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Horizons Unlimited
Motorcycle Travellers'
e-zine

in cooperation with
Quality Touring equipment worldwide.

Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in the Moldavian Mosquito Massacre, 500-year old mummies and Chinese spies, dodging log tanks in Gabon, welding a bus to your bike, alligator encounters, police pythons, cow dung art, feeding holy rats, swimming with elephants, playing motorcycle music, getting leeched in Malaysia, M&M World, and much more...?

Then you're reading the right newsletter!

In this e-zine:

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Final Thoughts
Home Again
In Progress...
Leaving Soon
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Repair Shops on the
road

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Motorcycle Travellers' News Report

May 2009, 72nd Edition

Welcome to the 72nd edition of the HU e-zine! Spring is finally here, the weather is variable but not bad, and our travellers are heading off in droves to faraway places! Also, the HU meetings season in the northern hemisphere is upon us! Deutschland meeting is over, UK meeting is less than a month away, registration is open for USA meetings - North Carolina, Colorado and the new California meeting. Dates and locations are confirmed for Canada West and Spain, and the registration pages for both will be up as soon as we have final details sorted.

Grant kicked the bike into shape, including its road test and paperwork, just in time to ride it to Germany for the HU Deutschland meeting, and had great weather for the trip and a great time at the meet. Your editor stayed at home editing video, packaging disks for mailing and editing the newsletter - do you see a pattern here?

This week was very satisfying though, as 'Ladies on the Loose' finally went to production, and should be shipping in a couple of weeks. There's more about the DVD series below, and more great feedback, but here's a couple of important notes for those of you who have purchased one or more already.

First, we've become aware of a problem in the PAL version of DVD 1 - 'Get Ready', which causes a couple of glitches when playing. (The NTSC version for North and South America and a few others is fine.) Some people have been able to watch it all the way through with a bit of faffing around, but others haven't. I won't repeat the long story, but we've had it re-mastered and re-produced, the replacement disks have arrived and we shipped them to all purchasers this week.

However, for those of you who bought DVD 1 - 'Get Ready' from Amazon UK or a wholesaler, or even from us at a motorcycle event, we don't have your address details to send to. If that's your situation, please contact us for details to send back the original disk and let us know where to mail a replacement disk to. Remember all of this is only for the PAL version of the DVD, we haven't had any reports of problems with the NTSC version!

Second, I've e-mailed to all the purchasers of subsequent DVDs to advise of estimated shipping dates, but I've discovered that not everyone gets our e-mails! If you haven't received an e-mail from us, you can read the long story and explanation of the process here. The bottom line is that if you don't want to wait and would like a refund, let us know and we'll be happy to provide it. We will then notify you when each DVD is ready so you can reorder at that time.

But enough from me, on to the good stuff. As usual, our travellers are adventuring all over the map in this issue: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, India, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA, Vietnam and more...

So, get out there on the road - we want YOUR adventure stories and pics!

Susan Johnson, Editor

The new 'Achievable Dream' DVD Series!
Achievable Dream DVD series - The Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide - DVD1 - Get Ready!

The first Achievable Dream DVD, produced in 2006, has sold out, and you've told us you want more information delivered this way. We listened, and we're producing a series of four high-quality DVDs that cover everything you need to know. We took what we learned from our own travels, and since then, from helping other travellers, to create this series.

We also asked the many veteran travellers who attend Horizons Unlimited meetings to tell us their stories, give us their opinions, and share their hard-earned knowledge from their amazing motorcycle trips to every country on earth. You'll hear from Sam Manicom, Chris and Erin Ratay, Greg Frazier, Austin Vince and many others. We've even interviewed Ted Simon in California, and Peter and Kay Forwood while on location in Samoa!

What's covered? Everything you ever wanted to know about motorcycle travel!

  • Get Ready! aims to inspire you to take the plunge, and start to prepare for the trip. Topics include planning, travelling solo or with others, money, paperwork for you and the bike, off-road riding, health and medical.
  • Ladies on the Loose! Here, for the first time ever, is a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! An intrepid band of well-travelled women motorcyclists share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure - choose and maintain a bike, decide what to take and tackle tough terrain. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! This DVD is directed and presented by Lois on the Loose, 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' husband Austin Vince (Terra Circa, Mondo Enduro) is her director and cameraman, and also wrote the music for the whole series!
  • On the Road covers shipping the bike, border crossings, language, culture shock, cultural do's and don'ts, food, accommodation, safety, dealing with emergencies, staying healthy on the road and much more.
  • Gear Up! covers the Kit - bike and other stuff, including which bike, preparing the bike, what to take and how to pack it.

For the new series, we have invested in professional filming, editing and production. Filmed in broadcast quality wide screen, incorporating multiple cameras and with custom written vocals and music.

Positive feedback on 'Get Ready!' keeps coming in from all over the world:

"I just wanted to say how much we enjoyed the first DVD in the Achievable Dream set. I gave it to my partner for his birthday and we have already watched it several times, dreaming about our own adventures on two wheels. You have done a fantastic job and we can't wait to receive the rest of the collection." Kath, Australia

"Volume 1 of 'The Achievable Dream' is outstanding! The first-hand accounts and stories are a great way to format the presentation, as it gives the student (me) a real straight-from-the-horse's-mouth idea of the information source, which builds confidence in the information. And the sheer volume of that information is phenomenal! I can't wait to receive the rest of the series. Great job!" Shawn, USA

"It was very well done and the quality of filming and information was excellent..." Scott, UK

"I watched it straight through, non-stop. Let's put it this way: this DVD does not need to be accompanied by popcorn, beer or candy bars! It's mouth watering and heart warming at the same time, a very good intro into adventure travelling. Now I'm going to show it to my wife also, see what she likes about the whole concept..." Markku, Finland

"The motorcycle specific information (like carnet, which I had never even heard of) was excellent." Jeremiah, USA

"I had such a good time watching it. I think that, apart from the huge amount of precious information you're giving, you managed to transmit that special feeling that travelers have and share." Pascal, Hong Kong

"I loved the first DVD and new one. Look forward to seeing all the DVDs when you are done. Thank you for all you have done for us out here who love to travel by motorcycle." David, USA

"Excellent DVD! Made me wanna get on my bike (when I get one) and ride off..." Elvin, Singapore

When can you get it?

We are taking orders now for all DVDs. The first DVD in the series, 'Get Ready!' is available now. 'Ladies on the Loose!' is now in final production and expected to be shipping in the next couple of weeks, followed by 'On the Road!' in July and 'Gear up!' in August (we hope!). We will ship as they come available, and we're offering free shipping worldwide on pre-orders only (i.e. until all DVDs are in production).

Watch the trailer for DVD 1 'Get Ready!' and order now!

Special thanks to our generous sponsors of the Horizons Unlimited Achievable Dream Series, Touratech and Michelin!

Everything for the motorcycle traveller.    Michelin Tires, quality tyres for motorcycles and cars.

Note: Sponsor opportunities still available!

Horizons Unlimited Slogan Poll - what do YOU think says what we are all about?

The poll is closed, and the winner is... 'They told me to get lost, so I did!' This will be the slogan for t-shirts this year, we thought it was appropriate for the year of the credit crunch and global recession! We did get a lot of other great slogans, so we'll be putting them on CafePress and people can buy t-shirts and mugs with them on.

The winning slogan was submitted by "Dodger", aka Roger Browk-Downe, Canada. Roger gets a personalised t-shirt with the slogan as soon as Susan gets her act together!

The random draw for all voters winner of the free t-shirt is Seppo Olkkola, Finland. Grant will be in touch to arrange t-shirt delivery!

2009 Photo Contest for 2010 Calendar

The contest is now an annual event, where you can showcase your best photos, and they can help inspire others to get on the road too. The best 13 photos will be used in the calendar, and those photographers will share equally in half the proceeds. Winners will also get a free 2010 calendar, and 1 year Gold Member status on the HUBB.

To be a winner, so we can publish the calendar, you must have available at least 2300x1800 pixel or greater files, at a high jpg quality. Either dimension - or both can be larger! Photos must clearly portray MOTORCYCLE Travel. The whole bike doesn't need to be in the picture, but it must be obvious that it's a motorcycle trip. Remember, contest closes September 1 2009, so get your entry in soon!

How to contribute, and become an HU Member

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 how you can help, and the benefits to you!

Benefits of becoming a Horizons Unlimited Contributing Member or Gold Member!

Can't/Don't want to use electronic payment? Support HU via Snail Mail

Advertisers

It's our advertisers, sponsors, and sales of the HU DVD series 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 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 even better send them to our Advertisers page with your recommendation.

Administration

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 Syndicate this Channel 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.

your editors, Grant and Susan Johnson, (about us, contact us)

up to top of pagespacerHorizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings...

Meeting Report - Deutschland, May 21-24

Grant's just back from the 2nd Annual HU meeting in Germany, near Heidelberg! He reports a fantastic turnout - 150+ travellers from Bulgaria, Italy, USA, Canada, Australia, Norway, France, Russia, Ireland, Scotland, England, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and of course, Germany!

Thanks to our presenters - Peter and Kay Forwood, Sjaak Lucassen, Werner Bausenhart, Doris Wiedemann, Tim Cullis, Jörn Buchleitner, Peter Kongsbak, Gerben, Matthias Zörcher, Wilco Vonk and Frank van Gerwen. Unfortunately, Ted Simon was unable to get there in the end, bike troubles stranded him in Biarritz!

Many thanks to our volunteers, especially Michael Karalus for sterling tech support to the presenters. And most importantly thanks to Jens Ruprecht, our local organiser, who made it a fantastic experience for all, and enjoyed it so much he's already planning another meet for October!

But most of all, thanks to all who attended - you make the meeting! For more, see the HUBB thread and the first few pictures in from Johannes here.

