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Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in sucking mud in Colombia,hamam torture in Istanbul, dragons in the toilets in Indonesia, raging bush fires, stuck without visas in Iran, Greg Frazier's wild fantasies, Egyptian army hospitality, bush pizza delivery in Kenya, mobs of 600 pound rodents in Brazil, Alaska to Ushuaia on a 50cc scooter, on an overloaded banga in the Philippines, hoodoos and flash floods in Utah, and much more...?
Then you're reading the right newsletter!
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Welcome to the 52nd Edition of the newsletter, and Happy Holidays! 2004 has gone past very quickly, almost in a blur. What did we do all year?
Well, two main themes stand out. First, there were the HU Travellers Meetings, which are growing both in numbers and locations. One of us managed to get to all the northern hemisphere meetings this year, starting with USA East in June (both), UK in July (Susan), Canada West and Portugal in September (Grant) and Mexico in October (Grant). Add in the BMWMOA rally in Spokane and Intermot in Munich to try to get new advertisers and sponsors, and it has been a very busy travel schedule!
Being at the meetings is the culmination of a lot of hard work for the organizers and for ourselves, and it is incredibly rewarding to see how these events have grown and how much people enjoy the experience. We have definitely started something exciting and it will continue to be a big focus in the coming year. Many people have already signed up for the 2005 UK and USA events, and we expect record turnouts at all the events next year.
The second main theme has been separation, since Susan moved to London in July to work, and is expected to be there for some time to come. She is really enjoying the work and the people, (though the project involves quite long hours and some weekend work, which is why the newsletter is so long overdue!) and the money is helping us to dig out from under the debt load we piled up in the past couple of years.
Susan is renting a furnished flat, and we are using a great service called SightSpeed, which allows us to video call for $5 per month, with no long distance charges. It does need a high speed Internet connection to get decent video, which we both have. So we talk every day after work, for as long as we want, and it makes a big difference that we can see each other too. But living apart isn't something either of us is keen on in the long term, so we will have to make some decisions soon.
Although we would love to be together in Canada, especially as we have put a lot of effort into house and garden, the work opportunities for Susan are better in England. Horizons doesn't pay the bills, unfortunately. Also we would like to be able to save enough to go travelling again someday, possibly the way Gail and Eric Hawes do, with a home base. So we're going away over Christmas / New Year to Mexico for diving, which will be a good time to talk about the future. Watch this space...
Christmas is coming, and many travellers on the road are looking for places to spend it. There's several posts on the HUBB, have a look to see if anyone is in your area, perhaps you could join them! The favourite, traditional places for travellers to meet for Christmas are Ushuaia, and Goa, India. Others include South Africa, and Panama City.
And if you want to send someone a Christmas gift, see our books section for travellers favourite books. If you start your Christmas gift giving search (or birthday or whatever!) from our Amazon links, we get a little bit of each sale, and it costs you nothing! And it doesn't have to be books, it can be anything Amazon sells, including clothing, electronics, jewellery, music, sports equipment, toys and games to tools. Thanks!
And thanks to all our generous supporters for helping us to keep going. Here's all the ways you can help!
Start your planning with travel books at the Horizons Unlimited books page, and use the Amazon search function for your region to look for what you want. Don't forget to visit the Souk for sweatshirts, mugs, boxer shorts and much more.
If you know anyone who should be advertising with us (anyone who sells motorcycles or motorcycle accessories, riding gear, camping equipment and clothing, transports motorcycles, organizes motorcycle tours, or has motorcycles to rent should be advertising), please let us know or send them to our Advertising page with your recommendation.
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Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings 2005 - time to plan ahead!
Why not start - or finish - your cross-country or RTW trip from a Travellers Meeting? Bring your stories and pictures and show us where you've been! For those of you who haven't been to a HU travellers meeting, it's a great experience, different from any other motorcycle event, described as a "...uniquely typical travellers atmosphere that's an odd ball combination of mellow, and tail wagging enthusiasm." Make 2005 the year to get to one, two or more events and meet your fellow travellers!
If you are planning on coming to one of the meetings, please register early. Also let us know if you'd like to show a few slides from one of your trips too - it doesn't have to be a fancy multimedia presentation, a few slides and a few words about the area is great. Length can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes.
Viedma, Argentina Travellers Meeting Report, from Oscar Knecht, Meeting Organiser:
"...all was very good in the meeting, we had a great time, and lots of fun too. The weather didn't help us, so we only had five travellers bikes and five locals. Thanks very much to: Peter Slarke, Jessica Hartridge, Albert Hoermann, David Taylor, Bob Morley, Angie Cordano, Gino Lofredo, Amèrico Bustamante, Julio Grova, Hugo (transalp), and special thanks to the Commissioner of Viedma, Jorge Ferreira and his wife, he came to the meeting and invited us for a great lunch in the casino in La Boca beach.
Many thanks too to Marcela Ely and all the girls that were working on all the details of the meeting. For the boss police of La Boca, Adalberto Cravota, that made a big job with the care for our bikes and the campsite at all times. The photos are coming in he next days, because I haven't a digital machine, and I need to get the photos from my friends.
See you next year! Oscar"
Meeting picturesfrom Australia 2004
Haven't got all the details yet, Ken and Carol are very busy, but there were over 40 people attending, and the weather cooperated this year, so everyone had a good time. More photos on the Australia 2004 Meeting page. Thanks to Ken and Carol Duval for once again stepping in and making it all come together at the last minute, they did an awesome job and deserve a big thanks. And some help for next year!
We had a good turnout, with folks from several European countries coming, and I was there as well, holding up the Canadian flag! The Portuguese naturally had the biggest turnout, with the Brits a strong second, also Spain, Germany and Malaysia.
A big Thank You to António Caldeira, our ever-helpful local host, for all his hard work and late nights making sure everything was ready and working, he did a great job, and especially thanks for driving me to and from the airport. 2005 Meeting info.
Mexico 2004, Copper Canyon Meeting
I flew to El Paso and borrowed a KLR650 from the good folks at Moto Discovery and rode down to Creel from there. Last year we flew to Chihuahua and drove a cage (yeccchhh!) in to Creel. I heard so many people telling me about the awesome riding in the area I vowed I would have a bike there this year, so thanks to Moto Discovery I did! And indeed the riding was awesome! If you can possibly get there next year, and don't go, kick yourself now, 'cause you'll be missing a fantastic time. We had almost 100 people this year. As usual - it IS Mexico after all - there were a few glitches, (we had to break in a new manager :) but she now knows what we need, and we have the attention of the owner too, so are promised much better food and the other problems will be solved for next year. Not that there was anything major, but it could have been better. We all had a great time anyway! Thanks to Gerardo Ibarra and Arturo Macias for their help in making it all happen.
On Saturday morning there was a riding course put on by Jim Hyde of Rawhyde Adventure Camp, which met with rave reviews, so we'll have more of that next year - a two day course, and possibly another three hour course. We also expect to have rental BMW F650's available. Keep an eye on the Mexico 2005 Meeting page for more details as we get it set up, and plan to book early.
From Jim Donaldson on the HUBB, "Grant, What can I say. Creel is the perfect place for a HU meet. As my friend Chris Walstow says it's easily accessible from anywhere in North America. It's warm and cool at the same time. The people are friendly and the riding is superb. I look for the meet to grow beyond all expectations as the word spreads. Thanks, Jim D. My pictures and log"
Great turnout despite terribly wet weather, but all the rain didn't dampen the spirits of all those who made it. We had almost 100 people. Next year will be in nearby Nelson, which promises better weather!
Thanks to Carol Palladino and Peter Cameron for their efforts in making the event a great success. Carol's organising skills made a huge difference, and a lot less work for me!
UK Travellers Meeting 2004
As usual the UK Meeting was a big success, with some 200 participants! The weather cooperated, and the new facilities are a big improvement over the old one. Glynn Roberts performed his usual wizardry and everything ran smoothly, or so I'm told, sadly I didn't make it, but Susan did.
Lots of people had a good time on the rideouts:
"...me and my F650 Dakar taking a dip during the HU off road run. The guide told everyone to keep to the right to miss the big pot hole, I was closing the previous gate and out of ear shot at this time, so with a full audience took a comedy slap after hitting cave like hole! Photo courtesy of Simon McCarthy.
And yes, flustered idiot that I was, I was trying to pick it up with the bike in gear and running! Happy travels and see you next year, Gareth Gregg"
We want to thank everyone who came to all the meetingsfor their participation and support, and especially thank those who helped out and pitched in when needed to make it all happen, and of course all thepresenters - you're an amazing bunch of people and we're proud to know you all.
See you next year!
Grant and Susan.
Plan where to be when!
If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note.
OMM Mad Run, January 1, Turkey...is on the seventh year and is becoming a traditional way to celebrate the opening of a new period of fun and joy. An ancient legend tells that what you do on the first day of the year, you’ll do it all year around. And if you want to ride, ride One More Mile, in 2005 you should join us...
El Salvador BMW Convention Feb. 3-5, 2005.
Horizons Unlimited Travellers' Meetings:Lots of HU Travellers Meetings planned for 2005 - check them out to see if there's one near you - and if there isn't... well, you're a traveller, right?
Elefant Treffen 2005
Susan has created
an excellent Information Security and Privacy for Beginners presentation that everyone that uses a computer should read and pay attention to - especially if you're using internet cafes.
Tips on Air Shipping from Douglas and Stephanie Hackney.
BMW South Africa's website has a good story by Frances Taberer of a 2 month trip through "Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique."
Somebody (sorry, lost who!) sent in: "Megarider Organisation in New Zealand claiming 'Saving motorcyclists' lives since 1971' The place is full of intelligent articles and useful tips."
"If you want to set up language school ahead of time, or just want to see some of the choices available, have a look at www.amerispan.com. They seem to act as a clearinghouse for language schools. (For Latin America) I haven't booked anything through them, but I have been considering immersion language school and they seem a great source of info. -Laura Seaver" More on the HUBB.
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 specializes 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.
"Welcome to Panama. MPH Motopartes y Accessorios. I am Martin Fernandez. We have a repair and maintenance shop for travellers. My telephone, office is 507- 264-2901/264-9163. My cellular is 507- 661-4041. The factory is located in the intersection of Via Brazil and Street 50, building Boas, number 2, diagonal to Global Licorera. I carry Pirelli tires."
There are now 80 + shops listed in out - of - the - way places, from Abidjan to Ghana to Peru! Be sure to check out the HUBB "Repair shops around the world" forum if you need work done!
What's your most/least useful piece of kit?
Some great comments on the HUBB - add yours!
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'd get their names and email addresses and send it in to me.
Geoff Thomas, around the world, in Peru, Honda NX 650 Dominators,
“I am currently in northern Peru as part of an around the world trip. Our trip is called ‘Lost On Earth’ and myself and a mate are both riding 99 Honda NX 650 Dominators. So far we have spent the last eight months covering Chile, Argentina, Brasil, Bolivia and Peru. We still have a long way to go as we are riding back to Australia over the next 3 years or so!
