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Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in coups d'etat in Comoros, flamingoes in the altiplano, AK47s and commandos in Pakistan, 50 degrees in Delhi, blow outs at 65 mph, Miss Piggy in the kitchen in Nicaragua, crocodiles in Chitwan, secret tunnels in Bosnia, extortion in Indonesia, high-tech radar guns in the Ukraine, sliding down the road on your Givi luggage, goat crossings with surprise bulls, the Gobi Desert on a Chiang Jiang, and much more...?
Then you're reading the right newsletter!
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Welcome to the 57th Edition of the newsletter. This weekend we're recuperating from the HU UK meeting, and making a last-ditch effort to get the newsletter out before Grant flies off to Colorado on Tuesday.
We had a truly great time, along with everyone else, and heartfelt thanks to all who made it happen, starting with Glynn Roberts, all our presenters, both the budding media stars (you know who you are) and first-timers, many many volunteers, the staff at Lumb Farm who coped with 400+ hungry bikers. And of course a big thanks to all who came, you really made the meeting. I (Susan) sat the registration desk for most of the weekend (let out for the marathon 'How to do it' session), so I got to meet a lot of great folks again this year.
Denis Brown made a shocking accusation which must be refuted - that we've gone Hollywood!
Denis was obviously hallucinating. I took this picture to show that although we weren't the first campers in the field, we were definitely the last to leave at 5 pm on Sunday, after Grant had his regular afternoon nap ;-)
The range of tech sessions available during the 4 days was truly amazing. There was Danny's Road Kill Cookout (I don't make this up, honest), where Birgit Schuenemann learned to skin a rabbit.
And Tiffany Coates' Self-Defence for Men session, unfortunately late morning on Sunday, otherwise Tiff would have had a standing room only crowd! And who would dare call her a "RTW traveller's crumpet" to her face!
There was Tori Lang's Yoga for Bikers, improvised beautifully, wherein she demonstrated how to use your camping mattress, bungy cords and even an inner tube to do your stretching exercises!
My only complaint about the weekend was the birds waking us up at 4 a.m! I think I averaged about 3 hours sleep a night! The down side to being out in the country, you don't get woken up by birds in Hackney...
Same place next year, registration is open!
The North Carolina HU Meeting
... hit record numbers once again, and combined with perfect weather, it made for a terrific meeting. There were lots of presentations by travellers, including Ramona Eichhorn and Uwe Krauss from Germany, in their fifth year on the road, riding KTM640's. Our new volunteer organisers, Lee and Carolyn Allison, well assisted by our Mexico Meeting organiser, Gerardo Ibarra did a brilliant job and made sure it all ran smoothly. If you're in the area next year, be sure to stop in, Ironhorse Lodge, the meeting location, is an excellent place to base from for some superb riding in the area.
"The Achievable Dream" Video
Many of you who have attended our Travellers Meetings over the years, and at the meetings that Susan or I have been able to get to, have attended our 3 (sometimes 4) hour long "How-to" presentation. At the UK 2005 Meeting, we had a videographer tape it for us. It's now in production, and will be available in early July. Thanks to those who sent in video clips and pics, see your name in the credits...
Price is £15.99 or €22.99 or US$29.99 or C$32.99. Pre-order now, and we'll pay the shipping / postage costs!
Photo Contest 2006 for the 07 calendar
With the great success of last year's calendar and contest, we have decided to make it an annual event. So get your photos together, and start making some great new ones. If used in the calendar, you will receive a (small) portion of the proceeds. Details and signup to come.
The 2006 calendar is of course still available - check it out and get your copy now, for some terrific travel inspiration! For those photographers whose work was featured, we'll be doing the accounting soon and will let you know what your share is of the sales to date.
As always, thanks to all our generous supporters for helping us to keep going. For those who haven't yet contributed, or haven't recently contributed, 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.
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Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings 2006 - time to plan ahead!
Great time was had by over 400 happy travellers at the HU UK 2006 meeting. Comments on the HUBB started Sunday night as soon as people got home:
Mark your calendars and Register now for the HU UK 2007 event - 21-24 June, 2007!
New meetings added this year! We now have a meeting organised for Belgium, September 8-10, and for 2007, Kanchanaburi, Thailand, January 13-14 2007, and southern France August 2007.
Mark your new HU Calendar with the following dates:
Grant will definitely be at both USA Meetings, Mexico, UK, Belgium, Portugal and 2007 France meetings, and possibly others. If you've been to one, you know why it's worth going! If you haven't been to one, why not? 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 2006 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.
From Brian Coles, who presented at the HU UK 2005 meeting:
For the Saturday afternoon (for most meetings) we are also adding even more prepared seminars on all subjects, and looking for more volunteers to lead them. Tech subjects such as tire changing, travel prep on documentation, health, packing the bike and anything else anyone wants to talk about are all of interest. You don't need to be an expert, just have done it! Let us know if you can help!
Volunteers for all meetings are needed, just a couple of hours of your time makes it all a lot easier - and fun - for all. You can volunteer a few hours of your time for any meeting here.Motorcycle Rentals for Mexico Meeting available! See the Mexico Meeting page for details.
See you there!
Grant and Susan.
...presents an overview of the events and presentations of the 2005 Colorado Traveller's Meeting, in Buena Vista, Colorado.
Narrated by Grant Johnson, this DVD provides the viewer with a sampling of the events from one of the nine Traveller's Meetings held around the world—perfect for anyone interested in learning about the benefits of attending a Traveller's Meeting, or learning more about long distance motorcycle travel.
DVD Highlights include:
• Interviews with Grant Johnson (Horizons Unlimited), Chris & Erin Ratay (Ultimate Journey), and many others...
Click here to view the trailer and to order.
Too many to list! If you haven't checked out the Links page it's time you did - it's scary long, but it's a fascinating browse.
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.
There are now 100 + 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!
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.
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.
Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, in Comoros, Harley-Davidson,
"01/06/06 - Moving about on deck had been dangerous. Timber was been stacked up to be as high as the guard rail tops in most places. Water was washing over the sides on the lower deck and occasionally a crew member needed to go down to secure the timber with ropes. Moving on our deck had the same problem but without the water gushing. We arrived to the jubilation of the passengers at 6 am and without an anchor idled about the bay till we were given permission to come alongside at 8 am. It was an excited crowd of onlookers that welcomed us and despite officious officials we managed to have the motorcycle unloaded and out of the port area by just after 10 am, using the carnet for customs clearance.
Still rolling, now getting our land legs, we headed for the one bank in the capital that changes money and closes for a long weekend at 11 am Fridays, this being a Muslim country. The cold shower at our hotel was welcomed after three days of below basic facilities on the boat. Another boat was leaving for Tanzania this afternoon, and after having just waited nine days in Madagascar for a boat to the Comoros the idea of taking it crossed our minds, but fleetingly. Hopefully there will be another one in about a week's time.
The Comoros voted for independence from France in 1975 and since then there have been 20 coups d'etat. A civil war between the two major islands was only resolved in 2002. The capital Moroni shows all the signs of this turbulent period. There has been little infrastructure built or repaired recently. Added to these problems is that the island is dominated by a huge volcano that periodically erupts and is too young to have yet produced good soils for agriculture. Consequently almost all the produce for the 400,000 inhabitants is imported and expensive, especially compared to Madagascar. Even Coca Cola imports it's products from Madagascar, the investment here probably too risky. Through all this the people are incredibly friendly, outgoing and much more welcoming than we would have thought. English is spoken and understood by many people, the economic ties with East Africa.
