'Hello mister!' Everyone in Iran knows this much English (and few know more) which is about as good as my grasp of Persian. One guy we passed at the border could only say 'Hello, f**k you!'
Entering Iran we suddenly felt a lot closer to Europe. Driving on the right side of the perfectly smooth roads, no blackouts, drinkable water and tourist prices for tourist sites. Very unlike Europe, petrol is 5 cents per litre and everyone stops and says hello to you.
In the desert city of Bam we visited (twice) an ancient mud fortress and city, which would last about a week in Sydney. I asked the hotel owner if they got much rain and he said 'Oh yes it rained twice this year.'
Persepolis near Shiraz was also fantastic, though Alexander the Great did a good job on it - there's not much left.
At the moment we're mosque-hopping in beautiful Esfahan. We got a two-week extension on our pathetic transit visa so we'll be heading into Turkey in around 10 days. It's getting colder as we go north (snowing at the border, which is fun on a bike) and Nik's wearing more and more clothes - her pannier's almost empty. She should be thawed out after a few days back in Australia.
There's plenty of bikers on the road, all going the other way of course. A Scot on an Enfield, 2 Poms on an XT travelling with German on a TT, a couple of serious Danes on brand new matching Transalps, 2 East Germans (can I still say that?) on an old GS and a DR 800, and some other great friends on various bikes who helped me with the gearbox in Islamabad (Thanks PeeWee, Martin, John, and Thomas!). All terrific people and all heading to Australia - if they all arrive at our place at the same time it will be a great party!
Khuda Hafez! Love Luke and Nik XXX"
Connor Carson, UK, UK to Pakistan,
"Grant - just thought I'd update you on progress... one more person tries (and fails) to adequately describe the KKH - but here it is anyway... I'm currently travelling in company of the "Ken Duval overland team", which is an education....what that man cannot do with thread tape and tyre levers isn' worth knowing...
Here I am in Gilgit in Northern Pakistan, where the weather continues marvelously sunny (sorry...), and the frisbee bread is hot.
We travelled up the famous Karakoram Highway to arrive here, then headed further North a few days ago to the Chinese border at an altitude of about 15000 feet (I'm told). I should now attempt to describe the journey along the KKH, but immediately I run into problems - normal vocabulary is just not sufficient to describe the scale of the scenery here - either you have been, and you know what I'm talking about, or you haven't, and you should go. Right now. Don't stop to put the cat out. But here goes, anyway... The road itself follows first the Indus river valley, and then progressively smaller tributaries which run higher and colder from the Karakoram range, of which K2 is a part.
The road winds higher, sometimes blasted out of overhanging rock to form a ledge on the face of a steep crumbling gorge, a couple of hundred feet above the rushing green waters, and sometimes running immediately next to the river along a stony, flat-bottomed glacial valley. The splintered peaks surround you and every hairpin brings fresh views of snowy giants glowering over you, saying: "Hello, tiny insignificant white man...".
Grey-white furrowed glaciers are visible in some of the higher valleys with freezing silty melt waters flowing down towards the tree-line. The Autumn colors in Hunza valley are gorgeous luminous yellows and golds in the cold winter sunlight.
As you climb higher towards the Chinese border, the atmosphere thins noticeably and exposed flesh is chilled despite the sunlight. (The bike was by this stage running like a sick lawnmower (to whatever extent this was not already the case). At the pass itself, there is a tiny hut manned by three Pakistani soldiers, cheerfully freezing their nuts off in three-day rotations before returning to the valley below before they go off their respective trolleys. There are a couple of monuments here, but they are almost pathetic in comparison with the grandeur of the natural landscape.
The best memorial to the builders of the KKH is the road itself. Returning to the outpost town of Sost, we were halted for a time whilst a work gang, commanded by the ever-present army sapper, cleared the latest of many landslides from the road surface. Keeping the road clear requires the continual labours of these gangs, (which you pass every couple of miles along the KKH) - an achievement almost on a par with the construction of the thing in the first place!
So we returned to Gilgit which seemed almost tropical by comparison...
Till next time - Connor."
Ricardo Rocco Paz, Ecuador, "Around the World for Peace," in Colombia, heading south for home in Ecuador
"...I leave Cali around 8 am. I stop for breakfast in a small town on the Pan-American highway. While I drink coffee, I observe in the next hill, two rickety wooden crosses in the top of the hill. I ask the waitress what that means, she answers that those crosses are in the memory of two soldiers who were killed by the guerrilla. It's hard to swallow the last mouthful of my breakfast while I listen to this. I return to the route. I have anxiety to arrive, my children, my mother and my friends are going to be waiting for me tomorrow in the outskirts of Quito, and Saturday is the birthday of my twins Ricardo and Andrea.
