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Welcome to the 69th edition of the HU e-zine! Summer hardly came at all this year, though it was rumoured that the UK had theirs while we were in Europe. Nonetheless, mustn't grumble, we did get a couple of really lovely weeks in Spain and Switzerland, so that will have to be enough for this year!
July and August did go by in a bit of a blur, what with meetings in the UK, USA (Colorado and North Carolina), and the HUMM in Spain, followed by filming in Spain and Switzerland for the new DVD series. It really is much harder work than it sounds! I now have an additional role to play when we're travelling - videographer!
Our editor is well stuck into the over 120 hours of footage filmed thus far, and it's looking fantastic! For those coming to the UK South West mini-meeting on 30-31 August, we'll be doing some taping on bikes, tents and gear, so come and see us!
There's lots of great stories in this issue, from intrepid travellers in Kenya, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Iran, Argentina, Russia, Korea, Turkey, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Paraguay, Brazil, Senegal, South Africa, Israel, Malaysia, and even USA and Canada! Of course, just to be different, Peter and Kay Forwood are in Papua New Guinea, picking off the final few islands to complete their trip to EVERY country in the world sometime in the next few months! They intend to be at the New Zealand Travellers Meeting February 21-22, 2009, so if you're in the neighbourhood, plan on being there!
Get out there on the road - we want YOUR adventure stories and pics! If you're not travelling, you should be planning your next trip. :)
To get you started with your planning, the HU Achievable Dream Video is available now. Everything you need to know if you are seriously interested in travelling - your questions answered. Feedback from viewers has been great! Recent comments:
"I received the DVD this morning, thank you for sending it out so fast! Once I've had a chance to watch the DVD a few hundred times I'll be sure to let you know how I got on with it. Cheers, Gavin"
"Hello, I received the DVD yesterday and watched it last night. It was extremely informative and enjoyable - thank you very much! Best Regards, Steve"
"Just to say thanks for the DVD, we sat through it twice, and I'm sure it won't be the last time this week. Regards, Graham & Sue"
Price is a bargain at £14.99 or €21.99 or US$29.99 or CDN$29.99 including shipping/postage to anywhere in the world. Order now, but be warned, viewing this may be a life-changing experience!
Interested in Morocco? We have a special bonus offer on Morocco 'The Desert Pistes' - only £11.50 (US$23.00) if you buy with 'the Achievable Dream'.
Order BOTH DVD's for US$52.99 (£26.49, €36)!
Achievable Dream DVD series - coming soon!
We've gotten a lot of great comments from the Achievable Dream DVD since we published it almost 2 years ago. But some of the most useful feedback is about what's missing:
These and other comments, plus the fact that we're nearly sold out of the current DVD have prompted us to produce a series of four (4) high-quality DVD's during 2008. The DVD's will highlight practical and essential information about all aspects of preparing and going on a major motorcycle trip. Rather than just one person's opinions, however well-informed, these DVDs will feature inspiring talks, including material from our presentation (updated this year), scenic images and video clips, debates on 'hot topics' and interviews with many seasoned motorcycle travellers.
We expect this DVD series to cover everything you ever wanted to know about motorcycle travel. DVD 1 is Inspiration and Preparation. DVD 2 will cover the Kit - bike and other stuff, including which bike, preparing the bike, what to take and how to pack it. DVD 3 - 'On the Road (Again), will tell you what to expect at border crossings, practicalities, safety, health, and much more. Last but certainly not least, we are producing Motorcycle Travel for Women, which will be directed and presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of "Lois on the Loose" and a new book out now: 'Red Tape and White Knuckles'. Lois promises us action, entertainment and hot tips, as well as coverage of 'women only' topics. Lois' husband Austin Vince (Terra Circa, Mondo Enduro) is filming interviews and pieces to camera, and has also written the music for the whole series!
We are investing in professional production and camera crew and equipment, plus professional editing. Filming is in broadcast quality wide screen HDV, incorporating multiple cameras.
Filming for the DVD's will be finished by end-August, so we are hoping to have one or more of them available for Christmas 2008. The HU meetings are an obvious place to find seasoned motorcycle travellers, so we had a film crew at Ripley this year taping interviews and presentations and capturing the ambience of the event. Grant also filmed at the Germany, Canada and USA meetings, and we have got some great stories and useful info for the DVD's.
Thanks to all those who submitted to the grilling (literally for some people, as the camera crew positioned them mercilessly to get the best light!) and also to the presenters we taped. Dave Lomax claims to have had stage fright due to the presence of the cameras, I don't believe it for a minute after watching the footage!
Our editor, Chris Payne, is well stuck into the over 120 hours of video, including 'pieces to camera' in Spain and Switzerland. For those coming to the UK mini-meeting on 30-31 August, we'll be doing some taping on bikes, tents and gear, so come and see us!
We can still use video clips if you have any good quality, short, exciting clips of your travels. Please go here for details and how to submit!
Horizons Unlimited 2008 Photo Contest closes September 1 - get your entry in now!
All winners will receive a share of the proceeds from the calendar sales, a free calendar, and 1 year Gold Member status on the HUBB. More details here.
Tip: Make sure your camera is ALWAYS set to at least 2300x1800 pixels!
Horizons Unlimited 2008 Motorcycle Travellers Calendar - Winners from the 2007 Photo Contest!
The 2008 calendar is still available! Check it out and get your copy now, for some terrific travel inspiration! The calendars are available through CafePress, and the price is US$24.99 plus postage. The cost to us from CafePress is $14.99, and we split the $10.00 profit with the photographers.
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!
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.
It's our advertisers, sponsors and product sales that make it possible for us to make the website and e-zine available to you. We hope you'll check out their products and services and if you plan to buy these products, do it from our site or links.
