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Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in swimming
with a bike in Vietnam, pushing a bike across Japan, throwing a bike in Ecuador,
wheelies in the lobby, a chicken boat to Sumatra, raw, slimy sea creatures,
snow leopards in Darjeeling, fighting fires in cow sheds, illegal substances
in Guatemala, burning buses in Colombia, buffalo-eating dragons in Rinca,
paranoid nights in Baluchistan, huge black scorpions warming your ass... and
On the Website
Every newsletter is permanently archived online.
As many of you know, the website went off-line on the night of the 20th. I woke to a blank site, flipped, and got busy sorting it all out. In the end, after much shouting at tech support, to no avail, we decided to move to a new host. Fortunately we had our own backup.
Our move to a new host went much smoother than expected. Please let us know if you have any problems accessing the site - especially slow response or error messages. It's more expensive, but should be more reliable, and it seems faster to us here. Their support is excellent so far, and we look forward to fewer problems than we had with the old host.
The HUBB is now open, but the bad news is that 3 days of posts to the HUBB were lost as a result of the server crash on our old host. If you posted a message between 19-21 November, please re-post it. If you're not sure, you can check by finding any post by you, clicking on this icon when you open your message, and then 'Search: All posts by this registered user'.
We're very sorry for the inconvenience, especially for travellers on the road, and thanks for your understanding and patience!
On the Middle East situation, new routes around the affected area are being worked out. See the Shipping page and the Horizons Unlimited Bulletin Board - the HUBB for more info. Also see the new Turkey pages for a huge amount of new information generously supplied by the One More Mile Riders group, who also support our Istanbul Community.
The HUBB is getting really busy, a lot of posts on everything under the sun. We've added new regional forums, more bike specific tech forums, as well as all the old favourites.
People are using the Board to post inquiries and news about political and military events in these volatile areas, and also to find alternative routes. The Travel Advisories section is extremely busy with all the current events.
If you really want to get the most out of the HUBB, (and save me a lot of time answering questions that are already answered) please read the FAQ. Hints tips and tricks, from how to get back the password you've forgotten, to how to make a live link in your post, and why you should NOT put your email address in a post!
We have also greatly improved the Search facility on the site. It's considerably smarter and faster, and is available on most every page. You can search the HUBB only, the website only, or both, and specify any or all words in your search criteria. Try it before you ask a question that's already been answered!
Please submit news reports, web links etc. to us for inclusion in this newsletter.
We try to link to your website if you have one. And if you don't have a website, we can help. Some exciting new developments coming on this, so contact us if you're thinking of setting up a website.
This is a free service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Since this is the last issue for 2001, we'd like to extend best wishes for the holiday season. We hope all your loved ones are close by for you to cherish.
Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors! If Madagascar sounds like a great place to ride to you, (and it sure does to me!) drop by their website and make sure you tell Manfred how you heard about them!
Plan where to be when!
If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note.
December 25, 2001, and December 31, 2001 - Christmas and New Years Eve!
Where: Wherever you are! Travellers everywhere looking to meet up with others for some Christmas cheer can post on the HUBB - Horizons Unlimited Bulletin Board - in the Travellers Seeking Travellers Forum. I have started a thread for posting in for the Christmas holidays. In years past, the main meeting points have been Ushuaia, Goa, and Cape Town. Where will you be? There are a lot of people heading through to SE Asia this year, so let us all know your plans.
Latest word - look for everyone in Goa and Ushuaia!
International GS-meeting, Easter weekend - 29/03 to 1/4 2002, Belgium
"Beautiful location in the heart of the Flanders Region. Meet new GS-people coming from around the GLOBE. New accommodation with more camp space, big tent, local beers.
Where? Hoeve Lorette Rudderveldstraat 7 9600 Ronse Belgium Tel. +32/ 126.96.36.199"
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. To make it easy for you, we even have our logo and link code here!
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.
Motorcycle Brake Products - disks, pads, braided hoses etc.
Excellent map and routing info for Australia
"...the best part is the step by step instructions given at the foot of the page, great for bikes as you don't need a bulky directory just a one page print off."
(Thanks to Ralph Green, Melbourne Community)
"...catering specifically to the dirt bike and off road motorcycle and enduro enthusiast."
There are many 'Helpful People' listed on the Links page, a huge thanks to all of them. How about you? Or you can join a Community, or start your own!
Do you know of a good shop 'on the road,'
in other words somewhere there isn't a large number of shops? (Also of course any shop that specialises in travellers equipment and repairs is of interest.) But we're particularly looking for those rare items, good repair shops in South America, Africa and Asia etc. I will create a web page for them soon... eventually... real soon now...
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.
In response to last months note on Leaded fuel and new bikes requiring Unleaded...
"I own one of the techno-marvels of BMW: the R1150GS. As I rode in Morocco (and plan to ride again in January) I tried to inform myself about the leaded / unleaded fuel problem. As far as I found out there are two devices that are lead sensitive in the R1150GS: the catalytic converter and the oxygen sensor. The latest, also called a lambda sensor, is installed (plugged) in the cat and gives feedback to the Motronic (the electronic injection/ignition managing computer) about the combustion sub-products. The air/gas mixture is adjusted according to this information.
As far as I have heard, the lambda sensor is prone to be covered with lead, and therefore stop working, if a certain percentage of lead is surpassed in the gas being used. Also as far as I have heard, this is not a catastrophic failure waiting to happen on the first tank of leaded you'll be forced to use. It seems that it is a gradual process.
The result of the failure of the lambda sensor is that the Motronic will go into "limp-home" mode, which means that it will opt for a richer than necessary mixture. Gas consumption will increase, and I guess it is possible to get carbon deposits / fouled plugs in the long term. The catalytic converter can be replaced by a cat-eliminator Y tube piece, like the Sebring one being sold by Wunderlich. However the cat eliminator retains the place to install the lambda sensor.
It is possible to take out the lambda sensor and opt for a potentiometer that is installed close to the fuse box. The pot will be used to tune the bike using an external CO meter, like the ones used to check emissions on mandatory vehicle inspections. However, the tuning will be optimized for the current tuning conditions and there won't be instant feedback to the Motronic. If conditions change drastically retune would become necessary.
Please note that my mechanical knowledge is very limited and that all of the above is hearsay. As I couldn't get a definitive answer from my BMW dealer I bought the cat eliminator. I will be in Morocco (where there is unleaded in 90% of the gas stations) in the end of the year. If the use of leaded fuel becomes necessary I will use it and hope that the lambda sensor won't die suddenly. However, if I were engaging on a RTW trip I would try to check with BMW AG or Bosch (the makers of the lambda sensor and of the Motronic system) about the real possibility and implications of lambda sensor failure.
... better yet, if I were lucky enough to be engaging in a RTW trip, I would get myself an R80G/S with leaking Bing carburetors, defective diode boards and weak rear shock ;-)
Congratulations on the fantastic e-zine. It makes my
day and keeps my wanderlust alive.
I asked Carlos:
"..So how much is a lambda sensor - perhaps it's no big deal to just replace it?"
"...Installation would be straightforward BUT (and with this BUT we are addressing the Achilles Heel of modern BMW's) you would need a MoDiTec computer to reinitialize the Motronic. The MoDiTec is a diagnosis tool sold by BMW to its dealers - unlikely to be found in places where unleaded fuel is not the norm!
Unfortunately BMW does not discloses an emergency procedure to read the fault codes of the Motronic or to reset this superior entity living on our bikes."
Jed Duncan, USA, reminded me;
"In regards to low-octane, or leaded fuel in the new BMW's, check out the new Adventure version of the R1150GS. The bike is tuned to run on low octane, and the cat can be removed, a crossover pipe put in its' place, and the fuel injection remapped to accommodate leaded fuel."
And from Ramey "Coach" Stroud, USA,
"...Regarding Nina Plumbe's question about the use of leaded and poor quality fuel in newer GS's. The fuel injection system for a late model GS can be 'remapped' to compensate for fuel type and quality. BMW has adapted this concept in the new BMW 1150GS Adventure. It takes regular petrol by use of what they call a 'coding plug' for the engine management system. It is available as an optional accessory. When this coding plug is inserted into what BMW calls the 'electro-box','an ignition grid is activated which means the engine can be safely operated with regular fuel (RON 91) without risk of damage. The engine can still run on premium plus fuel (when available) for normal operation. The cat-converter should probably be removed on Nina's bike and some aftermarket pipes (mufflers) installed. However, the stock pipes can still be used by replacing the cat with a blank connector pipe. Finally, in-line, injector quality, fuel filters are probably a good idea, as is carrying replacements. A pair of panty hose and a funnel works too! :) Good Luck Nina, I'll see you at the starting line. Coach."
Anyone have any more on this? I know there are lots of inquiries, but no one has been able to get a definitive answer from BMW yet that I know of. Let me know!
