What - the heck do you think you are doing; Seen that look on a few peoples faces in the last few weeks, it's a kinda lopsided stare with glazed eyes as you explain to them where you are going and how; "on a motorbike?" they ask, Oh yes I say - I am gentle with people though, I sneak it up on them - I mention in conversation, especially around business that I am going to be away on long leave, curiosity is piqued and so they ask, and so I tell them.
For me this trip is not that adventurous, there is a road all the way, its been done before, I am in good company, I feel confident (ask me again half way across the desert!) - yes OK that's a naive confident - in the last decade I have ridden a motorbike approx 2000 kms, and all of that in the last 6 months as we get ready to go
Who - do you think you are, well I am not you and I am not that guy over there I am me. Two Short Bio's
Richard Stone 37 Male, English, works in the luxury travel business (yep it is true, the butler will unpack for you), former motorcycle despatch rider around London, addicted traveller, has a 'significant other', (Goede dag Jan, U het een mooie ziele, en mijn heerlijke tigger) eats curry for breakfast - approaches bike maintenance with the view 'if it aint broke don't fix it' Who is NOT related to Chris.... we are not brothers, cousins or gay partners, just two blokes with the same name - which is a bit strange I agree, if it was Patel or Smith I could understand it.
Chris Stone 40 something Male, English, carpenter, traveller, climbs mountains for fun (!) then goes and kayaks over waterfalls (!!) is this still fun(?) - expert at making bikes work, never eats all day, he is a natural Human GPS (probably got a homing pigeon for a great grandfather) approaches bike maintenance with the the view 'if it aint broke lets take it apart and see how it works and then make it better' - understands the dark mysteries of Auto Electrics
When - in 6 days time we are on the ferry to France, 4 days later the ferry Italy to Turkey - Are we ready? - NO not really, but we are close - sweating on an Iranian Visa, we are using these guys in Shiraz to help get the visa www.key2persia.com - they are very good but it is taking an age, Latest feed back is it will be 10 day before they get approval for us, the eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted that we leave in 6 days. So Plan B is to collect the visa from Ankara in Turkey and not London!! we are not at the 'headless chicken stage' yet but there is definitely the sound of clucking in the breeze.
Why simply for the pleasure of doing it. Success is a journey not a destination, Happiness is not a place you arrive at, it is a attitude you carry with you - How many people go travelling to 'escape' ' find themselves' 'get away from it all' - The bad news is you will always take you with you, and the good news is, you will always take you with you too... One day in October last, Chris and I where sitting outside the Mucky Duck pub in Effingham, a pint of Tea in hand talking boys talk. I mentioned that I fancy getting a bike again, he mentioned that most of the BMW Club were off to India again - the year before they did a 2 week trip with these guys Blazing trails in Goa, and for Autumn 04 where off around the hilly bits north of Shimla - Well 2 and 2 where put together and came out with 4 squared! Alcohol was consumed, a handshake was made, even a date was set and here we are 6 days from leaving to ride out overland to meet them in Shimla - In the sober light of the following day it appeared that we are both too stubborn to back down, so off we go - and I am indeed rather pleased that we are.
Where From here to there via France Italy Turkey Iran Pakistan India and Nepal, with the hope of blagging it across the border to Tibet
Me I have a R100RT with the RT bit removed, Chris, a much more sensible R100GS PD, totally rebuilt.
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty
recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity;
but the dreamers of the day are the dangerous men,
for they may act upon their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.
T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia)
.... and after such a build up, please God let me at least make it out of Europe
Indiana Jones's Grandad and Tin Tin go adventuring
Its all a blur- Eurpope that is - well it was never meant to be the adventure, that starts in Turkey.
We left early on Sat morning - 5 am - Chris as ever was not eating and İ was - İf ever İ am a condemned man I would not choose museli as a last meal! Pah!
We are both as tense as hell- tighter then a G String on a fat girl- 1st stop the petrol station cause someone forget to fill up last night. Not a word is spoken betwen us, we just slowly get ready, work around each other in the small space of Chris's place, start up and go. Left at the end, over the level crossing, I steal a glance in the shop window reflections, Chris is all tense, leans, predetotory, his image says 'world traveller' mine says wieght watchers failure....
Its chilly at the start, fleece and jacket weather, winter gloves too, 15 degrees is the max- In 2 days time in southern İtaly we top 40, today at 2pm in Bergama Turkey it is just under 46!! Thats a lot of bees (it' s warm) - Had my first Kepab in Turkey and a real Pizza in İtaly - Food is one of my top three favourite things, right up there with travel, oxygen, and the other one - Jan, Als jou lacht, wordt de wereld mooier -
Some where in middle France the Bike starts to rattle - a real death cough - thıs is my bike not Chris's, the master mechanic does not have breakdowns, he has technical adjustments stops! - nothing obvious is wrong so we press on, it will either fix itself or fall off, We have a deadline for the once a week ferry from Italy....Pressing on is to cruise the autoroute at 80 mph and pay the tolls - the next four days is a blur of fill the bike with food, fill the man with food, ride till it stops, repeats twice and then sleep.
Some while later it fell off - a bolt holding the front cover on no longer does - ıt's twin is now nice and tight and snug doing the job of two
We have two beautıful moments - Lunch ın Chamonix under the Glacıer and thıs amazıng Gastro Bar ın rural france.
The first night we say we are going to camp, start the trip as we mean to go on, stretch the budget and all that- do a tiffannyand sleep rough. we come off the Auoto route and bımble the country lanes for a whıle lookıng at gaps ın hedgerows, ın to the vıllage and I ask for a camplıng place , there is a beautıful one they say next to the football fıeld, 15 kms back that way...niether of us can be arsed so we followd the sıgn for 'chambres' - arouınd the corner ıs a small hotel/bar/gastro pub, cheap too - 15 mins flat we are showered and on the terrace wıth a beer..
Desirez vous a manger? she says wıth the most beautıful smile and that amazıng french way that says, İ wıll serve you but İ dont really care if you starve to death! we both drool at the Menu a fixe prix - 17 Euro for a 4 course gastromonıc feast - Wıth a heavy heart I tell her that 30 minutes ago we eat the slops at the Autoroute servıce station...Anglais N'est Pas? she enquires wıth a smırk - What else could we be.....Alors un autre bires pour vous....
Coming across the border into İtaly you see these signs for Lombardy, Piedmont and Chiantı...and it is all so familiar... İ wanted to see signs for the Montagues and Capulets, but was İ dısapointed a little, but only a little, the girl ın the service station was called Juliet so that made up for it some.......
The second rule of adventuring is too always order from the menu that which you would not cook yourself, or do not have the slightest idea what it is... it works wonderfully too.... Brindisi in southern İtaly, right down there on the foot, it exists as a place for ferries to go to the greek İslands and once a week to Turkey... So we are in this restaurant, table cloths, cutlery, no blood stains, a real nice place really, and we apply the 2nd rule... the most wonderful salad of freash squid appears along with a carafe of chilled Chianti... ıt ıs almost as good as the other one of my favourite things.. the key to applying the 2nd rule of adventuring is too keenly watch the expression of the waiter as you order, he wıll either grimace at your outstandıng ability to mangle a perfectly simple langauge, or give you a knowing smirk, for he now knows that you have just ordered the Whole Roast Pigs Head wıth Chocolate Sauce behınd the ears!!!
More photos soon... Wıshıng my twın all the best and Mijn lieverd groot knuffles en passıe
The news I got today by text is that my twin has cancer - again -I means its silly enough getting it once, but twice is plain foolish - What has this got to do with a blog on a motorcyle journey you may ask...Quite a lot I believe, the bike does not ride itself!!
Other then the 'other favourite thing of mine' (Jan Vannacht ben ik bij je in mijn gedachten) this issue has been on my mind since the start - thought I was going to have to go home early for a funeral, now its just looks like I will be going home to a skinny person with no hair intead!!
C - my Twin - had breast cancer about three years ago - its seems that its back, but got lost on the way and is either in the ovaries or the abdomen - tests are being done as we speak... So this is good news!!! Oh Yes. This is a very treatable form of the 'Cruell Bastard' - Surgery may not be needed just some Chemotherapy, its was thought to be the cancer of the Bones - now that would be Game Over. My best friend lost his mother to that , less then 14 days and she was gone!!
So no more crying my eyes out -let the fun begin.......
Two things - if you want to sent a get well card I would thank you greatly - TO
Note added retrospectively- On the 20 August 2004 My twin lost her battle with Cancer -
.....and next time you have a bad day consider if you would like to change places!!
In Ayvalik the other night there was a magnificent sunset over the bay, the four of us - full details soon- sat drinking a beer discussing how to fix the worlds problems and I was so glad to be alive...