Why Come to a Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting?

You can meet people who don't think you're crazy for wanting to ride your bike to South America or Africa or across Asia, or even around the world! Admit it, all your 'normal' friends and most of your family fears for your sanity! So, this is your opportunity to meet the people who will encourage you in that craziness, share their experiences and advice on how to do it, and maybe you'll meet them again in Mongolia or Timbuktu!

Meetings and Events, 2009. Mark your calendars and sign up now!

UK Spring, June 18-21, Ripley. Almost 500 registered now, so get yours in soon! The social event of the motorcycle traveller's year! This year we will have as special guests Ted Simon and Peter & Kay Forwood (193 countries on a Harley!) - don't miss it! Register here!

Urgent! We need a volunteer (with a 4-wheeled vehicle) who can pick up sound equipment, t-shirts and more bits in London and transport them to Ripley. Please get in touch if you can do this! Thanks!

Horizons Unlimited Mountain Madness (HUMM) - July 20-22, 2009. This is a unique event - motorcycle orienteering in teams. Fantastic on-road and off-road riding in the Spanish Pyrenees - not to be missed! We now have over 100 riders in three classes. We can still accommodate a few teams (no solo riders). Register now, limited spaces!

Canada West - August 6-9, new location - Nakusp, BC, details and registration to come shortly.

USA East - August 20-23, North Carolina. Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge is located near the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap and the scenic Cherohala Skyway, two of the best motorcycle destinations in the United States. Registration now open!

USA Colorado, Gunnison, - August 27-30. New location with new roads and trails to ride! Registration now open!

Spain, Malaga, September 11-13. NOTE: There will be a One Day HUMM (or is it a HUMMM?) on the 13th!
Registration coming soon.

USA California, September 24-27, the 'Lost Coast', Special Guest - Ted Simon! Registration now open!

UK Autumn, October 2009, location and exact date to come. Likely venue is the southwest coast.

Deutschland Autumn, October 23-25, same location. Details to come.

2010

Bulgaria has been added to the events list! Details to come.

More dates to come as we get them.

Presenters

How about you? We're all here to learn, and there's LOTS to learn! We want to do more presentations and seminars - but we need volunteers to give them! Any topic you can contribute having to do with motorcycle travel, maintenance, planning etc, lasting 20 minutes or more, would be great. Please contact us here to volunteer.

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 the Meetings page for more details on all events.

See you there! Grin!

Grant and Susan

Horizons Unlimited
New Links...

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.










Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!
Motorcycle Express
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!










up to top of page A host of
volunteers for 'People en route !'

There are many 'Helpful People' listed on the Links page, a huge thanks to all of them. How about you? Or you can join a Community, or start your own!

up to top of pagespacer Repair Shops...

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!










up to top of pagespacerWho are they?

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.

Thanks, Grant

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!

Shipping

The Shipping page on the site is HUGE! It can be reached directly or from the Shipping link on the Trip Planning page.

Travel Advisories:

The Foreign Office in London's Travel Advice Unit advises against travel to all sorts of places. Check out the listing before you start!

The US State Department regularly issues updated travel advisories, information and/or warnings.


























Motocare
Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile. Ride across the Andes, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, lakes, deserts, salt pans, waterfalls, beaches, rain forests, glaciers...
Motocare Argentina



















































Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker.

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!


up to top of pagespacerWho's on the road, and where...

Mark Hammond, USA, from Morocco to Cape Town, in Gabon, Suzuki DR650,

"I first saw the log trucks earlier in the day, as we made our way to Lope after a night's lodging in Oyem, Gabon. I rounded a corner to be confronted by the spectacle of a half-dozen log trucks parked off the road in a little village. Their flatbed trailers were laden with colossal rain forest timber.

Proceeding south towards Lope, I would see more than 40 of these log trucks. The road was freshly paved and fast, and I passed at least a dozen log trucks trundling deliberately along. They were virtually the only vehicles on this road. Dozens more were parked alongside the road. Population density here was incredibly light. The only reason this road was freshly paved, I imagined, was to facilitate fast transit for the log trucks.

Logging trucks in Gabon.

Down the road, at the junction of tiny Alémbe, where we would turn for the 70-mile piste to Lope National Park, another half-dozen log trucks were parked. One of their drivers, an English-speaking Cameroonian, approached us. The piste to Lope would be good, he told me. It is all dirt, no pavement. It will take you about three hours. Be careful, though, he said 'lots of log trucks run this road...'

Logging trucks, Gabon.

That would really hurt if it fell on you!

We rode on. Geoff and Migo sped ahead, carving up this piste and challenging their technical riding skills. I lingered behind, stopping for photos and watching the diverse scenery of jungle and inselbergs and lakes and grand plateaus unfurl almost cinematically.

I had begun to maneuver a right-hand bend in the piste. I had the motorbike as far to the right side of the road as possible. I had already encountered four or five oncoming log trucks. I didn't trust them at all. The foliage alongside the road was dense. A six-inch earthen berm edged the right side of the piste, meaning no escape path. Suddenly, on the wrong side of the curve, aiming squarely at me, came a hard-cornering log truck.

I slammed on both brakes. The front tire skidded on the gravelly piste and put my Suzuki down in an instant. I leapt off. Prone on the triangulated sliver of piste between the truck's path and the edge of the road, I watched in slow-motion horror as a white Mercedes 3340 cab bore down upon me with the purposeful malice of a tank. I could see the malignant black tire on the driver's side churning inexorably towards me. The leering grille on the front of the cab. Its implacable silver Mercedes logo. The huge cloud of dust churned up by the truck's passage. The sound and the fury of the awful machine.

I rolled like a barrel towards the edge of the road. Move! Now! I grabbed the back tire of the fallen Suzuki and yanked myself in the dirt around the rear end of the motorbike, and watched almost dispassionately as the horrible length of the 18-wheel truck trundled past in a cloud of dust, a matter of feet from me and my downed machine...

The one that almost got Mark.

The truck that almost got Mark!

...By the end of the day, we had reached the tiny town of Lope, a settlement of a few hundred people perched atop a high plain near the mighty Ogooué River. The town had a remote and rough-hewn feel to it, with a dusty dirt main street anchored by a general store selling everything from fried doughballs to cheap padlocks to laundry detergent. It felt like the Wild West. A small hotel was just down the street.

Mark Hammond and bikes in Gabon.

The spectacle of three adventure bikes and their ruggedly attired riders pulling into town drew an immediate crowd. I relaxed and enjoyed the celebrity and admired the hardscrabble downtown and the expansive Gabonese wilderness that surrounded it. Twilight descended steadily. Across the street, men sat drinking beer at a small open-air restaurant...

Horse and motorcycle riders in Gabon.

Ed. Mark's got more great stories and pics on his blog.


Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure to tell them how you heard about Bikers Travel Insurance, by H-C Travel. Thanks!

Quality travel insurance by bikers for bikers, single trip, annual, longstay, Europe, worldwide.


Carol and Ken Duval, Australia, RTW (again), making more friends in Uruguay,

"...Once again Jorge talked us into staying a little longer as the following Saturday there was to be a memorial ride in Tapalque a small town about 50 kms away. The ride was much larger than we expected with riders coming from as far away as Buenos Aires. As it was Saturday again, with Sebastian and Marisol making the journey up from Viedma and Karl riding down from Buenos Aires there were no excuses. Another asado!

Some of the bikes in Tapalque on the memorial ride.

Some of the bikes in Tapalque on the memorial ride

...A short ride to Colonia del Sacramento we meet up with Arnaldo, a HU Community supporter. A little effort is required to find budget accommodation here as Colonia is very touristy. The bike is parked on the footpath, chained and covered outside our bedroom window with assurances from our landlord that all is safe. Colonia is also the ferry port for Buenos Aires to Uruguay and has a fantastic vibrant atmosphere. A night tour with Arnaldo gives us plenty of things to site see the following day. Walking the cobble stone streets of Colonia's old town, pacing the museums, and photographing the colonial buildings absorbed the day and we found ourselves returning to our room just as the sun disappeared over the Rio de la Plata. Our invitation to Arnaldo's 30th birthday party on Saturday certainly kept our night life moving. Lucky we had a little siesta before it started as we did not get home till 3.30 am.

Arnaldo from Colonia.

Arnaldo from Colonia

...Arriving at Montevideo we contacted another HU Community member who Carol had previously been emailing. Carlos is a very enthusiastic motorcyclist and is President of the Charruas Motorcycle Club.

Carlos, President of the Charruas Motociclistas Club Uruguay.

Carlos, President of the Charruas Motociclistas Club Uruguay

'My house is your house' he proclaimed as we were welcomed. Our base here was at Los Toscas, a very quiet beach village about 50 kms north east proved to be the best place to do our touristy sight seeing trips into Montevideo. Leo our German friend from Azul and Buenos Aires was also in Montevideo… somewhere! How amazing that we venture into a shop where he was also visiting."

Ed. See all Ken and Carol's stories and great pics on their blog here on Horizons Unlimited!


Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!

Adventure Riding Techniques - The essential guide to all the skills you need for off-road adventure riding

Adventure Riding Techniques - The essential guide to all the skills you need for off-road adventure riding.


Tiffany Coates, UK, UK to Mongolia, in Ukraine and Georgia,

"On the road once more, heading to Mongolia this time and with a couple of sputniks (travelling companions joining me along the way). It is great to be back on the road and to be able to read the e-zine without feeling completely green with envy. I crossed Europe very quickly - whilst also chasing up not one but three replacement shock absorbers (it's a long story, and no I have not put on a lot of weight - and anyway, it will give you all something to chat about at the UK meet).

I suffered the Moldavian Mosquito Massacre crossing the border out of Romania at the Danube Delta- everyone was getting badly bit, I pulled out my Deet 100% which I got from an American guy in Bolivia some years ago (not even sure if the stuff is legal in the UK) - it definitely works.

