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Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in bad breaks
in Laos, blinding sandstorms, mud, deep water and the ETA in Bolivia, abducted
by aliens in Australia, UK to end of Oz in 10 days, somersaulting over your
handlebars in Sénégal, marriage proposals in Iran, Greg's fourth
RTW, running barricades in Bolivia, the Krak de Chavaliers in Syria, playing
football on the Equator, Devils Marbles and Corroboree in Australia, encounters
with: dogs' bottoms, pigs and flying golden retrievers with hooky beak and
claws, clever thieves and torched armored tanks in Morocco, and much more...?
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So what were all you North Americans doing last weekend? If you weren't at the First Annual Western Canada / USA Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting - you missed a great time!
The Canadians came from as far away as Calgary (Peter Berghs), and also Radium Hot Springs (Elmer Green) and Kamloops (Ray Woodley), as well as a Victoria contingent (Cindy Liboiron, Dan Graham, Jo-Anne Stacey, Gail Edgers, Lucy Storm, Peter Juergensen and James McFadyen). Not to be outdone, the Lower Mainlanders came all the way from Abbotsford (Larry Couper and Cliff Kafka, who took some of these pics), and Fort Langley (David Blair), as well as Vancouver (Kevin Beretta, Don Reid, Paul Nicholson) and Richmond (Grant and Susan Johnson).
The Americans did even better in the distance department, with John Kennedy (KCFire) coming all the way from Missouri for the event. John and Jean Ferris came all the way from Nevada, and Dennis Latzy and Chris Wensel made it up from California. Of course, Washington was ably represented by Tom Hunter, Daniel Toader, Ken and Marolyn Davis, and Mike Kmet.
But the prize for longest distance travelled went to Bruno Blum, from Switzerland (via Kazakhstan, Kyrgizstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Japan), narrowly beating out Andy Miller, from the UK (via Turkey, Iran, India, Australia and New Zealand), and Grant March, from Ireland via Texas.
Quite a few people showed up earlier than we expected on Friday, in fact all the best camping spots had already been taken by the time we got there! (Probably something to do with the famous - or is that infamous - "Johnson crack o' dawn start" - somewhere around about noon on a good day.)
Friday evening was spent around the campfire telling tales, and Saturday a number of folks, not having ridden far enough to get there, spent the afternoon exploring the fantastic riding country surrounding the campsite. The rest of us kicked tires and talked bikes and travel for the afternoon.
Saturday evening we all met at the Pemberton Hotel for a catered dinner and slide shows and more talk. Dan and Cindy Liboiron put on a great show on their travels circumnavigating Australia, Tom Hunter gave us a very classy reading from his travels in central America, and Andy Miller gave us a great tour of the Taj Mahal, and his travels in Iran. Then Susan and I got up and bored everyone silly with holiday snappies of our travels in South America, and then babbled on about how to do this travelling thing yourself. The highlight of the evening was the strawberries and cream desert...
I think everyone had a great time, and plan on returning next year, so yes there will indeed be a next year! A new location, as yet undecided, but this time we will have it sorted much sooner, hopefully by the end of the summer, so you will have plenty of time to plan for next year. We will also probably change the date to a little later in the year.
If you're a rally regular, please send us a list of the rallies and dates you're going to, and we'll try and schedule around them!
You'll remember last month the bike was described as a pathetic sight. But, thanks to the able assistance of Andy Miller, and about a week of very long nights, it did indeed emerge from the garage in time to grace the Nairn Falls rally. As one person put it, 'the thing speaks for itself'. Indeed it does.
Oh yes, the hard luck award goes to Timo Scheiber, who has been one of our big supporters in getting this event going, and has been really looking forward to it. He was unable to make it, stuck in Revelstoke working for the weekend at the last minute! (the hard luck award is a big zero, by the way :-)
I think the most important element of this 'community' and 'travellers meetings' thing is that it lets you meet people who don't think you're crazy for wanting to ride your bike to South America or Africa or across Asia, or even around the world! Admit it, all your 'normal' friends and most of your family fears for your sanity! So, get out and meet the people who will encourage you in that craziness, and maybe you'll meet them again in Timbuktu!
For more pics, including all the bikes, check out the Nairn Falls page. Not all up yet, more to come ...
Remember, if you missed this meeting, there's still two to come this summer:
We'll be hosting the First Eastern Canada/USA Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting is July 11-14 at the BMWMOA Rally in Trenton Ontario, where we will also be presenting slide shows. Check out the thread on the HUBB if you wish to contribute or attend.
The Second Annual UK Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting is set for July 12-14, at The Black Horse Inn, 358 Nottingham Rd, Somercotes, Alfreton, Derbyshire, DE55 4LP. Tel: 01773 602575. Note the change in date and venue! Glynn Roberts and Chris Bright are organizing this. Thanks guys! Slide shows by Chris Scott, (Adventure Motorcycling Handbook), Chris Bright, London To Cape Town, Austin Vince, Russia and Siberia, and more, on Saturday night. There are 40 or so travellers already planning to attend, so get your name in soon. Full details and registration here.
Limited Time Offer! Until June 9, free shipping on all US orders over $50.00 in the Horizons Unlimited Souk!
This is equivalent to a savings of $7.00 for the first item and $4.00 each for subsequent items.
Please note that we're not asking for contributions to fund our travels (in fact we're not sure if we'll EVER get to travel again because we're too busy running the website). But we ARE asking for your help to keep the website, bulletin board and e-zine going, as a valuable service for the benefit of all long distance motorcycle travellers. At the moment, it's a full-time unpaid job for the two of us, and we could sure use some volunteers. And we also need YOUR financial support!
What's in this Issue?
It's almost summer time, and there's lots of travellers on the road. We've got reports from Bolivia, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Morocco, Laos, Thailand, Senegal, Australia, Cambodia, China, New Zealand, Chile, Russia, Europe, and even Canada. Hope you enjoy this issue, and that it inspires you to plan your own adventure.
We Want Your Travel Story!
You'll get a lot more readers here than in some obscure corner of the web. There are plenty of new stories in the Travellers Stories section, the new Movable Type Blogging software is getting a workout. Have a look! Don't forget you can post your story there too, it's easy, and the price is right. And you can do it from anywhere on the road at any internet cafe, no software required. To see how it looks, see Ken and Carol Duvals' stories. If you don't have a web site (or you're tired of maintaining your own), click here for more info and to request a 'blog' of your own!
Here's a great reason to spend time on the HUBB when you're travelling:
Jeremy Andrews, NZ, posted this info in the "Repair shops around the world" forum on 14 May,
"Myself and a Swiss guy both used a Honda place for basic stuff in
If you can't speak much Spanish, the owner of the bike shop next door will help. The shop stocks Pirelli MT 70's and 21's etc. Ask for Tato, the quite capable mechanic who does all the servicing for the local bike touring company Inca Tours."
On the 20th May, t0by, USA, came along and posted:
"Incredible timing on your post! I find myself 20 miles from Lima, and logged on to see if I could find some addresses of places to buy tires in Lima. Thanks!!"
So when YOU find out about some great new shop, or just about anything of interest to other travellers, let us all know!
y_kiwi also posted a note on the HUBB elsewhere about Desert Sport Racing, and included a slightly different address and an email address.
Phone number: 4450462 - 2410484. Email (his son). Address: 480 Miraflores. Altura cdra 54 via expressa.
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.
This is a free service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Plan where to be when!
If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note.
Third China (Yinchuan) International Motorcycle Tourist Festival June 12 - June 15, 2002,
Interested? Info is sketchy at best, but here is what we have so far - if you learn any more please pass it on.
Enduraid 2002 - Third Annual Upper Midwest Dual Purpose Motorcycle Rally, Wisconsin USA, June 21-23, 2002,
Dual Sport Ride, afternoon slow trials, Knobby Ridge Trail Ride, cookout etc. Info.
International BMW Motorrad Biker Meeting, in south Bavarian Garmisch - Partenkirchen, July 5-7, 2002,
O'Keefe Ranch Rally, Vernon, BC, Canada, July 6-7 2002,
This year featuring a show and shine, flat track racing and a longer scenic road rally. Jim Green 1-250-542-9191
BMWMOA International Rally, Trenton, Ontario Canada, July 11-14 2002,
AND Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting Canada/USA East
Biggest BMW Club Rally on the planet. And we'll be there to do a couple of slide shows! See ya there!
The Second annual Horizons Unlimited UK Travellers Meeting is set for July 12-14, at The Black Horse Inn, 358 Nottingham Rd, Somercotes, Alfreton, Derbyshire, DE55 4LP. Tel: 01773 602575. Slide shows by Chris Scott, (Adventure Motorcycling Handbook), Chris Bright, London To Cape Town, Steven Raucher, Karim and more, on Friday AND Saturday night. Full details and registration here.
Black Dog AMA/Suzuki National Dualsport Ride, USA, July 13-14 2002,
If you're seriously into dual sporting... info
Stella Alpina, near Bardonecchia, Northern Italy, 10-19 July,
"a large trail bike Rally with several thousand bikes turning up over the weekend to ride up the mountain road on Sunday morning. It is not a competitive event but more a large gathering of like minded people." More info. Street bikes go up too!
30th Anniversary Top O' the Rockies Rally, Colorado, USA, July 18-21, 2002,
"In honor of the 30th anniversary, Special door prize drawing BMW F650GS Dakar.
70 miles SW of Glenwood Springs Colorado. Door prizes, and loads of vendors, BMW Denver onsite, free camping in the shady city park, hot showers, food vendors, music, Saturday evening dinner, field events, and great roads to ride in beautiful Colorado. Check out website for info and a preregistration form."
XI JÕGEVATREFF, Kuremaa, Estonia, (165 kilometres from Tallinn), August 1-4, 2002
Price of ~25 EUR includes admission to the Motor-Summer Festival in Põltsamaa, breakfast in Sunday morning, camping place, sauna, music groups in three evenings, competitions for prizes and other events within the Programme. Services: beach, saunas, bars, points of sale, beer and food tents, etc. Note: Striptease starting at 12.00 PM.
Sounds like a party! For further details, check out their website in many languages (click on the UK flag for English, then on Events Calendar 2002).
Allroad Tour, Finnish Lapland, 3-10 August 2002,
Allroad Tour is a special route ride ridden in Finnish Lapland. It is focused on heavy touring enduros. More info.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis South Dakota, USA, August 5-11, 2002,
The biggest rally there is, primarily Harleys and cruisers, but interesting.
