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Riding the globe...

Horizons Unlimited
Motorcycle Travellers'
e-zine

in cooperation with
Quality Touring equipment worldwide.

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 Guatemala?
Then you're reading the right newsletter!

In this e-zine:


Administrivia
Books
Calendar, Events 2000
Comments
Community
Final Thoughts
Funnies
Helpful People
Home Again
In Progress...
Leaving Soon
New Links
Prizes
Repair Shops on the road
Seen on the road
Shorts
Subscribe
Tech Tips and Bits
Travellers Community
Travellers Tips-Countries
Travellers Questions
Who's on the Road
Who Are They?
Quotable Quotes
Your Privacy

On the Website

Home Page
Search the Website
Bulletin Board
Travellers Community
Travellers Stories
Books - great Christmas Gifts!


Special Events News

up to top of page Calendar

Plan where to be when!

If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note.

what?
Christmas Rally
where?

at Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Cape Agulhas, South Africa, Istanbul, Kathmandu and ??? Where will YOU be?

when?
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 1999/2000, 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
"Horizons Unlimited"
banner is sure to get posted!

Wherever you will be, post it in the Bulletin Board here. Meet up with some fellow travellers!

New Years

We'll leave that up to you - feel free to post your whereabouts and plans in the Bulletin Board. Tell everyone to check the Bulletin Board for the latest news.

Latest news on who's where for the Holidays:

Belize: Contact Andrea and Bernie

Ushuaia: meet at the campground or at the ski lodge, there will be plenty of people at both locations

Uganda: contact Dirk (Krid) Bernhart

Istanbul: contact Luke Timmermans and Nikki

Costa Rica, maybe: contact Jason Koch

Kathmandu: contact Ken and Carol Duval

Guatemala / S. Mexico: contact Gonzalo and Nina

and I'm sure there are more I've missed...

up to top of pagespacerCalendar 2001

Australia,

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)

Greg Aldis
Sydney Australia
61 (0)2 9311-1119(H

up to top of page Horizons Unlimited new LINKS...

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.

Guinness Book of World Records is online

Florida Frank Campbell, photo album of his travels, currently in Israel

Daniel Cohen, 2 wheels to Alaska, and 100 days, 48 states

Nina and Gonzalo, Los Angeles to Buenos Aires, just left.

Tom's Way Off-Road Web Site, British Columbia, Canada - loads of info

Chris Scott's Adventure Motorbiking website

Peter and Kay Forwood

up to top of page A host of NEW
volunteers - 'People en route willing to help!'

There are many "Helpful People" listed on the Links page, a huge thanks to all of them. How about you?


up to top of pagespacerRepair Shops...

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.

BMW Mechanic in Guatemala

recommended by Gerald, via Dag Jenssen;

Talleres Autofox, S.A. - Audiel, S.A.
Johann Ferber
30 Av. 15-15
Zona 12
Guatemala City

Manou Emringer and Ellen Spencer, in Guatemala,

"... we found a great place for repairs in Guatemala City, a Honda shop but they could probably be helpful with other brands as well.
Here's the coordinates:

FA Honda,
Via 8, 5-34, Zona 4, Guatemala City.

Tel 331 4148, 331 4167, 332 3932.

Ask for Carlos Cardona (service) or Julio Flores (parts). Both speak English.

The South American Handbook lists motorcycle mechanics in every major South American town, very helpful."

up to top of pagespacerTech tips and bits...

Submit your tips and questions here, anything goes! Got a great idea for travellers, found a new solution to a problem? Send it in! If you're having a problem, just ask, there's a lot of people with a ton of experience out there to help.

Last month's question:

Rachel and Richard Kempster, Paul and Jill Ackland, UK, enroute to New Zealand,

"...We set off with Odyssey dry batteries,...both have now been replaced with the standard batteries as ours went flat after riding only to Italy.

...Interesting if anyone else has had similar problems."

Comments anyone - similar or otherwise experiences? What is the best battery for travelling? - Grant

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.

some replies:

"What is their definition of 'dry' batteries? I have been using the Westco Gel batteries in Arlie's R65 for the last year and my R80G/S since this summer. No problems and definitely adequate cranking power. I especially like the concept of a Gel battery in the GS which has been known to have been dumped on its side in rough going. No acid to spill. Also, because it has no acid in it, it can be sent through the post ready to go."

Chris Walstow, Canada

"after three BMW batteries in 18 months I have given up with them in my GS. If they loose any amount of liquid they soon corrode and soon will not hold charge for long. I have now opted for a sealed unit and it seems to be working much better. It is a little heavier but as far as I am concerned we have pushed one GS down Africa and I'm not pushing one another step further.

Matthew Newland"

any other experiences?

From Glynn Roberts,

"On bikes with a kickstart it's always advisable first thing in the morning to turn the engine over a few times especially on cold mornings if the bike has been outside, before trying to start it with the electric start. With no kickstart try rocking it in gear first just enough to free the pistons, or on the centre stand with the machine in top gear, turn the back wheel.

I recently had to purchase a new voltage regulator for my 1983 BMW R100RT.

Lucas has the same regulator, same fittings same size for £15.16.
I believe all BM's have the same voltage reg. and whilst it might not be any more powerful, perhaps its worth taking on a trip as a spare or remember this part no.
Lucas NCB 403"

Grant's Tip of the month

"...what is the proper procedure for re-torquing bolts? Do I loosen the bolt, then re-tighten, or do I just set the torque on the wrench and give it a pull?"

Standard practice is to slightly loosen the bolt, then torque to specification. Don't just tighten it some more, even using the torque wrench, you will not get a correct reading as the bolt has to first break free, and this requires a considerably higher torque.

Note that some bolts are meant to be oiled, others dry. Normal practice for threaded fasteners in an oily area, is oiled with motor oil. Some threads are meant to be clean and dry. BMW universal joints is an example. Loctite blue on places that are specified as dry works fine. I always use Loctite whenever there isn't a lock nut / washer or safety wire retainer.


up to top of pagespacerWho are they?

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...

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."

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

up to top of pagespacerTravellers' questions...

here's a different one...

Dear Grant, I got your address from the German motorcycle equipment specialist Bernd Tesch, Aachen. I rode a Honda XL 600 around the world, two years 89/90, and published a very successful book later.

Now, ten years later, I`m back on the road again, but this time with my family (Stella 7, Piet 5 years old). We bought a motorhome in San Francisco (march 99) and have 25 months time till we finish the trip in Chile. We came through the Amazon and did not follow the usual way along the Pan Americana. I could imagine, that many bikers have similar histories, family, business, and so on, and are looking for a way to hit the road again. Is there a possibility that you publish our ad. in your international newsletter? In case we find a buyer with your help, we pay 500$. I'm going to publish another book and will draw some connections between travelling alone on a motorcycle and travelling with little children.

1997, Ford, V10, Fleetw. C, 22 C, 6.8 l, sleeps 3 + 2, solar, roof floor, (tent), rear chassis est., awning, spring helpers, $23.000, to be sold in Chile, contact us by e-mail: Many thanks in advance!
Rudi Kretschmer

anybody interested or finds anyone he'll pay $500 to us both!

One bike or two?

This one has started an interesting thread on the Bulletin Board. What do YOU think?

"My boyfriend and I are planning a trip round the world starting out next summer... I've never ridden a bike before although have been pillion quite a lot!! I'm thinking of taking a direct access course so we can go on 2 bikes - more luggage space, more freedom etc. but wondered what people thought. Also any news on the China situation - would love to go but I understand you can't on the bike - is that still the case? Hope to hear from you soon. Lisa

Travellers' News Report

14th Edition, December 1, 2000

Welcome to the 14th edition of the Travellers' News! It was one year ago today that I sent out the first newsletter to a few people on our personal mailing list, wondering what sort of response it would receive. Would you like it, or was it a waste of time and energy?

When we first stated travelling in 1987, there was no internet, and e-mail was almost unheard of. We were on CompuServe then, and I remember explaining to the head of the Costa Rica telecoms company in his office that connecting our laptop to their telephone line wouldn't bring the telephone system to a crashing halt. Times have changed, and I'm getting e-mail now from hundreds of places I've never even heard of. There seems to be an Internet cafe in every "one-horse" town in the world.

And the newsletter? I guess you like it, I'm getting new subscribers every day, and lots of positive comments. I've had less than twenty unsubscribes in the last year, and under .5% mail bounces. The e-mail newsletter average is said to be 5.0%, so I suppose we're doing something right!

I'd like to thank all of you, most sincerely, for the support you've given us over this past year, and to wish all of you the very best in the coming year.

Christmas and the New Years holidays are coming, and with so many of you on the road I'd like to do all I can to help you connect up with other travellers. To help you connect with other travellers, I've set up a post on the Bulletin Board for Holiday Postings. Just go to the link and let everyone know where you will be and see where everyone else will be. Also see the sidebar Calendar section for more on who's where. For those of you at home, if you would like to invite travellers in for a party over the holidays, go and post your details there too!

We've had a fantastic response to the "Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Community" idea. 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.

We have 29 communities running already, and it's only been fully operational for a month!

And here they are;

Adelaide, Australia; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Austin Texas, USA; Bangalore, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Brisbane, Australia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada; Christchurch, New Zealand; Coventry, UK; Dallas Texas, USA; Genoa, Italy; Gieboldehausen, (middle-of-) Germany; Israel; Istanbul, Turkey; Japan; Johannesburg, South Africa; Konstanz, Germany (on Bodensee, or Lake of Constance); Manchester, UK; Medellin, Colombia; Melbourne, Australia; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Odessa, Ukraine; Oslo, Norway; San Francisco, USA; San Luis Potosi, Mexico; Sydney Australia; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area!

For details on how you can join or use the Community to get information and help on the road, go to the Community page.

Network of Strangers

Vlad Litvinon in Odessa, Ukraine has for some years been running the Network of Strangers, which is similar to our Community concept. He wrote to me a few weeks ago and we have been exploring how the Network of Strangers and the Horizons Unlimited Community might co-exist and assist each other.