Suddenly, I am stopped in the Pan-American by a row of cars and trucks parked in the middle of the road. I advance until the vehicle first in line and I watch, with horror, a woman dressed in military uniform, a red symbol on her right shoulder and a pistol in her hand. Along with two very young companions, they are confiscating all the vehicles, watched over by other uniformed, heavy armed guerrillas on board some jeeps... At that moment, one of drivers of the lengthy vehicles says to me to be really careful, because it is a 'guerrilla détente' of Ejercito de Liberación Nacional - ELN (National Liberation Army). These guerrillas, during the 'détente' look for wealthy people to request a ransom. At the same time, they track with sophisticated equipment the RF of the police to prevent surprise attacks. After a few minutes, I hear detonations of bullets, they are sweeping up the tires of a truck, to which previously they have crossed on the road, with the intention of obstructing it and thus covering their escape. When the last jeep of the guerrillas is fleeing, they see me and then return. They yell, forcing me to go with them, in spite of my request to let me go, because I am already so close from home, after such a long trip. 'If you try to escape, we fill you with lead', is their final warning.
I do not have other option, than to go with them, along with other seized hostages and several confiscated trucks. We went into the mountains using dirt roads. In each crossroad, the guerrillas unfolded watchmen. The one that acts like head rejects my requests to let me go. After two hours, we arrived at a crossing of several ways. Here we remain for nearly two hours.
While we wait, I don't know what, one of the hostages seems to be negotiating with the ringleader and his driver is sent back to the highway, I suppose with instructions or request for ransom. The ringleader rejects my offer to transport the driver and requests my documents. When I get my wallet, he snatches it from my hands and keeps it. The guerrilla who watches me, turns a short wave radio on. We listen to the news, all the reports seem to be of kidnappings, attacks of the guerrilla and all kind of robberies. The level of my anguish and anxiety is increasing with the passing of the minutes, all kinds of thoughts go through my head: Kidnapped by the guerrilla, what a way to finish an adventure for Peace.
They offer me a 'snack', consisting of a glass of soda and some chips, and then we continue to travel farther in the mountains. I am convinced that I am not getting away easily this time. We arrived at the outskirts of a small town and it begins to rain heavily. They order to me to enter with my bike in a barn, after awhile force to me to leave. We go to the town, and they make me return again to the barn. What are they playing here? The ringleader reviews meticulously my bike and my luggage, finally finding the small backpack that contains documents of my trip, including the folder of the project and cuts of press. I think to myself: 'this is it, now I'm screwed completely'. It is well known that the guerrilla does not appreciate the people who work for Peace. The ringleader, disappears taking with him my backpack and papers. I'm scared!
In the barn I remain captive for a couple of hours, in company of a Minister from Cali, who helps me tranquilize myself with some phrases of resignation, but with a positive message. The ringleader returns and orders me to get my bike out again, and to approach the church of town, to speak with the "commander". I arrive there, and somebody calls me from inside of one of the confiscated trucks, a red van: 'Man come in, let's talk'.
Once there, the head of the insurgents, uniformed very well and heavy armed, showing an emblem of the ELN on his shoulder, surprises me, congratulating me for the project. He gives me some food and soon he improvises a political harangue to me that lasts for about two hours. In the middle of the conversation, one of the guerrilla women approaches to ask something from him. The commander surprises me again, extracting out of his pocket a plastic bag, from which he gets a pair of bills of 20,000 pesos (US$10,00) of a pretty thick wrap of money.
When the night is falling, finally they let to me go, safe and sound, after giving back to me my backpack and my wallet, which I not even check in the hurry to leave. After a few kms, I stop to check it to review, my wallet is complete, and my luggage is also complete. The emotion unties and I start crying, with a mixture of happiness, fear, distresses and a deep gratefulness to God to be saved, it is an intimate relief of the tension lived during the last hours. The road is terrible, enormous stones and deep potholes cover the route, I ride slowly taking care of the bike, an incident here would be serious. I ask the farmers, in the crossings the way to the Pan-American Highway. They all watch me as if I am a ghost, perhaps I am, not everybody manage to escape of the claws of the Colombian guerrilla, and live to tell it.