2002 Alcan 5000 Rally, August 14 - 22, 2002, Washington State USA to Alaska, YT and to Jasper
"For those people who cannot RTW but want a fun rally to participate in for two weeks." This is the first year for Motorcycles!
Big Dog Ride 2002, Colorado, USA, August 14-15,
"Not for the poseur or beginner, this event is known as 'the world's highest, toughest BMW motorcycle ride,' and is limited to BMW GS models (including F650, HPN and prototypes). Entrants for 2002 include ISDT qualifiers, veteran BIG DOG riders and Paris-Dakar BMW factory rider Jimmy Lewis. Participation is limited, with veteran BIG DOGS getting priority for entry. Information here, Woof, Woof."
The Buckride Rally, Offroad Touring Club, Norway, 15-18 August 2002,
"...In the heart of Jotunheimen in the central part of southern Norway. Jotunheimen is among the most beautiful parts in our country and consists of Norway's highest mountains, national parks, forests, wild rivers and great motorcycle roads."
"6TH EAR" (European Airhead-riders Rendezvous) Sept. 2nd to 6th,
Likely in the south of France. Details.
Motorrad Reise Treffen Gieboldehausen in Gieboldehausen, southeast of Hanover, Germany, 6 - 8 September 2002
Beaverton Honda-Yamaha/Rat Dog Dualsport Ride, Oregon USA, Saturday, September 21 2002 ,
Held in my favourite offroad area, Trask Mountain. info
SA Ranges Rally, Australia, 26/27th of October,
at a new site, at the Farina campground, 80 kms south of Maree.
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.
From Grant March, Ireland,
Would like to recommend a Kawasaki/Suzuki/KTM dealer (but will service all bikes) in Nelson. They have dealt with many long distance travellers and have the photos up to prove it. Very friendly. Got a new front tyre (the stock had done 9000 miles) and they even let me install it in their workshop!
That address looks terrible but what it means is that they are on 3A heading east out of Nelson just after the big orange bridge on the right hand side.
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. Please post your info in the Repair shops around the world Forum on the HUBB.
Getting some interesting listings here - Casablanca, Cairo, Chiang Mai - and that's just the C's! Then there's a major list of KTM shops from the boys on the KTM forum. Post your favourite"on the road" shop here!
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.
When you meet people on the road, and they haven't heard of this ezine or the website, we'd appreciate it - and hope they would too! - if you get their names and email addresses and send it in to me, or better use the recommend form available on most all pages of the website.
From Stefan Thiel, broken down in Turkey with an Indian Enfield:
"I made it to Turkey. A few km before Mersin/Adana a spoke of the rear wheel ripped out and took apart the rear wheel hub which houses the rear brake.
I found a good workshop that tried to weld it but it ripped out again when they tried to attach it back. I have to go back to Germany overland so I think the only way is to change the whole house where the inner end of the rearspokes are connected to. (Ed. rear hub)
Can you give me an address in Turkey where I can get Enfield spare parts? I can have the workshop here in Adana call so they can fix it out in Turkish.
Thanks again for your time! Stefan"
Anyone who can help Stefan, please e-mail him directly.
Quiz - from Iris and Trui
"In which country...
To find the answer, go to their website!
Plenty more questions and answers on the HU Bulletin Board! We've over 1600 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.
New contact and new procedures for ADAC 'Green Card' insurance (third party liability):
Mr Jens Messerschmidt
Note that ADAC will no longer issue green card insurance by post.
Mark Vandermeer inquired and got this info: "A foreign registered bike e.g. UK, can get ADAC greencard insurance if/when.. the bike is in Germany physically, the Reg papers for the bike and the id card or passport of the Reg holder is brought 'by someone personally' to the ADAC office. Someone other than the Reg holder can bring in this paper work, but it has to be the originals."
A company called Knopftours will organize it for you. Please be sure to tell them where you heard about them.
From Stefan Thiel, on riding an Enfield out of India...
"Just want to tell you that
I made it over the border to Pak with Carnet from the ADAC... it seems like
I will be the last that will make this trip at least with a Carnet for an Indian
registered Enfield. But as soon as I have enough time on my hand I will write
in my blog about that...
There are new regulations re Carnets, and Indian Enfield's. Riding one home is no longer an option.
From Spiritual Rider, on safety on the Karakoram:
"Even with a knackered shock absorber it was still spectacular, although I did come across a little tension.
If anyone else is thinking of going, I would advise sticking to the main KKH and do not stop in Chilas. That place is definitely not westerner-friendly. Other than that I experienced only the usual Pak hospitality.
The police said that Chilas is known for it and that Hunza, further up the KKH was fine, but unfortunately I missed it, having to limp back to Lahore to pick up my new shock.
I did manage to cut across to the Swat valley on the way back down, via the Shangla pass from Besham. The police advised against travelling further up the Swat valley but the pass was fine and there is a friendly police post at the top. Mingoara was also friendly. Graham."
See link for more.
From Ed Messenger, on the HUBB, re Medical Evacuation Insurance:
"Luckily I never had to use it but I got Medjet Assistance last year. Your first year is $175, they have their own hospital planes or will book you on a commercial flight if your mobile. They fly you home- not just to the hospital closest to your location. They'll even work with you inside the US if you have an accident 500 miles from home, or need to be flown to Mayo clinic for special treatments.
Their rules are easier to meet than most other companies in terms of getting qualified for evacuation. In a nutshell if you are admitted to any bush hospital and can get a local official to say you need prolonged care, or advanced treatment they'll come get you.
I found them through a friend who was very concerned about the best policy and did lots of research before getting it himself. Ed"
Michael Paull adds his endorsement of MedJet (and he DID use their services):
"... After an additional three days in Beijing, I was deemed stable enough for air evacuation back to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA, in the company of my wife Aillene (who had flown in from Japan), and a air transport trauma nurse provided by the company that I had procured medical evacuation insurance from, MEDJET Assistance - without doubt, the best insurance coverage I have ever purchased in my life.
A small plug here - these people were remarkable, and I hope to provide some further information about them in a future update. If there was ever a better case for '...don't leave home without it.', MEDJET Assistance is at the top of my checklist, no matter where I travel (and I hope to do a LOT more)."
From Michael Rauck, in response to an inquiry to the Horizons Community in Japan:
"Buying a bike in Japan is easy, but it might take one or a few days, because the bike must be registered and possibly passing the shaken (inspection) before you can take it out from the shop. (You can also do the registration procedure yourself, I have rarely asked a shop to do it for me.)
Registration of a bike requires foreigner's registration before, and this used to be possible with a valid passport, stamped by the immigration officer (means that you are a tourist). Not sure if this is the same as in 1985, when I did it.
Leaving a bike on a Japanese number required switching to an international registration number plate. i.e. there is a domestic number plate not good for leaving, and an international number plate not good for use in Japan. Not sure if they give you an international number plate if you are not a resident for Japan. Do not underestimate the hassles when leaving Japan on a bike, probably more difficult than buying and registering and using it in Japan. Never have had the experience on leaving on a bike.)
From Japan, you might take a ferry to Sakhalin or
to Vladivostok (there are freighters, too, but I am not familiar with.) The
Wakkanai Korsakov Ferry info is here.
You find a good
explanation about checking out a bike from Wakkanai to Korsakow, but it's
From Possum, on the HUBB:
"We are heading up to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador in June of this year and will be on a HD Softail pulling a B&H pop-up-camper. As far as I can tell the roads are OK, even the cross Labrador HWY. of gravel/sand/mud. Check out the links for first hand info. Good Luck"
And from "free" (also known as Frank,)
"If you decide to visit Newfoundland (highly recommended)
a GREAT place to stay near the ferry terminal in northern NS is the SEAL ISLAND
MOTEL.(902-674-2418) The owner, Frank Skinner, goes out of his way to cater
to 2-wheeled travelers and is an all around great person as is his whole crew.
(tell him that Frank from Calif. says hello!) This motel is also only 10 minutes
from the Cabot Trail so it is a good staging point to visit various places
on Cape Breton Island.
From Werner Zwick, motorcycle friendly accommodation in Luxembourg, on the HUBB:
"Seylerhof, a former farm that has been turned into a motorcycle only pension/hostel/ campground. Rustic atmosphere. Fireplace, the former chapel serves as dining room, friendly and helpful owners, good cakes, often full.
An interesting topic on the HUBB:
From Iris and Trui, on interpreting flashing lights in Turkey:
Flashing lights From more or less the middle of Turkey on it starts : vehicles coming from the opposite direction flash their headlights at us.
In Iran its meaning is straightforward: "Your headlights are on !!!" (as if we wouldn't know)
In Turkey it can mean anything:
- "Don't you dare overtake while I'm considering
From Simon and Georgie,
"here is the contact info for the bike club and bike shop in Trabzon, where overlanders can get help and tyres:
The shop is on the coast road at the east end of town - before the airport - at the traffic lights for the road that takes you to Sumela Monastery.
One of the members is on the net and his mail address is: Trabzon Bike Riders Club"
From Roland Herrington, UK
Bad news on Thailand to Bangkok shipping:
The regulations for exporting Motorcycles have changed since last year, and we are finding it too difficult to send this out as aircargo. So we have stopped offering this service. I don't know of anyone who is doing this now.
Sorry, Barry Crawford EWAS-BKK
Then Roland received this a couple of weeks later:
" Roland, I have just sent another bike in and out of Thailand with no problems, so it looks like the situation is getting back to normal. If you still are in need, please advise.
Regards, Barry Crawford EWAS-BKK"
Ed. NOTE well that the situation could easily change again, so be prepared for delays and problems.
From Andy Gray, Holland, on the HUBB
Hi, On a recent trip to India I came across a bike shop in Delhi that offered to part sponsor me to ride around India on their new pride and joy. A Bajaj Pulsar 180. The dealer was offering to pay for the petrol if I paid for the bike, about 1200 USD, but promised to make me famous with the publicity. Not really my cup of tea, and I already have a bike. However, If there is somebody interested then get in touch to get the dealers email address. You can check the bike out here, Andy
From caravancafe, kashgar, on the HUBB:
Jeremy Andrews, NZ, Pan-American Highway, in Bolivia, F650GS,
"... The road via Ravelo, Ocuri and northwards was at the outset like outback Australia, blistering heat and dusty gravel roads, lined with Eucalyptus trees. (No Koala's though). All I had to contend with was 'people trucks' playing chicken with me from the opposing direction, and choking on dust clouds trying to pass them.