An interesting idea from the HUBB on centrestand-less bikes:
"Bit of a weird idea for you, but if the centre stand is only for changing tyres etc.; I currently have 2 side stands fitted to my bike,left and right. Ground clearance isn't compromised and with a stone under each it acts as a centre stand. Amazingly handy is being able to use left or right stand on uneven surfaces. Andy Gray, Netherlands"
"I was greeted a couple of days ago with dozens of emails, all infected with a new Trojan / worm called "w 3 2 . b a d t r a n s . B @ m m" (spaced out letters so your antivirus email filters won't filter this as a worm)! And I'm getting more every day...
This is a particularly nasty worm , which is why I'm letting you know here - and I'm tired of deleting your emails... It installs a keystroke-recorder into your system directory, so it captures everything you type - like passwords. It also emails itself, disguised as an email attachment, to anyone in your email client or address book. I know, because I've been getting dozens of emails from you every day... unfortunately I'm not getting any useful passwords, so we're not off to anywhere sunny quite yet... ;)
As usual, this is easy to prevent - just keep your antivirus program up-to-date! For full info, just go to Symantec's site and look for the worm's name. We run Norton AV, and have it set to automatically notify us of updates whenever they are available - and lately they have been showing up every one to three days, so it's well worthwhile to go for the auto updating. I do like to hear from you, but only when you have something to say!" Grant
I've made contact with some of the people we were looking for last month, thanks! - but the following are still unaccounted for. If you know any of them, please send in full names and e-mail addresses would be much appreciated!
Lionel Marx, I have no e-mail for him...
Chris van de Goorberg, Netherlands, XT600, last seen in Mali...
a couple of riders from French Guyana, she's riding a Suzuki DR 350 and he's riding a new XR 650.
Rob Arnell, UK, in India
When you meet travellers...
on the road, please get contact info and let me know so I can add them to my who's who and where list! Grant
Karel Prinsloo, Nairobi,
"Hi, I recently moved to Nairobi/Kenya and need a new bike. Does anybody know where I can find good overland / trail bikes in Kenya. I cant seem to find any."
Anyone like to do a one way, and sell your bike in Kenya?
Gerard Starck, France, around the world, in China, Honda Transalp,
"I am travelling around the world with a Honda Transalp 600cc.
I wear emblems of :
I began my trip in October 1997, and I visited 120 countries in 4 years (1030 days of real travel). I rode 160.000kms for the moment and I fell 56 times without injuries.
I meet actually a very big problem to get authorization to cross China. I arrived from Korea but Chinese Customs stopped my motorbike in Port of Dalian.
Please have you quick information about an Association of Motorbikers in China. Maybe, they can help me. Or, if you have a good idea, I would be very happy. Red Cross and French Embassy help me but without result. I wait in Beijing... without motorbike...!
Many thanks for your help.
I have a very bad website because I have no friend to organize it for the moment. Gerard"
I have sent Gerard what I have, which isn't much, a couple of contacts, and let him know about the Shanghai Community. If anyone has anything further please let me or Gerard know, although I don't hold much hope. Grant
Benka Pulko, Slovenia, around the world, in Namibia, BMW F650,
"In search of information about the road conditions
and possibilities from S Tanzania to Rwanda. What are the road connection
between Tunduma via Sumbawanga (road no. B8) to Kigoma and further N toward
Rwanda border? Paved, gravel, sand, advisable for single travelers passage?
Another road I would like to know more about is from Dodoma via Singida, Nzega
toward Rwanda border again (B3). Please reply to me here.
Thanks and safe trails to all.
Plenty more questions and answers on the Bulletin Board! We've just gone over 1000 registered users on the Board, which I think is pretty amazing, and gives a huge resource of knowledge and experience to help you with anything you might need to know.
From a post on the HUBB: Algeria
"Another friend has just
come back from Algeria and reports no problems, indeed easier travelling than
Travellers Tips, from Seamus (el Capitan) on the HUBB
"08 November 2001 - Just passed through Central America going south and then came back north and wanted to share some border crossing info. Going from Guatemala to Honduras there are three main borders, DO NOT cross through El Corinto in the north or take the Boat from Guatemala to Puerto Cortes in Honduras unless you are willing to give up several days of your trip and spend a lot of money. Both ways of entering the country require that you go through the maritime border at Puerto Cortes. If crossing by land you will be required to hire an 'official' escort as the border is not equipped to provide vehicle permits. Unlike the rest of the borders in Central America, the maritime border is designed to process the importation of large quantities of vehicles and is EXTREMELY confusing. I never would have gone through here had I known that it would require 8 hours, over forty stamps / signatures / VIN inspections and upwards of US$200 per motorcycle in bribes and miscellaneous 'fees.' Instead the border at El Florido and Agua Caliente are quite easy to navigate through and relatively inexpensive (the normal US$20 highway tax plus $10 vehicle permit.) Seamus"
Request for info
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.?
When you cross ANY border, take some notes, and pass them on to us. Thanks!
If you have any information to contribute, there is a form at the bottom of the page which you can submit and we will put it on the page. Thanks!
The US State Department has issued travel advisories, information and/or warnings.
Harald and Udo Lamers, the Bike Brothers, Netherlands, through Asia on Suzuki DR 600s, in Laos,
"We cross the friendship bridge, leaving Thailand and entering Laos. The good road along the Mekong River takes us to the mountains in the east. It is a surprisingly scenic landscape. Black eroded mountains popping out of the green jungle. In a little village, where the wooden houses are build on stilts, a woman is grinding grains and an old man is smoking a bamboo pipe. Little kids are playing around. We on our modern, but 13 year old bikes, stop in this middle ages looking village. The inhabitants look at us but pay no attention to us. Like as if every day 2 Dutch motorbikers are passing.
In the first hour that we are driving in Vietnam we heard more horning than in one month in Laos and Thailand. They drive like nuts here. School kids, in uniform, ride their bicycles in five lanes. Little motorbikes and bicycles zigzag over the road without looking or stop in the middle of the street. The side of the road is used as a market and grass is spread out to dry, making the roads narrower. This makes it more dangerous for us when we have to escape to the roadside for coming trucks and buses.
... It is one o'clock in the night when somebody is banging on our hotel door. It is the police that want to check our passports. A bit sleepy we walk down to the reception and the police officer is shouting at the clerk and to us. What did we do wrong? OK, without a shave and bath every day and with dusty clothes from travelling, we don't need to be treated like criminals. The clerk has to go with our passports to the police station and we can go to sleep again. The next morning we receive our passports back but nobody could tell us why they checked us. We guess it is from the controlling communism in the past.
We rent a boat and take a round tour in Halong Bay. More then 2000 limestone formations covered with trees pop out the sea as little islands. Some islands have caves with stalagmites and we visit them. For the Vietnamese these rocks have a sacred meaning. It symbolizes a mother dragon with kids that defend the country when it is in danger.
Following the highway 1, that goes from Hanoi in the north to Saigon in the south, we get a good impression of Vietnam. The whole country looks like one big rice paddy. Thousands of men and women, with the typical straw hats, stand up to their knees in the water, planting rice. Dozens of limestone rock formations are spread in the rice fields at Hoa Lu. The canals along the rice fields are used to get to their houses that are built near the rock formations. People live here peaceful and quiet.
Dark clouds gather together and some minutes later the rain is pouring down. For 3 days and nights it keeps raining. We take our shelter in Hoi An, a little city with a lot of French colonial houses. After 3 days we pack our bikes because we want to move on. But people from the hotel say that the roads are flooded and that it is impossible to go. After a few hundred metres the road is blocked and we have to make a detour of 40 kilometres to reach highway 1. The highway is built on a dyke, so there must be no problems. But after 10 kilometres we approach a traffic jam. We ride to the beginning of the jam and see that the road is flooded for 300 metres. A smart boy uses his boat as a ferry to bring bicycles and motorbikes to the other side. We will give it a chance. Slowly we drive in the water. The current is strong and we have to concentrate to stay on the road. In the deepest part water waves over the fuel tank and Udo swallows some of it. Luckily the engines keep running and we are glad that we made it.
Two days later we read in the newspaper that the water level rose more then a metre in Hoi An and that 7 people were drowned. We just left in time..."
Daniel Todd, USA/Puerto Rico, second around the world tour, in Malaysia, KLR650,
"The Chicken Boat to Sumatra (Part 1)
As I walked by bike up a thin and fragile plank, I was greeted on board by hundreds of chickens squawking and crackling from the wooden crates stacked all across the deck and my first Indonesian locals that knew not a word of English. I covered the bike and willed it to get across the rough Melaka Strait under the supervision of this young crew. Just after the boat departure, Martin Ledat walked up inquiring about how he was going to get his BMW off as well. I had been in contact with him and Angela through biker connections on the Internet and we had all tried to organize this together to save money.