I feel such a relief when I finally arrive at the asphalt road. In half an hour I'm arriving at the city of Popayan, land of the ancestors of my maternal family. While I enter the city, I feel the desire, no, the need, to shout to everybody, that I was kidnapped. I have necessity to share it with another human being. What I had just experienced, is definitely, one of the toughest experiences of my life, but thinking it through, my priority is to leave from here and return safely to my country, as soon as possible. I find a likable hotel in the colonial zone of the city and I settle there. I check my bike before taking a hot bath and lying down. I get telephone calls, on my cellular Bell South phone, from my brother, from one of my best friends and from my adored children. They all will be waiting for me in the outskirts of Quito the following day. I feel I'm almost home, but I still need to cover 500 km, of Colombian roads, and after the terrible experience that I just lived, the possibility of never arriving home, worries me deeply...
I cross the Colombian - Ecuadorian border, where they swindle me in the currency exchange. It is ironic, they have not harmed me in the 8 previous borders and my country, they swindle me! After the photos, this time I lay down the bike on the floor and I photograph myself standing on her...
Passing...lake of San Pablo...I met with my friend Eduardo Mino, who drove here to greet me. We continued together and we arrived at Guayllabamba, where my family is waiting, next to a big group of motorcyclists led by Felix Pando, Mario Gómez and some journalists.
Embracing my children, my eyes full of tears and my heart of emotion, I finally feel that I have arrived, I am home. A couple of days to rest and back to work. I feel much curiosity to know how well this project is going to be received in my country. In all the places that I have visited, the reception was fantastic, proved by the more than 20 speeches drugs abuse prevention and the more than 30 press articles, interviews and radio and TV presentations. After the promotion of the first stage of Around the World for Peace, the planning will come from second and third stages, Africa and Europe, my mind already begins to wonder..."
Gregory Frazier, USA, around the world, for the third time, in Brazil,
"I am not traveling with a computer (nor GPS, satellite phone, CB radio, or digital camera/recorder -- more stuff for someone to steal, me to get wet or wreck). On this, my third ride around the globe, I will drop back in time a bit, ride some older motorcycles over some of the older roads of the world (like the "Mother Road" of America--Route 66) and try to avoid Interstates, Autobahns and easier traveled roads.
The world is changing rapidly. I suspect in a few years some motorcycle tour company(s) will be promoting "canned world tours" where your adventure will be following GPS readings all day to your scheduled hotel for the night, with a side adventure being where to find an ATM for local currency. Not my definition of an adventure, but I may sign-up for one after my age and annual income has advanced considerably. In the meantime I will continue to lope around the globe enjoying the elements of the unknown.
As I ride around the world this time I hope to be able to stop once a month and find a computer, cyber cafe or library and send out a short story. Hopefully it will not be about my time in a jail, hospital, or some cave captured by Big Foot.
For those of us who choose to roam the globe alone, it is like an oasis in the desert to find email from friends like you wishing wellness, safe travels and happiness. Five years ago it would have been a postcard or letter in care of General Delivery at the end of the earth, like Ushuaia, Argentina, when another traveler told me she saw a letter for me in the "General Delivery Box." It was a Christmas letter from a friend halfway around the world. A nice touch at Christmas for a lone wolf traveler.
Unfortunately, if I do not open my electronic mail box often enough, it fills up and mail is returned to senders. So I'll ask for your well wishes and good news (send no bad news, as there is not much I can do about it), but please hold the photographs, forwarded jokes, etc. Hold them until I return. I'll miss them, especially those color photographs some of you could not sell to certain magazines not available in the local library. Money is always welcomed email.
Hearing from my friends and supporters means a lot to me as I struggle with equipment failure, frustrations, borders, loneliness, and the myriad of uncertain elements of solo travel by motorcycle. I will try to answer all your mail and look forward to hearing from you.
Gregory, On The Road, Around The Globe, again"
Muddy Flaps, Ceasar D'sa, Portugal (born in Kenya, resident in England working in Germany), and Christian Jupe, Germany, Germany to Thailand,
(I think Ceasar might be a little confused - I know I would be... but at least they know where they're going... Grant ;-)
"Munich - 12/10 1:00 AM - Finally, After months of painstaking preparation, thousand of deutsch marks expense, the open highway (Autobahn) lies open of front of us. Engines running, we set out on the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes our way. Yes, Like a true natures child we were born to be wild...
Things go pear shaped almost immediately. A wise Austrian had advised us to stick to the tunnel routes under the mountain but we had ignored his advice. The warning over the radio that anyone travelling over the Brenner Pass should be using winter tires was also unheeded.