The warmth somehow turned into rain and snow as I climbed, and the river crossings got more and more adventurous as they swelled with the downpour. I pressed onwards, spying a bright patch ahead (biker's optimism). In fact I kept pressing on, breaking the rules as it got darker, although realizing I wouldn't make it to Oruro that day.
Pitch black, desolate and muddy I crawled through a place near Cala Cala distracted by what appeared to be a small fire on the hillside. You can imagine my slightly increased heart rate when I realized the letters spelt E.T.A. - and there I was on my own late at night... silly me. I thought ETA was only active in Spain, although my hotel guys in La Paz informed me there are sympathizers all over.
Weary from the symptoms of the chicken I rolled into La Paz, and was greeted by a hailstorm that stung even through my leather pants. I stopped at the first Hotel that could park the bike, and fell into bed frozen and exhausted. I learned that my travel mates had Salmonella the day afterward, and I spent three days recovering while taking antibiotics.
... I picked my way carefully through the glass-strewn intersections, actually getting ahead of the mob. I asked a bunch of Police officers if I could make it to Cusco - and they just laughed at me... I had no idea why. Just before Julliaca I got my answer. There was a bus and a couple of trucks up a side road, and some guy waving at me to stop. This goatee bearded individual turned out to be another biker, Johannes Marbet from Switzerland on his Africa Twin.
Although I was happy to see another rider, he and the bus of British tourists had been waiting there for 4 hours as the bridge was blockaded with rocks, glass and protesters. It turned out that this particular day was a protest about the government's privatisation process.
One of the kids assured Johannes and I could get through the barricade as his mates, so we followed him, or rather him hanging onto the back of my bike as we headed straight to the bridge. There were actually hundreds of people occupying the bridge, and the closer we got we realised there was no way we were going to break through. Surveying the scene, we though about skirting the bridge by riding through the river itself, as it didn't seem to be too deep. Down we went, and Johannes led the way past the bridge, through yet more people sitting on either side. Suddenly Johannes accelerated away, and I realised why as the majority of people sitting beside the bridge were mobilising to throw rocks and sticks at us... I followed suit and blasted in pursuit. We were greeted by cheers and whistles from the traffic waiting to cross from the other side, although Johannes and I just kept going, hearts still pounding."
Check out Jeremy's new blog on Horizons Unlimited!
Connor Carson, UK, in Australia, Yamaha Tenere
"I had escaped from the Antarctic chill of Melbourne, where I had earned money by working as a vet at the local animal hospital. After a couple of months of wiping up vomit and being intimately concerned with dogs' bottoms, enough was enough, and I felt sufficiently financial to contemplate heading up the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide, then across the Nullarbor plain to Perth. There I would meet up with Mark and Clare, XT600 riders whom I had encountered initially in Asia, and again in Brisbane, at the Duval home for bewildered overlanders. They were planning on travelling some of the great Australian dirt highways, and I hoped to tag along.
... You can look at the maps and crunch the numbers and think that you understand the scale of the place - but until you actually ride across the damn thing, you don't really appreciate the sheer vastness of this continent.
... Wedge tailed eagles are a common sight along this highway to Calgoorlie, attracted by the large amounts of roadkill scattered along the verges. They see it as a kind of an outback version of meals on wheels. These beautiful, powerful birds are reluctant to take flight as you approach, since flying after dinner makes them feel a bit sick. For this reason, they represent a major traffic hazard - lumbering slowly into the air at the very last second, and crossing your path at head-height like feathered heinkel bombers with serious indigestion. Hitting one of these things would not be pleasant, as they are about the size of your average Golden Retriever, and equipped with nasty hooky beak and claws. Nature really kicks ass in the Outback.
... As I came over the crest of the hill, a mist of fine red dust was settling slowly in the baking outback sun. Bits of shattered plastic fairing and the eviscerated contents of Mark's panniers made a chaotic trail through the sand, at the end of which a motorcycle lay on its side at a crazy angle, front end mangled, leaking fuel into the dust. The man himself was flat out at the roadside, a discarded pair of sunglasses and helmet lying nearby. He waved painfully, and I thought: Oh buggerrrrrrrrrr...
We needed an ambulance. What we got was almost as good - a German named Ronnie in a camper van, flagged down on the asphalt road, gamely drove the short distance on dirt to pick Mark up and take him to the medical post at the Ayers rock resort, 60 km distant. Ross, the doctor at the Ayers Rock clinic, realized that something more serious than a bit of bruising was going on, and had Mark flown to Alice Springs hospital. Thanks to the good and worthy Flying Doctor Service, who performed this transfer quickly and efficiently. Thanks to the staff at the Ayers Rock Campground, who couldn't do enough to help Clare and I with the salvage of Mark's bike and subsequent transport to Alice Springs after the man himself had been flown out. Thanks also to the doctors and nurses at Alice hospital for their excellent care.
After a few days in hospital in Alice, Mark was enduring the various necessary poking and prodding and assorted tubes with more equanimity than I think I would be able to muster. Finally, the decision was made to fly him to a specialist Urology department at the hospital in Adelaide, where doctors whose whole lives revolve around urine would sort the problem out. I'll report on how things turn out, (that is providing Mark doesn't mind me handing out bulletins on the functioning of his waterworks). Ed. Bad luck, Mark, get well soon!
Meanwhile I am Northward bound in the direction of Cairns, where I will have to put on a thin veneer of respectability for a few months veterinary work. Yes, it's the 'W' word again. Cheers for now - Connor."
Ed. Check out Connor's stories from the UK through Asia to Australia here on Horizons Unlimited.
Goose and Lucy, (Adrian Greygoose and Lucy Gardner), UK, around the world, R1100GS, in Syria
"Once settled into our 12th Century Damascus hostel we headed out to the Old City. Ringed by a fortress-style wall and entered through huge stone gateways, the first thing that strikes you is how little things have changed here over the centuries. We meandered along Souq al-Hamidhha, a covered avenue of shops - selling all manner of clobber from intricately veneered dining tables to ladies undies - and into the heart of the Old City and the Umayyed Mosque.
With Lucy attired in the supplied 'coveralls' and with footwear in hand, we entered the mosque's courtyard. Marble floored and about the size of a football pitch, this courtyard is more than a place of worship, it also serves as a meeting point for friends and family. Men and women will spend hours chatting before and after prayer, whilst the children, happily oblivious to their surroundings, play beside their parents or 'sock-surf' the smooth-surfaced floors.
Their tolerance of non-Muslim tourists was a pleasant surprise. Sitting down to watch the prayer inside the main building, I absent-mindedly placed my footwear sole-down on the carpet. My mistake was swiftly pointed out by a man who bestowed me a smile that said 'It's okay, we understand that you don't understand'.
... Our next port of call was described by T.E. Lawrence quite simply as 'the finest castle in the world'. Krak de Chavaliers (Castle of the Knights) is just that. Wandering around its vaulted corridors, towers and parapets romantic images of Crusaders clanking swords with Berbers and Saracens rush through your mind. The original castle was built by the Kurds in 1031 but was captured, and massively extended and fortified by the Crusaders in the early part of the 12th Century. It was large enough to support a garrison of 2000 men for a period up to 5 years, without lowering the drawbridge.
Incredibly, safety at tourist attractions such as this has yet to be established in much of Syria, which means holes, crawls, drops, walls, tunnels and towers that would normally be out of bounds are freely accessible. Not so good if you have small children, but utterly scintillating if you have a torch.
With the exception of a fairly serious litter problem, which in fairness, many of our previous destinations have suffered from too, it would be most difficult to fault Syria. The people are uncommonly polite and helpful - their strong feelings about America and Palestine didn't seem to extend to the British - kebabs are always good, and there's enough history to keep the most ardent buff engrossed for a lifetime.
A simple walk though the souqs takes you into sensory overload - the sellers rattling brass saucers, the smell of coffee, spices and leather and the bright colours of cloths and wrapped sweets - add to this the donkeys, traders, minivans and a crowd of busy shoppers and you are engrossed in the everyday life of Syria. Then you look up and see the 12th Century domed ceiling, or peer through an archway into a quiet courtyard and you are back in another time.
The most amazing thing about Syria, however, is that it is not yet crawling with tourists."
Iris Heiremans and Trui Hanoulle, Belgium, 2nd overland to India, in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, on DR650SE's
"Nemrut Dagi, the mountain top temple site from the 2nd and 1st century BC, (Commagene Dynasty for the historians amongst you), is spectacular in many ways. First there is the solid ride from the nearby village Karadut to the top: from 1,000 to 2,000 meters in 9 kms on a large, sharply edged cobbled road in a very bad state. The road leading to Karadut already shows some of Turkey's incredible mountain scenery, but higher up it's plainly breathtaking. At this time of the year the sides of the road are still covered in snow, as is the historic site itself.
The Iranian (and Turkish) traffic is indeed horrendous. The cities don't scare us too much since the pace is low, but an average 2-way, rather mountainous road, with average truck and car traffic means highest alert. Moving from cluster to cluster, the Iranians (car or truck no difference) overtake each other in the most breathtaking experiment - and occasionally squeeze us to the side in the process.
Iran, 3 years later, much shorter manteaus: just below the knee seems to be good enough now. Feeling old-fashioned, we hastily buy something new. Now we own a motorbike and a city outfit. Showing at least the first half of your hair is the fashion, as is make-up and light stockings. Couples are holding hands (shyly). Men wear T-shirts. The beards have gone. Music tapes are for sale bearing 'I love you' titles. Generally speaking the Iranians look happier.
... Now I AM used that some elderly people in Belgium address me as a boy or a man, but travelling further afield, where people are not at all used to seeing short hair on women (and no make-up), I have to cope with a real male-to-male attitude. This includes being offered the bills, salesmen who pat me on the shoulder, or even grab my entire arm. Only people who have had lots of contacts with foreigners or who lived abroad, immediately know I'm a woman. Iris is usually identified as a woman immediately, because she wears T-shirts and has more of a female shape then I have. But it's the first time in my life someone curiously asks why I don't grow a moustache.