We would always stop at any of the wooden lean-twos on the side of the road and get a rich glass of Sumatra coffee for ten cents. This would send lightning bolts up my spine as I engaged in overland adventure stories with Martin. Watching him, it was easy to renew my appreciation of travel. He never rode in top gear, instead put- putting along at a slower pace, glancing from side to side, taking in as much of the surrounding environment as a biker could. He told me that a 60 day visa would never allow enough time to ride Indonesia properly and that he thought it was insane to try and conquer three Continents in six months like other common bikers that we had both met. I could hardly agree more and I had already committed to throttling back for this segment of my journey. After riding 25,000 KM in Southeast Asia, this was the best I had seen yet.
Lake Toba is the largest lake in Southeast Asia, occupying the caldera of a giant volcano that collapsed on itself after a massive eruption. The road going around the crater offers spectacular sights winding through steep mountains, ridges and pine forest. The road that winds down the side of the crater and across a small isthmus onto Pulau Samosir, an island occupying the middle of this huge crater lake is even better, giving post card views of the entire area.
We shared a room right on the edge of the lake for two dollars and as we sat on the balcony looking out over one of the most impressive lakes on the planet, we both heartily agreed that Indonesia has to be the cheapest country to ride in the world. Our meals never set us back more than half a buck and it always cost about three dollars to fill my 22-liter fuel tank. Hardly ever having to say 'no' is a luxury few shoestring travelers can afford.
The road along the east side of the crater brought us to Berastagi where Martin proposed a climb up Gunung (volcano) Sinabung. In no way was I prepared for this climb; I didn't have any climbing boots, one of my toes was infected and the rainy season had begun in full force. It was extremely steep with slippery rocks and clay. I was constantly grasping for vines and other plants to prevent a very long plunge down the face of the mountain. Due to a back injury, I had not done any training or exercise in six months and watched hopelessly as Martin raced out in front of me. The guidebook says that it's a six-hour climb, the locals call it a four-hour trek, but in only two hours we made the summit completely knackered. We only had five minutes to enjoy the smoking caldera, the surrounding views and the lunar landscape surface before we were engulfed in a cloud that unleashed a torrent of rain on us.
Martin wisely decided to rest the following days but I was already off to Medan looking for Internet access. At a local cyber café, many students from one of the more fundamental Islamic Universities surrounded me and soon I was being led off to their complex, getting peppered with questions about my transit lifestyle and my future in Indonesia.
They only reminded me too much of the reason that I have always travelled in this fashion; it's the people that you meet along the way that that really make the journey. Given the choice between a five star hotel and an old mattress in someone's home, I would go basic, because this is the best way that I could ever expose myself in a raw, natural way to any culture."
Gerald and Austin Vince, Matt Hill, Charlie Benner, UK, Terra Circa, around the world, in Japan, on 350cc Suzukis
Dosvadanya Russia and spasiba...
...As is the practice on freight vessels, once we had berthed we all stayed aboard whilst immigration and customs officials hosted a paperwork knees-up in the bar. A trio of blue suited customs officials approached us and alarmed us with the news that bringing our machines into Japan was; '...a very complex procedure...' and '... completely impossible...'
... After many hours of telephoning to senior customs gurus down in Osaka we were presented with two predictably useless options. Either we formally import the bikes and then reregister them as Japanese machines complete with new plates and a police road safety inspection, OR, we import them as personal baggage and them have them freighted across the country to another port whither they would be shipped forward to the USA. The cornerstone of the latter choice was that the bikes remain in limbo, in a secure bonded area, and were NOT to be ridden at all whilst on Japanese territory! The negotiations surrounding our quandary became more and more urgent as time dragged by. By the next day a resolution had still not been found, and a few hours before the Olga set sail BACK to Russia a clutch of burly deck-hands were unfastening the bikes and lowering them down to the quay. We were on the point of just driving off but Matt being unable to ride precluded such cavalier spontaneity. A quick getaway was also scotched by the arrival of an official who was to escort us to a bonded area, which turned out to be an unlocked but refrigerated rice warehouse. This entailed a humiliating bike-pushing trail through the streets of Toyama. Local school children looked on as we silently wheeled past them in this mysterious round-eyed ritual of abstention from mechanical engagement.
A strange thing happened then. Our frustration was just reaching boiling point when it was suggested to us that we did not have to actually keep the bikes in a bonded warehouse. Instead, we were advised that we were free to go as long as we only pushed the bikes and never rode them. A pause for thought: and then a SOS phone-call was made to Constantin, the car man who within 30 minutes had arrived in his flashy motor followed shortly thereafter by a giant car transporter. We were spirited away by the mighty hand of Russian hospitality to Constantin's breakers yard on the outskirts of Toyama. With Natasha translating, there unfolded an evening of reminiscing about Siberia, fabulous chunklets of boneless chicken, and at Constantin's expense, a massive boozing session that of course the Russians coped with but which left Terra Circa utterly smashed.
On the road again:
With a one-armed Matt unable to ride, our plan was to first get Matt's bike across Japan to a port that served the USA, and then to continue with him as a passenger and tour around Japan.
... suddenly and quite unexpectedly N1, complete with Gerald and Matt on board, crashed into a car that pulled out of a side road into their path. The front rack of N1 was yet again buckled and twisted, Matt had been flung from his cramped seat behind Gerald, and was now lying on the bonnet of the car. This Iron-man of Terra Circa was not about to let a little thing like hitting a car re-break his collar bone. In fact after the crash, Matt decided that if he could shoulder-barge a car without re-breaking his collarbone, then he had recovered enough to ride his own motorcycle.
The relief that Matt was ok was soon replaced by concern that the driver of the errant car was now ringing the police. TC had to make a quick decision. If the police were to turn up and inevitably enquire as to the documentation regarding N1, they were highly likely to discover at things were not in order. They would then almost certainly also extend their enquiries to both Austin's and Charlie's bikes too.
We had four choices.
1. All wait at the scene and see what happened.
After due consideration we opted for Option 3, so Austin and Charlie sped off to just beyond the next town and waited. This wait was similar to that of an expectant father (We imagine, though none of us has actually ever done this, having all failed to find any women willing to spawn our young). Two hours later though, and our wait was rewarded by the sudden appearance of Matt and Gerald, not in the back of a prison van however, but actually riding the accident prone, battle weary N1.
It seemed that the Japanese efficiency, rules and systems that we had endured at the hands of Custom, did not extend into their police force. The police had not required to see any documentation, had not confiscated the bike, and had not listened to the car driver's pleas that the motorbike had been travelling rather faster than the ridiculously impossible to stick to speed limit of 40 kph. In fact the police ticked-off the car driver for pulling out in front of the bike, and warned them that they were liable for all the damages. Gerald very generously declined the opportunity to press charges, preferring to make a quick exit before his luck changed.
Once away from the brash neon commercialism of the built up areas, Japan proved truly beautiful. Coastlines looking like Bond film locations, with terrain formed from volcanic activity that had resulted in steep tree covered mountains that plunged uninterrupted, from their peaks straight into the sea.
Japan also proved as expensive as we had feared, and despite our self-catering efforts, money was leaking away faster than the petrol from N1's carburetor. Coming straight here from the UK might not have been quite such a shock to the system, but from Russia, where even we seemed rich, the contrast was all the more dramatic.
Time flew by as we drove around this amazing country, camping in places ranging from sandy beaches to old abandoned mountain top restaurants, and from unmanned lighthouses to the dry bits between paddy fields. We did relinquish this outdoor life for 2 or 3 nights however, when we sought refuge in a hotel to escape the torrential rain and high wind that accompanied a Typhoon passing to the south of Japan... A belated culinary discovery was made in Hiroshima by Terra Circa, namely that Japanese food did not all have to involve rice and raw slimy sea creatures. This is because Hiroshima is famous for Okonomiagi, a pancake, cabbage, noodle, egg and other things concoction, cooked in front of you Mongolian style, which is not only big, but utterly delicious.
We were befriended by a Japanese biker called Holi the night we arrived in Hiroshima, a Harley Davidson rider, and Harley club member who insisted that our last few days in the area should be spent at his bike clubs annual camp, bar-b-q, party event in the mountains above Hiroshima.
... We partially dismantled our bikes and crated them up in Kobe, left in the hands of a very friendly and helpful shipping company, KB Trans, so friendly in fact that one of their number, Shinya, invited us to stay at his house in Osaka for the 2 nights until we flew to Hawaii. Shinya and his wife Eiko hosted us, ensuring we were well and truly bathed, fed and watered, whilst also showing us around Osaka, the old capital city of Japan. This included taking a Honsan, an elaborate Japanese sauna thing using water from natural hot springs. We went to a typical municipal one, and it was both immaculate and extravagant. It contained various themed bathing rooms, both in and outdoor, including Spanish, Swedish, French and Roman styles, herb baths, massage, shaving and hair cutting facilities, and even incorporated a bar, a TV lounge, newspapers and several restaurants. One could easily stay all day here, but we only had three hours. It was also an entirely naked event though unfortunately the girl's one was upstairs.