I was pulled over by the police in Ukraine just an hour or so after the border crossing, as usual, I quickly took my helmet off and give them a nice smile. However I can tell I'm not in Latin America on this trip when they actually persisted in trying to get dollars from me. A bit of a shock to the system -police who are more intent on extorting than flirting - sometimes I yearn for the Latino way of things. I had to stand there for 30 mins acting nice but dumb about the whole question of handing over money- although I did have some virtually worthless Romanian lei in my pocket ready to fob them off with.

In the end they just gave up and waved me on - and my crime?? Apparently all vehicles HAVE to stop at the Stop sign and not next to the police who may be standing 10 yards past it flagging you down.

Tiffany at 1000 miles into the trip to Mongolia.

The first of the thousand mile pictures - 1000 miles and I was on the outskirts of Würzburg, Germany, having to mind Willi the dog for his bemused owner whilst he took my photo.

The Odessa to Georgia ferry across the Black Sea was fine, I had opted for the economy cabin which means sharing with three others - I was a bit concerned the other three would turn out to be farting Ukrainian truck drivers (call me Mrs Picky) - however the receptionists felt sorry for me and put me in a cabin on my own - luxury. The Georgians on board then took me under their wing, trying to fatten me up by urging more food onto me and they also did some language lessons so I now have a Georgian twang to my Russian. The food itself was a bit odd- everyone was pulling funny faces - well, cold noodles and sausage isn't usual for breakfast in anyone's country - it took me two days to find out that there was porridge available.

Arriving at Georgia, I didn't get off to a great start the ferry docked at 9.00am - maybe I was a bit too optimistic when I presented myself for check out at 9.30- only to be told that I should go back and 'wait in my cabin for one or two hours, or maybe three or four'! It was 1.45pm by the time I got out of the port and then, the car that was showing me the route out of the docks area reversed into me! not a good start.

I was pulled over by police within 30 mins on the road- oh no I thought, ex-soviet style policing again, but how wrong I was, they just wanted to chat (which was very limited with my poor Russian vocab) and they asked me to pose for a quick photo with them before they waved me on - how friendly was that I thought.

The roads seem pretty good, with a few potholes and random cows wandering around which I am having to dodge, it reminds me of India. I've been sampling the beers and the wines with another Horizons rider, both in agreement that Georgia is a fantastic country to visit."

Ed. Tiffany shares her top tips for travelling in the new 'Ladies on the Loose!' Achievable Dream Series DVD - shipping soon!


Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure to tell them how you heard about Compass Expeditions. Thanks!

Discover the extraordinary with Compass Expeditions.


Nick Ison, Adam Broadbent and Mike Stevens from New Zealand and Australia, in Argentina, Kawasaki KLR 650s,

"We sit in our flat in Santiago de Chile, maps sprawled across the wall, guidebooks, novels and notepads are lumped on the queen size bed in the corner. We are here because the two bikes packaged in a crate from Australia have had their arrival in South America delayed until the 18th of March. This has forced us to spend an additional two weeks hanging out in Santiago. Mike's bike has been secured for pickup tomorrow. We pray for peace from the diesel gurgling, sound bombarding, dirty monster buses that pull up all times of the night two meters beneath our wide open windows...

Southern cone, Chile.

Nick - "Today I ride with giants. At their mercy I travel, etching my way along perilous roads, weaving between alpine lakes. Enduring a rain of cold knives and negotiating endless minefields of pot-holes is all consuming, stretching the bounds of my concentration. I am a pilgrim in this new world, very much aware of my vulnerability. My destiny is held aloft in the jagged spine that shadows my journey. I catch fleeting glimpses of it from time to time; glare from an icy peak, or the reflection on a glass lake. The south is my calling, its beckoning a magnetic pull - attracted to my unfaltering awe. In this land of giants I hold no power, I have no significance, I am no force. My progression is at the mercy of my surrounding environment - scree slopes poised above my every move, deciders of fate...

Adam - "I remember one section after crossing into Argentina for the first time, the headwind was so strong we would trail each other in an unsuccessful attempt to slip stream. Our heads leant so far forward the chin of my helmet would occasionally brush the top of my handlebars. The force of the wind strong enough to part the foam in my helmet so my lips ended up pressed against the inside plastic of its mouthpiece..."

Road sign windy.

Nick - "10 km short of the end of the Carretera Austral's gravel trail disaster struck. Adam, riding in the lead, entered a corner to find himself rim deep in silty mud. In the throws of inevitable panic and acting on little riding experience and previous advice, he promptly rapped on the throttle, hoping to power out of his slippery predicament. Unfortunately the desired result was never to be realised, as he tank slapped his way into a dramatic and somewhat intimate meeting with Tierra Firma. Still sore from several stacks in the previous weeks, it took a long time for Adam to rise from the mud. Tired, bruised and battered, standing in the cold insistent rain it was obvious that this was a very low point for him; however, as a true warrior of the road, with help from his sympathetic amigos, he continued to limp his bike, bent forks and all, into the nearest settlement."

Ed. The Antipodeans also have video updates on their site.


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Simon Roberts, UK, The Road to Kathmandu - the comic strip - in India!

"...Ah yes. The roads of India. Everyone has their tales and I've done my best to catch the drama in a cartoon.

A typical scenario: I pull out to overtake a bus. Straightforward. I then realise he's overtaking a slow moving truck which is moving out past a spluttering rickshaw who's overtaking a camel and cart which is avoiding an old man on a bicycle. Change down and gun it through the ever shrinking gap between me and the deep gravel on the right hand side. I look up to see that the same sequence of events is going on - coming at us. Never a dull moment. I had considered welding the front of a bus to the front of my bike to give me a little more 'presence'.

The 'open' road to Goa. Click on the pic for full story.

...Meanwhile, back on the 'open' road - at the gates of the Golden Temple, Amritsar, NW India....

I'd picked my way through the ever narrowing streets following locals' gesticulations towards the temple. I'd read that it may be possible to stay here in an area within the complex set aside for foreigners. Sure enough, I was ushered in by an imposing Sikh and, having handed over 'cigarettes, alcohol and drugs' was led - bike and all - to an enclosed courtyard where, amazingly, I was given a private room."

I unpacked and joined the pilgrims walking clockwise around the Golden Temple which is set in a large ornamental pool. Steadying myself for a photo I was handed an empty bucket and promptly swept up into the daily cleaning ritual. Later that evening I was invited to join them in the communal eating halls. Attendants went from row to row ladelling food out of metal buckets as we sat cross-legged in lines on the floor - painful at the best of times for Euro-man and food from buckets? Not for the faint-hearted. My request for the A la Carte menu was met with a blank expression."

Ed. See Simon's 'Road to Kathmandu' comic strip on Horizons Unlimited.


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Adrian Coe, 40th birthday trip, in Marrakech:

"...Determined not to just turn around when the road ran out, which it did, we plotted a route that in theory would link either back to Marrakech on a different road or if really lucky link up with another mountain pass. Looked great on the map but yet again the confidence from the Lonely Planet map of Morocco proved to be entirely false. Going to compare some of these with the Michelin Map when I get the chance since once again a Yellow Major Road quickly turned into Piste. Stubborn as ever I carried on riding as the Piste got worse but even enjoying the off road riding more than I thought possible I quickly had to start thinking of ways to escape. Chose a piste with the mountain behind me and eventually refound the tarmac...

...Well the tarmac gradually faded away to be replaced by hard packed stones which gradually faded away to loose packed stones and gravel. These were soon added to by big stones and ruts in the path that had this off road novice on touring tyres bricking himself but insisting it would get better soon.

Adrian Coe with bike on 40th birthday bike trip.

Stopped at the top of a steep descent to allow a van to come up the hill, bike hit big soon and down she went at a standstill. Discovered just how heavy it is when full of luggage but kind chaps in the van helped me pick her up. You may notice at this point that the bike has become firmly female and I refer to us, we etc. This is an affliction I have picked up to justify talking to myself while riding since I am clearly talking to my partner in crime the VStrom.

Anyway no damage done and being too stubborn or stupid to give up and turn around at this point on I went. The piste got progressively worse but still a clear route and for an off road rider would I am be classed as easy. I could see a good bridge over a river ahead and was spurred on to think that tarmac must be getting close. On the other side of the bridge was what can only be described as a steep uphill footpath that I could never have convinced Jackki to walk up. Bugger.

Bike side stand modification.

...Having suffered side stand sinkage too many times I am happy to show off the modification made by Pete at the Garage of Power to ensure the bike stands safe and secure on the fringes of roads or in camping fields. Aux power socket also fitted to ensure I can keep the IPOD and phone topped up on the move. Thanks for your help Pete."

Ed. Check out Adrian's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!


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Rob Jardine, UK, Melbourne to London, in India, on Honda Transalp,

"In Shimla, we had a couple of encounters with other overland bikers. I was parking my bike near The Mall when I saw a yellow BMW 1200GS. Turned out it was Pascal and Arja. They're riding from Australia to Europe too, and we had exchanged emails a few times previously. A couple of hours later, another BMW saw our bikes parked at the side of the road and pulled up - this time it was Mark and Maggie Allenspach, who are also doing Australia-Europe. I'd spoken with Mark a few times in preparation for the trip. So we had our biggest overlanders dinner since Bangkok, with nine attendees, and probably had the biggest party that sleepy Shimla has seen for some time...

We arrived mid-afternoon, and decided to try one of the loops in the Raid de Himalaya that goes up to Kibber, the world's highest motorable village, and to the monasteries at Kibber and Komik.

All conquering heroes.

All-conquering heroes...