If you do use the services of one of our advertisers/supporters, we hope you'll let them know that you're buying from them because of their support for HU - and of course that they have a great product or service! :)
If you've had problems receiving the e-zine due to spam filters or insufficient bandwidth, remember you can subscribe to the 'Notice' edition instead of the full HTML version. The Notice edition is a short, straight text message that contains a URL to bring you to the full text on the website. Because the Notice email is so small, it downloads in a flash, and leaves your mailbox uncluttered. Change to the Notice version here.
We now have an RSS feed for the e-zine (you'll need an RSS Reader to use it) and all the travellers' blogs have their own feeds. The HUBB has a full RSS feed here. If you're not sure what that's all about, there's a detailed RSS Guide here.
Please submit news reports, web links etc. to us for inclusion in this newsletter.
We try to link to your website if you have one. And if you don't have a website, we can help, and it won't cost you anything.
This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily ;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.
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The 2008 summer meeting season is almost over, and it was great! Grant got out to all the northern hemisphere meetings. Grant suffering a bout of food poisoning (in Denver!) which caused him to miss his flight and get to the USA East meeting a couple of days late, but otherwise arrived back in the UK unscathed, tired but happy, just in time to head off to Spain for the HUMM!
UK meeting, Ripley, 3-6 July 2008
We think this event gets better every year. Limited this year to 500, and the numbers seemed just right.
Just a few of the comments on the HUBB, where there are also lots of great pics:
Barbara and Craig of Motorcycle Outreach were very happy with the support for their project in Indonesia:
Of course, with this many people, it wouldn't be possible without the help of a great many people. Heartfelt thanks to Glynn Roberts and Sam Manicom, our co-organizers. Thanks to all the presenters, volunteers and vendors, literally too many to list this year! And thanks to all of you for making it such a fantastic experience.
Finally, for those who were there on the Sunday when Paul Furniss had a run-in with a car leaving the event, I'm pleased to report he is recuperating and sent the following note:
Thanks to Iain Harper and Chris Bright for the pics. More will be posted on the meeting page.
USA Colorado meeting, Silverton, July 10-13, 2008
Many thanks to Ron (Colorado Ron) for hosting this event!
See great pics posted by mollydog on the HUBB.
USA East in North Carolina, July 17-20, 2008
Great event again, low-key southern style. Many thanks to Jim and Liz Donaldson for hosting this event, with a big assist by Mike Kilpatrick. Thanks also to all the presenters: Denis and Linda Blaise, Merrill Glos, Curtis Nugent, Toby and Sara Shannon, Lee Allison, Jeff Munn, Mike Kilpatrick, Jay Kannaiyan and Stan Polanski. Apologies if I missed any names! As usual, Charlene and John provided great facilities and food at Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge. And a special thanks to all the local sponsors and supporters.
Horizons Unlimited Mountain Madness (HUMM) - July 28-30, 2008
This year we had 40 teams, almost 100 riders, and although there was a lot of competition for top prizes, I think most teams just enjoyed the opportunity to go out and ride the fantastic roads and trails in the Spanish Pyrenees.
It's not too late to get to an HU meeting this year if you missed the mid-summer ones.
UK West Mini-Meeting - 30-31 August
Portugal, 19-21 September, registration open NOW! HUBB discussion here.
Viedma, Argentina, 6-8 December 2008 - The gathering point for travellers in all of Southern South America! Same location as previous years, details to come.
New Zealand, February 21-22, 2009 - confirmed.
Germany, May 21-24, possibly October 23-25 as well!
UK Spring, 18-21 June 2009. Ripley. Date confirmed and registration is now open!
There will also be an autumn UK 2009 meeting, we hope to confirm a location (likely in the southwest) and date by end of September.
Volunteers and Hosts
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.
If you'd like to host an HU Meeting in your area, please see the How To Host a Meeting page for details.
See you there!
Grant and Susan
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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's of 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, two-up on Harley Davidson, in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu,
"PMV's (public motor vehicles) are how locals get around in Lae, Papua New Guinea (PNG), 20 seater mini vans in other peoples languages, plying a fixed route with regular stops, similar to our buses. It was a friendly walk to the nearest bus stop, people offering us morning wishes, and again walking after we hopped off the bus at the markets, heading for the shipping agents.
The bike had arrived on the 9th, a week ago, and had been stored at the wharf warehouse. Henry Kabala of Deugro PNG, shipping agency, welcomed us, arranged for his customs clearance staff to assist, and after a meeting with Sibabel Kobua, manager of revenue, customs operations, we were given permission to import the motorcycle, temporarily, without duty. Paperwork, much paperwork was being completed while Kay and I, after clearance to enter the port area, uncrated the motorcycle with fifty dock workers looking on and offering assistance where required. The crate was stored at the wharf for onward shipping. The motorcycle's battery was low and wouldn't start the bike, but a jump start trolley, generously offered, did the trick and we were riding in Papua New Guinea by 3.30pm, the 188th country, with just five to go, and we are counting down.
Headed out of town to the Rainforest Habitat, stopping to put more air in the tyres, and taking out the camera, we were inundated with people wanting their photo taken. The habitat has a large rainforest aviary with butterflies and birds. Outside there are pens with cuscus, more birds and the flightless cassowary. There was also a pen of tree kangaroos. This habitat is considered one of the best places to see native animals in PNG, we have been told it is difficult to impossible to see them in the wild.
Sunrise was shining on Manam Island, a few km's off shore, a perfect volcanic cone, that is unless you live there. One of the world's most active volcanoes it erupts on average every five years and smokes almost constantly, last erupting in 2004 when most of its inhabitants fled to the mainland.