The cold biting sheets of rain and occasional sleet quickly proved that our waterproof clothing was not quite waterproof... Near disaster was narrowly avoided over the Europa Bridge; caught in a powerful side draught, in the wrong gear, the bike literally slid across the road toward the barrier. Steering the bike was of no use and the bike had to be tilted at almost 45 degrees into the wind, left leg screeching across the road to stem the slide. Almost touching the barrier, it came back.
We had calculated that the ride to Venice would take 8 hours, but now with speed dropped to 30 km/h our ferry connection seemed to be going away from us. Next morning after 10 hours of riding in the depths of hell the tiredness was starting to show. Shouting schlagers and hits from yesteryears in an effort to keep awake was futile. In the middle of the Autostrade, 50 K from Venice, sleep took over. The view from Christian's rear view mirror was of a bike drifting towards a trailer. The amazed trucker blared his foghorns which jolted me awake. Shocked, grateful and tired we turned into the next stop where strong coffee and Red Bull was administered.
And we missed the ferry by half an hour and had to wait in soaked clothes for 5 hours...
Patras, Greece 14/10 - 10:00 - Thirty hours waiting for Fedra to follow the example of two recent ferries that had hit marked reefs while the crew was watching soccer were spent mostly sleeping, recovering from the earlier ordeal. Rode off the ferry in the company of 3 Irish bikers who, oblivious of the conflict in Israel were heading directly to Haifa. Best of luck to them... (Did you hear the one about the 3 Irish bikers who rode into Israel at the height of the conflict ?) Onwards to Athens, birthplace of western civilizations.
...The next challenge was to get to Egypt with the Bikes. With a cold weather front approaching, the overland route is no longer practical, and the ferry service to Egypt is closed. Our best bet at the moment is a cargo ship which is not licensed to carry passengers...
...This will amaze you, I am of Goan origin and will be in Goa hopefully for the new year (am planning to make it before the 15th of December which is my cousins wedding in Goa)!
... We are in Turkey at the moment, hope to cross over the border to Syria tomorrow and then to Jordan and Egypt..."
Sounds like Ceasar may be the man to co-ordinate a travellers meeting for Christmas in Goa - you listening Ceasar? - Grant ;-)
Jason Koch, USA, to South America,
"...Baja is full of curvy roads, winding through cacti laden mountains and desert plains, all supported by the deep blue-green of the Sea of Cortez. Perfect for motorcycling. The ride today capped a week long journey from Tijuana to La Paz. Riding the bike feels great--close to the road, close to the weather, close to the vistas. I've also named my bike "Abeja", Spanish for bee. It matches its bumblebee black and yellow paintjob. (It's hard to talk to a bike if you don't have a name for it, and after 200 miles, I get tired of talking to myself.)
...Besides the riding, the people I have met have been quite interesting. I ran into John and Julian at a military checkpoint. Julian, on a homemade contraption, is setting the Guinness Record for around-the-world travel on a motor-trike. His trike has a VW bug engine and motorcycle front-end, all strapped to a custom frame. He definitely is straight out of Mad Max:
...in La Paz, all is serene... In a couple of days I should be hitting Mexico mainland. I'll be in touch."
Globeriders Trevor Sproat, and Noah Maltz, USA, around the world, in Almaty, Kazakhstan
"...We can now confirm that Central Asia is a very strange place indeed. One sign of increasing strangeness on our trip east has been town names: we travelled from Petropiggi in Greece, through Gonbadly in Iran, to Madamboy in Uzbekistan. Road blocks, often a good indication of general freedom and governmental common sense, have reached levels approximating mild national hysteria. They are clearly not of any real importance; we know this since to amuse ourselves we sometimes pretend that we understand nothing and have no passports, and most of the time we are eventually just waved on by the bemused guards.
...we chanced upon a huge multicoloured market in Turkmenabat. After locking our bikes up we wandered around for a couple of hours, during which time Sport's daypack was slashed open. Later, the police demanded the film in our camera: 'no photos' our young guide nervously explained. 'Sorry but you can't have the film' we countered. Apparently questioning the authority of the police was not regular behaviour... But we kept the film, and ate dinner under the watchful eye of a police escort. Later that night we relaxed in the hotel bar - Iran still fresh in our minds - with the Israeli folk song 'Hava Nagila' playing in the background. We gently brushed aside a kind offer ('sex yes?') from two grandmotherly figures and retired for the night...
... We eat, drink and make merry - and tomorrow head north towards Siberia."
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world, in Zambia,
"21/10/00 The divide in sub Sahara Africa through Victoria Falls and Harare is economically as big as the northern divide. The influence of South Africa seems to end and the 'real Africa' begins north of here. We crossed the Zambezie river into Zambia. No bridge, just a rickety old ferry capable of carrying one truck, two cars and a motorcycle.