... After Bam, we reluctantly said goodbye to an Iran we had enjoyed very much. Iris adjusted quickly; I didn't feel comfortable for a while. However the Pakistanis did everything to make us feel very welcome. At the border we received food and drinks for free, and on our stopover for the night in Nok Kundi (tiny village), we were fed and taken care off, and a gunman was assigned to sleep next to our tent. Further north, towards Islamabad, there was an entire day we didn't pay for a single coke. People come to us to talk, in a friendly and polite way.
But Pakistan's tough reality is never far away : towns are filthy, sewage and electricity systems work badly, traffic is literally of the 'close contact' variety. We overtake WFO-trucks on their way to Afghanistan --we travel at 9 kms from the border at one point-- and ride along masses of Afghan refugee tents. Water and food are unreliable everywhere. Pakistan is no easy country to travel in.
The stretches Bam to Quetta (2 days / 1,100 kms) and Quetta to Islamabad (3 days / 1,200 kms) were to be the toughest of our journey so far: extremely hot (40-50 degrees), unpredictable roads and traffic, long rides. We organised them well, split them in chewable parts with reliable stopovers, and made it safely without being totally knackered. We're proud - we were up to the challenges. In Islamabad we treat ourselves to a luxurious hotel (with airco obviously), instead of the camping where all overlanders meet. Sleeping in a tent at 45 degrees is not our idea of fun.
We drink a cup of real coffee at the Belgian Embassy (heaven!), look around in big bookstores, do necessary chores on the bikes, and have a highly enjoyable meal with Dr. Aly Khokhar and his family, the surgeon treating me here in '99. Once north from Islamabad, all is new, but at least the temperatures will drop... or so we hope! Iris and Trui "
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, in Brazil, two-up on a Harley-Davidson,
"On our arrival in Macapa a group of locals had approached us, a couple from the local newspaper and their friends, led us to some accommodation and showed us around town, a great welcoming. Today we washed the mud off ourselves, clothes and the motorcycle plus an oil change before being taken to lunch. It seemed everyone was out with family this Sunday. Brazil with a young population very vibrant. People swimming and boating on the Amazon, lunching and drinking on the waterfront and playing football (soccer) at the Equator stadium. This field straddles the equator with one team's side in the Northern Hemisphere and the other's in the Southern. We popped over to the Southern hemisphere for lunch as well as to arrange a boat across the mouth of the Amazon to Belem.
... All the boats here are wooden, mostly two stories, with a cargo hold and engine room below deck. We rode the motorcycle onto the bow at high tide and settled in on our mattresses on the deck. About a dozen other passengers slung hammocks and our small group departed at 6 pm to watch a magnificent sunset and tropical lightning storms into the evening. It turned out that our boat was the all stops to Belem, a passenger cargo boat. We stopped a couple of times during the night to disembark passengers and awoke to find ourselves in narrow waterways with rain forest on either side, small wooden huts dotted the banks and we spotted a manatee and two dolphins during the day. Children swam and climbed on the boat to dive into the water, their only playground. These low lying islands regularly flood at high tide and during heavy rains. Our boat provided basic meals and we settled into another night on the deck.
We awoke to being the only passengers left on board and thought how lucky we had been taking the slow boat rather than the express with a 100 or more passengers. Our 400 km journey winding across the 200 km wide island strewn tidal delta of the Amazon mouth was a magnificent experience. The boat had moved into increasingly larger waterways with larger shipping and barges before reaching the almost incongruous high rise city of Belem standing above the surrounding flatness. This city of over 1 million is our largest since leaving Venezuela. We had to wait three hours for the tide to rise enough to unload the motorcycle, then rode the motorcycle off the bow of the boat and to our hotel, surprisingly tired after two days of doing nothing on the boat.
... Soon after we left this morning it started raining again and was raining steadily as we were about to cross the Sao Fransisco River at Propria. A train track merged with our lane and despite slowing and crossing the first rail the second one took the front wheel and we went down hitting the asphalt at about 40 km/hr. Kay received cuts to the back of her hand and a grazed elbow and we both had sore hips. But the impact had also pushed the corner of Kay's glasses frame into her eyebrow giving a nasty Y shaped cut requiring stitching. The crash bars on the motorcycle collapsed wrapping them onto the footboard and preventing rear wheel breaking. A couple of cars stopped and after recovering and straightening the bars a bit we rode to the hospital in Propria where Kay received 4 stitches. Straight to a hotel for a rest for Kay and a welding shop for me to straighten the crash bars and weld a couple of strengthening pieces. It annoyed me having crossed so many wet slippery railway tracks before to be caught by this one."
Ed. Peter and Kay have travelled to over 100 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host all their stories on our site. Fantastic adventures and great pictures!
Goneriden: Jamie Clarke, Martin Jensz, and Boxy Herrmann, Australia, Los Angeles to South America, in Bolivia, on KTM LC4 640s and an XR650,
"From the snow peaked mountains of Coroico to the Amazonian jungle of Rurrenabaque, a 15 hour bus ride(at least), 10.5 hour 4WD ride or 6 hours on a Goneriden bike. Another day of radically different roads and landscapes. Mountain hugging tracks, freshly graded roads scattered with marble like river bed rocks, slippery muddy tracks and more.
But the real adventure for the day, avoiding animals. After several close shaves and only 30km short of Rurrenabaque there appeared to be a group of middle aged pigs playing games on the road. After seeing them all clear to the side, speed was increased and... darting out of the grass on the verge of the road came a suicidal pig. Any last minute avoidance measures were to no avail. As the pig squealed, Jamie and his bike came crashing to ground and slid along the potholed road. The local people who had been standing by the road disappeared quickly into the jungle, this wasn't the normal Bolivian friendliness. Initial assessment of damage showed only one crushed pannier and no other major injuries, apart from the pig.
By this time there were a number of Porky's concerned friends and family gathered around trying to nudge him off the road and calling for the stretcher. If it was normal here to pay for any animals you hit then the opportune time for the farmer to approach would have been while both bike and Jamie were laying on the road, there would be no chasing into the jungle to pay for a weeks worth of pork for the Goneriden crew. Lets hope the pig had a good doctor. Bacon anyone? Regards Jamie Clarke Goneriden"
Pieter Maes, (a.k.a. Fireboomer), Belgium, in Morocco, on Honda Transalp
"... I decided to stay in hotel Taroudant since we (Graham, Julie and I) were going to have dinner in the garden there. When I rode my bike past the reception (!!!) into to the garden I noticed a black Yam Diversion that I had seen before. Turned out that Wim, the Belgian guy we had met up with between Alnif and Zagora, was staying here too. To my surprise they had beer and wine in the hotel. This evening was exactly halfway into my trip and it couldn't be better. Wim, Graham, Julie and I, some beers and a bottle of wine with a great tanjine...
... In Marrakech I knew exactly where I wanted to stay. Hotel Essouarie right in the Medina, next to the Djemaa El Fna Place. And the owner promised me last time (when I was here with my backpack) that we could place our bikes in the hotel. It took some squeezing and a bit of sweat but you can get two big bikes inside. If you are a traveller and want to meet other similar minded folks this is THE place to stay in Marrakech.
On the way to the Ouzoud waterfalls the temperature rose again, wind picked up strongly and sand was choosing to go airborne... Luckily the waterfalls are a nice cool place to relax from the ride down there. I could rinse all the sand off me and enjoy the tourists not being there. They still have to discover this place so don't tell anyone! ;-)
... Coming over a little hill, mild turn to the left... one crashed car, another one, oh an exploded army jeep, and there a burned out army truck, hmmm are those the remains of a lorry spread around in a big circle.... and what look at that, a black torched armored tank...!! For a second I thought I was riding through the remains of an ambush.
I was just getting my camera out when there was someone started to shout at me: ' ey ey... (something in Arabic) qu'est que to faites la? Why you stand still?' From the corner of my eye I see the shouter coming up to me, baseball cap, sunglasses and lots of papers in his hands that he was waving up and down.
Quite a few people showed up. They all came out of vans, caravans, which I didn't notice earlier. When I noticed the camera mounted on rails I started to see what was going on. The road was actually closed because of a film they were shooting. The area around Aourzazate is known for it. But they forgot about the piste. When the guy with the papers noticed the convoy of jeeps full of tourists ready with all kind of cameras he really lost it...
... I'll be short on Ouarzazate. I did enjoy it, but why did they have to steal my camera here? I do apologize to the people staying in the hotel. I probably woke them up with my tirade against the hotel manager when he refused to call the police. I couldn't believe my ears when he also refused to let the police (after I went to get them) search the hotel. The camera was stolen out of my locked room while I was taking a shower. To take a shower you have to ask a key at the reception... get the picture...
... I could see the dust devils. Sort of little tornados with lots of sand and dust. I knew the little ones don't do any harm besides dusting you up a bit. But these guys were A LOT bigger. I nicely stopped if one was crossing the road in front of me. I got into one once and it felt as if someone was rubbing my face with sandpaper. Lips stiff on each other, eyes as small as possible and keeping the speed up because I really didn't like it... once out I was happy to have some fresh air in my lungs and tried to get rid of the dust in my nose and ears (couldn't keep those closed while riding through it).
I have a great feeling by now, an amazing trip behind me. I am happy to be heading back north. Safe travels to everyone out there or those getting ready to go!"
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Harald and Udo Lamers, the Bike Brothers, Netherlands, in Australia, on Suzuki DR 600s,
"With a new second hand rim for Harald's DR we set off to Ayers Rock. Or Uluru as the Aborigines call this huge monolith. Eight years ago we were here also with the same bikes and the rock looks still impressive.
About 40 kilometres away from Ayers Rock are the Olgas. These are huge red boulders and a very long time ago it was one big rock, like Uluru. But due to erosion it broke down. We take a walk through the 'valley of the winds'. The big boulders change color in the sun and we sit down and enjoy the peace. We feel a warm wind blowing in our face and take our thoughts with it. We can feel the spiritual meanings from the Aborigines that make these places sacred to them.
Aborigines in the village tell in an enthusiastic way about their life. More about their dreams, the Dreamtime. This is the time when everything was created. Before this time there was nothing, no life, no trees, no mountains. At the Dreamtime, the creation time, there were spiritual beings. Dreamtime means in the aborigine perception 'live and travel', and not dreaming or day dreaming like we know. These spiritual beings lived and travelled and left their energy behind as trees, hills and caves. Many of them are now sacred places. Aborigines have no written history (only rock paintings) and tell their stories in a 'Corroboree'. These are dances, where they paint their body and sing songs about the Dreamtime.