There was no water in the hotel this morning and the generator was again running after sunrise. We have found before that when outside agencies arrive in large numbers in a small country, here it is RAMSI, and even though they have been here now for a few years, services are still stretched, westerners use more water and electricity than locals, top end hotel prices soar and the locals and government workers are squeezed to poorer accommodation pushing up their prices.
The same happens to local foods, meat and seafood in particular, where locals eat meat rarely westerners eat it every day. Not everyone can benefit from the high prices. The influx of foreign aid currency also pushes up the exchange rate making imports cheaper but local produce more expensive.
Booked onward tickets for Vanuatu and Samoa, cheaper arranging it as a stopover in Vanuatu than two single legs, still high fuel costs are biting, $US 350.00 per section each. Shipping costs also rising, almost $US 450.00 for the short trip, Solomon's to Vanuatu, for the motorcycle, also arranged."
Ed. The Forwoods have travelled to a staggering 190 countries now, over 480,000 km during 12+ years on the road. They have only 3 remaining countries to visit, but they're not finished travelling, already planning their next major trip! Horizons Unlimited is proud to host their complete RTW story and pictures here!
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Grant Guerin and Julie Rose, Australia, RTW?, in Kenya , Suzuki V-Strom,
"Little can be said about the road to the border of Ethiopia except that the 540 kilometres of dirt road is extremely isolated, rugged, rough and tiring. The scenery is spectacular as are the people who inhabit this area and indeed with many of the horror stories prevailing of that route, either be it security or road conditions none should deter the adventurous mind, having said that, our water and food stops were brief and also road conditions are such that you should expect possible damage to your bike.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Ed. See Grant and Julie's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for the story of their encounter with Kenyan Customs and lots of great photos!
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Brad and Jolanta Glabek, USA, in Peru and Colombia, Honda Africa Twin,
"...we woke up early to get out of Lima before the traffic but after an hour or riding we were still in Lima even with a personal escort that we followed for over an hour. It turned out that while we thought we were still in Lima we were actually in another city we just couldn't tell. Once we made it out of Lima we had to go through a couple of towns notorious for crooked cops and sure enough they stopped us. They demanded our license and tried to get us to pay US$100.00, but we just kept saying no and wouldn't talk Spanish to them (which isn't hard for me-Brad), and pretended we did not understand what they wanted. In the end he told us he was going to keep our license and asked for a credit card. Which would have been fine because we don't give them our real license and we carry an expired card for just such an occasion. However, when it seemed we didn't care he gave our license back to us and let us go. I guess we were lucky because some cops like to pull guns and then all the fun is over.
Well as they say when it rains it pours and not another hour down the road Jola's wheel bearings went out and who should come to our rescue but another cop. Only this time the cop was helpful and tried to take us to a mechanic which was closed because it was Sunday. However, we did manage to find a shop that was open that had wheel bearings. It was a bit scary involving hammers, re-bar, and welders but in the end we got the bearings changed all for about $15.00. With all of the day's excitement we decided to call it a day and go to the beach, have a beer, and eat ceviche.
...With all the logistics of shipping the bike home behind us it was a real pleasure to arrive in Colombia and find that the country was not only beautiful but the people are were nice. Our first stop was in the Southern city of Pasto and just as we were two blocks from our hostel our tire went flat. When we pulled over and started taking the tire off we were immediately surrounded by about 50 people. With the exception of a couple of drunks everyone was really nice and just curious to see tourists. Even the police showed up and took our tire to get it fixed and actually returned it fixed free of charge.
We later learned that because of the FARC guerilla group not many independent travelers make stops in Pasto but it is supposed to be safe during the day now. From there we moved north to Salento, a small mountain community which was relaxing and a nice place to go for a hike in the cloud forests with beautiful humming birds, which Jola did. I was sick and spent the day relaxing with out Jola to pester me."
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Johan and Charmaine Claassens, South Africa, in Canada and the USA, BMW R1150 GS,
"During the night and in the early hours of the morning I could hear the thunder way off in a distance. At 6am we woke with a start as the thunder and lightning was right over head and it started to rain. It was about 10 minutes later when the wind started, and it blew and it blew and it blew... it got so bad that I sat up and to hold the tent poles and it wasn't long before I told Johan that it would be best that he got dressed. He did this as quickly as possible and then took over the holding of the tent poles from me while I got dressed and packed our sleeping bags and stuff into the yellow dry bags. I helped Johan put his boots on, as his hands were busy holding the tent poles. By the time everything was packed, the front section of the tent had blown loose and was flapping violently. It was quite an unreal feeling, the noise of the wind and the thunder was unbelievable. Thankfully we were still dry inside the tent but it was time to make a move before we had lift-off! The other big concern was the GS - was she still standing?
...While we were moving all our stuff to the ablutions building we noticed all the destruction around us, trees snapped in two, trees blown over or ripped apart, branches and leaves and bits of stuff everywhere, the town's power was also knocked out. They also told us that a tornado touched down about 20 miles to the south east of us, phew! We drove up and down some of the streets on our way out of town and we were amazed to see so many of the beautiful big trees totally destroyed, but thankfully we did not see any major damage to any of the houses."
Derek Fairless, ATW Adventure Travel, in Ecuador and Peru, BMW F650 Funduro,
"...In the morning I replace the fuse and during this time another of the guests introduces himself to me. He speaks very good English which he learned in Europe. He is Venezuelan by birth, but spent many years in Europe singing opera, and proceeds to serenade me with a rendition of 'O Sole mio.' His voice has obviously been well trained, but now in his later years, is showing signs of age. Nevertheless the final high notes are strong, clear and controlled.