The officious efficiency of Botswana gone and the slackness that portrays the bureaucracy of further north commenced on the Zambian side. Small things like Kay needing to sign her own immigration form and front at a window to be seen at a Southern African border crossing gone. She can now wait at the motorcycle unseen watching its luggage while I alone process both immigration forms and passport stamps. No-one checks the details I write in the vehicle transport book to see if the engine, chassis or registration number is correct; back to the 'real Africa'.
Overnighted in Livingstone, yes that place named after the explorer who only just over 100 years ago came upon Victoria Falls. Isn't white Africa very young...
23/10/00 At $US 1.30 per litre and over twice the price of petrol or diesel in surrounding countries it is amazing how an African economy can survive. Seen as an easy way to raise taxes and limit foreign currency flowing out of the country it has crippled transport. Taxi's are stationary, buses don't run on time but wait till they are full and very few private vehicles run. Imagine the outcry if petrol in the west was half a days pay per litre. Smuggling near the Botswana border occurs and we could buy black market petrol for $US 1.00 per litre"
Rob and Dafne de Jong, Netherlands, round the world, in Canada and USA,
"... In British Columbia (Canada) we decided to take some back roads. The scenery is just magic. We also found a lot of good and free camping spots a made campfires almost every night. Our road took us through Prince George on the 16 and we took a left turn just after Smithers onto the 37. The 37 is half paved and half dirt and in combination with a lot of rain we looked like we were competing in a motorcross event...
We decided to follow the Dempster Highway up north to Inuvik, way past the Arctic Circle at the end of the Dempster Highway, a 750 km long dirt road. The scenery is outstanding as you drive through the tundra's and taiga's. Snow capped mountains in the distance and everything is coloured by fall weather. It is one of our favorites. In Inuvik we met Frank who drives a Honda CB 900 with a Velorex sidecar. He could easily be the most northern sidecar-rider in the world.
...From Edmonton we drove the Icefields Parkway through the Rocky Mountains, but missed much of the scenery because of snowfall. We had a lucky escape when Rob hit an RV while he was moving backwards and not looking were he was going. "You scared my dogs," the lady said, pointing her finger at two small poodles. The owner of the RV was a nice guy and said that it was not the first scratch on his RV and wouldn't be the last one either. When we passed them again later on they were hooting their horns and waving like we'd known each other a long time already...
The last few months the world around us has covered itself in gorgeous golden yellows, oranges, reds and everything between those colours. When the sun was shining it felt lake a nice summer day and made up for the rainy and snowy days we had. To have a big fire while the water in our jerry can was freezing was also great and every morning we had a hard time getting out of our new hot Fairydown sleeping bags. We've had a great time..."
Ken and Carol Duval, Australia, around the world, in Iran,
"...Our border crossing into Iran took just under three hours, 1 hour in Turkey two hours in Iran. Border officials were helpful and most of the delay was caused by so many officials asking about our journey. Carol changed into her garb and immediately complained about the heat. What a fashion statement she made. Not the normal black covering but a plum (pale) gown with gold buttons and a black and white head piece bought in Tunis earlier in the year. The men all turned their heads and the women looked on in envy I'm sure...
Yazd was bustling as we rode into town. We copped the mandatory stares and I wondered how Iranians would react if the Western world stared at them when they ventured outside their borders. My attempts to negotiate down the hotel costs ( Aria Hotel) were futile but there was no other so back we went. This time Carol did the negotiating. A reduction was granted. Pure charm and skill...
Leaving Bam we head to Mirjave, our party is now five people and four bikes. Just outside Bam we were stopped at a check point and our Passports taken. Questioning the delay I was told that the road ahead was dangerous and we would have to wait for an escort. Almost an hour passed when a uniformed man handed back our passports and said 'go'. As he walked away I called out "Escort" and opened the palms of my hands. He did not even reply. During this time several vehicles had passed through without so much as a momentary glance.
... The only hotel in Mirjave plays a hard game. Charging more than the tourist spots and offering no hot water and quite dirty rooms in what could be an excellent establishment. To top it off they gave an exchange rate of 7,000 to US$1 instead of the usual 8,000 to US$1. Can't recommend this one...