The road was pretty treacherous - it hadn't been cleared of landslides so we were bouncing over 6-inch rocks on precarious tracks with some pretty hairy drop-offs. If that wasn't challenging enough, we were now above the snow line and melt water made the track extremely muddy - I was starting to regret having switched to road tyres in Shimla. At Komik, the GPS showed that we were at almost 4,500 metres. The thin air didn't really bother me, but the Transalp was struggling, even in first gear. At the monastery in Komik, we were invited in for chai by the friendly monks. 200 metres later, the road was completely blocked by snow - end of the ride, and we backtracked to Kaza.

We'd heard that the road was blocked with snow about 10km past Losar, and if we couldn't make it all the way to Manali, we were determined at least to ride to the very end. Past Losar, the track got very bad - we were hacking through 10ft snow cuttings, and snow and melt water was making for very slippery conditions.

Fine line between bravery and stupidity.

Fine line between bravery and stupidity...

Eventually we reached the end of the line, just as promised. The road crew got quite a surprise when four bikes slithered around the final bend, but we received a warm welcome and chai all round.

It was 3pm and we were exhausted by the time we got back to Kaza, so we decided to stay another night . I didn't mind the fact that we were retracing our steps, because the scenery was so beautiful and it was worth enjoying the views from the other direction. At Sumdo, Claus decided he wanted to see the Tibet border, so we headed off along a side road. Just past the village of Gua, a concerned looking Indian soldier came running over, and we were invited to join him in his bunker for a chat.

Indian bunker near Tibet.

Are you sure that you're not Chinese spies?

The conversation went something like this:

Concerned Indian Soldier: 'What are you doing here? Don't you know this is a restricted area?'
Overland Biker: 'Er, we wanted to have a look at Tibet'
CIS: 'You must leave this area immediately. Would you like a cup of chai?'
OB: 'Yes please!'
CIS: 'Would you like to have a look at a 500-year old mummy?'
OB: 'Why not!'

500-year old Tibetan mummy.

And that's how we found a 500-year old Tibetan mummy...

See Rob's blog for more stories and pics.


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Sam and Birgit Manicom, taking time out from writing books to have some more adventures to write about, in Vietnam,

"Hi all, This is coming to you from Vietnam. The land of concrete, sweaty heat and loads of unfinished buildings. Since we have been on the road here we cant help but wonder how many tons of concrete have been poured into it since 1975. The traffic is as manic as rumours suggested.

Vietnam traffic is manic.

It's far more 'interesting' than Bogota, Lima, Calcutta or Cairo! The main rules of the road are - never look behind you or to the side - if you want to do it, go for it but do so gently - accidents don't matter, it is only paint that's getting dinged at the speed everyone goes at - a smile and a cheeky wave go a long way towards parting the Red Sea of traffic.

Loaded bikes, Vietnam.

The loads the people get onto their bikes are quite amazing. We have seen everything from a family of six to half a dozen live pigs loaded on board. I won't ever complain about overloading my bike again! One of my favourite characters was setting off with a 2 meter high sheet of reinforced glass on his knees! He had to steer with his arms wrapped around the sides and had to look through the glass - the ultimate visor...

More loaded bikes in Vietnam.

The most special thing about this country is not the never ending stream of houses and shacks along the roadside, nor the unfinished buildings, nor is it the fact that crossing the road will challenge every logical sense you have. It's not the stunning colours of the silk or the lush greens of the paddy fields, and it's not the beautiful karst islands in Halong Bay. It isn't even the open uncluttered roads out in the countryside.

Bikes on boats, Vietnam.

The real joy of this country comes from its people. They are pretty much the most welcoming people we have come across anywhere in the world. They are genuinely kind and their very easy smiles never seem to hold a hidden agenda. If we have been ripped off anywhere, then it's been done so cleverly that we have no idea it's happened. How refreshing is it to travel in a country with such people as this. Long may it last!

Birgit in Vietnam.

Do we want to head for home yet - Nooooo!"

Ed. Sam's newest book, 'Distant Suns' is available directly from the author at a discount - see link below!

Dirk and Eric Wright, Going South, in Cartagena, 1981 Honda CX500,

"They say there are people who are dumb, and then there are those who are dumber. We are dumber. But there is nothing better then being 21, on a motorcycle, broke, and in Latin America.

We found 'La llorona', our 1981 Honda CX500, on Craigslist going for $500, so we talked the guy down to four and called it a deal. I, unfortunately, only got to see it three months later when a friend of mine in a dodge caravan dumped it and my brother off in el Salvador, where I was volunteering. That's when I found out that la llorona liked to piss out coolant when she got hot, would not tell you how fast you were going and had the tendency to lock up her front breaks and throw you into the ditch. She also didn't have high beams or left signal light, but she was red and clean looking and our ticket to adventure. My brother Eric, my name is Dirk by the way, arrived with a helmet, a freshly completed motorcycle training course, two green jump suits, a red beard and a camera.

The beard was the first to go; it did not fit in the helmet. Then we got rid of the jump suits, not enough room to pack them. The camera lasted till Nicaragua, where it got stolen, and the face shield fell of the helmet in San Blas. For every thing we lose we pack on another great adventure, new amigo or catastrophic bike failure...

New amigos in Latin America.

Actually this was more Eric's fault then mine, the motorcycle part that is. I had been in El Salvador volunteering as a carpentry teacher since Feb of 08. Some time in November I noticed that I was still going to have a couple grand of the money I had save up for my year volunteering left over. So I purposed a little traveling to my brother and him, being older, wiser, hopeless latin America junkie and raving radical said 'Let's do it on a bike'. So he took the riding class and worked, and I saved and bought the bike, and in January 2009 it turned into reality. The Plan, ride south until we or the bike got broke. Then try to get home.

Like all great trips it started with a fizzle. Day one we left bright and early from El Salvador got to the Honduras boarder by 8am and 5 hours and $50 later finally managed to get in. We only had to cross three hours worth of Honduras but that was enough for some cops to fine us for not having a fire extinguisher on board, they later admitted that even if by some random chance we would have had one, they would have got us for not having seatbelts. On a Motorcycle? That night we enjoyed our one liter Toñas in Nicaraguan, a toast to the absurd.

As we continue down the road south we are constantly amazed by the beauty of the land and the hospitality of its people. And we never look a gift horse in the mouth, so if there is anyone between here and the end of the world willing to put up some brothers in exchange for good conversation, let us know."


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Johan and Charmaine Claassens, South Africa, RTW, in Argentina,

"We made it to Ushuaia! 100,000km from Aghulas to Ushuaia! From the Southernmost point in Africa to the Southernmost city in South America (and the world) via Africa, South West Asia, Southern Europe, North and South America. Not too bad. It is a feeling I can't describe, more than just another dream that came true! God is good. It was a sacrifice to leave behind our country, family, friends and careers, but is worth every bit of that sacrifice.

Road signs to Ushuaia.

We have decided to go back north today, as the weather forecast is snow for the next 4 days. We had an interesting experience yesterday, wanted to ride to the end of the road and take a picture at the sign that states it is the end of the road, it is on the far end of the national park here. After we paid our entrance fee to the park, we got as far as 200m down the road, which was actually an ice rink. It was a challenge turning around without dropping the bike. Charmaine had to walk back on the side of the road in the snow, as the road surface was too slippery! So we don't have the photo we wanted, but had fun building our first real snowman.

Bike on icy roads in Ushuaia.

... The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that are not retreating. It is a 250 km2 (97 sq mi) ice formation, and 30 km (19 mi) in length. The front edge of the Perito Moreno Glacier is 5 kilometres (3 mi) wide, with an average height of 60 m (200 ft) above the surface of the water, with a total ice depth of 170 metres (558 ft). It advances at a speed of up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) per day or around 700 metres (2,300 ft) per year. It is mind boggling to hear the snapping sound as the ice cracks from the pressure of the huge mass moving forward, then seeing the chunks fall off into the water below. It is well worth standing in the freezing wind, waiting and watching for the pieces to fall.

Perito Moreno Glacier.

Once again the scenery blew us away. We thought we were back in the Karoo, beautiful flat dry yellow fields with thousands of sheep as far as the eye could see. The sky was mostly blue again and even though we had the warmth of the sun beam on us, it was not enough to take the chill out of the air, the temperature remained below 8 degree Celsius. We refuelled at Bajo Caracoles as we were told that there would be no fuel until Tres Lagos some 409km's south. Thankfully this is no problem for the GS, so we did not have to carry extra fuel in bottles.

The road we would have taken if we were not stopped by the heavy snow would have joined onto Ruta 40 here at Bajo Caracoles. We looked at the mountains in the direction of Chile, and the road we would have come on from Cochrane and realised that we would not have been able go that way, everything was white, literally snow white. We were doing good time and continued south all the way to Tres Lagos where the road became tar again. We managed to get into El Calafate as the sun was setting."

Ed. Congratulations to Johan and Charmaine for getting all the way to Ushuaia, and very late in the season!


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Ian Moor, Wrong Way Round The World, in the USA, F650GS,

"I only intended to spend a couple of days in Miami to get the bike from customs but my bike literally 'missed the boat'. It was rejected at the docks because the case it was in wasn't strong enough. The shipper had to remake the box and put it on the next ship a fortnight later. This wouldn't have been so bad if they had told me early enough to change my flight but I only found out a couple of days before I was due to leave. Instead of arriving eight days after the bike (to allow for any possible delays) I arrived six days before the second ship was due to dock. My riding clothes, panniers etc. were supposed to be shipped with the bike but for some reason unexplained to me all the luggage was still in the UK. The shipper sounded like he was doing me a favour by air freighting it but as it arrived on a different day to the bike and to a different cargo handler, I had to spend two expensive days running around Miami in taxis to shipping agents, customs and warehouses instead of one.

It was nice having some sunshine after a long cold British winter but I spent a lot of time each day on the internet or phone chasing the bike and luggage. I was in Bayside beside the port. I had been told to collect the bike from there although annoyingly it went on a truck past my hotel to a warehouse near the airport. In between hounding wayward shippers I walked round the local marina, listened to numerous free Latino concerts or went to the famous art deco South Beach a short bus ride away.

When the container with my bike in it was finally unloaded the law of sod dictated that the NLL, a branch of US customs wanted to X-ray it which took five days. And to round things off nicely they charged me $70 as my contribution to the examination of the container. The NLL released the container the day before Good Friday and my first bit of good news, Good Friday isn't a public holiday in the USA. Clearing the bike through customs wasn't straight forward and cost $300 but by mid afternoon I was riding back to the hotel.

... Saturday morning I headed to an Everglades campsite 60 miles from Miami and a totally different world. After pitching the tent I went for a walk round the campsite lake keeping an eye out for alligators but thinking of my west coast of Scotland holiday last year where we tried and failed to see otters. Within five minutes I saw my first alligator, a big adult at the waters edge facing a picnicking family. It was less than 200 yards from my tent and fifty of those were through water! Later on I rode 15 minutes to Royal Palm, one of the oldest parts of the park and almost became blasé about seeing alligators. At one point I could see eighteen at once.

I have been making my way slowly up the Atlantic coast having a great time."

Ed. Ian has unfortunately discovered the 'joys of sea freight'! See Ian's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Darius and Jane Skrzypiec, RTW 2008-2011, in Nepal and India, Africa Twin,

"Having a very early start we arrive at the border in Banbassa by 6AM. 50 meters behind Nepali Immigration office the tarmac ends giving way to rough gravel which reminds me of a riverbed. Mostly locals are using horse driven carts moving their personal belongings from one side the border to another. It seems like there is no need for visa or passport for Indian or Nepal nationals.

For us it's different obviously. The 2 officers at the Immigration let me sit down and wait till they're finished with the newspaper and then starting asking me questions I've been asked thousands of times already: 'where you from (having my passport), how much is the motorbike, is this your wife, what is your job?' Not many tourists passing this way I reckon and the job at this border is more than boring.

Some more soft gravel and more horse carts, then through a narrow dam-bridge and one more gate before we can enter India.

Darius and Jane at the Taj Mahal.

...Mid April is too early for any excursions to Ladakh as most of the high altitude passes are still covered with snow. Instead we're deciding on a loop around Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Our first target is the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra. As soon as I see the sun coming up behind the monument I know that it was worth every effort to come and see it – what a view!

The roads and the traffic in India are surprisingly easy. Riding within the city limits is still a nightmare but out on the open highway it is by far not as shocking as we heard of. Yes, there will be still vehicles coming head on towards you on a dual carriage way and there will be trucks and busses overtaking each other, leaving no other option for the bike but escaping on to the sandy road shoulder, but this is happening all over Asia so far.

There is lots of road construction going on in India and the congested one lane tracks vanishing in a fast pace. From Agra to Ajmer and Pushkar we're riding the brand new dual carriage way with average speed of 100km/h. Who'd ever think we would be able to reach 100 in this country?!

Motorcycle vs camel.

As we're moving westwards the cows pulling carts are increasingly replaced by camels, the vast wheat fields are giving place to brick businesses and later to sand, sand and more sand. That's the great Thar Desert. The countless piles of cow dung along the roads in Uttar Pradesh are vanishing too as we ride to Rajasthan. We can still observe people collecting the fresh excrements, forming it into perfect circles and drying it on the roofs but in Uttar Pradesh this is more of an art than necessity. Over there, the fresh fallen paste would be collected and formed by hands (right before making the chapattis…) into forms reminding us of bakery products, dried and then piled up to multi storey cones. The cone would be covered by a thin layer of dung protecting it from heat and erosion, I guess, but leaving an opening to the passing traffic. Some people might be seduced by the great looks and buy some.

Pushkar Lake.

Pushkar is well known for its holy lake and for its holy or not so holy men. There are with no doubt some real Sadhus in Pushkar surviving only on meditation, ganja and offerings but we can also observe some Westerners copying the holy men and enjoying the smoke for the time being. The lake itself is almost dry and what is left of it is not very appealing. Still, the Pilgrims are bathing in it – holy water even!

Rats in the Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, India.

We just can't not stop at the extraordinary Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok. Here the rats are holy and the pilgrims are trying to become blessed by feeding the rodents and kissing the places the rats are sitting on – bizarre!"

Ed. Follow Darius and Jane's trip in their blog here on Horizons Unlimited


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Mark and Maggie Allenspach, Australia to Switzerland, in Nepal, BMW 1150 GS,

"...From Ciang Khong on the Lao boarder we travel west through the Golden Triangle to Chiang Sean, then Mae Chan and end up in Tha Ton at the Nature Garden Bungalows. On the Mountain across the river tower several temples high above the village. There are 9 levels to the mountain each with a different Temple and accommodation for monk students. The very top one of the temples is the biggest and newest still finishing touches are being applied, it's amazing!

Tha Ton Temple.

The following day we ride along road No107 to Tae Taeng where we turn right onto Road No 1095 towards Pai. Here is one for the boys 'Road 1095 Chiang Mai to Pai 136km 762 Curves'. Maggie nearly got 'Bike sick' on the back, what a blast, the road is in good condition and there are no animals or kids to be seen. Yeeehaaa!

Pai is a very chilled out town with lots of Guesthouses and Restaurants there is also a live music scene plenty of dreadlocks and Bob Marley T-shirts. We booked ourselves in for a 2 hour Elephant trip trough the forest and down the river for a swim with the elephants."

Elephant ride - part 1.

Elephant ride - part 1

Elephant ride - part 2.

Elephant ride - part 2

Elephant ride - part 3

Elephant ride - part 3

Elephant swim!

Telba the Elephant has a very gentle nature until we get to the river where she tosses us from one side to the other into the water.

Ed. See Mark and Maggie's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Murray and Joyce Castle, Canada, in Argentina, on Katie & the Bumblebee,

"After paying 100 pesos ($33 Cdn) at the gate, we enter Parque Nacional de Tierra del Fuego, a park of scenic little lakes, 30 ft beech trees, long fiords and stands of long green grass. We arrive at Lapataia in the early afternoon. It's a place, not a town, a place where the road ends. If driving south in South America, one can go no further south than here. It is, in that regard, el Fin del Mondo, the end of the world. OK, so it's a little theatrical, and untrue, but a charming thought nevertheless. Joyce and I pose by the sign for the obligatory photo, then do a wee walkabout to study the peaceful but hardy flora and fauna. There is a virgin cleanness to the place, a faint scent of green life evident, but carried in the air with a rawness that is familiar. Like camping near the Columbia Icefield in September.

Joyce and the Bumblebee.

Joyce and the Bumblebee

...From San Antonio, Chile we ride north, skirting Santiago through pastoral wine country to the west and north then head east through Los Andes, Chile towards the Argentina border. Our route crosses the Andes mountains at Paso Cristo Redentor, which involves sixteen hairpin turns to gain altitude before entering the tunnel that crosses the continental divide and empties us into Argentina.

16 Hairpins Paso Cristo Redentor.

... First thing Tuesday morning we show up at the Brazilian consulate with all necessary documentation, copies of documents (of which they take copies of the copies), and photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. The nice folks there take it all in then advise we must pay a shocking amount of cash for the visas, no credit cards or cheques please, to process the paperwork. Closing our mouths from shock, we hastily, and hoping it matters, tell them we are Canadians. Man and woman retreat behind closed doors for a moment. The new price drops to 546 Argentina pesos, or about CAD$182 for both of us. But still, you should know it will take five business days to process and this Friday is May 1, a holiday. So what should take eight minutes will take eight days, I think but smile anyway. Still a bit numb, Joyce and I walk over to the nearest bank and withdraw the requested amount from the automatic teller. Guess we'll get to know Cordoba better than expected."

Where are the ATMs?

Where are the ATMs?

Ed. See Murray and Katie's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!


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Erdem Yucel, Turkey/USA, RTW, in France, Suzuki V-Strom 1000,

"The people in Marseilles are much different than what I've seen so far. There are women in veils and some people speak arabic. I'm not that far from Algiers. It's just the other side of the water. And this indeed is a harbor town. There may be more ships anchored in the marina than the houses built around it. Streets are narrow and everything is built out of a yellowish lime stone. The distinct scent of seaweed and diesel engine surrounds the bay. I feel confused. The people and the overall color of this town is very familiar to me. I know it from other Turkish cities bordering Syria. And I've also seen similar harbors near Istanbul. But I've never seen the two mixed together.

Med coastline.

I have slightly altered my route based on my brother Emrah's suggestion. He had travelled around this area before when he visited Cannes for the famous film festival last year. He seemed well convinced that the route between Marseille and Monte-Carlo was one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Without doubt, he was right... So far, what I've seen was definitely the best ride I've ever done in my life. If I say ‘breathtaking' it may be taken as an analogy. So let me put it this way; I had difficulty breathing because of the excitement and beauty hidden between these curves. The excitement part is hard to understand for someone who doesn't ride a motorcycle. But I'll try to explain.

Med coastline.

A motorcycle is very similar to a musical instrument. Every road is a unique composition. Each one requires a specific series and combinations of responses. Once the controls become second nature, you can start hearing the music. Your body sees the road, processes it, and each part does what it's supposed to, in the right time and simultaneously. The road flows through you. In a way, you become the road, the road becomes you. Your body, is now the translation of the road in the language of motorcycle.

Speed can be considered as the volume. It's an increase in the sensation. The quality of sensation however, is in the relation of the road and the bike. Some roads require a motorcycle to be conducted properly. The road called Corniche, between St. Tropez and Cannes is definitely one of these..."

Erdem camping.

Ed. Check out Erdem's site for lots of good pics and video as well as really good writing!

up to top of pagespacerBooks

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker.

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!


Red Tape and White Knuckles: One Woman's Motorcycle Adventure Through Africa

Lois' new adventures in Africa!

"Alone. No support vehicles, no fancy GPS and no satellite phone. Leaving from London, finishing in Cape Town - and the small matter of tackling the Sahara, war-torn Angola and the Congo Basin along the way - this feisty independent woman's grand trek through the Dark Continent of Africa is the definitive motorcycling adventure." Get it here!


Distant Suns, by Sam Manicom

Adventure in the vastness of Africa and South America

"Sam Manicom's dynamic third book transports you to Southern Africa, South and Central America in an action-packed three year voyage of discovery... a thought-provoking mix of scrapes and encounters with people which illuminate some moments of true darkness... acute observations on everything from human behaviour, to remote and stunning locations. Distant Suns grabs you, enthrals you and spits you out as a convert to the dream of overlanding these amazing continents." Buy direct from Sam here!


Adventure Motorbiking Handbook.

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, by Chris Scott


Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle.

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,
-Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle
, and
-Africa Against the Clock 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!

For details on his books see here.


video cover picture

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?

Go to our Books pages, where we have listed some of the best motorcycle travel books, as well as a number of BMW books, general motorcycle books, and travel guides.

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!

buy from Amazon USA buy from Amazon Deutschland Shop at Amazon Canada

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


Help support your favourite website! Here's how!


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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' E-zine - Copyright 1999-2009, 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!

Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York, not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan. Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand) Recommendations are based on positive or negative experiences of somebody, somewhere. Your mileage (kilometrage if you insist) may vary. We are not responsible in any way for any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you. You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct as best we can determine at that time.







Motocare

Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile. Ride across the Andes, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, lakes, deserts, salt pans, waterfalls, beaches, rain forests, glaciers...

Motocare Argentina





up to top of pagespacerShorts...

Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, 193 countries two-up on Harley Davidson, in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany

"...Later in the afternoon we rode to Maashees, where Sjaak Lucassen, a motorcycle traveller, longer travelled than ourselves, lives. We first met Sjaak in Malaysia in 1996 as I was getting off a boat from Indonesia, he was loading his motorcycle. We have kept in touch ever since, but is has been eleven years since we had last met, and he has travelled over 260,000km's on his R1 Yamaha, many extreme kilometres in Africa and South America, in that time.

Swapping seats on two round the world bikes - Sjaak Lucassen and Peter Forwood.

On checking our separate routes we were amazed how close we were at times in our travels but never close enough to meet up. Sjaak has recently returned from a ride to the top of Alaska, in winter, also on an R1 motorcycle, a truly extreme adventure, riding up the Alaskan Pipeline road with studded tyres, heated everything, and temperatures over 30 degrees below zero."

Horizons Unlimited is proud to host Peter and Kay's complete RTW story and pictures here!

Robin Breese-Davies and Rik Davis, UK, RTW, in Korea, BMW R1150GS,

"...Today started superbly with the sun on our backs riding through mountain country, passing national parks, farm land, people getting on with their business and wondering who these aliens were passing by on motorbikes, it was great to be in a part of the world where we didn't see one tourist! Daedunsan & Maisan National Parks were great but as the weather was getting worse as the day went on we decided to push onto the historic city of Jeonju.

Which way now, turn back.

Which way now... turn back

...We have been looking forward to this tour for some time, we have never been to an active war zone before in our lives and this did not disappoint. We did not expect to actually cross the border and into North Korean territory albeit in the DMZ zone, we looked straight at the communist soldiers, could see the difference in architecture, took all the pictures we wanted.

At DMZ between North and South Korea.

The North and South Korean forces face up

Also on the tour we visited some of the underground tunnels which have been found over the years from North Korean infiltrators, an amazing insight in the history of Korea since 1950 but also of a communist regime still in power."


Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure you tell them how you heard about Alaska Leather. Thanks!

We are the largest aftermarket parts, accessory and motorcycle clothing store in Alaska. Drop in for a tire change, service or just about anything motorcycle on your Alaska adventure tour.

Drop in on Alaska Leather on your Alaskan adventure for service, tires, accessories and a hot cup of fresh coffee!


Saad and Richard, QWR, in Poland,

"... Entering Poland was like entering a new stage to our trip. The heavens opened, the roads narrowed and the world turned grey. We were now dodging huge trucks and maniac drivers on rain soaked single lane highways. But, true to our promises to our wives, we rode safely. This was real frontier town stuff, with prostitutes at the roadside every other mile, 24 hour night clubs, casinos and crazy drivers.

... Saad - my clutch cable snapped at 5.00 p.m. rush hour in the middle of a three lane highway in Olysztn. We wheeled the bike to the side of the road to a cacophony of angry horns. Richard had a cable repair kit and I had the tools. All we needed now was someone with some know-how!

We decided to split our talents, and Richard rode on to the hotel and sorted out our accommodation for the night, while I looked at the bike and scratched my head. Using my new philosophy of taking it slow and patient even if I've no idea what I'm doing and panic is just below the surface, I started undoing nuts and bolts all over the place. Once I had a nice little pile, I looked in the cable repair kit and found something that looked similar to something else that I'd taken off.

To a cut a long story short - and to save the embarrassment of having anyone technical reading (laughing at) this - I managed to fix the cable, but probably only temporarily. The next morning we went to the local Honda dealer. They were very friendly and helpful - and with very limited English - but they didn't have a replacement clutch cable, and couldn't get one for two days.

Meanwhile, Richard (concerned as ever) had gone off for a stroll round the showroom. When returning, he casually mentioned that they had a brand new Honda Transalp in the showroom, identical to ours, except that it was in gold. I decided that this was the time to test the dealer staff's friendliness to the limit, and mildly suggested that there was always the option of stripping the clutch cable from their brand new shiny bike and sticking it on mine.

Of course they all said no, absolutely no way. Half an our later it was fitted, and we were on the road to Vilnius in Lithuania, by 11.30. That is the best Honda dealer I have been to. Thank you."

Ed. Follow Saad and Richard's adventures on their new blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Peter Hendricks in Malaysia

"...When there is a break in the weather we move to Kuala Terengganu. This is a pleasant town and we spend 3 days here. We visit the Crystal Mosque, actually it's covered with glass.

Crystal Mosque, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

Nearby on the same island there is the 'Islamic Entertainment Park'. Through the fence we can see may miniature reconstructions of famous mosques, etc. However, we balk at the steep entrance fee, double for foreigners. This is unusual in Malaysia. At the big museum nearby we have great difficulty finding the entrance and when we do find it it's about to close for prayers. We do get to see some of the maritime exhibits outside, though.

Canopy walk in the jungle, Malaysia.

...We get to go on a walk the next morning. There is a canopy walk, that is to say a series of swing bridges going from tree to tree. Most of the time we walk about 10-20m above ground. On the way back several people get 'leeched', including Su. This is the first time I have seen leeches, except for one that dropped onto my visor once while riding in the rain. Now I can see them everywhere. It seems that you can't stop in the jungle or you will be attacked. Hmmmm, I think I prefer the NZ bush..."

Stephen Bray, Ireland, Argentina to Alaska, in Nicaragua,

"Speed guns. Can't argue with them, but u can barter about the price of the ticket.

40 zones, how ridiculous. Anyway... I was going 69 so I had to pay the fine. 66 Dollars. It was written on all the other tickets and I was shown the rules book with the appropriate fines for speeding. For the first time on this trip I paid, because I was guilty.
Then I asked, 'How much without the ticket, Twenty?'

A moments thought and then came a muffled 'Si'.

I thought OK, cool, only 20. I opened the wallet, 12 dollars looked out at me and I smiled and with my wallet in view said '12'?
'Si.'

From 66 to 12. I was really happy. Later that day I found out that you don't pay at the small police stations, only in the big towns, I think I could have just taken the ticket and 'Paid' it later."


Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure you tell them how you heard about Rukka
. Thanks!

The Rukka brand name has become a synonym for high quality textile motorcycling apparel, and year after year the Finnish manufacturer has caused sensations pioneering highly innovative solutions for those looking for maximum quality, comfort and protection.

Adventure motorcycling clothing for the demanding traveller
Grant: We've been wearing Rukka since 2002 and highly recommend it!


Nathan Thompson and Akiko Nishikura, Taking the slow road round the world, on the cheap, on a postie-bike... 2-up, in India,

"It is difficult to avoid tourist traps in India if you require certain things to make your stay here enjoyable. While we do have the freedom of going anywhere our hearts desire the stark reality has been that in order to find decent lodging and a reasonable degree of peace our front wheel has mostly steered us towards backpacker ghettos and tourist towns when we have wanted to settle down for a while.

A week on the move is usually rewarded with 2 or 3 weeks of chilling out in one place.

Calcutta Restaurant.

Goa ticks all those boxes with a big fat red marker, shakes your hand, welcomes you in, closes the deal and invites you back next year. No need to search, stress or flounder for answers because the reply is always a resounding yes even before the question has left your lips... In Goa everyone is your friend and just waiting to help you!

For this reason our stay in the former Portuguese colony went by quickly and without a hitch, rather boring when compared to the adventures had in other parts of the country but we didn't notice one bit. Our days were filled with lying on the beach and our nights were swallowed up by the deepest sleeps we have had in months. Not a place to find real Indian experiences (if they even exist) but definitely a place where time seems to stop and worries easily disappear."

Mathias Schmid, Switzerland, RTW since 2005, in New Zealand,

"The Australian possum is almost a plague in New Zealand because it has no natural enemies. This one surprised me at my tent, and the camera flash didn't bother him" (Translated via Google).

Australian possum.