Loads more to write Photos too but I hear the call of the duvet
So we are in Turkey now.. Came off the boat at Cesme, turned left and followed the coast, heading to Istanbul slowly - nothings a hurry now, deadlines and alarms clocks and working around world time zone changes are all gone... But as Francios (I will explain) joked the other day we dont have the English disease, we have learned to get out of bed nice and early, we are up with the Mullahs, its cooler then, no more then 25 celsius, by mid afternoon its somewhere around 40, or more, the tar on the road is sticky and the siesta has begun.
Roads around here look all half finished, road works and random holes appear all over the place, staying on your side of the road appears optional, the heat ruins the big swoopy curves that can be so much fun on a bike, soft sticky tarmac will bring you to a soft sticky end!!
If an entire country could get the Janet Thornton Award for Time keeping excellence then Turkey is a gold medalist with tripple diamond crowns - Manyana to the Nth degree
So we go to Bergama and see the acropolis - but we first we go to the camp site, hot showers and a swimming pool 80 pence a night or some such silly amount, and we are in!! What we did not Know at the time was its Fri night and a wedding party will be in the grounds doing thier Turkish Family thing till midnight - then the gaurd dogs will take up the racket where they left off - not much sleep, so plan B came into effect and we left to Avylik the next morning.....
.... but we went to the Acropolis, rather impessive stuff some images are here...Click on the word IMAGE and guess what happens! Am image appears...
Indiana never quite made the adjustment to being a tour guide at the temples - Even with the Rhuematism he would have prefered the old days of raiding - Who does this Lara think she is any way..... (Excuse me Mr Jones, are we going to get to see any of the new ones, all this stuff is just so old and ruined!!)
"At the camp site where a great laid back couple Francois and Marie, from Britany - is that Britanois ? (Which is a kind of French) She teaches and He is doing somthing with Political Sciences, great disuccions where to ensue...they end up on the back of the bikes with us to the acropolis and next day along the road for a hour or so to the pretty harbour town of Avylik - its Turkey, who needs to wear a helmet!!
The main street in old town Ayvalik
Shoe Shinner to the famous 'Eh General you would not believe who İ had on me stand the other day - İ have shined the famous İ have - look at the photos, could İ lie?)
The universal elixiar - Tea - less then 10 pence a go, avaiable everywhere that old men in cloth caps would wish to congragate, universally refreashing, comes complete with spoon and two sugar lumps, try some!!
Do you wonder what it is that the Mullahs wail so early in the morning? At the mo we are habitually getting up with the mullahs to avoid riding in the heat of the day - well I asked and was told what it is the wail - its astounding how appropriate it is - I quote.... Get up, get up it is better to ride then to sleep,get up get up, there is only one motorcycle and B M W is hıs name, get up and ride ... awesome eh!!!...... Yeh I know you believe me, but have you ever read some of the stuff that HOMER bloke wrote, he was from around here too.. İ mean a great bıg wooden horse, a face that lauınched a thousand ships.. PAH - we went there and it is nothing but a pile of rocks - go see the movie.. image image
OK İ am hungary another kepab beckons - the questions of course is Donna or Shish? The ice cream stand on the corners is a dam certainty for afters though - Niether will probably be as good as that Whole Roast Pigs head!
Sleep well - ik hou van jou mijn heerlijk lievard dat je bente
PS My bike is now leaking a tiny amount of oil from the forks, İ think it is in sympathy with all the stuff coming out of Chris's gearbox!!
.... and A Final word from chris - quoted out of the blue over a beer today - Travel is fatal to hatred bigotry and predujice, it is the lifeblood of tolerance and understanding - Ý will drink to that
Jelabalou, or Galipoli to you an me - Famous for....... Yep its a war memorial, very important to our antipodien cousins, actually rather important to us all really - I speak German (Badly) on a voluntury basis!
Its very moving stuff - by accident we went on 10th August a big day for the local turks as this was the day that Atturturk (the man with the eyebrows - he is getting his own chapter soon!) lead the battle that turned the tide against the commomwealth forces... Heard about the Charge Of The Light Brigade, well this is where it happened, on 7th August 1915 the Australian regiment of the Third Light Horse Brigade vaulted out of thier trenches into certain death - dooomed but utterly courageous
Photos speak louder then works, and more profound with my level of spelling - now that the technology is sorted for sensible sized photos.......
Almost certainly a Virgin Soldier..... and I thought the hardest part of this journey was being celebate, Jan ik Hou Van Jou mijn lievard
With this guy as a car park attendant we knew the bikes where safe!
Istanbul, were east meets west and the adventure begins
Istanbul finaly here a few days later than planed but a few nice places along the way just tooo good to leave. Avyvlik was stunning, yes its better than the pictures ,a pension too good to be true but you need a GS (off road bike) to get there - not quiet full on green lane stuff, steep uphill with a few rocks thrown in for good measure, but good fun. I could have stayed a little longer epecialy when there was a dive boat in the harbour. another time maybe.
Troy was disappointing lots of rocks, the legend did not seam to fit in - Burgama nice swimming pool but the dogs aagggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh - The Acropolis was interesting but this old rock thing mmmmmmmmm.... but architecture of the topkapi palace is another thing, wonderful with views over the bosphorous and our first view of asia
An afternoon in the haman (turkish Bath) with turkish masseur who wants to pull your arms off and pushing my head into my shoulders, but after a beer I feel so good and sparking clean should have one of these next to every hotel, perfect after a hard day on the road
For me the adventure start here, Richard loved the euro bit, now no longer in front of a computer the amount of time now he has pull up in next to me with a bloody big grin on his face is untold, but for me it was very much like when I was a courier.
Turkey is better roads and the driving are getting fun or as richard puts it mad. Our thinking on this is all ways going to differ
till next time
...So we are up with the mullahs again leaving Galipolli and heading off around the Dardenelles, sea of Mamara in to Istanbul.. The local mullah was definately a radical dissident..." there is only one bike and HONDA is its name".... dangerous stuff - and If you have no idea what I am talking about go read the entries in chronological order!! (yes you Simon!)
Chris is looking forward to a bit of bike maintanance once we leave Istanbul - which we duely did - I kinda take a different view to it all, I give my bike a name, he is called Roderick because he has push rods in the engine and I sing to him happy birthday evertime he clocks another thousand miles, he was 91 a few days ago!! ... and I did give him the full two verses at the traffic lights....He definately is a boy, who else but a male would attempt something like this at his age and still never ask for directions!!!) You see when it is personal he will not let you down... I did help a bit and clean out the airfilter, check the plugs, oil and loose bits...
Watch out when you are haring along!!
So to Istanbul - there will be no pictures for a while, we are in a bit of a dessert at the mo writing this, a real one and a technological one - (Broad band, aint that what you tie your turban on with, eh mohamed")
Istanbul, not the capital of Turkey, that honour goes to Ankara - Istanbul has all the nice bits , Ankara is a concrete pile of PooH - and for our younger readers that is not Winnie either (Hello Danial).. we came, we where tourists, we left incredible impressed and a lot lighter on the wallet.
Turkish Food - aaaagh what can I say , my second favourite thing.. all this for about 2 pounds, meatballs in sauce with potatoe, bread, yoghurt and honey, rice with beans
The Streets Of Istanbul - no sign posts lots of mosques that dont make good landmarks, cause there are lots of them!! and we are lost.. we can see the Bosphuros over there but which bit of it that is, well take a guess... We stop, take off helmets and jackets and cool down, the bike engines are way hot too and need it as well - heavily laden air cooled bikes in slow traffic at 35 degrees is not good. Its mid day ish despite getting up with the mullahs and people are crowding the pavement. Turkish hospitality is something else, a bike courier comes over looks at Chris looking at the map, says not a word and goes away, a moment later come back with two packets of soft moist tissue wipes, hands them to us individually and leaves - I am stunned..they do come in handly though, even tough world travelling bikers have soft important little places.. We think we have our bearings and make another lunge in the traffic.. give it a minute and another bike courier frantically waves us down... he gives it large in Turkish, we smile and mutter in English, he gives it again in Germany, I try a reply and loose him completely, he goes again in French - now we get some where ( slowly some where with bad bad grammer) he cant tell us where we are on the map, he does not know the name of the road, he explains he is Pakistani, has worked in France and Germany and would we like to stay at his house!! Well to ruin international relations we would not actually! Fake friends waiting at a hotel we are trying to find are invented and we all part happy chappies - well almost we still dont know where we are.
Mary and Baby Jesus as depicted at the Aya Sofia - With a upset looking mothing law!
Chris gets inspired, spots a landmark and we are off - in Turkey one way streets, red lights all seem to be optional, Inshallah (God Willing) you can even go along the tram track TOWARDS the tram and survive! All credit to Chis he gets us to with in 200 metres of the Youth Hostel - no you dont need to be a youth - I spot the sign form the corner of my eye and we are home!!
Since the start we have been carrrying camping gear, and using it! Part of which is a large blue plastic tarpuline. Chris wants to ditch it, I think it is essantial - imagine needing shade in the dessert after a breakdown - we compromise, the bikes are chained up and chained to the railings, the plastic tarp is left with them, if it gets stolen great, if not we keep it - I cheat a little and put is behind the bike out of immeadiate sight - all night two cats sleep on it, when we leave I do not attempt to smell it - if it smells of cats p+ss then it smells of cats p+ss, besides which it goes on the back of Chris's bike not mine.