... the bikes are due to arrive in Los Angeles from Japan by ship in a week or two. Terra Circa."
Mika Kuhn, Germany, around the world, in Australia, Tenere,
"25.11.2001 - Parkwood, south of Perth / Australia
Then the fun started again, sand, bull dust and a few river crossings. The only thing that could take the fun out of it, were all the big 4WD with their dust clouds. And sometimes I had the feeling the language in the Kimberleys is German, because all the drivers of these big rented 4WD were German, Swiss and Austrian tourists. And I am sure they believe it is the biggest adventure on earth to cross a river in a big air-conditioned Toyota.
In Broome I met my Danish friend Bjarke Ulrich Nilson, who I had met last year in Mongolia, on his new Yamaha XT600 again. The beaches in Broome are fantastic, but as Bjarke said he had enough of doing nothing we travelled together to Port Hedland along the Northwest coast of Australia.
West Australia is a big sandbox and only my bald rear tire could stop me from riding up every sand dune. Like a child in this big sandbox I rode along all the sandy tracks down the west coast and camped along deserted beaches on the way to Perth.
In Perth I met Gail again, she is riding a Yamaha XJ600 - 180.000kms in four years!! We had met near Kalbari where she invited me to her place in Byford, 30kms south of Perth. Gail is a member of the MRA WA (motorcycle riders association western Australia) and we went together to a run and a bikers meeting. And of course she found me a place for a few weeks with Kevin another MRA biker.
After I got a new rear tire and a service on my rear shock absorber, it was time for my girlfriend Damaris to arrive. We hadn't seen each other for seven months since Bangkok, and I was a bit nervous to pick her up from the airport.
We plan to travel together for maybe a year; lets see how things work out ;-). I wanted her to learn to ride a bike. The MRA had a learner's bike, a Honda CB 250, which we could borrow for two days, because my Tenere is too high for Damaris. So I taught her on a parking lot to ride the CB and she learned fast - but is not ready yet to ride the Gun barrel.
Tomorrow we are going to leave Perth, two up on my Tenere, and travel south and than east to Esperance. And than on the Great Central Road thru the desert to see the big rock near Alice Springs.
New Years Eve we plan to spend with friends - Jenny and Gary - in Melbourne and than ship the bike to South America maybe in February. This is the rough idea at the moment, but as you know plans can change. Greetings and all the best to you Mika"
Charlie Money, UK, from UK to Cape Town, on a Cagiva E900 Elefant,
"After several false starts, it looks as if I am Kenya bound. Where my bike is and whether I get it and most of my luggage back is another question... I made one last fruitless trip to the Sudanese embassy in Cairo, but have to accept that Sudan isn't going to happen. I had thought about shipping my bike to Mombassa, but in the end decided that 21 days is far too long to wait. That left flying as the only option. I made some enquiries, and it turned out that flying would actually be cheaper than shipping.
I headed off to Cairo airport early on Sunday morning to find the shipping company who would be arranging everything. They assured me that everything would be fine, and that my bike would be going with Ethiopian Airlines on Wednesday morning. We then began the laborious process of clearing the bike out of Egypt. This involved endless to-ing and fro-ing, getting stamps and signatures from innumerable people, as the agent liberally sprayed around baksheesh to smooth everything. I wish I could share his confidence!
In theory my bike will leave for Nairobi via London (I'm sure I could have saved myself some hassle there somehow) on Wednesday. I am not leaving Egypt until I know the bike has arrived. I don t know why, but I get the impression that trying to track down my bike in Egypt from Kenya might be a little difficult! Oh and to cap it all, the cost of freighting with BA is 50% higher than with Ethiopian Airlines. Until the next time, when hopefully I will be waxing lyrical about the joys of motorcycling in Kenya. Charlie"
Andy Miller, UK, KTM Adventure, Pete Thompson, UK, Sam Beasley and Dave Ward, UK, Ruth Mandeno and Paul Doone, NZ, heading across Asia,
"Nov. 4, 2001 - Had a short flight from Dubai to Delhi. The hard part was the different culture. Got a hotel for a pound a night in the main bazaar. What a dump. The smog was so bad I had problems breathing at night. Had 4 nights there as it took 2 days to get the bike out of customs. Only paid 50 rupees bribe, then had a lovely ride though Delhi in the evening rush hour. Got hit up the back by various vehicles on top of that my mate Dave who I met up with in Delhi got us lost. This 20 min trip took us 1 hour but we made it back to the hotel for one more night. Ready for an early start 0600 to head to Agra home of the Taj Mahal from which I can see from my hotel roof top.
I have spent only 9 days in India and can't wait to get out. I have no interest in it at all other than the Taj Mahal. I am looking forward to Nepal, a lot more than India and have vowed never to return to Delhi again.
... I made it from Delhi, but not without problems. It should have taken less than a day to get to the border, some 300 kms, but it took 2 days. The first problem was the lack of signs. This I managed to overcome but the other was consistently being run off the road. I went off the road at speed down into the verge off road big time. When I do get back on the road I go to open the throttle, the bike goes completely sideways just missing two cycles.
My nightmare begins as I have a compression puncture in the rear wheel. I decide to ride to the nearest petrol station to start repairs, this is some 6kms away. It takes an hour to repair with a new inner tube, but not without a fight as I now have a large crowd around me. This I can take, but they cramp my working space so much that I find it nearly impossible to work. This they find funny, but for me I am getting very upset. Back on the road again time approx. 2:30 p.m. Not much further to go, but I ask for directions from a policeman thinking he will give good info. This turns out to be duff as when I do get to the border its closed at 5:05 p.m. I can't believe it. The guards tell me to come back tomorrow 9:00am. (Ed. Some people just have to learn things the hard way - like never show up at a border crossing late in the afternoon. (-;
What else can I do, so off to find a hotel. Like most border towns they are not very nice places to hang around for long. With very little in the way of Indian currency left in my pocket I manage to get by. In the morning, refreshed I go off to the border where I meet the same guards. They tell me I cannot cross the border as it's only for people not vehicles. Can you believe it? Why couldn't they tell me this last night (how I love India). After a cup of tea and a chat, it's off to the other border some 14 kms south where it's a lot easier. I get tea and biscuits from immigration and chat with them until the customs officer starts work (1pm). He arrives, stamps my carnet in about 1 hour. Not bad for India, 2kms down the road I have to do it all again.
As I enter Nepal it starts to rain. The customs tell me it's a Nepalese greeting. The carnet stamping takes only 10 mins. Then immigration 30 mins as I do not have a visa. The people here are totally different to the Indians.
I have just two days in Darjeeling to sample some of the best tea in the world. It doesn't taste like this back home. I spend time to check over the bike and manage to squeeze in a visit to the zoo where I get to see the snow leopards and other fine animals.
I am trying to organize air freight from here. Kathmandu to Australia as Thailand has nothing more to offer me than beaches and besides I have spent loads on camera equipment as it's so cheap in Nepal. Cheaper than Dubai."
Liam McCabe, Northern Ireland, around the world, in New Zealand, Africa Twin,
"It rained all day, over the mountains it turned to hail. It stopped in the afternoon as I came down to the west coast and I was tired and cold. By mid day I decided to pull into a lane way and set up camp for the night. Beside a swollen river I found an old cattle shed. The floor was covered in hay and cow dung. I stripped and hung everything on bungee cords from the rafter to dry. I decided against pitching the tent inside in case I got overrun in the night by rats. I managed to get the bike half way into an overhang, out of the rain.
I lit a small fire, cooked dinner and got eaten by the flies who much preferred me to the cow dung. I waited till the fire was out before going to bed and even took my nighttime wee on it (maybe I should have drank more during the day).
During the night I woke to hear something crackle, first I thought it was someone at the bike, I sat up listening. I couldn't place where it was coming from. I unzipped the tent and the first thing I noticed was a thick fog had covered the place, funny thing was it smelt like smoke. I jumped out in my boxer shorts and got into my new walking boots. I could hardly even see the bike, or the cow shed for that matter. I ducked down and ran in, half the floor was alight. I could see what had already been burnt by the black area and the rest was glowing red. The only water I had was in a 2-liter bottle, which I used to stop the fire spreading any closer to the bike. I then grabbed my waterproof bottoms and tied knots in the bottom of each leg and ran to the river.
After 15min my ankles started to bleed with the new boots, but there was nothing I could do. There I was in boxers, a fleece and limping with two large udders of water back and forth for an hour. It was only then that I was sure I had it under control enough to stop for a moment and get the bike out. Stopping before this would mean sacrificing either my gear or the bike. When I came out of the smoke there was a clear sky and a near full moon. I have to add, there wasn't a threat to myself, unless the shed collapsed on top of the tent but that was highly unlikely.