I have a bit of a question regarding shipping my bike around the Darien Gap. I read two reviews on your site by people who used sailing yachts from Cartagena, Columbia to take their bikes to Colon, Panama. I understand that this is technically illegal, but I am interested in possibly doing it. The reports seem to present the option as cheap, fairly easy to arrange and with minimum bureaucracy and time wasting.
I was wondering if you have any advice on this matter or if you can point me in the right direction with someone who has successfully done this. Ideally, I would like to email somebody who has done it to get as much first-hand knowledge as I can.
One last thing, in regards to going through customs in Panama upon arrival. Obviously, I may not have exit stamps from Columbia, would this pose a problem for Panama customs officials or do they tend to turn a blind eye to this sort of thing?
Thanks in advance for your help in this matter and looking forward to hearing from you soon.”
Katy Galbraith writes to the Mumbai HU Community:
“I am arriving in Mumbai in two weeks time with husband and two children. Our original plan was to buy 2 bikes in Goa and then travel around southern India... however, we have heard that in Goa, legislation has changed and we would not be able to legally own bikes there. We have also been in touch with Rahim Premjis (www.premjis.com) located in Mumbai who have been very helpful via email, and assure us that they can sell us new Enfields with all the relevant paperwork.
Our big fear is that we end up with bikes that cause us big problems and do not allow us to cross state borders or resell at the end. Any advice on this - or the bike shop would be most appreciated. In addition, the last time we in India, we travelled with Blazing Trails Tours in goa, and only needed a UK driving licence. Is this adequate for India or is it compulsory to have an international driving licence? Any other paperwork that we should have with us? I hope that this is not too much to ask of you. Normally, I would not be so phased by it all, but this is my first time with serious travelling with our children, and do not want to scare them off the experience! Many thanks. Katy”
Here's an interesting thread on the South and Central America Forum
How much do you think it costs?
Alaska to Russia
A VERY common question - surprisingly - is how to get from Anchorage to Magadan. There's a whole long thread on it, plus more - do a search on Magadan and Anchorage and you'll get 25 hits. The answeris simple - and unfortunate - you can't do it directly. No flights (that will take bikes) and no boats. The only answer so far is to go to Japan, and from there take the ferry to Vladivostok. Straightforward and relatively inexpensive.
How does one afford this lifestyle?
What do you think? How did you do it? Want to know how? VERY interestingthread on the HUBB!
Plenty more questions and answers on the HU Bulletin Board! We've over 4,100 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 Zephyr L'Green in Australia, - Skype and VoIP - new communications methods
Also from Zephyr, "it is a shame so many riders just ship in and out of Dili to Darwin and don't spend some more time in East Timor, there is some great riding to be enjoyed and even some reasonable tarmac in parts. I'll submit a story when I get some time."
From Chris Stone, UK, 19 September 2004,
"We are back in Tehran... we did not get our Pakistan visa's in london but [thought we] would get them in Tehran or on the border. The Pakistan consulate will not longer issue visa's in Tehran for UK passport holders. They also refused a guy last week, and he flew to India.
...Today - in fact 4 hours ago we where able to sit down with the very nice Consul to the Pakistan Embassy in Tehran - He explained that there has been a change in the rules and he cannot allow any visa to be issued to any other passport other than Iranian - Everyone must apply from their home country only, unless there is an emergency and can prove the emergency!
He also made us aware of a Japanese couple who have their bikes stuck in Zehadan near the border who have waited 20 days for Authority from Islamabad for an emergency approval for a visa to be issued in Tehran.
I also cannot access the HUBB - the powers that be block it here."
From Glen Heggstad, USA, 18 October 2004
You may have already heard this but the Iranian government has announced that they will now issue visas at the airport in Tehran and maybe overland entry points. I have not been able to confirm this except through UPI but this is great news for American bikers.
I applied ten days ago here in Budapest for a tourist visa and was told no problem, just come back in two weeks. I have my doubts but I'm here and will call them back tomorrow. Also was told at this embassy that Pakistan no longer will issue visas outside of home countries."
Following on from last issues post about Carnet requirements in Ecuador,
...where we asked you to sign a petition - well it looks like it did some good! All the petitions, along with an enormous amount of work by Ricardo Rocco and others, got the carnet requirementremoved! Yes, we won! More details. NO carnet required anywhere in the Americas! There are still some hassles, but Rocco is working on solving them.
"Police Troubles in Argentina" is a thread worth checking out if you're heading that way.
GPS and Cell phones in Russia -know the rules to avoid 20 years in jail...
Russia has some very specific and strict rules on the use and importation of these, so read up on it before you go - there's a thread on the HUBB here, and a US State Department advisory. DO note the date on the Advisory. Things change, but as of last word this was still the rule...
Bill Hamilton, Canada
"Just an update on my bike import exploits. If you recall, I purchased an Africa Twin in the winter and once it had arrived from England (Canada) Customs *** said send it back. Well I have now got the bike stored in bond for the next 2 years till it becomes a vintage (For motorcycles, vintage in Canada is anything over 15 yrs, cars are 30 yrs) and is able to be imported (at that time). All is well. It cost me a little more than I expected and could have easily purchased a number of other bikes but this will be ready the day I retire and I can ride all over North America on it to get the experience to drive to more exciting locals. Best regards. Bill"
Many countries are VERY difficult to import motorcycles into on your own, especially Canada, USA and Australia. Check ALL the import regulations before you decide to import a bike model or year that was never officially imported into the country.
The Zilov Gap, from Alec Simpson on the HUBB
"Three friends riding KLR 650's recently rode this road. They met a couple of blokes who had done it on Honda Gold Wings coming the other way...yep the large tourers with electric reverse! It took the KLR riders one week to do the gap."
From Kevin and Julia Sanders, Globebusters,
"I would recommend anyone crossing into Honduras from Guatemala to go via the Copan Ruinas crossing.We have done Agua Calientes twice before and have always been stung. Copan Ruinas is a much quieter, friendlier crossing, with less commercial traffic and the route is much nicer to ride. We crossed into Honduras at Copan Ruinas about two weeks ago and it cost us US$35 for everything to do with the bike permit. Were surprised to find that this road through is now allpaved - even the latest guide books stated it was dirt. We stayed at La Casa de Cafe in Copan Ruinas, owned by an America who said the road was paved about a year ago. Interestingly he also stated that the week previously, all the border officials had been sacked and replaced due to corruption."
Charlie, otherwise known as "braindead" on the HUBB, (so not sure how to take his advice :) in response to the question: How far ahead do you plan?
"I would say never put off till tomorrow something that you can do today. This is especially true of travelling. If you are serious about travelling by bike then get a bike that only needs basic 3rd party insurance, don't wait until you can afford to travel.
Traveling with little money teaches you to economise and brings you closer to the people you meet and you get a better experience. You would be surprise how far you can get on $1000US in Africa or the Asia.
Travel while you are young and strong, it makes the hardships easier and the bones heal quicker. Don't wait until you are tied down with work, debt, partners or kids, get out there and do it. I did and have never looked back. Charlie"
Patagonia - start in Santiago or BA? From "squidbrain" (do I detect a trend here ;) on the HUBB
"IMHO it would be better to go down the east side on Argentine Ruta 3, that way you'll get to Ushuaia before all the other moto travellers have left after the Xmas/New Year celebrations. Make sure that you contact the communities on the way; Javier and Sandra in Bs As, Jorge in Azul, Oscar in Viedma and the couple in Puerto San Julien; you won't meet nicer people anywhere. On the way back up do Ruta 40 until you get to Chile Chico, then choose between more of the same or the stunningly beautiful Carretera Austral in Chile. Enjoy! Regards, Mick"
"There is a car carrying ferry that runs from Costa Rica (Pacific Coast) to Esmereldas, Ecuador. Met Austrian 4-wheeler in Bolivia that had used it, reckoned $400. But I have no useful contact details. Check with San Jose based shipping agencies, I guess. Cheers, suerte, Dan Walsh."
Riding and travelling in Korea,
Seems it's possible... see this post - read on a bit, it starts out on Russia but then goes to Korea...
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, please go here, and register (or just login IF you have used this system before) and you can then submit your information. Thanks!
The US State Department regularly issues updated travel advisories, information and/or warnings.
Gregory Frazier , USA, KLR650, starting his fifth RTW ride in Alaska,
"A woman propositioned me with a wild offer that piqued my interest in making a fifth ride around the globe.I retired from my 'round the world riding foolishness after completing a fourth global ride in 2002 on a KLR 650. The bike was relegated to a museum place/piece, where it was "resting." I had been offered a nice job opportunity in sales, with a chance to make some big dollars to fill my personal bucket. Instead, I succumbed to a challenge to make a fifth ride around the world. I said, "Sorry Boss, the wind and a woman with a wild fantasy calls. I'll take a job when I get old."
I rolled the KLR out of its languishing retirement, made some changes to it, and headed for as far north as I could ride, Deadhorse, Alaska. From there I turned around and am headed as far south as I can get, Ushuaia, Argentina, then plan to touch Cape Agulhas, South Africa, before tagging the North Cape and finally cross Asia. Somewhere along the route I hope to take a photograph of the Pyramids, Great Wall, Taj Mahal, Ankor Wat, Lenin's Tomb and possibly some junks in Shanghai.
My fifth global ride is vastly different the the previous four. This time I am taking a pillion. She is a 61 year-old grandmother who has advancing Parkinson's disease. Before I met her she had never been on a motorcycle. Her dream is to see the world from a motorcycle and wants to do it before her physical disability forces her not to be able to live her journey. She does not want to let her Parkinson's slow her down. She has no interest in driving a motorcycle and asked me to be her pilot. I have agreed, with some conditions or "ifs." Like "if she can physically make it," "if we can afford the cost," "if we have enough time," and "if I can manage a motorcycle and two people instead of my usual Lone Wolf one." A first "if" was if she could hang on to the back of my motorcycle for a hard and fast ride up to Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse), Alaska.
She has her own website at www.ultimategloberide.com where you can see what she thinks and feels of our journey. If you want to see how I managed two-up on a bike designed for one (like beating a dead horse some might say after the little Kawasaki had already made one rather arduous ride around the world), look to August, 2004 under "What's New" at www.horizonsunlimited.com/gregfrazier. I am still not sure why I did the last four rides around the world, andthrived on them, or why I am doing one again. I do know I hope the lady who propositioned me can ultimately enjoy her dream, her ride around the world. From where she is starting it really is an ultimate globe ride."
Jun Ishibashi (Bashishi on HUBB), Japan, around the world, in China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Suzuki Djebel200,
"Hotan is famous for 'Hotan stone'. This stone was exported to Xian (China), Anyou (The capital city in Yin dynasty China) 4,000 years ago. This is older than Silk Road. Another specialty is Hotan carpet. These two items were exported to Rome through Carvour (Afghanistan), Esfahan (Iran), Baghdad (Iraq).