In Vlad's words: "I offer you to join our efforts. Your Horizons Unlimited Community (HUC) is aimed to Internet users only. I offer you to join other bikers to the system using Network of Strangers. I'm going to contact all the clubs I know world-wide as well as individuals, who have access to Internet, and offer them to join the HUC personally. Also they can create their own branch of Network, by contacting to other people who would support the idea and who have at least a phone. In this way one Internet user may involve ten interested people. Let's say, in Nikolayev, the city about 110 kms from Odessa, many travelers come via it on their way from West to East and back, there is one guy with email. He knows ten more bikers whom he could recommend to join the HUC. When he receives a message that someone is expecting to come to or via their city, he calls to other guys and they either organize a national feast to meet the traveller ;) or they decide someone of them would take care of him. They would belong to their local branch of Network of Strangers (let's accept this name) and by means of it - to the HUC, which is a higher level of community."

For more information on the Network of Strangers go to their home page. We greatly appreciate the additional reach that this provides to our Community. Thanks Vlad!

Translations of the Community page into other languages - Volunteers?

If anybody would like to translate the explanation text of the community page to make it easier for those whose first language isn't English - it's only a couple of paragraphs - I'd appreciate it. My Spanish and French aren't adequate to do it well, and my German is limited to fraulein, bier, weinerschnitzel, and uh... that's about it.

From a friend in Singapore,

"FotoAsia is looking for Asian images, so if you are travelling though the area and get some great shots, contact us, you may be able to make a bit of money and become famous as well. Check out www.fotoasia.com." Tell them we sent you and they'll treat you nice - really!

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.

your editor, Grant

more about Grant Johnson

up to top of pagespacerWho's on the road, and where...

Connor Carson, UK, in Pakistan,

"Grant - here's the latest! I am reporting from the bustling metropolis of Peshawar where I have been thawing out after the last few days of subzero shenanigans. Here, for your edification and information, is how you land yourself squarely in the shit in Northern Pakistan....

About 10 days ago I was back in Gilgit (after a trip to Skardu, a small town situated on the upper reaches of the Indus, which you get to by traversing the wall of a steep gorge). From Gilgit I wanted to go to Chitral, which is in the North West Frontier Province and is overlooked by the mountains of the Hindukush. Chitral crouches in a remote valley, reached by a main road from the south over Lowari pass (3100 m). However, an alternative is to cross the jeep track which climbs direct from Gilgit over Shandur pass (3500m), and has been described as "the highlight of any Pakistani off-roading". Now if that isn't a warning to wear your brown trousers, I don't know what is. But did I listen? I did not.

Day 1 was sunny and warm, and the Ghizar valley above Gilgit positively glowed. The valley is more wooded and cultivated than any I've seen so far, and the river provided a deep azure contrast to the golden foliage. The riding became fairly demanding by my standards, being largely an offroad virgin and unused to a road surface which seems to actively try to unseat you at every opportunity. It seems possessed of a malevolent intent and rudimentary cunning, and has an arsenal of tricks to throw at you - here are some of my favourites....

1) Wobble dust - deep powdery dust with big wheel ruts in it, which is found on low flat stretches next to the river. The dust is of course inhabited by small goblins, who grab hold of your front and rear wheels, and make them squirm sickeningly from side to side. Their objective is to pull you so far off course that you end up at right angles to your original direction, at which point you topple gracefully off the bike, while petrol pours from your carb and fuel cap. The goblins then drink the fuel and fall asleep, pie-eyed and satisfied.

2) Gravel traps - Areas of deep traction-free gravel which are found frequently in villages and their approaches. There is not much to do in Ghizar valley, so villagers pass the time by collecting golfball sized rocks, and then painstakingly sanding them with glass paper (it's OK Dan, they've got goggles...)until they are perfectly spherical. These rocks are then placed in carefully dug deep pits, next to comfortable seating areas. The villagers then wait for passing bikers to provide entertainment.

3) Big spikies - In areas where small rocks are not available, an interesting alternative is to collect huge great lumpy buggers, which are chiseled to form wicked points and sharp edges. Installing these in the road surface takes many patient hours, but these guys are persistent. The net result is a kind of ratchet-shaped road with peaks and valleys, over which the bike bounds and leaps with mechanical protest, as your teeth rattle in your head, and your biscuits bounce out of the panniers to be eaten by passing donkeys. So that's where they go, I thought as I bounced closer to Shandur pass, becoming more apprehensive by the minute.

The final ascent to the pass was a steepish slope, though not as steep as my imaginings had made it. I knew for a fact that another biker (Hi Luke, hi Nikki) had made it this way some weeks earlier on a lardy BMW street bike (respect), (Ed. note: two-up as well) so it had to be possible. Trouble was, the road surface was a piece de resistance combination of all the hazards previously encountered, kind of like the last level of some masochistic video game. I half expected a big bald muscle-bound bloke with a sword to be waiting at the top.

I gave it my best shot, standing up on the pegs as the bike pitched and bucked and the wheel fought for traction. This effort bought me about 200 yards before I lost it into the rocks at the side of the track. The falling off routine, which I have perfected by now, consists of struggling with straps and ties to get the luggage off, and heave the bike upright with my eyeballs popping out, before I lose too much precious fuel into the dust from my dodgy filler cap. I decided to try to get the bike up the hill and worry about luggage later, so I took off again for another 100 yard battle before stacking the thing again into the rocks on the other side of the road with a painful broken-plasticky kind of noise. No time to worry about that now, up again and away.... or not, as the wheel spun and I lost it again into the dust and rocks. This represented kind of a low point for me, as I heaved the bike upright and lost it again five times on the trot. I counted.

Lots of flying dust, the smell of cooking clutch and petrol, lots of happy inebriated gnomes....I was getting nowhere and propped the thing up on a rock, too tired to lift it again. It suddenly occurred to me to wonder what would happen if a jeep crested the rise and came tanking down the hill, as my bike was lying kind of across the trail and both it and me were nicely camouflaged by a coating of grey dust. It is amazing what a bit of motivation can do, and once again I strained to lug the bloody thing upright again, and took off. Swearing incoherently through gritted teeth (this is actually quite hard to do, I suggest you try sometime), we made it over what proved to be the last difficult stretch and I parked the bike on level (ish) ground for a breather. Great. Except that my luggage was now about 500m back down the pass. I have some advice for people who are planning on carrying heavy luggage up a dusty trail at 12000 feet in full bike leathers, but it is not printable.

So that was Shandur pass, and I smugly congratulated myself on the way down the other side towards Chitral, as I knew that the road over Lowari Pass was a dream, a masterpiece of sweeping asphalt, a poem in black tarmac. Oh foolish, foolish paddy asshole.

But such revelations were for the future as I spent a couple of happy days resting up in Chitral, catching up with Kiwi Brian and Japanese Junko, both of whom I'd met in Gilgit, and who had come over the pass much more sensibly by jeep. The weather closed in a bit, and I was vaguely concerned that the Lowari pass to the south might get a bit of snow (OK , I can laugh now...) but I was waiting for Ken and Carol, who were planning to come in by this route, so I hung on.

The day I finally met them in Chitral, the rain was beating down, and the pass was irretrievably closed. Ken had been one of the last through the previous day, and graphically described how he had effectively skated down the road from the summit, trying to stop the back wheel overtaking the front. If Torvill and Dean had owned a BMW, this is the sort of ice choreography they might have dreamt up. We can only speculate.

But, I asked, the road is good asphalt, yes? Ken looked at me with that expression which he reserves for clueless poms. It transpires that the road is a churned up dirt nightmare, little better than that which I'd already traversed. While we were mulling over what to do next, buoyed up by an endless flood of excellent milk chai and the best chips you've ever tasted from a stall on the corner, another stray biker arrived to join us as we sat "up chitral creek". This was German Mike, who had somehow managed to get a low slung Moto Guzzi cruiser over the Shandur in a foot of snow. If this feat does not earn him the handle "Mad Mike", there is no justice in the world.

Retracing our steps over the Shandur was not an option (both Mike and I went a shade paler at the thought), and the Lowari was likely to be bike-hostile for some weeks. However, a third alternative presented itself. The ubiquitous jingly-jangly truck is a large Bedford with prehistoric suspension and capable of speeds of up to 0.1 mph on steep slopes, but it does have the advantage on snow of having 4 wheels, which a bike has not.

So this was how we came to spend 24 freezing hours in the back of one of these things as it churned its way over the pass along with dozens of its fellows, escaping from Chitral in a window of good weather. The journey over the pass was enlivened by the frequent long delays as trucks got stuck and were pushed and dug out, or inched past each other on the forty -odd dizzying hairpins which cling to the valley walls. Mike and I were pressed into service as BMW holding up devices, as we all bounced and rattled down the far side, spending more time in the air than in contact with the floor. The driving skills displayed by the truck jockey were nothing short if awesome, and really pushed the envelope between genius and madness.

We finally descended to the small town of Dir, a room in a hotel which was above freezing point, and the best chicken karai on the planet. We had escaped from chitral's freezing grasp for the sum of 1000 rupees each (18 dollars and cheap at the price).

I am now enjoying the sensation of being warm again in Peshawar, and in no hurry to move on.....another pot of chai, please...

More from Islamabad in a few days, Mission control, you can send my parcel of spares now, as I will be there soon to pick it up.

Cheers - Connor"

Frank Campbell, USA, Middle East and Africa, in Israel,

"...Before I could cry out "Please don't!", the olive-skinned, silken-eyelashed, almond-eyed Sabra in a crisp form-fit uniform had stamped my passport with the Israeli entry visa. This would forever ban me from travel to a dozen or so countries around the world. But she could have stamped the tip of my nose and I would have held perfectly still, and probably thanked her too.

Frank Campbell, Sea of Galilee, Israel

After my all too brief encounter with Sabra I rode into the modern city of Elat, got some maps, milked the ATM for some Shekels, slurped a Ben & Jerry vanilla-chocolate wafer-cone and sped off into the Negev Desert.

From the legendary Negev, where Israel had made the desert bloom to the shores of the Dead Sea the region reads like the Who-was-Who in biblical history. It was on the shores of the Dead Sea that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah caught God's wrath after some protracted heavy partying.

And Lot's wife didn't heed the warnings not to look back, and was turned into a statue of salt, which still stands by the Dead Sea in testimony to all those who ever said "I TolD YOU SO".