09/06/06 - Again at the boat we were told "definitely leaving today, come back at 2 pm". Checked out of the hotel and arrived only to be told the engine problems still existed. The old oil hadn't been fully flushed and water was still present. Another oil change, we leave tomorrow. Six passengers have been sleeping, waiting on the boat for ten days. One couple have a nine month old baby. More passengers have joined the boat, now about a dozen in all. Once your fare is paid and the boat doesn't leave, you are the boats responsibility. They have to feed and accommodate you. We haven't yet paid our ticket and went back to the hotel.
19/06/06 - Capricorne is definitely going today. They have cut a door in the gunwale for loading and unloading cattle. We were told to be at the wharf by 2 pm to load the motorcycle. Again checked out of the hotel, the fifth time we have been advised we are definitely leaving. Again the motorcycle had to be craned aboard as Capricorne was sitting one ship off the wharf. This time we had decided to stay on board whether we left or not. Our tent was set up on the cargo deck, there being no cargo out of The Comoros. The main export, coconuts, had stopped when the trees became diseased and no fruits are now being formed. The hillsides are covered in useless coconut plantations. A Tanzanian couple with a young daughter set up their tent besides ours and again the boat stayed in port. Diesel and water could not be arranged in time to leave today, the excuse."
Peter and Kay Forwood have travelled to over 163 countries during 10 years on the road. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host their complete RTW story and pictures here!
Robert Bielesch, Canada, in Chile and Peru,
"The Atacama. What a wondrous desert. What a vast and desolate place. What a land of contrasts and change. What a varied landscape wrought of desolation. What a spiritually, forbidding place. What a wrecker of lives and dreams. What a place of dreams. What an eternally humbling place.
... At Laguna Chaxa we observed an Andean phenomena...that of feeding flamingoes in this intermediate altiplano region that resides at 8,000 feet. Contentedly going about the daily routine, we approached these brightly colored, giant birds and observed them in their environment. Feeding on the over abundant protozoa and tiny fish that inhabit the saline lakes, their life seemed like an easy one although one can only imagine how they choose to inhabit this forlorn and desolate region over the more tropical climes where they are most often found. The Parina Grande was one of two such birds that inhabit this region...
... While visiting a museum on the outskirts of Arica, we met a Japanese couple who were travelling South America, for one (1) year, on their Yamaha....Yamaha 90 that is.
They were a retired couple in their 60s. They had special panniers built, a triple deck luggage pack on the back carrier, a large front basket, not unlike that found on a bicycle, and double capacity gas tank giving them 10 liters of capacity and a range of almost 400 kms. I was astounded. I evaluated my 1100 cc brute, weighing in at 525 lbs plus 100 pounds of luggage plus 200 pounds of rider, tipping the scale at 700 lbs.
Their combination was about 200 lbs for the bike plus 100 lbs for the luggage plus 200 lbs for the rider and passenger coming to about 400 lbs. I was simply amazed that the suspension system was up to the load and the pounding. On my bike and other large bikes the weakest link seems to be the suspension. The rear shocks inevitably fail...and yet their tiny 1-1/2" diameter rear shocks and simple front suspension just kept on working and working and working. The motorcycle world could learn a valuable lesson from Yamaha here.
...The exit from Chile and the entry into Peru was simply perfect. These border crossings are always an unknown and I wasn't sure what to expect. At the first Aduanas office the beautiful Senorita accepted our completed forms and then proceeded to tell us we would need six (6) stamps on the document before we had completed the operation. She then pointed this way and that indicating where we would have to go.
Seeing the confusion in our eyes she smiled pleasantly, rose from her chair and exited the office. Then she pointed out the different buildings we would have to visit. How very congenial of her...an extra effort she did not have to make.
The next official accepted our paperwork and provided his stamp. Again, he was the most pleasant individual I have ever encountered at any of these Latin border crossings. He welcomed us to Peru, directed us to the copy machine across the street and then waited patiently for us to return. Then he carefully walked us through the process and took it upon himself to obtain the other necessary stamps so we wouldn't have to struggle through the maze. As smooth and pleasant as the entire process was it still took about two hours. There was no mention of a Carnet or any other nonsense."
See Bob's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great pics!
Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
"More important than all the fancy jackets and pants put together..."
Grant says: "Where've these been all my life? A no-brainer - the only way to ride!"
Hamish Oag and Emma Myatt, UK, Asia, Australia and the Americas, in Australia, BMW R1100 GS,
"A Scottish bloke, an English chick and a Malaysian bike... the rough plan is this: Ro-Ro ferry to Indonesia from Penang, Malaysia. 2 months to ride down through Indonesia to East Timor and then across to Darwin, Australia. We'd like to spend about 6 months touring Australia and then ship the bike from Melbourne to Santiago, Chile. We'll head South for New Year 2007 in Tierra del Fuego and then ride North, slowly, winding our way to Alaska. After that, who knows?! Home to UK perhaps, or maybe we'll settle somewhere en route. The plans are loose, the funds are saved, the dreams are about to be realised...
... Ken and Carol thoroughly spoiled us with their warm hospitality, and gave us some tips on 'Packingology' in which I think they both have PhD. They had a BBQ the day before we left and invited some other overlanders; Haydn and Diane who rode from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego and are next year heading to South East Asia, and Mark and Aasha who will be in South America when we are there. Ken and Carol are once more planning a trip, to South America too so we spent a great afternoon and evening swapping stories and routes.
We made a plan to head to Fraser Island before going North to chase the warm weather, and the four of us spent a night camping on Rainbow Beach, near Inskip Point, where we could catch the Fraser Island ferry. Hame and I managed to roll gently off Bertha as we hit a bit of soft sand leaving the campsite and as we rode up to the ferry...
...Hame turned to me and said, "Erm, do you think this is such a good idea?" I'm usually the cautious one but with a bit of bravado I didn't really feel I said "Nah, no worries mate, she'll be right" (or something like that). And so off we went, and yes, the sand was soft. Hame managed to get half a tonne of big red machine onto the ferry while I watched. This is him coming back, on the way there I was too busy watching in case he needed a push to take pics.
It's hard enough to walk on sand, let alone ride a heavy bike so we spent the ten minute ferry ride wondering what we were letting ourselves in for - Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world!
Hame rode cautiously off the ferry and found the harder sand near the waterline. He soon found it was fairly easy to ride on. I was terrified at first as the bike felt very different, sort of squishy, but once we got going it was just amazing. The beach is 75 km long, and mostly deserted."
See Hamish and Emma's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great pics!
Murray Castle, Canada, in Colombia, KTM 950,
"I can't believe it! I've got water in the engine oil! Did that damn water pump seal start leaking again? As I stand here in the rain in northern Ecuador my disbelief spurs a quick memory flash back to sunny Arizona and February. The KTM boys in Tucson had replaced the seals and I thought that fixed it. Now here I am 1000 km from the KTM dealer in Bogota and more than 1000 km back to the last dealer in Cuenca, Ecuador. And will this rain never end?
...After some email conversations with KTM Bogota, I decide the best thing to do tomorrow is travel on some 20 kilometers to Ibarra, a bigger town. The owner of Valle de Amanecer gives me the name of a good mechanic there, a Santiago Ipres. The thought of water in the engine is like finding out I have a tapeworm.
In Ibarra the next morning I track down Senor Ipres. I barely get some words out of my mouth and his boys are taking parts off my bike right there at the curb. The fans crowd around to the point where I'm now second row.
Whatever is lacking for tools and equipment is more than made up by industry, skill and enthusiasm. Before I know it Katie has the oil drained, inspected and refilled with a new filter (I have two with me). Incredibly, but much to my relief, there is NO water in the oil. The only explanation is the dipstick got water on it as I was checking it in the rain. Probably touched the side of the oil reservoir as I was withdrawing the dipstick. Whatever the reason, it is a great relief to know Katie is not running on agua. A makeshift ramp is thrown together to help bleed air out of the cooling system, a weird little quirk necessary for KTM 950's."
See Murray's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great pics!
Colin and Dee Masters, Wrinklies Wround the World 2006-2007, in Pakistan and India, BMW 1150GS,
"Pakistan - At a small town called Nushka the road was blocked by a protest (we never found out what for ). We were told by the police to park in the shade and to enter a commandeered building. There were police and commandoes everywhere- all with AAK 47's or sawn off shotguns (we have seen so many everywhere we have been that it is the norm now ).
A Commando guard was stood over the bike and we were given a seat and tea. Thank goodness there was a fan in the ceiling. This was at noon and we were told that the dispute would finish at 3pm! A load of men came through - shook hands with us and then disappeared into the back room and started talking. Voices raised, and shouting at times, but sure enough at 3pm when all the truck and bus drivers were jumping up and down, we were told we could be on our way…
Pakistan has been an endurance test from beginning to end. The people have been great but the country itself is so harsh, roads are really good or REALLY BAD, the heat has been trying to say the least. Apparently we have been to the 3 hottest places in the Punjab - trust us.
...India - 9th May and we left for Delhi at 7am- initially starting of at 27 degrees. There had been a huge thunder and lightning storm during the night and it had caused trees to blow over and electric lines were blown down. The roads were full of debris. A ride of 170 miles to Delhi and the ride was not too bad- but the heat gradually got hotter and hotter and by the time we got to Delhi at---- noon ( worst time going) it was up to 50 degrees. The thermostat on the bike was registering 8 bars which is 2 bars over normal- Colin had never seen it so high (not even through the deserts we have done).
We were stop, start, the traffic lights were really longwinded with a wait of 4 minutes at a time. The traffic is manic with rickshaw drivers weaving in and out of the buses, cars and lorries. By this time we were well hot and I had got to the stage of easing my helmet up when we stopped.
Suddenly we both felt really ill at the same time. Colin said to me " I don't know what to do now - or where to go" (very unusual for him, as he is very decisive) and at the same time I said "you have got to pull over to the shade as I can't carry on". He managed to get off on to a small side road, in the shade. Luckily he stopped by a telegraph pole that I had to hang on too when i got off. Head was swimming, unable to focus, unable to stand up, shaking from head to toe, nothing in your mind at all-- very scary.
We staggered to the kerb and sat down, peeling off helmets and jackets and leaving them strewn over the pavement. Managed to get the top box open and get the extra 3 litres of water out (this was not enough.) We drank and drank and poured the water over our heads and down our backs. Remember that we also had used the Camelbacks with 2 litres of water each and that was nearly gone during the drive to Delhi.
Eventually we began to feel marginally better and a rickshaw driver pulled up with the Indian family he was carrying. They realised what was happening and got another rickshaw driver to take us to the hotel with Colin following. I went in the rickshaw with all the kit and that allowed Colin to drive without his jacket. I had my hand waving out the top of the rickshaw as i was worried that Colin would end up following the wrong one - all we needed at that stage.
We arrived outside the hotel, Colin managed to get the bike on the side stand alone ( not the centre stand) and literally staggered into the hotel foyer. I walked into the coffee shop and said "I want bottled water right now" and sat Colin in a chair. He was unable to pour the water himself (with the shakes) and it was then that the waiters realised what was happening and were very kind and helpful.
We slowly recovered after a tepid shower, salts and loads of drinks - but continued to feel very weak for days. It was at that stage that we said "what are we doing here? the locals are dying in this heat wave and we have been warned how quickly things can get really rough and life threatening ". All we wanted was-----out.
At breakfast next day we decided that we would skip Thailand as there was the same heat wave there and fly, with the bike, direct to Brisbane."
Ed. Probably a sensible decision! Remember you're supposed to be having fun ;-)
Andrew Newton, in Moroccan Sahara, Yamaha XT600E
"We came across a Spanish V8 4x4 that was overheating. The occupants were looking to get to Zagora.... they were lost and on the wrong piste, also they are not prepared properly in any way for the desert so we decided that they had better follow us to Mhaid and up the road. A further 50km on and the sand started! Sand must be easy with 300hp and 4 wheel drive! We struggled to find our way along the tracks in between the low dunes. It was very hot hard work on the bikes and they were getting thrashed in 1st and second gear just to keep momentum. We covered the last few kms to Mhaid and a well deserved coke or two at the cafe. We camped at a campsite near Oulad Driss on the way to Zagora that had its own private dune.
On leaving the Ouarzazate campsite we then rode down the road to Nekob about 140km, passing an overturned fuel tanker leaking fuel all over the road. The ZIZ fuel station on the western side of Nekob was closed as it had run dry (maybe it was their fuel all over the road?). We bought fuel from a drum in the butchers - I couldn’t work out the logic either! We only bought 5 litres, just enough to top the tanks up.
We set off on the piste to Tinehir, which was excellent at first then turned very rocky. We started the ascent of the Tizi n Tazazert Pass (2200m) but had to wait as 17 UK Landrovers were coming down the descent. They thought our expedition was awesome when they found out that we had ridden from the UK on motorbikes with no back up! We stopped off at the Tizi n Tazazert pass 'cafe/auberge' which was really a collection of falling down stone huts!"
Ed. For more stories and pics, see Andrew's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
"Now available from GlobeRiders is the all-new BMW F650GS Instructional Adventure DVD together with our two other DVD titles, the R1150GS and the Iceland DVD. We still have a few copies left of my book “10 Years on 2 Wheels”. This too can be ordered through the web page." Helge Pedersen.
Colin Patrick, Allen Starkey and John Yates, UK - Oz, in Ukraine, XT,
"... We saw a lot of the Ukraine, mostly at a 45 degree angle. The winds here are terrible, and they always seem to be either cross winds or straight into your face. no tail winds typically. So we started of on day one. All was going well and we were making good time when Al got a blow out when doing about 65mph. I was about 20 feet behind him and it didn't look good, but after trying to save it three times he went down on the floor, hard.
I stopped the bike and ran back to him and by the time i got there he was on his feet and crouching by the bike so i knew he wasn't so bad. but his rack was broken and the inner tube was obliterated. So after walking his bike to a nearby petrol station John and i went off into town to find a mechanic who could get it back into town. After asking a couple of people we found a guy who was more than happy to help and ran around like a headless chicken trying to get it sorted. He did and this is how we got it back to his lockup.
All in all it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Al had a slightly sprained wrist and a ruptured fuel tank, and I bounced quite well. All this was about 100 yards from about 5 coppers doing speed checks. They came over, told us we would have to get transport through them for the next major town which was 123km away, at $1 per km, luckily an English speaking girl stopped to help, and we told them we would sort the bikes out ourselves. Once we told them this they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared, without asking any of us if we were OK, for any documents or for anything else. Seems they just wanted to get a quick buck out of us. So anyway the next couple of hours were spent banging boxes into shape, mending fuel tanks with liquid metal and basically recovering. We hobbled into a town 15km behind us and stayed the night close by in some woods.
The next morning we couldn't find a mechanic but found some more police, they found a guy who knew one so we followed him there. Within the hour we were back on the road. I also got a puncture, two bolts on Al's oil filter lost their threads and had to be re-tapped and it did nothing but blow a gale…
All in all Ukraine was full of ups and downs. The country is a horrible place, but all the people we met, apart from that copper, and the border guards, were really nice. So if you meet a Ukrainian be nice unless they work for the government."
John and Alanna Skillington, UK, Europe to Australia, Suzuki V-Strom,
"We are an Australian couple travelling two-up on a Suzuki V-Strom from UK to Australia on the classic overland Silk Road route. We intend to take around 1 year to do this trip…
John's long time goal was to travel overseas on a bike, initially deciding on South America, but a few years ago changing plans to the classic Europe to Australia overland route through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. Alanna wasn't going to miss out on that, so this meant buying a bike suitable to 2-up for a year. After a lot of reading, riding & arithmetic (pun intended) I decided on a Suzuki V-Strom 1000 with a few modifications - suspension mostly - to cope with 2 of us and luggage/camping gear for a year. This sounds like we are large and carrying too much gear, but we don’t exceed the GVM and we really have been very frugal with gear, it just adds up quickly!! I am sure the two-up travellers out there will understand. I will do a more detailed Blog on the bike some other time - for those interested.
...we decide to ride the Ring of Kerry, our best days riding yet, sunny, warm and NO WIND, Hooray. Once again we are mesmerised by the scenery and at one point we drop down into this delightful village on the coast and decide it is such a shame there is no camping area here. We would love to stay, but no camping areas are listed in our AA guide. As we ride out of town, 2 kilometers down the road we find the most beautiful new caravan/campsite imaginable and even though it is early, we call it a day.
We cannot believe our luck, sunshine, a secluded campsite overlooking the most spectacular bay, I have a Guinness in hand, listening to U2. Skill tells me I am spoilt, I tell him this is my reward for 4 weeks of freezing to death. Not really, but boy do you appreciate the sun when it comes out.
Ed. See John and Alanna's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and fabulous pics!
Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Grant Guerin and Julie Rose, Australia, Trans America and Beyond, in Nicaragua, Suzuki V-Strom,
" We approached the Nicaraguan border post of Los Manos with caution and nervousness (after our episode entering Honduras two months ago), steadfastly resolute that we would not succumb to any corruption... as if. Jules gathered the passports and completed the entry permits while Grant practiced his Spanish with locals keenly interested on the in's and out's of the bike and our trip.
First window was Honduran Immigration, 110 Lempira ($US6) exit tax for the both of us, a stamp in our passports. Done. Next window, Nicaraguan Immigration, 250 Cordobas ($US14) entrance fee for the both of us, a stamp in our passports. Done. Grant then took the bike documents to the Aduana window and while chooks ran at his feet a lovely young lady typed out a vehicle permit, no fees. Done. Final step, purchase vehicle insurance, a recently introduced law, from the representative on hand, 250 Cordobas ($US14). Done. The whole process took about an hour and was very orderly, efficient and a welcome change.
We rolled the bike to the boom gate, a final check of our documents by the border guard and we were on our way to Estelli, the first big town in Nicaragua. Esteli, 100kms form the border, is a pleasant town with stunning scenery all around and very warm welcoming people, we were looking forward to our stay in Nicaragua. Esteli sustained heavy fighting during the 1978-79 Revolution with scarring evident in many parts of the town. It was a somber reminder of the countries recent turbulent past.
Nicaragua is a relatively small country easily traversed in two days, however, we wanted to see more. Forty six kilometres from Esteli we turned off the Pan-American Highway, to Managua and Costa Rica, to head towards León. The irony of this choice is that Grant had only just mentioned with surprise and delight at the high quality of the roads in Nicaragua. This was to turn into the roughest paved road we had yet come across in all of the Americas…
…León is a colonial city with many low buildings to stand up to the seismic activity of the area. It is not yet over run with tourists and was a nice spot to catch up with Darryn, a fellow Aussie living in Nicaragua and running the Big Foot Hostal. He kindly allowed Miss Piggy to be housed in the communal kitchen."
Ed. See Grant and Julie's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and lots of great photos!
Lana Lowe, Canada, to South America, in Guatemala, F650 GS,
"This morning I woke long before sunrise…on the agenda today: a trip to San Bartolome Becerra to watch a procession commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus. Besides the one that will be held in Antigua on Good Friday, the procession in San Bartolome is the largest, with 90 men carrying a statue of the crucifixion of Jesus on their shoulders followed by 60 or so women carrying another statue of a really sad Mary (with a knife through her heart!) through carpeted streets to Antigua.
… We walked around for a couple hours looking at all the carpets and chatting with the people who were creating them. The early morning air was sweetly scented with the flowers, pine needles and sawdust used in the construction of the alfombras. First, the street is leveled out by filling the cobblestone with sawdust. Then carpets of coloured sawdust, flowers and pine needles are laid down, and finally intricate designs are created using various techniques, particularly stenciling. The overall effect—the vivid colours, the aromatic smells, the beauty and delicacy of the designs created—is quite amazing.
The procession began in the church with men dressed in robes carrying banners and swinging large incense burners. They were followed by men in purple robes and others dressed like ancient Romans. These men were careful to walk alongside the alfombras. The men carrying Jesus were the first to walk over the carpets. About a block later the women carrying Mary came along, followed by a band (dressed in black suits and Honda baseball caps). Once the procession had passed, the bulldozers moved in and cleaned up the sawdust and petals following the procession as it made its way through the streets to Antigua. It was all very cool.
I feel the darkness of the last month lifting and I find myself interested and curious about the things around me once again. I’m eager to begin working and studying but first I need to leave the country for a few days to renew my tourist permit. Having severed the heart strings that were drawing me back to Mexico, I’ve decided to head to Honduras instead. I guess I’ll have to see the Zapatistas when they return to Chiapas in June."
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Bill and Becky, UK, RTW, in Goa, R1200 GS and F650 GS,
"We headed to the railway station at Margao where we are going to take our bikes to Delhi by rail and having made a financial donation to the parcel office our bikes were packed and again a small donation to the packers to ensure that they got our bikes on the same train as us we waited and waited and waited!!
Finally the train arrived but the cargo hold was some 3 feet higher than the platform but the packers lifted the bikes onto the train with care and away we went. The train journey its self was uneventful taking a little over 29 hours before we arrived in Delhi and unloading completed with the minimal of fuss which was a bit of a surprise.
... Summer in Delhi is no joke - from April onwards the temperature climbs relentlessly and it was more than 45°C now in May, coupled with the smog it was bloody awful. At last we were having a change in our luck or so we thought! We were told that a shipping agent could get our bikes air freighted to Turkey. This would enable us to go up the Dalmatian coast before heading into Africa. Having met this cargo agent who assured us that he had booked the bikes to fly to Turkey with Lufthansa airlines we also booked and paid for our tickets. This was to prove to be one of many mistakes and disappointments that we were to have in the next few days.
Just as we were about to leave we were told that the airline wouldn’t take the bikes so we were left with cancellations charges. So to another agent who then booked the bikes with Turkish Airlines and arranged for the bikes to be crated which the hotel was kindly going to let us to do on site. A phone call was then received from Turkish Airline to tell us that they would not fly the bikes. It was getting desperate! The following day we were put in touch with a guy whose company imports super bikes from the US and exports Vespa scooters to Italy and the UK by sea. He has offered us some space in one of the containers back to the UK. For once we have met somebody who has been true to his word, can deliver what he says and best of all he wants to help. They can be found at www.indiamart.com/kaulsonoverseas . So many thanks to Vijay Kaul. We have accepted this offer as it’s the only way we can get our bikes out of India with time running out on our visas, unable to get visas and the carnets on the bikes running out. The bikes are being packed at the moment and will be shipped by sea back to the UK and should arrive back in about 4 week’s time."
David McMillan and Erika Tunick, Paris to Sydney, in Nepal, Honda Transalp,
"You notice three interesting things about Nepal shortly after crossing the border from India.
1) The road is good.
2) Fog shrouded tree-cloaked hillsides curving round terraced triangles of dormant and sprouting fields o' something make it suddenly all quite scenic.
3) Shaka Laka Boom Noodle advertisements.
Some homes look very new, with lots of windows and colorful paint jobs. Others' walls try to maintain the conservative composure of traditional stone but have been sold out by some radical breakaway front. In the case of the houses, the bold painted advertisements take up only one wall of many and seem to co-exist peaceably, if garishly, with more traditional facades.
In the case of Nepal's government, the monarchy, the Maoists, and the people are not sitting together so well. King Gyandendra, who claims to have restored Nepal's democracy when he took over a year ago, is now doing things like censoring the press, denying freedom of assembly, imposing curfews and arresting members of opposing political parties. The anti-King Maoists are wreaking their own havoc by putting up road blocks, declaring strikes, and killing disagreeing villagers. Though the Maoists have been around for a dozen years, the previous king never used the military to crack down on their actions and their confrontations are getting worse. The "Seven Political Parties" have allied with the Maoists though no-one seems clear whether the Maoists are willing to give up their violent ways.
... It's peaceful to paddle along the river for an hour or so and scenic to walk the 6 kilometers back to town through the jungle reserve. Though we're coached on tree-climbing techniques in case of rhino attack, no rhinos will show up until the afternoon's Jeep Safari. And at that time, 2 out of 3 of those will be spotted at the animal preserve. We do observe snippets of sloth bears, boar, spotted deer and more crocodiles. And the preserve is pretty cool. You can see the rhinos up-close and personal, along with a swarming number of large-lizard-like baby crocodiles. A regal tiger lives in a very high-walled compound. The poignant poster board explains that though no-one wished to keep this proud animal confined, it was a danger to the local people."
Ed. See David and Erika's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great photos!
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Grant says: "simply a must-do for all airheads"
Linda Bootherstone-Bick, UK, Gibraltar to Australia, in Thailand, Suzuki DR650,
"On arriving at the guest house I picked up the bike and said farewell to Ralf and Eva who were heading to Cambodia while I decided to go north to rendezvous with Chris and Elke, the Belgians on Transalps that I had last seen on my birthday in India. They were coming down from Chiang Mai so I could meet them in a couple of days en route at a border town near Burma.
Armed with a set of bright fluorescent orange waterproofs which dazzle me every time I see my elbows in the rear view mirrors, I left the city in company with some of the Chiang Mai Farang (foreigners) bikers as they were on a ride n/e and me north. After 90 odd kms we parted company, I was off to meet another Haefale aficionado, Michael, who owns a lovely tourist resort made with old Rice houses. He especially welcomes the motorcycle groups that come to stay there in the biking season. www.doifarangbungalow.com After a brief visit I started my exploration of the north most part of Thailand finding some spectacular countryside and, a most amazing South Australian woman, Susan, who keeps 23 monkeys in a sanctuary that she has built in her garden. She saw me in the village looking for a place to stay and invited me to the home she shares with Yuki, her Japanese boyfriend. Enjoying their company I stayed an extra day and helped clean out the cages and entertain all with Yuki's guitar.
Next was the trip across the top to the Golden triangle where Laos, Burma and Thailand meet) and the very interesting Opium museum. The King and Queen have set up this info centre as part of their clean up program for the drug problem. www.goldentriangle.com Although there is little opium trade these days, apart from medical reasons, there is now a problem with amphetamines made in Burma and brought illegally over the border. Susan told me that they also have a problem with youth glue and petrol sniffing in some of these tribal villages. Shades of some aboriginal life in central Australia.
Following the mighty muddy Mekong river down to Chiang Khong I stayed with American David and his Thai wife, Mai, Bailey who have a BM or two and a lovely property which they are busy landscaping. They treated me to some G and T's and red wine, so it was real luxury!
As they were going down to Chiang Mai that weekend to meet a friend they rode a short way south with me, having pointed me in the right direction for all the pretty roads and sites before we parted company. I then rode on down to Nan, viewing waterfalls, caves and Wats (This is standard Thai tourism) and while there also took a trip out to a tribal village and a silver factory."
Ed. Linda just celebrated her 60th birthday, and is not slowing down! Check out her website for great stories and pics!
Deb and Dave Welton, USA/Canada, in Argentina, F650's
"We arrived back in Mendoza at lunch time and went back to our favourite restaurant for our steak dinners. After a leisurely meal we went back to the motorcycle dealer where we had our bikes serviced on our previous visit to ask where we could get our bikes washed. The service manager told us to follow him as he was going to get one of his customer's cars washed. The bikes had a thorough scrubbing and we were told there was no charge, the dealer picked up the tab, imagine that!
While in the hotel, we were making tea and Deb had boiling water spilled on her left foot. After 34,000 km - 21,000 miles of riding the only injury that occurred happened in tea making accident. Deb was stuck in the hotel room for our last four days in Argentina while Dave ran around with Juan Pablo and Juan Luis evaluating potential storage locations and attending a polo match. Actually, he was very attentive, administering first aid and bringing her meals to the hotel.
On the evening before we left, we were invited to the family winery for an Argentine barbeque. The food and wine were delicious. The barbecue allowed us time to meet Juan and Juan's family and friends and share some of the things we have learned on the road. Juan Pablo was very interested to gather as much information as possible, as he will be shipping his motorcycle to Vancouver in June, riding to Alaska in July then turning around and riding back to Argentina by the end of the year.
We flew from Mendoza to Buenos Aires where we had a seven-hour lay over before continuing on to Miami. In spite of Deb's injury, we felt we had to take the opportunity to see the city. We left our bags at the bus terminal and had a short tour on foot enjoying watching the dancers and soaking up the atmosphere of the city. Tango is the dance most associated with BA and the charm of the city made it very enjoyable for Dave, or maybe it was the short skirt and the long legs of the dancer..."
Ed. See Deb and Dave's blog on Horizons Unlimited for more stories!
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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. 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,
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
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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' E-zine - Copyright 1999-2006, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan Johnson. All rights reserved.
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Patrick and Belinda Peck, Australia, around the world, again, Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ 750, in Bosnia and Croatia,
"We followed the coast north to Montenegro which was absolutely stunning and highly recommended. We also took a side trip up to Bosnia and saw the old Mostar Bridge and went to the capital Sarajevo and saw many buildings totally damaged by machine gun fire. A highlight was the tunnel museum that was built from under one house, under the runway and joined up inside another house the other side of the runway. This secret tunnel kept the people alive during the recent war and was amazing to see.
Croatia was next on our list and we had very high expectations of the city Dubrovnik and it was better than we thought. You must see Dubrovnik- in a stunning setting this ancient walled city shows real spirit of character- say no more, go and see it for yourself! We cruised along the coast and went into all the little fishing villages and visited many of the islands. Korcula and Hvar and Brac were stunning islands and we drove from one end of each island to the other, checking out each beach of course!
We then met up with Pam and Andrew Rorke and Brian and Sandra Smith in Split. We had a gorgeous little apartment in the centre of Split for a week and Pat did some maintenance on the bike, while Belinda washed everything!! It was great to stay in one place for a week and behave like normal people, cooking etc!! John left us in Split and drove straight up to England and got there a few days later!
We then continued up the coast of Croatia checking out the islands of Dugi, Pag, Rab and Krk. We fell in love with Croatia and will return again we are sure. The seafood is fantastic and the people are lovely and the beaches come close to as good as Australia, so we were in heaven for the month we spent there."
Ed. Check out their HU Blog for stories and great pics!
Russ Darr, USA, in Mexico, BMW R1200GS,
The aftermath of an accident - "...I was really concerned about the bike and all of my possessions. This is Mexico and thievery is common. So I get a hotel room downtown. After a painful night, I catch a bus to La Junta, where the bike is supposed to be. I walk to the police station fearing the worst. The officer, who was at the accident site, is on duty and not half as scary as he seemed at the scene of the accident. In fact, he spends the next three hours taking me around town. I am able to see my stuff, see the bike and get my passport and two credit cards hidden on the bike. We stopped by an auto repair shop near the wrecking yard where the bike was. After hearing my story, the proprietor said I was welcome to stay with them and asked if I needed money. My money and stuff are still in the city lockup and could not be released until Monday - this is Saturday. This policeman is a remarkable man. He went way out of his way to help me."
Ed. For the whole story and lots of pics, see Russ' blog here on Horizons Unlimited.
Mike and Ruby, Canada and Germany, in Yemen,
"Yemen has exceeded our expectations in a very positive way. Most people coming to Yemen are on organized tours, sheltered in pre-booked high end hotels, transported in convoy of 4WD's and escorted by police. We truly feel we have experienced Yemen. The motorcycle has given us the opportunity to be approachable anywhere we stopped. Yemeni people will go out of their way to help you. They are very proud of their country. Even though it is a poor country, the people are happy. We can't count all the smiling faces and laughing eyes we have seen…
When I think of Yemen I get emotional, because it has given us so much, a true taste of Arabic people and culture and new found respect for the Muslim religion. People here are much more affectionate toward each other, something that our western society has lost a long time ago. As we travelled through this country we asked ourselves numerous times, who has a better life, and there is no answer. Most Yemeni people have a hard life and barely make ends meet, but they are still happy."
Mike Jacobs, USA, to Tierra del Fuego, in Argentina, KLR 650
"... The KLR cylinder was sent off to a machinist today to have it rebored to 0.5 mm oversize. I have relinquished control of that operation.
The rest of the day was spent doing maintenance.
Danger Note: Found front brake line was rubbing on front tire and the steel braid was worn through and the next layer would be the tubing. Someone else spotted it for me when he was looking at my front disk from Super Brace. If he hadn’t spotted it I may not have and the next post would be. BRAKE Failure.
<<Next Day>> The rebored cylinder came to me about 11:00am. The rings had to be filed down slightly. I had the KLR running by 4:00pm. Javier made me a new front brake line. The old one could not be spliced with the parts he had. I decided the press on to Brazil tomorrow."
Gustavo Cieslar, Argentina, & Elke Pahl, Germany, Argentina to Australia, 2 x Yamaha YBR 125,
"...This voyage is a dream coming true. Around the world on a motorcycle. A dream that seems impossible at first, since we do not have sponsors giving us money regularly, nor savings accounts, nor big machines, but two very small motorcycles (125cc) carrying us along. But travelling has taught us one thing: There is always a way, you always make it some way or other. 27 months have passed on the road already, fighting against all odds...
... Oops! At the border with Belize I realised that Argentineans need a visa to enter, and I hadn’t budgeted for the money to buy it, but after insisting a bit and explaining my voyage they let me enter the country, but only for a day.In the middle of a storm I arrived at a small village on a heavenly beach – super super tranquil. Here I am looking out of the window at the beach while I am writing. Tomorrow at noon I already have to be in Mexico.
Bob Morley, Brazil/Argentina, BMW F650GS,
"Two days before my visa and the temporary import for the bike ran out I was back on the road, or maybe I should say WE were back on the road as Angie is travelling with me again. We're heading to Buenos Aires for a friends wedding which is only on the other side of the continent and somewhere I've already been several times, a nice short 5000km ride.
You wouldn't believe how much stuff a girl needs on a biking/camping trip. She did do better than last time but the luggage was still bulging at the seams. I was convinced it'd unpack automatically when a catch was released as her knicker and shoe collection exploded under the pressure.
It was a full days ride to the border at Arica where we met up with a Canadian couple (Caleb & Liz) who'd biked there from Ottawa, hung out for a couple of days then continued south through the Atacama towards San Pedro.
Liz's 250cc Kawasaki (called a Kawito in Argentina) didn't have the range to make it between the fuel stations through the desert so my bike became a two-wheeled gas can. They'd made it all the way from Canada without running out of gas once, so it was lucky we met.
San Pedro was more expensive than before and the higher prices seemed to have driven the hippies out, replacing them with rich old people who wanted to see the world before they croaked. Wasn't half as much fun as before. From San Pedro we crossed into Argentina on Paso De Jama, basically because I'm a wimp and its the only paso that is paved on both sides of the border. My shoulder was giving me some grief after four days riding, but the exercise was working wonders. It got cold up at 4500 metres, rained a bit, and as a tribute to the Canadians it tried snowing for a while just to make them homesick. We spent the night in Susques, a horseless 'one horse town' in the middle of nowhere then continued south. Sweeping mountain curves coming down the pass into Pumamarca, narrow twisty roads north of Salta, biking heaven."
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Craig Hutson, USA, RTW, in Indonesia, Harley-Davidson,
"Both I and the bike made it to Indonesia in one piece. I met some guys on the plane who come to Bali all the time; they hooked me up with a hotel close to the airport. You pay $25 US for a 30 day visa right at the airport. I got to customs first thing in the morning. They sent me over to a company called KLM kargo, no one spoke English there but I got across to them I needed to pick up my bike. I could tell right away to no one moved very fast. The man got out a work sheet and started writing down all these numbers 900,000 “warehouse fees”, 700,000 “documentation fees”, 600,000 “unloading fee” 800,000 “other”, all in total there was about 3,000,000 in “fees”( this comes out to just over $300 US). When I questioned the “other fee” by pointing at them and shrugging my shoulders in better English then it should have been for not able to speak it he said “documentation fee”, I shook my head no and pointed to the “documentation fee” already listed. He then said (in good English) “warehouse fees”, again I pointed out the “warehouse fees” on the paper. Once he said “unloading fees”, I took the form he was filling out and the bill he was filling out and walked out the door with out saying a word. He tried to call me back but I just kept walking. I studied the form and it was pretty much like any standard Special Import form, fill in the blanks.
I walked back over to customs and asked where the person in charge was. They pointed me over to a building about ½ block away, when I got there I asked to see the supervisor in charge, as it turns out it was the Region Captain or General or what ever title he holds. He spoke very good English and I explained to him I didn’t mind playing fees that were due and fair however I would like know what I’m paying for. He told he I could fill out the form myself, he even helped me telling me what went where. He also told me the warehouse fee should be around 600,000 and the documentation fee around 300,000 (both being just under $100). I walked back to the customs office with my paperwork all filled out, I was asked to sit that it would take a little while, I knew what game they were going to play, so I smiled, took my shoes off, got out my book, put my feet up and started to relax.
Every now and then someone would walk by and give me the sign like “just a little while longer” I would just smile say “no problem” (every one knows what that means) and just kept reading. The guy from KLM walked in a few time, sure wish I knew what they were saying about me. I think what broke them is when I smiled at them and reached in a got out one of those just add water meals. All of a sudden they walked up and said “finished”, I put my meal away, paid my 900,000 what ever and pulled out of there with a huge smile on my face. I almost expected them to tear the bike apart inspecting it, but they didn’t even look at it. The funny thing is if they wouldn’t have gotten greedy with the “other fee” I would have paid the rest of them. Pretty much wasted the day so I spent the time riding around the town taking in the sights and sounds."
Ed. For more stories and pics, see Craig's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Mark and Paul Dolby, UK to Mongolia, Slovakia and Ukraine, 2 x BMW GS,
" Well we are living a dream and it hasn't disappointed yet !! The weather has been fantastic and the roads are brilliant, soooo smooth with flowing series of left and right bends one after another which we were taking at 60 - 70. Unfortunately we managed to get 2 speeding tickets - one in Slovakia and one in the Ukraine. Total cost of the fines was $70. Police have the new and improved radar gun that goes round corners to catch you !!! We managed to get to Prague on the first day but managed to miss getting to Uzhorod which put us behind, so the next day the ride to Kiev took 20 hours with only a few short stops. It doesn't help when you have to mess around filling paperwork in at the borders - fortunately ours was up to scratch and we weren’t detained for too long. From the border we travelled up to Kiev via L'viv,the roads started OK to L'viv then they deteriorated and only got better 60 miles from Kiev when they turn into a dual carriageway. The driving needs to be seen to be believed! They will over-take, under-take or simply budge you out of the way at any time they feel, which is usually as soon as possible."
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Yoshiki Kamegawa, Japan, in Mongolia, Suzuki 100cc,
"... I am riding my motor bike in Silk Road now. I bought a second hand bike at 2000 Chinese yen in Inner Mongolia, China. When I bought it, I asked Chinese police officer 'No problem?', showing my international driving license. They answered me 'Yes, No problem.'
I am Asian, and I have the same face as Chinese, black hair and eyes, I believe it helps a lot. In China, in every town, especially at morning and evening, at every crossroad, there stands policemen and watch every vehicle. For a Western person, it might be a little bit of a problem.
I have met hundreds of policemen, but they did not give me any attention, because I look like Chinese. But if they see Western person whose face is quite different from Chinese, ride motor bike, I believe, they stop him, and ask him 'show me your license.'
I was asked to show my license twice thus far, I showed my international driving license, and they said to me 'OK, have a good and safe drive.' Maybe I was just lucky."
Karin Lepa and Peter Pond, Canada, in Australia
"We leave Longreach early and travel on some pretty suspect stuff called a paved road to Windurah, a lot of this road is paved but its only 2 tire tracks wide, and some 30k or so is dirt. We got to Windurah, the last bastion of civilisation for some 350 odd k and took on extra petrol, food for us and Peter went and check with the police regarding the state of the road and whether it was passable. There had been some showers in the area, and the sky was pretty overcast. The policeman told Peter all was a go, have fun and be safe. Off we went, and it was exciting as literally there is nothing but wide open spaces, flies and the occasional cow. Sometimes there will be as little as 1 car on this road all day.
About 203k from our destination of Birdsville, Larry (the cyclone) caught up to us and the dirt road that we were having fun on turned into a major mud hole. I could hear the dirt spraying up into my front fender, and the back felt a little slippy but the next thing I knew Peter was slipping sliding and spinning down the track on his Givi luggage, quite a sight really. Peter never drops his bike so this was quite the thing. As I'm slowing down to stop and help, down I go. Add water to Birdsville dirt, or for that matter most of Australia's dirt roads and they become impassable to all but 4-wheel drive vehicles. the sticky clay dirt was coating our tires and filling our front fender thus disallowing any forward movement of the front wheel."
Ed. See Karin and Peter's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories!
Caleb Dyjkstra and Liz Wilkinson, Canada, Toronto to Ushuaia, packing up in Argentina, Kawasaki KLR 650 and Super Sherpa 250,
"What more can you ask for it was the time of our lives and we would turn around and do it again in a second if we had the time and the money. We left with 1000km of experience and return home veterans, after conquering mud roads, lakes, rivers, dirt highways, mountain passes, boat rides and so on. We connected with people, inspired others, and learned and experienced more then we could have ever imagined. Argentina is a great country, and Latin America has given me a new found hope for humanity.
... this bike has been my transportation, and my home for the last six and a half months. It was new when I left and now its covered in scratches, dents, oil, and dirt it finally looks like it should...
But it is all winding down from here. We are to board a plane tomorrow for a 14-hour flight to New York City and one last ride home. This wonderful feeling came over me when I realized that all our belongings fit into a crate 3X6 feet. I used to be proud that all my things fit into Volkswagen Golf but this is so much better. We spent a day in the air cargo warehouse packing up our bikes. Talking and joking with the warehouse guys, which we can finally do in Spanish (Liz more then I). We had to take the front tires, mirrors, windshields, fenders, boxes etc. to make everything fit snugly. The smaller the size the cheaper the flight. The cargo company said they were going to give us a plastic crate because they often have problems with wooden crates arriving in the US. So we packed up our bikes on a skid and waited for the plastic crate to arrive so we could slide the crate in. But it wasn’t as we expected, they just saran wrapped the bikes and slapped some dangerous good stickers on it and they were good to go. It took the entire day to take care of all the paper work and disassemble the bikes but it was done."
Tommy and Rosa, Germany, RTW, in USA, BMW F650GS's,
"Although we didn’t ride all the loops and didn’t see everything, we leave Yellowstone National Park and go to Livingston. There we know a quiet private campground (http://www.osensrvpark.com) with Wireless Internet and nice bathrooms, which offers special rates for motorcyclists! John and Kathy, the owners, are also BMW riders and like to accommodate motorcyclists on their campground. John offers us to use his garage and tools. That’s great, because we need to do oil change. But first we’ll go back to Yellowstone National Park to ride the loops, we missed, and then we return to this really nice campground!"
Chris Smith and Liz Peel, UK, in Ushuaia, Africa Twin,
"Well once again we find ourselves diverting from our own personal travels to work for a while. Although this time it does involve motorbikes. We are well into our first tour as guides for Globebusters and already lots of adventures and new friends."
Ed. See Chris and Liz blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great photos!
Tom and Lynne Gefre, USA, North, Central and South America, in Peru, F650GS's,
"Entered Peru on the 6th of May. The border crossing was very low key but for some reason, persons holding foreign passports were delayed for several hours, which was not a good thing as we didn’t show up at the border until 1pm. Lynne passed the time by helping one of the border officials with his crossword puzzle and I spent the time working on our intercom system, which turned out to have water in one of the helmet connectors.
We had great luck with the roads from the border all the way to Piura and we needed it. Lynne was in the lead as usual when we encountered our first herd of goats with 150 miles and three hours to ride before night fall. The first 50 mile stretch was a total goat crossing with a few surprise bulls thrown in for variety. But the roads were straight and we were able to do the 60mph (100 kph) posted limit most of the way.
The new twist on the roads were the trikes, which are 100 or 125cc motorcycles with the rear tire replaced by an axle with two wheels and a covered bench. They can carry three passengers, or five propane tanks and one chicken coop, or any combination thereof. They ride halfway on the shoulder when on the highway, are restricted from city centers and drive any damn place they want to in the suburban and rural areas."
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Doug Wothke, USA, RTW, 1948 Indian, writes to the Odessa HU Community,
"Hello, I will be arriving in Odessa in a couple of weeks. I will take a ferry from Varna. I'm interested in meeting people along the way. Also interested in seeing the local sights, and going to any bike rallies I can find. I'm riding around the world on a 1948 Indian motorcycle. Thanks in advance, Doug"
Angela Brandl, Germany, Honda Dominator, writes to the Tbilisi HU Community,
"Hi, this is angela. I am in kutaisi, going to tiblis tomorrow or the next days, it would be great to meet up with you bikers, and maybe have a chat. I would be very happy to hear from you. greetings angela"
Dominik Thys, Belgium, Belgium to Vladivostok, 2005 Ural Ranger, writes to the Moscow HU Community,
"Hello Moscow bikers, I'm travelling from Belgium to Vladivostok and back. Start 16th of June and hope to be back by end of November. Vehicle: 2005 Ural Ranger (aka Gear-Up). I am hoping to spend a couple of days in Moscow begin July. Questions: Do you know of any cheap accommodation with a secure area to park my motorcycle? Is Moscow traffic really that crazy? Thank you for your time and effort. Best regards, Dominik"
Dieter Zerndt, Switzerland, in USA and Canada,
"Dear friends, we passed the states of BC and Yukon. Our first stopover for one day is in Dawson City. We need this day of rest, since during the last 7 days we made good about 3.200 kms. The wide countryside of BC and Yukon seems to be endless. Till now, there are no problems on the roads or with our bikes, except the low temperatures. Well it will get colder every day, 1.600 km left to Prudhoe Bay. Thanks to all of you I met on the road (especially to Ross), contributing to the progress of this fascinating journey. I'll send more details after our return from the arctic sea. Regards, Dieter"
Michael Murray, USA, the Trans-America Trail,
"I have been working in collaboration with another production company to produce the documentary film 'Road Less Traveled'. The documentary will follow two brothers as they ride their motorcycles across the 5,000 mile 'Trans-American Trail' —an off-road motorcycle adventure traversing the United States on a series of 4x4 trails, fire-roads and single-track trails. Their journey begins at the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, riding through ten states and countless towns, before finishing at the Pacific Coast of Oregon.
I will also be the primary rider/cameraman for the project. My BMW GS bike is now fitted with two ”bike-cams” and a “helmet-cam” and I’ll be carrying with me a HI-DEF hand-held camera to capture the adventure. We will have a support crew consisting of the producer and second camera operator who will follow us in the chase-vehicle (when the trail allows) with most of our film equipment, extra bike equipment and camping equipment.
Ed. Michael produced the HU 2005 Colorado Traveler's Meeting video. Good luck with this new venture!
Richard Fawcett, USA, NC to Alaska, Suzuki V-Strom 1000,
"Headed off to Alaska on motorcycle at 8am this morning. I'll try to send occasional emails about trip. Cheers! Dick"
Jack and Janet Murray, PR of China, China to Europe and North America, BMW engined Chiang Jiang,
"We have made the decision to alter our proposed itinerary. Instead of riding across China and then traveling through the 'stans, we will ride northwest from Beijing to Ulaan Baator, Mongolia and then head south into the Gobi desert for the second time and then head west and north and ride the length of Mongolia. This will be a particularly difficult ride because of the terrain (there are very few paved roads in Mongolia) and the fact that the Changs will be heavy - two-up and crammed with gear and not much ground clearance. But we all agreed that because Mongolia may be one of the last pristine areas left in the northern hemisphere, we have to try. Our goal in Mongolia is 100 km/day. If we can do better than that, OK; if not, still OK!
We are just about finished our buying, except for a few items that are easily obtainable here plus a few items from the states. We have decided to get a comm system so that Janet and I can easily talk as we ride (BTW, we will be married 42 years on June 6th), a couple of power outlets so we can power the GPS and charge batteries and a GPS program for the phone as a backup to the Garmin we already have. Now all we have to do is test the equipment, get familiar with the bikes 'under load' and we can hit the road."
Ed. Happy Anniversary to you both, what a great way to celebrate it!
Brian Coles and Anne-Sofie Hennings, UK, UK to India, BMW 1150GS,
"My girlfriend (met her on my Americas 03-04 trip) and I are off on the bike to Thailand tomorrow, riding east. Nice to do a big trip the second time round... kind of easier on the nerves. Best regards, Brian Coles"
Ken and Toni Butler, Australia, UK to Russia and Japan, BMW R80 and R100 GS,
"My wife and I are also going from London to Vladivostok and then down Japan. We leave London on the morning of the 1st June and plan to get to Vladivostok at or near 30 August.
Winfried ‘Winne’ Lichtblau, South America and Mexico, BMW F650GS, back in Germany,
"Even 6 months can be over so quickly - coming Monday I'll be back to work...
You won't be surprised to read that I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of this extensive motorcycle tour. During these 6 months I covered some 35000 km (on my '99 BMW F650), of which some 27000 in South America. I crossed Argentina (almost entirely), Bolivia, Brasil, Chile (entirely), Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay.
I have been extremely lucky: Not only because I had the opportunity to do this trip but because I had no problems whatsoever during the entire tour, i.e. no technical problems or breakdowns with the motorcycle, no significant accidents or crashes, only one flat tyre (which somebody else repaired for me immediately), no illnesses or injuries (not even a cold), no assaults, thefts or significant corruption and no real border hassles. I almost exclusively met friendly and helpful people and was always helped when I asked for it.
Many people ask me which of the countries I visited I like most - and I cannot answer this question. Every country has its beauties - only Paraguay is just boring ;-). Argentina has Patagonia, the Puna, the Iguazu falls, the glaciers and the women of Buenos Aires. Bolivia has the bizarre Altiplano landscapes and the green valleys of the south. Brasil (I have only seen such a small part of it) has the Iguazu Falls and the beaches of Santa Catarina. Chile has the vast Atacama desert, rain forests and glaciers. Mexico has an innumerable variety of beautiful beaches and colonial architecture. Peru has the Titicaca lake, Machu Picchu and the marvellous landscape in between (Still a lot to be visited...). Uruguay reminds me of a nice big golf course on the beach with a friendly and lively capital.
However, if you asked me in which of the world's metropolis I'd like to live, I'd probably say Berlin. That's one of the lessons I learned on this trip: To appreciate the standard of living we have in Europe. But of course this is not the only impact this trip had on my views of life and people."
Ed. See Winne's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Jeremiah St. Ours, USA, Alaska to Ushuaia, BMW F650GS (El Viento), back in the USA temporarily,
"I flew back to Colorado today, but will continue to post a number of updates and commentaries over the coming weeks and months prior to my return to Rio in August and resume my trek north to the Amazon. Stay tuned."
Homero Levy de Barros, and Gildo, Brazil, Miami to Ushuaia and Rio, R1200GS,
"I want to thank all the friends and people who wrote to us, throughout the 9 months of our expedition. Although I have not replied many of the comments, we read it ALL, every single one of them. They gave us the energy and motivation to write the blog, even when many times we were very tired and sleepy.
This trip changed us forever and made us wanting for more. We are planning to make other trips like that and will probably publish a book with more pictures and more information about each city we visited.
Thank you for having done it with us.
Homero, Gildo and Manolo"
We've now reached an amazing 424 communities in 84 Countries as of June 26 2006!
A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are too many to list - it has been a while!
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.
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.
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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 500 world travellers listed, but there are many more. Have YOU done it? Let me know!
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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
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