Hotan is oasis city, many items and foods (meets, vegetables, etc), so market was full of bounce and very interesting.
I returned to Yarkand, went to North Taklamakan desert area. I camped this desert and watched stars and moon. But my camping place was near road, many trucks came and went, I heard truck's driving sound till all hours of the night. I understood Chinese economic development is truth.
... I could return to Kyrgyzstan without problem. Chinese border staff was friendly. I did not take Chinese import paper but staff lady made and gave me.
In Tashkent, I stayed in Japanese rider's apartment about 10 days. I checked and maintained my motorcycle. I met nice Tashkent people on the first day. They washed my motorcycle and repaired my rear carrier and gave me lunch for no money! This kindness was first time for me. Nice guys in Tashkent.
I left Tashkent and tried to enter Afghanistan, but the border near Termiz could not enter me. I had visa but I need permission, because only NGO or government staff can enter Afghanistan from Uzbekistan border. I heard there are no bandit and mine from Termiz to Mazari-sharif. I wanted to go only Mazari-sharif, I regret.
Samarkand and Bukhara are very famous cities as mosques and historical town. I think I can send you next mail from Iran."
Tony Kalm, USA, Rome to Russia Around the Black Sea, in Turkey,
"... I was on the road early, and made the Turkish border by 11am. Compared to the experiences to follow, I'd give the Turkish border police top marks for friendliness and efficiency. I didn't feel that way at the time. In all, more than 3 hours passed, and I counted 8 different steps I and the bike needed to take, each requiring a bigger smile, a small fee, and a special stamp. While the visa cost a mere $20, all in all I forked over $60 in order to 'expedite' my crossing.
When I emerged from the border in mid-afternoon, I was eager to twist the throttle and make up some time. Just as I was passing a truck as I came over the crest of a mountain, I was flagged down by the police for crossing a solid line. He was extremely polite and good-natured, and while he spoke no language I understood, he did turn his pad over and write '83,000,000' on the back – about $50. I smiled from ear to ear, began to gesticulate wildly, and spoke a little gibberish. He kept pointing to his pad, I kept flailing my arms, and he finally relented and waved me back on the road.
... Istanbul has it all – great mix of cultures and people, rich history, exotic bazaars, museums, and hamams (Turkish baths). I enjoyed my hamam experience very much. Cavernous and with a large marble slab on which to lay, hamams were an essential part of life when most homes lacked running water. While some hamams now cater especially to tourists, the one I chose did not. It was the real deal.
After changing into a sarong in a small wooden change room, I was escorted into the main marble room. Finding the light bulb in the sauna expired, the two men running the place proceeded to try every other discarded light bulb in the same socket, all the while letting their cigarette smoke fill the room and letting the heat escape. After sometime, I pleaded for use of their flashlight. I kept wondering whether they were lifting my goods while I sat on the giant marble slab in the tattered sarong.
Finally, they found a bulb that worked. After sitting and mildly perspiring for several minutes, and fighting off the one fellow who would enter and attempt to raise the price, I was escorted back to the slab and instructed to lie face up. The man then proceeded to dump buckets of hot water on me, lather me like mad, massage me, crack all my joints and spine, pull everything squish everything, then he soaped more, pulled more cracked more, and then, after another dozen buckets of water, he led me to the faucet, did my hair and face, more buckets, and then sent me to the shower, padded me down to dry me, and put me back in the little change room to catch my breath."
Richard Parkinson and Lisa Godfery, New Zealand, UK to NZ, in Indonesia, Yamaha TDM850,
"The 4 pm crossing for Flores left at 7 pm as overloaded trucks attempted to roll on to the ferry, found they were too high and had to be unloaded. By then the boat was filling up with chickens, goats, sacks of vegetables and human livestock. By the time we left I was ready to be there, having sat in an open sided but hot floating metal container with no breeze for 3 hours. By 10ish most people had stopped smoking and the TV was turned down, so we each stretched out along a set of 5 moulded and very hard fiberglass seats to try to sleep. I've seen so many people sleeping on these before that I thought they couldn't be that bad, but they are and by the time the boat arrived at 3am we were bruised, sore, sleepy and a little grumpy. We woke 2 guesthouse owners to hear they were full for the night then rode up to find a room at a lovely guesthouse on the hill with incredible views overlooking Labuanbajo's quiet bay.
From Labuanbajo we hired a little boat to take us out to stay overnight on the island of Rinca which, like its neighbour Komodo, is the home of dragons. Our captain was a real old salt who knew the swirling seas of Komodo National Park well and Rich and I were thrilled to be on the still water. We watched dolphins jumping as we sipped weak tea and took photos of each other and all the little picture postcard islands we passed.
Pulling into a little bay we could see huge and magnificent mangroves and little monkeys playing on the muddy shore and looking down in the clear water we saw tiny coloured fish playing with the anchor moorings and jetty pilings. My peace was disturbed when someone announced there was a dragon at the end of the jetty which we virtually had to walk over to get to the park camp. Fortunately it appeared to be sleeping but I was pretty nervous on the five minute walk with our captain across the dry salty land.
Dragons surrounded the camp, sleeping under buildings and trees. Rangers find them in the kitchen, toilet and offices if doors are left open. We paid our Park entry fees then were shown our room, led by a ranger carrying a long stick, forked at one end, which you are supposed to use to pin over the neck of any attacking dragon. They are so fast and so strong I doubted my ability to be able to defend myself but soon adopted the stick carrying approach for my own peace of mind.
We made sure we drank less than usual in the afternoon so we didn't have to get up in the night, and kept our room door closed, as they can climb stairs."
Ed. It would certainly deter me from getting up in the night! See lots of great pics and stories in Richard and Lisa's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Richard Stone and Chris Stone, UK, London to Kathmandu in 3 months, in Iran, R100 RT and R100 GS PD,
"Esfahan - Without doubt our favourite city of the whole trip - it's such a chilled laid back place. We stay in the Ghetto, the backpackers ghetto, aka Amirkabir Hotel - which is just fine with us. After this long on the road together we have totally run out of conversation - remember we are men, we get a lot smaller ration of words to use every day than women anyway. Personally I find that it takes me at least an hour after we have stopped to remember to talk, and to be able to recall all that we have seen that day. When you are on a bike you can't talk to each other! We have a few interesting hand signals for the essentials, i.e. PPT stops (Petrols, P and Tea)
We rename this place the No Visa Hotel. One night seated around the tables in the courtyard were no fewer than 12 persons (of all nationalities) in the same boat as us. No visa for Pakistan, and no obvious way to get one... if you go back to Ankara to get one (if your own embassy will give you a letter of introduction that is) you can't get another Iran visa to come back and cross the border. This was the only time when we envied Back Packers. Well not the 12-hour bus journeys and the early starts, but the ability to get on a plane and fly over the problem. Me, I have 300 kgs of hand baggage if I want to try this!
Esfahan is all about bridges and mosques, beautifully laid out squares and gardens - it is justifiably the centre of the Iranian Tourist industry - we end up staying 8 days here in all. It's where we met Kierstin and Michael, two good Bavarian persons, each travelling with their own BMW - sensible peeps.
When you travel on a bike it is not just the interaction with people, nor the sights that you see that count. It is the getting there. This road was magnificent, 2 hours of tight switchbacks and turns, up, down and occasionally sideways if you did not miss the gravel bars across the road from the water wash.
... And then it happened, the unthinkable, the unbelievable, on the way to the Turkish border we met another Brit on a bike - Mr. Richard Tyner was the man, doing what we set out to do, go to India, but yes he did have his Pakistan visa already. We have a good long chat, it's so good to have the same cultural points of reference and to instinctively know what slang words you can use, no longer did we need to talk with our hands!
We exchanged a fist full of Turkish Lira for a hand full of Iranian Rials, and here I must sincerely apologise to you Richard, at that moment I genuinely believed it was 14,000,000 Lira to the Dollar when in fact it is 1,400,000. If you are at the next HU meeting I will repay the difference, your 6 Dollars was in fact worth 60 Dollars... Sorry"
Ed. See Richard and Chris Stone's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Dody Crewe and Phil Austin, Australia, London to India, in Italy and Greece, XTZ660,
"After 18 months of scrimping and saving, and countless number of excuses to friends why we couldn't come out for drinks at the pub, we finally had our bike packed in a crate and bound to England from Sydney. To kick the trip off, two weeks was had sipping cocktails at sunset in Thailand. The perfect way to absolve ourselves from our penny pinching ways... finally all that saving was about to pay off.
It had taken me about 18 months to turn a very worn out and neglected xtz660 95 model that I had purchased for $1400 Aussie dollars into a competent over land vehicle. It certainly isn't the ideal bike for a trip like this but I wasn't about to outlay thousands more for a bigger bike. In the end I had to make do with what I had.
... Our aim was to ride the west coast of Italy. Our budget had been taking a right old hammering, I figured that we could survive easily on three hundred euros a week, which proved almost impossible. As a result we took to camping in fields or national parks to try and save ourselves a few bucks here and there, much to my delight and much to the horror of my girlfriend, who has an inherent needfor a hot shower. This trick was paying dividends, and we managed to get in 7 days of free camping.
This was almost our undoing on one occasion. We would leave our tent set up during the day and stash all our belongings in the woods before hitting the beach. This day was in the high 30s and stinking hot. After lunch I noticed a good deal of smoke coming from the area we had our camp set up. I assumed it was some kind of burn off but to our horror we discovered that it was a bush fire raging out of control. I was in a state of panic and rode the wheels off my bike to the first roadblock where we babbled at the dumbstruck police officer until he let us pass. We rode straight through the next roadblock and headlong into an inferno. The flames were leaping across the road and making a rapid path for our tent and everything we possessed. We scrambled up the path to our cliff side campsite, stuffed everything into the tent and ran for our lives. We could hear the fire crackling its way up the mountain heading rapidly our way. By the time we had made it back to the bike the whole mountain was on fire behind us. Needless to say it was a few days before my girlfriend wanted to stay out in the woods again.
...We took the ferry across from Brindisi in the south of Italy to Patra in Greece. We had now done close to 5000 kms and I had used almost 5 litres of oil... cause for concern. Luckily for us we have good friends in Athens and the sight of thousands of xt600s cruising the streets made me feel good about taking the bike in to have the motor stripped and my oil problem addressed.
The end result was an engine rebuild, comprising a new piston, cylinder, rings, seals, cam chain and all the bits that hold all that together. Total cost was 680 euros, which I figure was a bargain for the work done."
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Mauro Iacona, in Sudan, Egypt and Turkey,
"Dear Friends, it has been 100 days since I left my house and headed north towards Bahr Dar. It was the first step of a journey that today counts 100 days, 7 countries and over 14,500km on the clock. Once I left the Ethiopian border town of Metema I felt I left home, left my family, and friends and I was alone determined to discover the world or better just a small part of it in this unusual way. With my motorbike and a backpack.
From that day I have been learning every day something new and meeting people of any kind. Like Steven the Swiss on the BMW who was traveling around Africa since 3 years and we spend some 2 months traveling together and now I miss so much. Mithad the Sudanese guy that took care of me, a complete stranger to him, when I was sick in Khartoum, taking me to the hospital, and making sure I would be fit to face the Nubian Desert in northern Sudan.
Ismael, the Sudanese ex. doctor, now a farmer in Wawa in northern Sudan, that as he saw us reaching his village completely covered by dust and exhausted from the 7 hours of drive in the desert he invited us to his beautiful house and introduced us to his family and gave us food and shelter for the night, treating us as very special guests. Masa the Japanese guy traveling around the world with his motorbike a 50 cc, who when asked, 'why you chose such a small bike' his answer was 'because I thought it was a nice joke.'
Ibrahim the Bedouin in the Sinai on the shore of the Red Sea with his very composed manners and very proud behaviour has been a good friend whom made our stay in the Sinai one of the most relaxing stop and of course Osnat that took me around Israel showing me Jerusalem, Tel Aviv. Zihron, Haifa and some nice beaches on the Mediterranean Sea.
In this past 100 days I have seen places of natural beauty, like the Nubian desert; the Nile that crosses the desert and gives life to this region; the Sinai with the red sea and the Gebel Musa (Mt. Sinai); Lake Nasser the world's largest artificial lake in southern Egypt; the Great Temple of Abu Simbel dedicated to the gods Ra- Harakhty, Amun Ptah and Ramses himself.
I passed thru Luxor where I visited the Valley of the Kings, Temple of Hatshepsut, Karnak and many other ruins. From there escorted again, but this time not by my friends but by the Egyptian Army, I headed to the Red Sea village of Hurgada, where my bike was seized by the Red Sea police for 3 days and I became friends with all the officers of the town, drinking tea and chatting about everything till eventually the bike was released. I visited Petra in Jordan, and Hama in Syria.
In Turkey I have been riding the bike in Cappadocia in Central Anatolia, a surreal place with its fantastic natural rock formations of soft volcanic stones, where over the centuries people have curved houses, churches and even complete underground cities.
I have been falling from the bike, fixing the bike, I have been sick, I have been injured, I have been sad, happy, lonely, so many strong emotions that make this journey a life-time experience. And I am looking forward for the next... Mauro now in Iran."
Simon Fitzpatrick, UK, London to Cape Town, Honda Dominator,
"Gibraltar. It's only a rock we rule, but I like it. Like it. Yes I do! Gibraltar is so wrong it must be right. British bobbies on the beat; but we're driving on the wrong side of the road. Proper traffic lights with a commanding presence in the thoroughfare; yet it's 82f in mid-October. Grimaces all round when I try to pay for my chorizo sandwich with Euros. It's like a not-quite-right British theme park in California. Or one of those novels where someone else won WW2 and Gib's all that's left.
Jimena de la Frontera, Spain - Sunday morning. Outside the front door, double-size ants are manhandling chunks of vegetation up the path. Inside the front door, a large but not yet double-size man is eating anchovy pate sandwiches for breakfast. Augustus Pablo bumps away in the background thanks to the miracle of the iTrip, which turns the iPod into a miniature radio station. This is my last week in Europe. The flat I've rented for a week - for a bargain rate - is the most chilled out place I've stayed in so far. Last night I watched 'Brief Encounter' with a cat and some cheap wine. As always, belly-laugh followed belly-laugh until we were both exhausted and the cat, still hiccupping with mirth, begged me to order it a taxi.
At last I've got a front door with a hatch in the top half. This means I can lean out and shout 'Hola', and, later in the day, drunken threats to passers-by, but -crucially- it means I can do it with no trousers on. It's the rural equivalent of being a newsreader.
The high point of today is knee-bucklingly good tapas at a bar down the hill, washed down with freezing cold San Miguel. At first I sit outside and realise I'm sitting next to a table of UK expats. For a few minutes I think it'd be nice to have a chat, and then I hear one of them use taxi-driver code for 'I am a complete tosser - stay away', i.e. 'I'm not being racist, but...' 45 minutes of sour, bigoted, Daily Mail-reading crap on the subject of immigrants follows. They're talking about UK immigrants of course. Not people who move to Spain. That's entirely different. If you took the trouble to read the Mail a bit more often you'd know that.
... It is the hour of the warm glow, my friend. I've just met some lovely, nice, unbigoted, happy English people from the Midlands. They, like me, were a touch the worse for wear re drinks, but their enthusiasm for Spain shone through the booze mist like, er, a fog-light or something."
Ed. Follow Simon's adventures in his blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
Johan and Charmaine Claasens, South Africa, Cape Town to London, in Tanzania and Kenya, 1150GS,
"The road to Arusha has many different contrasts – thick bushy areas where you almost expect Tarzan to come swinging out of the trees – to dry open areas like the Karoo. It was a lovely drive. The campsite was not very desirable as there was no proper fencing, so a lack of security and terrible ablutions. We decided to go look at the Meserani Snake Park campsite suggested to us by Elsa and Christo, it is 30km out of town towards Serengeti. It is a lovely farm environment campsite used mostly by overlanders. All you have to pay is the entrance to the snake park and you can camp for free!
We all went on a camel ride (my first) to a Masai village, arranged from the snake park. The village didn't look very Masai as there is a lot of modern influence in the way the people dress now days. Some of the houses are also more modern with glass windows and 'sink dak' roof. I found out that the walls are plastered with a mixture of ash and cow dung. The houses are quite big inside and are divided into sections with internal walls. A wall divides the kitchen from the guest resting area. There is a huge bed for the wife and children and another bed for the husband. There is also a section 'fenced off' for the... goats. Yip, they are kept inside at night for security against theft and wild animals. They are very sturdy houses with a well-designed roof. Oh, all the houses are built by the women! The Masai women also make beautiful cloth decorated with colourful glass beads, leather and shiny discs; this cloth is worn as a wrap around and looks very stylish when worn correctly. The original Masai cloth was red but now with the modern woven fabrics they are red with blue and purple, very beautiful.
...The closer we got to Nairobi the greener the scenery. There are lots of masai herdsmen/boys along the road with their goats and cattle. We also saw some giraffe and camels and quite a lot of donkeys. We stopped in a quiet area to have a snack break – a lettuce, banana and dried guava sandwich – when the Lord sent us a pizza deliveryman! No jokes! I hadn't even finished making our samies when this guy stopped with his 4 boys, to chat about the GS. His name is Said and he was on his way to watch some rally drivers but is a biker and has a Africa-Twin and just had to stop to chat to us. AND he had a spare pizza in his car! They bought pizza for lunch and got given a ham and pineapple pizza by mistake – being Muslim they couldn't eat the ham! So he gave it to us. A really nice guy.
Nairobi is a lovely city, beautiful old buildings and also some very nice style modern buildings. The streets are lined with huge trees and under most are local businesses – being nurseries, all sorts of plants, shrubs and seedlings, really healthy looking plants. It makes the sidewalks look quite attractive with rows and squares of different colours. The traffic on the roads flows quite nicely and only slows down near the traffic circles, which form a major part of the road system here. There are lots of taxis, buses and trucks but the worst about the vehicles is that there are a lot of very bad 'puffers'! There was quite a few times that I felt that I couldn't breath because of the fumes – urgh! You should have seen my face when we got back to the campsite – I looked like snoopy – my face was black except where my glasses had been! Really dirty."
Daniel Todd, USA/Puerto Rico, second around the world tour, still in Brazil, KLR650,
"My Bike is now decorated with stickers from over 20 bike clubs from Brazil and I'm sporting their T-shirts as well. It all started with a lead from Eric Haws when he gave me a contact in the Harley's Dogs, a biker club in Rio de Janeiro. Guilherme sent me on a riding sabbatical to meet many of the motorcycle clubs on my journey across Brazil. And most of these folk gave me a list many other contacts to meet in the Brazilian Motorcycle World. Brazilian hospitality just overwhelms you: Need a bed? Ah, Sim, Obrigado! You hungry? Muito Bem! Beer cold enough? Otimo! Can you use our mechanic? AH, Bom demais! How about a T-shirt? Wow, Maravilha Legal! And can we put our sticker on your bike? Belleza! Show de Bola!
It is hard to think of a place where visitors, both local and foreigner, are better received. And after my fourth crossing of this beautiful country on motorbike, I was more hooked than ever. I took my time preparing for the journey: I immersed myself with the local Cariocas in Rio de Janeiro and studied Portuguese for two months; I made several short journeys to the surrounding States of Minas Gerais and spent many weekends riding out to different beach towns to participate in the biker festivals that lasted several days with infinite supplies of great food and live music. With a greater understanding of the people and language, I was ready to ride across Brazil again.
Since it was the middle of winter in South America, I decided to try something different: I shied away from the lower latitudes and stayed on warmer belt near the tropic of Capricorn, riding due West all the way to the Pantanal and the Andes.
Highlights of this journey across Lower Central Brazil: The Colonial towns of Ouro Preto and Tiadentes filled with architectural gems. Working with Aldo Tizzani the crew at Brazil's largest Bike magazine 'Moto Adventure'. Arriving in Campo Grande just in time for a 5 day biker bash with riders from all over Brazil. (Is this too good to be true or what?)
And riding the largest wetlands in South America, The Pantanal, which is considered the best place on this Continent to view wildlife. The Estrada Parque in the Pantanal was the only real off-road challenge with deep sand, mud and lots of wooden bridges that weave through the estuaries supporting this unique ecosystem. I observed giant river otters, crocodiles, howler monkeys, anteaters, and lots of bird species. But the most interesting was the capybaras, a huge rodent weighing up to 600 pounds that travels in large groups, usually clustered on the side of the road until getting scared and fleeing, omitting a large grunting sound!"
Rupert Wilson-Young, UK, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, in Chile, Yamaha Vino 49cc,
"Grant, I'm in Ushuaia! Whooopeeeee. However, I most definitely won't be able to make it to Viedma. With all the recent engine problems really changed my schedule... I also just want to thank you so much for all your advice and support recently. It's been really appreciated. I met Jeremy Bullard twice on the road recently. Once at the ferry at the Magellan straight crossing and on the road north of there on Ruta 3. Nice guy. He's part of the Horizon's Community and it's special to meet other Horizons traveller's. None possible without you. Tremendous site you guy's have. Well thought out and easy to get around. Big help to me.
...I have never felt such a sense of relieved happiness in my life. It is December 1, it was 5 p.m. and it has nearly been fifteen incredible months on the road on a tour of fifteen fantastic countries and over 20,600 miles. It is now over. I have had such an incredible experience, meeting such an amazing group of people, that whoever it is, that will tell me to stop travelling and get a solid job, can go and chase that dog that bit me in Peru. I mean it. I feel great. Unbelievable.