I can only thank God I woke when I did or I would have been wakened by the burning bike. Stinking of smoke I got out quickly the next morning.
I've ridden 1000 miles since Christchurch without any dramas, let's hope it stays that way, for awhile anyway."
Chris and Erin Ratay, USA, around the world, in Brazil, two BMW F650s,
"I exchanged my R100GSPD for an F650, similar to Erin's -- bike prices in New Zealand are very cheap (paid US$2,300 for the bike, and sent the PD back to the states where I will keep it or sell it to another traveller). It's great to have 2 identical bikes -- we should have started the trip that way.
...November 14th, there's a costume party at Moto Café. Chris goes as a motorcycle mechanic (surprise!), Richard goes as a Canadian (surprise!), and Tania (the only creative one!) goes as a witch. I wasn't feeling well that night and stayed home. Chris met Gau, a now famous Brazilian who rode the Americas from Ushuaia to Alaska up the West Coast, across Canada, and back down to Ushuaia via the East Coast. He also had to ride 6,000km down to Ushuaia to begin, and is currently on his way home (another 6,000km) from the finish line in Ushuaia. He left Brazil at the end of April with 14,000km on his 2001 F650GS, took 6 months for the U-A-U leg, and today registers over 88,000kms on his odometer! He said he averaged 3-500km of actual riding per day -- WOW! With Gau was one of his Sponsors, Marcelo, who rode his R1100GS down to Ushuaia to meet him for his epic arrival. Marcelo has ridden 11,000kms in 10 days - that's 690 miles/day!!! These guys are crazy!
Since the moto-meet wouldn't get into full swing until Friday night, we decided to take a ride on Friday to visit Itaimbazinho, a beautiful canyon in the mountains. The road up the mountain was very technical with steep, sharp switchbacks and lots of big loose stones. Rocks that aren't loose and slippery on the surface are imbedded in the earth and stick out like pointy elbows, just waiting to kick your tire up and send you sideways.
...We returned back to Torres in the afternoon and drove down to the moto meeting site, where we met Richard and Tania. Reni came over with what looked like the MC of the event and interviewed Chris over the loud speaker system.
... Exchanging stickers is a big thing here and we ended up with stickers all over our bikes from different Brazilian m/c clubs. Our bikes now look like mobile billboards, so people felt free to add theirs to our collection. One more sticker here and there doesn't get noticed anymore. Ride safe, ride far, ride often, Erin & Chris Ratay"
Mariola Cichon, USA, aiming to be the first American woman to ride around the world solo, in Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia,
"...After leaving Copan we went to Tornabe, Garifuna settlement near Tela, on the Caribbean cost. Garifunas are descendants of slaves, who managed to retain much of the African culture, including dancing. Such an opportunity I could not pass I managed to persuade my companion to go to the local 'club', where the dancing was going to take place one night. I would have never gone to that place alone. The ratio of man to woman in that village was somewhere between 3 to 1.
Immediately upon our arrival I was asked to dance with several local men, but I was not ready then. Gee... the way they move! I am not a bad dancer, but in no way could I make my hips shake in a similar way! So I watched while inhaling a secondary smoke from illegal substances being smoked all over the place...they smoke it like cigarettes, like there was no tomorrow! It was very, very hot, and very, very humid. It did not take me long to be totally drenched with sweat...
... The mud serves as a playground for a seemingly unlimited number of kids, dogs, pigs and piglets, goats, chicken, and who knows what else. Suddenly, you brake hard, skidding to avoid running over a dog, squatted exactly in the middle of the road doing you know what... As you accelerate again you notice a small boy trying to force a huge black hog to co-operate and cross the road. Not a chance, the pig is much stronger and it pulls the boy into the muddy hole. Not to worry... a man on a tired looking horse comes to the rescue... the hog is tied to the horse's tail and off they go! Yes... pigs can fly!
...Lew and I left Salento the following day heading for Popayan, an old colonial town about 200 km north of the border with Ecuador. Leaving Popayan early in the morning we encountered a burned bus on the outskirts of the town. The event apparently took place during the night (remember, no traveling after dark in Colombia!). The danger had passed, the wreck of the bus was about to be towed, and the road was clear to pass.
... About 80 km north of Pasto we were forced to stop. A few kilometers long traffic jam had formed for some reason. With some hesitation we proceeded to the front, curious of the reason for such a huge jam on the major artery. It turned out to be another burned bus burned by guerrillas. This time, though, they have managed to force dozens of truck drivers to align their vehicles across the road. As if this alone was not enough to successfully create enough chaos, they also slashed tires on all trucks. You can imagine the result! This had happened around 3 AM; it was already close to noon when we arrived there; the truckers were still fixing flats. We were happy to learn that no one was hurt during the attack. I am not sure what had happened to all the people on the bus. I was told they were rubbed and let go.
The army, armed with all kinds of weapons, including bazookas, was in charge of clearing the whole mess. Being on motorcycles we managed to finally weave through after about an hour of negotiations. The soldiers and the police were simply saying that the chances of such a thing happening during the daylight hours are very, very slim, but they still exist".
Ed. See update on Lew Waterman in 'Seen on the Road' below.
Sharon Whitman and Bill Berwick, USA, around the world, in Chile, on Harley-Davidson Sportsters,
"November 23, 2001, Coyhaique, Chile
This part of the world is stunningly beautiful! We've never seen so many waterfalls as we did along the Carretera Austral from Puerto Puyuhuapi, 200 miles south to Coyhaique. Then there's the spring rain! Washing out the muddy, slippery mountain passes making it a delicious challenge for our bodies and our bikes.
The brake pads are wearing out faster than we expected. We stopped in Santiago to get new ones but the dealership closed last December. And the racks are taking a terrible beating, having broken in twelve (12) different places thus far. Also, the seal in one of our shocks sprang a leak but Larry Langley at Progressive Suspension had a new one out to us in just three days! Thank you Larry and Progressive for your excellent efficiency and expediency.
The trip continues to be a fascinating journey. We flew over the famed Nazca Lines in Peru, then visited the Machu Picchu ruins. Incredibly awesome. Truly mystical! Then we were interviewed for the 6:00 news in Argentina (in Spanish!)
We climbed an active volcano in Villarrica, Chile. It sputtered, moaned, and spewed rocks and sulphurous gas as we ascended into its snow-covered crater, where we viewed molten lava that ebbed and flowed sounding amazingly like the ocean. Five hours to trek up but only one hour down! sliding on our posteriors most of the way. A real blast!
But it's not all fun and games folks.
We were pick-pocketed in Bolivia. Not much money lost but a hassle cancelling a credit card. Then when we tried to leave town the next morning, there was a strike in progress. All the roads were blocked. When we were stopped and told to turn back, we muttered in our broken Spanish something like "Our bikes can't stop on hills!" and ran the blockade (looking back every now and then for the next few miles)..."
Steve Raucher, South Africa, around the world, in Indonesia, R1150GS,
"2001-11-24 in Flores, Indonesia,
Taking into account all the advice we have received from travellers, the island to go and see the Komodo dragons is in fact Rinca. Komodo is too touristy and has less interesting landscape, plus the dragons on Rinca have never been fed by the park to attract animals for tourist photo opportunities. It was almost too easy, every turn there was a dragon, some even walking on the foot path causing a bit of a traffic jam. After walking for about 30 minutes, the guide hushes us in great dramatic style and starts stalking towards the stagnating pools of a dried up river. Bingo! 12 dragons climbing over one another taking turns immersing their upper bodies into the carcass of a freshly killed water buffalo. There was even a little 'Lady and the Tramp' parody with two Komodo Dragons eating different ends of the entrails of the buffalo.
...I think I have come to the realisation that finally I am ready to leave Asia. I need some time of recuperation in a country that doesn't wake up to the call of the rooster, or the prayer calls from the minarets, and one that certainly one that doesn't go to bed with the sun. Did someone say OZ?"
Patrick and Helen Watson, UK, around the world, in Greece, R100GS,
"...To The Centre Of The World...
The hotel was something of a bargain. We had intended to camp as I always have done in Delphi, but the charges were outrageous. Given the option of a tent at 4,500 drachma or an en suite room with balcony with views of Itea for 5,000.
...From Delphi, we were aiming for the Peloponese. There are two options, towards Athens and over at Corinth or west and by ferry. We chose the latter and squiggled our way along the coast to the ferry port - only to find that the ferry would be back in a couple of hours. So we went to the next ferry port where the ferries were queuing up and the lines of cars were fighting to get on. I felt quite vulnerable trying to get a hugely loaded motorbike up quite a big wet slippery step onto the boat. After wobbling on, we were joined by another bike similarly loaded who casually parked up with half of the fuss. I have quite a lot to learn on the riding front it seems.
