6 August 2000
My plan (which I confidently expect to go up the Swanee within 24 hours of leaving home) is as follows - depart date 8th September, travelling through France and Germany quite rapidly, then a few days in Czech republic, moving on through Slovakia at an unhurried pace, through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, into Turkey and hopefully meeting up with a couple of Turkish friends for a day or two. From here I hope to follow the (presumably) usual overland route to Mount Ararat and through Iran by Qom (avoiding Tehran), entering Pakistan at Zahedan. Following this, through Baluchistan, heading North to Islamabad, and continuing via Karakoram highway to Gilgit. Unfortunately turning round here to head for Islamabad once more, where I hope to put myself and the bike on a train for Karachi, and ship it out for the UK.
And if things turn out exactly as above I'll eat my hat.
Connor on the Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
The first day's travel from Jakarta to Bandung was agonisingly slow and in desperation I tried to detour round the congestion of the major highways by using the secondary roads marked on my map. This worked well initially, but the asphalt road soon deteriorated into a rough cobbled track, which suddenly fell away down a hill to my right. Caught by surprise, I had no choice but to follow, and the track descended almost like a steep staircase into a village before launching itself up the other side of the valley in similar fashion. Slightly shocked by the suddenness of the change, I made it to the top of the next rise but the tree-lined track was by now no more than a walking path, and after a brief struggle through a particularly rutted section, I crossed up and launched myself into a tree where I stuck fast. The engine stalled, a few leaves fluttered down, and all was blessedly silent...MORE...
The flight to Sydney dumped me into temperatures which felt subarctic in comparison with the balmy Indonesian climate. After a week of sitting on my ass in Sydney, and a couple of visits to the cargo agent in Port Botany, I had parted with many dollars in port charges, quarantine fees and other mysterious fees, acquired a stack of papers which could be used to wallpaper a moderately sized room, and was still not in possession of the bike. Fortunately I was staying with a biker friend (whom I'd met slumming it on a rented Enfield in Rajasthan, India), so I was not running up a huge hotel bill in the process. Cheers, Mike.MORE...
An over-budget spectacular, set in Brisbane, Queensland, and featuring an international cast:
THE STORY - Connor's Tenere is badly in need of new 4th and 5th gears, to replace the disintegrating and crappily case hardened items installed by the evil Dark lord, MR YAMAHA only 40,000 miles ago when the bike was new. The XT also needs a new camchain, a rebore, a reconditioned shock absorber & spring, new swingarm bearings, a fork service, and has a shattered rear brake caliper with a bent disc.MORE...
After leaving Brisbane, I rode South in the company of fellow British overlanders Mark and Clare (Also on XT600's), who were heading for Sydney to catch a slow boat to NZ. I had recently spent a month in NZ myself, sans bike, and cautioned them that large quantities of water were likely to drop continually from the sky, in a way horribly familiar to residents of the UK; but they were still determined to go. We managed to successfully avoid asphalt roads for a large proportion of the trip, by staying a couple of hundred kays inland of the Pacific Highway. Oz is a country so wonderfully endowed with dirt roads, and equipped with excellent, cheap roadmaps, that spending the entire day blasting through the dust is a thoroughly pleasurable experience.MORE...
As I came over the crest of the hill, a mist of fine red dust was settling slowly in the baking outback sun. Bits of shattered plastic fairing and the eviscerated contents of Mark's panniers made a chaotic trail through the sand, at the end of which a motorcycle lay on its side at a crazy angle, front end mangled, leaking fuel into the dust. The man himself was flat out at the roadside, a discarded pair of sunglasses and helmet lying nearby. He waved painfully, and I thought: Oh buggerrrrrrrrrr...MORE...
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