After the dance it is lunch time. We have 'damper' (bushbread), bush fruits, grubs and kangaroo tail. We start our bikes and continue our dream, living and travelling. We travel over endless plains in the outback and enjoy beautiful sunsets.
In the Blue Mountains we met an Aborigine that plays a didgeridoo. This is a hollow branch from an eucalyptus tree. The heavy trembling sound from the didgeridoo fills the air and makes us dream."
Harvey Gordon-Sawyers & Lisa Roberts, UK, Round the World, in Laos and Thailand, Harvey on a BMW R100GS and Lisa on a BMW R80ST,
"We were riding from Luang Prabang to Luang Nam Tha (henceforth known as LNT) in Northern Laos, with a Belgian couple, Jurgen and Greet, when Lisa lost control of her bike while riding at slow speed through thick mud. The bike was almost at a stand still when it started to overbalance, so she put her foot down to slow its fall, but her foot slipped in the mud and got caught under the foot peg. I heard her shout in the radio and when Jurgen and I got back to her she was on the floor trapped under the bike with the foot peg on her left leg. When we lifted the bike up she was still in considerable pain, so I examined her leg and confirmed that it was broken.
We thought we were about 50km (30 miles) from LNT and our guide book map showed a hospital there, so Jurgen set off on his bike to find a doctor or some transport to move Lisa. We splinted the leg as best we could with some bamboo and tape and waited for help. It was two hours before a Landcruiser appeared with an empty back seat. I persuaded the guy to take Lisa and Greet to LNT leaving me with our bikes to await Jurgen's return.
Lisa then endured three hours of bumping around in the back of the Landcruiser over the crappy Laos roads. When they eventually reached LNT in the dark they discovered that the 'hospital' was actually a block of rooms with no mains electricity and only a skeleton 'medical' staff. Using a candle and torch, the staff injected Lisa with pain killer and cut off her boot with a pair of blunt nail scissors. Then, magically, an X-ray machine appeared (they had a generator, but couldn't afford to run it all the time) and they confirmed that both bones were badly fractured just above the ankle. They splinted Lisa's leg, gave her some pain killers and advised her to get to a proper hospital asap. With no accommodation at the 'hospital', Greet and Lisa found a guest house and put Lisa to bed.
... After a sleepless night, I got up early and phoned the Australian Embassy (they look after Brits in Laos) in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, and spoke to their doctor. He advised me to avoid all hospitals in Laos and get Lisa to Thailand ASAP He said that if I could get her to Vientiane, he would arrange onward travel to Thailand.
The next flight out of LNT was the next day, so I booked tickets and spent the rest of the day organising storage for the bikes and repacking our kit. Jurgen and Greet were lovely and couldn't have done more for us. They looked after Lisa whilst I was organising things, helped me move the bikes and made sure that I got something to eat during the day. We owe them a million thanks.
The embassy doctor met us at Vientiane airport, had a quick look at the X-rays, confirmed that it was a 'nasty fracture' and whisked us on to the connecting flight for Bangkok which he had organised. He told us that he had spoken with an orthopaedic consultant who was a personal friend and highly regarded within Thailand who would treat Lisa. He had also arranged for the hospital to meet us at the airport and admit her straight away.
In Bangkok we were met at the aircraft by attendants with a wheelchair, whipped straight through immigration and out to a waiting ambulance crew. The good thing about Thai hospitals is that they encourage friends & family to be around. They've given me a bed to sleep on so that I can keep Lisa company and look after her. We have a bathroom, fridge, kettle, cable TV and the hospital's four restaurants (including McDonald's) will deliver to our room - what more could one want?
Lisa spent over three hours in surgery as they rebuilt her leg. She now has enough metal plates and screws in her leg to open a small hardware store - the X-ray is pretty impressive. She's feeling much better now and has just returned from her first session of physiotherapy learning how to walk on crutches.
"29 May, 2002 - I'm afraid our insurers have decided that they want to repatriate us to save on medical bills so we don't have much choice other than to go home. If we continue the insurers will not cover Lisa for any further treatment on her leg and it's just too risky. Added to that she's likely to be on crutches for two to six months apparently, so won't be riding for a long time. Anyway, that's life. We've had a good eight months, seen a lot, learnt a lot and loved most of it."
Ed. Really rotten luck, Lisa. Crutches are no fun, as I well know!
Chris and Erin Ratay, USA, around the world, in Bolivia, two BMW F650s,
"Well, it's hard to imagine we finally arrived in Uyuni, Bolivia (only 2 months late). We met up with Annet in Salta while waiting for Erin's shock to be repaired a second time, then had some great rides further north towards the border. In La Quiaca, the northernmost town in Argentina, we hooked up with Liam on Friday and the 4 of us planned to ride north to Uyuni together.
Throughout the day the inhabitants in the small villages stared at us in awe as we rode through, which leads us to believe not many bikers take this route. It is incredible that people actually live in this area, as the nights are cold, the houses simple clay bricks, and there are no trees to burn for fires - how do they do it?
... We asked for directions out of town, and were told to follow the river. They didn't mean to follow a road that parallels the river, they meant we had to ride in the riverbed. We had less than 4 hours of daylight to make the following 98kms, and we were having trouble riding faster than second gear with all the sand, blinding sandstorms, mud, and deep water. I had to stop several times to clean the water off my sunglasses, as it had cascaded over my windscreen when crossing deep water. Nervous that we would not make Uyuni, with the knowledge it would be quite cold at 4,000 meters with winter one month away, we forced ourselves to plod through and increase speed.
Eventually, we rose out of the river and just had to contend with sand dunes and other obstacles in the middle of the route, every few kilometers. Several bikes stopped to rest (I was lucky) at various points in the deeper sand. The ride, as you may imagine, was quite challenging, yet the scenery was splendid - this was Adventure Motorbiking at it's finest!
We passed the 3-year mark last week, and Liam hit day 1,000 on the ride to Uyuni.
It has been a goal (for lack of a better word) for us to reach Uyuni for several months -- now that we are here, not sure where/which way we will go. Beat and Marcel, not sure how you stayed in this place for 2 weeks! Uyuni is a place to organize your 4-day tour of the Salar (Salt Lake) and move on.
The people here in Bolivia seem quite amicable, as we have found most people in South America. They seem to be a bit more gentle, and the colors that the woman wear are quite stunning. The towns we've seen so far are very basic, but rooms seem to be clean and tidy. It's kind of like being in India, without the crowds -- make that more like Nepal.
Annet went off today with a German tour group and Liam is heading into the Salar for a few hours then further north. We will see him again in Potosi, as we learned you can buy dynamite there and Liam is very anxious to blow some things up!
Hope you all are well -- drop us a line and let us know how things are going. Ride safe, ride far, ride often, Erin & Chris Ratay "
Jason Homewood, UK, in Australia, R1150GS,
"Left touristy Byron Bay vowing not to bother with any more tourist towns, and here I am in Cairns! I need some stuff for the bike, and it's been chucking it down, and at least in a town there's things you can spend money on while hoping it will stop (like beer). Excuses aside I did pretty well on the way up, only kissing the coast in a few 'select' places.
Did a few days walking and camping on Frazier island nearly killing myself by taking way to much stuff, tent etc, cooking gear (like I really needed 4 pans!), loads of food. Wine is definitely preferable to beer if you're going to carry it. A cask in one hand and a few litres of water in the other balances out nicely. Just remember which one to drop when you stumble over. Forgot to take plasters, though, and my feet were a mess by the time I got a lift back to Harvey bay.
Lift was interesting - Charles Manson lookalike who was going on about how he's been abducted by aliens several times and they've performed operations on him (including a 3rd eye). Still, they're going to rescue him when we decide to blow up the world so that's nice.
Few day's later, Vladimir, a Romany gypsy comes over to me and starts freaking out on me. Apparently I have the soul of a crow(?!) and my ancestors discovered Australia, and I've lost my respect for women (maybe a guess as I was on my own at the time) and I must remember not to use my brakes (I will know when the time comes.... probably just after the time 'comes') etc etc. Anyway....
Have managed to stay out of trouble with the cops for a few weeks, which is just as well as I opted to keep the speeding ticket as a souvenir. Spent a bit of time fussing over the bike (ignoring my usual maintenance program of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'), adjusting the valves etc and wondering whether that back wheelbearing wobble was there before, and where has all the tread gone on my tyres since I got to Australia. I notice in the handbook that Horse is due for a new poly-V belt. I have no idea what that is! Will pop into the dealers after the weekend to humiliate myself."
Jurgen Homann, Germany, RTW as Official Ambassador for The Global Polio Awareness Campaign 2001+, UNICEF NZ (www.2-mad.com), in Cambodia and Thailand, on R80GS,
"I had the pleasure of doing the Polio vaccination of Roun Rum and Heng Ren. Otherwise I was very busy with playing with the kids, they were all over me and we had lots of fun with each other. Kids always know something to keep you busy even if you do not understand the language at all.
The villages are temporary villages built close to the end of the road for business purpose. These villages will be gone during rainy season. The people either leave towards higher areas - direction Siem Riep or move onto their floating house.
... Then we looked around in the floating village - everything is on the water here - the pub, the school, the everything. The mode of transport is the boat, what else and it is amazing to believe that x thousands of people are living in such cities. It makes the life for health observations very difficult because the people move with their houses according to season and business. The villages need to be spotted first (they are often somewhere on the lake or in side rivers) - often by plane and then health workers need to go there by boat to do the vaccinations. Quite an effort to do this.
After the border (Cambodia to Thailand) I first organised some money and then proceeded driving until I run out of petrol - yes, with my 45l tank I run out of petrol because I thought I should still have enough petrol for at least another 20km. Anyway the next city was 8km away when I run out of petrol - I laid the bike onto the side and got all petrol out of the right side this way. This was good enough to reach the entry of the town. Then I pushed a few meters and tried the laying again. This was then just enough to get me the 500m to the petrol station. Quite a funny side-story isn't it?"
Gregory Frazier, USA, around the world for the fourth time, in Europe, KLR650,
"'Letting the good times roll,' I have hit the continent of Europe with the KLR 650 and pointed it south to Morocco. Not quite the 'dirtbag' of old, I have started off with new (Aerostich Darien two piece, Combat Touring Boots, gloves from Lee Parks Design and Adventure Motorcycle Gear). Inside I am still the same budget traveler try to stretch my dollars, but on the outside I have a new look. Here I was standing in a river, breaking in my new gear, checking for leaks and softening-up my new boots.