Ed. See more of Mathias' journey on his website - lots of pictures, commentary in German.


MedjetAssist is an air medical evacuation and consultation membership program and is HIGHLY recommended by us and many others for all travellers. The regular MedjetAssist program is for citizens or residents of the US, Mexico and Canada, and gives hospital of choice protection virtually anywhere in the world and air evacuation as needed. (See below for more on the Foreign National Plan) Click the logo below for US, Mexico and Canada citizens to find out more. (NOTE: It's still in progress for the final HU version, but you can get MedjetAssist now!)

Get MedjetAssist for your next trip!

For OTHER nationalities it is currently a little more complicated. There IS a Foreign National Plan, but you can't enroll online. It's a faxable enrolment and subject to underwriting approval. The rates are the same, but transport is restricted to 'back to home country - hospital of choice' rather than 'anywhere in the world - hospital of choice'. We are working on improving that, but at least it IS available! Go here to contact MedjetAssist and inquire about the Foreign National Plan. Be sure to mention Horizons Unlimited.

Michael Paull adds his endorsement of MedJet (and he DID use their services - twice!):

"...After an additional three days in Beijing, I was deemed stable enough for air evacuation back to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA, in the company of my wife Aillene (who had flown in from Japan), and an air transport trauma nurse provided by the company that I had procured medical evacuation insurance from, MEDJET Assistance - without doubt, the best insurance coverage I have ever purchased in my life. A small plug here - these people were remarkable... If there was ever a better case for '...don't leave home without it.', MEDJET Assistance is at the top of my checklist, no matter where I travel (and I hope to do a LOT more)."

Note: Per the Medjet Assistance site: "...a medical transport between Europe and America can run more than $35,000. Middle East and South American flights range from $60,000 to $80,000. Transport from Asia often exceeds $100,000." Sounds like $205.00 for a single is pretty cheap insurance!


Santiago Lema, Colombia, in Andes and Patagonia, Suzuki DR650, at Curitiba Iguazu

"...I reach the Vila Velha Park too late for entering that day. Looking for something different, I went to the Environment Police Station close to the park asking for some place to sleep. I was offered a bed into the room, but I chose the corridor closer to Suzi and some pets policemen have.

Police pet!

Police pets!

Yerba mate was shared with me by soldier Nelson. The next day I visited the park.

Rock columns.

An ancient sedimentary rock eroded through the years, forming columns.

Ed. Check out Santiago's blog in English and Spanish on Horizons Unlimited!

Annette Pearson, of London, UK, in Nicaragua,

"...If you look at a map of Nicaragua there is a huge lake and in the lake are two connecting volcanic islands and Ometepe is the largest freshwater island in the world.

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.

Also the lake has a bunch of sea fish that swum up the river and adapted to freshwater like a saw tooth fish and bull shark but there isn't an easy way to see them."

Book special just for Horizons Unlimited Readers!

"Into the den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle"
"8 Around the Americas on a Motorcycle"
"Africa Against the Clock on a Motorcycle"
"From Nordkapp to Cape York on a Motorcycle"

Werner Bausenhart has written several books on his travels around the world, and has offered them to HU readers at a great price. Tell him we sent you and get US$5.00 off the regular US$20 price!

For details on his books see here. Contact Werner now via this link to get the deal.

Paul Brealey and Stephen Bills - Aussies Across The USA, in New York City and the Grand Canyon,

"...On to another couple of trains and we find our way back to Times Square to see what shows had half price tickets available. None that we wanted, so on to M&M World. Here we find 3 floors of shopping entirely dedicated to M&M products... only in America.

M&M World.

...When we arrived at the top of the south rim (of the Grand Canyon), I was gobsmacked. It actually took my breath away. I watched a film clip of one of the park rangers here. She said that the first time that she came here, it had the same effect. So much so, that she fainted at its beauty. This would have to be the greatest sight I have ever seen.

Grand Canyon.

Antelope Cave.

Today is met with great trepidation. This will be the beginning of the next phase of the trip where I don't have Steve with the TomTom leading me through the cities and flyovers etc. It is also the first time that I will be travelling the big land on my own and without any support crew should something go wrong. So to say, that I am somewhat nervous could be an understatement.

What better challenge could I have set for my first day on my own, than Death Valley. I have been on Google Maps over night to get my driving directions from Vegas to Bakersfield, California. These now are written out and sitting in the clear Perspex window of my tank bag, sitting on top of the fuel tank. I made my way out of Vegas and finally onto the highway leading west. There is a huge mountain range in front and as I begin the climb, I can feel the temperatures of the desert starting to rapidly drop. There is still snow sitting on top of some of the peaks."

Ed. See Paul and Steve's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Adam Lewis, UK, RTW, in Indonesia, BMW F650,

"A 1½ hr ferry ride took me from Gilimanuk (Bali) to Banyuwangi (Java). I was heading for the volcano that is Gunning Igen. By 0440 the following morning I was walking up the volcano. Along the way I 'chatted' with several locals carrying their reed baskets the 3km to the rim from where they would descend to the lakeside a further 1km inside. There they load 70-80kg of sulphur into their baskets for the return journey. The initial 3km was wide but steep and loose in places. The 1km to the lake though was a different story.

Sulphur worker in Indonesia.

A steep, narrow, loose rocky trail wove its way down to the lake and was not an easy walk unladen. These guys made the journey twice daily, switching their loads from shoulder to shoulder as they went. Sound hard? I haven't mentioned the sulphur clouds billowing from the blowholes at the lakeside yet. If the breeze is taking the clouds out over the lake the effect isn't too bad but if it blows towards shore then breathing becomes impossible and visibility is reduced to zero. Your throat and lungs burn and your eyes water until the breeze takes the cloud back across the lake. I walked down to the lakeside to meet the guys working there and was invited to pick up a basket load. Two baskets are joined by a flat bamboo handle and placed on two oil drums. Squatting underneath it as though doing 'squats' in the gym I stood up lifting the 70-80kg load. I tried walking forwards but had little control over where I stepped. Their task seemed hard enough as an onlooker but after lifting a load, having a sulphur cloud blown in my face and walking the trail I wondered by just how many years this occupation reduced their lives."

Simon Fitzpatrick, UK, Americas, in Chile,

"...You know that song, 'Flying Without Wings'? Awful, isn't it? Yet it may, one day, prove to have inspired a motorcycling revolution. I'm talking - as if you haven't guessed - about Riding Without Pants. As a rule, I prefer a loose boxer short, but a long day in the saddle inevitably causes ride-up, pod-snatch and crevice-chafe; so, pondering the implications of a 350 mile ride to Antofagasta tomorrow, it occurs to me that to dispense with a layer of of cotton might yield bum-benefits. I'll keep you informed."

Crudo Fitzpatrick.

Ed. See lots of pics and stories on Simon's blog here on Horizons Unlimited! Warning, some profanity!

Overland to India

Overland to India book by Gordon May

by Gordon May

Paperback, 21x14.8 cm 234 pages incl 8 pages of colour photographs. £9.95.

Synopsis:

In 2008, Gordon May set off on an 8,400 mile ride from Manchester, UK, to Chennai, India, on his 1953 Royal Enfield. Despite encountering intense heat, suffering a crash in the Baluchistan desert and battling against some of the worst roads and driving standards on the planet, Gordon and his old Bullet did make it to Chennai.

In Overland to India Gordon describes how he restored his beloved motorcycle, the build up to departure, the larger-than-life characters he met and how he tackled the many challenges that came his way. He also recounts the more personal highs and lows of life on the road. Above all, Overland To India is a heart-warming book that reveals that there is much human kindness and hospitality to be found, sometimes in the most unexpected places and situations.

Review:

What I really liked about Overland to India was the sheer determination of the rider. Gordon's love of his motorcycle shone through too; he often thanks it for getting him to his various destinations along the grueling route and I liked reading about his running repairs. I felt his joy, his euphoria, at being out on the open road. I also felt his exhaustion. When Gordon suffered a crash I could almost feel those bruises and also his fear following an attempted highway robbery. What was also really striking was the generosity, friendliness and humility of many of the people he met along the way, who Gordon describes with real warmth. It's uplifting to discover that it's a welcoming world out there. Overland to India is a lesson to all of us who have a dream and want to pursue it. Inspiring. Judith Coyle

£9.95

Oliver Francis, Wales, in Kathmandu, posts his bungee jump experience:

"...The jump master clips the rope to my legs and then... Well what then. Was I scared? I had been up until that point but now there was a feeling of inevitability. I stand up and everything is checked and then I am led to another barrier. I have to duck under it and then I am standing on a meter squared platform with 3 open sides. The cameraman is there on my left and the jump master is holding my harness as I wiggle my way to the lip.

I'm still not scared. In fact I feel free like I am already falling. As the jump master starts to count down 3... I turn to the camera. 2... I smile. 1... I feel the wind rushing over my face but don't hear it. Eternity passes as my view changes from the mountains surrounding me to the river rushing up to me. I start to scream. Maybe one second has passed. I scream with joy and fear. Yeah now I am scared. That rock in the river, the one I seem to be flying directly towards, looks pretty damn sharp and I can't feel the rope. It should be pulling me back up by now. In fact, if it had pulled me back up earlier I would have been happy. Then it whips around and everything is thrown on its head."

Paul Read, UK, sends this note from Thailand in between bike trips,

"Just thought you might be interested to know the Horizons Unlimited t-shirts are great for snorkeling!"

HU T-shirts - good for snorkelling, too!

Horizons Unlimited question - answers on a post card please

Daniel Shell & Jaquie Brazier, USA, Mexico and beyond, in Mexico,

"We really had to tear ourselves away from Mazatlan, our first proper Mexican town, but what lay ahead eased the pain of our departure. We decided that our next destination would be Durango, the Mexican cowboy capital. One of the deciding factors in this choice was the road that would take us there.