Yes, you do bob like a cork in the waters of the Dead Sea. The beaches are not exactly Cancun, but the area is quite pleasant. A mini Palm-Spring like oasis in an otherwise VERY arid land. And Tel Aviv? If it weren't for the lack of signs announcing Mojito, Cubanos, Arroz Amarillo, Calle Ocho, Free Elian and anti-Fidel slogans, I'd think I was in Miami. Chic, avant-guard with even a touch of art-deco.

Jerusalem is 60 km away, with the rock throwing, shootings, car bombings and other events that might tempt God to send another stern fire-and-brimstone warning.

For now, the main concern in Tel Aviv seems be to get a good spot on the beach and and even tan.

Welcome to The Land of Israel...

Epilogue. Date: Sun, 19 Nov. 2000, Greece

'What? Your bike has no NUMBER?' asked the Greek incredulously.
'Well, yes and no. You see, in Florida...'

I was ready to launch into a lengthy explanation about personalised license plates but I thought twice. It might sound like the epitome of American narcissism.

'...As I was saying, in Florida we have trouble with numbers, so we just use letters'
'So what the Diavolos is F-E-R-N-W-E-H supposed to mean? Family name?'
'Kind of. Really means 'homesick', or...'

Before I could elaborate the Customs man went on 'So, you are going home to vote? They are just waiting for the Florida votes, you've heard?'

Again I was going to explain that you can ONLY vote on the election date that was long past, but things were complicated enough so I replied 'Yes, I hope to get home soon. If I ever get through Greece'.

'Endaxi, endaxi. No problem. So your bike has no number. You for this Bosch guy, or Gore?' It sounded more like Go-ray when he said it.

Trying to eschew the lengthy political argument that might ensue I gave a noncommittal reply such as 'I'll think about it on the flight home. I am considering a write-in vote for a real Floridian like Mickey Mouse'.

I don't think he made the association and went on: 'Yes, Clinton good president' he proffered as he approved my number-less motorcycle into Greece. I rode off thinking none of the likely heirs could possibly look less presidential at this moment. Not even M. Mouse.

When I get home, I'll turn in my personalised plate and get a regular one. I'm sick and tired of the 'What NUMBER your bike?' uttered in Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew and now Greek. At least the Germans will understand, and the Italians are nonchalant.

That is if Florida hasn't seceded from the Union and decided to join Cuba instead, where vote counting is really NOT a problem.

See you along the road, Frank"

Werner Zwick, Germany, on tour in South America,

(Werner left his bike there since last year at a dealers... and it all worked out well. Grant)

"...I had a nice experience at the Chilean border coming back from Argentina. A policeman asked me if it was normal for the motorcycle to leave a puddle of oil where it was parked. With some luck and refilling oil I made it 60km to the town of Los Andes on the spectacular mountain road between Mendoza and Santiago. It turned out to be a minor problem. The oil filter did not fit (thanks guys in Chillan).

In Bolivia I went for the thermal baths of Urmiri, 100km south of La Paz. The narrow road winds down in endless curves to a secluded canyon where 7 springs deliver delicious hot water for the baths. It's a small place with a family atmosphere, great for relaxing and recovering strength for further travelling.

Geisers Del Tatio

La Paz is an incredible city, climbing down a wide valley from 4000m down to 3000m. The lower you go, the richer the neighborhoods gets. The whole city is an open air market, with almost every citizen trying to sell something. There is a very lively mood in the city. I found a good place to park my motorcycle until I get back next year.

...I will visit the Islands in Lake Titicaca, and Lima..."

and in a later message...

"...Sunday night, 30m from my hostal, somebody grabbed me from behind, strangled me and two others held my arms. When I woke up, my backpack with camera, my purse with some money and credit card, and worst, my diary was gone. This happened in a busy street in La Paz at 10pm. Could have been worse, I am not hurt, and I still have passport, tickets and some money.

But, with my diary gone, it's hard to write something about the trip. Currently I am writing a new kind of diary out of my memory.

Left my bike in La Paz, with the same dealer, who has already stored Eric Haws BMW. Looks good. The Transalp will move north, every year a bit more, until she reaches Vancouver. That's the idea. Vamos a ver.

Saturday I will fly back to rainy Germany. Haven't had any rain (except the light drizzle in the Atacama desert) for four weeks.

Greetings from Copacabana, Bolivia, Werner"

Bente Bråthen and Dag Jenssen, (Rocinantes' Travels) Norway, North and South America, in Guatemala,

Lago Atitlan"...in Antigua, the old capital of Guatemala, destroyed by an earthquake in the 17th century, hence losing the status as capital to Guatemala City. Today it's a traveler center, a place people from all around the world meet to study Spanish and enjoy a truly amazing city. More than fifty schools and hundreds of teachers offer their service. Everyone offers one to one tutoring for 50-80 US$ a week. The town is full of trendy and traditionally mixed cafes and restaurants, and the atmosphere is vibrant.

...Antigua is a funnel, a place were every motorcyclist on the same trip as ours go through, so yesterday we were suddenly three bikes, our Tiger, Gerald's R1100GS and Lars and Tini's Africa Twin, that met north of Antigua on the Guatemalan Pan Am. The latest addition is Lars and Tini, a German couple going from Fairbanks to Ushuaia on a heavily loaded Africa Twin.

We decided yesterday to boost up our Spanish with 20 hours study next week, so we will hang around for a while. It's a truly nice city, despite the hordes of backpackers and other tourists, or maybe partly because of them, so we look forward to it...

Jason Koch, USA, to South America, in Mexico

"...I have become a maniac. I have seen 10 lanes of traffic converge into one, via a chaotic process of honking, nudging, squeezing, and shouting. I have been pinned up against the median, while a Capitalino (a Mexican from Mexico City) shouted profanities at me and my motorcycle. In that Jason Koch in Mexico

moment, I realized my mania by shouting profane retorts in a streaming display of Spanish worthy of any Mexican truck driver.

Self actualization in this sense is something I never thought possible. But in dire situations, such as Mexico City's rush hour, new feelings and actions are brought forth. Throw me into Los Angeles during peak rush hours. Toss me into Rome during Holy Week. Bring on Tokyo, London, New York, and Delhi.

I am ready--I have entered Mexico's capital and emerged unscathed after four days and nights of road warrioring. Perhaps it was of my own volition that I transformed into a raving lunatic on a 1000cc BMW motorcycle. Perhaps it was the shop owner in the Ford Tempo next to me, shouting offers to buy my bike while we careened at 50 mph in traffic. Perhaps it was the policeman on his 80's vintage (or dilapidated) Harley Davidson, who urged me to splice between cars: 'Adelante jefe, estas en moto' [go through them, buddy, you're on a motorbike]. Or, perhaps it was the 70,000 green VW beetle taxis, demonstrating the Zen of weaving in and out of traffic to board and de-board clients.

Whatever the reasons, what is done is done, and I can only pray that safety accompanies the mania. Are they mutually exclusive? Can mania be safe? I am currently searching to buy a popular bumper sticker: "Jesus es mi copiloto" [Jesus is my co-pilot] --to assist my driving and calm my nerves..."

Istvan Szlany, Canada, to Central and South America, in Mexico,

"...I screwed up. Big time! After I left from here, from La Paz, I headed towards Cabo San Lucas, the southern tip of the peninsula. I camped somewhere in the bush - just like usually. It was a beautiful night, unusually humid, though, and loud from the grasshoppers. Gee, those little creatures can make such a big noise! I slept ... well, not good, and I woke up sick. No, not that. Home sick. I had all kinds of thoughts in my head, and felt miserable from them. ...

So where did I screw up? hold on, I'm not there yet. As I was pondering on my present life, where I come from, and where I'm going, I was looking at my dear. This time I'm talking about the motorcycle, not June. I look at the chain and I noticed ... damn! the chain is about to break! I oiled the chain at every second fill-up, and didn't see that the ticking noise is not from the master link, but from a chipped link. How can I be so blind??? Oh, well, no big deal, I have the new one, and I can change it in 10 min. Sure - if everything is all right.

But it's not! So where did I screw up? ... hold on, I'm not there yet! I screwed up not here, but in Tucson. Why? Because I assumed that the dealer is smart enough to find out from a catalogue that a Kawi KLR650 A13 wears a 106 link chain, not a 110! ... got that? I should have known that I cannot trust anyone when it comes to bike spare parts supply and fixing my bike. Those of you who ride: do know your bike, and always double check everyone who touches your bike. ... you do as you want, but for me this is the rule from now on.

So I put on this loose chain, and head back to La Paz to fix it. But here comes Big Time Screw Up II. It was Saturday! So no shop is open. All right, I stock up with water, and head back to the desert. That's where I spent the last couple of days.

Screw up nr. III. The weather down here is so hot, that riding in the city is not good for your plastic fan impeller. The damn thing melted off the axle, and started to wreck my heat-exchanger. I mean radiator. ... So I had to remove the whole thing and what's involved with it: removing the stuff from my bags, removing the seat, the tank, and the fan. I had some glue, but - I guess you're bored with so many screw-ups - the glue didn't harden completely in 24 hours! Oh, well, at least I could clean the air filter without screwing that up.

Saturday I met near San Pedro (25km SW from La Paz) a Green Car, that supposed to help out mechanically stranded tourists. The guy was very kind and when I asked if he has the chain breaker and some special tools to shorten the chain, he instantly showed up next to me with a huge hammer and a comparably enormous screw driver. ... Special tool, eh? I bet you wouldn't have thought of this! After a little conversation (yep, crash course in Spanish that you wouldn't believe: me with two dictionaries in my hand sweating like a mule dressed up in riding gear, and this guy in uniform with an impressive hammer and screw-driver. Can you imagine this picture?

...Today I went to a MC shop called Moto Sport. For 80 Pesos they changed my rear tire and shortened the chain as well. They don't have such tools as chain breaker or talcum powder, but they have big tools, and lots of strength. So don't give them your bike just like that, unless you don't mind a series of screw ups like I had. Good luck!