Europe is probably the most 'motorcycle friendly' continent on which to ride. The roads are maintained better than in most other countries and the drivers are more cognizant of motorcycles around them. I have ridden over 150,000 miles in Europe and still find the life of the traveler on the road easier than most other places on the earth. What is not so easy is the price of gas, food and sleeping, as compared to other continents. However, for a first time traveler, Central Europe is a good place to start. There are plenty of other travelers on motorcycles to offer tips and since Europe was the birthplace for the motorcycle (Sorry Harley friends, the Davidsons did not invent the motorcycle), the Europeans had a head start on the religion of motorcycle travel.
(The Alps, whether French, Swiss, Austrian or Italian, offers the best 'twisty' riding in the world. It is hard not to want to start flipping a motorcycle into the curves if you have any 'racing elements' in your blood. Here I found a sign recommending 'caution,' which was good advice. I saw two small crashes on these roads, both on a weekend when the locals seem to get infected with a Grand Prix racing bug, not all, but enough to remind you that just when you think you are pretty good in the curves, there are 100 better, because they are not carrying the weight and they usually know the road.)
... Headed to Africa in some days. Laying around waiting for Haws to show up, but will blow out tomorrow. Plan to hook up with Kickbush (KLR) in Spain, then into Africa for me. Back to Germany next month, then the march across Russia."
Check out Greg's website on Horizons Unlimited for great pics and stories.
Thanks! Grant and Susan
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Book suggestions please!
If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and I'll put it on the site. Thanks, Grant
From the Shakespearean Insulter, to help improve the quality of your insults:
Thou art violently carried away from grace.
Thou sanguine coward, thou bed-presser, thou horseback-breaker, thou huge hill of flesh!
Thy kiss is comfortless as frozen water to a starved snake.
Thou warped full-gorged flirt-gill!
How now my sweet creature of bombast?
Thou craven malmsey-nosed hedge-pig!
What trick, what device, what starting-hole canst thou now find out, to hide thee from this open and apparent shame?
AND for those REALLY BAD restaurants:
Thy food is such as hath been belch'd upon by infected lungs.
Thanks to Gerri for finding this site!
"Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain.
An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful
scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point."
"You know, there's a special place in
heaven for people like you who take time and effort to organize sites like
this. This is a big ole world but the thrill I get from meeting folks like
you, Werner, Frank Campbell, Al Jesse (Jesse luggage who lives here in PHX),
Chris Lockwood, and others is fantastic. All of us working together shows
that we all have the same objectives... travel, family, love of a common hobby,
and friends! We may not all agree on religion, politics or even the right
motorcycle but that really doesn't matter when we're talking about our trips....
past, present or future. How great is that?!"
That's superbly great, Gerry! And thanks for your support!
"Thank you very much guys, you are really doing a remarkable job and making our life so much easier, on my last trip in 1997 I did not know about internet, so I had to research everything in books etc... But now... Merci beaucoup." Ride4kids, Didier Martin
"Hello Grant, Thank you very much for the info and for adding my page to your links. I will link your page to my site in the next couple of days. I am carrying my laptop and can only upload when I am able to connect with it. When I reach Cairns (in a couple of days) I will work on my site and update it. You have put together a terrific site with a lot of information. Thank you for your efforts. I know I will get a lot of use from it. Safe travels" Doris Maron, Untamed Spirit
"My t-shirt has become my favorite and may be impossible to part with. I should have ordered the "one world two wheels" one as well-for those times my girlfriend decides to "borrow" the other one! Thanks again for contributing such a worthwhile effort-its a nice hub/pub for the two wheeled adventurer." Edward Mendes
Thanks for your support, Edward!
"Thanks so much for replying to my question Susan about insurance for Buy-Ride-Sell in the USA and plans can now move on. I've been using your website for over a year now and want to thank you both for such a fantastic job. I recommend it to all my friends and best thing is you've not just set it up and abandoned it like many site designers do. There can be no finer example of how to set up and run a GREAT website. Thanks once again for all the ongoing hard work." Andrew Ratcliffe (aka curtainpuller!) Nottingham, England
"Thanks for a great meet. It was well planned and executed and I had a great time. Beautiful area and great riding as well." Daniel Toader, USA
Glad you enjoyed it, Daniel, and thanks for your support!
"GREAT SITE!" Simone Stock, Toronto, Canada
"Hi Susan & Grant I subscribed to the e-zine when I was in England, at Chris Bright's home (actually, it was HIS comment on my - again - comment!!) I've also met some of your most frequent collaborators, Chris & Erin Ratay, and also Richard Hewitt/Canada. Although the bike-thing is in the family's blood (my brother-in-law has a Suzuki dealership and my sister runs a nice Moto Café at the shop's premises), I've never been a biker myself... However, there's a time for everything and I guess mine (for changing that!) is around the corner! Using your words, 'It is not the unknown, but the fear of it, that prevents us from doing what we want.' Meanwhile, let me tell you that reading this e-zine (as well as visiting the site) has brought more than nice moments into my life - and to lots of other people, I'm sure! Thanks a lot! Hope to meet you, some day, somewhere... Kisses from sunny Porto Alegre," Heloisa Fialho, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
"Keep up the great site." Lance Wiggs, New Zealand
Will do, and thanks for the support, Lance!
"Hi Grant/Susan! I really appreciate your website. Very informative and very useful. I'm planning a trip to India/Nepal--> Thailand later this year, and I'm using your site for all its worth! Keep up the great work. This is my favorite site!" Dizzie, Norway
"Just a small contribution to a big service to the biking community." Paolo Volpara, Turkey
Thanks for the support, Paolo!
"Dear Grant & Susan, I have not contacted you before but am a member of your site and have gained huge pleasure and much useful information from Horizons over the last year since I have been planning and travelling from the UK to India and back again on a KTM Adventure. The Indian section has been done 2 up with Caroline Hetherington on the back). Thank you so much for the fantastic thing that you have created!" Graham Doyle, London, UK
"Your website is the best I have ever seen so far!! Keep up the good work!! See you somewhere!!" Herbert Roelandt, Belgium
"Hi guys... First of all I really must say thank you from the bottom of my tummy for the great food... (beaver grub is tasty ain't it?) I had a great time, made lots of new friends and have further inspired me for my next trip!"
"I know you have put a lot of effort into a fantastic website... Cheers" Cliff Kafka, Abbotsford, Canada
Glad you enjoyed the Travellers Meeting, Cliff, and thanks for your support!
"Of note, I am currently traveling through South America with a friend (our first long distance motorcycle trip) and we used your website as a tool to help plan our trip. We made friends from some riders from Uruguay are turned out to be fans of your website! Small world, this internet thing." David Fernandes, New York, USA
"The info on your web site is always informative, interesting and entertaining and has been of great use in planning our trip." Julie & Bob Mcdarby-Feast, UK
Thanks for the support, Julie and Bob, and hope you enjoy all the t-shirts!
"Great website, I do appreciate all that you and Susan do." Mark Schaumann
"I envy you for all the energy you put into your web page and just want to thank you as well as congratulate you for all the good work you are doing. It is a real great help and I appreciate it very much. Thanks and keep going" Jurgen Homann, Germany
"A friend and I were going from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Tramandai, in South Brasil to a Motorcycle Party for the weekend. Imagine our surprise when 100km before Chuy (small city in the border of Brasil/Uruguay) we passed two other bikes with number plates from Chile. We stopped to chat at the next gas station and they were Americans from New York, David and Eddie, on a KLR650 and Suzuki Intruder 800, going from Santiago de Chile to Rio de Janeiro in Brasil. We invited them to this motorcycle party in Brasil, we went together and had a great time, they were awarded the 'Most far away participant' trophy. Then they continued their trip to Rio, and I came back home to Montevideo. It was incredible when I mentioned if they knew about Horizons Unlimited, and they told me 'oh yeah, it's been a great help for us, do you know it also!!??" Santiago Badano, Montevideo, Uruguay
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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' Ezine - Copyright 1999-2002, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan 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. 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 for any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you. You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct as best we can determine at that time.
This month our drawing is from our charter Members, to say a special 'Thank you' for their support. May's winner is Gerry Elam, of Phoenix, Arizona, who has also volunteered as one of our 'Helpful People'. Thanks Gerry!
As a way of saying thanks to our supporters, we're giving away a prize every month from a drawing of new Members (see the Horizons Souk page for details on how to become a Member), or 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.
Here's what you get to choose from when YOU win!
Choose from A:
A T-shirt with the new Horizons Unlimited logo and 'One World, Two Wheels...' slogan.
Dr. Gregory Frazier, round the world traveller and author extraordinaire, has very generously contributed a FREE book (or video) a month.
Gregory Frazier's books:
-Alaska by Motorcycle
"Just a quick update, after being collected by some great friends in Vancouver, thanks Grant and Susan. The following morning I was put to a task of the near impossible, to rewire and rebuild Grants bike, with his supervision!
After some late nights / early mornings we got the bike on the road, ready for the Horizons Unlimited overlanders rally, this was a great weekend and all had fun.
I am currently working on a potato farm in Pemberton, about 200 kms north of Vancouver this is for a period of 2 to 4 weeks depending on workload, the other is if my back will hold out, lumping 45kg bags of spuds about!
Heading back to Vancouver before riding across Highway 1 heading east taking in the sights along the way. Cheers Andy"
Ed. Andy arrived Saturday night, the 18th of May, and Grant immediately whisked him to the garage to help with the Herculean task of getting the bike back on the road. They rebuilt the gearbox, which was a story in itself, (involving much wailing and gnashing of teeth about incorrect parts), installed an R100GS complete front-end, MAP Engineering rotor and Performance Machine 6 piston caliper. The new front-end required all new fairing mounts and lots of fiddling. Also, Andy did a major wiring connector clean and replaced all the wiring loom sheaths.
On Wednesday evening after dinner, I asked him to take the garbage out. When he returned, he said it was the first he'd seen of Canada during daylight hours! We did feed him, though, and introduced him to Nanaimo Bars, which he pronounced the best thing about Canada so far. I'm reliably informed it was the key selling factor by the potato farm in Pemberton - the missus told him she made them all the time!
