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Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in the 'real' Karakoram, wasps in the worst places, submerged in a thick, running sewer, the Caravana Bike Tour in Ecuador, riding the rocks in Siberia, rattling and spluttering across no-man's land in Kazakhstan, sneaking into China on a motorbike, 49 degrees (Celsius) in Baluchistan, playing with AK-47s in Pakistan, close encounters with Maoist guerrillas in Nepal, boiling engine oil in Bandung, begging for a full rack of nasal hair, and much more...?
Then you're reading the right newsletter!
On the Website:
Our editorial last month asking for support seems to have got some attention - thanks VERY much to all those who have contributed, your support is truly appreciated.
A few of the people who contributed via the Amazon Honor System didn't check the box to notify us. (But we DO get the money!) If you were one of them, and you'd like to let us know, please click here to tell us. (Please include the date and amount of the payment)
If you haven't contributed yet, think of it as a magazine subscription (and good karma) - and now's the time! The simplest way to contribute is via the Amazon Honor System using your credit card. Remember, if you contribute via Amazon, they are so secure they don't even tell us who's sending us money unless you specifically tell them it's okay.
Yuu can also support the site and e-zine by buying from the HU Souk. It's time to be thinking of Christmas presents for your favorite motorcycle traveller! Check out the Souk! for fleece vests and jumpers / pullovers, t-shirts, mugs, hats and other products with the new logo and a variety of slogans! If you don't see what you like, check back in the next month because we will be updating the store and adding new products. If you don't want to use your credit card, just let us know and we can arrange the order for you.
If there's anything you'd like from Amazon, (and remember they're not just books, but electronics, music and more), start at the Horizons Unlimited books page, and use the Amazon search function for your area to look for what you want. We'll get a small percentage of the sale when you buy anything. And don't forget, if you just want to contribute by check, we gratefully accept checks in 5 currencies!
Talk of Christmas brings to mind some of the great travellers Christmas and New Years parties we've been to and heard about, at Ushuaia, Cape Town, Goa, and other locations around the globe where travellers tend to congregate at this time of year. See the sidebar on the left (Calendar) for more information on what's happening where, and how to join in!
This month's issue is HUGE! Fifty three (53) travellers on the road, sending fantastic stories from Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Thailand, New Zealand, China, Tanzania, Nepal, Russia, Iran, Australia, USA, Bolivia, Guatemala, Indonesia and Turkey, are guaranteed to get your travel juices flowing. For you northern hemisphericals already contemplating a depressingly long, bleak winter, remember, it's always summer-time somewhere in the world! Read the stories, get out the map and start planning your next adventure!
You can help!
We still need volunteers (perhaps low pay) to help with: website database development (MySQL, PHP security and Dreamweaver MX), so we can reduce the amount of manual labour involved in just putting information in.
Content contributions (look at the Trip Planning section, there's lots more needed, also country specific m/c travel information); and last, but definitely not least, we could really use a good marketer, (commission?) since we're officially crap marketers! Thanks for your support. Grant and Susan.
Horizons Unlimited Communities
I've had a couple of comments from Communities that not enough of you are dropping by for a visit! Remember that they are Communities, not just in case of a problem - they really do want to meet you! Lots of times they'll show you around town, or just provide a place to stay for the night - so start contacting them! See the story in this issue by Iris and Trui about the HU Community in Trabzon, Turkey, and also Paul Backes and Henk De Lange's experience with the HU Community in Alexandria, Egypt. The Communities are a terrific resource for travellers on the road, so check out the list and get in touch!
Travellers Meetings 2003
Have you thought about a 'Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting' in your Community area? Following the successful launch of the UK (2001 and 2002) and Canadian / USA (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 - and it's a lot easier than you might think. Our UK organisers had a blast this year and are all set to do it again next year! We'd like to see the Aussies and Kiwis hold one in the southern summer, and there are plenty of travellers heading in your direction now! Let me know what you think - we'll do all we can to support you and your Community.
The UK 2003 Meeting is tentatively on for July 4-6, so keep that date free!
We're working on a Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting in Mexico next year, as well as the Western Canada / USA meeting, UK meeting, and who knows what others. We are going to try very hard to be at as many of the meetings as possible ourselves, so we hope to see you there!
We Want Your Travel Story!
You'll get a lot more readers here than in some obscure corner of the web. It's free, and no popup ads, ever! Why such a good deal? We benefit because the more content we have, the more readers and advertisers we attract to the site, so it's a win-win for you and for us.
There are lots of new stories in the Travellers Stories section, the "Movable Type" Blogging software is getting a real workout. The MT help manual is completely rewritten, and easy to use. "... the help file is wonderful for Moveable Type." In fact, compared to having to learn HTML and other languages, and deal with updating a website from the road, it's a piece of cake! And you can do it from anywhere on the road at any internet cafe, no software required other than the browser.
To see how it looks, see Ken and Carol Duvals' stories. As Sean Kelly said, "All the feedback we are getting from friends and family about the blog is really good, it comes over as a 'very professional' way of presenting our travels and experiences."
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!
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.
December 25, 2002, and December 31, 2002 - Christmas and New Years Eve!
Where: Wherever you are! Travellers everywhere looking to meet up with others for some Christmas cheer can post on the HUBB - Horizons Unlimited Bulletin Board - in the Travellers Seeking Travellers Forum. In years past, the main meeting points have been Ushuaia, Goa, and Cape Town. Where will you be?
The Ratay's are planning on a major Christmas bash in Panama, so keep that one in mind! Lots of travellers already planning on coming.
TonyK, UK, plans on Morocco for Christmas,
Story Leavesley, USA, heading for Copper Canyon, Mexico, for Christmas. (also looking for a place to park a truck around El Paso area)
Telstra Extreme Rally Raid 2003, January 11th, Phnom Penh, Cambodia,
"... a charity event we lose money on every year. Last year we handed out over $15,000 USD of mosquito nets as well as de-worming tablets for children along the route, and handed out seeds and rice to remote villages accessible only by bike. This was all done with the backing of WHO (World Health Organization) in addition to UNICEF who supplied us with ionized salt and health literature" Details here.
Int'l Motorcycle & Scooter Show, Birmingham, England, November 14 - 24 2002
Huge show, well worth going if you're in the area. Details.
3rd BMW Biker Meeting, 4-6 July 2003, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Details eventually. :)
Oilheads R11xxGs manuals:
You can download a copy of the BMW R1150GS repair / workshop manual here. (50mb)
There is a general boxer (oilheads only) maintenance pdf file here.
Get your website 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. We reserve the right to refuse to link back.
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.
Great BMW airhead gearbox rebuild how-to here, by Jörg Hau.
Hepco and Becker are coming out with plastic panniers designed to be better than aluminum panniers, but similar in size and shape. Details here.
Speedo error on R1150GS;
"...the error in the stock speedo is about 10%. I installed the R1100R hub. Error now (as measured by GPS) is almost nil. Can do it yourself. Part cost is about $35." from Sam Draper, Germany"
"You can stick an R1100R speedo hub in. About $30, 20 minutes and 2% error." from Troy Nicks, USA.
"I just installed a speedo hub from the R1100R... it has a 2.875 ratio, compared to the 3.0 ratio stock on the Oilhead GS. The changeover is quick... Bottom line: it works just fine, and my speedometer is now *much* more accurate." from Andrew, USA
Great thread on visibility on the road here.
When you meet people on the road, and they haven't heard of this e-zine or the website, we'd appreciate it - and hope they would too! - if you get their names and email addresses and send it in to me, or use the recommend form available on most all pages of the website.
2000 KLR 650 for sale in Bolivia
From a post on the HUBB, 30 October 2002: "Need to sell my bike fast, am broke and have to return to Canada... am in Santa Cruz and wanted about 3500$ for the bike but will take a lot less now since my time is short... it's in good condition and comes with panniers and tank bag, tools, helmet, etc. If anyone has advice, please let me know. Thanks. Paul" E-mail Paul:
George Migliorelli and Valeria Milani, Italy, around the world,
"...Are there any roll on/roll off ferries from either Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia to Australia? Is there any cheap way to do it? I checked the HU web page but there is no mention of it. Have you heard anything about cheap ways to Aussieland? We need to go to Perth but any city would be OK. Thanks again for your help, George."
Plenty more questions and answers on the HU Bulletin Board! We've over 1,980 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.
"'Secret pockets' believers,
While travelling in Central America a few years ago, I was waiting for a freighter at the docks in La Ceiba, Honduras...a pleasant wood pier with several freighters of various sizes and a number of folks fishing and visiting. A young fellow of about 10 years of age struck up a conversation with me and after a while asked me for some money. I declined and said that I did not have much. He nonchalantly pointed to my 'secret stash' located in my baggy trousers and indicated that I indeed did have extra cash and knew where to look for it.
Later, I met a fellow from Belgium who prided himself in his tall black boots... (a stupid choice, I thought, for the muggy tropics) and his ability to stash his important documents and monies inside the boots... when I came across him several weeks later by chance, he was embarrassed to admit he had been robbed and one of the first things demanded of him were his lovely boots... and, alas, all the stuff stashed inside.
If they want to rob you, they are going to get it... unless it is a grab and run heist.
My 2 cents worth, Ged Schwartz, Kamloops, BC"
"...can highly recommend a place called "Jungle Junction' just outside Livingston, Zambia. We had Xmas and New Year there and it has to rate as one of the coolest places on earth. Goose and Lucy"
"Good news. The company which now runs the cargo ferry to Wadi Halfa and return have started towing the barge behind the passenger ferry. First one today (07/10/02). As such, the trip will take just over one day. Cost is approx 120EP for rider/passenger and 150EP for the bike. Seems the old 'charter the whole boat' has gone. Best to check with the booking guys. Can't remember who they are off hand, but most Lonely Planet type books and overland books will have it listed." Posted by Gareth Jones, NZ
From a post on the HUBB by Iris and Trui: "Big size" tyres in Yazd (Iran)
"We came across big size tyres in the small town
of Yazd. Not suitable for all bikes, but for many, this is good news. Sizes
are 3.00-21" front and 4.10-18" rear, as far as I remember, this
corresponds to a 90/90-21" and a 120/90-18" They are new tyres of
an Iranian brand, enduro profile (dual purpose I'd say), fresh rubber, looks
and feels good quality. They are even cheap: Front costs 88.500 rials (12.3
Euro); rear costs 94.500 rials (13.2 Euro)." More
details and address.