After that I bought some CDs with local music and a box from a shoe store but I couldn't send it home, because ... yeeeeees, I screwed up. I was late only 5 min, the post office closed at 3 pm.

That's all for now. I'll take the ferry tonight to Los Mochis. It's 550 Pesos for the motorcycle, and ... I don't know if my fare is included into this or not. I'll e-mail you, Ladies and Gentlemen, whenever I can.

Take care, and have fun, whatever you do. ... and now I better go to the ferry, before I screw up that, too!

Cheers, Istvan"

Kobayashi Tsuyoshi, (Yoshi) Japan, uncertain route, in Iran,

Initially we got this mail, passed on by Sandra and Joerg as well as Julia Powell, and sent out a note to all travellers in the area to see if anyone could help;

"...I had a big car accident....my Africa Twin is completely broken... Yesterday I came back to Teheran from south of Iran by truck. It takes 5 days. I'm so tired and sad... but I must get out from Iran what is the most important things. Here is Iran I'm in Iran...I must get out from Iran with Africa Twin. Otherwise...oh... my god! But I had a big problem... I don't have US$CASH! I have some t/c, visa card. But I can't use!!! geeeee...and I don't have time too... yes... I'm in Iran... I have only two choices. Sending motorcycle or repairing motorcycle. But it's not easy... but I have to do... life is so exciting..."

later, more mail... after some recovery...

"...Thank you for writing E-mail for me. I'm O.k. I'm in Quetta which is border town between Iran and Pakistan. Which means ..I crossed the border! Of course Africa Twin too. It was one of the hardest route for me because my bike have still had a lot of damaged. Oil leak started from front fork and each parts are curved, wheel, shaft, break, etc..my body also curved.

About 3000km I drove from Teheran. I used snowboarding style... I'm tired... but I didn't want to stop in Iran. So I took it. Now I'm fixing motorcycle again.

It was boring road. So I was driving Africa Twin about 110km per hour. I saw changed color of asphalt. (in Iran there is a lot of road construction.) but asphalt was soft... like a oil... so I couldn't control it... on the other side car was coming... I fell down and throw motorcycle for the car.
BAN!!!!! I was rolled rolled rolled....Africa Twin was... you can image about this happened... then I called police....car owner fixed it by himself and then gone...

If it were not for motorcycle, everybody could live. But we are in need of motorcycle. m/c brings a lot of happens for us. We could meet beautiful land scape, nice food, people, smells, and beautiful girls... etc etc... and also cold days, wet sleeping bag, bad smells, windy, dusty, hot, hotter, hottest days, robbers, police, sickness, lonely, poor (I'm getting...)... lots!!

I had hard time of it more than good time. Hard time bring up me. You know... I learned a lot of things from on the road.

I'm trying to fix. Then I'm going to look for my self. I want to meet another yoshi.

Thank you for your help. I hope we will see somewhere in this planet.

Yoshi"

an e-mail a few days later...

"...When I had a car accident police control my all action. They took me police station then they said sit down! walk! Stay this hotel!... I had no choice... Next morning they came to hotel with truck (my Africa Twin on the truck at that time) police just said jump on this truck! Then go! go!

I asked to him Where? Where? Donde? But they just said.. "no problem"

But I didn't know my arrival place. So I was so confused... They took me to hotel (this hotel is the one of the most expensive hotel)

But there is no English speaker at that time. (Still I was confused.) Somebody speak English! or Japanese!!(in Iran a lot of people speaks Japanese more than English) one Iranian guy came who heard my story from other guy, and then he asked me some...

Why you came to Iran? It's your fault! With motorcycle!? It's your fault! You are foreigner so you have to stay and must pay! And get out from Iran!

I couldn't say anything I didn't want. It's no use talking to him, because he never understand me. I'll never forget him and his face. I just understand... I'm in Iran...

That hotel owner came and said, You can stay this hotel and also you don't have to pay... I see him looks like a god... and they called to transportation company... I got a truck to Teheran.

I came back to Teheran with Africa Twin. It took about 30 hours...

I met Japanese businessman who have worked about 7 years in Iran. I explained my accident... he said "you must go out from Iran as soon as possible and call to Japanese embassy, this is important". Then he took me to his hotel. Then he said... "Take this" he gave US cash for me... A friend in need is a friend indeed (in Japanese) he said.

And he didn't ask my address....but I asked his address and tel number. He said "see you in Japan".. Thank you...

I called to embassy. Embassy said "Are you O.K" yes... " anyway...
"You must go out from Iran with bike" then they call to HONDA... I went to motorcycle shop. They said... "no problem" How much does it cost ? "no problem" How many days.. "no problem" (but no problem is problem for me in Iran)

Honda made good job for me. They made new system! Because I can't get spare parts in Iran, they make everything! And he worked until 2am! I didn't expect so much from him but... after 6 days my Africa Twin was standing and running! He just make smile for me...

But we had a one problem we couldn't find tire 3 days. My tire was completely cut so I had to change. But... finally we found it!

10 days ago I was thinking that I'm satisfied with this trip... It's enough... but I could keep going my trip. Thank you.

I'm so happy. I have good friends. One Japanese friend "I can go to Iran with spare parts!!" he said... Swiss friend " I can send my brother (his brother is mechanic)"... I think this is joke but I am so happy! Thank you.

and finally...

"Grant, Just to let you know that we have seen Yoshi briefly this afternoon. He has arrived back in Esfahan after getting his bike fixed in Tehran. He's OK and back on the road again, although in needs of a couple of days rest. What a great job you do linking all this up. Great to know you're there.

Bye for now, Rachel Kempster"

Keith King, UK, around South America, in Brazil,

"5 Nov 2000 Making my way up the coast from Fortaleza, which for a major city is pretty tranquil with a great character bar named Calypso on the beach of Iracema...

17 kms from Paranaiba I got talking to some moto taxi guys who suggested that I visit Pedras do Sal a little fishing village with a few beach bars and even fewer people. Found the only pousada (guest house) for 2.50US$ per night and got a massive double room communal kitchen, freezer, tv with fuzzy picture, hammock etc. and was just the place I've been looking for to chill out for a while.

Temp here was in the 30s C but with a constant sea breeze. P Do Sal (Rocks Of Salt) are massive boulders where the Atlantic rollers crash onto a stretch of beach at one side great for surfing while at the other side is a calm bay with fishing boats bobbing at anchor. The evening sunsets are an artist/photographers dream-a great big red ball against a blue sky tinged with pinks, oranges, yellows. Really moving stuff & guaranteed to 'soothe the most savage breast.' Dinner of course is fresh seafood, fish deep fried and so succulent that you enjoy chewing the bones. Crab in quantity that you would pay a fortune for in the UK, rice, sweet potato, beans and all for 1US$. I feel so guilty when the bill comes!

Riding the bike on the endless empty beach is great but is wearing out my tires. Local pigs roam the beach and are more like pets. This is upmarket beach combing! We've had the occasional power cut at night and the two other local guests say to me in amazement 'You're happy when we have no electricity! I reply that I can see the stars even better now. And off we go to drink all the beer in the freezer before it all goes warm!

Sergio, a guest, is a 60ish salesman, samba playing guitarman, philosopher, rotund, sexmad, and a happy happy person who just bought himself a VW powered beach buggy so we go tearing off over the sand dunes - What a life!

The locals were a bit offish at first but were intrigued by me and the bike and soon I was the storyteller, and laced with rum and a few beers the night were long and fun.

So now refreshed and ready to take on the 1600kms to Belem then 3000kms up the Amazon to Manaus. As it's Sunday, I think I'll just go play in the rollers a bit, dry off in the sun, eat my freshly cooked prawns, drink my coconut, enjoy the microclad bikini scenery and have another wonderful day in my favourite of all countries. BRASIL Eu amo esse pais!!"

Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world, in Uganda,

"13/11/00 Tourism is again dead in Uganda. Last time we were here it was from killing eight tourists by Congo Rebels and this time it is from the outbreak of Ebola. 105 people have died out of the 313 who have contracted the disease and they are still getting about 12 new cases each day. The centre of the outbreak is about 300km north from Kampala but minor outbreaks have occurred elsewhere but not spread. People are free to move around the country so its containment is not assured. There is minor concern verging on panic here like when a lady travelling on a mini-bus sneezed and had a nose bleed people started to jump out of the windows and door before the driver could bring the vehicle to a halt. Visited the French Embassy for C.A.R. visas and were asked to return tomorrow for an interview.

14/11/00 Well surprise, surprise, the system actually worked. The visa applications we made in Lusaka, Zambia, had been to Gabon and C.A.R. and were forwarded to the French Embassy in Uganda. Even better they had been approved and were just $US 20.00 each and available tomorrow. In the afternoon we collected two new Dunlop tyres with us removing and replacing the wheels and Nis Uganda fitting the tyres. With most of the uncertainty about our route to West Africa now removed it's down to repacking the motorcycle and buying food and extra equipment (machete and rope) for the expected difficult terrain in Congo.

15/11/00 From numerous times of coming off the motorcycle, twice heavily, we had bent the crash bars and weakened them. Nis Uganda were able to assist us in strengthening them in their workshop, cutting pipe to slip over the existing bars for added strength. Western supermarket type products in Africa are generally more expensive than in the west. Most are imported and not manufactured in the region. Even those made in Kenya or South Africa, the two major manufacturing centres, are expensive in Uganda and the range is limited as are the numbers and size of supermarkets. Some of the best-stocked shops are those attached to petrol stations. If you can afford the car and petrol you can afford the western produce..."

Gregory Frazier, USA, around the world for the third time, on his European leg, now in India,

"Europe was wet and cold as I moved around. My motorcycle, a "Monsterkuh" BMW R1100 GS outfitted by the TOURATECH Company, came with heated handgrips. Before this romp across Europe in the cold, I always secretly scoffed at the BMW riders who had heated grips, thinking them wimps. Well, after Europe in the ice, snow and rain, you can count me in the "Wimp Pack." I do not know if I will install heated grips on any of my motorcycles, but I will no longer snicker at those who have them. I might even be enticed into trying one of the new heated codpieces I heard the BMW company is soon to offer anyone who purchases a new BMW motorcycle...