...We bought black market Iranian fuel at half the price of the local brew as the road east to Quetta slowly deteriorated. There were areas where the desert sand had encroached onto the roads... Numerous road blocks for passport checks has us riding over frayed steel cables. One too many saw the rear tyre collect one of these traps so it was out with the repair kit to fix only our second puncture of the trip. The numerous passport checks combined with the flat tyre caused us to arrive in Quetta after dark. Slowing to avoid traffic congestion I locked the front brake on the glass like road and hit the deck harder than I would like. I am sporting a very blue ankle at the moment. Not a good day for us.
We spent the night at the Muslim Hotel. Not recommended.. very dirty. Moved to the Bloom Star the next day and met up with Luke and Nikki travelling on an R100GSPD (See www.HorizonsUnlimited.com E-zine) Good to hear that Aus accent again and great company to boot. We caught one of those over-decorated three wheelers into town the next day and found a shop that did money exchange, internet and sold western food. A little gold mine. All of us suffering a little from the dreaded tummy rumbles at the moment...
Departing Mianwali we travel through groves of trees, mostly eucalyptus, which break up the hot highway . The surface is good although a little rough at times. Our tents are pitched at the Islamabad Tourist Camp by 3:00pm that day as our minds begin to list the chores we have to attend before the Karakoram Highway.
Three Germans on BMW's are camped here and they sing the praises of the KKH so much so that they have decided to go back and have another look...
... new tyres have been fitted. We are ready for the KKH. News is that there is snow close to the Chinese border so we will not make it all the way up. That's all folks. Love Carol & Ken
We are now an Associate with Amazon, the biggest bookseller on the web. If you want to buy a book, you can go to our Books pages, where we have listed some of the best motorcycle travel books, as well as a number of BMW books, general motorcycle books, and travel guides. Very much in progress, with hundreds more to come, but there is a good list to start with now. There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - Aussies order from Amazon USA ;-) you can order books at great prices, and I'll make a dollar or a pound, which goes to supporting this e-zine. There are links to search Amazon sites for all their products, books, cds etc., and yes, we get a tiny piece of that too. We really appreciate it when you start your book search from our website! Thanks for the support.
Book suggestions please!
If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and I'll put it on the site. thanks, Grant
from the poem "Samarkand" (and inscribed on the clock tower at the SAS headquarters
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...actual comments left on USA Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by hikers completing wilderness camping trips...
"Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness."
"Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse."
"Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill."
"Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests."
"Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter."
"Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them."
"The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals."
"A McDonald's would be nice at the trailhead."
"The places where trails do not exist are not well marked."
"Too many rocks in the mountains."
"Need more signs to keep area pristine."
And from Chris Walstow in Canada...
No parking MEANS
...and from a friend of Gerri Sombke's in the USA:
The Oil Shortage
There are a lot of folks that can't understand how we ran out of oil here in the USA.
It's simple... Nobody bothered to check the oil, so we didn't know we were getting low.
And of course the reason for that is geographical.
All the oil is in Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, N.Dakota and Alaska
and all the dipsticks are in Washington, DC.
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Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine - Copyright 1999-2000, Horizons Unlimited and Grant Johnson. All rights reserved.
REDISTRIBUTION is allowed, indeed encouraged, but other than the following requirements, only with permission. You may forward copies of the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine by forwarding it yourself by hand. You must forward the issue in its entirety, no fee may be involved, and you can forward no more than two issues to any one individual. Please suggest they Subscribe!
Legal gibberish disclaimer: (particularly for those in countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York, not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan. Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand) Recommendations are based on positive or negative experiences of somebody, somewhere. Your mileage (kilometrage if you insist) may vary. We are not responsible in any way any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you. You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct as best we can determine at that time.
This month we have TWO winners!
One of last month's winners, Renee Pattle, has changed her e-mail address so her mail bounced, so she loses - meaning YOU could win now!
Daniel Watt, USA, the second winner from last month did get to me in time - just!
This month's winners are: Stephen Reynolds, UK, and Brett Somsen, USA.
Remember, you have to reply to me by the 25th of this month 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
"Recently met a character you may be interested in knowing about. His name is Vladawitch Tartry, and he is a Belorussian from Minsk. I met him boarding the ferry at Lerwick, Shetland Islands, heading for Iceland via Faroes. We spent the rest of our travelling and camping through those places together. What makes him so unique in my view is;
1. His machine a 350cc 1978 Jawa 2 stroke
2. His age, 56
3. He is a deaf mute and is totally deaf from birth.
He has made his way through Western Europe and is now on his way to Africa currently in Paris.
On a previous expedition he crossed Russia from Minsk to Vladivostok and then entered outer/inner Mongolia and return on a 50cc 2-stroke. He pays his way by showing Photos of his travels in shopping centres. If people are interested he then shows them a small sign in several languages asking if they could spare some change to help him on his way. So far on both trips he has totaled some 40,000kms.