I had a haircut the other day in a turkish 'Berber' - communiction is generally mimed, I have the ability to count to 6 in turkish, ask how much and say hello and good bye - not yet Poet Laurate material... So I mime to this barber that I want it short, he gets a glint in his eye and sets too... Maybe I am the first foriegner he has tourtured for a while, or even ever - he sets to with a vengence, Turkish guys get there moneys worth here, forget Edward Siscor Hands here we have Mustafah Snip.
After 40mins there is not a hair that he has not done, and done perfectly and imaculately too - its a pity I will be putting a smelly bike helmet back on top afterwards - he has trimmed, sniped, singed with a naked flame, shaved, and plucked- nasal hair, ear growths, neck, tash, everything. Rubbed on powders, combed in lotions, massaged till my eyes fell out.
Then he stands there with a cut throat razor in his hand, looks me in the eye and askes " Do you want your scrotum shaved sir?" .... Well It could have been what he said, there is nothing else visable that have not been violated... one pound fifty on the table and I am out of there!! - but I do look cute! (hi Jan)
Turkish Hospitality again... we stop for cay (tea) in a small village - one street, one tea shop and locals standing and waiting for a tractor to go past to make there day! the tea shop owner refused to take payment for the tea, all he wanted was a photo of him and the tea shop - it was indeed done and will be posted back to him. There is also a huge national pride in being a Turk... Down town Avaylik, a small but pretty coastal harbour town, we are walking the main street when bang on 8 pm the National Anthem starts up from loud speakers - everyone, but everyone stand to attention, some of the old men struggle up taking longer to stand then the music played for - the traffic stops completely nothing moves.......... Backpacker Ghettos in Istanbul - a street full of bars, beer on tap, western rock music and cafes with Banana Fritters and cheap kepabs - but Notice NO stray Dogs on the streets, do you wonder why the kepabs are SO CHEAP!!! The moment the local Mullah starts his evening wail all the music stops till he finishes
Beer Philosophy - we have a beer once in while of an evening and talk boys talk... I suggest that life is about making memories, Chris says No it is about being happy in yourself..What do you thinkabout when you are riding? I asked Chris this the other day and Not much was the reply - he would not be drawn out any further.. me I am worse then an adolsence boy with the password to the porn site, and I sing a lot too.. Beethoven is popular at the moment, Genisis is making a come back and the other day the entire lyrics of Mark Knopfler Peaches came to mind.....Dang dang dang... ta dum dum , walking on the beaches looking at the peaches.. ta dum dum dum..........
The Hareem in the Topkapi Palace
Aziz Mustafa Kamel - That really was his name - no sniggering - A True Turkish Hero and now that I have been to see his museum and burial ground I am impressed at what he did.. But thats all for this episode, tune in the same time soon for more exciting variations on standard English spelling... and a bit of adventure too ........
Tonight there is one more star in heaven - Some days you remember all your life, your first this, your first that, definately the first OTHER.. there is also the last this and the last that; for me yesterday - 20 Aug - was a significant last. My Twin lost her battle with Cancer yesterday; It was a day to remember even before that..
Chris and I have been making progress - an entry on that in detail soon - lots of starring at rocks - you would not believe it , I tell ya.... So we ride off early - Oi Mr Mullah time to get up !! Go Wail - You know this is the earliest form of PR and Spin!!
We are heading for Diyarbikir in Turkeys Wild East - but not that wild any more, The Kurdish resistance is no more.. there was once a problem here, lots and lots of army check points but all empty and look like they have been for some time...
We arrive, we see, we leave... big mistake, we are off the tourist trail here, OK it is a bit scary on the first sight, we are hot and bothered and we break a rule.. we dont stop at 4 pm before the sun get low and the traffic gets even more crazy.. The hotels look shit, there is no obvious safe place for the bikes, we break another rule by not bothering to go in and ask.. we push on... on the map 50 miles away is a nice looking little town, must be better, they cant have crowded narrow streets confined between old fortress walls, must be a nice pension with a courtyard, boy can we taste the kepabs and cold beer...its so hot a pen in the top of my overstuffed tank bags melts and bends to a U shape
So we go there...and actually leave on the second time of trying, Chris's bike is reluctant to start, cuts out a few times too in traffic, next mistake is to play macho and say ' its working, move on'.. so we move on out in to the country side in the heat with a bike with a problem, very little water on board, no food of course, 6 words of Turkish between us and three of those we cant pronounce... sound sensible eh!
The countryside is barren parched rocky fields of harvested corn - click here 50 miles of this and low and behold there is our paradise - NOT.. Silvan a farming town, full of farmers, tractors on main street, no tourists come here for there is nothing for tourist to come here for - 'Come see our fields of corn and rocks, marvell at our herds of goats!!' well actally it could happen, people pay good money to go to Blackpool! I read in the local newspaper today that the new mayor of Troy, Mr E Presley has great hopes for his plan to twin cities with Atlantis...
The petrol staion has a 'Market', inside is nothing, some fertiliser in bags, lots of oils for tractors, no impulse purchase items here in cleverly designed racking, no incidental CD music only 4 dollars by the tills - farmers are practicle people, they dont buy this stuff
So no tourists mean no hotels - we cruise main street and p*ss off the cool dude on the new tractor - no signs for a Hotel, we resort to our feminine side and actualy stop and ask - shock horror - OK we point at the phrase in the book.. nice guys he was too, outside the petrol station, he did not laugh too much , he points back to Diyarbakir and says many hotels............................... So guess what we set off again down the same strech of highways with no food, little water, we are tired and the sun is setting in our eyes....My stomach gets the better of me, we turn back and go eat... Sense prevails and we go do a Tiffany, a nice unused unfinished grain store way out of town off to the side of the road , our thousand star hotel for the night, no money, no room service, nice sleeping bag on the ground sir, the bathroom, well of course sir any part of the field over there downwind!!
My Phone rings - news is given and a part of my life finishes..........Some people are profoundly moved by a teacher at school or a sports coach, I had a teacher in a different part of my life, I was taught the joy of giving, a passion for being alive, to be able to express feelings, to love, to tell someone you love them and to meant it, and not to care who the hell is listening - I was loved unconditionally faults, warts and all, she knew my history and did not care, She was the here and now and on to the future kind of special spirit..
I believe in re-incarnation, call me a Buddhist if you will, her spirit is here again on earth today - but we have to look a little harder to see it now - next time you see a smile in a child, that is her, the next time you see a face light up with joy, that is her, next time a stranger helps you, a random act of kindness, a birthday card sent, a special present bought and wrapped, then put away waiting till the day it can be given, and only then the surprise on the recievers face seen, that is her, a flower blooming in the spring rain brightening the day, that is her..... we have to look a little further to see this now, we must also look inside ourselves to see this now - and if you see it, Show It To The World.
The day after and no more tears - till the funeral at least - and I have my practicle head on.. The problem, six words of Turkish in the arse end of Turkey, - I have a customs entry in my passport that will not allow me to leave with out my bike - no nice easy fly home fly back - I need a customs office to let them impound the bike, for me to then return and collect ýt in a week or two - try asking for this with six words of Turkish, mime, you are having a laugh... Seems like being back at work -I dont even know when the funeral is yet, I am working with a big buket full of Ifs and Buts, solving problems that may not exist.... we think we are going to the university, there must be an English speaker there, its a bloody big buiding on the outside of town, even says Universitu on the side of it - It turns out to be a Hospital, well doctors speak English dont they! No not here they dont, Turkish seems to be a second language, .....English - well I can say David Beckham, Manchester United and look cool in my surgical greens, see the cute nurses are laughing, I will shake your hand and say goodbye......
I will return for the funeral and then come back and finish my journey - it is a journey from one part of my life to another - its needs to be done - there is a way, its natural for me... dam that Dharma!!!
In the words of the famous song from Robbie Williams - Get your rocks off honey... as chris says we have been lookings at a lot of piles of rocks lately - Isttanbul was an early start , arnt they all ? off to Ankara - as mentioned before its not the most inpiring city in the world.... One day in, overnight, look at Mustafa Kamals place and leave.... to Cappadocia, Nemrut and now here - Diyarbikir
The tag line on my registration plate says BMW Park Lane, on Chris'S it says BMW Export - the difference is obvious!
Ther ride was excellent, really it was, Big Sky Country, lots of horizon, lots of Marlborough Ad scenery, lots of space...
Starting with Mustafas place... Aziz Mustafa Kamel - the founder of modern Turkey..
- not many people get to make an entire country from scratch, some - Mr Bush are able to put a country back to scratch! in short he led the Turkish fight for freedom from the Ottoman Empire, the British and French interests, the Greeks, just about every one who fancied a Kepab... It may sound romantic to have a Caliph or a Sultan but try living under the Whims of one man! He developed a bit of a personality cult, still he is on all the bank notes - you got to see his photo - the eyebrows!! soon it will be here, and when you see it remember the Adams Family - the movie
Aziz Mustafah Kamel AKA Attaturk
One of his reforms was the names reform - until then as a Turk you could only use your fathers name or the place of your birth as a family name - confused? imagine how many Ali Istanbuls there must have been, or Mohamed Marmaris's - He became Atturturk - Father of Turkey - and the sniggering about his name (I really need a Camel a Marlborough just wont do!) came to an end
Goreme in Capadoccia - click here for an image Backpacker ghetto with lots of rock formations , great walking, Chris is really beginning to excercise that soft Office Wallah fat off of me - Hi Jan, lean and mean and......
Why Walk in when you can ride? Cappadoccia Canyons
Nemrut Dagi - a mountain with ancient carved heads atop it representing the Gods...It was here that Rodders really earnt his GS badge image
- A GS is an off road type bike that Chris rides, I use the road going version - same engine different frame and wheels - Its was a steep rough climb to the top, and what a pile of rock they were! Rodders had his 92 nd birthday too... image image
There was a delicious moment on the way, we are just about all packed on the bikes, the two of us stand there next to the bikes, its a boys moment of communication, ie. nothing is said... from some where I mention that this jacket of mine is getting very dirty,
'So What' he says
'I guess it is designed for this kind of use' I venture
He glares - Chris can glare like no other, its not malicious, it is more, 'dont be so stupid'
' The bikes filthy as well'. As soon as I have the words out I regret saying them
'OK and I bet it invalidates the warrenty too' - I can imagine the scene.. 'I am sorry' the man in the nice suit with a BMW tie says 'that bike is way too filthy to be underwarrenty, dont you know it is compulsory to clean it every time it is used?'
I look at the small whiff of smoke from the gearbox oil on Chris's exhaust ' Aaagh, smell that engineering' he laughs, we leave....
Where else in Turkey would three cops on motorcyles stop to talk and help just simply because you all ride the same B M W ? Its the day after the news of my twin and we are back in Diyarbakir, Chris's bike wont start again - no electics at all - as he fiddles with switches they pull up and set too - in the UK they would pull up and write a ticket for being parked in the wrong place! We go into a serious technical mine session with about 3 words of Turkish and two English.. the upshot is that a loose battery terminal is secured and we are invited for Tea, no charge of course - the Turkish People are truely wonderful
Diyarbikir - got a bloody big old Roman wall around the outside and two fustrated English men inside ( that kind as well Jan) - we are working out options to get back for My Twins Funeral , if only there was a customs office in town as the bikes are bonded to our passports, we cant fly out without exporting the bikes first - we are waiting a reply from Iran, it looks like our options are to make a long long ride to Istanbul, aurgue like hell with Turkish Customs and fly back temporarily, or make an even longer ride to Greece, which being in the EU will have no Customs probs, but getting a flight during the Olympics?? Or go to Tehran - this is favourite, it is closer, we can leave the bikes there under a Carnet and flights look cheap - All we would need is a new visa to go back and get them again. the last Iran Visa took 60 plus days to get!!!!!
Its the challenges in life that make you what you are - is your biggest challenge setting the video for your favourite soap opera?
I have a confession to make - Call the The Daily Scum !! we are actually a three some. Its a long story, but in his own words...........Edwin. That me. I been travelling with him for a while now, been to many many places, some of them they will even let me go back too again. Well put it this way, when you are a Bear of my size - six inches ear to toe -you have two choices, You either sit on the shelf looking cute, or you get out there and kick some ankles.... I am a shin kicking kinda cub!!
See my photo below, its a B M W... not an ordinary one mind you but a Chauffeur Driven B M W.. I ride on the top bit... its great, you want airconditioning ? .. undo the zip...Want Full Surround Entertainment system? Open the zip and put your head through the gap!!... All it needs is a bit of Red Velvet and its a real passion wagon !!
Life in the Tank Bag .... Well I have come up with some cunning clever annagrams
Italian drivers in cars - becomes - Caffine Addicted Physcopaths
Frenchmen in trucks - becomes - crazy tailgate garlicks
... and my own name Edwin Bear - becomes - Been there Done that
Its amazing what you can do with a paw full of letters!
............................Even Super Heroes need directions!!
How Bazaar How Bizare
The markets in Turkey are something else - no not the ones for the local people, full of oranges and aubergines etc, but the ones that cling to the heels of all the tourist sites - These sell carpets, plates, tick, tack and crap..
Theories abound on the best avoidance methods, what do you do when you are approached by a salesman who of course (!) only wants to speak to you and practise his English " We can have tea together, my friend has a shop over here"
I tried the old one.. 'I dont speak your language' technique, Picture this; we are strolling along to the Topkapi Palace Istanbul and as if by magic Mr Ben appears - our new friend...
"Do you want to buy a carpet" he says in English
I reply in French
"Do you want to look at my carpets , they are antique" he says in fine French
I reply in German
"Do you want to see some fine Turkish carpets" he says in German ....
Now before you get too impressed this was not fluent, well I was not fluent, he was!! I could not be arsed to concentrate on the words, I just said the first baloney that came to mind... You have to wonder at the man, he has just asked me if I want to look at carpets and I have told him in two languages crap the likes of "Wednesday is a green bicycle day, and my grandmother is available next month after four o clock!"
As a last resort I go for it in Dutch - Now I have him! Ha Ha - he walks away with out a single glance at me..... It is shortly afterwards that I wonder if he understand Dutch as well... Put it this way, my Dutch vocabulary is centred on a single subject (Hi Jan) a rather grown up subject, ermmm.... personal in nature you could say...and if he understood me, then its a lot more then a carpet I would be getting!!
(Is that a different type of shagpile then - Edwin)
The Wacky Races
So Chris and I are heading to Iran after all, got some miles to get through to get to this funeral on time... The run up to the border with Iran is splendid - bugger all traffic, lovely swoopy bits of road, temperature is down as we are up in the foothills near Mount Arrat - L O V E R L Y... Chris even forgives me for not letting him stay a day or so and climb the mountain - he wants to go back also, for it will be a celebration of life of a special person to both of us ... Those of you who have been this way before already know, the view from the campsite at 'Doggy Biscuit' is something else (There will be photos soon - keep coming back!!)
We hit the border early, cruise alongside the mile or so of trucks queing up until we get to the front.. A Mr Fix it appears as if by magic (Is there a school that teaches them this - The Mr Ben institute perhaps? advance courses in sideling and instant appearances?) ... and we succumb to his charm - If you ever get to go this way ask for Mr Ghengis.. in 45 minutes or so he had us in front of and away again from all the paperwork guys, things where stamped, prodded, looked at, aurgued over and generaly chived along... Did I ever say we got arrested for speeding ? no ?.. well really we did, they where the politest policemen imaginable, and probably the only guys with a pucker video survalience kit in all of Turkey.. we where got good and proper... over a 100 kmh in a 77 kmh zone - well thats what I think was mimed.. we had a few silly moments when they kept asking for a 'Gumruk Tripticket' - now I am not the brightest and I really did not know what they wanted for some time - we all had a jolly fun time rummaging around the plastic paperwork file looking at stuff.. then the slow glow of realisation dawned.. He is asking for something in Turkish - What is the only piece of paper I have written in Turkish?? I know, I know, call me Bullet, thats the bit of paper he wants!! - The long and short is we are each fined 83,000,000.00 Lire - we plead poverty - he has deaf ears and the fine is written on the Customs Paperwork for us to pay before we leave the Country - Thank you , how efficiant of you ... we pay up at the border and step in to The Islamic Republic of Iran
.... and then Mr Hossen collars us... now he is a Mr Fix it in a different league - perfect educated English unlike his Turkish Counterpart and not once did he offer to change money at a doggy exchange rate... 45 minutes again and we are out and on the way - I tip him 10 Euros because he is worth it ... Put it this way - we started in England.. where even drunk off our faces we can handle the language - France - Yep, we can do that slowly and badly, Italy - Just speak French with a silly accent, it works!!! .. in each we still have the alphabet... Turkey, mostly its the same alphabet, we got a phrase book, we can pronounce a few things - Iran, not a word, not a letter of the alphabet is known - its worth 10 Euros or what ever you want to give to get yourself in within hours and not days..
........ and the Wacky Races began .. There must be a genetic disposition in the Persian People to HAVE TO to overtake - they become mad monsters behind the wheel of a car/truck/bus/tractor anything with wheels - its a good job there is no alcohol - imagine Penelope Pit Stop with a G and T in a GTI! It would be Dastardly!
You start to develop a whole new set of riding skills in Iran, what maybe called the 'Oh My God, I do Have medical Insurance Dont I' kind of approach - you begin to instantly look to the rear of slow moving heavy trucks that are coming towards you, looking for who is about to overtake them and use up all of your road space!
The Persian People have faith - lot of faith in God - Allah is his name, They even write his name in BIG letters on the front of these truck, so you know exactly who they believe will save them, or you, right up to the moment you get splatted by the self same truck! But dont they know HE is a busy man... I mean there are lots of people in this world, we may all call him a different name or two, be that Allah, Jesus, Jehovah, George, Geoffrey or Cedric, HE cant be every where at once, can HE?... Do they have to keep testing him, If you have REAL faith you know he is there, you dont need to keep doing silly, silly things behind the wheel to experiance the joy of being miraculously saved at the last minute!!!... Dont you? - Its like picking at a scab, pick pick pick, lets see if it is healed yet, no ? Well pick pick pick.. is it healed yet? Pick pick pick...Oh dear my arm has fallen off!!
.... or maybe there are Assistant Gods? The Executive Vice President God of Iranian Affairs, perhaps, or a Special Iranian Road Safety Officer of the Kingdom of Heaven... or there could simply be lots of Goddettes... I cant wait to get to India, apparently there are 300 Million or so Hindu Gods and they keep discovering more each day!!!!!! How?? a free one in each packet of cornflakes...'A God a day keeps the Bogey man away'! Do people have cupbopards full of them, do they take them to the Car Boat sale once a year... and are they all called Patel?
Now a modern miracle would be for everyone to drive nice and safe and sensibly and never go too fast, or go on reckless dangerous journeys to Nepal on a motorbike, but then, by Cedric, the world would be a Fecking boring place.....
On the road to Tehran we go through Zanjan.. what joy, a 4 lane highway with a central reservation, thank Geoffrey for that... the buggars can now only try to kill you from two directions at once and not all four at the same time !
Stop Press ... Its just been announced that this Web Blog has won the coverted Golden Qwerty Award for the most extravagent and irrelavant use of exclamation marks Possible !!! WOW !!!! ... Next we will try for the Blind Pugh award for spelling accuracy and excellance
Photos soon.. keep coming back.. see the last few pages too, more photos and text added
Richard - feeling a bit twinless
Its not over till the ref sings and the fat lady blows her whistle!... We made it to Tehran and found a good home for the bikes - chained up at the back of the Hotel Nadiri... and nearly went mad finding a flight!! All credit to the Man at Nadim Travel, its big green sign next to terminal one at the airport.. Who would have thought it would be soo busy with people leaving Tehran! .. the short of it was he pulled out all the stops, got us on a flight to Birmingam the next day (he insisted on pronouncing it as Bye - minge- arm.. strange!) and a large pile of dollars was pushed across the counter..
... in five hours we did what took us a month - we are back in the land of rules and byelaws... outside the hotel in Tehran was a man digging a hole in the ground, nothing remarkable about that, its a man with a hole and a pick axe - In the UK there would also be a safety fence and site co-ordinator, Health and Safety signage, a feasability study, an enviromental impact survey and a cordon.. and a portable toilet cubicle, in Tehran you just have the man and the hole!!
.... you also have a army guy at every road junction with traffic lights. Can you believe there is a road safety campaign to make people stop at red lights!!! Wow.. not sure if you now get shot if you run a red lights, but somthing happens that is making it all very effective!
Iranian Beer Philosophy - with out the beer for there is none, Banana Milkshake Philosophy. Chris and I are having a Kebap and talking boys talk.. We have now developed our own Mode Of Operating, summed up with the phrase, Lead, Follow or Feck Off - If we both know who is in which mode all is indeed well ... I pose the question of, Heaven/Hell or re-incarnation? and we discuss.. at a pause I throw in the other great debating conundrum, Hairy or Shaved? He is astounded at the apparent change of subject! Well to me it is just opposite ends of the same Life and Death Spectrum...
So we are back in Europe temporarily.....
"Chris, whats that falling out of the sky?"
"Liquid sunshine, mate, made in England "
"... and where did all the trees come from?"
A Celebration of a Life lived with passion was enjoyed, Eulogies where given and we all wore black... Now we are waiting for a new visa for Iran to go and continue.... In the meantime life goes on, Jan and I are having a holiday within a holiday and I got to see some of the Olympics... Iran does not have much coverage of them, the dress code is so far removed from the Islamic norm it just could not be.... Rodders had his 93rd birthday on the way in to Tehran, he is quite excited at being here, he likes all the ladies modeling those loverly black dust covers along the streets - I think he wants one for his next birthday! Mahan Air, our executive transport back to Birmingham International shows highly censored films.. Halle Berry is nothing but a face and a fuzzy blob of distorted body doing heroic things next to a mostly naked Male lead..
To Be Continued.......
11 September - Happy Birthday PAT, and the other good news of the day is we have at last approval from Tehran for a new Iran visa -- Yeeeee Haaaaa , we are on the way back..... even had a call from Mohamad at the the very helpful Nadiri hotel saying the bikes are still all fine chained to the lamp post in the garden, where else but Iran could this be considered nothing but normal!! ........ and due to the excellent support of my boss, and the world finest luxury travel company we get to go back via Dubai and be complete and utter tarts and stay at the finest hotel on Gods beautiful earth Budget, What Budget??? Personally I am very pleased to be alive and am dam well going to enjoy it!!
13 September We finaly got the email from Tehran saying we have approval for a visa, YeeeHaaa... we are up early and on the train to London , not missing the Mullahs at all... There we are 8.45 strolling around the corner in Kennsington to the embassy nice and early, two happy chappies going to get a visa and go back to the journey.... WHAT!!!! a big notice on the door.. it says "In the name of God - The Emabassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is closed to celebrate the birthday of the Phrophet Mohammed" Well, Oh Dear, Silly me, how could I have forgotten... I did not even send a birthday card.... We come back the next day and the day after that too and get what we need, which is a relief cause we are the flight that night!! .....Time to be a Tart
The Burj Some of the greatest pieces of the written word start in a rhetorical, retrospective manner, for example "I had a farm in Africa" (Karen Blixen)... or "In the beginning God created Man"....(Oh and St Peter, remind me in a millenium or two that this would be a really good name for a Pop group as well...) I am not sure if any should be started as " We where complete and utter tarts"? That is the only way I can describe the experiance of staying at the Burj.. It is Opulent with a Capitalist Oh! Now doesnt every one arrive and be collected by a White Rolls Royce? Put it this way, at the end of your life you can smile in satisfaction or still be speaking to Ida??(If only Id a done that....)
The butler introduced himself, Raj was his name, a rather helpful chap and showed us around the suite.. We have a basic suite, only 10 telephones and two bathrooms he explains, he points out the Butler Button on each telephone and on the two remote controls as well (to control the DVD, CD, Wireless Internet curtains, lights etc..."need any thing sir, push the button I can assist you". As he takes his leave he asks, "Is there any thing else you need for your suite sir?" Yes I think to myself, I need a Girlfirend - this place is the ultimate Shag Pad
Before dinner Chris and I continue our sporting challenge taking up from the Chess tournament in Ayvalik Turkey, we retire to the Library for a game of snooker - our prowess in this fine game is not to the standard we imagine, there is a real possibility we will starve to death before all these little game balls get in to those miniscule holes... we end the game at a suitable juncture Chris leading 6 to 4, both of us having made magnificent breaks of 1, several times each!
We eat at the adjacent Mina al Salaam hotel, part of the same hotel company as the Tarts Palace... to eat at the Burj is an arm and a leg, we chose to invest a much smaller digit and take the complimentary chauffeur to the next hotel along - we are crazy, but we are not stupid, we got to save some money for those 30 pence Iranian Kepabs !
The food alone was worth all the trauma of the preceeding days.. as you know for me food is right up there with oxygen, travel and the Other Thing (Hi Jan) ... Giant prawns with capers, pickled sweet ginger, black pepper and humous... Green olives and lobster tails topped with shredded onion and truffle... Veal roasted to perfection...then passion fruit cheese cake... Back at the Tarts Palace we indulge in coffee in the lounge, a moment of utter bliss ensues, the live classical musicians play the perfect melodies; we can see the fountains outside errupting with furry and fire in thier spectaclar way, all is calm and peace....Raj is busy tidying up the suite and leaving four chocolates on the bed... The waitress are all utterly gorgeous and smile in that way that makes a mans mind race.. as Chris said "Venus.. With arms!"
Poolside at the Burj is some experiance.. the pool boys will arrange your lounger to the perfect position, they bring you water, fruit sorbets, fruit kepabs, they clean your sunglasses, rub on lotions and spray you with Evian Mist.. all you need to do is keep breathing.. and as the afternoon closes in, they stick a thermometer up your arse to see if you are cooked yet!
Tommorrow we go to Iran
So in the UK for a few days for the funeral and time to reflex on the journey so far. Turkey only three and half days from England, what a gem of a country. The wonderful people, even filling up with petrol becomes an event, tea is always offered.The architecture of the blue mosque in Istanbul, the scenery of Cappadocia , riding along lake van and more old rocks to keep the greatest Archaeologist happy.
Murret camping at Dogubayazit, the view from here - amazing like a scene from mad max image click here
great place to have your first or last beer depending on which direction your going. On a trip you always meet up with people going the same way by what ever means of transport, bus, truck or push bike and meeting up with them again after a week or so is always fun, to hear their stories, a few beers drunk and we people we met though out turkey. Philip who heading to Kathmandu by bus and karolina who heading to Greece, cheers see you on the road soon
Time now to move on, it would have been great to climb Mount Arrat, another time events over took us and Tehran is the goal; click back into courier mode for a few days .
The driving here has to be seen to be believed heaps of fun really keeps you on your toes. Don’t believe ever thing the media says the people we have met have been great, People are helpful to the extreme
After our break our first stop will been back to the castle of the assassins at almut then to Esfan and Shiras to thank key to Persia travel agency for one thing as they really helped us with our visa,s
Now dont you just want a bike with a plastic screen and a GLASS window in it??
...... its a game of two halves , but some barstard just moved the goal posts.......
"Mistakes are an essential part of growth, the only way to fail is not to learn from them"
So we are back in Iran - I don't think I am going to say that too many times in my life!... and its all so familiar, we are giving the taxi driver directions! Back at Tehran Base One, aka Naderi Hotel, all is well. Mo and his bro are expecting us, a room is ready and the tea is on the boil.. we go straight in to another marathon "lets speak English and learn some grammer session" - buts thats OK, fun even, we learn a lot about attitudes and customs in Iran too - With some luck - Inshallah - Mo will be in the UK before the years end - His mother is already knitting him some thing warm - he will need it... I go out to the garden and give Rodders a big hug.. he is a bit dirty and looking rather sad, three weeks chained to a lamp post is not so much fun - The morning after he gets cleaned and hugged again, his little leaks and foibles are attended too, things are tightened, bolts replaced and generally spruced... He is good to go
... and then our learning curve turns in to a cliff face....As we are in Tehran we go pay the Pakistan Embassy a visit - may as well get it here then at the border we think - but the man from Islamabad says "NO" -
"Excuse me, say that again please?"
"I am sorry we can not issue a visa to you, only Iran passport, you must go to your home country"
"But I have just come from there"
"why did you not get a visa there then?"
"..Because it took so long getting one from the Iranians!" .. I am also thinking to myself, 'Its cause I was too lazy getting fat and shagging for the last three weeks'
He smiles knowingly... We push and prod and even get an appointment with the Consul himself but to no avail.. the rules changed a couple of weeks back, only Iranians can get a Paki visa in Iran, all foreigners must go back to there home country.. he suggests that we may get an emergency visa from the Ambassador if we can get a letter of introduction from the British Embassy that will outline our journey and the need for a visa... So we go and visit a little bit of Britain Overseas... "NO" the man says on the telephone - we don't even get past reception - he can not help us achieve something that the British Government in the form of the FCO are specifically telling us not to do - Too Dangerous
..........could the upcoming USA Election have anything to do with this change of rules?? Maybe the last thing Bush needs is a few westerners being kidnapped... you see the road from Iran to Pakistan is no more then 200 kms from Afghanistan, its a very porous border and Afghan bandits have been known to try and take westerners on this stretch - the last one was 10 months agon, an Irish Guy - Ramadan probably wont help either - nor will the removal of some of the US Troops in that region... All in all it is looking as likely as an Irainian Gay Parade... "Ooo Ali, you look loverly in that chador, black just sooooo suits your eyes!""
So we are in a huge Cul De Sac, to the North is Afghanistan, or Turkmenistan, niether of which are too inviting, or will lead to India, South is Syria or the UAE, ... we are in a state of shock for a while ... some bastard just moved the goal posts.. we sit in the tea shop and consider.. flying the bikes to India? Not much point as India was the last port of call any way, only got to fly them back again then... we stare at a map, ferry to Dubai, try to get an Onion Boat (read mid sized independant frieght ship, possibly known before as a tramp steamer?) to Mumbai ... sounds a great idea, but we are not round the worlders, its a three month soujorn, an 'adventure-ette', we realise slowly that even this is a big effort for just one more country, we are short of time and the money it will take just does not compute.... we look at the map again... OK back to Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria (see Great Uncle.) Hungary, Germany and home.. white cliffs of Dover and all that... what could be finner then an Autumn Ride in the Balkans - they just better have a dam good India restaurant, thats all I say - curry for breakfast IS a valid and exceptable form of nutritoin and I was so looking forward to it..
But whilst we are in Iran we are going to enjoy it, even the hour it takes us to find the right road out of Tehran.....
...a hitting you between the eyes moment.... seen on a poster in Tehran.."Tourism, a tool for peace and dialogue amoungst civilisations" I Like that!! Lots!!!
More on the delights of Iran to come, probably from back in Turkey once images can be added... This really is a great place, I like it a lot, depsite needing some suspect Russian anti-biotics to stay alive...I dont think I will be suffering from Anthrax for a while!! oh and tommorrow we will take Chris's gearbox off to fix it..
Richard - getting used to being twinless
I have just realised that with the comments thingy being switched off because of spammers there are people who cant contact us !!! OK call me bullet! So If you wish to contact Chris or me email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ground Hog Day We have left Kashan twice now.. not that its such a beautiful place we could just not tear ourselves away.. we just made such a mess of it the first time it was best to go back and try again!!
Kashan, a bit south of Tehran keep going past the Tomb of the good guy Khomani.. OK lets start with Khomanis tomb - to a lot of people in Iran he was a huge good guy, a reformer, a savior and a great leader, to others he was nothing of the kind - well when he popped his clogs he got a huge tomb just north of the Holy City of Qom - its still a work in progress, the Khomani International airport is now open, but the whole project was vast, and still on going - we saw the central bit, the main event with the coffin, and Iranians being Iranians for many it was a Grand Day Out complete with picnic... When the whole lot is finished - I means its been fifteen years now - it will a Khomani Land Fantasy Park
So leaving Kashan - we started by leaving late - had a fine time at the Bargh e Fin (Fin Gardens) contructed to look like an Islamic version of paradise, good it was too, fountains and pools and shady bits, lots of Iranian Picnicers, a tea garden complete with Hubbly Bubbly pipes.... click here for an image and here for one more too
We left the bike loaded to go near the entrance opposite a army gaurd post - very safe - as as is normal when we returned so did the man who wants to practise his English - there is always one.. the short of it is he tells us a short cut to the freeway, across the fields and on the the highway up a dirt path.. We eventually end up doing a lot of this, cutting on and off the freeway across the fields, up dirt embankments etc... So the good news is we get going fast, the bad news is we are low of fuel at the start
For a country with rediculously cheap fuel, 1 dollar and 10 cents for 20 litres there aint many places to fill up from - I guess at these prices there is very litlle profit to be made in the sale of fuel... Off we go. nice wide smotth highway little traffic, in fact the high is new, not officiall open yet, so when we get to the service station it is closed - well not officially open yet... aaagh, problem, got 2 litres left sloshing in the bottom... But this is Iran, there is always an entrepreneur, and low and behold there is a guy with a plastic bottle of 5 litres of the finest Benzine waiting just for a guy like me to sell his stuff to - for three times the going rate!! Thank you very much, off we go... and miss the turn to the next town to fill up properly ... Chris tank runs dry first... Oh Bugger, but no wait this is Iran, we have not seen another car or truck for a hour, but within 2 minutes along comes a huge fat man in a 1970s Cheviotte Monte Carlo no less, he stops at the mearest hint as a waved hand in distress and we syphon off 10 litres of the good stuff ...
Only in Iran could he turn out to be the former Iran Handball Champion who now
owns and runs Esphahanss best Pizzas restaurant, Pintos Pizza.. Of course he speaks good English - what do you want this to be difficult or something !!! So with 5 litres apiece we cut across the fields to the old highway, back the way we came to the town we missed and fill it up to the brim... As it is now way way past the faffing point of no return, back to Kashan we go, check back in to the Goulestan Inn again and go feast on water mellons and Bannanas.. It one of the rule of adventuring, If its foriegn and you dont speak it, 90 mins before dark stop, start looking for your bed for the night and food..
The next morn off down the same highway, benzine sloshing to the brim we see a pick up truck waving us down - What comes around goes around... Of course you can have 10 litres of Irans finest motion lotion syphoned off our tanks, no charge..
Later on the highway we stop for a Comfort Break.. Chris says 'what again? and I have remind him of that trueism "Small Bladder - Big D+ck'........ Chris turns to face the road and I think 'How Rude', But I learnt the meaning of P+ssing in the Wind - you get wet feet!!
The Big K Himself
One of the Rules Of Adventuring is to eat at the truck stops that have lots of truck stopped outside (aaagh so thats how they got thier name then!) Why.. well as its a truck stop it is cheap, as it has lots of truck outside the food will be good and will also be safe.. you never want to be first of last in the que for foriegn food! - Think about it -... So thats exactly what we do, and what we get is a good chicken kebap with rice, a coke, salads and tea.. When it come time to pay the cash desk man is playing the fool.. which is a bit unusual, the Islamic sense of honour and hospitality runs deep around these parts.. he wants 70,000 rials.. thats expensive I think (10 dollars for the both of us) with a bit of miming and my two amazing sentances of Parsi launched at the man he really does want 70,000.. OK, so I pay up and leave.. as we are fussing with the bike to go an old man come over and addresses us most insistantly - my Parsi just cant manage it, he shows me 20,000 rials in cash and points back to the cafe... Like hell I am giving him more money I think, and a stomping in I go... The scene is an absolute wonderment, the local guys are giving the cafe guy some serious grief, voices are raised, fists look like they are to follow.. we are given 20,000 back for being overcharged and wished well on our way - Only In Iran
A bunch of old rock, but a very interesting bunch of old rocks and the only reason to go to Shiraz.. I mean they dont even make wine there any more.. Unfortunately for us this was to be our turn around point too.. but more on that later
We sat, we stared, we contemplated.. So What has history taught us?.. Mostly it is Dont do THAT again!!... personally I have learnt from my ever so brief time here that there will always be moments in the middle when it seems like it will never end, but it too shall pass... Nothing Is For Ever.. Take this place, how many thousands of years old, at the time this was the centre of the world .. It was the super power of its day.. and now. a bunch of old rocks with backpackers... I like what Victor Frankel said when he was up to his ears in it.....It was the 1940's and he was travelling on a train eastward out of the Germany republic, not first class seating but a cattle truck with 50 other men, Jewish men.. He was off to Auschwich on a one way ticket. For some years up to that point he had been working on his treatise on psychiatry.. He is quoted as saying these word during that journey...
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing - to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose ones own way"
He survived his time at Auschwich and later wrote......We had to learn ourselves, and furthermore we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life but instead to think of ourselves as who were being questioned by life, daily and hourly.
OK Been sitting in the sun too long looking at rocks.. what we need now is a nice cup of Chai
and then I will tell you all about it later
It takes so many squiggles to say 'Welcome??
Without doubt our favourite city of the whole trip - its such a chilled laid back place, We stay in the Ghetto, the backpackers ghetto, aka Amirkabir Hotel - which is just fine with us.. After this long on the road together we have totally run out of conversation - remember we are men, we get a lot smaller ration of words to use every day then women any way.. personally I find that it takes me at least an hour after we have stopped to remember to talk, and to be able to recall all that we have seen that day..when you are on a bike you cant talk to each other! We have a few interesting hand signals for the essentials, ie PPT stops (Petrols, P and Tea)
We rename this place the No Visa Hotel.. one night seated around the tables in the courtyard where no fewer then 12 persons (of all nationalities) in the same boat as us.. no visa for Pakistan, and no obvious way to get one... if you go back to Ankara to get one (if your own embassy will give you a letter of introduction that is) you cant get another Iran visa to come back and cross the border.. This was the only time when we envied Back Packers.. well not the 12 hour bus journies and the early starts, but the ability to get on a plane and fly over the problem.. Me I have 300 kgs of hand baggage if I want to try this!!
Esphan is all about bridges and mosques, beautifully laid out squares and gardens - it is justifiably the centre of the Iranian Tourist industry - we end up staying 8 days here in all .. it where we met Kierstin and Michael, two good Bavarian persons, each travelling with thier own BMW - sensible peeps
Kierstin rode on Pupsi (which means in German one who farts! I kid you not)
das auf den des Rechtes "farts" auch
Pupsi had a very badly leaking oil seal on the gearbox output shaft, Chris's GS had a mildy leaking one, same problem, same bike - Chris being the master technicial had the home made special tools and a replacement seal with him- Kierstin just kept buying lots of oil to top it up with! So we have a technical day.. Out with the gearbok on Chris's, on with the seal and all back together, two hours.. For Pupsi we tread more carefully, outwith the gearbox, make sure it is only the seal, then go off around town with th old one fron Chris's bike to get a replacement... There is no BMW dealer network in Iran, but that dont matter, this is a standard size metric seal, none of your special size got to import it Japanese stuff here.. after much miming in and around all the car workshop places Michael and I are directed to a shop that sells water pumps.. and who sells bearings and seals for waterpumps too.. guess what he has on a top shelf, and it fits perfectly too... Click here for an image of the lads at work.. and no one fell into the pit either!!
Apart from the bridges and the mosques (click on the words to get images) Esphahan will always hold a special place in my heart, it is only in Iran that you get Carrot Jam for breakfast... and it tastes just like carrots and sugar click here ... and here too for images
So our third time back here.. as usual back to Mo and his bro's place, as I chained Rodders to his lamp post I gave him a hug and re assured him that it is only for one night this time!.. We at last did some sightseeing!! Shock Horror!! The Old American Embassy is rather fun...
You will always find a difference between the people of a country and its government.. the ordinary Iranian does not think about "American Imperialism" from one day to the next.. Basically all people in this world want to be well fed and happy.. Despite politics World Peace Is Enevitable...Bet you did not know that a soap box that big could be carried on a bike!!
The Long Road
From here on in our enthusiasm wanes some what.. its the same road as before.. we are forced to break a Rule of Adventuring.. 'never take the same road twice' From Tehran to the Turkish border is all familiar. apart form one bit.. we do a right turn and head off up into the Alboss Mountains.. destination The Castle of the Assasins.. which, yes you have guesses is a large pile of rock!!! But with a great interesting story.. it was here, many many years ago that a religious cult was formed, they gained power and influence by killing political and religious leaders of the day! They kidnapped healthy young men by dopping them up on Hasshish and transporting therm to this big castle way up in the mountains.. They revived to find them selves in lush gardens with very attentive young maidens convinced they had been transported to paradise (I am convinced, can I go please!) The price of remaining here is to return to 'Earth' once in a while and kill a few people... So it was a good pile of rock up in the hills.. When you travel on a bike it is not just the interaction with people, nor the sights that you see that count.. it the getting there.. This road was magnificent, 2 hours of tights switchbacks and turns, up, down and occasionaly sideways if you did not miss the gravelbars across the road from the water wash
.... and then we are off again towards Turkey using our own private freeway!! The new freeway goes to Tabiz, as you approach there is a HUGE sign telling everyone to take the next junction off.. but I dont want to do that. I have played Whacky Races enough for now, the road looks good beyond the sign, flat smooth and black, so we go for it... What we find is a perfectly good three lane highway with No Traffic, at all.. for the best part of 100 km we fly along... some bits are all built and ready to go, white lines armaco the works, even signs, some bits are just the base layer of tarmac, some bits still have some workers putting up signs and laying downlines..
This is fun!!! and no tolls, not that we have ever paid tolls on Iranian freeways yet
One mile into our first ever freeway we see a big sign saying No Bikes.. oops we think.. the next miles we see our first Iranian bike using the road, going the wrong way along the hard shoulder!! Followed in the next dozens miles or so by all his Iranian brothers doing the same thing .. in the end we also follow the Iranian way and are to be found going the wrong way down streets, along the pavements and cutting across the fields to get to where we need to be.. As we slowly approach to toll both, as far away from the parked police car as we can I seriously think we are in trouble.. Not a bit of it, the man in the window leans out and says "Excuse me sir what is your nations?" We then have the first of many a conversation trying to assure them we are English (Inglistan) and not Grmany (Allmand).. there is absolutely no suggestion of paying the toll the road is all ours for free..
But it eventually came to an end, we get to meet the builders of the next section, Ho Hum, back we go a mile till we see the old highway across the fields, down the dirt track and its back to the Whacky races for a short while
That night we rough camp.. we think we are invisible to prying eyes, it turns out the dirt track is the main and only road to that small village over there!!
Two lads go past on an iranian moped, a few minutes later they are back with a handfull of cucumber for us, I give them a chocolate bar each! In the morning an old old guys cruises paston his tractor, moments later he walks back an in mime invites us to his place for breakfast - we decline a spolitely as we can, we need to get going - so off he goeas and re appears a moment later with a flask of tea for us.. we all side on the tarp and sip away, share a few biscuits and try to communicate.. Only In Iran, I am sure of it, if they would ever let me go back I certainly would.. The night before I am laying on the airmatress (did that shatter your illusion of a rough tough traveller then?!) reading a book on outdoor leadership, enjoying the warmth of the engine.. let me quote this to you "Leadership is the capacity to move others towards goals shared with you, with a competancy and a focus they woudl not achieve on thier own"
.... and then it happened, the unthinkable, the unbelievable, on the way to the Turkish border we met another Brit on a bike Mr Richard Tyner was the man, doing what we set out to do, go to India, but yes he did have his Paki visa already.. We have a good long chat, its so good to have the same cultural points of reference and to instinctively know what slang words you can use, no longer did we need to talk with our hands!! We exchanged a fist full of Tuirkish Lira for a hand full of Iranian Rials, and here I must sincerely appologise to you Richard, at that moment I genuinely belived it was 14,000,000 Lira to the Dollar when in fact it is 1,400,000.. If you are at the next HU meeting I will repay the difference, your 6 Dollars was in fact worth60 Dollars...Sorry
Across the Turkish border and back to the infamous Murrat Camping for two nights and many beers - if you ever go say hello to Memet the guy that runs the place, the first ever Kurdish man to summit on Everest and a local hero.. he walks up Mount Arrat most casualy for fun!! Almost as soon as you are across you get great views of Arrat, from all around town there are great views of Mount Arrat
. and now its cold, not just becasue we are at 1800 metres, its because we are moving more and more North to where it is meant to be cold at this time of the year! We chopp up the tarp and make muffs for the handlebars, the coming days will bring rain and snow, dry hands are essential
Murrat Camping is THE place to party in Eastern Turkey, of an evening the bar is heaving with local guys all getting plastered before driving off back down the mountain side to town, the local bands plays all the local Kurdish favourites and the men dance.. which is a surprising simularity to the Time Warp forn the Rocky Horror!
So those of you who have been paying attention will know that our two heroes (Thats THREE heroes, Edwin) are in Murrat Camping, Doggy Biscuit Eastern Turkey, and the darstardly villians out to destroy the world are only in your imagination.... So what happens next ??? Absolutely nothing exciting at all, we legg it off to Istanbul again... three days 1600 kms and in the process discover one of the finest riding roads the world has to offer... The E80 which goes all the way from the Iran border to some where in Germany is a magnificent ride all the way to Istanbul... it may be the main TIR Truck road out of the Middle East, but it is not crowded, it swoops and curves giving us major mountain views, forest, fertile valleys and two big grins on our faces...
The Border at 'Doggy Biscuit' the ques of trucks is at least 2 miles long
But there is one final piece of sight seeing to do..this fortified mosque
sit about the town and makes for a great walk to clear up a hangover!
The saddest moment is crossing the bospherous agian but from the wrong way!! There is a welcome to Europe sign which Chris promply stick a finger up to, I am just depressed to see it, ... especially the huge neon Macdonalds sign just beyond ..
Blimey we are in Bulgaria ... One stamp in the passport, a quick look at the vehicle reg docs and we are in.. No carnet, no Mr Fixers and no ques... yippee... though there was one bit of naughtyness on leaving Turkey - Yep we got nicked for speeding again - 169 400 000 lira this time (Thats £70 - the Bar Stewards!!!)...
....and Bulgaria uses the cryllic alphabet just like the Russians, can we read the roads signs?, well NO not a lot... about 4 o clock we stop for coffee and ask the waitress where we are... till then, at every junction that was doubtfull we either took the biggest looking road or waited to see a foriegn truck come the other way, we are still trying to follow the E80.. we are not where we think we are, but that OK, its an adventure and we are not far off.. Hotel time, a good dinner, a Bulgarian beer and the world is a nice place again
... In the morning we make it to VT - I dont still know what it is really called, but it its two words - one starts with a V and the other with a T - Some of the guys in the ghetto in Esphahan told us about it.. very pretty old town, great big castle, lots of medieval type buildings and some of the finest looking women you could ever want to see... and its bloody cold.. I dont think 6 degrees is much of a mid day high, I mean what are they using? There must be more powerful stuff then that about! Have you tried Amsterdams finest Aggie Puntjes???
So its cold wet miserable weather and so are we.. we walk up to the castle.. Be nice in summer we say.. We are staying at Rossas Pension which is quickly renamed the Asylum.. This women is Mad Mad Mad, and is in serious danger of mothering us both to death... the place is full of religious icons (the orthodox kind) and paintings by her husband Alexis - now he is a good painter with a great imagination, a lot of the figures are artistic nudes, excellent nubile lythe feminine forms, but all unfortunately with Rossas head on them.. let just say that when they where handing out beauty rations Rossa had already bunked off to get some more cream cake vouchers!!! If everything has an equal and and opposite then she is the opposite to many many of the beautiful girls that VT has to offer...
In the internet cafe we look at the weather for our route .... Its snowing in Romania !!! Not good on two wheels that - Edwin is spending more and more time as it is at the bottom of the tank bag - he is a bear and hibernating is natural to him - especialy when there is any work to be done!!! We have a conference and come to the unanamous conclusion that this would indeed be lovely in summer but we are going home by the shortest route first thing in the morning.... we both go buy thermal undies, and are very grateful for them later on...
Yikes its Yugoslavia home of the Yugo.... Holly Mackeral thats Hungary - Golly we are in Germany already which is where we stay and rest for two delightful days with the utterely utterley Georgous Uli -- and unfortunately her boyfriend Clems as well.. only unfortunately becasue Uli is one of the most beautful women I have had the pleasure to meet that was not pretentious or 'prissey' - we met in Iran, she was backpacking for three weeks with her Mum Liza.. Clems is a fine chap actually - I am but a little bit jeleous - with an amazing grasp of the English language, well he would have really, if you are a PHD in corpus lingistics and your theasis was on the development of Aussie Slang then it is a fair bet that you can split your infinitives and place your pronouns just fine thankyou.. and he learnt his appreciation of the English sense of humour from Blackadder!!!!!!!! Good Man....
"Blackadder, I want you to treat this airplane as if it was your girlfriend"
"Do you mean take it home and introduce it to my parents"
"No Blackadder, I want you to climb inside of it 5 times a day and take it to heaven and back"
Oh, and the most depressing thing yet was in a service station in Hungary, for only 4 Euro you could get 4 litres of Coke and a free Friends DVD - If only I spoke Hungarian... We are back to the Homogenized lands now, but I for one refuse to be pasturized!!
.... and then before you know it, it is late, its dark, it raining and we are waiting for the ferry at Calias!! Why does it always rain when I am in Calias???... But the best bit is the bike wont start, Oh yes boys and girls, Ladies and Gentlemen, Rodders is dead.. For some time he has been loosing power and wont idle.. he gets towed on to the ferry by Chris with the GS and a luggage strap and towed off again... With some fiddling he is coaxed to life and ridden despite protests back to addlestone, our start point all those weeks ago.. when he is switched off thats it, he ablsolutely refuses to go again... Chris recorded 9,463 miles (15,141 kms) and I recorded 9,436 (15098 kms).. I dont know where he went that I didnt????
.. It turns out that I have just paid my dues to the philostines Mechanics Club - The day before we left I thought it would be a good idea to re-tighten the cylinder head bolts (Which in fact was an excellent idea) I just forgot to re adjust the valve clearences as well..so for all those mile he has been running with the valves not fully shutting - by the time Dover came around again there was just no compression left as the valve seats slowly deteriated... But we love a happy ending, this afternoon I have had his heads off, re ground the valves and he is now as happy as a happy thing on happy day - you just cant get away this this kind of stuff with a Japaneese design...
So we have had a tale of hereo-ism, adventure, food, sickness, debauchery death and more.. so how to end ?... well let me tell you this..
The other day I was clearing out some stuff I had stored at my Twins Place (probate has been granted and its up for sale soon).. Now I always thought that you where not old till your pubes went gray, then I saw a note on her wall that said..
You Are Only Old If Your Regrets Out number Your Dreams....
..that was a sweaty eyeball moment I can tell you...
"If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same" - Rudyard kipling
So dream on dangerous dreamers,
PS . So whats next.. well I have a business project to get finished, (Would you like to be financial free some time in your life?) .. and then I rather fancy Deadhorse Alaska to Uashia Patagonia .....
What a trip – you never know what's going to happen when you hit the starter and take the first miles from home. We stayed in everything from a 7 star hotel to bush camping in a field. The Burg al Arab is some thing special, really spectacular. I must have walked around with my mouth open like a gold fish for a day - the splendor of it, Wow! Never did get used to the butler though.
Even stopping for petrol became experience in Turkey - always offered tea, conversation limited but fun.
The trip was always a quick one - 12 weeks UK to Nepal. We did have a few goals: meet the chaps from my bike club in Shimla and a meal in the Everest steak house Katmandu and for me to kayak down a few rivers in Nepal. As it worked out I must be the only person who carried a kayak cag all the way to middle east and back!
But life took over and everything changed. Things like the change in the rules by the Pakistan government you have to take in your stride. Borders close and open. I know we were not the only ones to be refused entry to a country and we won't be the last. So you change your plans, which we did - instead of Pakistan, India and Nepal we ended up going to Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. What was not planned was the 3 inches of snow and riding in summer kit in freezing conditions. So we blitzed it over to Germany to see Uli and Lisa who we met in Iran at hotel no visa (if you want to find out about this read the blog). Thanks for putting us up Lisa.
We have been back one month now Richard is back at Kuoni and I am catching up on the maintanence of the flats and looking to start as an outdoor instructor in the new year.
Did we learn any thing? Yep lots, don't believe every thing the media says. The next time I meet up with a wonderful girl like Lucy I'll marry her. Oh and Phillipe your a lucky chap. Enjoy your trip."
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