...We arrived in Nafplion in reasonable time and found accom with a charming chap called Dimitrio. His pension is located high up in the old town and backs onto the lower castle walls. There can not really be a better location in town and he steadfastly refuses to upgrade and charge exorbitant prices. He laughingly told us about an apartment that was next door but two and charges seven times as much. He described it as a place that he would take his girlfriend to but not his wife. Read into that what you will.
We are now clean, we have got our digestive tracts back in order and our shirts are ironed. We have taken the opportunity to visit Tiryns, Mycenae and Epidaurus. We have had daily route marches up the steps to the castle on the hilltop. Apparently, there are 999 steps. We have counted them daily and got a different answer each time, but generally in the region of 869. We feel somewhat ripped off.
We are now plotting our move to the Islamic nations. The first challenge is going to be getting visas. Queuing practice called for."
Frank Amberger, Germany, as long as funding and fun lasts, in Pakistan, R80GS,
"At 14:30 I was stopped near Dalbandin at a military post. After awhile the soldier declared that there was a problem and that I couldn't continue. I asked him what I was supposed to do know, sleep here?? That was agreed, so I got off the bike and settled down. After lots of teas and having learned nearly all home cities of the soldiers on the map the sun settled and I started getting ready for a nice night under open sky in the desert.
I was interrupted as I was told that headquarters had decided that I couldn't sleep here, but at their HQ so we would have to go another 30km. I would get a military escort because Dalbandin isn't safe. It was already pretty dark, but what should I do... anyway just 30 km won't kill me. Dalbandin turned out to be a pretty scary town. I didn't see a single woman and the men looked quite unfriendly.
When we reached the HQ it turned out to be three tents in the middle of nowhere. That was even less than the two huts at the checkpoint. A guy with two stars and a stripe came to me and said that I had to go for 45 min. till I would see a police station and there would be a hotel. I was reluctant to go as it was nearly pitch black, desert night black (not even a moon), but I was reassured that the checkpoint would lock for me and as it was perfectly safe I wouldn't even need an escort.
So far so bad, but what will you do, discussing with officials didn't seem a good option and after all if they say it's safe...
The road soon narrowed down to lorry width and potholes appeared. In this section sand has partly covered the streets and there is even 500 meters of sand to negotiate. I was not happy at all. After some time riding all the stories off robbery and kidnapping appeared in my head and I became a bit paranoid, no wonder driving at night in Baluchistan.
After an hour and no police station I became really concerned. I passed people trying to wave me down and villages with no lights on at all. Finally to my great relief I reached a military post, stopped my bike and I swore to myself not to move another meter. It wasn't easy to explain the situation and to stay friendly, as I really had had enough. But the commander was very friendly. I had a good meal and a nice bed for the night. On the next day I continued to Quetta."
Christmas is coming! Looking for a travel book for someone special? 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.
There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - Canadians and Aussies order from Amazon USA;-) you can order books at great prices, and we'll make a dollar or a pound, which goes to supporting this e-zine.
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Book suggestions please!
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From Stuart Munro, The truth about fitness:
Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong
life. Is this true?
Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in
a regular exercise program?
Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
Q: What's the secret to healthy eating?
Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.
"A person needs at intervals to separate himself
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in order to be open to influence, to change."
"Two roads diverged in the wood, and I, I took the
one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
"Traveling [in the middle of the road] was really
boring so I headed for the ditch. It was a rough ride but I met more interesting
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by James Richmond;
It's all fleeting,
The things you've seen,
I understand the spirit,
To see it before it's gone,
Know a little about this world;
Leaving society's anchors behind,
Mixing laughter and poverty,
So, happy nomad, far from home,
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Elisa Hilke, Germany, is the winner of November's prize!
We're giving away prizes every month from a drawing of folks recommending us to others, or contributing useful information to the site, either via the HUBB, or Shipping Form or other info of interest to travellers. We particularly are looking for information for the Trip Planning section. Examples include, in the Where and When section: Country info, Weather, Road conditions, Border crossings, Paperwork, What to see, etc. Under Equipment: your suggested Packing Lists, Packing techniques, etc.
December's prizes include great books from Greg Frazier, round the world traveller and author extraordinaire, or a US$25 gift certificate from Amazon.com, or the equivalent in GBP or DM if you prefer Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de.
Here's what you get to choose from when YOU win!
Choose from A:
US$25 gift certificate from Amazon.com, or the equivalent in GBP or DM if you prefer Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de.
Dr. Gregory Frazier has very generously contributed a FREE book (or video) a month.
-New Zealand By MC
"I rode north on the new Pan-American Highway, built on the lines of an American interstate, but with an important exception; there is access to it along most of its length. People can walk across it, with babies and bicycles, and so can animals. The speed limit is strict, but it is over 60 mph. On November the first, the Day of the Dead, I arrived in Santiago, but only just. Traffic was getting thicker, all travelling at the limit. From between the legs of some people standing on an island on my left a medium-sized brown dog ran full tilt across my path, so close to my front wheel that for a moment, as it passed, I couldn't even see it. It's great to be alive...
Very close to the hub of Santiago, at what they call the Plaza d'Italia although I have yet to find the name on a map, is a big old building with a soaring roof of iron and glass, and in a country prone to earthquakes that seems like a brave gesture, but it has stood the test of time so far.
It's called the Mercado Central, and it deals mainly, if not exclusively, with seafood. There are large areas of stalls where you can see almost every kind of marine life laid out on slabs - including many I still don't recognise. The colour, variety, smells and sights just make me realise all over again how marvellous life on this earth can be."
"5th November 2001 - Email from Richard & Rachel to Paul and Jill, temporarily home,
Paul was right it was a spring in the gearbox, a simple thing but quite complicated to get to, gearbox off etc. Managed to get it done in Perth by a BMW workshop, also got a new oil pressure switch and neutral light switch as the had both began to leak. Hope to get new tyres today, TCK 80's as they seem to last for ever, the one you brought over to Goa still has life left in it. The Gibb river road was excellent but bashed the hell out of the bike, two broken luggage racks a scarred helmet, as Rachel dropped the bike on it whilst getting something out of the pannier, accidentally knocking it off the side stand. The front disc is now also loose caused by the corrugations & excessive vibration. Had them both checked though and they are OK so saved some money there & got the pannier racks welded OK."
"Our arrival into South Africa, with the exception of a 4am luggage turn out at customs, was uneventful
We were now getting more than a little excited about the bike's impending arrival in Cape Town. We booked into the Zebra Crossing backpacker hostel, a small place about 5 minutes from the bars and cafes of Long Street, and 20 minutes walk from the water front - a fashionable complex of shops and restaurants with a growing residential presence, all centred around the Victoria and Alfred working docks. We had to wait another week for the bike to be unshipped, but I didn't think we would be short of amusement.
It'll come as no surprise that the first tour we went on was wine tasting...
...When we did finally get the bike, we went straight off, through the cosmopolitan area of Camp's Bay and it's stunning, fast-winding coast road. We then took a ride along the twisty Kloof Nek road that runs through the forest surrounding Table Mountain. It was good to be back on the bike.
We choose a good time of year to visit South Africa. A little rain has fallen providing spectacular electrical storms and turning the countryside into a blanket of green and blossom. With enough sun to make shorts and T-shirts normal daily attire, the climate suites us to the ground."
"...We stopped at a big tyre place to ask where we could get hold of a bike tyre. After much chay, phone calls, giggling from two very elegant young ladies who work in advertising (not sure what they were doing hanging out at a tyre place - but if there were a world championships in sitting about for hours on end doing very little except drinking chay - the Turks would win hands down) and much discussion with everyone who worked there and everyone in the vicinity, we managed to order a Dunlop tyre which will arrive on Saturday and only costs fifty pounds.
We headed into town to find somewhere to stay - we seem to have sussed Turkish town centres finally after four weeks here - and found the central area very quickly. We had planned our strategy this time, I took my helmet into the hotel and Harvey had both (now locked) tank bags on his bike. The very first hotel we stopped at was right in the centre of town, within our budget, a quiet room out the back, secure underground parking, a TV and (for the first time in Turkey) a bath! There's always a catch though - hot water seems to be a real problem in many places we stop - we often have to discuss the matter several times with reception! Harvey has been running the taps for a goodly while now - I think it may be time to head downstairs!
...We have spent a couple of days here in Gaziantep sorting bits and pieces out. Merv and Ruth turned up out of the blue on their way to Syria and we spent last night chatting with them. My tyre got fitted this morning with relatively little fuss - in less than two hours - got to be a record for getting anything done in Turkey!! Everything here is done with a smile and everyone is so eager to please..."
"In Riobamba I asked several times for the road to Baños, and I found it. But I was very surprised when I reached a point, where the road was washed away, and there was just a narrow, sandy deviation through the ravine where a truck got stuck. No way to get past him. I was told that there were more washouts from the recent eruption of the nearby volcano Tungurahua, which was clearly visible above, with a big cloud of smoke. But with the bike it should be no problem people said.