Thanks for all the help, Andy. Come back anytime you get tired of humping sacks of potatoes around, there's still lots of work to be done on the bike before it heads across Canada for the BMWMOA rally in July!
"We just got back from Sénégal from a one-week guided run with a company called Motordakar, on rented Honda XR600's which we had decided to take in order to work on our rather rudimentary sandriding skills. Since it was great, I thought I'd share....
We started in Lake Rose close to Dakar where we were initiated the very first day in the noble arts of crashing in deep sand, digging yourself in and out, how to somersault over your handlebars and various other recreational acrobatics. Some of those we were already quite familiar with, but with these kinds of bikes (and Michelin Deserts), it was a lot more fun than trying to wrestle a totally overloaded Africa Twin through the same terrain, I have to admit. The following days saw us riding along the beach, followed by some more dune hopping, after which we headed inland and up to Saint Louis for a little rest.
On the way down again, we rode pretty much according to compass heading, passing countless tiny villages where the people must have thought we were some pathetic leftovers from this year's Paris-Dakar. Still, they cheered us on. Very positive thinking. The locals were great in general, confirming the impressions we got when riding through West Africa last year.
The riding was a great mix of decent and less decent pistes, dunes, beach, rough tracks and savannah, with the occasional boring bit of asphalt thrown in just for contrast. The planning was very flexible, allowing us to choose our preferred routes and terrain. Accommodations were original to say the least, ranging from Mauritanian tents over straw huts to luxury bungalows. Food also ranged anywhere from the typical bicycle chicken to fantastic seafood.
Our group was small (three people), Charly, our guide (and owner of Motordakar), went out of his way to keep us happy, the weather was bearably toasty, it was a great week. Neither Ellen nor me are great fans of guided tours, this one being the first, but we were impressed. Cheers, Manou"
"The road from Linxia leads right away inside the valleys towards the high mountains. At certain points far away I can see snow covering the peaks. The road goes on well even if construction of a new road on top of the old one makes certain parts quite bad.
The more I go deep into the valley the more the presence of monasteries on the mountains around the valley and the smoke of constant wood fire coming out from the monasteries and the houses along the street give the scenery a mystic feeling. A shiver rises along my back and a smile marks a bit of excitement in me.
... Tired and quite sick of bad roads I slow down and take it easy when suddenly, for the second time in this trip I see coming in the opposite direction two bikes of the China Motorcycle Association (CMSA).
I wave and I can see their eyes becoming round as the Europeans. They suddenly stop, turn around and come toward me. I get off and with a big smile I tell them I am happy to see another two of their club members. They are quite in disbelief but very happy to share this moment with a biker from another country. We exchange some news about the roads ahead and about their trip during the Chinese May holidays. Then when I tell them I am going back to Italy they start laughing in disbelief. In a few minutes they become serious when they understand I am for real. 'One only. Only one man and one bike??'
We share ideas for a while and we take a few pictures. They are very cool guys and they ride very small 125 bikes with outfits and equipment worth a rally over the Sahara. They are indeed very organised but a little funny. One of them tips his bike over while preparing for a picture..."
See more about Stefano's trip in his blog. NOTE well that Stefano was officially working in China, and was riding a Chinese registered bike, with appropriate paperwork, but still had a lot of trouble with officials on his trip. For the rest of us, China is still NOT possible without a paid escort all the way, and significant fees and red tape to deal with.
"Left Whyalla after great night sleep, only to find that the heavens had opened up and it was raining cats and dogs. Took a slight detour on the way to Kimba over 90 kms of dirt road, which in the heavy rain soon become mud. Things got a little lively when I decided to go for a slide in the mud at about 50kmh.
It really made my day to see Fionnualas underwear strewn along the dirt when the pannier came open, what a sight! Finally made it to Wundinna Primary School where the kids knew of the incident they really grilled me!! Couple of the boys gave me some advice on changing my riding style!"
Ed. Yeah, I'll bet it really made Fionnuala's day, too! About as much fun as when Grant dropped me in the mud in Guatemala - took years before I forgave him! Susan
"After finally finishing the loop through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia we returned to Bangkok to pick up Jeannette's bike. We drove down south and now we're in Ao Nang, close to Krabi, servicing our bikes and rearranging all the luggage, as now we have to divide it over two bikes.
The plan is to enter Malaysia the next week and spend quite a while there. Next on the list is Singapore and we're expecting to enter Indonesia the beginning of July. We have no idea how long we're going to stay over there but probably longer than expected. That's why we decided to change our plan and visit New Zealand first as summer is coming up there then and afterwards followed by Australia. All the best, Martin & Jeannette"
"Dear friends, after two years on the road we decided to go back home. We are in New Zealand at the moment. We had a wonderful time here.
Next destination is Japan. From there we take the ferry to Vladivostok. We'll cross Siberia in their summer. Most probably we'll make a short visit in Mongolia and then go back to Russia. From Novosibirsk we'll have two options.
1) Straight ahead to Moscow and St Petersburg and then back over Scandinavia. The Nordic winter may catch us.
2) Turn south through Kazakhstan, Kyrgistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran to Turkey. (Alternative route with the Ferry from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey). The climate in Syria and Jordan should be warm enough to spend the European winter. Martin and Barbara"
Ed. So you're taking the sloooowwww route home ;-) I'd opt for #2 if I were you!
"18 May 2002 back in Melbourne after a loop through the Australian outback. Attended the Victoria BMW-rally at the nudist spot in Thoona and met some of the ozzie adventure riders I already knew from the list.
...Eventually arrived in Broken Hill after a dirt-road ride from Balranald via the Mungo Natl. Park. Lots of sand and corrugations from Pooncarie onwards. Soon after arriving at Menindiee the sun was darkened by a huge sandstorm. Tongue had to be cleaned by several beers at the local hangout.
All types of weather in the Flinders Range from pretty sunshine to sandstorm and rain, which turns the read sand immediately into sticky clay. Roads will be closed and best you can do is to build up your tent at the roadside and wait until rain has finished.
...Wondered where all the Aussie bikers were hanging out? Hardly saw any during my trip except for the rallies I attended. Seems people over here prefer to drive their 4X4 into the deserts...;-)"
"31 May 2002: Oz Completed!
Basic stats are:
Total miles : 5,080
Unofficial timing: 4 days and 16 hours
Average miles per day: 1,088
Started in Perth.
Rode north to Port Hedland, Broome, Katherine.
South down through Alice Springs to Port Augusta.
West through Broken Hill to Sydney.
The Americas leg will start 7 June from Anchorage, through Canada, then down to Salt Lake City to El Paso, loop into Mexico, back to San Antonio, Houston and to Miami for around 14 June."
So that's UK to end of Oz in around 10 days then... pretty good time I guess... ;) s'truth! as the Aussies might say...
Cheer them on at www.globebusters.com or wave as they flash past!
"13.5.2002 San Pedro de Atacama - Out of the dry desert heat in the North of Chile. I can see the beautiful high mountains we want to cross tomorrow into Bolivia. The pass is at 4800 m over sea level and we have to carry fuel for 550km and of course enough water. I am already a bit altitude sick and I hope it won't get worse - but coca leaves seem to help. We still have a lot of things to do before we can leave tomorrow and I can't concentrate to write more. Greetings and all the best to you MIKA + DAMARIS"
"Thanks for the ezine, hope you are fine, my trip goes well. No special difficulty in central Europe, you only need local insurance in Lithuania. Now in St Petersburg, tomorrow in Moscow then direction Mongolia. I'll post for border crossings and visas later for Russia and central Asia.
...now in Novosibirsk, Russia, already some 5000 kms in Russia, soon in Mongolia, great, very friendly and helpful people with my BMW."
"Hola everybody. Chris (Ratay) is wondering how we (Beat and Marcel) could possibly stay in Uyuni for two weeks (it had actually been two weeks and two days - important detail because every extra day there seems like eternity). We'd been asking the same question ourselves, and still can't believe we actually survived the Uyuni-experience without trauma. I would like to stress the fact that we did NOT willingly stay in Uyuni for so long. We had no choice but wait for spare parts from Miami after I'd killed my clutch half way between Uyuni and Ollague (Chile), struggling in the mud of the nearby Salar! Marcel"
"Got into the US from down south last week and still adjusting to places like Sears Craftsman stores and motorcycle dealers with stock.
Will try and make NYC from here in SF within the next four weeks and then look for some way through the middle east and Asia. Looking more and more difficult as things get worse in the region.
Can someone put a new continent on this planet?
"We're at the moment in Luang Prabang, Laos and trying to go more north but it has been raining a lot the last 2 days,so we're waiting a bit before taking off. So hope to hear from you again. Thank you already!!
Greetings from Jurgen and Greet"
"...in conjunction with World Vision, I am embarking on Ride4Kids, an around-the-world overland trip on motorcycle. I am 45 years old and am an experienced long-distance rider. In 1997 I completed my first world-wide motorcycle trip - Melbourne to Paris overland, which was also made into a documentary. I've embarked on the Ride4Kids project out of a desire to help underprivileged children and raise awareness of their standard of living. I think it will also be a great adventure and a remarkable achievement. For more information, please visit my website: www.ride4kids.t2u.com
"Of note, I am currently traveling through South America with a friend (our first long distance motorcycle trip) and we used your website as a tool to help plan our trip. We made friends from some riders from Uruguay that turned out to be fans of your website! Small world, this Internet thing."
"My name is Uta, I'm on a R80 G/S, travelling Australia for a year. (It's my second time here - amazing country). I arrived in Melbourne early April, went a bit through the center and met Helmut in the Blue Mountains at Yerranderie. I'm on my way north, to escape from the starting winter, and looking forward to the Cape York trip. Here in Brisbane I stay with Ken & Carol Duval at the moment. I wish you all a good time and happy travels, Uta"
"Among the many sayings attributed to the brilliant Chinese Taoist scholar, Lao Tszu, is the following: 'The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Unfortunately, I have added a corollary: 'The adventure of a lifetime can be terminated by instantaneous deceleration.'