My plan was to cross Europe to Istanbul, dump the bike and catch a flying carpet over to India, thus avoiding having to purchase a Carnet de Passage for Iran, Pakistan and India. The money I would save would pay for the magic carpet ride and I could also avoid the hassle of a visa for Iran...

One evening I spent with an Indian hobby club. They are several hundred such clubs around Europe. They dress up like Indians, sing Indian songs, and do a variety of Indian activities, such as powows, arts and crafts and tent building. As the night wore on, and the swill went down (yes, they even have the Indian swilling copied fairly well), we got to a point where I was going to have to produce some 'Indian hocus pocus" to bless the evening's greatness of a real Indian being present. Now, back in Montana, when I have an opportunity like this with a group of white-eyes, we can sometimes end up with some female, after being liberated of all her clothing and covered in pink paint, running wildly through the sagebrush carrying a torch or flashlight. Upon her return we bestow an Indian name upon her, something more like a moniker than official "Indian name." Swill twists some of our Indian traditions, and my recent crossing of Europe reinforced this belief. The name "Eye Lean" now has a home in Germany. She thinks she got it because her doctor told her one leg is 5 mm shorter than the other, but it could well be from the way she stumbled...

On this European leg I did have an adventure with a Wolpertinger suitable for inclusion in the next edition of my book, MOTORCYCLE S*X or FREUD WOULD NEVER UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ME AND MY MOTORCYCLE, but you will have to go over to my website to see that story.

The BMW motorcycle on the European continent thus completes the third leg of my ride around the world using motorcycles manufactured on the continent I am crossing. I used an Indian in North America, and an AMAZONAS in South America. Next is Asia, where I plan to use an Enfield 500, manufactured in India. The Indian was 1200 cc's, made in 1947. The AMAZONAS was 1600 cc's and made in the 1980's. The Robo-boxer BMW was 1100 cc's of monster grunt from the 1990's. The Enfield is 500 cc's, manufactured in 2000 with a 1960's design, and pumping out the least horsepower, 22, of all the bikes I will use...

It has been an interesting transition from motorcycle to motorcycle, continent to continent. One motorcycle used a foot-operated clutch on the left-hand side, whereas the next used a foot-operated shifter on the left-hand side. The Indian Chief had a left-hand gas throttle, whereas the rest have had right-handed throttles.

At night, before I go to sleep, I try to remind myself that in the morning I must remember which hand to use for a shift, which foot to use for a brake, and which hand is for the gas. Then, because I am moving so fast, I must try to remember which continent I am on and in which country.

Complications I can see down the road. Next I will be on a continent where the left hand is used to clean the personal exhaust chute and the right one for filling the intake port.

Dr. Gregory Frazier, on the road around the globe, again"

Globeriders Trevor Sproat, and Noah Maltz, USA, around the world, in Russia

"...We headed north from Almaty, Kazakhstan all styled out in our new ski suits, ready to brave the autumn chill. After 1,600kms of temperatures reaching -5C we started to question the wisdom of this particular bit of route planning. On the third day out of Almaty we stopped at an isolated roadside café to thaw out. A little later the snow started again - and kept us there for the next 4 days.

The countryside turned white and the road became ice. We were cajoled into vodka shots by passing truckers (drunken driving seems more a requirement than a transgression in these parts) and cleared our heads by strolling around the nearby cemetery. On the third day we made a mad dash for freedom, and between us had four spills in about 100 meters. The next day the weather thawed to above -15C and we decided to try again. Alternating between the deep snow on the side of the road, and the ice on the road, we took about 5 hours to cover the 130kms to the border town of Petropavlovsk. Along the way we learned the following: smooth trail tyres have very little traction in snow drifts; there is not much one can do when the back wheel overtakes the front wheel on an icy corner; and it is difficult to pick up a fully loaded bike on ice when the ice is too slippery for one to even stand up.

Here in southern Siberia the ice seemed set in for the winter, and reports from truckers coming down from Russia all told of ridiculous temperatures and iced-up passes through the Ural mountains. We considered staying in Petropavlovsk for the winter, learning Russian and wearing live furry animals on our heads. But since we had already stayed two weeks on our 3-day transit visa, we decided to rather put the bikes on the Trans-Siberian train to Moscow...

Apart from the usual gregarious advances by dead-drunk gentlemen (a recurring theme here in Russia) the train ride was uneventful. We wheeled our bikes through the crowded Moscow train station at 6 a.m. We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being in Russia with no passport entry stamp, no visa registration, and no customs declaration...

For those of you who have spent time in Moscow, the name "The Hungry Duck" will no doubt bring a grin to your faces - the rest of you will have to get a Russian visa to find this out for yourselves! After this particular night of debauchery we were treated to a traditional Russian 'banya' (bathhouse), where the afternoon is spent sweating it out in a super-hot sauna, gently flagellating oneself and friends with bundles of birch twigs, after which one jumps into an ice-cold pool. Then back to the sauna, and so on until one is a bright shade of pink - at which stage one heads off to the lounge to drink beer and eat local delicacies while wrapped in a large sheet like a Roman emperor (but without the young boys). And then the whole process is begun again. So now that we have cleansed body and soul, we leave Moscow tomorrow for the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania. More stories from there!"

Ken and Carol Duval, Australia, around the world, in Pakistan,

"The Karakoram... What more can be said...

Departing Islamabad (and the pollution) with Connor (XT600 Tenere) we make Besham on the KKH late on the first day. The mountain passes were choked with horn blasting mini buses and diesel belching trucks but this is all part of the fun and challenge.

The Duvals on the road to Quetta, PakistanThe "meat" of the KKH started today as the rough paved road cast its spell over us. Carved into the cliff face high above the Indus River, signs acknowledged the military companies that had built and now maintain that particular section. We stopped numerous times enjoying the view, taking photos and acknowledging the musical truck horns as they laboured past. To stop on the edge of the road, boil the billy and eat warm roti and jam under a bright blue sky, snow capped mountains in the distance... bliss.

This road is no sports bike road. It is "rough", there is the occasional landslide being repaired and the odd rock or two tumbles down the cliff face onto the road in front of you. In addition to these obstacles Pakistani drivers tend to take the corners on the wrong side of the road...

in Gilgit... over eight hours to cover 350 kms...Madina Guest House... good food, relaxed atmosphere and hot showers justified the recommendations...

...north to Sost... After paying and signing into Khunjerab National Park the vegetation ceased as we climbed past the 3,000 metre level. The last 13 kms to Khunjerab climbed steeply and the flowing creek, slowed with lumps of ice, became a solid mass at the top. The Pakistani border guard informed us it was -7 degrees under a bright blue sky. Photographs with a group of Chinese soldiers topped a great ride.

... The return journey to Gilgit saw the "team", Mark, Claire, Connor and ourselves back together again. Madina Guest House was cramped with bikes that night as we collected another overlander (Mike a lanky German riding a Motor-Guzzi street bike) on the way through town. Another two German riders turned up that evening on a DR800 Suzuki so motorcycles dominated our conversation for quite a few hours...

Duvals, Lowari Pass, PakistanLeaving Dir around 10am the paved road indicated on our map turned to damp, hard packed dirt... A couple of shallow creek crossings with a slowly deteriorating track (mud)... on the top the mud turned to a slurry of ice and snow churned up by the slow moving trucks. The top was a skating ring with the slurry refreezing. The downside (northern) was unrideable for the first 50 metres as the tyres slid with my feet as skids just holding the bike upright. Sliding to a stop, Carol abandoned ship and hitched a ride on a recently overtaken truck. I proceeded down slowly for almost a kilometre to just past the snow line with Carol rejoining the bike after thanking her lift profusely. We don't think they were really unhappy about having a western woman aboard though...

Internetting the next day, we met Conner. He had made the Shandur crossing in two days. But all was not well as rain had set in and the mountains surrounding Chitral were blanketed with snow. Lowari Pass was now closed!! ...

Contemplating our dilemma over some chai (tea) at the Al-Farooq Hotel we heard the rumble of a large bike outside. Staggering up the stairs came MGM - Motor-Guzzi Mike. He had just completed the Shandur Pass through 20cm of snow crashing (touch downs) some eight times. Shandur would be closed for sure. Mikes' smiles on greeting us changed when we told him Lowari Pass was closed. He was unaware there was even a pass to be negotiated.

Carol Duval, Khunjerab Pass, Pakistan, Karakoram Highway

...we had to escape the winter. We crossed to the other side of the river in Chitral and negotiated with a truck driver a price and planned our escape. Two days to allow the pass to be bulldozed clear, three bikes, four people....3,000 rupees, a bargain. The truck was an over decorated Bedford. While paying the deposit the next day we were informed that another truck would be used and more bad weather was anticipated. We must leave ASAP. 5.30pm that day we departed Chitral. Mike and Connor in the back with the bikes resting on 200kg of river sand (ballast) and Carol and I up front. Our escort would be an open tray truck carrying sand and rocks (the traction truck).

See Connor's piece above for the pass story - I think he suffered more in the back so he gets to tell it... :-)

Later...

The Islamabad Tourist Campground has a feeling similar to Uphill Campground in Nairobi, Kenya. A pleasant relaxing atmosphere with plenty of overland motorcyclists, 4WD's, backpackers and the odd truck. Meetings around the campfire discussing past adventures and future travels, mechanical help and advice and the ever present dormant traveller waiting on a parcel of spares, documents or a visa approval. It's a happening place.

Our stay in Pakistan is drawing to a close. Motor-Guzzi Mike has met up with his lady Rose and has headed off to India. Mark and Claire are already playing with the Delhi traffic. Connor's bike is all but repaired after completing a heli-coil repair on an oil filter bolt and a complete respoke of his front wheel (rusty spokes kept breaking). India is next but our aim is CHRISTMAS IN KATHMANDU. We have a few overlanders joining us but the more the merrier. That's all folks. Everybody have a safe and happy Christmas in case we don't get a message to you before hand.

Ken and Carol Duval"

Robert and Steve Raucher, South Africa, around the world, in Iran and Pakistan,

"...We landed up on the most stunning mountain pass with the road hewn straight out of purple and green rock! The final leg of this pass descended about a kilometer over ten kilometers of tarmac and landed up smack bang in an oasis. Palm trees, dates and oranges as far as the eye could see.

Raucher Brothers at the Bam Fort in Iran

Another hour and we were in Bam. Which is also an oasis town and very beautiful. We spent the night at Ali Amir's Legal Guest House and had dinner with several other travelers at Ali's mothers house.

...We headed straight for Zahedan near the Iranian border with Pakistan. Alas, we were stopped at a police roadblock outside Bam and told to wait for a police escort, as the road was too dangerous. This was supposed to be a fifteen-minute wait but easily protracted into a 3-hour wait! Punctuality is not an Iranian police strongpoint.

We returned to Ali Amir's despondent and met some more interesting French travelers, Romain and Jean, who expertly helped me re-pack the (unused!!) camping equipment. We inaugurated our mugs with a brew made on their camping stove and felt we had finally become backpackers. We left Bam at first light and had reached Zahedan by 10:30. The border crossing was nothing if not typical of our previous experience with uniformed Iranians, needless to say I kissed the ground upon arrival in Pakistan.

up to top of pagespacerBooks

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


Quotable Quotes...

"I'll not listen to reason. Reason always means what someone else has got to say."
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, writer

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
Anais Nin, writer

"If the world were a logical place, men would ride sidesaddle."
Rita Mae Brown, writer

up to top of page Some nice comments...

"...a quick note to let you know that your web site is VERY impressive. I didn't take the time to read all that you did, but your photos are INCREDIBLE. They capture so much and are very artistic....I don't know if that is your profession, but it could be.

Have fun on the rest of your "adventures"

Paula, from NJ and now Québec"

"I'm very fond of motorbike and travelling and usually I buy some magazines regarding these matters. I have found your web address on "MOTOCICLISMO". The site is nice and full of information and it is useful for planning my trips. Best regards,
Giuseppe, Italy"

and Giuseppe was kind enough to send me a copy of "MOTOCICLISMO" as well - thanks!

Amazing magazine, huge - 480 pages! - and full of interesting stuff - in Italian... :-( Grant

Reply to a message to Peter about two addresses for him...

"...thanks for your excellent e-zine! I was actually disappointed to see that this was just an email, not my monthly dose of adventure news.

In fact, I might just be going on another motorcycle/India holiday this winter, just because of you and your correspondents.
Peter McLennan" Australia

"Hello the house!

I must say that I really do enjoy your website immensely. I visit it quite often, and through it, along with the "Adventure Motorcycling" site, am able to sate my appetite for information about far away lands, people, and exotica.

I envy you, and wish you the best. The Lord make His face to shine upon you!

So speaks the Toad" USA

"I always read your reports, and those that travel by motorcycle around the world all the time, with great interest.

Thank you very much, keep riding safe and sending us good reports.

Jean-Pierre Poitras" Canada

"I read about you in a UK magazine "BIKE" that had an article on how bikers can use the internet. My hats off to both of you for this incredible tale. I am all abuzz at the moment preparing for my move from Australia to Europe where I hope to spend some time travelling by bike so your site was captivating for me. I think I read the whole site in one sitting. Thanks, Jason" Australia


up to top of pagespacerFunnies...

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

Just remember... if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.

It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try and pass them.

You can't have everything, where would you put it?

Latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world's population.

If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.

The things that come to those that wait may be the things left by those who got there first.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat drinking beer all day.

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

I wished the buck stopped here, as I could use a few.

I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.

When you go into court you are putting yourself in the hands of 12 people that weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

thanks to Chris Walstow


up to top of page Administrivia

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Grant Johnson

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Reader comments

All comments and suggestions are carefully read, and where possible will be acted on. Your help will make this a useful service for all travellers.

Feel free to use the Bulletin Board for questions. If you think there is something you'd like to see in the newsletter, please send me an e-mail.

I will try to respond, please be patient. ALL e-mail is normally replied to quickly, but who knows - we may be on the road!

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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.

up to top of pagespacerPrizes!

This month we have TWO winners!

Paul Gregory, UK, and Zimwanda (e-mail address, no name or country)

Stephen Reynolds, UK, got his book (Europe by MC) last month, and Brett Somsen, USA, is asleep...

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:

Alaska By MC, book
New Zealand By MC, book
MC Sex, book (Hey Greg, when do we get the MC Sex Video? ;-)
Motorcycling to Alaska, (PAL Video)
Motorcycling To Alaska, (NTSC Video)

Visit Gregory's website, find out more about these great titles, and have a look at some of his many other books and videos, there's sure to be one you can use.

Thanks Greg!

Bernd Tesch has also generously contributed a dozen of his:

Motorrad ABENTEUER Touren (Motorcycle ADVENTURE Tours) books.

Bernd's book is 264 stories of worldwide Motorcycle Tours since 1910. 432 pp. with 500 pictures (in German only, but lots of pictures). Bernd has hundreds more motorcycle travel books in German and a great many English books as well, available on his website, so check it out!

Thanks Bernd!

Remember - Winners must respond to me by the 25th of the month following the announcement of your name or e-mail address, or next month there will be TWO winners, and you've used up your luck. Free shipping is included with the winning prize. Local Taxes and Duties, if any, are not included, sorry.

Note: If YOU would like to donate a prize, please let me know. Maybe we could do two every month. Thanks, Grant


up to top of pagespacerShorts...

Muddy Flaps, Ceasar D'sa, Portugal (born in Kenya, resident in England working in Germany), and Christian Jupe, Germany, Germany to Thailand, in Egypt,

From the bulletin board:

"... Have had the misfortune to have an accident in Egypt and break my collarbone which means that I have to return to England. My first thought was to dump the bike, but I realise that this will probably not be possible as they have stamped it into my passport and I will probably lose the carnet guarantee of over 2500 pounds. Does anybody know any cheap air freight or sea freight options - really appreciated..."

Later from the website:

"I decided to publish this here as I find it difficult to answer the many mails of concern that I have received with me right arm in a sling.

Firstly, I would like to thank all the people who have offered me assistance in one way or another.
The accident did not happen on the motorcycle as many have assumed. As always in such situations, it was much less spectacular.

The quad runners looked like a much better way to explore the desert. In the deserts of Wadi Rum I had fallen over at least a dozen times and had to dig my wheel out of the soft sand on a half dozen occasions when I had tried a week earlier with the Tenere. Most of the organized tours in Sharm El Sheik were for a minimum of 8 people - this was off no use to me as I did not want to spend my afternoon loitering around well beaten tourist trails. A quick flash of $40, fake smiles and broken Arabic convinced Abdi, a local entrepreneur, to guide me on my very own 2 hour tour to the softest sands. In my excitement, I chose not to return back to the hotel to put on my motorcycle gear and helmet.

One hour later, I had all but mastered (or so I thought) the handling of the quad. More aggressive lines on the corners, faster approaches to the jumps had got the adrenaline flowing and I noticed that I was getting more confident (read cocky) than Abdi on the jumps.

I can see the jump now, Abdi slowing down as approaches. This would be it, this would be the test. Pushing hard on the throttle, I lurch forward, dropping a gear just before the jump. The front wheels take it perfectly and the buggy leaps into the air. A split second later things go pear shaped. The front of the buggy start to fall. All wrong. I grab the bars and lean back to try and right the nose dive. Too fast, too steep, too little, too late. The bumper hits the ground sending me flying off. I fall onto my outstretched left arm snapping my collarbone as it takes the weight on my body. I am only barely aware off the cart wheeling quad coming after me and crashing on my leg, pinning me down and knocking me out. I come round to see some local bedouins flipping over the buggy as Abdi pours water on my face.

That was the way of it. More will follow soon." Haven't heard anything further...so we'll assume he's sorted - I know Gina in Cairo offered to organise transport etc as needed - Thanks Gina!

Simon Kennedy, Ireland, (and French companion ;-), in Istanbul,

We finally made it to Istanbul. It is now over two months since I left London. After recovery from our little crash in Nantes my friend and I made leisurely time across France.

Those Swiss tunnels are like descending into the bowels of hell.

The starter motor completely packed up in Napoli for a reason I cannot fathom. A local mechanic took a new one out of his brand new showroom TA and got us on the road straight away. People seem willing to do a lot for motorbike travellers. They realise it is a higher calling I guess.

Unfortunately caught the European gasoline blockade moving east for the second time. Had to put up for a week in the rainy cold mountains of Greece. Eventually escaped in fog over the Katari pass. Just as well we couldn't see over the sides as I suspect the drops were pretty sheer.

The bike has given no more trouble. Indeed it seems to like the long days. Coped well with the Istanbul traffic at rush hour (a special experience). Handling has benefited enormously from getting rid of the camping stuff. Less is a lot more. It was a waste of money and effort.

Are now waiting on visas before traversing Turkey to Iran. Have stocked up on thermal underwear. It's going to get cold...

Simon Kennedy Transalp 1993

Simon, you're going to have to tell us your French companions name...

Chris Bright, UK, Around the world, in Ecuador,

"hi, wife and bright reunite! After much fun and games c/o Ecuadorian customs who were trying to appear as efficient as their colleagues in Egypt, we (Berni with his Toyota, Volki with his XT600 and moi et ma veille femme) with the invaluable help of Ricardo (Rocco) (who among his many tricks organised a letter from the MINISTER of tourism REQUIRING customs to assist these round the world travellers!! - nothing like pulling rank :-)) emptied our container in the dark on a piece of waste ground near Guayaquil harbour.

Numerous phone calls (including 6 long-distance to Panama to attempt to get the agents there to do their job properly) and 11 hours of laughs at the docks were not in vain. If we hadn't got them out that (Wednesday) night, our loved ones would still be locked away, as Thursday and Friday (yesterday and the day before) were holidays in Ecuador.

Since then, the wife has received a thorough servicing and the new smaller carb jets are making accelerating up hill to avoid the errant bus or two (at 2800 meters above sea level) seem like a walk in the park.

Am heading upcountry next week. cheers me dears c. x"

Manou Emringer and Ellen Spencer, Luxembourg and USA, around the world, in Guatemala and Peru,

"Hey Grant, Many thanks for the e-zine, it keeps getting even better with every edition. We're in Costa Rica enjoying the famed hospitality and rather decent cerveza. Plan to be in Ecuador in a week or so in order to make Ushuaia in time for the New Years Party. I don't remember if I told you but we took your advice and booked the Marine Expeditions trip to Antarctica...