I continued and had to do some nice Enduro riding before I got to a steep and long climb. What looked from below to be pretty easy turned out to be impassable for a heavy Transalp. After about 300m climb, the ground became loose sand and gravel, the bike dug in and it was almost impossible to get it out of the hole the rear tyre dug itself in the steep grade. I dropped the bike several times when my feet slid away in the loose gravel. I unloaded the bike, but to no avail.
After one drop, somehow the gearbox was in neutral, and when I picked up the bike, it rolled backwards with me clinging to it. All I could do was to throw it against the wall of sand before it could fall down into the river. All the meters I had gained and worked so hard on were lost, and I gave up, turned around and did a 150km detour to reach Baños. I later learned that I was only ten kilometers from Baños and only 200m from the paved road. Do not try this road on your own with a heavy bike. It's passable with a light Enduro, or if there is somebody to push through the loose sections. Baños is a small town in a nice tropical environment with six thermal baths, many restaurants, bars, ice cream shops and tourists." More stories and great pics by Werner in the Travellers Stories.
"I go back to my hotel (in Cuzco) to find a note on my bike. It's Steve and Annieh, my English friends, traveling on a couple of BMW's, that I met in Quito a couple of months ago. Jeffrey Powers, owner of Norton's Bar, is a great hostess for our traveling motorcyclists mini convention. We eat, they drink and we have great conversation about what else, but bikes, routes and road experiences in a place filled up with motorcycling paraphernalia. It's good to see good friends on the road!
...In Trujillo Peru, I get to the Hotel Americano, that nice old building where I've stayed a couple of times before. They let bikers park their machines right inside the lobby. So, I ride my bike up the stairs, first try, no good, engine stalls on me and I go violently back in reverse, almost falling to the floor. Second try, give it a bunch of gas, the bike jumps over the stairs, the bike goes then into an uncontrollable wheelie, luckily, I manage to close the gas, so I'm standing there, in the middle of the lobby of Hotel Americano, with my bike front wheel up the air, my ass stuck in the backpack I carry in the back seat and looking desperately around for help to get the darn thing down before it keeps leaking gas on the floor.
...I manage to cover 2000 km in 3 days, arriving to the beaches of northern Ecuador just in time to spend a couple of days with my kids, before they return to the city to start another school year, not before having to cross a huge river in southern Ecuador, with the help of 10 road workers, crossing a big strike at the banana plantation zone and running completely out of gas at night, 10 km. before my objective. 60.000 km. covered in South America, not even once I run totally out of gas, and I do so a few kilometers short of ending my trip. Maybe a heavenly sign that I should switch continents for my future travels!"
"Took several boats for the 3000km odyssey to Belem on the Atlantic coast of Brazil, including a dug out canoe. I have seen it all now. The bike has been dragged, winched, carried and a couple of times even driven on and off boats.
...The old goat is now hotwired. Why? The ignition key fell off while driving (OK, yet more dirt and corrugation) and was gone. The bike did not stop, so it could have happened anywhere in the previous 30km. No problem, you think: use the spare. I would if it would fit!!! After 2 hours on the side of the road in the midday heat, Goaty now has 2 (or 5 if you include the wires to make the lights work) suspicious looking wires coming out of my instrument display. The steering lock and my big chains still work, and the wires are actually well hidden, so I hope nobody nicks it.
Between 15 January and 15 February, Chrissy is driving from Santiago de Chile to Tierra del Fuego and back. The question 'why?' springs to mind... haven't you been there before?
1. Well, I'm getting paid for it. Brighty is entering the realms of the m/c guiding business with an American m/c tour company. You win a special prize if you can guess their name.
2. If you had the choice between returning to GB in the depths of winter or checking out some old haunts in South America, what would you choose?
The itinerary is approx: Santiago to Tierra del Fuego via Chile, Carreterra
Austral, Ruta 40; up the Atlantic coast and cut across through Bariloche to
cheers cb 'delayingtheinevitable aslongaspossible'"
"We are on the road again and it's now two weeks ago since we left Bangkok. We travelled for a week with a guy from Germany and a girl from England. I know now the meaning of 'Friends and fish staying fresh for three days'. While we were on the move we were sleeping in shelters beside the road and that was a lot of fun.
We spent two days near a waterfall and that was near the Cambodian border. We were feeling safe while soldiers were patrolling. The waterfall was great and we were swimming in the moonlight. It was the first time I switched a button in my head and didn't think about what could be in the water. Mart was with me, so why be afraid?
Marko, the guy from Germany, made a camp fire and in the evening a black scorpion was very romantic and came to warm his ass... Two days later a huge black scorpion fell in love with me. I screamed like I never did before and the only thing Martin said was just to find another place to make the toilet. That was not even necessary for I was quicker than the wind. You get used to the pets. Marko had another creepy animal in his motor boots and it was poisonous enough to kill a child. He also was screaming for Martin. It made me smile. Martin is 6 foot 6 and he is trying to make a man out of me.
Laos is a country with an astonishing nature and not touched by people or tourism. People are poor, but warm, friendly and always willing to help. No $ in their eyes. You feel the French influence and they have French bread, so this is paradise for us. The mountains are everywhere around and the tropical atmosphere is touching. Laos is a very impressive country to us.
Tomorrow we will be on the road again and it's nice not to know where you'll eat or sleep. Life is surprising then, but then possibly you sleep a week on the floor or drive a whole day in the rain. At these moments you are grateful for a simple shower or a bed. This is the life we chose but the reward is so much more then money can buy. A sunset, especially freedom and to know every day you can choose where you want to go or what you will do. No one is forcing and that's what we love so much. I am still with Martin on one motor bike and he is a great driver, so now I have time to look around. Some times I miss to ride myself, but I can do this when my bike arrives in Australia. We'll keep in touch, Jen & Mart"
"We are two travelers from Germany on a sidecar. We like to get in contact with other people in the (Melbourne) Community area. We are leaving Perth this weekend going up along the old central road into Alice Springs by the end of the week. We are planning to go down along the Oodnadatta Track into the Flinders Range and then to the Grampians and from there to Melbourne. Would be good to see some of you!"
"I am on my way since December 2000 on a KLR 250, I started in Chile and plan to travel to Mexico. Actually I am in Ecuador. My homepage is mostly in German, but some English and Spanish information may be found too, as well as many pictures.
...I am in the south of Colombia, going to Cali today or tomorrow, the most dangerous region of the country. But so far, everything is quiet, no problem to travel here."
"Greetings from Nepal! In Pakistan it was not too bad and worth to take the risk to go to Karakoram. So we are all right after all. We just met an English KTM driver in Nepal and he told us that he shipped his bike from Bandar Abbas in Iran for 150 USD to Dubai and then to Delhi for 900 USD. Still we cannot recommend Pakistan for driving through (see last mail) maybe in some month."
"I'm still trying to get the bike out of customs in Peru and continue the tour to Alaska. Thanks for a good website. Keep up the good work. Hans"
"Just made it to the Baja, 300kms north of La Paz. Will be in Guatemala in a week if all goes well. 4800kms in 8 days! Whew. ... There is a great place for travellers to stay called the Finca Ixobel, south of Tikal, that's where I'll be resting up and having some cerveza! (Ed. Glad to hear the Finca Ixobel is still there - we enjoyed it in 1987 on our way through Guatemala.)
Lots of hail, snow, wind, cold, etc. all the way to southern Nevada. Finally hit the warm waters of the Baja today, absolutely beautiful. Great weather, cheap beer, nice roads, bike runs like a top, what more could you ask for, eh? See ya, take care. Jay"
"After leaving Colombia on a beautiful windy mountain road we were greeted by the head of the Venezuelan border police. As it was Sunday we could not get our carnet stamped. A bit worried we decided to ask this official for advice. Here is the brief conversation we had: 'We are ambassadors from UNICEF.' - 'Where is that?' ...regardless to say we saved the other questions we had and drove off without our stamp.
Venezuela is full of huge street limousines. At our first stop at a petrol station we understood: a litre of petrol costs about 10 cents! However impressive and comfortable these cars might be there was also a big disadvantage involved, for us to find out the hard way. They are losing a lot of oil, obviously in the middle of the lane which any fun-loving biker frequently crosses in order to find the ideal line for riding. Hazardous, I would say, but fortunately only a concern for the first 50km behind the border."
"Just met a German couple, Uwe & Ramona, who have travelled 30,000 km's from Germany through Africa to get here, on matching Adventure R's. No major reliability issues from them, besides slight oil leakage from the TDC sighting window on the RH crankcase cover and a single camshaft bearing failure, also moaning about the side stand, both having been modified to cope with the heavy loads of OTW travelling luggage & fuel.
