In August 2005 Simon Roberts, a freelance Graphic artist, set off from Bristol, UK on his trusty BMW R100GS (Spike) heading east to Kathmandu, Nepal. Pushing the bike off the ferry at Calais, France on Day 1, due to starter motor failure, he knew the trip was going to be anything but uneventful...
Over the next seven months he pushed East, through the motorcycle workshops of Europe, Turkey, Iran. Pakistan and India and finally into Nepal to be met by the Maoist uprising... He encountered wild dogs, wild men and wild women. From the desperation of a failed driveshaft in Baluchistan, close to the Afghan border to the joys of a decent coffee in Delhi, euphoria, despair and maniacal rickshaw drivers were his daily companions...
“Throughout the 7 months, I drew cartoons feverishly, documenting the Highs – and Lows – of the trip, and these hundreds of drawings are finally being collated into a unique book. In fact it’s more than a book, it’s an ‘llustrated Motorcycle Diary travel journal comic strip’. I'll be updating this site every 2 – 3 weeks with the latest page from this Ripping Yarn. Stay tuned.”
I know, I know....you left me at the gates of the Golden Temple in Amritsar (Episode 19) and I am working on Episode 20 but, in the meantime, here's a 'unique' collector's item.
This was the first story I illustrated searching for the right 'style'. I used Marker pen but went back to pencil and watercolour as it was 'fresher' and more in keeping with that 'drawn on the road' feel I wanted. Set in Udaipur, Rajesthan, a little further down the road.
Is that the James Bond Theme I hear....? Cue raised eyebrow
How do you like the stories so far? Feedback welcomed. firstname.lastname@example.org Episode 20 coming here soon....
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.
The end of a long day, and I would have slept well but for the incessant wailing, chanting and gnashing of teeth together with the constant comings and goings throughout the night. I contemplated a call through to reception in my half sleep....
From Amritsar my route took me North East to Mcleod Ganj, home of the Dalai Lama (he was out), on to Delhi and from there to the desert region of Rajasthan. Spectacular scenery, spectacular forts and spectacular driving conditions awaited me on my journey south.
For the full story, click on MORE below....MORE...
With only two episodes of the 'Road to Kathmandu' to complete (the concise version) I was suddenly presented with a possibility to exhibit my work. As I had none, barring the episodes you see before you, I hastily dug my 'On the Road' painting kit out and put these two watercolours together.
One shows the haunting fortress in Eastern Turkey, the Ishak Pasa Sarayi, Dogubayzit and the other is a scene from the legendary Karakoram Highway in Pakistan. Both based (loosely) on photographs and drawings made on the road and both representing 'spiritual' moments on my trip. I reckon they've worked out well and now plan to do a whole series - Inshallah....
Like them? I'd be interested in feedback/large sums of money for orders.....
As I loaded the bike outside the small Pension, the Landlady came out to bid me farewell. “Stay out of the sea in Goa’ she said,’ I have a bad feeling for you’. If this had been Bognor Regis I would have laughed but she looked at me in such a way that I knew that I would not be going swimming in Goa.
I’d arrived here in Fort Cochin an old Portuguese enclave in Kerala two days before having ridden up the lively coast road from Kanyakumari. Kanyakumari. The southern most tip of India. I'd made it. And been photographed (badly) to prove I was there.
From here I planned to return to Goa, pick up spares and make my way 'leisurely' to Agra where I’d meet my Mother at the Taj Mahal, have a few days in Varanasi then on to the Nepalese border.
That was the plan. But this was India...
Dramatic 'Final Episode' here soon!!
For the full story, click on MORE below.....
'You must return to Delhi for a new Visa...' the customs official calmly announced. ' Your Visa is out of date'. 'Or you can make a small extra payment', said his identical twin.
A 'small' payment was infinitely more appealing than a ride back to the offices of Delhi so it was with some relief that I crossed into Nepal. So far so good, but now which way?
In truth, my visa had run out the day before but I'd arrived at the border at Sunauli at night and, not wanting to cross into Nepal in the dark, had decided to return the following morning. I'd booked into a rough 'hotel' nearby and was duly asphyxiated by the exhaust fumes from their generator which chugged and coughed beneath my window through the night. Oh for some fresh Himalayan air.....
Click on MORE below to read the LAST CHAPTER....!
Next HU Events
- Brazil: Feb 22-23
- Germany: May 29-June 1
- HUBB UK: June 19-22
- NEW! Canada Maritimes: July 4-6
- USA Colorado: July 11-13
- Ireland: July 18-20
- Canada West: Aug 21-24
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 14-16
Horizons Unlimited DVD Special - it's time to Get Ready!
Northerners! The weather outside is frightful, so what better time to start planning your next adventure! To help you get started, for February we're taking 30% off the Get Ready! DVD in the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'GETREADY' on your order when you checkout.
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
Membership - Show you're proud to be a Horizons Unlimited Traveller!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events such as this one (18 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
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!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!