From Charlie Miller on my own around world odyssey."
"...So I could visit Mount Fuji, a friend of friend in Hirakata and ride down to Hiroshima. Last Friday, the 6th of October, I was sitting at 1 pm in a public bath, so called onsen, just enjoying the warm water and washing myself after some days on the road, as an earthquake hit the building I was in. Nothing happened to the building, just some waves in the pool. Later people told me that this was a stronger earthquake than the one in 1995 in Kobe, so I was lucky again. Because last year as you may remember I stayed in Istanbul as the big earthquake killed about 15.000 people. But this time nobody was killed only some houses were damaged.
I like Japan. They even have three litre cans of beer here, but the problem for me is, that a can like this costs more than 20 litres of beer in bottles in Germany. So far Yamaha has done a lot for me and my old Tenere is like new now, I really don`t know how to thank them for everything.
From Japan I will travel at the end of this month to Thailand and enjoy beach life again for some time. Greetings to all of you, wherever you are"
"Oi Grant, Tks for message, bike now repaired. New barrel made in Brasil piston Wiseco - from Sao Paulo so back on the road in Brasil. Made it to the coast and now in Salvador Bahia, luvly luvly place and people...will write in with more details of Brasil when I have my glasses with me in the internet cafe. Will be heading North East up the coast of Brasil to Belem to take a boat down the Amazon to Manaus then into Guyana - Keith King."
"...After a week of rain, rain and more rain as we made our way from Ireland to Spain we are happy to report our arrival in Alicante safe and sound. Details of our trip are available in the "Where We Are" section of our web site."
"... It's Wednesday, so it must be... Panama City. Arrived in a rainstorm, which was fun. I wonder whether anybody has ever been struck by lightning on a motorcycle? Will be doing research on shipping/air freighting tomorrow, the most likely destination being Quito, Ecuador. Colombia seems a tad dangerous, me with my fair complexion and all. Shame really. I heard the babes in cocaine-land are quite pretty, not to mention the great roads and scenery. C'est la vie, as they might say here, if they didn't habla español...
... Hola, flew to Cartagena, Colombia yesterday. Most likely plan is to travel by bus to Bogota and then fly to Ecuador around the 30.10.00 to pick the wife up in Guayaquil. all is fun here.
...arrived safely and comfortably in Ecuador's capital yesterday. It is good here, except that various parties involved in reuniting me with 'err indoors and doing their best to push the definition of the word 'incompetent' to new depths / heights... as my Spanish is not up to scratch, nobody has been offended. Ricardo Rocco is proving to be an invaluable friend. I have never seen somebody so polite when dealing with total plonkers... maybe he is being rude in an unagressive manner, but I doubt it. More news when it comes,
adios von brightsalat"
"We've been reading your website avidly whilst organising our trip to NZ, but this is the first time we've contacted you to say thanks and let you know what we're doing.
We are Rachel and Richard Kempster and are travelling with our friends Paul and Jill Ackland. We're on an R100GSPD and they are on an R80 basic, both two up. We left the UK on 25th August and have been through France, Italy, Albania(!), Greece and are now in Gelibolou in Turkey. Heading on the usual route through Iran etc to Nepal and then to SE Asia, Oz and NZ. Our friend is setting up a website for us, when it's functioning I'll forward the address to you."
"22 October, I will meet my Transalp in Concepcion and find out what has to be done to make it run again to Bolivia...
Hola from Chillan, Chile... Last weekend I flew to Santiago, and went to Concepcion / Penco to pick up my motorcycle. I have to thank Raul and his family for their great help to get it started after 8 months. They did everything to make me feel comfortable.
After the first night and 100km further, the charged battery was dead again, so I had to get a new one. Currently, the Transalp is at the impressive Spaarwater KTM shop here in town to get a new chainset, reartire, oil and some small things. Can't wait to get really started to go up north to the Atacama desert and Bolivia..."
(Werner left his bike there since last year, so it will be interesting to find out how it did... Grant)
"... finally we are here in the US and no sooner we arrive and we are trying to get out. Richard is flying his bike back to the UK and I will send it down to Singapore and drive home from there... As always my letters are asking for some advice and help... "
Sorted. Grant ;-) except for: "Shipping agents - do you know any good cheap ones here in Miami ? So far we have quotes from Bax Global and Hay World Cargo."
... in Turkey... arrived in Izmir, crossing along the coast to Fethiye, into Cappadocia and to Southeast.
... in Cairns, Australia, by the Ratays.
... both teachers who quit their jobs for this trip, (from Burak Cedetas)
They toured around Mocambique, Malawi and Zambia. The MZ seemed to work quite well! This proves that you can tour Africa with almost everything." (from Dirk (Krid) Bernhardt, in Victoria Falls.)
...just not sure which way they're going yet...see sidebar, Travellers Questions.
"...I leave work this Friday, leave the country on November 29th, the beginning of my round the world bike ride. So you can look forward to a new, international class of snide remarks, drug references and begging letters. ... haphazard bike journalist, experienced traveller but novice off-roader launches his optimistically flawed RTW on November 19th, leaving from the Bike magazine stand at the NEC Show (Birmingham, UK -ed.). Heading overland for Africa, then hopefully onto India, SE Asia and the Americas, barring kidnap or conversion to Islam. He's riding a clumsily modified XT600E, because they're cheap and reliable - unlike him. Contact, or follow his lack of progress in Bike magazine (UK) every month. Dan Walsh (aka Dan @ Bike magazine)"
"...will try to circumnavigate the world starting next May. Mariola will try to be the first American woman to complete such a trip."
"I have been planning this trip two years ago. Our intention is, to start on November 29 going south until our body and bike may resist or we arrive to Ushuaia Argentina... I will ride a Bad Boy H-D... The chap who is going with me, Ruben Campos, is from Puerto Rico and he is an expert motorcycle mechanic, he is riding a BMW. (he really knows about bikes)
We will ride the Pan American road and in Panama we are looking for a cargo ship that will take us to Buenaventura Colombia, then Ecuador, Perú we want to visit Machu Pichu then Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, again Argentina to Ushuaia. Then, going back north to Buenos Aires where we take a plane and the bikes by cargo ship to Veracruz Mx.
I have spent many hours in the web and only a fortnight ago I found the Horizon Page and I believe, all I have
found there is of invaluable help and of course I enjoyed reading all the stories of the great motorcycle long
distance travellers who with their expertise our trip will be less risky. Thank you Grant, and I will keep in touch.
Marco Alvarez "
They must have had a good trip in South America..."Kev popped the question, produced a ring and well, I guess we'll be getting married soon! Next September we plan a 6 week Norway to Morocco journey and it may well turn into a honeymoon" Congratulations Julia and Kevin!
"...I arrived in Brazil after seven and half months and 28.000km traveled.
When I came back from Alaska across Canada and EUA (Montana, Idaho, Washington) I tried to ship the motorcycle
to Brazil, but I couldn't. After that, I decided to go back to Vancouver, because there I have a good and helpful
friend. So finally we shipped it by boat. I'm very grateful to Morumbi Shopping, DHL, Berlitz, who was very helpful
to realize this trip, and all friends who traveled with me by e-mail. See you soon, Raphael"
Sign spotted in Australia. Good way to think about a lot of countries...
"You do NOT need a carnet and that is definite Argentine law. If you want I may provide the name and number of the Argentine Customs Regulation where this is made clear, as well as the text from a cable from the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs on which requirements for foreign reg. vehicle entry are listed.
If customs upon arrival starts asking you for a carnet it will be because (1) they do not know what the law says (lack of knowledge is common) and/or (2) they want you to "collaborate" - give them a tip. Although these two instances are rare that does not mean you might not suddenly get an idiot to process your entry. But Argentine law is clear on this point: No carnet for temporary entry of foreign reg. Vehicles up to 8 months, renewable for another 8.
Gonzalo Figueroa, Argentine"
Note: Carnets are NOT required AT ALL anywhere in North or South America at last word.
Gonzalo has done a remarkable amount of work in researching and collating all that is known about the requirements, and the realities, that travellers need to know about the area. I will be posting the results of the work for Central America on the web in a few weeks. South America in progress but will be longer. If anyone has any information please let us know. When you cross ANY border, take some notes, and pass them on. Eventually we would like to have information for all the borders of the world posted on the website to help you, and other travellers.
Wouldn't YOU like to know all about the border you're approaching - what it should cost, paperwork required, "tips" needed, and who to talk to etc.?
Just send in whatever you can as you go!
"Tanglang La is located on the Leh-Manali Road. This is the second highest Motorable Mountain Pass (Road linking two valleys) in the World. The height of this pass is 17,582 ft Above mean sea level."
So who's interested? And just where is the HIGHEST road?
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. 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.
Send me your national AA address or wherever you get Carnets from, and I'll post it. Fees, contact info etc would be very useful of course! Thanks.
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...