On THU, 16 MAY, the Globeriders departed from our hotel in Jinan in good order. The agenda for the day was a 490 kilometer ride from Jinan to Beijing. Coming into Dezhou city, our guide car once again missed a turn (all the riders had GPS systems, but, for some reason, our guides hadn't yet grokked the beneficial capabilities of this technology). We needed to regroup and get people turned around. The rest of the group set out, and waiting for traffic to clear, I fell behind. Finding my opening, I entered the traffic flow. In catching up with the rest of the team, I began to manoeuvre around a small taxi. We were on a wide street, no cross-traffic, light misty rain, a wet, but newly-paved road surface. I felt a hard jolt as something hit me from the rear. The next thing I knew, I was down, hard, and sliding towards a taxi ahead of me..."
Ed. Thus ended Mike's trip. Quelle bummer! For the rest of the story, check out Mike's blog on Horizons Unlimited!
"Met Fernando Valsesia, an Argentinean, at a biker meet just north of Rio on the 25th May. He is selling jewellery to finance his RTW trip. Has been travelling for 7 yrs, 260,000 km, 40 countries so far, riding a Honda ST 1100. Started in Spain in 1995, to Aust, usual route, then to South America to Prudhoe Bay and shipped south. Now planning another trip north to Venezuela by the east side."
"In Uyuni I spotted two fellow riders on an F650 and KLR 650, although for the life of me I can't remember their names. The guy on the left is from Bayern Germany, and other from Santiago."
"I am currently in Queenstown and back travelling alone again after starting off on the ferry over with Rachel and Richard Kempster. We first met in Halls Gap a days ride out of Melbourne. Later that same night over a few beers we said we would get together in NZ. They have been good company over the last 10 days or so. Now we part ways as they soon will be flying home after two years on the road [UK to NZ]."
"Last night, 2 separate pairs of riders showed up at the hotel: Jamie and Martin (www.Goneriden.com) from Aussie on 2 KTMs from the UK; and Mark from NL on a Tenere 600 with Kfir from Israel on a Transalp he bought in BsAs. Reminds us of days in BKK, except instead of melting, we're all walking around with all our layers on and it's still cold! Erin is even wearing her fleece hat in bed, and we're in a hotel!"
"A friend and I were going from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Tramandai, in South Brasil to a Motorcycle Party for the weekend. Imagine our surprise when 100km before Chuy (small city in the border of Brasil/Uruguay) we passed two other bikes with number plates from Chile. We stopped to chat at the next gas station and they were Americans from New York, David and Eddie, on a KLR650 and Suzuki Intruder 800, going from Santiago de Chile to Rio de Janeiro in Brasil.
We invited them to this motorcycle party in Brasil, we went together and had a great time, they were awarded the 'Most far away participant' trophy. Then they continued their trip to Rio, and I came back home to Montevideo. It was incredible when I mentioned if they knew about Horizons Unlimited, and they told me 'Oh yeah, it's been a great help for us, do you know it also!?' Good luck David and Eddie!"
"We cross our first overlanders, all bikers so far. There were the Minskriders in Yazd : two young French guys travelling from Hanoi to Paris on Vietnam-made two-stroke 125cc Minsks, without Carnets. Max speed is down to 60-70 kms/h. They have used already half of the spares they're carrying, including a carburettor. They said the bikes would go straight to the garbage IF they ever made it to Paris... Have a look at their website.
Then we met two Dutch guys in Quetta, one on a Transalp, the other on an Africa Twin, on their way from Cambodia to Holland. Having worked for 3 years in Cambodia, they considered shorts and T-shirts just fine for riding here. One of them made a giant tumble, not remembering anything the day before we met them. Yet they pressed on to the border the next day.
And the 3rd encounter was again with a French biker, on a Transalp, also in Quetta, travelling alone. A sensible biker, just like us (I hope ;-), with -- amongst other journeys -- a lap of the Mediterranean on his record. We spent two days talking. His website."
"The last goodbye... Well, Rick is finally off and we figured we would start from the other perspective for a change! The one left behind. The image will always stay with me of my love serpentining his way through the security check line with his helmet in his hand and tears in both our eyes. The home front is a little empty without his presence. I keep imagine him, flying through the night, arriving stiff and cramped in the wondrous city of Shanghai. A bit blurry with jet lag, traveling fatigue, but overcome by the rush of actually being there on the first step of the journey! As I watched the plane depart over the glorious Columbia River I was a bit jealous, about the wondrous places he will see, the new foods he will eat (see Mike Paul's entries!) and the people he would meet... Erica Wetzel"
Check out Rick's new blog on Horizons Unlimited!
"I'm taking my BMW R80GS (1986) from the UK to Nord Kapp in Norway and from there southwards to Cape Town via Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the only stumbling block might be Sudan as we have not got any visas at all in advance. Some people seem to get them easily enough in Cairo and others get turned back, although I think it's down to the individuals attitude when applying. We will see what happens. Chris & Gill"
"My plans have solidified as much as they're going to... I'm leaving June 23 from New York to Nova Scotia, then back to Quebec for the Jazz fest, then out west to Alaska, possibly the Arctic Circle if I have time, then back down to Burning Man in Nevada, and some hiking in Northern Cal. From there I should be in Mexico, Oct 1, with a goal of landing in Peru or Ecuador (Arne - Galapagos Islands interest you?) around Dec 15. Then down to Chile, up through Argentina to Carneval, and then somehow back up to the Atlantic coast (Venezuela, Guyana's.) I've got a 650 GS Dakar. My goal is not to miss any good parties."
"I plan to leave beginning of June towards Mongolia. First driving via Latvia to Moscow, so to Baikal Lake. I plan to be in Ulan Bataar the first of July, and I plan to enter Mongolia via Kjachta- Suurbataar boarder crossing. Maybe I leave via Tuva Republic in Russia, but nobody knows at the embassy if the border is opne... But I still do not have my visa for Mongolia, maybe next week. The Russian one is OK already. I plan to be back 1 September. See you somewhere!! Herbert...
... Hi Grant, Today I received my Mongolian visa from the embassy in Brussels.
Here is the visa:
Here are a few interesting things:
Cost of visa: 38 EURO
It took 2 weeks for the embassy to get permission from Ulan Bataar to give me a visa to enter by motorcycle.
Helpful people at the embassy.
Ave Besme 18
"Wednesday May 22, 2002 Palm Springs, California
We had a fantastic welcome home party including plenty of hugs and glad handing with all the loved ones seeming relieved that I am finally safe and we can put this all to rest. However, it won't be that simple to return to the old life, it feels as though I am meeting up with an ex- lover that knows we have both grown apart from each other.
Eight months on the road is not really such a long time in itself but the intensity of the time elapsed makes it seem like a lifetime ago. I always looked at the world differently than most people anyway and now the whole concept of life and death and what is right and wrong has been altered, affected by a different standard. I've straddled the edge between two worlds for years and fear that my place in the present no longer exists. I might as well face it, my home is on the road in Latin America.
Life on the road is simple. There is no telephone to annoy me, only e mail from people I enjoy writing to with plenty of space to measure our thoughts. There are no property taxes, trees to worry about dying or major bills to pay. The rules are much easier and our roles as humans defined more clearly.
In the mornings while walking about the city, I find myself wanting to bellow out a big hearty, Buenos dias to the people I meet in the street but I know this will startle more than please. Today I'm craving a jolt of Mexico and flip on a Spanish speaking radio station to take the edge off. It works, the soft spoken language pours into my ears with those rolling Rs tickling my spirit as I roll up the windows grinning and crank the volume.
I laugh to myself as I imagine how strange this must appear to see this big tattooed white man rocking out to the Latin top forty. I can't help it, I love the language as much as the culture and I am homesick as hell."
"Hi friends! In Australia we found out that our passports are almost full and our accounts are nearly empty... The bikes are wrecked (BMWs...) so we decided to send them to Hamburg (Quite cheap, only 350 USD for both!)
We visited friends in Beijing and took the TransSiberian Railway back to Europe. This was a marvellous journey (7 days and 9000km) but not easy to do because of the visas for Russia and Belorussia. Lake Baikal was still frozen, Mongolia full of horses and Moscow full of drunken people. In Berlin we went to the institute for tropical diseases. They found out that Rene imported some aliens in his stomach....
After 13 month of travelling we are enjoying spring in Germany and looking for a place to settle and make money for the next trip... See you in Germany if you pass by, we inform you with our new address here as soon as possible. Good luck for those on the road and all the best. Dorothea and Rene"
"Sniff, sniff it's over, I am back home. After a week's wait in Penang with little money left I flew with Singapore airlines to Frankfurt. Flight was ok; luckily they've lots of films to see and games to play. Stress was back as soon as I was home, my parents moving THIS very week - great, good timing! Hope you're all well. Speak to you soon, Frank"
"Andre and James of the Wellington NZ community have just had a small gathering of bikers. Special thanks to Angela for being an excellent cook and a really Happy Birthday to Martin who get a Russian Visa for his present."
After hosting several travellers (Wellington, NZ Community), James sent me a note to say that he had received his new Horizons Unlimited T-shirt and coffee mug, said the mug was great - but didn't mention the t-shirt, so I asked him if it was ok. He replied:
"T-shirt is great, I have just drunk more coffee than worn t-shirts over the past few days... (Also not worn in the fear that those with a tent for an address would get jealous (which they all were ;-) Most will be buying on their return."
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.
Hi, I have just joined the Dubai community which is where I live, who else is a member here? Regards, Bob
A reply the same day:
Welcome to the community. Not the noisiest community in the world - your mail is the first one I've seen since I joined about a year ago. In fact I'd forgotten about the whole thing :)
In fact, it may not be a bad idea to have a get-together, as everyone on the list is obviously a biker (mine are a KTM 640 Adventure and a KTM 520EXC) and a traveller of some sort... Any other people active on this mailing list?
As it happens I have a fridge full of beer and wine at the mo' thanks to Umm al Quawain liquor store. Cheers, Roger"
So get mailing! Visit the Community page now!
"What about a travellers meeting in PORTUGAL!! Great SUN, WINE and Sea Food waiting for you! I'd be pleased to receive everyone to a meeting..."
Would YOU like to help, or go to the meeting? Check here and add your input!
Now is as good a time as any for all of you in the over 140 Communities around the world to send an email to your own community and see who else is out there! Get together for a ride, a beer or whatever, and have a great riding season - for those of you down under, quit yer whingeing, you had your summer, it's our turn now! At least your winter riding doesn't involve snow!
Have you thought about a 'Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle
Travellers Meeting' in your Community area? Following the successful
launch of the UK (2001) and Canadian (2002) Travellers Meetings, 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.
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!
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: