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.”

March 22, 2009 GMT
No.19b. Ah, Mr.Roberts, we've been expecting you.

I know, I 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


Click here to see the full story

How do you like the stories so far? Feedback welcomed. Episode 20 coming here soon....

Posted by Simon Roberts at 11:18 PM GMT
April 26, 2009 GMT
No.20. India. From North to South

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....


Click here to see the full story

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....

Posted by Simon Roberts at 08:42 PM GMT
June 14, 2009 GMT
Paintings from the Dusty Highway

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.....

Posted by Simon Roberts at 08:35 PM GMT
July 06, 2009 GMT
No.21. India. North to Nepal.

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!!


Click here to see the full story

For the full story, click on MORE below.....

Posted by Simon Roberts at 10:42 PM GMT
August 12, 2009 GMT
No.22. Nepal. The Road to Kathmandu!

'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?

You are here.jpg

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 here to see the full comic strip

Click on MORE below to read the LAST CHAPTER....!

Posted by Simon Roberts at 12:06 PM GMT

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