...I apologise for being pessimistic recently about my chances of getting here but it was truly not unfounded. The last two months have been a constant series of engine changes. It is not the fault of Britannia. She has been the best that I could expect from a 50cc scooter. It was the mechanics. I have just been unlucky. Even certified Yamaha dealerships have been an issue. Today was the end of two weeks of worry for the rider and today was in no way without it's problems. The engine cut-out countless times right till the end and I don't believe there is much time left for the current engine.
I was bin-bag boy too, because the rain and wind decided to hit me hard around 60 km from this interesting town of Ushuaia. I managed to survive this harsh and cold place in my flip-flops and bin-bag's. I think though, I have been quite lucky with the weather. This is the closest town to Antarctica and very close to Cape Horn where many yachts-people get killed, so I really think things could have been worse. Many times the wind has been behind me and that is one of the biggest blessings I could have asked for. It was strong and in front at one memorable time this last week, and the combined weight of Britannia and I, at around 170 kilo's, was lifted clean off the front wheel...
Many regards and thanks again. Rupert."
Ed. Comment: WELL done Rupert! You had a lot of problems, but you made it - Alaska to Ushuaia on a 50cc scooter is good going! And glad to hear the HU Community is working well for you - and thanks for the nice comments. :)
Chris Smith and Liz Peel, UK, in Utah, USA, Africa Twin,
"Bryce Canyon is more of an eroded mountain escarpment than a real canyon in many ways. As such we stayed at the top of the canyon (as does everybody). At 11 degrees C it was a little nippy to say the least but the weather was fine for once and the cold only meant that the snow didn't melt, ensuring that the whole area had a mystical and even more beautiful appearance to it.
We had only heard good things about Bryce Canyon and now we can see why. The hoodoos, orange slot canyons, cap stone pinnacles and outcrops are out of this world. All topped by iridescent blue snow and bluer skies no description would do it justice. The canyon's namesake, Ebenezer Bryce once described the area as 'A hell of a place to lose a cow'. We could see what he meant! We studied the park map and set off early on our first full day there to walk one of the trails.
As we pulled into a viewpoint we met Robert and Claudia, a German biker couple we'd previously met in Oregon a few months ago. After chatting for a while we all decided it was far too cold to chat any more and went our separate ways upon which we realised we were in the wrong place anyway and needed to ride 5 miles back up the road to the start of the Navajo Trail that we intended to do. We locked the bike up and got our stuff together for the walk, setting off for the trail head excited at the prospect of getting down into the slot canyons and hoodoos.
We were greeted by a big sign and a chain across the path proclaiming it to be closed. We had a quick discussion and decided that we hadn't come half way round the world to be stopped by a sign. The sign said the path was closed on safety grounds due to the snow and ice. We've come to discover that National Park signs don't really mean what they say. For instance 'extreme' means your granny could do it, 'flash floods' means it hasn't rained in years and 'hazardous' means you could break a nail. In fact what all signs really mean is 'Don't sue us!' Being English we don't sue anyone for anything so we decided to go ahead and we climbed over. Within minutes we had the place to ourselves. Wonderful. Walking amongst the hoodoos and slot canyons was a wondrous experience and beyond our expectations. I hope our photos do the place some justice but the only way to really know what it's like is to go there yourself. Do it!"
Ed. See Chris and Liz blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great photos!
Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, around the world, in Ecuador and Colombia, Honda Africa Twin,
"The mud is deep. Not ankle-deep but knee-deep. When you put your foot down in the wrong place it just disappears with a sucking sound. Getting it out again costs precious energy ...energy needed to walk up the steep muddy trail.
We set out with 10 people and 3 guides, but I don't know where they are. I have not seen anybody for the past half-hour, nor do I care. I am too busy breathing and trying to make it up there. Up where? How much more? I don't know, I don't care and again my foot sinks in deep sucking mud.
After crossing a dark river in the last light, I reached the camp. I was not the first, nor the last, but I am sure I was the most tired. I never was so happy to see my hammock even though the tiny midges entered the net and tried to eat my face.
The next morning the dark river seemed friendlier. It seemed so peaceful until I put on my still wet and muddy clothes. The misery returned at once. At least it was dry and sunny. How I came to regret these thoughts after an initial half-hour walking in the cover of the jungle. Someone had cut all the trees to grow some kind of yellow-leafed crop called coca. Maybe this was even harder than the muddy climb of yesterday, heat exhaustion and the steep slope I was on. Almost there, one hour more, the hardest hour, the most dangerous one.
The city's first impression is so spectacular, most of it is lost from sight since the jungle has overgrown it, but what you see is amazing and if you know how much more there is, you are dazzled. 162 round stone platforms, on which the houses were built, the crops were grown and lives were lived. Every platform was connected to many other platforms by stone stairs and paths, and in this way covering the entire mountain slope. A span of more than two km and this was a culture living 1300 years ago...The Tyrona.
The last part. "I still cannot believe I walked up this slope," I thought while I was going down. Six days of green hell and I had not only survived it, I had actually enjoyed it, well, part of it anyway. The agency tells you it's the best trek in South America. I don't know about that, but I am sure it's the hardest one."
Paul and Zoe Jenkins, UK to South Africa and back again, in Ghana, Honda Transalp's,
"As we crossed over into Ghana, we were faced with a huge sign ...'Welcome to Ghana'. How fantastic! It was then that we realized how wonderful it was to be in an English speaking country again! The difference when you cross the border into Ghana is striking. Suddenly everything is newer and cleaner. It is immediately obvious there is more money here. That is not surprising because we had come from Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, I think it ranks 3rd at the moment and Burkina Faso isn't far behind.
Ghana also has a quite well developed tourist industry and most of the attractions are 'eco-tourism projects'. This means you have to pay to visit certain places e.g. waterfalls, villages, but the money goes into protecting the area and supporting the local people. This is fine in theory, but in reality it means whenever you go somewhere you have to be accompanied by a local guide. We like to wander around on our own, and so constantly having to have a 'guide' gets really annoying.
We spent our first night in Ghana in Bolgatanga and it was immediately obvious that there are even more people in Ghana than in Burkina and it was virtually impossible to find somewhere to camp without attracting an army of starers, so we relented and found a hotel!
This part of Ghana has had some problems with Chieftains fighting and so there is a huge (but friendly) police presence. What this means to us is a police roadblock every 5 minutes. They see us coming and can't wait to stop us to find out where we are from, how many cc the bikes are, how much we will sell them for etc. There is always a big shock when I take off my helmet...”Oh my god it's a lady! How can a lady ride a bike like this?” This is fine for the first couple of times, but after 10 or so it gets tiring because we make such slow progress!
Mole was a magical place to spend Paul's birthday where we met Sam and Lauren from Canada and France on a holiday from their jobs in Benin on a 125cc motorbike.
Now we are heading along the coast of Ghana for some more beach therapy, so the next instalment should be more of the same: beaches, palm trees and sunbathing!"
Ed. See Paul and Zoe's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, leaving again after a 9 month break in Australia, in the Philippines, Harley-Davidson,
"12/11/04 - There is a high military/police/official presence. Police road blocks every few km's, mostly unmanned or our weaving the chicane of road block signs watched but not halted. All businesses of any size, hotels, banks and shopping malls have armed security guards, often with metal detectors, and some malls have two lines, one for men the other women where you are frisked prior to entry. Police with rifles wander the streets. Whether we feel calmer with their presence or more nervous depends on our thinking at the time. The fact that they are there should make the place safer but the fact that they need to be there makes us nervous.
18/11/04 - We had learnt last night that our intended passage to the island of Bohol was not likely to be easy. There was no vehicle ferry operating from the south of the island of Leyte, the only one 3 hours to the north going to Cebu, then another one to Bohol, taking two days. The only chance, a bangas (large canoe with two outriggers) leaving from Bato, 90 minutes north at 9.30. We left our accommodation at 6 am and on arrival were assured that the motorcycle could be loaded. It was pushed down the gangplank, five porters assisting and finally tied to the front deck. The double decker cabin was already half full with passengers and their considerable luggage. By 8 o'clock it was overfull and sitting low in the water. It was now one of those boats you would have second thoughts sailing on this loaded, we now had no choice the bike was aboard.
At 8-15 they stopped selling tickets, almost unheard of, boats here are never full, however people kept leaping aboard till our departure at 8-30, grossly overloaded. Three men in rotation manned the hand pump the entire two and a half hour journey. Crammed into the two cabins people were seasick with the engine heat and fumes and rough seas. We had chosen to remain outside, fresh air and a safety precaution. We arrived safely, the passengers unloaded, the bike also, the reverse of loading, again many helpers and we rode from Ubay to Tagbilaran and onto Panglao Island, seaside, a well earned rest after 12 hours of travel.
2/12/04 - For the last couple of years Kay has not been getting the same enjoyment out of travelling as she used to nor as much as I continue to get. There have been many discussions on the subject, at times quite in depth. At my age of 51 and with a further possible life expectancy of another twenty five years, and most probably not needing to work again if careful with savings, and with no great ambitions, must do's, or challenges at the back of my mind, it is difficult to see an alternative to travel other than sitting on the porch whittling, or growing vegetables.
Kay on the other hand is not enjoying travelling any more and has a need to put down roots. A house, family and friends. Unfortunately after over thirty years of marriage we have come to an impasse, our first. It has been a long time discussed as mentioned above but we must unfortunately go in separate directions from here. Neither sees the possibility of adopting the other's lifestyle or a compromise lifestyle in the foreseeable future so it must be considered a permanent arrangement. The ending of one book with a quiet time for reflection before the commencement of the next. Kay booked her flight out of Manila for Australia, leaving on the 19th December and I booked my flight to Bangkok leaving on the 18th December. We plan to have our last two weeks together travelling in the Northern Luzon region."
Ed. Peter and Kay, so sorry to hear your news, but our very best wishes to both of you, who have provided so much entertainment to us all for so many years. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host Peter and Kay's complete story and pictures here!
Plenty of discussion on Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's "Long way Round" trip, book and video on the HUBB
Peter, (Beddhist on the HUBB) wrote " EMG has not only written a book about the trip, entitled Long Way Round, but he's also read excerpts from his book on BBC Radio. I found it rather touching, not at all as described above, and I would like to share his readings with you. As I don't think it's available on the BBC web site any more I have transformed the 5 parts into MP3 files."
Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World
La Vuelta al Mundo por la Paz - Un Sueno que se hace Realidad,by Ricardo Rocco Paz,
Ricardo's adventures in South America, in Spanish. There's two tapes and a book, contact him for details.
One Year on the Road, Cinq Continents en Moto, by Manou Emringer and Ellen Spencer, in English and French. "This travelogue, illustrated with over 400 photos, follows their journey through North and South America, West Africa, Europe and Asia."
Available through Manou and Ellen directly, 38 Euros plus shipping, or in North America from HU. Don't forget to tell them where you heard about it. It's a very nice book, well done - I have one! Grant
From Nordkapp to Cape York on a Motorcycle, by Werner Bausenhart. Werner, 66, was born in Germany and worked in Canada until his retirement. He has authored a number of books since getting bit by the motorcycle travel bug, including 8 Around the Americas by Motorcycle, Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle, and Africa Against the Clock on a Motorcycle.
Werner's latest book describes his travels from Nordkapp to Australia overland, and back to Canada to complete the RTW trip. Should be an inspiration to any of you who have been thinking you're too old to go around the world on a motorcycle!
All his books are available directly from Werner. Tell him we sent you and get US$5.00 off the regular US$20 price!
The Producers of Mondo Enduro present Terra Circa, Around the World by Motorcycle (6 x 20 minute episodes).
Regular readers of this newsletter will remember Terra Circa's adventures around the world, and especially the Zilov Gap. Now's your chance to see it in video. Austin Vince is a very funny guy and the video is hilarious, as he leads his intrepid crew through misadventure after misadventure.
"This is adventure motorcycling" says Chris Scott, who wrote the book, so he ought to know!
Contact Terra Circa video distributors for the PAL video or all format DVD. Don't forget to tell them you heard about it on HU, we'll make a bit, and it won't cost you any more.
Looking for a travel book for someone special?
There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - you can order books at great prices, and we'll make a dollar or a pound or a Euro, which goes a very little way to supporting this e-zine.
There's also links to search Amazon sites for all their products, books, CDs etc., and yes, we get a tiny piece of that too. We really appreciate it when you start your book search from our website! Thanks for the support!
NOTE: If you buy a book starting with one of our links below, we get a little bit to help support the website!
Book suggestions please!
If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and I'll put it on the site. Thanks, Grant
See if you can dine out around the world
without embarrassing yourself...
We have a new Travellers Meeting - in South Africa!
Located at Protea Hotel Golden Gate Mountain Resort, situated in the Golden Gate National Park in the Free State Province, which is about a 2 1/2 hour ride from Johannesburg, bordering on the Maluti Mountains and well situated for travelers from all over South Africa. Luxury hotel or camping available.
Date is tentatively set for 14-17 April, 2005. Check the Meetings page for details as soon as we have them, hopefully by end December. And yes, I (Grant) am planning on being there, and with any luck Susan will be too. :)
See you there!
From South Africa:
"Operation RSAids awareness" (8000 km mass motorcycle ride around South Africa)
"Cytech and Tours for Africa, respectively the BMW and Adventure Motorcycle and highly respected African Adventure Travel Specialists who in the past have pioneered several of the most ambitious and challenging Trans Continental Expeditions and made history on several occasions, together with other dedicated and committed establishments and organizations who want to contribute and make a difference to positive change for our youth and future generations, are planning to mobilize, unite and unify motorcyclists from all around South Africa for a ± 8000 km mass motorcycle ride around the circumference of South Africa in 9 days.
The entire route is planned on good tarred/asphalt roads and be suitable for all makes and models of on-road and dual purpose motorcycles which will traverse ±200 towns / cities, several being major, for the sole purpose of assisting and reinforcing promoting Aids awareness. There will no doubt be other personal challenges and factors that will interest the riders. The Motorsport Association of South Africa have officially endorsed and sanctioned this event and offered to mobilize it's offices around the country to offer support. One of the largest NGO's in Africa, "loveLife," who have also officially endorsed, sanctioned and welcomed the pro-active initiative, will oversee the HIV/AIDS component on the event. AMID and the various Motorcycle Distributors have been approached to support and partake as will the various Motorcycle Clubs and Associations.
As this will be a unique, pioneering and historical mobile platform to promote Aids Awareness the organizers are extending an invitation to attract and encourage a core group of 100 Executive Professionals, Managing Directors from local and international establishments as well as local and international celebrities who own and ride 650cc and exceeding size motorcycles, to participate on the entire 9 day event to show their support for Aids awareness, There are currently discussions in process with a number of celebrities. Anyone who fits the profile and would like to partake can call us to be part of the 100 VIP core group.
On the day of departure their will be an official send off from a certain central location (which will be publicized in the near future) in Johannesburg and will be calling on all motorcyclists to congregate and ride with the 100-rider convoy out of Johannesburg to show support for this very worthy cause.
A full time traffic / security escort as well as comprehensive logistical/ back up/ recovery and medical support with specialized personnel will be accompanying the convoy for the 9 days. An exclusive high tech fully interactive satellite connected dedicated website for this event will be in operation as from the end of December 2004.
All the actual participants, organizations and companies that partake and involve themselves will be listed on the website.
Motorcyclists from all around South Africa can join in and ride with the 100-rider convoy and accompanying logistics along the route around South Africa for separate sections and in the major centres can meet and socialize or book to have dinner at the hotel only, or 1 or 2 night stay overs with the core group, which has to be pre-booked with the organizers. Numbers for these options are regrettably all limited.
Local and international press, media, radio and television coverage is being arranged, with all journalists especially motorcycling journalists most welcome to attend.
More Information about this event can be seen on www.toursforafrica.co.za
Any organization, establishment or individual who is dedicated and committed to wanting to make a difference or contribution to positive change for our youth and future generations and want to partake or involve themselves in some way on this ± 8000 km mobile platform, can contact the organizers at 27 (11) 683-5837 or Email Organizers.
We can make a difference."
From Rene Cormier, Canada, and Amy Bruning, USA, around the world, F650GS's,
"Here's a pic I took after taking a few liberties. This is the window for the customs on the PanAmerican highway on the Costa Rica side. There is no sign that indicates this office, so maybe this will help fellow travellers...
I have more HU sticker pictures...to come... Rene "
Tom Hunter, USA, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, in Bolivia, BMW R1150GS,
"About thirty minutes out of Uyuni I stop for an approaching truck. It is spewing a veritable dust storm in its wake, and I pull over rather than be engulfed by the following cloud. As I re-bag my camera, a motorcycle appears in my rear view mirror, and I motion it to stop. Up pulls the first of two Honda Transalp's, which I noticed yesterday in Uyuni. Jorge Brandon, an attorney, and his buddy Roberto, a contrador publico; a CPA like me, up from Salta, Argentina just two days ago to visit the Salar, are now returning. We agree to ride together. I'm happy that I won't have to tackle it alone, and with full bags. We share a few words in common, and motorcycling is a fraternity, so we have little difficulty both maintaining a dialogue and establishing rapport.
About 100km from Uyuni the road is blocked and following vehicle tracks, we detour to the riverbed. It's 500 meters wide (a quarter of a mile,) and thankfully, less than a foot deep in most places. Rocks and sand, each plentiful now, make up for the lack of water, and we ride in the riverbed some ten kilometers (six miles) to the pueblo of Atocha, where we make proper introductions on a long bridge; the only paved surface for hundreds of miles. I find the modern, paved bridge incongruous in an area where the highway proper runs through the river.
... The bike is safely stored in Buenos Aires with Sandra & Javier Kaper, motorcycle shop owners, and friends of friends. They are super people. The hospitality of the South American people has been overwhelming. I'll be back in early-December to tour parts of Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay with my wife, Jan, for a couple of weeks, before heading south alone to Tierra del Fuego. The trip will terminate in Santiago, Chile in mid-January, and from there I'll ship the bike back home to Seattle."
Erik and Hanka Forkert , Germany, around the world, in Malaysia, Honda Transalp XL 600V,
"We made it to Malaysia! Penang was welcoming, clean and relaxed. Immediately we noticed every little convenience - Indonesia really left some scars on us. It didn't take much time for us to discover Penang's famous hawker food stalls. It's so much fun to start eating in Chinatown and stop eating when you get to Little India – it really feels like wandering from one world into another. Penang truly is a melting pot of both cultures. Thanks to the biker community there we found a new (good) chain and brake pads immediately. It was time to discover the rest of Malaysia. While hoping to get new sprockets in Kuala Lumpur, we put the spare chain into the side bag and left.
From Penang we went straight to the Cameron Highlands. The first part, a real motorway, we truly enjoyed: smooth pavement, very little traffic, modern service areas with fruit stalls and on top of that: little huts for motor bikers to shelter from rain. Unfortunately on the road through the highlands the old chain broke again. Somehow we made the 42 km's to the next bike shop. The Cameron Highlands with it's rolling hills of tea plantations were nice and cool, although rainy.
To enter Kuala Lumpur from there was quite a temperature shock (from 22 to 37 degrees Celsius). Luckily we were escorted into the city center by some bikers – otherwise it would have been a real challenge to find our way through the confusing freeway system. The guys also showed us the best bike shop in town, where we even recognized some photos of bike travelers we met. After the Honda was equipped with the necessary bits and pieces we had time to draw our attention onto the real attractions. Don't know how many different pictures we took of the Petronas Towers. Of course we went on the sky bridge connecting the two towers of the second tallest building in the world.
Tomorrow we will leave Kuala Lumpur, crossing to the east coast. Following a loop around Malaysia, we plan to go to Thailand via Penang due to the political situation in the southeast of Thailand. Unfortunately it's monsoon season already, so the little island paradises along the east coast of Malaysia closed earlier this year. Snorkeling has to wait until Thailand then :-) Catch you later. Hanka & Erik"
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Patrick and Belinda Peck, Australia, RTW, in France, Spain and Canada, Yamaha Ténéré,
"We had a great time in Corsica and rode the bike all over checking out the gorgeous beaches, mountain villages and spectacular coastal roads. We then ferried to Nice, France and stayed with HU member Peter Hendricks. Peter was very good to us; he let us use his computer to update our HU entry, download photos, do our washing and catch up on domestic chores. In exchange we cooked up a feast for him every night. It was great to have a kitchen and cook up lots of Thai stir fry's. We even went on a motorcycle ride with his moto club through the gorgeous French Alps.
Next we drove along the Southern French coast and saw some spectacular real estate and amazing Esplanade drives. Too expensive for us though, so we hurried back to our beloved and much cheaper Spain! Seville, Southern Spain was our destination in order to find somewhere to store our motorbike for 16 months while we go back to Australia to earn some more money! With the help of HU member Pedro Vera Hormazabal we found a great hotel with a space in their garage that they were not using and we negotiated a deal for Euro 9/ month for storage. We left the rest of our gear at Pedro's place. Thanks heaps Pedro, you are a legend.
We cruised around Malaga area of Southern Spain and popped in to see Linda Bick, a lady who has ridden her BMW all over the world! Linda is a real inspiration and such a small gutsy package.
We left Seville and it was 21 deg C and arrived in London to 5 deg Brzzzzz! John and Annette are now back in London, after travelling around the world for the last 3 years on their BMW's, so we caught up with them and celebrated in the usual manner with those two. They have settled back into 'Normal' life quite well and we even went to a motorbike show!
We are now in Edmonton, Canada where Pat's immediate family are, preparing for a white Christmas, in fact it is snowing right now as I write."
Ed. See Patrick and Belinda's blog here on Horizons Unlimited.
Haydn and Dianne Durnell, Australia, Alaska to Ushuaia, in Peru, Harley-Davidson,
"One of the larger towns we passed through was Chimbote and it would have to rate, alongside Belize City, as one of the worst places on earth that we have seen. Even our guide book thought it was bad and said that if you were unfortunate enough to have to stay for the night, then you should immediately find a hotel and not venture outside till morning! Fortunately, further down the road we found a small fishing village near Casma with a cheap hostel and spent the night there.24/11/04
A few kilometres further south and just east of Casma are the ancient ruins at Schin. When I say ancient I mean 1500BC, so that is seriously old and before the Mayan empire and long before the Inca empire. These ruins were only discovered in the 1970s and excavation is still progressing. Quite an experience though to walk around such an ancient ruin and interesting with many figure graphics carved into the walls.
Amazing how perceptive we have become on our travels. As we rode on, our first sign that something was wrong were the large rocks strewn across the road and the remains of burnt tyres. Then there were the trucks and buses parked on the side of the road. Nevertheless we continued on towards a police road block. At this stage we figured that something was amiss and when we looked into the distance we could see a mass of protesters chanting and marching towards the town centre, and us. The police were quick to guide us past the road block and along a small pathway by-passing the protesters, just as Dianne took out her Capsicum spray in anticipation of a bit of bother. Yes our days are interesting and sometimes exciting.
Continuing south we're still amazed at the masses who live in shanty towns around the city's. They mostly live in single rooms made of whatever building materials are available, tin sheets, cardboard, woven palm leaves and even plastic. A people, migrating from the highlands and hoping for a better life in the city which sadly most will not realise because of their lack of education.
Satellite towns then sprawl continuously across the sand dunes made up of disillusioned people who have left the city to claim their own piece of desert. Some choose to live in isolation in this bleak and dismal environment ensconced by sand. Those who manage to earn enough to buy brick and mortar build their home wall by wall and consequently most homes are never completed and while the Pan American highway is kept in excellent condition it seems out of place in the poverty it cuts through.
As we float through these swirling patterns of sand and the myriad of colours and textures we feel grateful that we call Australia home."
Mart Heijnens, Netherlands, around the world, Russia and Japan, BMW F650,
"I send you a picture made when I arrived in Vladivostok. I wrote a description of the Zilov Gap on the Bulletin board (look under Asia) too. I had a lot of help from the communities in Ulan Bator (Scott Weinhold) and in Tokyo (Chris Lockwood). Scott helped me to get tyres, Chris sent me a lot of information (LP, maps) and helped me to find a BMW dealer. Great people and thanks to Horizon Unlimited!
I plan to be in Chile at the end of this year. I contacted some shipping agents. I contacted Air Sea Transport and A-Cross. The duration of shipping is roughly the same, about 40 days but there are huge differences in price and service. A-Cross asks 270.000 yen (about 2000 dollars) but offers total service (from door to door). Air Sea Transport asks about 700 dollars but with limited service (just transport and terminal costs). However the difference in costs will bring me probably to Air Sea Transport. Best greetings, Mart"
Ed. $2,000 sounds a lot for sea shipping. Have you considered flying it instead? See the Shipping pages and search on Japan to Chile. Air Sea Express from Tokyo to Santiago was recommended as of a couple of years ago.
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Glen Heggstad, USA, around the world, in Turkey, F650GS Dakar,
"Still twiddling my thumbs in Istanbul waiting on a tranny bearing and visas. I'm going to shoot for Oman and catch a boat for Karachi. Even if I don't get a Saudi transit visa, I can probably truck it overland to UAE. Air freighting over countries is a last resort. Thanks for your help. Glen"
Glen also wrote a great post on the HUBB about going to Pakistan and Iran:
"...one of the main reasons I want to go there is because of the friendly people. So far I discovered that although governments don't get along, people do. This was especially true in Russia, where our respective governments still target each others nations with nuclear weapons, and I was treated like family. Most people have the common sense not to hold individuals responsible for what a particular administration or regime does. Maybe other travelers have had negative experiences because of their nationality but mine have been overwhelmingly positive. Unless you're dealing with terrorists, drunks or bandits, most people are reasonable. We shouldn't believe everything we see on TV. The best weapon is a big smile."
Charlie Miller, Australia, around the world, eventually, in UK, R100GS,
"G'day Grant, am in London at the moment. Camping nearby is a Canadian bloke from British Columbia and I have given him your email address. He didn't know about your web site. He has done some European trips on a yammie. I think he is down in the dumps at the moment as he has had really bad luck weather wise and is wanting to throw in the towel and give up. Have been trying to buck him up. His name is Ken Rorison maybe you'll hear from him?
My long time friend Barbara Graham Aussie has joined me and we will continue to ride on my convoluted journey. Met Helge Pedersen in Garmisch at the big BMW rally there. He gave a great slide show. My aim is to head down through some of the old eastern block countries Hungary Romania Bulgaria etc to Syria then over to Egypt etc. etc. All going well, bike and me going ok. All the best Charlie. P.S. the latest edition of HU ezine is really great. Some fantastic photos, keep up the good work."
Peter O'Brien, Australia,
"First time traveler,a little daunting to start with but the help and information from this site has been great. Leaving Australia via Darwin, bike with Perkins to Singapore, ride Malaysia, Thailand/Laos, freight BKK to Bombay middle to late Nov, Christmas in Goa."
Also: Sometime things don't go the way we plan, have now ridden through all Indonesia, what a trip. For me very enjoyable, to others not so good. It is important to your viewers to understand as I am sure you do, the Lonely Plant (sic) book is not the law of the country you are in, and when asked to stop by the police you stop, not ride on. This conflict can end in tears if not jail. Now in Malaysia resting getting ready to ride to Thailand when bike arrives."
Hmmm, wonder what happened to prompt that comment...
Nico Bregman, Netherlands, in India, Africa Twin,"The night was cold, it freezes. When I look out of my window I can see ice on the small puddles. Clouds are hanging over the mountain tops. I ask the hotel manager what the weather would be like. He answers that it might rain in the evening and snow at night. A good day to drive to Chitkul and back. Should it snow, it would stay in Chitkul, but Sangla would be no problem because the sun melts the snow up here. A day’s driving without all of my luggage is nice. After breakfast I leave for Chitkul. I have to pop my ears frequently because of the difference in heights.
Sangla is situated at 2650 meters and Chitkul at 3450 meters. The road is full of potholes and the views are magnificent. The landscape changes continuously from bold slopes to slopes with conifers with big boulders. The bushes are colored deep red, it’s autumn. I have to cross little streams. The bigger ones have bridges. On some places there is ice in the water. The last stage to Chitkul is offroad with many rocks. Then the road stops and I’ve arrived in Chitkul. Chitkul is a small village with mainly woodcarved houses. The inhabitants are busy collecting wood for the approaching winter. The people are friendly..." Website in English and Dutch
Norm Ness, Canada, to Panama, in Central America, Honda VTX1800,
"A 'quicky update' - At 2000h on the 17 September, I sadly left Mexico, and crossed the border into Brownsville, TX. (on the Gulf of Mexico)."
Ed. Read Norm's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Marco Schnüriger, Switzerland, around the world, writes to the HU Santiago Community:
"Hi guys! I found your Santiago Bikers community through HorizonsUnlimited.com! I am a Swiss biker travelling around the world. Right now I am in Seoul, South Korea. I will ship my bike at the beginning of December to Valparaiso. After sending my bike on its journey I will fly directly to Santiago, and will hang out a little there or in Valparaiso.
Another friend of mine also ships his bike to Valparaiso, but he can come only later to Chile. I hope he will come timely to pick up his bike, but if not, I will have to find a place for storing his bike for a few weeks! Does anybody of you have an idea on where I could store it, very cheap or even for free :-) We are both budget travellers, and we drove all the way from Europe through Russia and now we are in Korea, as I said. Thanks for your help in advance! Marco"
Jeff Nicholls, Canada, Canada / USA loop, Harley-Davidson,
"My time here on the west coast has been amazing and eye opening. I have been welcomed into my friend's family as one of their own and will never forget or know how to repay them for their warmth and hospitality, they really are like family to me, always have been.
We went sailing, driving motorcycles, visiting, bowling (Marc's favourite sport), eating out and enjoying each other's company.
I am now the proud owner of a Mac Powerbook G4 laptop computer and have enjoyed getting to know and learn this Mac very much...Oh! and I just had to buy a 40 GB Ipod music player too, I need those 10,000 songs on my fingertips when I am riding.
...and it comes with sadness to say goodbye to my friends here, it is a very nice to have the feeling of a home away from home. I look forward to seeing them all again and hope that it is sooner rather than later. Thank you Marc, Ana & family."
Ed. Great photos on Jeff's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Pete Corboy, USA, around the world, R100GS, writing to the Alexandria and Cairo Communities,
"I started in California and rode to Argentina then shipped the bike to Japan. Took the car ferry to Russia and rode to Turkey via Mongolia and all the "stans" and Iran. Heading to Egypt now and I have a question. Can I get tires easily there? I need a 17 inch for the rear and a 21 inch for the front. Tubeless. If it's difficult to find them there, I'll have to buy them here and carry them, but I hate carrying tires (don't you?) Also, I hear I have to get an Egyptian licence plate. Anyone know anything about that? Thanks in advance for the info."
I'm sure Pete now knows all about the Egyptian entry requirements... here's our entry story in 1997, and although I hear it sadly hasn't changed much, it is supposed to go faster.
Simon Dorotich, Australia, in Africa and the Middle East, F650,
"I shipped my BMW 650 Dakar to Cape Town and arrived there myself on Nov 18th, and after exploring the SW corner of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana I went back to South Africa to Durban to where my good friend, Stacey, arrived with the same bike. Stacey had 3 months leave from work and so rode as far as Ethiopia in mid March, where we crated her bike (it only just left Addis Ababa!).
We then continued with her as a pillion or via a bus and trains where 2 up not possible/enjoyable to Cairo, where she flew out. I arrived in Cairo on 2nd April but travelled slowly through the remaining Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey due to Giardia and Amoebic dysentery from (I think) Sudan slowing my enthusiasm and riding stamina down!
...Considering many or most long distance riders choose BMW's, I'll save face now by mentioning (for amusement) the comments I've made to motorcycle travellers I've met along the way who have done trips for a few weeks or 5000km and ask my advice for a long journey. And I'm sure you've all responded to such things before.
Ideal bike: One that runs, preferably the engine rattles less than the wind noise, and single cylinder for off-road
Best tyres: Round black ones
Best luggage: Stuff that holds your gear
Best time to go: Yesterday
Best way to negotiate: Smile and act like a children's TV host
Best way to handle people who attempt to or successfully rip you off: Wrestle the money back out of their hands, or try to run them over
How can I afford it?: Try to only spend money on petrol and food (and beer if a requirement of your mental composition) for as long as possible. Then when you are low on money or run out, look dirty/scruffy and smile and free things will come!
A couple of Europeans found that inspirational, while others seemed glad they're not travelling with me! Flying the Aussie flag! Rubber side down, Simon"
Ed. Simon has been travelling through Africa and the Middle East for about a year, although we hadn't known about him before now. He has a website for those who would like to read more.
Dave Smith, USA, around the world, in Australia, 1965 Ducati 250cc,
"I'm in Brisbane trying to circle Australia before circling the world on a 1965 Ducati 250cc. I started just north of Sydney. On my 2nd day, I ran into Marcus from Germany, with Daria, from Poland who are circling Australia too. They started in Perth. Nothing like getting a warning that it's cold on my route from a German - it had me sweating but I missed the cold. Haven't seen any live kangaroos, but I've passed a lot of roadkill ones. I plan on going to New Zealand in about 80 days. Not sure how to get me and my bike there yet, but I'll figure it out."
Leonard and Karyn Dolezsar, Canada, to Panama, Harley Davidson
"...my wife and I will be travelling through Guatemala, 2 up on a Harley Davidson large touring motorcycle. We are from Canada and are both in our 50's and this will be our first motorcycle trip outside of North America. We plan to follow the Pan American Highway to Panama, but on the return trip want to cross Guatemala into Belize and then up into Mexico. I understand that the highway to Belize is all paved and relatively safe. Is this correct? We would appreciate any information you can give us. We expect to cross into Guatemala during the third week of January and then return through Guatemala during the first week of March. Thank you, Leonard and Karyn Winnipeg Canada"
by Ken and Carol Duval (RTW 1997-2001, a.k.a. the motorcycle traveller's friend in Australia ;-)
"Hanka & Erik Forkert (alias 'the kids') from Germany on a Honda Transalp XL 600V. South America, New Zealand to Australia. Stayed with us from April to June and did some maintenance on their bike and a few odd jobs for us. We were very sad when they left. Ken was the same age as Hanka's father so we were called 'the parents'. Hanka and Erik are now in South East Asia on their way overland home.
Flavia & Marcel from Switzerland. Started out on a Triumph Tiger across Asia to New Zealand and Australia. Sent the Tiger home and bought a 4WD. They stayed with us for a couple of days in October and are now home in Switzerland.
Ed. comment:I think I see why the switch to a 4wd...
Kerstin Gackle & Volker Aldinger from Germany on two Yamaha Ténéré XTZ660's. Russia, SE Asia to Australia. Stayed with us for 3 weeks and did some maintenance on their bikes and also attended the HU meeting. Now in Victoria (?).
Heidi Geitz & Bernd Kleine from Germany on two KTM LC4 Adventure 640's. Overland through Asia to Australia. Stayed with us in November for about 2 weeks and did some maintenance on the bikes. Now somewhere in New South Wales.
Lisa Godfery & Richard Parkinson from New Zealand on a Yamaha TDM 850. Overland through Asia to Australia. Stayed with us in November for about 10 days and did some maintenance on their bike. Now heading south to Sydney and Melbourne for some 'retail therapy' for Lisa!
Neville St John-Wood from Daintree North Queensland on a BMW F650 Dakar. Neville is an old dirt bike riding companion of Ken's and has just got back into bike touring since overlanders have been staying with him. This trip is for 6 months travelling down to Tasmania and back to Daintree.
A lot of maintenance is done at our place. We have a garage and tools and most parts can be bought or repaired in Brisbane.
Ken and I enjoy having travellers stay with us and we are always sad when they leave. If we can't travel (temporarily) this is the next best thing. We will have more overlanders coming this month. All the best Carol and Ken"
Ed. Many thanks to Ken and Carol for being such good hosts to travellers from around the world. And for hosting the 2004 Horizons Unlimited Australia travellers meeting. See pics elsewhere in the e-zine.
David and Cheryl Laing, Australia, Australia to UK, Honda Shadows,
"Do not ever think that going on a trip of a lifetime will cure your desires for that sort of travel. All it does is make you so unsettled that you can't cope with life when you return. My husband, David and I, rode our Honda Shadows overland from Newcastle (Australia) to Nice (France) in 2000 - 2001. When we had been home for about three months we knew all was not right. We wanted to go again. Had no money and at a lot closer to sixty years old than fifty years old we did not have a lot of quality life time left to save up again. What to do? What else was there? We sold our house. That is how sure we were that we wanted to take the Shadows away again. Selling your home of 25 years is no easy thing to do but not all of us are born with a silver spoon in our mouths. And anyhow, we both thought that if one of us died why should the new husband / wife get to spend the money? And if that didn't happen the kids would soon sell the house.
...We now have the money to hit the road again. The time has come and all our possessions are once more in a storage shed. But we still have this feeling of 'are we doing the right thing'. We know we are, we have been there done that, but still that little bit of doubt creeps in. If you get this feeling and you are a first timer to all this then don't despair. I think it is what happens. I also think that you need to have some doubts, as, if you are too blasé, then you will easily make wrong decisions along the way.
Horizons Unlimited has been a great help to us over the years. And I hope we have and still will, help others to make the decision to hit the road. As we are oldies we tend to not have the latest in bikes and equipment. And we are not go-getters. We are old, staid, boring and ordinary but we prove that it is possible to be like that and still do exciting things with your life. We ride pretty ordinary motorcycles too. David has a 1993 Honda Shadow 600 and mine is the same but a 1997 model. They tell us there are places that those 'cruiser' bikes can't go and I am sure that that is so, it is just that we haven't found those places yet. Have ridden through rivers and snow, to the heights of the Himalayas, and the deserts of Iran. All in the comfort of cruisers, and their sheep skin seat covers. Really, I do not have a lot of choice. Along with being old, overweight and boring I have to add the word short. That means most bikes are out of my reach if you excuse the pun.
We are calling this leg of our new journey Bribie to Birmingham. Bribie being the island where we now live and we have a daughter teaching in Birmingham so a free bed is looking good. Taking a similar route to last time. Ride to Darwin, ship to Singapore and on and on. The only plan we have is Goa for Christmas.
We invite you to join us on our travels via Horizons Unlimited and I am looking forward to submitting updates as we go along. Bribie to Birmingham then who knows? London to Lima, Paris to Peru. What will be will be. But I do know that it has been a privilege to watch the growth of HU and to hear, both directly and indirectly that we have been the inspiration for others to take to the road."
Ed. And why should the kids get to spend it anyway? Let them earn their own money, I say. Good on ya both!
Frankie Surgener, Scotland/Australia, to Cambodia, RideAid, F650,
"Hi Grant and Susan. Just met David and Cheryl Laing in Thailand (the aging disgracefully round the world bikers) Cheryl put me on to your site and I have gone straight to it... how I didn't know about it, god knows... anyway it is brilliant... so now I know... I am like you--a muddy biker--been doing it all over the world for many, many years now--this is the first time I have done it for charity--it is usually my private, escape, adventure time... but was passionate about using bikes and bike community for humanitarian ends-- give a wee bit back to the rural communities that are so often our hosts and saviours...so RideAid is launched and having it's impact... all voluntary and I pay the trip side myself. Take care and hope to hear from you Frankie"
Ed. RideAid is all about helping the children of Cambodia. Do have a look at the website and donate if you can, it's certainly in a good cause.
Brian and Sandra Smith, Canada, 30 days around Europe, rental R1150RT,
“I am directing this note of thanks to all the people who made our trip to Europe this year so memorable...
(list of good people and businesses they met on the road...)
... Andfinally to Grant for creating a website that helps people who want to do these things find the resources necessary. Here is part 1 of our story." (part 2 is linked from there)
"... Ever since Sandra and I took the kids to Europe in 1991 we said we would be back and since it was Sandra's first time and my third I continued to want to ride my motorcycle in Europe having got the motorcycling bug there in 1965. Well this year motivated by the fact we bought property out at the coast and will make sailing a regular pastime we decided to do something different and go back. Then we learned that Pat Peck and his wife Belinda were going to be there and we decided to see if we couldn't meet up with them.
Planning the trip to make the most of the time/value was fun but very detailed. We can tell you it paid off immensely and we met people along the way who are astonished at what we know and how we planned! Saturday mornings in late winter we would have the fireplace on, coffee in hand, have the laptop connected to the web and 3-5 travel books over as we strategized where we'd go. We used the Horizon's Unlimited website as the main motorcycle information website, coupled with an Alpine Roads web location. Rick Steves "Europe through the Back Door" Public broadcasting TV shows were very informative and his website, particularly the "Graffiti Walls" for accommodations and new back doors helped a lot.
… As the trip progressed we found the big places less attractive and the small locations with their B&B's and real people a lot of fun. Sandra even wanted to give up Paris for the Normandy coast but we were able to fit both in and enjoyed them both. One thing that the motorcycle gives is the enhanced sensory experience. Europe was developed on the feudal system and most people resided in a small village and worked the surrounding fields for the master or lord. While the system has changed the organization of life hasn't. You can drive thru a village smell the flowers in the flower boxes, or the pigs in the barn or the baker with fresh bread or someone who has a fire going in their fireplace! And your vision is not obstructed by anything..."
Support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - check out the HU Souk for jumpers / pullovers, t-shirts, hats and other products with the new logo and a variety of slogans!
Thanks! Grant and Susan
We've now reached an amazing 304 communities in 74 countries as of November 22, 2004!
A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are in Ibadan, Nigeria;, Nantes, France; Ambato, Ecuador; Boppard and Lueneburg, Germany, Gloucester, UK; Damascus, Syria; Hong Kong, China; Mudgee and Byron Bay, both in NSW, Australia; Panama City, Panama, Savannakhet, Lao PDR; Cusco, Peru; Helsinki, Finland; Pattaya, Thailand.
If you are on the road, do check out the Communities - don't feel like you're imposing on people! They signed up for a Community because they want to meet travellers - that's you! You'll have a great time, so go to the Communities page and let them know you're coming. Please remember that they are volunteers and offering to help because they're great people - common courtesy helps! When you write, tell them who you are, that you're passing through, and would like to meet them. Let them know if you need anything, and I'm sure they'll help as best they can.
From the Porto Alegre Community in Brazil:
Richard Hewitt wrote: "The Bike Scene here is Fantastic! English, Portuguese, & a little Italian & German spoken here. RTW travelers are welcome... Secure parking and we know all the major Moto dealers & repair shops. Happy to host Travelers for a few weeks."
For details on how you can join a Community in your area, or use the Communities 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, or go for a ride or something. It's a good way of meeting like-minded individuals in your own town.
More ways to support your favourite website! If you want a t-shirt or other logoed merchandise, go to the Store. Also, you can just click on any Amazon link on the site and we'll get a small commission on your purchase of any Amazon merchandise - and it won't cost you any more!
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'now why would you want to do that?' to this
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 180 world travellers listed, but there are many more. 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...
All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson
and their respective authors or creators, 1987-2004.