Who could resist roads called 'The Road of 3.000 Curves', swiftly followed by 'Il Espina del Diablo'- The Devil's Spine.

Our first stop was a small town called Concordia. Set around a majestic Cathedral and leafy plaza, the town was a little gem, we afforded ourselves a quick walk around the centre before saddling up and setting off. The road definitely lived up to its name. Within minutes of leaving Concordia, we were leaning the bike left and right, winding up and up to the hills overlooking the coast. The higher we rose, the more fantastic the vistas became.

And still we climbed, riding up to the clouds, which enshrouded the steep cliff tops. And just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we reached the Devil's Spine. On a plateau at 2,500 metres, with drop offs on either side, overlooking mountains, cliff faces, deep gorges and valleys. Way below us were the odd glistening of metal, the remains of cars, trucks and busses that had misjudged corners and met their fate at the bottom of the drop.

Occasionally trucks would come round corners in the opposite direction to us, completely on the wrong side of the road, forcing us to brake hard or to ride the very edge of our lane."

Peter Waller, New Zealand, Suzuki DR650 in Australia,

"... Melbourne is a fantastic city; cosmopolitan, vibrant and beautiful, especially at night. From the narrow streets filled with cafes, coffee shops and pubs, to the striking new high rise buildings, to the bustling markets selling everything from bargain clothing and accessories to fresh produce. With a population of 3.5 million, Melbourne is one of the largest Australian cities and a popular destination for tourists."

Melbourne skyline.

Ed. see Peter's blog for more pics.

Mo Malhotra, UK, writes to the HU Lima Community,

"9 May 2009 - Hola. My friend & I have been travelling Central & South America for 1 year & now we are back in Lima after the end of out trip. We both have been riding KLR650's for our trip & 1 is 2005 & 1 is 2008 model. We are looking to sell the bikes here in Peru & would like to meet local riders for a beer to see how this can be possible & if you knew anyone who might be interested in them.

We are staying at the point hostal in Barranco & I also know Miraflores a little bit. It would be great to meet up for a beer over this weekend if we can. Muchas Gracias Mo."

Distant Suns

by Sam Manicom
Distant Suns by Sam Manicom.

Sam Manicom's dynamic third book transports you to Southern Africa, South and Central America in an action-packed three year voyage of discovery... a thought-provoking mix of scrapes and encounters with people which illuminate some moments of true darkness... acute observations on everything from human behaviour, to remote and stunning locations. Distant Suns grabs you, enthrals you and spits you out as a convert to the dream of overlanding these amazing continents.'

Reviews

"It's been a pleasure to read as it makes me feel as if I'm there seeing the people and landscape that Sam describes. He has a gift for painting pictures with words, which is rare amongst long-distance riders… In summary, a damn good read, not to be missed." Dave - BMW Club Journal

"…as the book progressed and the story unravelled, it developed into a truly involving and enthralling read. Distant Suns doesn't just document the journey, Sam also describes cultural differences, traditions and lifestyles of the various countries they cross, whilst painting a vivid picture of the terrain they cross… A really great read that'll doubtless give you itchy feet…" TBM - Trail Bike Magazine

"Distant Suns' is based on what Sam acknowledges are Birgit's wonderfully descriptive diaries. The result is a strangely powerful combination of Sam's already masterful writing with the added perspectives of a travelling companion who is both in-tune and adding a different melody line to the rhythm of their journey together." Nich Brown - The Road Magazine

Signed copies available directly from the Author here.
Order your copy now!

 

up to top of pagespacerLeaving soon, or just left...

Hubert Kriegel, France, Sidecar-ing the world, in Russia,

"...I spend the whole Sunday at the Hermitage Museum. It is part of the Russian culture to take your children to the museums. I was surprised to see a lot of teenagers by themselves spending the day there. The Hermitage is as impressive as I imagined it. I am still wondering how they were heating the place in winter by 0ºF outside.

Hermitage Museum, Russia.

Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Gravel road are the nightmare of the solo bikers and the pleasure of the sidecars.

Gravel roads are the nightmare of the solo bikers and the pleasure of the sidecars.

Hubert encounters spring mud in Russia.

I tried a little road for a place for the night but it did not turn out well. I U-turned!

I am thinking of getting on the road tomorrow in direction of Moscow."

Ed. Hubert is off again! Check out his website for lots of great pics!

Herbert Roelandt, Belgium to Mongolia, via Russia and the Stans,

"Dear friends, Time of year is here again to make a little trip with my motorcycle! I am leaving on May 12, and my planned itinerary is as follows: Antwerp, Berlin, Poland, Byelorussia, Ukraine, Moldavia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgistan, Russia, Mongolia, into Siberia and back to Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kalliningrad, Poland, Germany and back to Belgium. I plan to be back home on August 4! See you later! Herbert"

Herbert Roelandt with impossibly clean bike!

This bike needs to get much dirtier, Herbert!

David Newman and Al, Round the World,

"Ride Round The World begins on 24/5/09, when two idiots will set off on a half-baked plan to ride a couple of old Yamahas about 30,000 miles through 34 countries. We don't really know what we're doing...

Bike with map on pannier.

Ed. But you've got the right stickers and map!

The route is basically as follows... France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and finally back into Russia all the way to Vladivostok. From there the route is more open to change but we plan to get a ferry to South Korea and then fly ourselves and the bikes to the USA or Canada. We can then decide where to go to from there."

Ed. Follow the adventure on David's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Rob and Jo Mott, Australia, A tour of Europe and the Continent,

"Feb 2009 - Ever since I read an article in AMCN about a motorbike tour of the Baltic states I was hooked. I had visions of ex-soviet cities filled with intrigue and mystery, new food to try, new friends to make. Then there was the rest of Europe of course. All on a motorbike. Who could want more?

Bike in bedroom.

Once a Bedroom, Jo is very understanding!

Flash forward five years (I think) and Jo and I (Rob) are 6 weeks away from our first big biking adventure together. We both love travel and bikes so it was only a matter of time before a adventure was planned and ours is to head off around Europe in a bit of a zigzag, anti clockwise circuit from France. Going through Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Hungry, Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands and Belgium.

May 2009 - We are heading down through mainland UK to Lands End, London and then France in a bit of swoop. The Bike is going well, only a small alteration needed with an angle grinder. The rear axle was rubbing a little on the left exhaust after me putting it back in a slightly different position post rear end rebuild. The intercom works well and is nice to be able to talk to Jo along the way, even if most of the noise heard is teeth chattering.

As I said before the weather has not been the kindest since we left although not as bad as it could be. Reading the newspaper today, it says that it snowed in the Cairngorms as we passed through but all Jo and I noticed was the freezing wind and rain."

Ed. See Rob and Jo's new blog on Horizons Unlimited and welcome to the Horizons family!


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up to top of pagespacerHome again (temporarily) ...

Nick and Lesley Poole, home in England,

"...We are now safely back in good old England where spring is at its finest. The trees are green with new life and the lanes and hedgerows are brimming with blossom and flowers. It's the best time of the year when things are fresh and vibrant, if not a bit on the chilly side. As for us ... Well I think we are both in a slight state of shock!

Nick just filled in the last piece on their trusty blow-up globe.

Nick just filled in the last piece on their trusty blow-up globe.

(As we left Calais)...I developed a twisting, grinding, churning sensation in my gut. The raised pulse and the over-active imagination that I had occasionally experienced prior to an unknown border crossing returned. What would we find? Where would we stay? How would we be received? Will it be too emotional? What will we do next? My head was in turmoil. There were so many questions and yet very few answers. Our mantra of 'Remaining flexible at all times' echoed loudly in my head.  We are so close to 'Home' and yet I am scared!"

Chris Desmond, Australia, RTW, back home temporarily,

"I landed in Perth nearly 2 days after leaving Detroit, was I glad to be back home. My bike took 2 months to arrive, I sold it soon after and its now heading for the Canning Stock Route. I am going back to the US, this time buying a bike there, leaving Perth on May 23 and stopping for 2 weeks in Hong Kong on the way."

Ed. Few words but many great pics on Chris' blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

 


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Baby doll T-shirt - front.Check out t-shirts and other goodies at the HU Souk. Support your favorite website!Check out t-shirts and other goodies at the HU Souk. Support your favorite website!

Thanks! Grant and Susan


up to top of pagespacerTraveller's Community News...

New Communities:

We've now reached an amazing 600 Communities in 100 Countries as of May 20, 2009!

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!

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.


Become a Horizons Unlimited Contributing Member or Gold Member!

To help with the cost of creating and distributing the newsletter and running a huge website, which has been a full time job for Grant for ten years, Susan as much as she can, plus a couple of part time assistants, we gratefully accept contributions via PayPal, credit card, and cheque. Members also get additional privileges on the HUBB, such as more PM's, custom avatars, and more photo space.

Support this Newsletter by becoming a Contributing Member today, by PayPal, credit card, or cheque.

Become an HU Contributing Member!

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If you want a t-shirt or other logoed merchandise, go to the Store.

All contributions will be acknowledged and gratefully accepted. If you later decide you do want a t-shirt or other member logoed merchandise from the store, let us know and we will arrange access to the Members Private Store.

More ways to support your favourite website!

How to Link to Horizons Unlimited

Also, you can just click on any Amazon link on the site and we'll get a small commission on your purchase of any Amazon merchandise - and it won't cost you any more!

Thanks, Grant and Susan

   

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up to top of pagespacerIn Progress...

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 700 world travellers listed, but there are many more. Have YOU done it? Let me know!

up to top of pagespacerFinal thoughts...

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!

Grant and Susan Johnson

Live the dream! at:

www.HorizonsUnlimited.com

Riding the globe...

All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson and their respective authors or creators, 1987-2009.
All Rights Reserved.

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