An hour later he sees me into the traffic and as I finish getting ready asks if I could spare a little cash. This touches my heart, to see a man that once enjoyed the cities of Milan, Paris and London down on his luck in a little desert town like Chicalayo. I give him $20 and to save his pride tell him it is payment for the song he sang earlier. There on the sidewalk he bursts into song once more with another rendition of 'O sole mio', this time a little stronger with more control. I set off south with those last high tenor notes still ringing in my ears and hum the tune to myself for the rest of the day. He wrote his name and email address on my map, the only piece of paper I had readily available, but unfortunately I lost it somewhere on my journey.
...The City of Lima is sprawling and not a very pleasant sight in western eyes. The traffic is dreadful and I spend hours avoiding impatient taxis and buses as well as huge potholes in the main roads while I head for Millaflores, the better end of town. I ate, I slept, I moved on, and that's about as much as I want to say about Lima.
The next morning when I pulled over for petrol I met a gang of dirt riders, and although I only intended to have a quick coffee before heading off, it was well into the afternoon when we finished lunch and said goodbye to each other. What better excuse to stop, than to share lunch and a bottle of vine with this guy and his mates. Timetable? What timetable?
...The Immigration Officer stamped my passport and directed me across the road to a couple of men sitting at a desk on the veranda of the Customs Post.
'The road is closed, you should go back into Macara and find a hotel,' were the first words he said to me in halting English.
Fortunately just up the road a few miles was a petrol station so I was able to get rid of at least one of my worries. Coming into a small un-named village I saw a crowd of people standing in the road, not the first crowd I had passed through on my travels, so I thought little of it until an old string bean of a man shouted at me:
'Go back, get a hotel in Macara.'
Another man said 'Yes' and indicated with gestures that I could go round the blockade if I went down a gravel road and then around. So I turned off the road expecting to find a way across the canal somewhere at the back of the village. Sure enough there was a little bridge about a mile down the track and I crossed over only to find that one road led into a small group of rough houses and the other continued alongside the side of the canal. But at least I was now on the side of the canal I wanted to be on. My map showed a small road that joined up with another main road some 10 miles further on. It was to prove a long and fruitless ten miles!"
Ed. Follow Derek's trip in his blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Hamish Oag and Emma Myatt, UK, Asia, Australia and the Americas, in Nicaragua and Guatemala, BMW R1100 GS,
"In the morning we caught the ferry across choppy waters to Isla de Ometepe. Formed by two volcanoes at either end of the island; Volcan Concepcion and Volcan Maderas are connected by an isthmus to form one dramatic island. Volcan Concepcion is still active, whilst dormant Volcan Maderas apparently provides home to a beautiful crater lake. Mind you, we didn't get that far to find out!
Riding onto the island we headed for the coast to look for a good spot to stay. Suddenly another GS appeared! Alex and Michelle, from Germany / Australia, were on a five month trip around North and Central America. We decided to look for a place together and headed to Santo Domingo on the other side of the island. Staying for a couple of days, we chilled out by the lake with Alex and Michelle, swapping useful info and just generally taking it easy. Unfortunately however, one night our mascot frog, Weegie, who'd joined us back in Perth, Australia, was frog-napped! A sad moment indeed.
Through the HUBB, we'd made contact with Salvador of Salcar Motos, who kindly opens up his home in the capital, Managua, to travelling bikers. Planning to stay only the one night, we received news that Dave, whom we'd met on our last night in Medellin, was expected to arrive the following day. With a few jobs to do on the bike and Salvador's hospitality, it wasn't a hard decision to stay another day and catch up with Dave.
Riding together through Guatemala City, it wasn't long before we entered the cobbled colonial streets of Antigua just before dark. The usual search for a hostal con parking ensued; local hotelier Jorge saving the day by providing a suitable solution. Moving his desk to one side in the foyer / cum mobile phone shop, we rode through to park safely."
Simon Roberts, UK, The Road to Kathmandu - the comic strip - in Iran!
"I'd read about Ramadan and felt that it would somehow bring me closer to the way of life in these countries. It did. I met a lot of hungry, miserable locals whenever I pulled over. It's a simple fact, though - as a tourist, sorry, traveller..you need cafes and bars to rest throughout your day. To take stock of all you've experienced. To take in your surroundings. To 'people watch'.
These thoughts, together with 'What I would eat tonight', filled my head as I rode into Esfahan as the sun set.
'Esfahan. The country's loveliest city, with beautiful mosques,palaces, bridges and (more importantly) teahouses', states the Lonely Planet. Surely these celebrated tea houses would be open for the discerning traveller. Yes. After sunset. And it was after sunset that a bizarre evening unfolded..."
Ed. See Simon's 'Road to Kathmandu' comic strip on Horizons Unlimited.
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Grant says: "The Omega system is simply a must-do for all airheads" (And I just got the starter too!)
Carol and Ken Duval, Australia, Life On A Bike - RTW 2, in Argentina, BMW R80G/S PD,
"Lunch at Uspallata, we made the decision to make it to Mendoza for the night then plan our route north from there. The decision was re-affirmed when as we road off, the centre stand did not retract and scratched along the road. Not a good sound! The nut and pivot bush had abandoned ship somewhere down the track, although the bolt was still in place but a little out of position. We tied the stand up and headed to Mendoza where we knew there were bike shops and mechanics that could help.
Other travelers had also advised us of a BMW mechanic in Mendoza so with some effort we tracked him down and within a minute he produced a shiny new bush and lock nut. Five minutes later we were mobile. Too easy. Once again we enjoyed the sights of Mendoza before we tracked north.
The road north led us to La Rioja but we made a slight detour to 'Valle de la Luna' or Provincial Park Ischigualasto. It is a controlled tour through this National Park and the dust from the convoy of cars preceding us was choking. We slowed and wandered around doing our own thing as the Park Guide only spoke Spanish. Our information was gained from brochures and our guide book. Spectacular scenery to say the least with some diverse rock formations and colours. Numerous types of cactus dominated the plant life but the strangest items were the rock balls.
...We rode Cordoba's streets in the twilight knocking on doors, finally seeing a small hotel not on the list with the tell-tale driveway and big iron gates. A nightly rate 60 pesos at Emperador Hotel was a bargain and included cable TV. The hotel was in a restaurant belt that did the 'menu of the day' deal for around 10 to 12 pesos. A huge two or three course set menu meal. Good value for the locals and travelers. Plenty to see in the Big 'C'. Old Churches, dancing musical fountains plus numerous old colonial buildings. Came across another Ural Police bike too.
Cordoba was the first official capital of Argentina and is now the second largest city and is generally regarded as the University city with around 10% of the population being students. Our final night in town we splashed out and dined at The Ritz! Nowhere near as ritzy or expensive as the other world Ritz's but it sounded good!"
Ed. See Ken and Carol's blog here on Horizons Unlimited, and follow their second RTW trip!
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Mike and Jo Hannan, Australia, RTW, in Russia and Korea, BMW 1150 GS Adventure,
"We had an easy week in Vladivostok working out our next move, eating well and catching up with other travelers. It didn't take us long to work out that shipping a bike out of Russia was going to be hard work and that our best bet for a successful departure would be for Team Elephant to all go out together. We decided to catch the Dong Chun Ferry from Zarubino to Sokcho, Korea, on Monday 21 July.
It would be nice to report that the rain stopped on our last day in Russia; and so it did, but only just. We splashed down to the docks at the appointed 1000 hrs and started the process of figuring how to get ourselves and Elephant out. It became a long day that ended with me sitting on the dock at 1800 hrs on a despondent Elephant while the Russians argued about the correct paperwork to get on the boat. In a way this sums up one element of our Russian experience. There are lots and lots of rules, but no one has the rule book
Eventually, at 2230 hr, the ferry slipped her mooring and it was da svi da niya Russia. The next morning we landed in Sockcho, Korea, and started to come to grips with another type of bureaucracy. The Koreans, it seems, also have lots of rules, but everyone has a copy of the same rule book. We were quickly gripped up by Korean Customs and in a few hours we had been separated from about 600 Greenbacks, given an envelope full of paperwork, escorted to the gate and wished welcome to Korea.
With the rain thundering down we spent the first three nights in Korea in the coastal port of Sokcho. This gave us a chance to start to come to grips with this interesting country and to dry out our riding gear. We launched our culinary exploration at once at the "raw fish market" with a great dinner shared with Bjorn Heggelund, a Norwegian we had met on the ferry. Over the next few days we ate our fish in a spicy hot pot and on a traditional barbeque. All good! After three nights, however, we grew bored with waiting and decided to ride south in the rain. Rigged for wet-running we splashed down the coastal road towards the industrial heartland.
Over the next week we put up with the summer monsoon and rode around the country on two tanks of fuel. It is not a very big place. In addition, 70% of the land is mountainous and the population of 48 million uses every bit of flat or arable land for productive purposes. This leads to the interesting combination of heavily populated industrial centres distributed around largely unpopulated wilderness areas. Korea is also spotlessly clean, oppressively well organised and, to our New World eyes, extraordinarily homogeneous.
All of this, plus great food and reasonable prices, makes Korea a treat to visit. But ...those of you who have got to know us a little will recognise that we thrive in places that are a little on the shambolic side. Sometimes, organisation is a pain. Take the road system for example. There is an extensive expressway system in Korea crisscrossing the country, but this is of academic interest only to us. Motorcycles are not allowed on the expressways! In case you think this is because of the blistering speed on the super-highways, the maximum is 100 kph. That leaves the A roads. These are as good as motorways in Australia and most other places and much of their length is divided dual carriageway. The speed limit on these roads is generally 60 kph and 80 for short stretches; frustration central.
We eventually joined a river of traffic flowing north west into the capital Seoul and found our way to the satellite city of Gimpo where we spent a few days cleaning Elephant, repacking and preparing our gear for shipping. There was plenty to do but we also had time to start to become familiar with another huge but amazing city.
Ed. Congrats on finishing your RTW trip! See Mike and Jo's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Belinda and Patrick Peck, Australia, in Turkey, Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ 750,
"We finally left Cyprus, the ferry to the mainland being 12 hours late leaving at 12 midnight with every seat full and no sleeping cabins available. With very rough seas the toilet reservoirs overflowed which caused even more people to throw up everywhere. Great fun. Cost was 108 euros for ferry plus 29 euros harbour tax. Upon arriving at 8am we encountered a 2.5 hour queue to get through customs and immigration and a 8 hour ride to Cappadocia ahead of us. Luckily the scenery and roads were fantastic, which helped keep us awake to make our destination.
Goreme in Cappadocia was a return visit for us from 1999 as we loved it so much the first time. A 2000 year old community of caves dug into the cliffs and hills made from compressed volcanic ash, giving you the feeling of visiting a Flintstone village.
Departing 3 days later for Nemrut Dagi we follow wonderful winding mountain and valley roads till Belinda discovers a shortcut which looks great on the map, but none of the locals seem to be using it. One local said that you can't get there on this road, but what do the locals know anyway and besides, it's right here on the GPS. After 4 hours of boulders and 3 ridge crossings we arrive on the mountain of UNESCO site Nemrut Dagi using its Back Door entrance. At least this road allowed us to drive the bike right to the top to catch a Super Sunset and not make the long climb that the other tourists did.
Next stop is Trabzon, Turkey on the Black Sea coast to order our Iranian visa at $50US each, as there is a Consulate there, which can process the application in 2 weeks. They issue a completion number and we can pick up the visa from any Iranian Consulate in the world. There is a unique and picturesque Byzantine monastery carved into the side of a sheer cliff and hidden away in solitary location.
Unexpectedly, we bump into Baha the HU member for Istanbul on his TDM 900 who offers his services as a tour guide and companion for the next week. Weather is clear so we set off for a wonderful ride on the Black Sea road which hugs the coast nearly all the way to Istanbul. Baha lead us on a merry chase along 1000kms of nonstop serpentine roads which clung to an undulating and cliffy terrain with constant views of this beautiful Blue Sea. Why did they name this the Black Sea? Three glorious days took us to postcard town of Amasra, a popular holiday spot for the Turks as the fortified town is built on a peninsula sandwiched between two beaches and twin harbours and surrounded by high cliffs.
Baha resides in a quiet and trendy suburb close to the Sea of Marmara and it is here that we rest up for a few days to Baha's generous hospitality visiting nice restaurants, strolling the Esplanade and refreshing our MP3 with new songs."
Ed. Follow Belinda and Patrick's adventures in their blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Robin Breese-Davies and Rik Davis, UK, RTW, in Peru, BMW R1150GS,
"One of the best days of the trip so far, the first hour was a simple 100km down the Pan American to Santa, then we headed east into the mountains, into the Canyon del Pato which is amazing, it was not paved but well graded all the way, we rode along some amazing gorges, passed through maybe 20 tunnels, we went from sea level to 3200m at the end, incredible.
The problem was not with the unpaved roads or the oncoming traffic, it was with the tailwind we had all day, this meant that the speed we were riding at was not getting the air through the oil cooler, thus our bikes were overheating and we had to pull over several times just to let them cool down, but this was not a major problem because the scenery was so amazing.
Huaraz is set in the Cordillera Blanca which is Peru's climbing, trekking and mountain biking heartland. Though only 20km wide and 180km long, it packs in more than 50 peaks of 5700m or higher (North America has only three such mountains, Europe has none!). Huascaran, at 6768m is Peru's highest mountain and the highest peak in the tropics anywhere in the world.
In early July Robin wrote to the Curico community as follows:
Colin and Dee Masters, Wrinklies Wround the World 2006-2007, UK to Ukraine, R1150GS,
Sunday 6 July and we were off! We had been up at Ripley in Derbyshire at the Horizons Unlimited bike meet. It was an enjoyable 3 days- talking with like minded travellers and they gave us a good send off!
Sat 12 July and we were off to Olomouc, the third largest city in the Czech Rep. A short day of 170 miles, as we called in to see the Bedlac Ossuary ( when we eventually found it ! We were on the parallel road and Colin nearly gave up-but we found it in the end !) 40,000 skeletons were piled up outside the chapel and were bleached and made into shapes, including a coat of arms and a chandelier. It sounds very morbid but wasn't eerie at all and had been tastefully done. It all dates back to the 1400's and the time of the plague.
We sped past an aeroplane cafe and Colin did a smart turn around for a 'look see'! What a good job he did. It was a 1950's Russian plane with the interior laid out as a restaurant.
Ukraine - Got to the border at 11 am and formalities were done in about an hour. One military guy spoke English and was helpful. We had to show the bike 'passport', let them know how long we were to be in Ukraine and see a doctor for a 'health check' ( that's a first, never had to do that before.) The doctor took one look at us and asked where we were going, said ' you are mad' and gave us the stamp we needed. A drug dog sniffed around the bike - and we were free to go.
On the main roads the signs are in Cyrillic with the 'English' version underneath. In towns it is only the Cyrillic, which makes negotiating them interesting! A lot of police around and we were told by one to drive up a pedestrian pathway. The policeman at the other end was not 'an happy bunny'! We talked our way out of that one quickly!
Petrol is 73 pence per litre and beer is 62 pence for 1/2 litre.Very few want to let on that they speak English - and most do, very well.We have resorted to the 'picture of images' book several times! At the garages you have to pay before you are allowed to get the petrol, so you have to guess how many litres you want and convert to how much that will be in money.The first time this really caught us out but Colin managed to judge it OK - and the tank was nearly full!
The last few days we have found the heat very trying - have our internal thermostats been upset with the episode in Delhi, we wonder?
Change of plan - we pressed on and got to the parting of the road - right to Russia and left back to mid Ukraine. Colin stopped and said 'well, this is it- what are we to do - press on or go back?' An executive decision was made to halt it there and go back-the heat is unbearable. Colin especially is feeling it and he has got to the stage of legs not wanting to work, intensely tired, weary, wobbly and every thing is an effort and totally pissed off. He cannot let up with the concentration on the roads for one minute - the surfaces are so bad - and we cannot see any change in Russia. We also know that in Russia we will have to cover vast distances in between towns to get to a hotel and Colin isn't prepared to do that.
...So that's it folks - We are glad to be home- and back in our own bed! I don't think we will be attempting a trip to that area again - perhaps a coach holiday should be next!"
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Johan Lundin, Sweden, in Paraguay and Brazil, KTM 640 Adventure,
"Paraguay is a small and fairly modern country with very friendly people and it is not many minutes you spend by yourself even as a solo traveler here. In Ciudad del Este I got chased up by a TV team seeing my UK bike and got interviewed by the 'Nomadas Aventuras' show.
Included in the movie is also a section on the mental aspects of traveling. It has now been requested by a number of people (all girls, don't know why). The movie just briefly touches on it so below is a more detailed outline for those of you that are interested.
Basically the mental part of traveling solo on motorbike goes in phases. The first phase is the preparation phase which for me was about a year and a half before I headed off. During this time the planning and preparation is more like a fun spare time activity. For me it included getting a bike, kitting out the bike with helmet cam system, GPS and other equipment. This phase also included a bit of language training and learning how the bike works. This period is very relaxed and something that occupies my mind on the way to work and during weekends.
The second phase is when transitioning over from working life to a nomadic lifestyle. This includes putting all things in storage, sending the bike off, leaving the flat, getting all last minutes things done, flying out myself and getting the bike out on the other side. This is a very busy time and a bit stressful in the sense that things have to fit into a fairly tight schedule.
The third phase is when getting out on the road on the other side and it lasted roughly two months. Now I had all the time in the world if I wanted to so no more stress. However, there are just so much preparation that you can do and this is when it shows up what were useful preparations and what was not. Most of the learning here was how the bike survives thousands of miles of beating on the road which couldn't be tested in UK and how to speak Spanish with people in general and the police in particular. It is also a different social pattern than living in London with a set number of friends. It takes a little while to get used to finding new friends on a daily basis but it is much, much easier here in South America as compared to for instance when I traveled Japan. This phase is not very stressful and is full of new experiences although once in a while I was taken out of my comfort zone which was very healthy learning opportunities.
Currently I'm in the fourth phase which is very much an enjoyment phase. There is no stress and I'm rarely taken out of my comfort zone. I learn new things and experience new places but the learning curve is not that steep anymore and since I control how fast I go and depend on no one else I feed myself new experiences in the pace I like myself. It would be hard to complain...
Maybe next phase will be ...boredom, frustration, longing home... or maybe something else.
Now I am off to Brazil..."
Ed. Few words but lots of pics and video on Johan's site!
Annette Birkmann, Denmark, in Colombia,
"After 9 months of travelling in South America I had reached Colombia, and on my way to Cartagena I paid a visit the colonial town of Mompos. My Colombian friends in Medellin had told me several times that I should make sure that I didn't miss the last ferry crossing the Magdalena River from Mangangué to Mompos. I arrived at Mangangué in the dark at 6.30 pm – long after the last ferry had left. Not exactly good planning but I wasn't in a rush and how dull could Mangangué actually be?
It turned out to be unexpectedly dull. No restaurants were open and it was difficult to find an open shop selling something edible. The hotel I found was not exactly an abundance of luxury either. The first room I was given was full of ants (including the bed) – and so was the second. I decided against asking for a third.
I asked around town about the departure times for the ferry to Mompos and got four different answers. I could choose between 6 am, 6:30 am, 7 am and 7:30 am. Two people had answered 7 am with some conviction in their voice so I decided to go with that.
I woke up at 5:30 am, covered in ants, and felt very eager to leave the hotel. I packed my bags and arrived at the 'ferry terminal' at 6:30 am only to find out that the only operating ferry had already left. The other ferry was out of service. Instead, I was offered a place for my bike and myself on what looked like a big canoe.
I have to admit that I wasn't at all happy about crossing the river in that thing, but the Colombians seemed like they knew what they were doing so I thought, why not.
I found a seat in the canoe and managed to convince myself that this was a good idea – I was actually beginning to look forward to this little adventure but the joyful anticipation disappeared rather quickly when I realised that they kept letting passengers and motorcycles onto the canoe until we were 60 passengers, 10 motorcycles, and a lot of luggage. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one who was worried about the amount of weight the little canoe had to carry – and when the locals start worrying, you know that there's something to worry about!
When the canoe left the 'dock', several passengers were shouting 'There's too much weight!' but nobody in charge of the boat listened.
Slowly, the canoe entered the full force of the water and we started making our way down river. After holding my breath for a nerve-wracking 30 minutes, we arrived safely on the other side, but by this time, I'd already decided that I was waiting for the big ferry to take me back to Mangangué – no matter how long I had to wait!"
Lois on the Loose
The Telegraph: 'it roars along at a breakneck pace, and is full of funny asides and snappy accounts'. Get it here!
Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker
From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, Motorcycle Therapy rumbles with comic adventure as two men, fleeing failed relationships, test the limits of their motorcycles and their friendship. Get it here!
by Sam Manicom
Sam's plans frequently don't work out as they should... new challenges and surprises... jailed in Tanzania ...lives in a remote village, canoes a dugout in Malawi, escapes a bush fire and much more. Get it here!
Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle. 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,
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 Aimimage 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 1999-2008, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan Johnson. All rights reserved.
Redistribution - sending it on to friends is allowed, indeed encouraged, but other than the following requirements, only with permission. You may forward copies of the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine by forwarding it yourself by hand. You must forward the issue in its entirety, no fee may be involved. Please suggest they Subscribe!
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Ruby and Mike, Canada, in Mali and Senegal, BMWR1200GS,
"We arrive in Djenne just in time for a massive sand storm to hit us. These pictures were taken from the roof top of our Auberge.
Our last destination in Senegal is St. Louis, approx. 260km north of Dakar. The island part of St. Louis is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 500m steel bridge connects the mainland with the island. The town is dotted with dilapidated Portuguese Buildings. We soon realize that the accommodations listed in the Lonely Planet are either full or out of our price range. There is the option of going 17km south to a nice campground, but we require internet access.
After cruising up and down several alley ways, we were flagged down by the cleaner of the Titi Locozen Auberge. This Auberge has a great roof top terrace with a bar/breakfast area overlooking the river and fishing boats. The shaded comfortable sitting areas are perfect for relaxing. The place is only a couple of years old, run by Alex, a young Frenchman. The room was beautifully decorated and came with a hot shower bathroom. All for 16,000CFA/night ($40.00CFA/night) including the usual French breakfast (slices of French bread and jam). We parked the motorcycles in the alley way and a security guard was on duty from 10pm to 7am. The location of the Auberge made it great for exploring the town. In the afternoon we strolled along the streets and ended up eating Pizza at a small Pizzeria joint."
Ed. Lots of great photos on their site.
Hubert Kriegel, France, RTW, in USA,
"After two years in South America, I returned to New York before going to Siberia and Mongolia.
Ed. Hubert is now home (temporarily) in France preparing for his next trip! Check out his website for lots of great pics!
Ekke and Audrey Kok, Canada, RTW, finishing off in South Africa,
"The plan for dinner was to meet at Five Flies restaurant with a few people we had met on our journey. Before everyone came, Jaco, the editor of Top Bike magazine, met with us for a short interview about our trip. I don't know if we get that magazine in Canada, but, barring ending up on the cutting room floor, we should make the August issue. Jaco asked us about equipment and things that we absolutely had to have and what we sent home. Actually we packed pretty carefully on this trip and really didn't send too much home except for the cold weather gear we had needed in Europe but that we thought we wouldn't need in Africa. How optimistic.
Later, Robin arrived, followed by Matteo. It was great to see these guys, who we had met up with on and off since Aswan, Egypt.
Keith and Jilly, whom we had met in Namibia, also came. Stephan and Rocco and their lovely wives, showed up a bit later. We had met Stephan and Rocco very briefly in Khartoum, Sudan, riding their KTM's from Cape Town to London.
What I remember most about that evening at the Blue Nile Campground in Sudan were the hilarious stories they told about their journey so far. They also gave us some great tips on where to find potholes, campgrounds and elephants along the road. It was a fun birthday dinner, sharing tales of our trips, comparing routes and adventures. Later, a cake magically appeared for Ekke, adding to the fun. Thanks to all for making it such a special evening."
Ed. Well done both of you! Lots of fabulous pics and stories on Ekke and Audrey's website.
Haydn and Dianne Durnell, Australia, RTW, in Israel,
"It's always a time of anticipation when we pass from one country into another, but today we are more tense than usual. We've done our homework and checked with the border officials that it will be OK to stamp a piece of paper and not our passports on the Jordanian side but we're unsure about what to expect on the Israeli side. (Remember if there is any evidence that we have been to Israel then there is no chance that we can re-enter Syria to get back to Turkey.) Our Australian friends, Matt and Nichole, were grilled for 5 hours on the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge Crossing by the Israelis when they crossed a couple of weeks ago. The Israelis seemed particularly interested (concerned) in the fact that they had been to Iran and Syria, as have we."
Chris Desmond, Australia, RTW, in the USA,
"Crazy Horse Memorial, carved out of a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Only the face has been completed and that has taken 60 years, it was started in 1948 and at the rate they are going will probably take another 100 years. The original sculptor is dead, his wife and 10 children carry on the work. The carving is done with dynamite, it is absolutely Huge, Massive, BIG."
Nathan Thompson, Australia, writes to the HU Kuala Lumpur Community,
"Hello there Malaysia! I'm on the road now in Indonesia and have computer problems, I need my PC reinstall disk sent from Australia to somewhere in KL so I can fix my PC there. Is there a safe place/address I can get my install disc sent to in KL. Thanks. Nathan and Akiko, travelling 2-up on a Honda CT110!"
Nelson Kumar, Dubai, writes to the HU Anchorage Community,
"Hi. I am riding from Argentina to Alaska. Now I am in USA and tomorrow I am entering Canada. I will be in Alaska on 15th of June. I would like to go to Prudhoe Bay first and come back to Anchorage and Kenai. I am riding a Touring bike (Yamaha Diversion XJ Seca II 900) not a enduro bike. Considering that please tell me how many riding hours require to ride from Fairbanks to Prudhoe bay. Thanks, Nelson"
Claudio Giovenzana, Italy, across USA (and South America?), Moto Guzzi,
"Finally I've reached New York and now I'm in Newark's custom to take my motorcycle back after the shipment. I'll go cross the States from one coast to another and I'm wondering if passing through Canada or going directly to California. My site contains photos and video about my trip."
Oisin Hughes, Ireland, writes to the HU Halifax Community,
"Hi there. I'm travelling on a BMW1150 GS adventurer from Toronto to Halifax starting July 14th, will be going the whole way from there to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska and then down to Ushuaia, back to Buenos Aires and home. Would be great to meet up with some like minded folks in Halifax to trade road stories. Hope to hear from you. Thanks a million. Regards, Oisin"
Andrew Lord, UK, Germany to Australia, F650 Dakar,
"The local BMW dealer fixed my bike after the HU meeting in Germany - a weeks wait for parts and warranty arguments with UK. I have met up with Graham Holden in Greece. We are traveling to Turkey soon. Regards, Andrew"
Ed. Unfortunately, not the answer he was hoping for!
Marc Gibaud, France, in South America,
"The diary TransAm will start again tomorrow. New images will be send on the website. I'll let you know with an another mailing. Excuse me for that interruption. Sincerely, Marc Gibaud"
Ed. Can't find many words on Marc's site, but the pictures more than make up for it!
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Thanks! Grant and Susan
We've now reached an amazing 557 Communities in 95 Countries as of August 22, 2008!
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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'now why would you want to do that?' to this
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!
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...
We'd like to think that Horizons Unlimited; the website, the HUBB, the Communities and this newsletter help to push back the fear through knowledge and connecting with others, and teach all of us about the world and it's wonderful people.
See you on the road!
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