Request for info
Wouldn't YOU like to know all about the border you're approaching - what it should cost, paperwork required, 'tips' needed, and who to talk to, etc.?
When you cross ANY border, take some notes, and pass them on to us. Thanks!
If you have any information to contribute, there is a form at the bottom of the page which you can submit and we will put it on the page. Thanks!
The US State Department has issued travel advisories, information and/or warnings.
Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, around the world, in Pakistan, Honda Africa Twin,
"Cliff and Jenny Batley, Andreas (a German biker) and me joined in Quetta, Pakistan to do the Karakoram together. (Sean Kelly and Adrian were there too, but they left a day earlier). The first day started fine... The weather was good, the sun was shining and it was only 111 Km to Sost... So what were all those people doing there? on the road?... Especially in the middle of the road? And why were there big rocks on the road? And why did all the cars and busses and trucks stop here?
Well... soon it became clear that there was a 'strike' going on. A battle for electricity with the government and now they blocked the road... and we were not allowed to pass. For how long? Well it started with one hour, but then we learned that the government was not even here yet for negotiations... so it could take a while... Luckily we met Ali. Ali is a mountain-guide and he lives in one of the villages around here... and better yet... Ali knows there is another route... A jeep-trail going from town to town... and he is prepared to guide us through because he knows the value of tourists... and he is a nice guy.
In a little convoy of 3 jeeps and 4 bikes we head off into the mountains. The first bit is easy but dusty... We pass a little town and then go up... up... and up... If you have ever driven the Karakoram highway... and seen the little tracks on the other side of the river. High up the mountain... and wondered what they were... They were dusty sand-trails... and we were on them. 1.5 meter wide, no guardrail (of course) and a 200-meter drop down to the river... Well no problem... ehhhhh, but then the first hairpin comes along... so narrow the jeeps need to go back and forward a few times to get around it... and it goes up and up and up.
Now I don't have a problem with all this... OK, the AT is heavy but I got good tyres and have lots of enduro experience (even on the AT)... But Jenny... hmmmm... Jenny is small and her bike is big... She can just touch the ground with her toes ... if the ground is even... so she had lots of problems and had 4 (!) crashes... one time even almost going over the edge. So you can imagine she had a rough time, and Cliff, her husband, had many fears... At the end he drove all the sharp turns for her... and this took a while... but after 30 Km of bad off road, dust, dust and more dust, a ripped off pannier (Jenny's first fall), views you can not describe, contact with the tribes (Hunze), fresh pears (very delicious) and, at last, a swinging (literally) suspension bridge... we were through. It had taken us most of the afternoon, but we made it. We had driven the real Karakoram-trail... and lived to tell.
We also learned from it. Jenny learned to say: 'Stop, no more, it's too hard'. Cliff had a good workout, driving his bike around a hairpin, put it down, walk down, drive Jenny's bike up the hairpin, etc. I learned to pay more attention to the level of biking from other people before taking them on a trail like this. Andreas? Hmmmm, he just enjoyed it I guess.
But in the end we were a huge experience richer... Much more impressive than the Kunjarab we did the next day even though it was 4768 meters high and freezing cold. (and I drove 3 Km into China before I got caught and sent back by a very very upset customs-officer ;-)
By the way, in the photo where I am dancing in Turkey with a bank note on my forehead... I think I got married... but I am not sure ;-)"
Arne Bomblies, USA, to Ushuaia and back, in Mexico, KLR650
"We came from San Juan de Alima near Colima and drove through beautiful Michoacan state to Zihuatanejo. It was pretty much mountains with lush tropical growth on the left, and Pacific Ocean on the right. The road was in great condition, contrary to what we had heard from others and read in books, and was great fun with nice twisty sections, and seafood stands, banana plantations and palm trees along the whole stretch.
Despite the great ride, yesterday was a bit of a rough day. First, near Playa Azul we stopped to top off the tanks. This involved riding across a fueling platform, marble-smooth and white. Right before I rode over it some diligent Pemex employee had 'washed' the fueling platform- with water. This of course brought all the residual diesel, gas, and oil on an otherwise already smooth surface on top of the water. Well I went down in less than a split second, slid to a stop, got up and took a deep bow to the great amusement of the gas station attendants. It was like trying to ride a bike on an ice skating rink. Even walking on this surface was difficult, and there was no way for me to see that it was wet.
Then, about an hour down the road, a wasp somehow found its way into my riding jacket. It was trying to get out, panicked, and started stinging. It got me first in the armpit area, then I felt it crawling down my front side. Yeow! It stung me again further down on the side of the torso. It was time to pull over. But the Mexican roads have very steep shoulders and it's not just a matter of pulling to the side. And I couldn't simply stop in the middle of the road or Id get hit by the traffic barrelling around the corner. Nothing I could do but ride on hoping for a place to pull off. By this time he had crawled down into my pants, and I felt him on my inner thigh. Son of a...! He stung me on the inner thigh! Pretty tender there. And then I felt him crawling around the most sensitive spots imaginable between the legs. It was really time to stop. I stood up on the foot pegs so I wouldn't tempt him to sting by compressing him. Anything but a sting there! Thank God, there was a pull off coming up. Had to get off. Still standing. Oh crap, that's not a real pull off, it's loose gravel. But I noticed too late. And I was going way too fast for how loose this stuff was. The front wheel slid out and I was down again, sliding for about ten feet in gravel. Without the riding gear I would have had a pretty good road rash. But I got up and nothing was broken except my ego.
So my two low-speed spills of the trip both happened in the same day. And with the three punctures I've had so far, James and I are thoroughly convinced I'm getting rid of my rotten luck in the early part of the trip, and from here on it will be smooth sailing. The last couple of days the routine has included stopping for the day, taking off the helmet, then the riding pants under which there is a pair of shorts, tearing off the jacket under which there is generally nothing, taking off the boots and replacing them with flip-flops, slipping on the sunnies and it's off to the beach in search of a Corona. Not bad, eh? Vamos a la playa. Adios everybody! Arne"
Chris and Erin Ratay, USA, around the world, in Brazil, two BMW F650s,
"We arrive in Salvador, Brazil's 3rd largest city, at about 2pm and its still pouring down with rain. We have an idea of where we want to go but the flooded streets and our obscured vision make riding very difficult. To make matters more complicated, Salvador is laid out in two sections, the Upper and Lower City, and finding the correct road to the Upper City is also a challenge. Luckily the hotel we are looking for, the Caramuru, is not far. Turns out to be a good place, economical and has safe, covered parking.
The rains continue in Salvador for the next one and a half days, and I mean really rains. The streets are flooded and it's difficult to get around. We spend our time walking around the historic district of the city with all its fine architecture and quaint cobblestoned streets, and in the local shopping centers looking for odds and ends. Finally in the afternoon of Sunday, the weather breaks and we take a nice long ride along the ocean road. Salvador has some very scenic beaches with big rocks and coral reefs nearby. It makes for tranquil, clear waters near the beach, which are good for bathing. Sunday afternoon and all the local men are on the beach as well are playing soccer (football to the rest of the world!)
We will work our way around the coast to Belem and take the boat up to Manaus, then up to Venezuela before the end of Nov. -- the idea is to get to Panama for Xmas to meet some good friends, also overlanders. We've decided to put an end to the trip next August -- otherwise we'll just roam around South America forever (or until we we're completely broke)! We have been here in SA too long, and have embraced the local (slow) pace :-) It is odd to be on a 'time-line', having abandoned the concept after racing through the first year like an extended 2-week holiday. It wasn't even a conscious thing to go this long, we just keep falling behind on our plans to get to the next border crossing. Considering this trip started out as a 15 month journey, and now looks to go to 51, I think we will be hard pressed to draw much sympathy in having to speed things up."
Anthony Griffin, UK, Tierra del Fuego to Alaska, and on to Australia..., in Ecuador, Yamaha Tenere
"I arrived in Ecuador on the 1st October after spending five weeks in Peru. The border crossing into Ecuador was refreshingly simple after the hassle I received on entering Peru from Bolivia. I was told there that I couldn't ride a motorbike in Peru with one arm (although all my documents, licence etc were in order) however if I donated fifty dollars toward the pending 'Policeman's Fiesta' I could travel unmolested! I produced my 'dummy' wallet and donated its contents toward the fiesta. Two dollars... It caused a lot of activity but they too eventually shared my amusement and let me in.
I had been invited to the 'Moto-Caravan of Ecuador' a month earlier by Ricardo Rocco so wound my way north to meet Ricardo and join the caravan. I met Ricardo and the rest of the participants (competitors!!!) of the Caravan in Baños, south of Quito. Among the crowd was Tiffany Coates (Ed. See Tiffany's story and pics). The Caravana was a 4 day, 800 mile off-road tour of Ecuador. The event was organised by Ricardo Rocco and especially considering it was it's debut year, was extremely well organised.
The 'Line-up' consisted of myself, Tiffany, three American riders (Bob, Ron & Clint) from Louisiana and twenty or so riders from Quito and Cuenca. The 'Cuenca Boys' were heavily into Enduro racing and generally rode well equipped bikes of 400 to 600cc. Ricardo headed each stage and everybody found their own pace. Everybody's speed was catered for, from very steady to full bore, with regular re-grouping stops. The tour saw us ride up over carb strangling 4500 metre mountain ranges, down in humid jungle forests and along scenic river clad valley's.
Each day consisted of approx 8 hours (including several stops) of riding through breath taking scenery of Ecuador. A support vehicle (for my luggage!) and stage maps were provided. Each day ended in a simple road section to a pre-booked 4 or 5 star hotel. My face dropped as we approached the first one as I realised from it's grandeur it was probably ten times my budget. However I was soon reassured as between the organisers (Ricardo), Bob, Ron & Clint all hotel, bar and restaurant bills were taken care of for Tiffany and myself. We both received ' red carpet' treatment and were both taken aback by everybody's generosity. Although I do feel Tiffany's tight leather trousers had something to do with it...
On the penultimate evening there was a raffle and prize ceremony. Tiffany, myself and the 'American Connection' each received a prize. I'm not sure what mine was for but I think translated it was 'Cutest Tush of the Trip'. Tiffany Coates protested but the recount was final. My prize was a free wheel to wheel service of the Tenere, parts and labour. It was given to me by Mario Gomez Motorcycles in Quito. A small but very well equipped dealership.
The 'Tour Entertainment' was supplied by the 'Cuenca Boys' with several hundred wheelies given at every opportunity. However it seemed that Bob Cornell (who celebrated his 59th birthday on the trip) lulled them into a false sense of security throughout the trip as on the final stage of the last day, filtered through them ALL in a particularly tricky 50 km sandy section at dusk, like a dose of salts. Bob didn't say a word, but the glint in his eye said it all.
I returned to Quito where I met Tiffany. Ricardo took us both out for the day. After traveling up to the equator, we took a scenic off-road route back. We approached a small town to find it was under a 2 foot mud slide about 200 metres wide. Ricardo blatted through it first with ease (his Africa Twin looks like a 125 on him). I followed and was quite enjoying myself until I hit a submerged rock (or pig!) washed down from the hills. Six tenths of a second later I'm completely submerged in this thick, running sewer. Tiffany stopped and asked if I wanted help (in the most feeble manner known to man). I just shook my head and with the help of a couple of villagers righted the bike and pushed it 100 metres to shallower mud. We got the Tenere going and I made an embarrassed retreat. I couldn't seem to keep myself upright and dropped it a further three times! My hand controls were thick with slime and all moved in unison as I attempted to use them. It was just one of those days, but we all had a great time (the other two are still laughing now).
Hope to sort my air freight out soon and will hopefully be in Panama by early November. Cheers Anthony"
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, in Argentina and Chile, on a Harley Davidson,
"We arrived early at the penguin colony, two hours before the tourist buses, to have to ourselves half a million nesting Magellanic penguins. This is the largest concentration of this species in the world. Brought here by abundant food and good nesting sites they breed from now till February before heading up the Brazilian coast for the winter. Unafraid, they allow us to approach while they go about mating and nest digging. The stony hills dotted with burrows and small tuxedo dressed animals guarding entrances.
In cold sunshine and fog we splashed our way over the 120 km of potholey dirt road to the Argentinean border. Again an easy border crossing with no payments necessary. From there the next 180 km to Tolhuin was paved. A further 60 km of good made dirt past glacial lakes and through the mountain pass with fresh snow down to the roadside. The last 40 km into Ushuaia paved. Ushuaia, arriving on a sunny afternoon, situated right alongside the Beagle Channel, (the bottom of the island) and surrounded by snow capped peaks is a magnificent sight. The colourful houses, boats in the harbour and crisp air all add to its appeal. With both the Argentine and Chilean governments working to improve the road the less than 250 km of reasonable dirt (even after all this rain) and the natural interests along the way make this place a must visit.
Still sunny and with no wind and only three days left before the end of the season we went skiing. The new ski field about 30 km from town overlooks the rocky peaks of the surrounding Andes. Kay chose not to ski but to just admire the scenery from the mid station. I joined the less than 300 other skiers on the spring snow with no lift queues, doing more runs than someone who hasn't skied in 10 years should and ending the day with aching muscles.
A few weeks ago we had decided to catch the boat from Puerto Natales through the Chilean fjords to Puerto Montt, a three day trip, and booked it over the internet. Today we learnt that it didn't run last week and despite leaving for Puerto Natales yesterday had to return to Puerto Montt after five hours because of a breakdown and wouldn't run this week. It may run next week?
We decided to take a one day tour to Torres del Paine National Park, then remain in the park for a further two days to trek on our own. This is Chile's premium trekking national park and people from all over the world come here just to trek its paths. We walked for 3 hours, again beautiful sunshine after morning drizzle, towards the close view of the towers but overcome by lethargy, lying in a grassy area surrounded by budding beech trees and listening to the trickling waterfalls we never made it to the view, getting passed by hurrying trekkers we returned to our camp and sat in the hosteria over a beer and good company in the evening. The bus collected us at 3 pm to return to Puerto Natales where we learnt that next week's boat had also been cancelled and maybe into the future indefinitely so we will have to ride north."
Ed. The Forwood's have been to over 125 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. In September 2002, they started their final leg, through South America. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host their entire trip story here.
Cliff and Jenny Batley, UK, UK to New Zealand, in Iran
"When we arrived at the BMW dealer in Tehran they attempted to find us cheap accommodation but were unable to so the owner of the dealership offered us the use of his apartment, free of charge. We gratefully accepted and moved in. However, his uncle Houshang was also living there, but we got on with him well after the initial awkwardness. Houshang is 67 and gets up each morning at 3 a.m. to go jogging into the mountains! He persuaded us to go with him one day mountain climbing but not at 3 a.m. We left at midday - the wrong time for the heat really. It was a hard climb but finally we made it to the first cable car stop - a climb of around 1000m up. We got the car back down!
From Tehran we went to Esfahan and camped in the park with the locals as the hotels were either fully booked or had only their most expensive rooms available. We were told that this was perfectly safe and that we would find many Iranians doing exactly the same. We pitched our tent amongst them (them being around 100 or so others, although they slept on carpets without tents). Within 5 minutes we had tea served to us by a family who stayed with us for the evening sitting outside our tent. They had no English except 'we love you' but with the help of pen and paper we talked. They left the next day leaving us at the mercy of the other Iranians using 'Hotel Park'. After 3 nights we were glad to leave - the friendliness of the people was overpowering. We had no time to ourselves - as one group would leave after speaking to us another would run over. If they were shy or unable to speak any English people would sit on the bench near to us and just watch us like animals in the zoo.
In Shiraz we met Andreas, a German who lives in New York, on his BMW R80GS motorbike. He is travelling to India, staying for a few months and then back to Germany. Andreas was waiting in Shiraz for the mechanic to come from Tehran to fix a sheared stud in his cylinder head. We spent most of our time in Shiraz making use of the workshop space and fiddling with the bikes and helping Andreas with his. We decided that the three of us would travel together until Pakistan as we had heard that the border area was a great drug smuggling area and safety in numbers would be better In Bam we met Sean and Adrian on their R80GS's. We all booked into the dormitory at the Akbar Guest house.
Iran has been a very welcoming country - we have found the best hospitality here and had the cheapest accommodation (often free). We have really enjoyed Iran and been surprised by how unlike what we expected it has been. The women here are much more forward in talking to tourists and everyone is genuine when they say that they hope you have a pleasant time and if there is anything they can do to help just ask.
10th October - we have now reached Pakistan and it is a whole new world here - very busy here in Quetta. Food is fabulous and our first beer for 4 weeks! We don't intend to stay long in Pakistan unless we decide to ride up the Karakoram highway (weather depending - might have snow on the mountains there now). Jenny & Cliff & Andreas, Sean and Adrian"
Tiffany Coates, UK, Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia, in Ecuador, R80G/S,
"The shipping from Panama, amazingly, went without a hitch and I even managed to clear Thelma through customs in one day, with help from Ralph and Maryanne (from Australia) who happened to be on their bike in Quito at the same time as me. Ricardo had a shock when he met me; apparently he was expecting me to be a bloke...
Ecuador has been fantastic, made even more so by the Caravana Bike Tour. This was a four-day bike extravaganza with motorcyclists from all over Ecuador, three from Louisiana in the States, myself and Anthony (Griffin), also from England on his Tenere who joined us in Baños.
I opted for the off-road 1000 kms route - the best fun I have had in a long time. We went from high (4800 metres) in the mountains down to the jungle and then to the beaches on the coast. Some fairly extreme conditions - but then for anyone who has been intimate with Ecuadorian roads, if the locals are saying this is going to be an off-road trip it really is. At one point the track was so narrow that Thelma got jammed, so we got lifted over the rocks by the Cuenca Boys (10 dirt riders from Cuenca)- for some reason it seemed a logical decision for me to stay on Thelma during this critical moment, perhaps the fact that I was the only woman there had some influence.
I was the only one not riding a Japanese bike, which meant that Thelma was the biggest and heaviest bike doing the route, luckily she didn't let me down and we coped with everything they threw at us including my old nemesis from Africa - sand! A couple of spills as I tried to remind myself it's all in the mind. It was great fun to have the luxury of riding the dirt tracks with no luggage - my panniers travelled on the support vehicle. If anyone is in Ecuador with their bikes next year when Ricardo organises the next Caravana - definitely join in.
I am currently in Loja in southern Ecuador, hoping to cross the border into Peru tomorrow and head to Huarez."
Simon McCarthy and Georgie Simmonds, UK to Asia, in Kazakhstan, BMW R100GS,
"Highlights of Kazakhstan:
From the last mail about Kyrgyzstan you'll remember that we left with a decidedly 'under the weather' bike. The starter motor was only functioning on 1 magnet when it should have 4, the carbs were still in need of a good clean out (so the engine was really badly balanced) and there were some nasty rattles coming from the engine...
So what is the most unprofessional way you can enter a country? Pushing a fully laden bike across no-man's land rates pretty high up on the list! The starter motor would occasionally whiz the engine over, but at the border it decided to make us look like a couple of clowns from the state circus. After Georgie had done the paperwork (her usual function at borders, for which I am very grateful), the bike started ok and we rattled and spluttered into Kazakhstan.
Just 2 kilometers after the border the scenery changed and we finally start to cross 'the steppe' - a huge plain that we had been avoiding for the past 3 months..."
Read more in Simon and Georgie's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
Mika Kuhn and Damaris, Germany, around the world, in Colombia, Tenere,
"Entering Colombia we first went to immigration, no problem 90 days and a serious question - are you not afraid travelling in Colombia? The customs asked for permission for the bikes, but of course we had none. But no problem we would get this permission in Maicao. Yes, we got it, after a day of waiting. South American officials don't work on their birthdays.
Colombia is not very popular with tourists at the moment. The first other tourists we meet in a backpacker hotel in Santa Marta. But these travellers were not interested in Colombia, they are here for the cheap main export product - and I am not talking about the good coffee. Later in Cartagena we met more tourists, mainly from the hardcore travelling nations - Israel, Japan and Germany.
Damaris flew back to Switzerland and the farewell was hard. We have spend ten months travelling together, a fantastic unforgettable time. We crossed the desert in Australia together, managed the paperwork to register Yuhmak in Buenos Aires together, waited for spare parts in Temuco Chile together, rode the bikes on the salt lakes in Bolivia, travelled on the Amazonas River and finally from the Caribbean coast to Bogota here in Colombia. We very seldom had an argument and never a fight. She is the best travelling partner I ever had and a wonderful woman and girlfriend. Of course we made already plans to meet again, but now she has to work and study.
I sold Yuhmak (Damaris XR200) a few days ago for a good price. It didn't matter much to the buyer that Yuhmak had argentinean papers, and so we could get the money back we paid for Yuhmak in Buenos Aires seven months ago. Yamaha Incolmotos here in Bogota let me work on my Tenere in their workshop and so I could get the frame welded properly and do a big service. It is good to know that the people at Yamaha Motors are as helpful as they can to a long distance traveller, thank you again guys here at Incolmotos Yamaha.
I met Felipe three years ago in Aswan Egypt. Now Felipe and I met again here in Bogota, Felipe is still in university and I am still on my bike. The last week was like a holiday, I went with Felipe and his brother Andres to the South to Cali by car and bus. And we spend the week at their grandparents place, just eating, drinking, sleeping and a bit of walking thru the city. 'Colombia has a lot of problems, but the people are strong', Felipe said and I can only agree. I like Colombia and the people, it would be nice to go to the rainforests and the pacific coast - but that's maybe a bit dangerous for a tourist at the moment.
I want to spend maybe two months here in Bogota to learn more Spanish and have a rest from travelling. Travel a bit more in Colombia. Than I will go South - Ecuador, Peru ... and maybe be for New Years in Ushuaia - Tierra del Fuego, at the end of the world. Greetings to all of you and it would be nice to read your story. MIKA"
Doris Maron, Canada, RTW, in Thailand, on 750cc Honda Magna
I traveled from Malaysia into Thailand, stopping at several wonderful areas where I could have stayed a while. Instead I took only a week to go the distance from Penang, Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand.
I stopped at Songkhla, Krabi, Phang Nga, Phuket (Patong, Karon & Kata Beaches), Surat Thani, and Prachuap Khiri Khan before reaching Bangkok. I enjoyed the ride through this part of Thailand and prepared myself for the horrors of riding in Bangkok. Martin, Jen and Gion had warned me about it, and they were certainly right. Riding in Bangkok is not fun. If you can manoeuvre through the traffic, you're doing great. If you survive the exhaust and pollution, you're lucky!
I decided to stop in Thailand for a few months and see if the situation in the middle east improves before continuing on to India. My plan is to fly to India and ride across Pakistan and Iran to Turkey. More on that later.
Thailand is a good place to take a break. Except for the hassle of having to leave the country every time your visa needs renewing, it's quite trouble free. The people are wonderful - helpful and very generous. Staying in one spot for a few months is a new experience for me since I started my journey. The first few weeks I felt like I should be on the road and had a hard time relaxing. I kept trying to justify my decision to stop. It took a while, but I finally realized that I didn't need an explanation or reason. I am still in Bangkok and feeling quite comfortable in my one room apartment.
I took a ride to Cambodia for one of my visa renewals. I thought I'd visit Siem Reap since it's only about 150kms from the border. Well, for those of you who have ridden in Cambodia, you will know why I only made it to Sisophon. The roads are horrendous and it took me two hours to go 50kms. I decided that was far enough. I will probably go back before I leave Asia, but I think I'll take a tour instead of going by bike. There's a lot to see and my visit was only for a day.
My plan is to leave Thailand sometime between January and March. I would like to fly to India or Nepal and I am hoping to find someone who is traveling in the same direction as I am. If anyone is interested in riding with me through India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey (or any part of this route), please contact me by email. I am flexible on the dates and would love to have a travel companion."
Ted Simon, UK/USA, "Jupiter's Travels," around the world, again, in New Zealand, R80GS Basic,
"...first I had to get across to the North Island from Nelson. There's a ferry that runs from Picton. I looked at my map and figured that Picton was about 75 kilometres from Nelson. I was wrong. Very wrong. It was twice that distance, and I only found that out when I got on the road.
New Zealand has a 100kph speed limit. Most people obey it, pretty much. I'm on a borrowed bike, so I do too. Besides, if a cop pulled me over, that would certainly blow the ferry. So it was an exciting ride, and I made it just four minutes before the ferry sailed. But I'm sorry, because the countryside, as usual, was much too lovely to be seen in a passing blur...
...to ride on up the highway to Hamilton. It meant crossing what Kiwis call the 'desert road' and I was rather sceptical about the idea of a desert in New Zealand.
In fact it's more like tundra than desert, but it's certainly bleak enough, and quite high up. The mountains are volcanic and intimidating, and it was pretty cold up there. Then coming through to Taupo there are famous trout streams, and a fabulous lake stretching out ahead. More gorgeous country. It never ends."
The following is from a post on the HUBB, and is out-of-date (2001), but interesting, and since I only just found out about it, thought I'd excerpt it here anyway.
Grom, Russia, through China,
"... some times you have to ignore rules and do it on your own risk.
I travelled in China in July-August 2001. Started in Moscow (I am Russian and live there), than Irkutsk, Ulan-Baator, Beijing, Shanghai, Luoyang, Xian, Shenyang. 7000 km in Russia from Moscow to mongolian border, 1000 km crossing Mongolian Gobi and 9000 km inside China. I liked it very much.
Yes, crossing Chinese border by motorbike is illegal. So I used a Mongolian truck (actually it was Russian ZIL truck. Driver was so kind that I loaded my bike on Mongolian side of border using a rampant and we unloaded it on Chinese side of border using 20 local people. No money, just one ride together with driver.
Yes, my driver license, even international, is illegal in China. But not many policemen know about it because they had NEVER seen a foreigner.
On the border I wrote a kind of declaration with VIN and plates, to avoid custom charges when I will return. A customs officer said that he knows about two German bikers who crossed the border in train.
Yes, using highways in China is prohibited for a motorbiker. Nevertheless, I used it. Barriers in the toll-gates are short enough to let me in. :) Of course I was stopped by police many times and it took me a lot of time to communicate with them. Two times they were going to put me in jail for using highways and more likely for not stopping in toll-gates. However, I never paid any fines.
Yes, centers of Beijing and Shanghai are officially forbidden for motorcyclists. But I drove there, and was stopped only once. It was enough just to take off helmet and show my nice European face. :) In Beijing neighbourhoods you can see even Japanese motorbikes. There is even a small motorbike market near the airport with different types of bikes. No Harleys. Usual local roads are opened for bikes and bikers. No problemo. The people there always crowding around me all the times I stop.
Here is the link to my photos. They can say more than any story written. Wish you good luck and welcome to Russia.
John Wilson, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Gerry Tiernan, Roscommon, Ireland, around the world, in Tanzania, R80GS basic,
"On the day we left Dar es Salaam, the 22nd October we encountered rain, the first since leaving Ireland. We decided to try and cross Tanzania in two days as there seemed nothing of great interest to hold us between Dar es Salaam and Malawi. Again the roads were excellent but en route we hit roadworks. This involved, as it does in this part of the world, a temporary dirt road running parallel to the section being repaired. In this case the section had been repaired but not yet opened and was only blocked by barrels which our bikes squeezed through. Consequently we drove on the new unopened road, which was a pity as coming through one section we saw another motorbike couple taking the dirt section but just missed them by the time we arrived.
Outside of a lone rider we met crossing the Tunisian desert and another couple on a BMW GS, which we saw in Nairobi but failed to contact, these have been the only overlanders we have encountered. While we were stopped for lunch in Morogora the skies opened and we had our first and last rain to date...
Between Morogora and Iringa I saw a sign pointing to a Concern Camp and it seemed like a million miles from anywhere. The people who work in those places make great sacrifices. At our overnight hotel in Iringa, which seemed to be the only half decent one in town, we inevitably met other Europeans and one lad from Portugal who was living there for years and working in the tobacco industry. He told us all about Malawi which was of interest to us as that is our next destination."
Chris Burt and Kirsten Latimer, UK, around the world, Meriden Triumph's, in Thailand
"We flew our bikes from Katmandhu to Bangkok. At the customs shed we are told that our bikes had arrived but first there were three hours of paperwork to get through. We were helped through it all by a friendly if somewhat infuriating chap who only asked for a small tip and the end of the afternoon. We had amassed a small dossier of photocopies and documents by 12 am just in time to see the customs shed close for lunch. Finally our two crates were delivered to us and we set about rebuilding the bikes under the interested gaze of the custom shed workers. It was a fine moment indeed when starving and overheated we kicked them into life and roared out of the shed in the late afternoon. After 15 minutes of traffic mayhem we stopped for a drink at a garage to muster up the courage to face another hour of it. It was with thankful relief that we arrived back at our guest-house.
Bangkok is an immensely large and incredibly busy city. We spend a week in town enjoying BLT sandwiches, visiting the dentist and doing an oil change. One evening we visit Kho San Road and discover that there is a Classic Bike Party being held that evening in the street. Excitedly we go home to get our bikes and later in the evening our Triumphs are surrounded by over a hundred old bikes, Vespas and Velocettes, Hondas and Harleys, even a few old Triumphs. We met up with Paul and were enjoying the complementary beers when to our amazement at 11pm we are told there will be a ride-out and we roar off with hundreds of bikes for a night tour of Bangkok aided and assisted by the local police on their noisy 2-strokes. Its all a bit wild with everyone waving and gesticulating, and much unnecessary engine revving - an experience we wont forget.
The next morning we get up at some ungodly hour in the hope of missing the rush-hour to head down to the Gulf of Thailand to visit a beach. The traffic out of Bangkok just went on and on but after a few hours it cleared and we found ourselves on a fast highway enjoying the exhilaration of opening up the throttles after months of slow riding on bad roads. New smells are all around (mainly of the fish and shrimp variety), acres of palm trees, canals, gaudy flowers and noodle-shops all make a pleasant change. We arrive at the ferry for Ko Samet to discover that there is no vehicle ferry. They finally agree to humph our bikes aboard but one look at the boat on offer convinces us of the folly of this and we decide to leave them on the mainland.
After our beach experience, we toured Laos for two weeks before heading back to Thailand for a tour of the north. When we arrive in Chiang Mai we are shattered, and to be frank, smelly. Our bikes have not been cleaned since Laos, our clothes are dirty and our luggage is falling apart. We stand dejectedly next to a guesthouse that we don't like the look of but are too tired to look further. Enter Barbara and Lee, an American couple who invite us home. Half an hour later we arrive at their sumptuous home on the outskirts of town. We end up spending three days there being fed and watered in luxurious style while we wash our bikes, do some maintenance, sew up our panniers, use their washing machine and watch Cartoon Network with their two young daughters. What a treat. Thank you Barbara and Lee."
George Migliorelli and Valeria Milani, Italy, around the world, in Thailand, Africa Twin and Transalp,
"...We left on the 4th of June from Tuscany, Italy and plan to be in Sydney for Christmas. This is part 1. Part 2 will bring us to Hong Kong and then, one way or another, into China. There is no time frame on part 2 as yet or for that matter part three, South America. Valeria is an Italian and I have dual nationality Italy/USA...
Valeria is sponsored by Honda / Michelin / Motul. Unfortunately I am paying for myself - no one is interested in male bikers anymore!
We have been through Syria, back to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal and now Thailand. Before starting we laid out a tentative schedule for the trip which tried to consider weather patterns (hot, cold, rainy season etc.) and balance it against time constraints. We have been a complete failure. We have been in the hottest areas at the hottest time of year. The Syrian desert in August. Baluchistan desert (Pakistan) early September. One 7 hour day in Baluchistan found us in 49 degree centigrade weather. We were just in time for the rainy season in India, Nepal and now Indochina. Several days ago we left for a four day tour from Chang Mai on the Mae Hong Son Loup which some claim to be the most beautiful motorcycle drive in the world. We were 200 kilometers out when we were told that the road had collapsed 100 kilometers ahead and there was no passing. We decided to return to CM, went 5 kilometers and the road was blocked by a partial collapse due to a river overflowing. We were trapped. We were fortunate in that the water subsided and the police let us pass although still in knee high water. The flooding in Thailand this season has been the worst in the past 50 years.
'Sounding the Retreat' at the Pak/Indo border in 100 degrees humidity. On both sides of the border troops march in synchro, shout at each other in synchro with circa 8000 people on each side in stadium type seating shouting obscenities at each other. Spending an evening with the Pashtuns in Baluchistan, sleeping in a gas station and playing with their AK-47's. Being escorted for a day and a half by automatic weapon armed police so that we would have a 'safe' time in Pakistan. Everyone has asked if we were frightened in Pakistan. The simple answer is no. Yes, there are too many weapons floating around and there are pockets one must avoid. However, the general sensation is that with a bit of caution there should be no trouble.
On the other hand Nepal, Shangri La in the Himalayas, gives one the feeling that anything can happen at any time and at any place. There are circa 5000 'Maoists' (this is 2002 isn't it?) fighting the government and they are heavily armed. Several hundred soldiers, Maoists and civilians were killed while we were in country. Everyone is nervous, the army patrols Katmandu with their fingers on the trigger. We decided to drive to Pokara, first we encountered an army patrol in full camouflage then 15k's later a bus was stopped in the center of the road. As we drove up several (6-7) young boys no more than 19 years of age appeared in Nike sneakers and North Face backpacks. They were all carrying automatic weapons. We then realized our encounter with the Maoists. They looked as though they still should be breast feeding. Fortunately their high command enforces a 'No Foreigners' rule so we were not made part of the battle plan. We encountered so many army roadblocks. One in particular, after dusk in Jiri frightened us, solely because the soldier involved was also frightened and he was armed.
We had to ship the bikes from Katmandu to Bangkok since the Myanmar/Thai border was closed. One morning I left Katmandu by taxi to meet with a shipping agent. As I got out of the taxi I left my small pack in the taxi. I realized this gross act of negligence only after I was in the office and the taxi was long gone. The pack contained most of the remaining money for the trip along with every necessary document, passport etc. The trip was over. I started running, everyone in the office hopped on their respective scooters combing the city for the phantom taxi of which I had no identifying marks or numbers. It appeared to be a futile effort. We searched for an hour and a half and then returned to the office where the taxi driver was quietly waiting for my return. I wanted to kiss him. He told me he was married with three children. I gave him a not inconsequential tip but it could never be enough for his act of pure honesty. He did not even open the pack. You meet all types of people and the good ones make all the difference."
Harald and Udo Lamers, the Bike Brothers, Netherlands, in Russia, on Suzuki DR 600s,
"For days we follow the route along the Trans Siberian Railway. The trains are very long; one time we count 80 carriages pulled by three locomotives. In East Siberia, for many years the train was the only way to cross the swampy taiga. But the Trans Siberian Highway is under construction. Road workers are working hard to build a road from Chabarowsk to Tschita. In many places there is a good gravel road but other parts are still pretty tough. The part from Skoworodino to Tschernyschewsk, also known as the 'Zilov Gap', is the toughest part, depending in which stage the construction is.
Near Skoworodino there is only a sand/clay surface and the trucks make deep tracks and after rain it turns in oozing mud that sticks to our tyres. At walking speed we go forward and we can barely hold our bikes. Finally we make it through and then we get the next test. For levelling the road they use big rocks, spread over the surface. With our loaded bikes (240 kg.) we trail and bump over the rocks until all our muscles hurts. But our DR4s are still running all right.
After 4 days and 750 kilometres we take some rest. We camp at a river and walk in with our clothes to wash off the dust. A local family in an Ural sidecar are our neighbours and they share their meal and vodka with us. And like every night in Siberia we are attacked by hundreds of mosquitoes. It seems that the insect repellent is not sufficient to protect ourselves. 'Maybe an extra bottle of vodka', say the neighbours...
The Altai republic in south Siberia borders with Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China. It has beautiful snow capped mountains. We pass little villages where we get the feeling that we are set back a century. Old, little wooden cottages with a back yard for their own vegetables. Men work on the land cutting grass with sickles. Women walk to a pump to get drinking water. The people are so friendly and the hospitality is fantastic. Every time we get some fruit, vegetables or vodka. Yes, we love the Russians.
We head for Moscow. Thick, irritating smog from bush fires make our eyes tear. At the Red Square we see other tourists for the first time in Russia. In the past Red Square was used as a market place. Later it got famous for the impressive parades from the Red Army. More impressive is the St. Basil cathedral. With nine towers, some have onion shape domes, and all the colors from a palette, it is a beautiful masterpiece.
Around St. Petersburg we see more interesting buildings. Tsar Peter the Great (called because of his length of 2.24 metre and of his victory over the Swedes (1721)) founded this city. He was the first tsar of Russia who travelled to Europe and studied there. When he got back he started with the modernization of Russia, using Europe as an example. He designed the Grand Palace where in front is a cascade of fountains. Water comes out of dozens gold-looking statues. The statue in the middle is Peter pulling a lions mouth open, a symbol of his victory over the Swedes."
Ed. See the end of the intrepid brothers' story in the Home Again section.
Bruno Blum, Switzerland, 2nd trip around the world, in the USA, Yamaha XT600,
"I'm fine and still enjoy being on the road. In the meantime I made it to Collingwood, on Lake Huron. I am stuck here with an engine problem, but hope to head the road again in a few days. Time to revival the past few weeks, a journey, which started in Vancouver, West Canada and brought me through the Rocky Mountains and the empty prairies into the eastern part of Canada.
In Waterton Lakes and Glacier National park once more I enjoy the terrific landscape of the Rockies. Here the ice-covered peaks meet up with the wide-open grassland of the prairie, making this place so unique, so spectacular. On my way further south, a winding road brings me through the cowboy land Montana, through rolling country, past wooded hills and a few picturesque farmhouses. Thick, white clouds sailing to the far horizon bring some life in this sleepy corner of the world. The mighty mountain range of the Grand Tetons rises more then 2000 meters above the surrounding, flat land in Grand Teton National park. And only a few kilometers further north, in the Yellowstone National Park, I encounter a completely different world. The heartland of this National park lies in a volcanism-zone, with the world's highest concentration of geysers. A heavy smell of sulfur lies in the air, smoke everywhere, bubbling mud pools, hot steam rises whistling out of cracks in the ground and again and again geysers, which blow big spouts into the sky. Yellowstone means also endless forests, sub alpine meadows, deep canyons and I encounter large herds of bisons. In 1902 only 23 of this wild buffalo were counted in this area, but today the park's buffalo herd numbers about 3,500 animals.
In Kaycee I am in the right place in the right time. A rodeo is going on. Country music, dust, the smell of barbecued meat, cowboys and of course cowgirls in big hats, chaps and shiny spurs on their boots. Bucking broncos, raging bulls and steers to be wrestled. What a great experience. Let's rodeo! My journey then brings me into the wide-open prairie. Swaying grasses blown by a gentle wind creates a fascinating motion in the prairie; the grasses seem to move in waves. East of Rapid City, in the middle of the prairie, I encounter the Badlands. A stunning panorama, a landscape barren and beautiful. Wind and rain created here an eerie moonscape of deep gorges and jagged ridges, painted in all the different rainbow colours.
Further east the horizon opens up more and more. Fields of corn and soya as far as the eye can see. A wide-open space surrounds me in every directions and the road stretches in a straight line to the horizon. I love this country, this immense open space, the quiet and sense of freedom, which lies in it. Time to lay back, sing a song and live through my daydreams. Soon I am will be heading back home to Switzerland, back to my old world and a standardized all day life. Take care and talk to you later. Bruno"
Ed. See Bruno's new blog
here on Horizons Unlimited. German only, superb pictures!
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"Top Ten Ways to LOSE 'Cool' Riding Points, from the Brisbane Bikers website:
1. You forget to take your Kryptonite lock off the wheel
and attempt to drive away -- with a passenger -- one you are trying to impress
with your superior riding skills.
"Age is not important unless you're a cheese."
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Only by pressing the limits do you ever find them."
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Bangkok, without bike! The last time I was here I had just air freighted my
PD from Nepal. That was in 1992 pre internet. How things have changed! There
was a certain charm of feeling like you were really out there by yourself
ten years ago. I guess I felt that way because I was out there by myself!
"Thanks for your great work Grant - the website is
a fabulous resource. Cheers"
Ed. Thanks for your support, Lance!
"Grant & Susan, I think this is a great site,
I am not young and have been travelling by bike for many years, my last reasonable
trip was Dubai to UK in 1999 and access to this site would have been most
useful. My next trip starts in December in Buenos Aires, first South for New
Year then North to Alaska and I will use this site for contacts etc. With
regards to funding I don't think anyone would object to an annual subscription
as long as it was reasonable and easy to pay. Keep up the great work (if you
can afford it!!)
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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: (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.
Here's the new ultralight Africa Twin!
There's a new Yahoo group for the KTM 950 Adventure - already!
Sean Kelly and Adrian Scott, UK to Oz 2002-2003, in Pakistan, R80GS Basic's,
"We weren't too sure if we could do it, and nobody else was even vaguely interested in trying, but Adrian and I overslept soundly before leaving the others in an ultimately pointless attempt to climb the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to the town of Gilgit in one long day. Cliff, Jenny, Andreas and Maarten were to take a rather more 'relaxed' approach to the Highway and we expected that we would cross paths somewhere on the road after maybe two or three days...
The first hours of the journey are spent dodging the many goats and cows that pick at the rubbish in the streets of the numerous small towns and villages en route. In one tight squeeze, I attempted to remove the bull-bars from an over-laden mini-bus with the aid of only an aluminium Touratech pannier. (Note to self, breathing in, no matter how hard, cannot realistically be expected to reduce the excessive width of the bike.) But like hair at a Kelly family re-union, the towns become sparse and a small measure of isolation begins to be felt. Average speeds are of course low because there are hardly any straight sections - just corner after corner after corner. And after 5 or 6 hours, our trance-like state is only occasionally interrupted by an on-coming lorry or, worse, mini-bus appearing on our side of the road. We had long since stopped worrying about hopping onto the gravel at the side of a road in these situations, but on the KKH often there is no gravel. Just a sickening plummet to the valley floor below...
Read more in Sean's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
Elke Thomsen and Arne Wolf, Germany, Around the World, in USA, on DR 650's,
"...we started 1 June 2002 from Hamburg, Germany, to Vancouver Canada. Since then we are on the road and today we arrived in San Diego.
Next we will go to the Baja and than ship our bikes to South Africa. In the meantime (November - February) we want to visit southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) - without our bikes. After that we will meet our motorbikes in Cape Town and may well ride South Afrika and Namibia. End of May our travel is over and we will go back to Hamburg... on our webpage you will find lots of fotographs... See U somewhere on the road!?"
Nicky Austin, UK, around Australia on a Kawasaki GT550,
"It felt odd to reach my final destination. I was happy and amazed that I'd made it, yet also a bit sad that it had come to an end. Not to worry I am already planning more trips for when I get home. (When I've finished paying for this trip anyway!) There are some photos of the trip on the web page now if anyone wants a look. Nicky."
Paul Backes and Henk De Lange, South Africa, London to Cape Town, Starfish AIDS charity, Yamaha Tenere's,
"Never before have I seen two guys beg for a full rack of nasal hair before, blessed be those that have for the desert and sand here is seriously blocking our carbs!
Things are looking up. We are in Camel Jockey land in Alexandria - practically on the beach in our own apartment for how ever long we want and all absolutely free! Can't yet grasp it myself, for Henk made contact with an Egyptian biker, Omar, (Mansour, Alexandria HU Community) and so happened that this boy is a top chap here, so hopefully squeeze in some diving in the Red Sea and drink some more beer from his father's pub at a reduced rate. To top it off, we spent the 3 hours in a makeshift bike shop here in the back alleys and sorted absolutely everything on our bikes, with 4 guys on the job at a mere cost of $10 US for everything. I love this place and Henk is a champ (girls he can also cook), oh-ya and not to mention our new friend Omar! Gees the standards have been set, let's see what our Sudan contact can pull out?
...We left the shores of Sicily on the 5th and arrived on African soil the next day and it has been good, but a lot of hard work and some serious adjustment to this whole Arab toilet system. White gold (toilet paper) has found a whole new meaning here!
Top of the list in riding were our few cool off-road days in Tunisia where we offloaded our luggage in Tunis and hit the mountains, rivers and some good open desert. Dork of the Day badge went to yours truly whom opted to take on the muddiest river bank ever and only managed 3 out of the 8 metres before the glue sucked us in - What a mess! After 1 hour of fun we were still nowhere, with the bike half under and still sinking!
Blessed be our two guardian angles Mannei Radwen and Mannei Walid who came to our rescue absolutely crying with laughter at our (my) stupidity. In the mud they climbed and 5 min later we had it out! We gave them our last beer we had saved from Italy (for the sunset) and then hit the coffee bar hard where the whole town participated in laughter! Henkie still takes the desert prize for amateur desert rider and not knowing where the soft sand is. The boy launched his bike into a pile of powder and when it held tight, Henkie kept moving..."
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Richard Humphreys, UK, around the world, in New Zealand, Honda Dominator,
"Hey just to let people that I'm still alive and well living in south Otago in New Zealand still. I've applied for my residence here so I need to stick around for a while until that comes through also I got to save plenty of money to be able to carry on round the world on my motorbike one way or another. I'm working on a dairy farm at the moment in the middle of nowhere which is actually great fun. I've also got through to the final stages of the New Zealand Fire Fighter recruitment process so who knows I might spend a while fighting fires and wizzing around in a big red fire engine. So if there's anyone out there ripping it up round the world let me know what you're up to. Cheers Rich"
Patrick and Belinda Peck, Australia, USA to Chile, in Bolivia, Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ 750,
"After leaving La Paz we headed towards Potosi, which is a town with a huge silver mountain on its doorstep. It is over 4000m high and is very cold. We did a tour of the mines, which was amazing to see the harsh conditions they work under. There was asbestos everywhere and the miners generally only last about 10 years before they die from asbestosis. Pat couldn't get out of there quick enough! The town was so rich from silver that they used to make coins for Bolivia and Spain, now Bolivian coins are made in Spain! We had a tour of the coin making factory, which was amazing. They would flatten the silver with a wooden wheel that was drawn by a horse!! Then later by steam driven machines. In the 1500s Potosi was a bigger and richer town than London or Paris!
Next we were off on a 4 day tour of the salt flats out of Uyuni. We had a really good group and the salt flats - largest in the world were amazing, but it was absolutely freezing and very rustic accommodation!! Try 50 people sharing 2 toilets in minus zero temperatures for fun!! We then hopped on the train, bike and all, to Argentina and civilization!!"
Tom Sewell, USA, to South America, in Guatemala, KLR650 "Lolita",
"...my main goal for my 9 month trip to South America is to climb at least one peak in each state/country (second goal is senoritas)...
...my 'rest day' in Creel was nice. I forced myself to do a 4 mile run around town and my daily regimen of 100 sit ups, pushups, and chair dips in my room. Then I rode a naked "Lolita" out the fantastic road to Divisadero, the overlook for Copper Canyon. The road was newly paved and curled, dipped, and climbed, in and out of headwater canyons reminiscent of Utah but with thick pine forest...
Finally! Guatemala. My wallet already likes it here. From Orizaba down along the eastern foothills thru dusty Mathias Romero city, I crossed over the fizzling out Sierra Madre to the Pacific side and howling side winds. Then the road zigged up out of the heat to 1000 m and the half a million people of Tluxta City, the capital of Chiapas... the road really began to climb way up through lovely Himalayan like hills and cloud forest to the high valley of lovely San Cristobal, the tourist crossroads of southern Mexico. Along the way I got my 3rd sting of the trip when a wasp flew up the open sleeve of my Aerostich. OUCH! Hassle and scary to try and smash him while coming to an abrupt stop on the shoulder..."
Ed. Lots of trouble with wasps this month. Read more in Toms blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
Jason Homewood, UK, Round the world, in Indonesia, BMW
"'Hello what is it your name boss, where you from Manchester? Michael Owen?'
Bali's actually quite a nice place. I don't know why, but I was expecting it to be awful. There's a few tourists (me included) here for sure, and there's way too much traffic, which makes getting about a hassle (same as much of Indonesia). It's got some beautiful countryside, though, cool culture and great beaches, and the tourist centre (Kuta) has got everything you need to have a good time before bedtime (and possibly after).
I arrived from Java, travelling with Swiss biker (John) 12 days ago. We hope to leave here at the end of the week and in a change of plan for me, we will ride across Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores to Timor and cross into East Timor. From Dili John ships his bike to Darwin and I will ship back to Singapore and head up into Thailand."
Read more in Jason's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
Martin Rooiman and Jeannette Boom, a.k.a. De Twee Musketiers, Netherlands, around the world, in Indonesia,
"October 23, 2002 -Jeannette and I are back in Bandung (Indonesia) and are ready to continue tomorrow. We arrived Saturday afternoon but needed a couple of days to work on the bikes as we had some new parts brought with us. No real problems encountered except both batteries were flat despite being disconnected. So we bought some start-cables as no one had them in their car and brought the bikes back to life. We left the bikes running for over half an hour when we discovered that my engine oil started boiling and the exhaust was glowing red. We switched off my bike (R1100) and left them alone. Today we discovered that the oil-level reading glass was melted and not clear anymore. Fortunately I had one with me. Starting the engine was exciting but everything ran smoothly we concluded after a test ride.
So we're leaving tomorrow and want to leave Indonesia asap. Not that we notice any difference but we don't want to push our luck. We drive to Denpasar in a couple of days and take a flight to New Zealand.
As expected we ran short of time in Holland and I only managed to finish our travel report (Haven't even had the time to read your September and October newsletter!!!). We have had absolutely no time to put them on the website nor the next days. But we arrive in New Zealand earlier than 'planned' so probably we update the website somewhere over there. All the best and we keep in touch, Jeannette & Martin"
I did mention to Martin that running a bike without moving for a half-hour was guaranteed to overheat it! Check out Martin and Jen's blog here on Horizons Unlimited.
Rich Kickbush, Australia, around the world, in Russia, KLR650
"In Vladivostok, on the other side of Russia now - made it all the way without using train like others have. The off-pavement bits were the best part of it...glad I didn't miss 'em.
In the process of changing my rings to try and fix the amount of oil I'm going through... pulled the head yesterday, all looked fine, valves had tightened up on exhaust but still in tolerance, inlets haven't moved in 27K kms, and hardly moved since first adjustment FYI.
Went and got very drunk with local bike club Iron Tigers last night, great bunch of guys... this morning brought an ugly hangover and an even uglier surprise. When I pulled the cylinder it seems something had taken a chunk out of the bottom (but lower than the area where the rings run), and chewed a smaller area out of the piston, where the cutout for the crank is...
Now I had found the broken pieces of a thin washer in my oil when it was last changed, over 12k kms away, a month ago. This was the day before I was about to leave for Vladivostok, the bike had been running fine and I decided I hadn't come this far to wimp out now, so sacrificed a Russian virgin in hopes that I'd appease the gods - and set out for the other side of Russia."
After several back and forth's, the decision was made to ship the bike to Bangkok and rebuild it there, with a new liner and piston.
Lance Wiggs, New Zealand, in Bolivia
"I spent about a month and a half in wonderful Bolivia, culminating in the Uyuni/Salar to Chile route in the South West. I considered going it alone on the bike, or leaving the bike in Uyuni and doing a tour in a Landcruiser but eventually paid to put my luggage in a landcruiser and followed the tour group to Laguna Verde. Wise decision as it meant no thinking about the route, delicious hot meals and a light bike for the horribly deep sandy sections."
Pan-American 2002, Fabien Mirabaud, Thomas Girodot and Aurélien Chardeau, France, NY to Tierra del Fuego, in Texas and Mexico, Honda Transalp's,
Tweaked AltaVista translation from the French: "Finally comes the departure of your heroes of modern times, easy riders of the regions North America, Central America and South America. Here the first mail in a long series to come, which all the 'subscribers' at our site will receive during the 6 next months. Here a little dream and voyage for our close relations of which we think, who supported us in this project and without which we would certainly not have left. Come to find our first account and the first photographs on our site.
... Texas to the Mexican border - There, truly, the road is long, very long, and very boring. We were rolling in a very indolent fashion, the road always straight, nothing very exciting. We noticed increasing numbers of insects, thousands of butterflies, enormous dragonflies - not beautiful when they smash on your helmet visor. We met real cowboys, with hats and chaps and everything.
We gradually realized as we were heading south how much the poverty was becoming noticeable. The border crossing was made without any problems, just took a while, nearly 2 hours. Evidently it's not every day that motorcycles registered in France go through heading to Argentina. We were surprised to find that we could understand and make ourselves understood in Spanish."
Site is supposed to be in English and French, but the English lags a little!
Lew Waterman, USA, North and South America 2001-2
"We are in Viña Del Mar, Chile's premier seaside resort city. The Atacama is behind us. Things got slowly greener as we rode south out of the desert. This area is fertile green with vegetation, has many farms and vineyards growing grapes for the local wineries. We visited Chile's main port, Valparaiso, and the Capitol, Santiago de Chile. Santiago is a big, busy, modern and beautiful city. Achi got her first ride on subway. Chile is obviously quite a bit ahead of Peru economically and about the general order of things. I thought Santiago would be full of crazy drivers, like most big cities, but not so. Unlike Lima, we seldom hear horns blowing and people really drive like reasonable human beings. The cost of food is downright cheap. Lodging is quite reasonable. Ninety three octane unleaded gas is about $2.37/gallon.
Achi is enjoying the experience of being outside Peru for the first time. It is really fun watching her and listening to her reactions to things she has never seen before. Of course, it is fun as well to be the proud owner of a cute little Yorkie that everyone oohs and aahs overs. Punky is still the little dog that could and now is proving he still can. Despite sore asses and tired bodies, we're having a hell of time. The terrain whizzes by and I love it. Later, amigos. Punky, Lew & Achi"
Falk Thümer and Reina Kasperowski, Germany, around the world, in Ecuador, R100GSPD and Suzuki XF 650 Freewind,
"Greetings from Quito. Ricardo... is a nice guy and also very helpful. Arrived in Quito, I left a note at his answering machine... and we went together for dinner... he is a very very busy man. All the time we spent together, his cellphone was ringing and he was organizing things for other travellers...
Yesterday we received our bikes after spending the day from 9am to 5.30pm in the customs office. We are so happy now and went straight to the famous market to Otavalo were we spend the whole day today. It's so amazing to see such a rich and colourful culture, which is so different from ours. Now we are on the road again and heading south. We are planning to be back in Germany in March or April 2003."
Gareth Jones, New Zealand, down Africa,
"Stuck in Aswan waiting for a new starter motor for the bike, so will cross next Mon. (Aswan - Wadi Halfa ferry)"
Matthias Nill and Martin, Germany, Vancouver to Argentina,
"...we are now on a trip from Vancouver to Argentina. in the next weeks we will fly from Panama to Quito"
Jens Peters, Germany, to India,
"I am in Istanbul currently, (13 October) heading east tomorrow to Ankara and further on, altogether about 2-3 weeks till the Iranian Border... drop me a line!"
Vincent Danna, France, around the world, in Uzbekistan, BMW R100GS,
"I will be in Iran in November 2002, then Turkmenistan, now in Uzbekistan, then Pakistan on a transit or tourist visa, even on a boat from Iran to India, depending on the dangers, then India"
William - (KTMwill), UK, to India, KTM,
"Well I have sort of slowed down a bit since hitting Turkey and am actually only in Goreme, Kapadokya at the mo. We ferried over from Istanbul to the Aegean coast for a while then inland to Pamakalia and the lakes then down to the Med, and very nice it was too! I will be crossing over to Iran in about the first week of November...
I am actually in Kaysari today but likely to be heading off east tomorrow and likely to cross into Iran in the next week or so, or thereabouts!!. If anyone out there is around at the mo or in the future, give me a shout and we can meet up."
So, William, what's your last name?
by Rob and Dafne de Jong, Netherlands,
"...Thanks for keeping us updated and involved in the world of motorcycle travelling. Things do change faster than we even think. It's almost a year since we returned to Holland and we hear it's possible to go from West to East Africa over land. But then again, will it be possible tomorrow too? If only we can open the Chinese and Burmese borders. You never know...
We just had a visit from our Japanese friend Shigeru Yoshida, who travelled around the world on a Yamaha YDS3 (250cc two stroke) in 1965 till 1968. He could not cross the border from Finland into Russia in 1967. This year he retired at the age of 60 and guess what: The first thing he did was starting the engine of his Royal Star Classic (1300cc) and head for Fushiki to take the ferry to Vladivostok. He did cross that same border 35 years after passage was refused to him. Let's keep on hoping..."
by Nikola Mrakovèiæ, Rijeka Croatia HU Community,
"I traveled around Ukraine with my friend on two motorcycles and I must say had a very good experience with Vlad from Odessa HU Community. We had full help when we were in Odessa. We can say for Vlad and his wife only the best. His wife show us around town and they even shared their room two nights with us.
We met in Odessa two guys, Mitchell and Robert from Netherlands. They travel on Africa Twin and BMW to Australia and they expect that travel will take one year. Their email."
Samuel Koops, Germany, in Panama, R1100GS,
"At the moment I am in Panama City organizing my shipping to Ecuador. Two German bikes have been seen driving to Panama City 100 Ks north of the City 3 days ago. (as of 15 October) Probably a couple. I would like to contact them."
See Sam's post on the HUBB
Didier Martin, living in Australia, around the world for World Vision, F650GS,
"Saturday 19 October, It was on a cool but sunny morning, around 100 people, mostly my friends and family, gathered at World Vision for my send off. Everything was going fine until my friend George Gouron noticed that I had a dent on the rim of my front wheel, I remember the incident, it happened on my way to work a couple of weeks earlier, I hit something on the road, probably a brick, did not notice anything at the time and forgot about it. Now, what to do? I could not just start my trip on a damaged wheel, so after all the photos, the chatting, the speeches and the goodbyes I left quickly, with a tear in my eye, for a quick pit stop...
... I reached Coolgardie at 4.30pm and decided to stay at the local hotel called, strangely enough, hotel Denver City, firstly because that was the cheapest accommodation and secondly because I wanted to get a feel of the place. Coolgardie is a ghost of its former self, you can tell by the huge size of its town hall and its post office. Gold was discovered here in 1892, and by the turn of the century the population had boomed to 15,000, now it's down to only 1100 inhabitants. Being Friday night, the bar was full of locals, drinking beer being the only entertainment as there is nothing else to do here, but I am not much of a beer drinker or rough talking so I disappeared very quickly for an early night.
Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world, the closest city to it is 3000 kms away. While in Perth, I had the pleasure of visiting the Rosalie primary school. This school has been awarded three times by World Vision for raising the most money in Western Australia for the 40 hours famine. Well done! I spoke to two classrooms and answered a lot of questions.
Bruce McGregor, from Auto Classic, was kind enough to let me use his workshop to service my bike and put a new rear tyre. He also brought a wooden palette to the airport for me to pack my bike on, ready for the flight. Simon Lea, from Dangerous goods management, is organizing all the paper work for the freighting of the bike to Cape Town. I tried to make the bike as small as possible on the crate by removing the front wheel, the rearview mirrors and the top of the fairing. All I can do now is pray that it get there in one piece.
Tomorrow I am flying to Cape Town, my good friend Yurek is taking me to the airport. Thank you Tina and Yurek for looking after me, I am sure that we will meet again, somewhere... Good-bye Australia."
Meindert Baars, Netherlands, to South Africa,
"...currently making preparations to travel around africa on a Honda Dominator, I should be leaving the Netherlands around Nov and passing equatorial Africa before May. The planned route at the moment is; Maroc, Mauritainie, Mali, (Possible Guinea), Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo and possible through Angola to Namibie circumstances permitting, otherwise will ship to SA. The route back on the east coast is still not clear at the moment...
let me know if you are going the same way!"
Frank Schellenberg, Netherlands, to South Africa,
"...am leaving the second of 11 same route... From the first time I visited Zimbabwe in 1993 my love for this continent was there, and since then I have been ill during my stays in Europe ;-). Since then I traveled with friends and family to different parts of -mainly- Southern Africa."
DJ - Magyari Dezso, Transylvania, Romania, to South Africa,
"...my plan is to start from Turkey, Syria, Yordania, Egypt and follow the east coast in Africa to South, and back on the West coast, starting from 28 November."
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Bob West, Dubai, South America and north to Alaska,
"Grant & Susan, I think this is a great site, I am not young and have been travelling by bike for many years, my last reasonable trip was Dubai to UK in 1999 and access to this site would have been most useful. My next trip starts in December in Buenos Aires, first South for New Year then North to Alaska and I will use this site for contacts etc. With regards to funding I don't think anyone would object to an annual subscription as long as it was reasonable and easy to pay. Keep up the great work (if you can afford it!!) "
William and Lizette Chapman, USA, to Brazil, R100GS,
"Great to hear from you. What amazing 2-up journeys you've had! Incredible site, we've found all kinds of information for our journey. If you are ever anywhere near San Francisco my wife and I would love to treat you two to a dinner. We'd try not to talk your ear off... We are leaving December 1. Things are starting to fall into place. I'm in between gigs, and my wife was able to scam a 3 month leave of absence, so we'll at least have her job to come back to... if we come back :-)
We're currently debating between straight down following the pacific, and going through Texas or Arizona and hitting the Yucatan Peninsula more directly, then on through Belize, Guatemala, etc etc."
Nicolas Vallee, France, Egypt to Mongolia, Transalp,
"Let me introduce myself, I am a French guy of 28 years old. In few days, I will leave my country with my Honda Transalp 600 for a year trip from Egypt to (normally) Mongolia. My Friends Thomas Dalmasso (Bruges - Belgium) probably told you that. My web site is actually in French but I plan to have an English version one day. I discovered your site last year, when I began to plan my trip. I would like to know if it possible to apport my contribution by giving some information about the countries I will cross or for the border crossing."
Iris Heiremans and Trui Hanoulle, Belgium, 2nd overland to India, through Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, on DR650SE's
"From our idyllic spot in Turkey at Ucagiz, we finally get moving again. We still had a solid bit of road left before reaching home. Via the luxurious port of Gocek and a smaller port in Datca, we made of Selcuk our last Turkish stop before taking the boat at Cesme. Southwestern Turkey was so 'western', the shock of hitting Europe turned out to be a smooth transition instead.
Our German super-mechanic, Walter Seifert, checked Iris's bikes valves (because we couldn't think of anything else to check). He was amazed to find he didn't have to adjust any. With more then 50,000 kms without any adjusting, he said to Iris she was 'ein sehr humane Motorradfahrerin'. We were collectively proud the two Suzuki's had made it without any problem on this long and sometimes harsh journey.
After southern Germany we headed for France in a right angle, and had our 'last' tête-à-tête supper drenched in real champagne. The next day we continued to the French-Belgian border with a strange knot in our bellies. We hadn't been nervous before, but now we were REALLY almost home. We promised each other to keep maximum concentration - two friends of ours had had accidents right before getting home from a long journey, and this was the last thing we wanted.
On Sunday October 13th, at 5 p.m. sharp, we turned around the corner of our street... and couldn't believe our eyes : there was a crowd and banners and music and french fries and beer and wine and even local press. We were home. Without accidents or break downs, without the slightest drop of rain in Europe.
Now we're sitting in a cozy warm living room, the rain beating against the windows. Just done a small dishes, and finished folding away three loads of laundry. Flowers, and several bottles of wine and champagne with congratulation cards are spread all over. Our luggage lays partly unpacked and there're two boxes full of mail. We pick up something, then read another newspaper, put on a CD. We're slightly confused. But we're home, two heads full, grinning from ear to ear, proud, and happy. Iris and Trui
The final statistics:
Harald and Udo Lamers, the Bike Brothers, Netherlands, from Europe to NZ and back, on Suzuki DR 600s,
"Autumn starts early on this longitude. Red and yellow leaves from birch trees coloring beautiful in the sun. The days and nights are getting colder. Everyday when we camp we make a campfire to keep us warm. Holding a cup coffee in our hands, staring into the fire, letting our thoughts go. But realizing that the winter is coming we rush back home. We cross the Baltic States, Poland and Germany. And then, after 17 months, 24 countries and 64.000 km we are back in Holland. It is just a little jump further till Delft. There are we welcomed by our parents and friends. We are back home but we are not realizing it. Our minds are still travelling
The last few kilometers to my own apartment... The sun is setting and colors the sky orange-gold. Next to me I see a long silhouette shadow. It's my travelling Saint. The guy who protected me and my Suzi on our trip. I wave to him and to the sun. I wave to life. Thank you and thanks Suzi."
Iris and Trui send this story about the Trabzon, Turkey Community:
"More then a month before getting to Turkey, I thought it would be interesting to meet with Turkish bikers. Have a chat, maybe ride out with them, or just see a bit of Turkish biker's lives. Through our favourite biker's web site, http://www.horizonsunlimited.com , which hosts 'communities' from all over the world (groups or individuals ready to help passing-by motorbike travelers), we contacted the Trabzon Community. Trabzon is a medium sized city on the Black Sea coast in north eastern Turkey. We wanted to visit this interesting city anyhow on our way back through Turkey. Almost instantly we received a very kind reply from a certain Altan Kalafat, welcoming us to his town.
Though a recent 'convert' to biking, Altan is a biker to the core for sure. He told us they founded a biker's cafe last year (open after 19 h and serving tea), and there are about 25 'big bike' riders in the whole of Trabzon, all knowing one another.
But halfway through Iran we realized our front tyres wouldn't hold till home, and Iris's relined brake pads were not up to the job. So we contacted Altan again asking if he could help us with these matters. He did, and how ! Spare brake pads were DHLed from home to his address, and he managed to order the exact tyres we wanted. All was ready and waiting for us when we got to Trabzon.
One afternoon, when we were at the tyre shop and there was a bit of a language problem over 'where can we have the tyres fit', Altan was called at his job and showed up only minutes later. He helped us out with a smile, and went back to his work...
On top of that we spent an evening together with Altan, his great wife and two almost-grown-up children, and an entire picnic day at Sumela monastery - the latter on Iris's birthday with the very best lamb chops we ever had and a real cake with a candle to finish off the day. A huge 'thank you' to Altan Kalafat!"
Just a reminder to all, when you JOIN a Community in your area, send a note to the Community introducing yourself and suggesting a meeting for a beer or a ride or something. It's a good way of meeting like-minded individuals in your own town.
There are over 179 Communities in 59 countries running already. A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. One of the latest additions is Papua New Guinea - and they tell me it's great to travel there, so sounds like we're all missing an excellent opportunity, especially now with contacts there to help out! Other new Communities are Bruges, Belgium; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; El Bolson, Argentina; Stuttgart, Germany; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; and Curico, Chile!
Thanks to all those who started these great new Communities!
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 web page about your Community! A few links to web pages about your area would be useful too.
From Chris Jones, Atlanta community,
"Anyone in the Atlanta community want to get together over a beer, maybe at the Vortex? I just bought a 1150GS to begin planning my RTW and would love to chat about trips, gear, bike mods, etc. Let me know. Bones."
Have you thought about a 'Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting' in your Community area?
Following the very successful launch of the UK (2001 and 2002) and Canadian / US (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 - and it's a lot easier than you might think. Our UK organisers had a blast this year and are all set to do it again next year! Let me know what you think - we'll do all we can to support you and your Community.
The Brisbane Australia Community are working on putting together a Travellers Meeting, possibly as early as March 2003, so keep in touch! Contact them at the Community Contact page here if you can help.
UK Travellers Meeting tentatively set for 4,5,6, July 2003!
Support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - check out the HU Souk for fleece vests and jumpers / pullovers, t-shirts, hats and other products with the new logo and a variety of slogans! Just in time for Christmas presents for your favorite motorcycle traveller!
Thanks! Grant and Susan
To subscribe, or even UNsubscribe 'now why would you want to do that?' to this e-zine.
Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle
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 30 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
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