... We're in Cusco, Peru, having just completed the compulsory Inca tourist route, Machu Picchu, and so on. Very impressive. Before that, we spent a week in Quito, waiting for our bikes that were delayed a couple of days in Columbia for some obscure reasons. Still, GIRAG Air did do a quite competent job, although I would consider trying to find an airline that flies direct to Quito, in order to bypass the potentially troublesome Colombian transit.

We got the bikes out of customs in under three hours, thanks to the help of a rather pricey, but very competent tramitador (Luis Gustavo Mejia, tel. 434770, $50 per bike. We had carnets)

The ride through Ecuador and Northern Peru was pleasant; we followed the Pan-American to Nazca, then headed into the mountains for Cuzco. Great road, about 150 km of gravel, all the rest is excellent pavement, nice and curvy.

A friendly Tarantul;a in Peru

Along the road we met a rather impressive Tarantula as well as two Brazilian guys, Thaio and Pedro, on DR800's, having just started a ride around the world.

Despite the current political situation in Peru, all was quiet, at least until this morning when our cabdriver dropped us off halfway to our destination because of a rather large mob of people blocking the road and throwing stones at every vehicle in sight. There had been a price increase of cab fares and this was the reaction. Since we had no idea what was going on, it made for quite a bit of adrenaline, but tourists were obviously not on the menu this time, so no harm done.

Next stop is Lake Titicaca, then down to Arica and on to Puerto Montt, Chile, and Ushuaia. The fun continues. Cheers Ellen and Manou"

Sylvie, Hubert, and Philippe, Montréal to Ushuaia, in Chile

"..We are now in Chile and heading to Santiago. The updates are not easy to do regularly as we don't have any laptop. See you, Hubert"

Andrea Mueller and Bernie Zoebeli, Switzerland, South / North America, in Colombia and Panama,

"...we are now with a friend in Bogotá and had a great time in Colombia. The people here are so friendly and helpful. The bad thing is that our BMW is again with the mechanic because they did really bad work in Quito. They damaged the entrance from the shaft to the gearbox... but here they seem to be honest and good workers. But it costs money, time and nerves. Now we think that we can leave Bogotá Saturday and go up north. From Cartagena we will go by boat to Colon and then pass rapidly through Central America... we will stay in Belize for Xmas and New Year.

Would be nice to meet other travelers there. We will send you more information during our trip... our plans are to cross Central America and then the western part of the USA and Canada until Alaska. From there we don't know exactly what we are doing.

In January we will be in Mexico and in about April we will enter the USA. Now we are in Panama. We came over from Cartagena to Isla Grande (near Colón) on a sailing boat, the motorbike we could take with us! If people want to do it they have to ask at the Club Nautico in Cartagena. Ask there for Larry and Juana or Manfred. it cost us 700.-us$; we and the bike with a stop at the San Blas islands which are worth a visit.

In Panama the police makes lots of controls, be careful! best wishes, Bernie and Andrea"

Gonzalo Figueroa and Nina Maria Eidheim, Argentina and Norway, LA to BA,

"...we made it to LA. America is just like we expected. Cars, freeways, highways and byways, burgers and lots of friendly people. We got the motorcycle out in record time. It only took 5 minutes to clear customs. The only problem was that Gonzalo almost didn't make it into the country. Some guy with the same name and the same birthday had been recently deported so he was actually confused with some guy on the black list. Anyway, as fast as we got the bike we escaped from LA - too big and too expensive. We flew through San Diego, stopping only to repair our Touratech boxes which were smashed up by the baggage handlers at Heathrow. Sal Peluso, an excellent welder and biker did everything for free. Everybody is very curious (never seen an Africa Twin before) and friendly.

We're now in El Centro, near the Mexican border and promise to write you some more after we cross the Rio Grande and get a little settled down. Right now it seems like we've got a million errands to do. Gonzalo and Nina"

Dirk 'Krid' Bernhart, Germany, to Cape Town, in Cape Town!

"I did it. I'm in Cape Town... Just have to dip my nose into the sea at the southernmost tip of Africa!!

I'm now trying to find out how to ship my bike back home cheaply (preferably by sea if it's cheaper) - any suggestions welcome. Then I plan to fly back Uganda for a while and be home in Germany before Christmas. Tips welcome regarding this as well (flight within Africa are expensive...).

A more detailed report about the last weeks to come soon. Stay tuned."

I asked him, "So what's in Uganda?"

he replied, "A wonderful girl called Brenda.. :-))"

ah... say no more...

we're looking forward to the update, and maybe some pictures?

"Yep, I'll rework my whole site and add the best pictures when I'm back home, i.e. around new year. Cheers mate! KRID

Right, so Krid will be spending Christmas in Uganda if anyone wants to spoil his party... ;-)


up to top of pagespacerSeen on the road...

"Mad Mike," Germany, Kiwi Brian and Japanese Junko, in Chitral, Pakistan, by Connor Carson

Lars Spittel and Tini, Germany, Fairbanks to Ushuaia, spotted in Guatemala,

Andreas Höln, a German on a Yamaha TT600 on his way north to the US. He's spent three years in South America and several months in Central America. His plans are to work in the States for a while and maybe go to Alaska.

The third, Gerald Hofegger, is in Chiapas and on the same trip as us, from New York to Argentina on a give or take one year trip. He drives a BMW R1100GS. Have been to Alaska.

seen by Dag and Bente


up to top of pagespacerLeaving soon...

John Brown and friends, USA, to Costa Rica

"...six of us will leave Dec 26/00 and cross the Mexican border at Matamoris with the desire to be in San Jose, Costa Rica on or before Jan 03/01. We will all be riding BMW's - three-F650GS's, two - R1150GS's, and one - R1200C.

This will be our sixth year in a row to ride in Mexico, virtually all over this beautiful country, we love it and the people. This will be our first time crossing borders with motorcycles into Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

We will be meeting our other "amigos" in San Jose for a Poncho Villa Mototours tour of Costa Rica that begins the morning of Jan 04/01. Is it reasonable to assume that we can make it by the 3rd? We realize will not be doing any real site seeing until we get to Costa Rica on this trip. Will the R1200C make it over the roads south of Mexico?

Thanks for your suggestions and comments. Best Regards, John Brown (Kansas City, MO)"

Kiara Casley, UK, around India,

"Hi Grant, I was searching for info on the Web re: Motorcycle Travel in India when I stumbled across your web site. Although it wasn't specifically on riding in India it had heaps of hints on motorcycle travel.

Starting on Dec. 5th this year I will be riding around India for 2 and a half months on an Enfield. I'm planning on doing a combination of riding and putting the bikes on trains for some of the longer bits. I don't have a set itinerary, just figure I need to be in Calcutta to fly out on a certain day. I plan on buying the bike over there but haven't made any plans on where to buy it from.

My riding experience?? Well, not much in recent times!! I'm British but grew up in Papua New Guinea so I started riding bikes when I was 5. I stopped riding when I moved to Australia at the age of 21. It's now 11 years later and in preparation for this trip I've actually had to go and get my license... well, I'm nearly there!! I did the learners course in August, and will be doing my provisional license next weekend. After I did the learners course I splurged $1000 (Approx US$500) on an '81 GSX250 just to get a bit of practices.

My trip starts in 4 weeks and the nerves are beginning to kick in!! I've been to India before so I know what the roads are like and I'm well aware of the lack of road rules. I suppose once I'm there things will be OK....

The last question would have to be "WHY?" ... It's simple ... Excitement, something different, an experience that I'll never forget.

I'm lucky in that I have a cousin who lives in India and speaks the language. She will be riding with me. At least I don't have to worry about a language barrier in remote areas. I'm going to keep checking your web site before I go. If you think there is anything I should be aware of, please let me know!!

cheers Kiara"

Tom Tucker, Canada, heading for Europe,

"Hi Grant... I am heading off on a one year leave starting Jan 1, 2001. The first part by air to Puerto Escondido Mexico for some relaxation on the beach, then on to north west Costa Rica, (Tamarindo area), but my big plan is to tour Europe and Britain on my ST 1100 Honda. Like you I want to take in the Isle of Man TT races, and a bunch of other countries. I hope to see other motorcycle races G.P.s and maybe a Formula 1 race as well. I have been looking for the best way to get the machine over there, and was glad you mentioned the convenient service provided by Lufthansa...

I wouldn't mind finding one or two other riders to travel with, if only on the Isle of Man portion. I'm 53, long time M/C rider, motocross, cross country, ice racing, road racing, trials... and like to keep a fairly brisk pace, although a stop for a cool pint now and then doesn't hurt either! If you know of anyone that might be looking for travel partners as well, please pass along my e-mail.

Thanks for any info you can give me."

"Grandad" Geoff, UK, to Falkland Islands and South America to Alaska,

"Good to find a site that relates to our chosen mode of travel. My long distance riding habit started in Delhi when I was 50 and needed to get back to the UK. Buying an Enfield 500 Bullet made for a very steep and interesting learning curve. The steepness was due to never having ridden a motor bike before, however 37 days later after one or two drops (abandonings, better to get off early I always say) I considered myself a biker.

I then in 1995, went completely mad and bought a brand new BMW, model F 650, shipped it to Hong Kong and then rode it back to good old BLIGHTY. I have used these bikes ever since for long distance work. In fact there is one at this very moment bobbing about on the high seas en route to the Falkland Islands.

When I arrive there at the end of December we will be reunited and fly on to Punta Arenas. My Intention is to be in Alaska by the end of June 2001. If anyone wants to make contact please feel free. Thanks to you both for having the foresight to provide this superb platform for our communications. Regards Grandad Geoff (silly old fart)"

up to top of pagespacerTravellers Community...

"Hi Grant, Thanks for the Istanbul Community reference - They've already replied and I'm gonna meet up with Paolo near Fethiye. We're cruising round Turkey for a while more before flying to Melbourne on Jan 1. Bike? - don't know yet, though I think flying it might be out of the question financially. We'll see when we get to Istanbul. Thanks for the great contact. Luke"

More Community news as it happens...

up to top of pagespacerHome again...

Ryan Wagner and Dan Koengeter, USA, through South America,

Dan and Ryan high atop container unloading cranes at the Panama Ports Company, Panama, overlooking the Panama Canal

"...(planned to)... sell our motorcycles due to expected and upcoming outrageous gasoline prices of Argentina ($4.00 a gallon-a lot for a spoiled North American). Plus, the sale of foreign vehicles in Argentina are illegal, laws are more strictly enforced, and it is getting quite cool in Argentina for riding. We ended up selling the Hondas for US 1050 each (a profit of US$200 each), even after 9 months of abuse.

After selling our beloved, but thrashed 1980 and 1983 Hondas, we decided to leave Bolivia for Santiago del Estero, Argentina by bus... a harsh transition from the open air and freedom. From there we traveled to Cordoba and then to Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires was a very beautiful modern city but very expensive, with many things being more expensive than in the states...

...hopped on the bus for a nice 40 hour ride to our beloved Bolivia. From Trinidad, Bolivia we were extremely fortunate to find a river cargo boat leaving the same day on the River Mamore for the Brazilian border. It took five days of steady travel but we were constantly entertained by fishing, wildlife, and watching fresh water dolphins (pink and gray-this is the only place that you will find these precarious creatures!!)... bus to Porto Vehlo... waiting for our next riverboat to leave, heading north on the River Madeira... half-passenger/cargo boat... three full days of 24-hour/day cruising until we hit the Amazon River near sunset. Absolutely stunning.

...in Manaus, we hired (on good faith and questionable recommendation from another traveler) a private guide who took us on a four-day journey through the river ways, swamps, and jungle of the amazon. A tour that you would never, ever find in an agency!! This guy was nuts - call if you dare: Luis Motta Phone: 2344545, fax:6466357 Located in Manaus Brazil.

An unbelievable tour of catching crocodiles by hand, wildlife, sloths, iguanas, freshwater dolphins, lily pads more than 2 meters in diameter, and being dumped off into the middle of the jungle for the night without a guide within 10 miles with nothing but a hammock, machete, bug net, water, a shotgun, and 3 rounds of ammunition!!

However, the most insane thing we saw was our guide jump on top of a crocodile 5 feet in length from our little canoe in the middle of the night in an attempt to catch the damn thing for tomorrow's breakfast. Thankfully his attempt failed and he did not loose an arm. What the hell do you do with a Croc once you have it in your arms? Anyone know the crocodile hunter from Australia?

... after returning from our four days of lunacy, we took the next bus to the Venezuelan border and then up to Isla Margarita. By this time we had been traveling for more than 11 months and nearing the end of our trip so we thought we should to lighten our load by spending the rest of our cash stores while relaxing on the island-no more malaria, crocodiles, man eating insects and piranhas... only the Caribbean sea and beaches...

Arrived home the 22 of August, thus completing 11 months 14 days on the road, 13 countries, and probably at least 25,000 miles of roads covered.

Without a doubt-without a shadow of a doubt the best enlightening, growing, fun, insane, unforgettable, weird, bizarre, educational, crazy, incredible experience of my life of 23 years. However, don't think that our traveling days are over. Oh no!! ... My only advice is that if you are thinking of having a little adventure of your own-- leave now without further procrastination. Don't use money, jobs, and materialism to stop you from experiencing life. Drop everything and GO!! Also a million thanks to Grant and Susan Johnson for their uncompromised help, advice... while we were on the road.

Yours truly in traveling, Ryan Wagner and Dan Koengeter, Chelsea, Michigan USA

Ricardo Rocco Paz, Ecuador, "Around the World for Peace,"

is home in Ecuador, helping travellers like Chris Bright sort out entry from Panama, and preparing for the next leg of his trip.

Richard Smith, UK, is home in the UK to make some money, while partner in crime Matthew Newland heads for Singapore.

"...you thought you had it hard answering all his emails about starter motors and suspension and God knows what else. I on the other hand was the one trying to bump start his bike at 5000 meters in Bolivia! Not much fun I can tell you!

Anyway, this email is just by way of telling you that I am now back in the UK having returned after 16 months on the road (Matt is still going). We had some amazing times together through thick and thin as it were. I must say however, that one thing really sticks in my mind about the whole thing and that is how helpful you were to us whilst we were in South America. Thank God you were on the other end of a modem is all I can say. I don't know whether or not Matt said it (I am sure he did) but if not, I just wanted you to know that we were both truly grateful for the support you provided us with. Perhaps I will look you up one day and buy you a beer or two to say thanks. Just say the word and I will have a lorry load of Boddingtons delivered to your doorstep!

In the mean time, if there is anything I can do to help with the "Horizons Unlimited" work load, just let me know. I would be glad to help. That is until I hot the road again. That's right, I have only been back here 5 minutes and already I am dreaming of another trip. Brazil looks pretty good to me...

Richard"

Thanks Richard, and you may get put to work yet...


up to top of pagespacerTravellers' tips on countries...

Kristin Frank, Motorcyclist in Iowa

"Loved the stories on Zambia! I lived there from '96-'99. Just want to let people also know about the Wildlife Camp in the South Luangwa Park. There was a manager there who was into motorcycles & if he's still there he might be able to help people out. Ask for Mark.

There's a Honda shop in Lusaka if anyone needs help or parts. And last but not least, during the dry season they have dirt bike races outside of Lusaka. The races are usually on the weekends. There's actually quite a few people who ride & the races are posted in the papers & signs around town.

Mwapita bwino!

Travel Advisories:

The Foreign Office in London has issued new travel advisories and information updates this month for the following countries: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, South Africa, Swaziland, Tunisia, Western Sahara and Zambia.

In the past month, the US State Department has issued travel advisories, information and/or warnings on the following countries: Angola, Morocco and Guinea.

Girag - shipping out of Panama to South America

There was a missing number in all of the phone/fax contact numbers for Girag Panama in the web pages in the paper section. If you have recorded any of this info make sure to check the updated page.

Christoph Weissenburg, South Africa, on southern Africa,

Hello Grant, ...I live in Cape Town. I run a tour company named Bike 2 Oceans. I've come across Horizons Unlimited three times lately and took this as a hint to finally e-mail you. First you got mentioned by a couple who were heading towards South America and the last was the article in TOURENFAHRER.

A friend and I travelled through Africa in 1993/4 on XT 500's. The trip took us from Germany to the Middle East, around the Mediterranean, the Mauretanian Sahara, West Africa, former Zaire and finally through East Africa to Cape Town. We travelled for 18 month, clocked 47,000 km and visited 34 countries.

In those days there wasn't any internet-cafes so information was hard to get. I've been looking for web pages like yours a few times but couldn't find one until now. Bloody marvelous stuff as the English would say.

Since I'm based in Cape Town and news from this part of the world might not always make it into the BBC World Service ( although lately they do) I would like to contribute to your bulletin board. Current news from southern Africa aren't that good as I'm sure you know. On my trips and in Cape Town I meet a lot of overlanders and travellers. I found that these people are often the best sources for current happenings.

Zimbabwe is turning really sour. Petrol costs about 1 US$ / litre at the moment (S.A it's 50 US cents) and people tell me that it's distribution is still not reliable. Vic Falls is the only place which gets proper supplies. The tension in Harare is "explosive" and family of friends who live there tell us it's getting worse by the day. Apparently the government is monitoring outgoing mail (e-mail and snail-mail) for any bad comments on the government or President Mugabe.

The Caprivi Strip in Namibia is still not safe to travel. Villages and Tourists have been raided by "rebels" operating from inside Angola. The Namibians run a convoy between Rundu and Katima Mulilo. Overland companies still stay away and transfer through Botswana to get to Vic Falls.

The disastrous flood damages in Mozambique are getting fixed. The road between Maputo and Beira is open to all vehicles. I don't know about further north. On the downside there is lots of Mosquitoes and the S.A. authorities warn of Malaria. And they know what they talk about.

I presume you have heard about Charlies Honda in Rose Str., Cape Town. A meeting point, workshop and knowledge centre for bikers and bikes and specially travellers in southern Africa has closed down. The 2 old Germans are retiring and nobody is carrying on with the shop. Really sad.

So far - so bad.

I hope that this information is useful to other travellers and doesn't scare anybody off riding through Africa. It's still the best... And whenever your travels take you and Susan close to Table Mountain give me a shout....

Best wishes - safe travels Christoph Weissenburg"

Javier, on Niger visas,

"...As far as I know the only places in west Africa where you can get a Niger visa are Cote D'Ivore, Benin and Nigeria. If you are coming down from Tunisia you may try the Cote D'Ivore embassy there. Also Tammanraset in Algeria have a Niger consulate that provides visas. Best of all get it before you go in Germany or France..."

Burak Sansal, Turkey

Hi there, I'm a member of Enduro Club in Turkey, I suggest that you add their url to the "motorcycle clubs" section. Another suggestion for "Country info" is http://get.to/turkey where people can find extensive information on Turkey.

Sincerely, Burak Sansal

Gonzalo Figueroa and I are working on full border information for all of Latin America, and beyond.

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 Latin America. 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!

There is also currently much discussion re carnet/temporary importation requirements into Australia. Don't suppose anyone in Oz has the time to do a little research to get the official story, and send me the info?

Thanks, Grant

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up to top of pagespacerIn Progress...

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.

List of all the places that carnets can be obtained...

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.

up to top of pagespacerFinal thoughts...

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...

We will be spending a couple of weeks in the sun, well away from the wet and cold of England, in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles - that's just off the coast of Venezuela and one of the premiere scuba diving locations in the world. We'll be gone from December 9th to 25th - Christmas in the air - and may or may not be able to get e-mail. So if you have any questions be sure to use the Bulletin Board. Don't worry, I'll be back in time to do next month's newsletter, and I expect to get lots of photos and stories about all the great parties you had!

And have a great Holiday Season, wherever you are and however you celebrate it! And if you don't celebrate it, have a good time anyway!

Riding the globe...

Grant and Susan Johnson

Live the dream! at:
www.HorizonsUnlimited.com

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