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Rob en Dafne de Jong,

Ride-on from Istanbul-Turkey to Kathmandu-Nepal

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May Millennium eve be splashing and all 1000 coming years be great!

4 December 1999

Two weeks ago we celebrated being three years on the road (since 21 November 1996!). For those who like figures: We have crossed the 150.000 km/ are close to 100.000 miles. Nepal is the 46th country we visit and this newsletter is being mailed to 101 different e-mail addresses.

After we left Istanbul, where we spend another night in the garage of Yakup, we visited the tented camps of the people and the children who lost their house during the earthquake last August.

We did our project "The world on a Children's drawing" there and a great time together.

Adapazari, the town we visited, is heavily affected by the earthquake and at night the place lookes like a ghost town. Most of the people are afraid to go back into their houses because everyday small earthquakes hit the area. And it will even get harder because winter starts coming in and it gets pretty cold alreadu during the night.

We made a stopover in Ankara because we left the AC adapter of our laptop in Istanbul. The people of Beldeyama (Yamaha importer) took action and the next day the adapter was in Ankara. Thanks folks!

The further east you travel in Turkey the more you see the people change from a western world into a eastern world. Just before the border with Iran we met some Dutch travellers on bicycles who where heading for Nepal and the following days we spend time thinking about how they could make it (the women with their heads/hair covered) in the hot and dry, dusty, dirty roads of Iran with distances so great.

The border town of Dogubeyazit is petrol and diesel city. Not because it is cheap but because every Iranian Truckdriver will bring some petrol or diesel into this Turkish town.

Petrol in Turkey is US$1,-- per liter and in Iran US$ 0,04 per liter, diesel in Iran is US$ 0,005 per liter. Off course this is all illegal but everybody seems to make money out of it.


We were a little bit nervous to get into Iran but the so much feared border crossing was taken within 30 minutes. We simply could not believe it. No checks, no luggage search, no nothing. Tip for couples crossing Muslim borders: Let the men do all the work. Dafne stayed with the sidecar and the immigration officer let me sign her form, simple.

Iran was a pleasant surprise for us. So liberal and the amount of booze we drank in Iran at almost every place we stayed was something we never expected.

In Teheran we spend some days with a bunch of !!! (names kept behind for privacy reasons), so we got to know all the ins and outs of what is going on in Iran and did not have to worry to speak forbidden things, even not after having emptied a bottle of Scotch Whisky. We had a great time!

I also bought some moonshine myself. This is very illegal and the people whom I bought it from were quite nervous. After paying for the moonshine I had to walk away into the dark. It was already late at night. Suddenly a little motorcycle turned up next to me and the bottle was handed over. Within seconds I was alone on the street again holding a 2 liter (cola) bottle of Iranian firewater. You can imagine that I was not feeling very comfortable at the moment, possesion of alcohol in Iran being a very serious crime.

Anyway, we survived and it is a good story. And the moonshine? Well not too bad. Iran itself is one of my favorite countries. Country Bob is still no 1.


Crossing into Pakistan 3 days after the coup was another eye opener. The west of Pakistan is Tribal area meaning there is no law and order (like in most of Pakistan) and everybody is walking around with rifles or AK 47. When they saw us coming many of them pointing their guns towards us to make a showcase or even fired a round in the air out of pure excitement. And being in a Islamic country most of them were drunk too. Women are a rare species and Dafne was looked at if she was coming from starship Enterprise.

The roads in Pakistan, where 90 % of all the countries revenues go to the army, are terrible but we have seen worse. The little trucks are fully dressed up with tons of mikmak and are without exception heavily overloaded. They do as they please so might is right.

The Pakistanis and the Indians cannot stop talking about how liberal we westerners are (what?).

They think it's all Sex-Drugs-and-Rock-n-Roll and many also start acting very strange. (Tip: Tell them you are South African. African meaning as much as "no money" and "aids-country" they lose interest on the spot).