Ramonas bike has a softer suspension setup and a lowered seat, Uwes is stock except for all the luggage he carries. At the start of the trip he had 15 years experience, and Ramona had just 100 km's! Guess there's no better way to learn.
Anyway it was interesting chatting to them and hearing about their travels and their impressions of the bike. Both were extremely happy and complimentary about the low weight and the fantastic job that the suspension was doing. They managed to take their bikes down Van Zyls Pass, a notoriously difficult passage here in Namibia so kudos' to them! You can follow their travels at www.karawane-online.de/ but your German had better be up to scratch!"
"Here in Nasca I met Kris from Belgium. He is travelling around the world on a Honda Pan European. He shows that it is possible to do all the bad roads with a 328kg touring bike as well. Kris is a professional photographer from a small town near Antwerp. He started 26 month ago with his Honda St 1100 via Turkey, Iran, Pakistan (Karakoram HWY) India Nepal, Burma!!, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, OZ, NZ, Patagonia, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru....
He goes everywhere with his heavy bike and plans to return home in two years, maybe later. He can be contacted by email."
"There were two riders last weekend in Colombia, Mariola and Lew with his companion Punky. Me and my friend took them to various places and had a good time, for them see new things and had a nice 2 day stay with us.
I am still picking up information for my trip to Alaska, they both had good information on things that I do not know.
As of today Mariola is in Quito or arriving today, but this is the bad part of the story, Lew was riding between Popayan and Pasto (Colombia) and in a road repair was some kind of mud and he crashed at about 25 miles. He turned his ankle not bad, he got some help from the repair people and got up, no problem so far, but he did not notice that the hand protector was bent and pushing the front brake lever. When Lew wanted to go the front tire was locked and down again with all the weight on his foot, and did break a bone. Seems that he has to stay 2 or 3 months with a cast. Right now he is in a hospital in Quito waiting for his foot to get ?? (smaller) (swelling go down) in order to get an operation. Mariola told me last night that they were all in touch with Ricardo (Rocco)."
"Hi ... I've been preparing my trip to Asia now for a while and your site has been of great help. I'm leaving on Monday, Nov. 19th to Singapore and from there on into SE Asia and Australia / New Zealand. Have a look at my web site. I'll post reports to that site as my trip progresses. There is as well some information on shipping my bike from San Francisco to Singapore and the costs. Once I have cleared it from customs I'll update the costs and post a message for your shipping section.
"...transit time for the bike was 19 days on the ship and pickup was 5 days before the ship left - so total transit time of 24 days... In Singapore I had to pay a total of S$190 in port charges and some other fees to the local agent (Astro Express, contact there is Richard Leo). I got great help as well, Astro did their best to help me get the bike out of the port and customs ASAP.
For my travel, I cleared customs on Nov. 21st, then left for Kuala Lumpur on the 24th and rode on to Thailand on the 25th. Since it was still raining a lot in Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand I rode pretty much straight through to Hua Hin (200 km before Bangkok). I'm here right now relaxing and working on updating my web site. I'll leave here soon to move on West toward Kanchanaburi (bridge over the river Kwai etc.). So much for now from the sunny Thai coast, Mark"
Full info will be posted on the Shipping page soon... we are running behinder than usual because of the server move. Grant
Me and my friend Jakob Sachs will travel with our Motorbikes around South America. First, we will visit Ushuaia about the Christmas days. In the new year, we will visit Chile, Peru and Bolivia. After that we will drive to the North. We have no time limit, but we plan only 6 months for South America. If it is possible, we visit Middle and North America for the next 6 months. Thanks and best regards.
"2 November 2001 - I find your website fascinating and will be keeping in touch while traveling in Mexico and Central America over the next three months. I never imagined a site like this existed when I started learning the internet. It will be fun to be a part of network of biker adventure stories."
"Dear friends it is the 16th day we are at home and it is snowing!!!! Soon we have to harvest our kiwis and we will need a lot of wood to heat the house.
When we left Halifax it was also quit cool but not snowing. We flew to London where we spent two nights. Then it was time to pick up our bike in Antwerp. By coach we crossed the channel on a ferry and drove over night to Belgium. We were so tired because we didn't sleep at all that we first took a nap and then went to explore the historic old town of Antwerp. It is beautiful and there are good restaurants. Also the chocolate is almost as good as Swiss chocolate!
The day afterwards we had to look for our bike. The harbour there is so big and the people don't know themselves where the dock number 869 exactly is... so we walked around to finally find out that we are completely wrong. Then we took a taxi that brought us to the right place. And the BMW was there and still worked! That was a good feeling being finally back on the bike!
Through Belgium, Luxembourg and France we drove to the border of Switzerland. After a friendly hello and the filling out of the paper we entered our country... everything looks so clean and the roads...like in a dream! No potholes, no cuts, but very narrow and winding.
The cats recognized us and enjoyed that we are back. Andréa's parents came for a visit with champagne and snacks. It was a nice welcome. The next days we had to organize ourselves was the hardest part. Where shall we put everything, when do we phone everybody, what do we want to do in these days...? Then visits, buying a car, repair the bicycle, find all the stores we need for shopping, have a look at the slides... The first two weeks were very hard, now we are getting used to the rhythm of life here.
We hope to hear from you, also when we are not writing our stories anymore, and wish you a good wintertime and a lot of fun. A big hug, Andréa and Bernie"
For details on how you can join, or use the Community to get information and help, or just meet people on the road or at home, go to the Community page.
Send me some photos - with captions please - and a little text and you can have a webpage about your Community! A few links to webpages about your area would be useful too.
Any communities that had a 1 after the name are back to a simple name without the 1. The address for ALL communities is now different, so take note. (You can just use the form on the Communities pages and not worry about the address if you like.)
Same beginning as before, but now it's with a "lists" after the @ as follows:
"lists.horizonsunlimited.com" not just horizonsunlimited.com.
Also, you can now UNsubscribe and REsubscribe without any intervention from me, so if you want to be off the list temporarily it's easy.
Our Community lists are now double-opt-in, (and out) which means that you have to ask to subscribe by filling in the form, and you then get an email message asking you to confirm that you want in by replying to that email. Double-opt-in is to ensure we've got your correct e-mail address, and to prevent anyone signing people up without their express consent. We have wanted to do this for some time, but the old host couldn't do it. All our mailing lists, including the e-zine, will soon be double-opt-in.
Have you thought about a "Horizons Unlimited MC Travellers Meeting" in your Community area? I'd like to see at least one a year on every continent - I think there is enough interest, it's just a (small ;) matter of doing it! It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just a get-together at an interesting location. Let me know what you think - we'll do all we can to support you and your Community.
French and Spanish translation has been done by Jean-Pierre Poitras, Ottawa, Canada. Thanks very much Jean-Pierre! Dutch is posted, thanks to Jan Marc Staelens, Australia, and updates by Maarten Munnik. Polish is also posted, thanks to Micha³ Biernacki! German is in progress, slowly...
We have just done a complete redesign of the Community pages as they seemed to be confusing many people, so the translations are once again incomplete, but hopefully we will be able to get that sorted soon. If you would like to help, please have a look at the pages and see what hasn't been translated yet. Thanks, Grant
Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine
to a friend! Just forward it to them, or send them the link to the newsletter on the website.
I am working on a listing of people who have ridden around the world, as well as what I call 'significant journeys' e.g. the first across Africa. Any information you may have on this topic, please let me know. Preferably e-mail me direct. I currently have information on over 100 world travellers listed, but there are many more. See Bernd Tesch's page for more. Bernd lists around 245 long distance travellers. And there's at least 20 enroute to an around the world. Have YOU done it? Let me know!
Carla King on travel and terrorism;
"...So I hope people will start to travel again now. Ted (Simon) told me long ago that wartime is the best time to travel. Plane fares are cheap. Locals are incredibly happy to see you. Tourist sites are empty... there are no lines anywhere! And the chances of anything bad happening are so remote... he said that war correspondents wander around for days trying to find the front line and the front line is so difficult to find, because it's always moving around, that they often never get there. It was kind of a funny conversation at the time, now it hits home a little harder. I think he wrote about it, too, in Jupiter's Travels.
My group of travel writers (wildwritingwomen) have been speaking a lot about travel and terrorism lately (we're promoting our new book, Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel). Everywhere, people are afraid to travel, but the twelve of us are still in movement.
One just returned from Turkey with glowing reports. The only planned trip that was cancelled was to Iran. Pamela Michael was going to go there to start a River of Words project with the blessings of the Iranian government, an invitation they had to revoke, with heartfelt regrets.
Having just returned from Italy and from NYC, I can tell you that people there are so happy to see travelers. If you can go to NYC now, I would recommend it. If you're thinking of canceling any your travel plans, I would rethink that, and go now, anyway. We've been reminded, haven't we, that life is for living fully..."
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!
It is not the unknown, but the fear of it, that prevents us from doing what we want...
Grant and Susan Johnson
Live the dream! at: