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Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in kissing poisonous snakes in Thailand, studying dolphins in Australia, roasting gambas in Goa, howling monkeys in Nicaragua, dissing police in Panama, calving glaciers in Ushuaia, teargassed in Caracas, ambushed in Mombasa, mugged in Russia, bandits in Kenya, nomads in the Sahara and much more...?
Then you're reading the right newsletter!
On the Website:
Happy 2003! We did warn you that this issue would be late, but we thought it would be because we'd be away on holiday. That didn't happen, instead we both caught colds, sequentially, first Susan, then Grant. So it's been a very quiet holiday season for us. But we've dragged ourselves off our sickbeds to get this issue out, so you can read about all the great parties you missed in Thailand, Goa, Panama and Ushuaia, as well as the usual suspects and some new stories from places that are well off the beaten tourist path, like Uganda, Nicaragua, Senegal, Russia, Guatemala and Kenya, to name just a few!
Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings 2003 - time to plan ahead!
2003 is shaping up to be a banner year for Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meetings around the world. We have organizers busy and dates set for the following:
New Zealand - 19 January 2003 - Nigel Marx is organizing this in Christchurch. Also known as the "Didn't-Quite-Make-It-For-Christmas Party." Let Nigel know you're coming!
Australia - 26 January 2003 - Brisbane. Ken and Carol Duval are hosting a party to celebrate Australia Day AND Ken's 50th birthday. This will be a warm-up for the main HU meeting later in the year, date to be announced. Please let us know if you can help Ken and Carol out.
UK - 27-29 June 2003 - 3rd Annual Meeting - Chris Bright and Glynn Roberts are organizing this again at the Black Horse Inn in Somercotes, same location as last year. The UK meeting last year brought together over 100 travellers from the UK and Europe, and was the highlight of the motorcycle travellers social season. Registration has already begun and numbers will be limited. If you'd like to present a slide show or put on a talk for the UK 2003 event, please let us know.
Portugal - 11-13 July 2003 - 1st Annual European Meeting - Goncalo Pais is organizing this event in Budens, in the south-western point of Portugal. Contact or me if you would like to assist in Portugal, or can be there and would like to put on a slide show.
Mexico - Oct. 31-Nov 2 2003 - Juan Carlos and Gerardo Ibarra are organizing this event, in Copper Canyon. If you'd like to present a slide show or put on a talk for the Mexico 2003 event, please let us know.
Bolivia - Nov. 8 2003 - Frank and Ann Schwarzbauer are organizing this event in La Paz. Details on Frank's page. If you'd like to present a slide show or put on a talk for the Bolivia 2003 event, please let us know.
Thanks to all the volunteers! We still need volunteers to organize events in eastern US/Canada (hopefully this will be the first of many) and a 2nd Annual western US/Canada travellers meeting this summer. We have a lot of HU Communities in the US and Canada, so who wants to host a travellers meeting? Let us know what you think - we'll do all we can to support you and your Community. It's really not that hard, and it's a lot of fun!
So mark your calendars for at least one of these events. This is your chance to meet your fellow travellers, share adventures and travel tips, and incidentally to help support your favorite website, namely us! 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!
Looking for a travel bike?
Or want to travel somewhere interesting, but the cost of shipping is too much? How about a bike that’s already there and ready to go? See the HUBB’s Travel Bikes for Sale / Wanted Forum! There's lots of choices!
"US registered XR650L will be for sale in Asuncion, Paraguay from January 12th 2003. It’s travel equipped with big tank (4,7 gallons), aluminum panniers (from motosportpanniers.com), toolbox and all."
"Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ 750 for sale in or around Chile, South America in Feb-March2003." Australian registry.
"KLR 650 For Sale in Perth: 2000, 17,000km as new, with rack for traveling."
"Two 2001 Kawasaki KLRs in Berkeley, California"
"HONDA RD 07 Africa Twin in Quito, Ecuador" German registry
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! They'll show you around town, or just provide a place to stay for the night, or help service your bike - so start contacting them! The Communities are a terrific resource for travellers on the road, so check out the list and get in touch!
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 newsletter is provided as a complimentary 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.
Paris to Dakar race starts Jan 1, from Marseilles.
Elefant Treffen, Bavaria, Jan 31 - Feb 2,
Nürburgring campground, Feb 21 - 23
Another, smaller Elefant meeting.
Primus-Rally, Bjoneroa, west of Randsfjorden, 120 km north of Oslo (Norway) 21-23 February 2003
What to bring: camping-gear, including a warm sleeping bag, warm clothes.
Christchurch, NZ Horizons Unlimited Community meeting, 19 Jan 2003
Nigel Marx writes: "We are planning a Christchurch HU Community Didn't-Quite-Make - It-For- Christmas Party on the 19 January. Spit roasted Canterbury lamb and all the trimmings! So as you can see we will need a big turnout to eat everything. What do ya say, mate? You coming? Regards Nigel Marx & Kitty Rhodes in NZ" Let Nigel know you're coming!
World Record BMW GS Bikes Parade, Belgium, 6-8 June 2003,
An attempt to set a Guinness record with the longest BMW GS (only) parade - join in!
Midsummer Sunrisetour, northeast Netherlands, June 21, 2003, 5 am.
"a 540 km long (70% unpaved) dualsport tour in one day."
For details see HUBB post
3rd BMW Biker Meeting, 4-6 July 2003, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Details eventually. :)
22nd Faro Rally 18-20 July 2003, Portugal
Mexico Online, Everything you need to know about the paperwork required to enter Mexico, especially from the USA.
Excellent free maps of Mexico
Governmental Web pages Listing of most countries governmental webpages.
"some useful information for anyone who wants to do motorcycle tours in Indonesia, or who needs technical information and references which are difficult to find in a country where only motorcycles with a capacity of less than 250cc are allowed."
Easy Random... travels south...
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.
more about the BMW coding plugs I didn't know:
"Question was posed regarding the necessity of using MoDiTec to reset the Motronic on latest BMW's - you've probably received hundreds of replies to this, but resetting the Motronic is simple - pull out fuse #5 from the fuse box, wait 30 seconds or so, then replace. Voila. Motronic reset. Then, with ignition on but engine off, open throttle wide a couple of times to 'teach' the Motronic the throttle positions. Regarding reading the Motronic codes without MoDiTec, it can be done using a multimeter and counting the number of voltage pulses. Each fault (or non-fault) can be diagnosed from a published chart. All this information, including the fault codes, is available via the archives on BMWRT.com discussion board. Hope this is useful. Paul Whitehead, UK"
By Bernard Voges, in Cape Town, South Africa
"The day before yesterday (10 December) I caught up (briefly!) with a traveller. It appears he had just arrived in Cape Town that afternoon. Unfortunately I couldn't get any details, as we only briefly tried to communicate at an intersection - his Moto-x helmet did a very good job jumbling the sound of his voice! I have no clue who it may be, but it was someone riding a black Super Téneré, no panniers, and some soft luggage strapped to the pillion seat area. The bike's plate was (I think) '9826VS64' (small, yellow) - perhaps French, or Swiss? Any idea who this may be? Anyway, thought I'd just you everyone know. It's always great to see travellers roll into Cape Town, as regardless of your final destination, this will always be a milestone. Enjoy the festive season, and many thanks again for your gargantuan efforts into the terrific site. Regards, Bernard"
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.
From João Batista de Lima, Matelândia - Brazil,
"I will be beginning, starting from March of next year, trip round the world by motorcycle. I would like to obtain motorcyclists' information that already travelled in Siberia, Mongolia and China. João. Contact"
Bernard Lazarevitch, France / India,
"Hello from Asia, anyone have any info on the boat link between Rameswaran (Tamil Nadu) and the Jaffna peninsula in Sri Lanka? Best biker wishes for the new year!"
From Uros Blazko, Slovenia
"At present I am in Malaysian capital, trying to negotiate my way to the south. The problem is with bringing the bike into Indonesia. Looks like the procedure is straightforward if you get visa on the border, like it was described by a biker, who crossed from Melaka to Dumai. (Trip planning - border crossing - Melaka, Malaysia to Dumai, Indonesia).
If you need a visa like I do (I am citizen of Slovenia), the procedure is very intricate. At the Indonesian embassy at Penang I got SPECIAL REGULATIONS WITH REGARD TO BRINGING VEHICLES INTO INDONESIA.
These regulations require that prior to bring vehicle into the country you must (I copy):
1.Obtain permission from Chief of Indonesia Police through your embassy in Jakarta before the vehicle enter Indonesia
2.Your Embassy in Jakarta must be responsible for the re-export of the vehicle or written guarantee made by your embassy in Jakarta.
3.The carbon copy of the application should also be address
4.Possess Carnet De Passage.
5.Possess International Driving License.
6.After obtaining the permission, the vehicle must be
export through Port of Entry:
7.Must comply with all the Immigration and Customs regulations.
8.A police report must be made at every town (to inform that the person concerned is there).
9.Type of the vehicle:
10.After they fulfill those requirements, they will be able to step further in obtaining the appropriate visa from the Indonesia Embassy.
These requirements are bad just as they are, not to mention the time it would take to obtain such approval. Besides no embassy will guarantee that your bike will be reexported. But the worst thing of it all is, that Slovenia has no embassy in Jakarta.
Now solve that mess, if you can.
I hope that this information will be useful for some travelers, who need Indonesian visa. If someone has answer how to get around this approval, please contact me directly or via Horizons Unlimited site. Best regards Uros from Slovenia"
Plenty more questions and answers on the HU Bulletin Board! We've over 2,192 registered users on the Board, which I think is pretty amazing, and gives a huge resource of knowledge and experience to help you with anything you might need to know.
From Mariola Cichon, about vehicle insurance in West Africa
"A very professional looking young man came to the hotel today to offer vehicle insurance to tourists. The insurance is mandatory in all West Africa countries and can be bought in any city, including St. Louis. I already have heard enough of horror stories about having to pay off police at any road block in case of not having insurance.
There are at least two types of such insurance. One covers all West Africa countries, another just a few. The latter was the one sold to me at the border. Because it did not include Guinea and several others I had to buy another policy, this time for three months for all countries. And guess what? I paid $69 for it... that is all... not $300, which was what the guys at the border demanded. The 40 bucks I spent there went to hell... oh well... another lesson learned!
In case you will come this way here is a contact to the man who sold me the policy. He is very nice and speaks some English. Just buy a day or two worth of insurance on the border, enough to get you to the city. Then call this guy, or go to any insurance office.
Demba NDAW - Attache Commercial
From Jeremy Bullard, UK, Responding to a question on the HUBB regarding the Zimbabwe situation:
"I went into Zim in early November when the black market rate was 600
to 650 zim to 1 USD. It is now about 1400.
Important note re Carnets:
UPDATE from Brigitte at ADAC: "we no longer issue the carnet de passages for people living outside Germany and for vehicles not registered in Germany. There were too many problems with customs formalities and refunding the guarantee."
Also, note that the AA in the UK no longer issues carnets at all. Renewals of AA carnets are through the RAC. In theory, the RAC will issue non-resident carnets.
So as a general rule, other than the RAC, the only place you can currently get a carnet is from your home country. (In North America all carnets are done from the Canadian Automobile Association)
From Kirsten Latimer in Indonesia
"We have been in Indonesia for 6 weeks making our way from Sumatra to Timor where we can cargo the bikes to Australia. To get the bikes into Sumatra we had to send them over in a small boat from the port of Kuala Lingi (50km north of Malacca). 400 Ringit a bike. We had to take the passenger ferry from Malacca, after that its a day spent in Dumai (Sumatra) sorting out paperwork with police and customs.
Sumatra - roads are hellish in places and to be honest we didn't like the place too much. Lots of tropical vegetation if that's your scene.
Java - badly congested in the west but gets really nice the more south/east you go, some fantastic mountain roads to do here and its lovely and cool up high. Riding round the Mt. Bromo crater was our personal highlight.
Bali - well not much to say except that its a great place to relax for a few days before heading on. That's where we are writing from.
Advice - You only get 2 months visa and its not much time for the size of the country. Suggest blatting through Sumatra and taking your time in the more interesting places.
Locals? Very friendly indeed, no hassles at all. Petrol extremely cheap and seems to be of reasonable quality.
Visa extensions: we have tried here in Bali and got nowhere fast. Hope the above helps."
From Rich Kickbush, about the Zilov Gap
"I went across the 'Zilov gap' (be aware no one in Russia calls it this) in late October - it wasn't that bad a time to be there, but might have been due to a later than normal winter. Damn cold but water levels at the bridges (most of them on the new road are still under construction, there is always some kind of bypass road) were lower than what it sounded like in summer. I think the best time conditions wise would be early fall. The amount of people driving Japanese cars back from Vladivostock at the time seemed to confirm this.
I used part of the new road and parts of the old road as the locals directed me...this is one country where you NEED to speak some of the language. Talk to the drivers of the Jap cars, the guys working on the road are trucked in and trucked out, and often know very little about what is going on past their own worksite. They have their own diesel dumps so don't need to know about petrol. They didn't tell me which roads I wasn't 'allowed' on, just interesting facts like there wasn't petrol for 600km (the next fillup point was 40km away and had been there for years). There were "no entry" signs on some sections but like most road signs in Russia they refer to an imaginary concept only.
The signs I saw said something about 2003 completion... while this might be ambitious there are a LOT of people out there working on it and some sections are ready to be paved now, so not sure how long it will stay dirt anyway..."
From Mike Klobucar (lost1), in a HUBB post about East Timor:
"We are in Bali right now and have just come through from East Timor. Islands visited: West Timor, Alor, Flores, Sumbawa, Lombok. No problems at all. Only thing is to watch out for Central Sulawesi there are supposed to be some 'conflicts' there. We will probably be in Bali til Xmas and then we may give Kalimantan a try going into Malaysian Borneo."
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.
Chris and Erin Ratay, USA, around the world, in Venezuela, two BMW F650s,
"Dec. 7, 2002 - The massacre occurred only meters from where we were standing yesterday afternoon. It was our first visit to Plaza Francia, and everything was calm when we were there. We will stay away from the plaza now.
Most shops have been closed all week, and now the gas stations are closed as fuel transport has been blocked. We were going to try to leave here late next week, but will now try to get the bikes on the first available flight -- this may be a problem, as many flights have been cancelled due to lack of passengers, and now the potential disruption of fuel delivery.
The average man on the street is still acting normal, and we have not experienced any feelings of danger. We've been here a week now, and every day is the same: We spend our days between the internet cafe, 3 local restaurants, and watching cable TV in our room. There are protests marches twice a day passing our hotel (afternoon and evening), which consist of a couple hundred people walking by, banging pots, blowing whistles, and waving flags. It is a lot of noise, but is not violent. We are 2 kms from the main plaza, where demonstrations are more numbered (thousands).
Dec. 10 - We encountered several road blocks where the driver had to take detours, he was obviously getting frustrated. At one point an angry pedestrian banged on the drivers window and started an argument. The driver opened the door and began to exit the bus to fight the man. Passengers on the bus yelled at the driver to drop it and ride on, which he did. At the last neighborhood out of town, we noticed people running on the sidewalks, covering their faces. Just then, we felt the tingling in our nose and stinging in our eyes - tear gas. The police had just shot off some canisters to disperse a crowd of demonstrators. Everyone yelled for the driver to floor it out of there. Things were heating up...
December 12 - Panamá City, Panamá: We just arrived in Panamá, our 44th country, the beginning of Central America, and the reality that the end of the trip is (unfortunately) nearing an end. We are back on the North American continent, and can measure our time remaining for this journey in rapidly diminishing months."
Gregory Frazier, USA, in Thailand for a little winter riding, Yamaha Tenere,
"12 motorcycle travelers and their friends spent Christmas Day in Chiang Mai, Thailand stuffing turkey in their faces, trading road warrior stories, and kissing a snake. I had invited a few globe wanderers to meet me around Christmas after we partied in Heidelberg, Germany in June. Sharon Whitman (USA) and Bill Burwell (USA), doing the globe on their Harleys, showed up, as did fellow KLR adventurer Rich Kickbush (OZ). I have bumped into Kickbush 4 times around the globe, and Sharon and Bill twice. Small planet, this globe called Earth.
Kickbush and local Golden Triangle guru David Unkovich (AUS) decided to try some Hill Tribe booze I had given Sharon which had a large, poison filled snake in the bottle. The snake head touched their lips and the booze tasted (they said) like battery acid. Sharon would not be out done by two Aussies, so licked the snake lips too. Dun Duvall (USA), one of my jungle riding buddies from the USA who is doing the world with a Honda tied to the front of his sailboat, went a bit further and lipped the serpent twice. I hate snakes (had to wrap the bottle in newspaper while I carried it five days on the motorcycle so I could not see the ugly thing), so passed on the challenge, claiming that Whitman and Duvall had one-upped the Aussies, and Mrs. Frazier (my mother) raised her son to not push his luck (the dead snake might have tried to kiss me back). Kickbush was lucky to join us. On his way up from Bangkok he was hit head-on by a police truck. He flew off the bike, onto the bonnet of the truck, then flopped on the pavement. He bent the front wheel and did $750.00 US damage (which he had to pay) to the cop truck. His bike wobbled into Chiang Mai just in time to suck down some free beer and eat free turkey. Aussies, I am told, never miss a free beer...or meal.
I've jumped onto a Yamaha Tenere for the winter and found it a bit high and big for jungle riding, especially after it rains. On several occasions I have entertained the local Hill Tribe villagers by falling down in the red mud ruts in the center of their villages. I laugh, wave them off, and tell them it's OK for me to fall down because I am just learning to ride a motorcycle, and then point to the BMW sticker someone pasted on my Yamaha, then say the crash was the fault of the bike.
A pretty Long Neck girl (17 years old) in one of the villages near Burma I have visited a couple of times took a liking to me, the first American Indian she has ever met. I was impressed with her excellent taste in men, especially after she ran her hands all over my body (on top of my riding gear) checking out the size of my muscles, tone and lack of beer belly. Then she dragged me over to her hut and introduced me to her mother, also a Long Neck. I thought she was telling her what a great specimen I was and what a wonderful husband I would make for her, the nubile village virgin. Imagine my surprise when I figured out she was trying to hustle me to be a husband for her mother. Ahh, but she still did have good taste in men."
Tiffany Coates, UK, Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia, in Chile, R80G/S,
"... it has been a very quiet month for me, biking-wise. I entered Chile north of Calama and have come down the coast, some beautiful beaches along there, though it starts to get very overdeveloped as it gets closer to Santiago. Luckily I have got friends here in Santiago and so have been enjoying what feels like a life of luxury after six months on the road- a real bedroom, housekeeper, swimming pool etc., but what of Thelma, ah yes, she is in the hands of the mechanics, being repaired while I enjoy the social life of Santiago and get around on a bicycle - a bit of pedal power for a change.
I had a very sociable Christmas, attending (or should I say gatecrashing) an office party for 300 people, celebrating Christmas Eve with Chris Friedman (from US on his Suzuki DR650) who is also in town and then cooking a big Christmas Dinner for my friends - introducing Chileans and Irish alike to the delights of Bread Sauce (it's an English thing). So, hopefully I will be setting off in the next day or two, heading towards Tierra Del Fuego. Enjoy your New Year wherever you are."
Didier Martin, France, living in Australia, around the world for World Vision, in Uganda, F650GS,
"I rode all the way to Kampala without any problems. The price of petrol surprised me though, at nearly US$1.00 per litre that makes it as bad as in Europe and that is the highest that I seen so far in Africa. Kampala suffered a great deal during the civil war but has come back from a looted shell to a shriving modern city of 774,000 people. The traffic though is amazing, there are no traffic lights or any rules so when you arrive to an intersection everyone try to go through, the result is some incredible traffic jams.
Kamengo is located at 55km south from Kampala; it took me just under 45 minutes to ride there, the scenery along the road was beautiful, very green and fertile. The project started in October 1995 and is now helping around 30,000 people with 1,646 sponsored children but the objective is to have 2,500 children sponsored in the coming year. They have already built 2 schools but 4 more are under construction, they have provided children with schools uniforms, desks, books and supplies. There are also schools for adults to teach them how to write, read, business management and other skills. On top of that, health clinics are established and children are immunized against common diseases. Springs are protected to provide clean drinking water to families. Community members are learning to work as AIDS counsellors, birth attendants and health -care workers. Using bicycles which have been provided for this purpose, they make home visits, teaching others about various aspects of health-care including nutrition, disease prevention and nursing those with AIDS. Community members are also learning new skills including tailoring and carpentry.
... Tomorrow I will cross the border into Kenya once more and will have to face my first real dangerous road later on in the north of Kenya on my way to Ethiopia. That road is not only in appalling condition but also very unsafe due to attacks from locals bandits who shoot at you, so you have to travel in convoy for two days with an arm soldier at the front and another one at the back. My worry is, will I be able to keep up with them, if not...
I hope to be able to tell the tales in my next update in the meantime have a wonderful Christmas and a great new year! There will not be any turkey or ham for me this year but plenty of dust and stress."
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Martin Rooiman and Jeannette Boom, a.k.a. De Twee Musketiers, Netherlands, around the world, in New Zealand,
"Our Christmas we spent together with friends and was celebrated in the traditional way with presents, turkey and Christmas pudding, which was much better than last years Christmas when we were stuck in a small Thai village while Erik was recovering from his motorbike accident.
New Years Eve we spent together with Graham, Jan and Katherin, the same group as we travelled through Nepal with for a while in 2001. Again this was way much better than last year when we were in Sukothai where there was no celebration at all. Also Jeannette baked some 'oliebollen' and 'appelflappen' typical Dutch delicacies for New Years eve and it had been 3 years ago we had them the last time when we were still at home.
We planned to use this holiday break to work on the travel report about Indonesia but we haven't completed it entirely. We only have the pictures and the first (but the biggest part) of Indonesia ready and we will put it on the site today. Rest is following soon. Now we now how the Blog-thing works we find it great to update it ourselves including pictures.
Tomorrow we leave for a short trip to the Coromandel and beyond. We'll be back in Auckland on the 20th when my parents are arriving here and we swap the bikes for a campervan for three weeks to explore the South island together with them. After they fly back home we return there to explore the more remote areas on our motorbikes. So we absolutely have a good time coming up. Thanks, and all the best, Martin & Jeannette"
Check out Martin and Jen's blog here on Horizons Unlimited, for great stories and pics from their RTW trip!
Goose and Lucy, (Adrian Greygoose and Lucy Gardner), UK, around the world, in Australia, R1100GS,
"Arriving in Perth was a distinct 'waypoint'. We were now on the last leg of the journey - albeit with more than 10,000ks to go. We went to collect the bike from the shipping company, only to discover that it had had a 900-kilo case dropped on top of it! Although it looked a bit of mess, it had suffered surprisingly little damage. It cost us a slab of beer to get the right angles knocked back into the panniers, gaffer tape and cable ties fixed the rest - at least for the time being - and without further ado we were off.
With a fairly uneventful 500ks nibbled out of our journey we arrived in Geraldton, our first overnight stop. Lunch in a local café introduced us to the establishment's owner, Kev, a bike-riding, former Pom. Aussie hospitality was in overdrive and we subsequently spent the evening at his place, chomping pizza, drinking beer and talking bikes with him and his wife Wendy.
One of the trip's first highlights was a visit to Monkey Mia, a World Heritage site where visitors come to see the dolphins swim into the knee-deep shallows. The Dolphin Study Centre is partially funded by tourism allowing research to continue while crowds of tourists are given the opportunity to learn something more about dolphin behaviour. We spent an afternoon on a world-class racing catamaran adapted for marine study. Several pods of dolphins came to see us and swam alongside the yacht - the crew can identify them by their markings and have adopted names for each one.
A few hair-raising trips along unmade roads and a close look at our chosen route had thrown up a problem - the outback roads can be an absolute hoot to ride if you're solo and have no luggage. Sections of dirt can quickly change to shale, which can just as quickly change to soft sand. However, with our gargantuan 500k payload I had grave concerns about our ability to stay upright. To make matters worse we have several 300k-plus stretches of deserted roads to access the places we wanted to visit. Reluctantly and after a lot of thought we decided to head back to Perth from where we would truck the bike to Brisbane and splatter the remnants of our budget on a 4WD."
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, in Ecuador, on a Harley Davidson,
"Seasons Greetings We both would like to wish you and your families the happiest time and best wishes for the rest of the year and the next year.
Today we moved the motorcycle into Ecuador, in South America, its last new country in the Americas. During the last 15 months it has managed to carry us, overloaded as usual, to every country in North, Central and South America.
... We have not been in Ecuador for long enough yet to have seen much but expect to be in Quito for Christmas and Bogotá, Colombia for New Years, Venezuela early into the new year. We hope to beg, borrow, buy or steal a boat to carry the motorcycle and us up through the Caribbean, island hopping to the USA over the next six months then off to Milwaukee for the 100th anniversary of Harley-Davidson.
If you have the time please email us and let us know what is happening in your lives. We love to hear from friends as we travel. Keep in touch and all the best for you and your families. Peter and Kay"
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.
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Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, around the world, chilling in Goa, India, Honda Africa Twin,
"After a short but busy career as a Bollywood-movie star and a frantic search for a new front wheel tyre (finally found a second hand one) I have arrived in Goa some day's ago (12 to be precise). I found a nice and quiet beach called Junnas Wada Beach near Arambol. There I rented a bamboo-hut on pole at the edge of the beach surrounded by coconut-trees. It's paradise.
In the morning I get up around 7:30. Then I go to the beach and do some 'running' which usually end in a big splatter into the waves. Then I take a shower, make myself presentable (as best as possible ;-) and go to have a breakfast (toast and coffee).
Then I usually lay a bit in a hammock until around 9:00 or 9:30... time to go to the beach, the town or just a walk. In this way I fill the morning and at about 12:30 I am very hungry for a lunch.... Lunch here is mostly seafood.... the best you've ever had. Shrimps, Gambas, Prawns, King-fish... you name it, I eat it. ;-)
After lunch a short siesta in a hammock... and then well... off to the town, the fish-market, the beach, the jungle, the laguna, the old villages.... or just a bit of parasailing, dolphin-watching... or help the local fishers pulling in the nets. There is always something to do... and when there is nothing to do... I'll just read 'Harry Potter'. I'm in part 4 now.
On the beach it's usually laying in the sun, jumping in front of the waves, snorkelling, building sandcastles, making sand drawings too much to mention....
Then it's time for dinner. Go out or stay in. That's the big question every time. At the place I stay there is a great little restaurant. But in the town it's also nice to spend some time. It depends in what mood you are... want to see people or have a quiet dinner with some close friends.
After diner, build a fire... roast some gambas and sing songs... until the night becomes heavy on the eyelids and it's time to find my hut.... and go to sleep...
Another hectic day has passed. Ohh boy, life can be difficult sometimes..."
Jo-Anne Smith, Canada, to South America, in Nicaragua, on F650
"Finished my class on Friday. Little too much paper work and not enough speech practice, but I kept interrupting so got some practice! I was the only student!! I decided on the school at proyecto ecologico, at a crater lake. Good clear water for swimming.
Had a few bird watching sessions w/ the US guy, Jeffery, that runs the place (he is a prof at the uni in Managua, been here 7 yrs) looking at one bird, he's telling where and what 3 or 4 more are by sound. Saw some very beautifully coloured birdies :-) and a colony of one (oropendula montezuma) w/ nests that hang down 2 feet. We did a 5am vigil at the colony w/ Enrique (Jeffery's student) to see if they actually sleep inside. They do.
Oooh and howler monkeys!! 20 metres away, and up of course! One big boy howled down at us leaning over the branch! Loco. They sound like a pack of dogs in the early hours. Loads of bats too. Two other women staying at the place, both Dutch: Nelly (70yrs) backpacking! she had a big scorpion on the wall of her room. Jeffery squashed it w/ shoe. Andrea had 2 little ones in her room... one in her mossie net!
I had a tiring day...back on the bike after 7 days. Left turn to a village and it was a one way; only did 10m if that and turned into the Esso stn. Saw a policeman coming over...he wrote up a ticket! Asked for licence and paperwork for bike. $10 ticket! I was trying to use some new Spanish to say there was no sign saying it was 1 way. Tough. Then I went over to where another policeman was and they said I have to pay at the bank and get a receipt to get the licence etc. back. It's Sunday... my things will be in Managua for 15 days... then the other guy showed me a price list of infractions $30 -$50 for one way! I said no he already wrote $10. Then just stood there waiting. They no English me lame Spanish! Number 2 guy says out the side of his mouth, you pay now? Looks like I have to you s.o.b. But in Spanish I say 'but not $10.' We haggled to $5! Then he says under his breath 'don't let everyone see!' I threw the money at him. If it weren't for the papers that they need at the border I'd've said keep the licence! The woman at my guesthouse wasn't at all surprised by that story, it even happens to locals.
Will be in Leon for New Year and then head to Costa Rica, leatherback turtles may be sighted!! And the tail end of the ridley season too.
Well I've just gone over my hour. I'm upstairs over a restaurant so getting a bit warm, but never as sweaty as in the bike gear! My gloves are disintegrating! And I smell like a hockey player!! Blah, yes- I wash my gear...!
Hasta manana muchachas! (That's not proper Spanish but I'm liberating the female.) [If even one male in group of females; must say muchachos]. jojo"
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Mariola Cichon, USA/Poland, in Senegal, West Africa, KLR650
"These people are Nomads. They live in tents deep in the desert. Their income, if any, comes from trading camels. Isolated from the rest of the world by a sea of shifting Sahara sands the Nomads have to rely solely on themselves. No doctors, no motorized transport, and usually no schools (this oasis is an exception). My romantic vision of Nomads crossing vast Sahara ablaze by the setting sun, with a caravan of camels following is completely shattered. I cannot imagine life to be any rougher. A tiny voice in the back of my mind whispers: 'At least they are not starving.' True. Most of them seem to be of a rather healthy posture. Most have good, although bucked, teeth. Constant chewing on wooden sticks causes the deformation of their jaws, but at the same time cleans their teeth. Their diet consists of couscous, rice, a bit of goat milk, rarely goat meat, with no trace of vegetables or fruit of any kind. They also consume large quantities of tea with sugar.
Soon after leaving Nouakchott sandy desert started to gradually change into a dry bush type. Later low acacia trees appear. What a relief it was to see all this greenery! This was the end of Sahara and beginning of Sahel, a semi-desert and savannah region spreading south of Sahara. Numerous villages were spread all along the road, most consisting of large tents and a small mud-brick mosque in the center.
The border town of Rosso welcomed me with dusty tumult, much as I have expected. Within seconds I was surrounded by dozens of men, all asking for large sums of money in exchange for help in the procedures. I tried to politely refuse, but soon learned that my good manners are not going to get me anywhere so instead I turned to other resources:
- Get out of here! Don't' touch me! I don't need your help!
I started the engine and twisted the throttle sending them flying in all directions. In response three of them ran after me yelling. Another caught my tea pot strapped to the luggage behind me.
- I take, ok?
I ripped it from his hands. Luckily, someone opened the gate and I left them behind.
... the customs officer asked me to follow him. We went to a dark office were another guy stamped my carnet without much delay. The first guy then asked for money - not any particular sum, just money. I refused. He shrugged his shoulders.
- Custom charges.
Miraculously, he gave up. 'Good', I thought, 'this is the way to go!' Next came the immigration. There, I was not so lucky. After stamping my passport the man asked for equivalent of $2 in Mauritanian money. I refused. He put my passport away.
- Why do I have to pay to exit your country? I paid entering it and I will
not pay anymore'.
True enough, they did. But by then I had my principles! It didn't get me anywhere. I waited about 40 minutes, during which the immigration and police tried to throw me out of there, back to Mauritania. Slowly I came to my senses and paid the stupid 'police procedures' fee.
...On the Senegal side I was at first received in a rather friendly manner by a huge man in a long yellow gown and sandals on his calloused feet - this was a chief of customs. Clearly, everyone feared him, including me. The initial friendliness ended when I boldly refused to pay $10 for 'custom processing'. He started yelling. I held my ground. He left with all my documents and came back almost an hour later asking for $5 this time. I paid.
... So here I am, in St Louis, drinking gin and tonic and happy to be in Senegal, despite all the difficulties inflicted on me at the border."
Falk Thümer and Reina Kasperowski, Germany, around the world, in Guatemala, R100GSPD and Suzuki XF 650 Freewind,
"Chichicastenango, in the high plains, is famous for its Sunday market which attracts locals as well as tourists. In the early morning, we are awakened by gun salutes. Falk and I are both eager to see what's going on, so we skip breakfast and go right to the market. What a drastic transition the town has undergone since yesterday! The stands reach almost all the way to the Hospedaje, and street vendors are offering their goods. It is mostly corn which is sold to the right and left of the road, white, yellow and blue corn. The sacks filled with the multi-colored corn seem like a symbolic collage of the indigenous culture. Corn (maize) made the Mayas, and corn is their main food staple.
... The bright high plains sun hurts our eyes. Squinting, we wonder if what we are seeing is real or whether we are in a dream. The multitude of colors is incredibly overwhelming: the church steps are decorated with a sea of flowers: gladiolas, daisies, baby's breath, and lilies. Next to it sit the Mayan women, like all indigenous women wearing their traditional dress. The brightly colored woven patterns indicate the village where the women come from. More and more people are coming to the market which is separated into different sections. Across from the church, there are woven and embroidered materials, table cloths and bed covers, napkins, bags, pillow cases and belts. Around the corner, we find pottery and carved wooden masks. Everything is done by hand, in shining red, orange and indigo blue.
Falk and I cannot see enough. It is a shame that we are so extremely limited as to space. Of course, there is also a vegetable market, a meat market, and a food market. There, over innumerable charcoal fires, foods like milk rice, hot milk with corn flakes and cocoa are prepared. Around the cooks, there are a few simple tables and crowded wooden benches. We catch up on our breakfast and dip some sort of cookie into a very sweet cocoa. Bon provecho (enjoy your meal), wishes my neighbor and gives us a friendly smile. Other locals, sitting further down also nod or smile at us. A few meters down the line we find more hearty things offered, tortillas with soup, beans, rice, and large chunks of meat. Next door, cleaned guts are hanging in the air to dry, and there is meat and lunch cuts. With such a 'delicious' smell hovering in the air, the merchants have a hard time trying to keep all the stray dogs away.
... We wish you all a merry Christmas and peaceful days. For the new Year we also wish you all the best, especially health and of course an large amount of good luck. At the moment we rent a little log cabin with our German friend Norbert. So we will celebrate a bit together. I will prepare a good German Goulasch and Falk baked a cake. So we are doing fine. Greetings and all the best from Reina and Falk"
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Simon McCarthy and Georgie Simmonds, UK to Asia, in Russia, BMW R100GS,
"A few hardy souls have ventured through the Zilov Gap on motorcycles, struggling along those dirt tracks, fighting their way through swampland, through metre-deep river crossings and when all else failed along the gravel and sleepers of the Trans-Siberian Railway tracks. All very adventurous - the sort of riding that I normally delight in.
And then you get to Russia and find that the actual situation is different. There is actually a well-established (though poor quality) road all the way across Russia. Rather than taking 'shorter, logical' route alongside the Trans-Siberian Railway the road wanders up round the north of Lake Baikal following the BAM railway line.
And now there is another alternative - the Russians have decided to actually link up the far east of their country with a road all the way across. And while we were in Mongolia, they finished the gravel bed of a road parallel to the Trans-Siberian railway. We had heard about this road from some Aussie bikers we had met in Ulaan Baataar. They had followed the new road 6 weeks before and found that all but a 2km stretch was pretty ridable.
We looked at the maps again, considering the new option of riding all the way across the continent. The distances involved were still great and it would take us about 5 or 6 days to get across this dreadful stretch. We would have to fight the transit drivers for road-space all the way and worst of all there would be no real achievement in riding the full distance because 'you can do it on a road now'! So we decided to go on the train...
... Vladivostok - a special moment - the end of this land-mass - 'the end of the earth' and the smell of the sea again. A 10am meeting with the customs people - as if by magic Diana the girl from the shipping company turned up to sort out things for us and couple of other people. That will be where the $30 payment we made to her (off the books) went. Then to the port to queue up for boat. There didn't seem to be (and actually wasn't) an official way into the port - so we rode the bike in through a foot passenger gate -most odd, with no security - people were just wandering in and out!
We got onto the boat and tied the bike down - along with 2 other bikes from Japan. One bloke (Nobuhiro) had done the BAM road up to Yakutsk, and then down the Lena river to Irkutsk (or some other place) on a cement boat - about $60 for a 6 day slow boat ride. He'd also got mugged by a couple of Russians (just west of Irkutsk) who took his tent before a police car happened by. To add to his misery the bike engine's big-end failed and he had to get another shipped out and fitted which delayed him for 2 weeks - a big adventure on a 250 Djebel. The other guy (Yoshitaka) spent 10 days in Vladivostok and Kamchatka with a Japanese friend - he was on GPZ750.
At 3 pm we left the dock and we then sat in the harbour while the ship staff did the immigration and customs stuff. Then we had the Russian Immigration people came to the ferry by motor launch to process all the passports. Eventually we got away - at about 10 knots to start with."
Read more in Simon and Georgie's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
Arne Bomblies, USA, to Ushuaia and back, in Mexico and Guatemala, KLR650
"Crossing from Nicaragua into Costa Rica was a painfully time-consuming process, and without the help of a tramitador it would have been nearly impossible. At this point there were four of us: Sylvain and Pierre from Quebec City, and James and I. Four jaws dropped as we rolled up to the border and saw the horribly long, non-moving lines for both migracion and customs. As luck would have it, the tramitador we hired was a smart, likeable kid who seemed to be everybody's best friend, and his clients as a result got preferential treatment from the uniformed officials. He stepped up to the front of each line with our papers, and when others would complain the official simply told them to pipe down and wait their turn. His streamlined process included shortcuts through holes in chainlink fences to bypass lines and control points. For the customs line a fee of $5 was collected which was the cut-in-line charge. We were all happy to fork it over rather than wait three more hours. Despite the help of our tramitador who had mastered networking in his profession, the crossing took a hot, sweaty five hours.
... Our first run-in with police came in Panama on our rushed race for Panama City. James was leading and I was about 50 meters behind, on a good, fast road. Coming into a straightaway, James passed a slow-moving truck, and immediately a policeman who had been lurking behind a tree emerged, energetically blowing his whistle and waving his arms for James to pull over. James just blasted right by. Because I was following, I was motioned to pull over, and rather than have the guy radio ahead and have the entire road be crawling with cops looking for us, I stopped. Evidently, the cop had dollar signs flash before his eyes as James passed, so he held my licence and passport hostage until James slowly puttered back to the scene of the crime. The cop started bellowing about how a pass in front of a policeman is illegal, no matter that the centerline was dashed, no matter that it was below the speed limit. He was the embodiment of the law, he explained, and must not be disrespected by passing a vehicle in front of him. That is an INFRACCION! The fine was $20, payable on the spot, of course. We argued for a while, and not seeing the problem, we suggested we go to the police station and have a word with the police chief about this, and maybe get shown exactly where in the Panamanian law it talks about vehicular disrespect to transit police. And suddenly, the ticket book was put away, and we were waved on our way, no fine or anything. Nice try though, fellas!
... James, Koji, and I arrived safely in Quito, Ecuador. This is country number eight of the trip and continent number seven for me. The next morning, the struggle at customs began in earnest. We met up again with Sylvain and Pierre, who coincidentally shipped their bikes on the same flight. We spent a good amount of time searching for the right offices, and finally left everything in the hands of a customs agent to help us through. At 4:30, as things were shutting down, the last required signature was obtained and the bikes rolled out of the customs yard, only very slightly damaged. Phew! We and the bikes were in South America, legally, and the continent was now open to us! Without Ricardo Rocco's help they would have turned us back, so a big thanks to him for going out of his way to make sure we all entered Ecuador smoothly."
For more stories, check out Arne's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Patrick and Belinda Peck, Australia, USA to Chile, in Uruguay, Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ 750,
"On our way to Ushuaia we diverted off highway 3 for a bit of a gravel run to El Calefate to see the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. It was amazing, one of the most spectacular sites we have seen, rivaling Iguassu Falls!! The Glacier moves 2 metres per day and ¨calves off¨ every 10 minutes into a large glacial lake. It sounds like a huge roaring animal and is mesmerising- Pat watched it for 4 whole hours and saw some amazingly large slabs fall off into the lake creating enormous waves!! We were lucky that day in that it was warm and sunny, with very little wind.
We then continued on good roads to Ushuaia, in a spectacular setting with snow capped peaks behind, a sheltered strait in front and more snow capped peaks across the strait. We stayed in a great place on top of the hill called Apart Alem overlooking the city and the water and we watched the cruise ships arriving daily from Antarctica and the sun setting at 11pm and rising at 3am (we didn't see too many sunrises!!) There was no TOTAL darkness in between- amazing.
... We stayed in Ushuaia for 6 wonderful days partying with motorcyclists from around the world. We met lots more in the next few days on the road north to Puerto Natales. We got a group of 11 together and had a fantastic New Years Eve dinner and party. We all said our New Years Resolutions. Ours was that year 2002 has been the best year in our lives and we want them to keep getting better every year!!
Tonight, we are getting on the ferry for 4 days heading north towards Puerto Montt through the fjords and beneath the glaciers, heading towards some warmth!!"
Arno Backes and Sian Mackenzie, Germany and UK, Australia via USA to South America, in Mexico, on BMW R100GS PD and Yamaha XT600E
"Guatemala was calling, we just had to decide which way to get there. Through Yucatan and Belize, back towards San Cristobal or the loop, along the Guatemalan border past Bonampak, Yaxchilan and the Montebello Lakes. We decided on the road less travelled and take the loop. According the guide books, the road hasn't been paved all that long so it sounded a bit more adventurous. Ruth and Merv decided to come with us, the Belize option being an expensive one.
...The rain actually stopped for the couple of hours we were looking round the Bonampak ruins, which were worth the ride, but kept up for the rest of the day. Accommodation was a bit tricky to find, due to signs that pointed off to non - existent campsites or cabanas in the jungle. Tarmac turned to dirt (read mud) as the daylight threatened to disappear before we were safely off the road.
We found a place across an interestingly constructed bridge that had wooden huts in the jungle for an ecological rather than economical price, but it was preferable to camping. As we lugged our stuff from the bikes, down the ever darker jungle paths the rain continued. I read that there were only an average of 3 rainy days in November in Mexico, I think we have had all Decembers rain too. Good news for those here this month then!!
We survived our night in the jungle, despite the spiders, mosquitoes and our own cooking. It wasn't actually raining the next day, so we set off for the Lagos de Montebello, several beautiful lakes near the border, hardly visited and a great place to camp, walk and swim - ha, we should be so lucky!!"
For more stories, check out Arno and Sian's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Lew and Achi Waterman, USA, North and South America 2001-2, in Argentina
"Hi everyone: We made it to the end of the world. A long day in high winds and on a dirt/gravel road from Rio Gallegos to the Straight of Magellan. My hands, arms, shoulders and neck got a real workout controlling the bike riding at strange angles on a straight road. Gusts of wind would jerk us around when going around curves and through wind shadows of hills.
Ushuaia is a nice place situated along The Beagle Channel and snuggled in between the southern end of the Andes Mountains. It is cold and sometimes windy and sometimes a bit wet. The scenery is something like Alaska, green and forested land and snow-capped mountains, rivers and lakes. The days are long and the nights are short, like Alaska. Antarctica is only 600 miles across the Ocean.
Punky survived the rough conditions and was worn to a frazzle like me. The border officials said Punky was the first dog they ever saw going to Tierra Del Fuego on a motorcycle. The Geezer, Critter, Senor Frog and the tough little dog that could have gone to both ends of the world. A gutsy Peruana has made it to one end.
... We finally got a taste of the infamous maximum force winds in Patagonia. Locals confirmed winds of 120kph during our ride from Rio Gallegos to Puerto San Julian on Ruta #3. Add to the wind speed our forward velocity of 85kph and you get over 200kph, when the wind was on our noses. That means we were feeling hurricane force 3, I think. The side forces were ferocious, jerking Critter around and challenging my mind to instruct the body to persevere and maintain control. Punky got blown off his perch, but I quickly put him back. His leash is tethered to me around my neck. Critter, Señor Frog, Punky, Lew & Achi 2 are exhausted, but safely back in Caleta Olivia."
Ted Simon, UK/USA, "Jupiter's Travels," around the world, again, in Australia, R80GS Basic,
"All the equipment I have is superb, but a lot of it turned out, in the end, to be wrong for me at this time, on this journey. Why? Most of all because my needs, today, are quite different. I am not travelling as an anonymous being through a world of disconnected communities. I have no need to be self-sufficient today. I am welcomed almost everywhere, and most of what I need I can obtain almost everywhere. The world has changed. My situation has changed. For the last 40,000 miles I have been carrying far too much stuff.
Because I have a bigger and stronger bike I thought it would be no problem to carry more. It seemed a good idea to carry a lot of weight low down, but everybody knows the trouble with boxes. You have to fill them. And I did. I remember Dave Wyndham at CW Motorcycles saying, several times, 'Weight is of the essence', but I wasn't listening. I remembered the huge amount of stuff I ended up carrying on the old 500cc Triumph. I thought it would be no problem, and Dave was probably too respectful to drive the message home.
Unfortunately, though the bike is bigger and stronger, I am just fatter and weaker, and I set out in 2001 with something that weighed rather more, overall, than I ended up with in 1977. It's time to confess that on this journey so far I have not always been an easy rider. It's OK on asphalt (although even there at moments I'm at the limit of control) but on dirt and especially bad dirt, I am not happy.
And as for picking it up, well if you've been following me, you know that story by now. But something else has happened along the way. I have begun to realise (and it's awfully late in the game) that I could really do things with this bike, that it isn't just a mule, and that if I could only get rid of some of this weight I would enjoy myself a whole lot more.
So finally, here in Australia, I'm dumping the boxes. At the same time, I've had an opportunity to change a lot things. The other day, with this new set-up, I came from Melbourne to Sydney, that's 560 miles mostly at 75 mph, and I am very pleased."
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Frank Schellenberg, Netherlands, to South Africa, in Egypt
"Yesterday the 3rd of December I had a severe accident on the way from Madaba to Karak in Jordan. The bike looks okay but the Tesch-cases and the rack are completely gone. I will have to make new ones. My Laptop is broken (till now no luck with electronics), so now I can't read out the photos on my digital camera what is really *&%^#. So I will buy a normal camera now I think but won't be able to put them on the web (as often).
I only have a very bruised foot and one finger ;-) but have to rest for 3 days now and then the German couple I met on XT500 are going to help me out!
So I will be very delayed going south and am probably going to spend Xmas around the Red Sea. If any body knows a cheap laptop or a compact flash reader (that works with parallel port) in this area I would really like to know!
For you that want to know how the accident happened: I wanted to overtake a truck and as I was beside it, the truck driver decided to overtake a car... which made me go into the side of the road at 70km an hour, hitting a sewer pipe that laid there... luggage and stuff was spread over almost 200 mtrs.
22-12-2002 - Finally Africa! It seemed as I was never going to hit African Soil but today I did, the ferry from Aqaba was leaving early today so I had to hurry myself through customs at the port to catch it, which I did, just in time. After almost three hours the boat hit the coast of Egypt, where a guy from the Tourist & Antique Police was waiting for ME. He guided me through all the customs steps. That resulted in a new number plate, 100$ lighter and a cup of tea in between.
... Dahab can only be described as RELAXED. Okay it lives off the diving and so on but it has a very laid back feeling. So nice to do just that. I only needed to find out some things for transportation of the bike and where I could get a good repair shop. After some internet-ing, I found a place in Cairo, but the guy is also a tour operator and is out at the moment so I will stick around in Dahab for a while till I know when he is IN Cairo as I don’t want to stick around that place for too long. And I also found a pickup that will take me and the Bike to Cairo for 50$ so not too bad, and this way I know that I will not damage the bike more."
Odyssey to Ushuaia: A Motorcycling Adventure from
New York to Tierra del Fuego
Well, it is a cliché, but it was a woman driver!
"Be kind. Remember everyone you meet is fighting
a hard battle."
-- John Watson
"Constantly choose rather to want less, than to have
"Endeavor to be patient in bearing with the
defects and infirmities of others, of what sort 'soever they be; for that
thyself also has many failings which must be borned with by others."
"Grant & Susan, Just reaffirmed
my HU membership over the Amazon honor system. Please consider it a well-deserved
retainer for your service on the website. A friend and I are heading to Mexico
and Central America in about a week and it looks like we will be meeting up
with some HU compatriots on the way. We planned a good deal of our trip using
information from the web, and especially the HUBB and e-zine. We'll be sure
to send you some notes from the road. Keep up the great work!"
Kevin Henry, Michigan, USA
Thanks so much for your support, Kevin! Have a great trip!
"One of the best ways the web has been made use of
so far! hope it goes on and on. Cheers"
"Love your work. Brings the family closer together!!"
Andrew Treloar, Brisbane, Australia
"May well be THE best motorcycle site going!!! May
all the many Bike Riders that post here have a safe and exciting New Year,
one world, two wheels , cya,"
Dylan, Michigan, USA
"I'm a research scientist from England, but as of
Friday I'll be an ex research scientist. Flying out to Delhi in the New Year.
I'm still hoping to be able to ride home, if I get the necessary visas. If
I do, I'll be buying an Enfield in Kathmandu in order to be able to get a
carnet, otherwise in Delhi and sticking to India. Great site, by the way -
it's been invaluable for planning it all."
James Whyte, UK
"You have a very unique and interesting site, I enjoyed
"Hi Grant and Susan I think what you've done and
are doing is terrific! At some point I want to learn how to ride a motorbike
as I've always wanted to make the Vancouver to Rio de Janeiro odyssey on a
motorcycle. One day I hope to find fellow free spirits in Vancouver who are
eager to embark on an epic journey through central and south America."
Andy Campbell, Vancouver, Canada
"Merry Christmas from Palmer Station Antarctica.
My wife Diane sent me your website. It's great. I'll be home April 5 2003...
Your site will keep me busy for the next 3 months. Happy holidays."
Tom Curran, Vermont, USA
"Wow, what a great website! My wife and I have toured
quite a bit over the years and could have used this resource lots. I just
put together a website of our recent trip to Spain (I included a couple of
helmet camera videos) and am in the process of setting up a link to this site
with hopes that you will link back to me. I plan to visit this site often,
keep up the great work!"
Rod & Julie Powell, WA, USA
"It never ceases to amaze me just how adventurous
your contributors are, and what an interesting and informative this site is.
If only I had the courage to drop everything and go. I rode across the US
in May and June, and it was like heaven. Well there's probably Spain, Portugal
and France next summer. Thank you both for brightening my week :-)"
Paul Narramore, Kent, UK
"Your web is greattttt. Keep up the good work. A
new gold wing owner."
Ron Comerford, Ohio, USA
"Bye the way your web site is fantastic, so many
articles, just what I have been looking for. I ride a BMW 1100RT and want
to tour farther afield and your site has given me the appetite! Keep up the
Andy Whittle, Shropshire, UK
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"Merry Xmas from Thailand. I am hanging around in Bangkok for a few days, resting up after a visit from my pal from back home. Quite a few 'overland' bikers about here. Well done everyone. Can't remember the last time I had a good jaw about aluminium boxes. There's talk of a wander down to Ko Chang for a sit on the beach for Xmas, so we'll see how that works out.
Thailand's been really different from my experience so far in Asia. Wow, there really are a lot of white folks about here! Good though. Easy to do stuff. Looking forward to exploring the north and getting into Laos and Cambodia after Xmas."
Read more in Jason's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
Book special just for Horizons Unlimited Readers!
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Werner Bausenhart has written several books on his travels around the world, and has offered them to HU readers at a great price. Tell him we sent you and get US$5.00 off the regular US$20 price!
"...as a motorcycle traveller five months and 17,000 miles into a North American tour, I find this site fantastic. I have as of yet only met a few others who are exploring the United States. Where is everybody? Apparently getting sponsored to ride across Africa (which impresses me greatly). Well I'm 22 and poor on my first real trip, and there must be others like me who can't yet spring for the KLR650 and transatlantic shipping. (I'm riding an 81 Seca) If you're one of them, drop me a line and tell me a good riding story. Happy new year"
"Just did a little 2 week whirlwind tour of India with a friend of mine and are now, unfortunately, back in Delhi. Heading to Rajasthan tomorrow. Will try to hook up with Maarten in Goa for Christmas.
I almost got mauled in Delhi dropping my friend at the airport. Some tailgating lunatic decided to bump into me from behind at 50km/h. Tesch panniers took most of the brunt. And I somehow managed to stay on the bike... almost dragged the guy out of his Hyundai... and strangled him with his prayer beads. But he was so blissfully unaware of what had just occurred, he actually thought I stopped in the middle of the road to have a chat about my bike with him. It almost made me laugh out loud if I hadn't been so shaken up. I will linger for a few months in India before heading to South East Asia and Australia. Cheers and ride safe, Andreas"
From their webmaster, Alex Bradley: "John Wilson and Gerry Tiernan have reached Ushuaia and are spending Christmas there before the long journey over the Andes. They have been joined by Bob West on a DR 650 who will probably accompany them as he makes his way to Alaska."
"Heredia Costa Rica. Well I didn't think anywhere could top Nicaragua's Nica Chicas until I arrived here. Its almost heaven. At nearly 5000' (1400m) and 50,000 people this university town is another ciudad de flores. I don't mean plant kind of flowers either. Every step, every turn, is a mind-blowing tide of the most fantastic girls I've ever seen. Its just warm enuf here for the standard issue lycra pants, halters, and miniskirts. I pity the gringo who comes here with a white girl. (Sorry ladies but I'm jaded.) And they are all so friendly. Already I've had 2 walk up and say how nice my eyes are, and its so pleasing to have them double take back at old fart me. Already I've had a date with Mariela, a 22-year-old blonde bombshell, who with a little work will help me forget Granada. And there's more pots on the stove. This 'fishing' hobby is kinda fun. Guess I'll stay awhile."
Read more stories in Toms blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
"I went off to the Serengeti and the crater and had a time of my life, saw buffalo killed by lions, cheetah hunt, leopard in the tree and lions mating. It was great and well worth the trip. Paul has had a few problems with his bike and was getting it sorted out in Nairobi. We would meet up in Dar es Salaam and go to Zanzibar. Well I got to Dar and no Paul.
I found out the next day that Paul and Julie were ambushed outside Mombassa by 5 big guys with knives and pangas. They dropped the bike and ran away with the bad guys chasing them. They managed to get away and when they returned their bags were stole, money and passport. They are fine and not hurt, just pissed off. They will be stuck up there for a few days but I will be on my way to Malawi tomorrow.
I hope that every one is well and getting into the Christmas spirit. Have a good one and speak to you soon. Henk"
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"Dec. 23 - Just a quick post to say Happy Xmas and a Happy New Year from the tropical island paradise of Koh Chang in the Gulf of Thailand. Things just don't get better than this and I feel I am the luckiest man alive to be a able to be here. There are 7 other overland motorcyclists here (Cliff & Jenny Batley, Ralf & Caroline (Transalps), Peter & Carol (R80RT) and Kate), so we'll be having a 'small' celebration before hitting the surf. It's just a shame that the accommodation on the island is so full that we're getting booted out of our beach huts on Xmas day. Hammock on the beach anybody? And maybe then we'll find time to investigate the rather loud rattle that's emanating from the right hand cylinder head...
Jan. 3, 2003 - Well, for probably the first time since we set off, we were overtaken by something. And unfortunately for Adrian it was by circumstances outside of his control. Business problems forced the ageing tycoon to grab the first available Jetstream out of Bangkok and back to ol' blighty in time for Xmas. Rumours that his BMW has been stored illegally in Thailand are, as yet, unproven.
... The latest info. is that the man of mystery will be back to plead his case with Thai customs on or around the 16th Jan, by which time I hope to be so far ahead that he'll never catch up!!!!"
Read more in Sean's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
"Merry Xmas,Happy New Year, Best of the Season ...warm, warm wishes from Koh Chang (a little island in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border). We've managed to hook up with a few other motorcycle touring folks, a few who came through Europe and the middle east and flew their bikes from Nepal and a couple who are heading back that way having been down under in Australia & New Zealand for the past year and a half. The weather is very warm and so is the sea. The scenery and the company is lovely. We plan on heading through southern Thailand after the holiday and should be in Malaysia early January. Then it is off to Australia (Perth) and then New Zealand and then home.... Promise to send a bigger update with more details about Thailand and Laos later ... take care everyone, be happy."
"I am in Esfahan at the moment, had some problems on the bike in Teheran and after that an accident here in Esfahan, so Iran is taking its time. I am planning to take two more weeks for Iran, then about four Pakistan. Keep in touch! (Vincent Danna is still in Iran, too, about 5 days ahead of me)."
"We flew to La Paz and obtained our moto from Walters. Then headed to Chile. Just as we reached Arica, and finally a gas station at 6:30 in the evening we had a flat tire. First day on the road but at least it was in town. But at this late at night no chance to get it fixed. So next morning we did and then down the coast to Pocopilla where we turned inland towards Argentina. But first, the pass at Jama. On the Chile side, all paved but once in Argentina 160k of unpaved road with lots of ripples (washboards).
Then it was off to JuJuy where we had our second flat. Decided that we might as well get our new tires instead of waiting for Tucuman. The short road from JuJuy to Salta was very nice, one of those roads motorcyclists pray for: It was nice even in the rain and just outside of town a nice fish restaurant on the lake. After Salta we took the scenic route to Tucuman but stayed over night in Cayafate at a pleasant place for only $3 ($6 total). We decided to start early to avoid the heat. Five miles out of town we ran into rain, with some fog, it continued all day until just before Tucuman. Along the way the road was covered in water and in places the waterfalls caused the hills to slide down partially blocking the road.
We spent Xmas with our AlpTwin friend, Alex and his family. We had met him by accident on a previous trip. Now off to Mendoza to meet our two elusive friends from Germany, riding 650 BMWs. Eric and Gail Haws"
"Made Pakistan a few days ago to change over Carnets, everything went well!! Now back in India, in Mussoorie, will be making for Goa, in the next few days! Rik & Changeling"
"My R1100GS arrives in Capetown Dec 18th for the continuation of a 3yr RTW. Will be riding up through RSA, Namibia, Bots, Zim (fuel?), Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Ethiopia, ... and then doing some head scratching to figure route to Europe.
Interested in meeting people along the way. Especially after Kenya. Most traffic seems to go south, who else is out there going north?"
"Today is Friday, December 13th.,2002. It's hard to believe that I've been out of Canada for more than a year! I have been in Bangkok almost six months and am feeling the urge to 'hit the road' again. I am looking forward to a wonderful Christmas and New Years. Three of my sisters are coming to Thailand for 2 weeks. What a great Christmas present that will be! We will spend a couple of days in Bangkok and then rent a car and see some of the country side."
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"You want the best for your BMW Motorcycle. Motorrad Elektrik has been offering the best in electrical parts for classic and modern BMW's for over 10 years. Be it a full 12 volt conversion for your /2 or better than stock replacement parts for your late model "R" or "K", we've got you covered. Specialty parts for 'hardening' the charging and ignition systems for world-travelling Airhead GS's. Riders like Bob Higdon, Dr. Gregory Frazier, the late Ed Culberson and hundreds of others depend on Motorrad Elektrik components as they wander the globe.
Omega. 400 Watts. Light and heat for 1970-95 Boxers. YeeeHa! The end of that greatest limitation of the air cooled Boxer, a small capacity charging system!"
"... We started in the USA in November 2001, and went south when it started getting cold. We spent 5 months zigzagging through Central America and have been in South America for 5 months so far. We plan to leave South America and go to New Zealand in March 2003. Then Australia, then do a count up on the finances and if we can afford it go to Malaysia, Thailand, Laos etc., then India and home overland. No problems so far, met Jeremy in Panama, Patrick and Belinda in Ecuador, plus a few others on the way.
We look at Horizons website fairly regularly and think you are doing a great job. Keep it up. Regards, John and Annette."
"I'm in Mar del Plata, getting ready to greet another great year. I’m with Alon Carter, from the States, whom I run into on route 3, a couple of days ago. We are taking a break today from the long, long stretches of highway, getting ready to go out tonight and celebrate with a couple of sisters from Mendoza, not bad!
I wish you a fantastic year of traveling and fun. HAPPY NEW YEAR!"
"Yesterday evening we were looking for a beach place to hang out for a couple of days and by coincidence met Todd Peer and Hugh Caldwell, heading south on their KLR and Suzuki 650 motorcycles, right opposite the turn off to Chicama."
" 31 Dec - So here I was sitting... early in the morning, enjoying my coffee at the bar of the little paradise I had found in Goa. I had planned to leave today and head up to Katmandu, but because it was the last day of the year I had decided to stay one more day... After all, no one wants to leave paradise too soon.
But... what is this noise? Coming from the road. It sounds like a big bike, but ahhh... probably again an Enfield with a broken exhaust... Every time one passes by my hopes rise... and fall again as I see it's no big bike, but an Enfield.
However, this engine picked up too fast to be an old, leaky, oil-dripping ancient Enfield. It sounded like a modern thing. Curiously I walked up to the direction of the sound, and saw.... yes. Really... a KTM... That must be Will, I thought, so I ran to the road shouting: 'You are too late.' 'Then you must be Maarten', the driver replied.
So finally KTMWill had made it to our paradise... Just in time to celebrate New Years Eve. I was glad I had not left.
His story was one of troubles. His chain had broken a few times and he had to drive long day's to make it on time for new year... But. like a real 'globe trotter' he made it... and tonight we will have a barbecue...Luc (Honda shadow 1100), Will (KTM 650) and me (Africa Twin). Happy New Year everybody! Maarten"
"Iris and Florian, December 1, in Damascus, Syria, on their way to Australia either via India - or via Africa... still undecided about that. On two XT500's."
"Tobias Tremmel is touring Oz for a couple of months at the moment. He will be in Melbourne after new year, then doing a loop up to Tibooburra etc. then back to Melb and then across through Adelaide etc. to Perth to ship home. Tobias was here 3 years ago on a CX500 this time he is on an R80GS."
"We left Caleta Olivia last Sunday and rode to the medium sized coastal city, Comodoro Rivadavia. We met Ricardo's rider friend Eduardo Ripoll and had a nice chat. Eduardo has a Honda Africa Twin. We also met and had dinner with Aussies Patrick and Belinda (Peck), Yamaha Super Tenere riders, headed for Ushuaia and the Christmas gathering of around the world riders from all over the globe."
"friend of Yater Vladimir. He is at my place in Austin, Texas. He is riding a motorcycle, Jawa 350cc from Minsk, Belarus. He has been on the bike since 2000 and now he is at 57,000km. He wished for Guinness record since he is deaf, and he wants to show that deaf people can do anything except hear. Many Thanks!"
"Lizette and I are off from San Francisco as of December 4th. We were trying to ship the bike from San Francisco to Guayaquil, Ecuador to make our trip easier, but it got too expensive! So, we decided, 'Let's Ride!!' We are half way across the US, taking a state at a time and are currently in San Antonio, Texas, ready to drop into Eastern Mexico down the Gulf of Mexico.
We will go through Guatemala, etc. ending up in Panama where we will ship the bike to Guayaquil, Ecuador. We have absolutely no reservations anywhere. Besides it being a little cold through the desert in December, we're averaging about 375 miles a day. The bike's running great. Catch us if you can!"
"The ferry over from Tampa was easy and we are currently in Mexico touring around and have some digital pics to send. Would it be possible to get one of your HU-hosted web pages and to download these .jpg files onto the HU server? We're about to get kicked out of this netcafe, but will drop you a line in a day or two with some ferry shipping info, etc. Take care and Feliz Navidad! Sincerely, Kevin Henry 1992 R100GS"
"We are leaving London Monday 9th Dec to start our RTW journey. Initial route is Moroc Mauritania Mali Niger Chad Sudan Ethiopia Kenya etc.. We'll be heading into Mauri 1st Jan."
"...in April 2003, I will be going on a RTW tour starting in Toronto, Canada. Initially I'll be going south towards South America, expecting to spend Christmas in Ushuaia, Argentina. Nothing about this trip is unusual to HU members, expect for the fact that I'll be bringing a small reflector telescope complete with equatorial mount along with me (yes, it's heavy and big). I'll be using the telescope to share my enthusiasm for astronomy with kids, specially those who might otherwise never see the sky through a telescope and learn a little bit about astronomy. Other than this odd fact, this will be a RTW motorcycle tour in its finest. I will be maintaining a website, where I'll publish stories and photos and I hope I get to meet some HU members and other travellers along the way... Kind regards, Nelson"
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"Hi everyone, am currently preparing for my trip to UK, going from Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Pak, Iran, Turkey. I'm riding an '89 Honda Dominator.
I will be meeting the local Myanmar embassy to try my luck with any possible means of riding into Myanmar from Mae Sai (Thailand) and into India through Tamu. I've read that it is impossible more due to officials who don't want to take responsibility for the safety of the traveller or any thing that may happen along the way - rebels, guerilla fighters. Hopefully something comes up. Who knows?
Otherwise I plan to fly from Bangkok to India or Dhaka or Katmandu sometime in late Feb, early March. Anyone else heading that way around then? I'm trying to find information on costs for freight, and which destination would be cheaper to fly to.
Anyway anyone coming through to Singapore and invited to stay at my place. Would be great to catch up on information. Cheers and keep up the great work on the website. Dalbir"
As of Jan 3, HUBB names include: Roger Ramjet from Texas to Panama and return, Pifa from Minneapolis, Kcfire from Missouri, Preston from Texas going through to Brasil, Bud from California heading to Costa Rica, Paulzen from Quebec heading to South America, Clark from New Jersey, Biram from Philadelphia, Mike1956 from Texas, Wolfgang from Germany, RichieB going to Costa Rica, and Danh088 from DC going to Panama!
Wow - sounds like a convoy! Hope you all meet up, and don't forget to send stories and pics!
"I am trying to recollect the moments and memories of last five and a half years of life tonight. Put all those memorable people, places, emotions and experiences together and see them no longer as a present. But a past...
Tomorrow will be just another day, another gray, cold morning, but my last packing and very last day of this journey. Much have been achieved, accomplished, learned and experienced.
And all that would not be so without you. Thank you so much for being with me and keep me going. I couldn't have done it without you. It was a pleasure to live a dream of so many of you and share it with such a wonderful people. I will stay in touch. Benka"
"Ho...Ho...Ho... It's hard to believe another 12 months have passed and Christmas is nearly upon us again. Work has kept us busy and at home for most of the year. We have both changed our jobs, for the better we believe. Ken quit the Real Estate game and bought himself a Toyota Hi-Ace 1 tonne van and is courier driving around the greater Brisbane Area. The money is better and he has weekends off, which suites us fine. My previous employers sold the business but references from them made it easy for me to find another job, which as it happened is a far better position. I am still working in administration for a larger Electrical Retailer this time.
The past 12 months has seen numerous travellers stay with us. Some stayed for a day and some for months and we enjoyed it all immensely. We hope next year that many more will come and stay. It is a small token of our appreciation for the hospitality that was shown to us while we were on the road. Last Christmas we received a 4-burner gas b-b-q (thanks Brian T) to replace our old wood fire one. Many a memorable night has been spent cooking up a good steak, washed down with a glass of red or a cold beer and telling tales of long and dusty roads. We have yet to inspire any of our close friends to follow in our footsteps although everyone enjoys our many and varied travelling stories. We still have not caught up with many of our friends, both old and new, mainly because work takes up too much time. Our photos and slides are still to be sorted... maybe in the New Year.
Ken turns the big half-century in January 2003 and I am trying to organise a party for him on the Australia Day (January 26) long weekend. You are all invited and we will be in touch. We wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. As you can see we love having visitors so please come and visit, especially our overseas friends (it's really not that far by plane). Love Carol and Ken"
Ed. You can read Ken and Carol's stories on Horizons Unlimited. Don't forget to drop in and wish Ken a Happy 50th Birthday if you're in the Brisbane area!
"As for the trip down south well after reading the ezine it makes me want to do it sooner, as for my departure date well, I will try to aim for July 2003 or ? Where I will start from Vancouver, maybe making Tierra Del Fuego for Xmas! But I think this will be too quick? I will just have to wait and see about my money etc., anyway I understand there will be a Horizons rally this year in Blighty so I shall pen that date in my diary.
Have spoken to Heidi via email the other day, she is in the Vancouver area trying to sell her bike before flying home to Switzerland, when the summer comes she will buy another BMW 650GS and do a tour of Europe. Have a good Xmas and all the best for 2003. Cheers Andy"
There are over 196 Communities in 60 countries running already. A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are Dublin, Ireland, Katoomba and Tasmania in Australia, Paris and Saint Maximin in France, Goa, India, Brussels, Belgium, Lecco and Verona in Italy, and Islamabad, Pakistan.
Thanks to all those who started these 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.
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.
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 favourite motorcycle traveller!
Thanks! Grant and Susan
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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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