In Pakistan we were invited by some people and within a few hours found ourselves dragged in conversations like "How many times you do IT" and "I want to do it from behind with my girlfriend but she does not like it, can you give me some advice".

Check out the Books pages for Travel books and videos.

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de Jong's Home

Travel Stories, English:

January 2002,
Ride on 2002...
October 2001,
Ride on Home
July 2001,
Russia and
April 2001,
Jan 2001,
Dec 2000,
Oct 2000, L.A
to Fresno via
Sep 2000,
New Zealand
July 2000,
Australia part 2
April 2000 India
and Australia,
part 1
Dec 1999,
to Kathmandu
Nov 1999,
Shoeshine boy
of Gondar

Sept 1999,
Uganda to
May 1999,
Zimbabwe to
Dec 1998,
South Africa
and Namibia
Sept 1998,
Swaziland &

June 1998,
S. Africa 1
April 1998,
W.Africa 2
March 1998,
W. Africa 1

Travel Stories, In het Nederlands:

July 2001,
Rusland en
April 2001,
Jan 2001,


We could not have managed this without the help and/or friendship of many and would like to thank the following people for their support during this part of our trip

Dr. Hakan Ozyuvaci for the free check-up and cleaning of our teeth

Oktay Ercan for giving our bike a brand new battery

All the wonderful people of Iran Rabia and Abdullah from Lahore Pakistan

Rubberman from Lahore Pakistan

Tadayoshi Suganuma of Escorts Yamaha Motor India

Rajif Chopra and the people of Tour Masters India

Tsering and Tenzin Yamaha Nederland for the spare parts

Dan and Judy Kennedy (we will deliver a fantastic book, promise)

Vir Rawlly for being Vir Rawlly.


Top of Page.

Even a magistrate, who was very keen on telling us that he was an educated man, asked us: "How many times do you shave your private parts". Now I really do not know what the average is so if any of you can advise me in this I will be very grateful.

Before you get the impression that Pakistan is full of idiots we met some wonderful people in Lahore who became good friends. So again saying goodbye and going to another country was very hard to do. You make friends for life but will you ever see them again?


In India, Amritsar, Dafne was slapped two times on her bud by passing men and other times realised that even teenage boys tried to touch her on her bud or breasts by moving in close on purpose. One time we chased a bud-slapper, that fled out of the rikshaw and ran into an alley, where we got him, finding out that everybody in the street had joined us in our pursuit. The boy begged for mercy, even was willing to pay. We left the prosecution to the mob, feeling a bit sorry for the boy, but knowing that he would think twice next time.

If you want to see a two way lane road with 7 cars riding next to each other, India is one of the places for you (but Cairo-Egypt or Lima-Peru top the list still).

Using your horn is a must, we are glad to have mounted a louder one before we started this tour.

Although we learned to laugh when everybody starts hooting in front of a red light it sometimes will drive you completely nuts.

We celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, in Amritsar. Amritsar is to the Sikhs what Mekka is to the Moslim people. We enjoyed the peacefull setting at the Golden Temple so much that we stayed for three days in Amritsar. Diwali is celebrated with fireworks and we also bought some crackers and rockets to ad some noise to the atmosphere.

Still cannot rhyme the memory having seen on some news editions on tv that there were machine guns mounted on the walls of this place of peace back in 1984.

Check this out:

A sick Sikh had six Sikh brothers, six Sikh sisters and a healthy Sikh mother ...

The road from Amritsar to New Delhi is pretty good but we classified it as flat dog road because of all the dead dogs we saw.

We stayed in New Delhi for some days and made a day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

From Delhi we travelled up north into the cool air of the mountains to a place called Mussoorie, where we visited a Tibetan refugee village and stayed there fore some days. We were really getting involved with these people and the 2000 children who stay and study there.

Since 1959 Tibet is occupied by the Chinese, who, with their communist regime have no room for the Tibetan culture and religion (buddhist). Tibetan schools were banned and thus Tibetan children are not educated in their own language, alphabet, history, culture and religion and treated as dirt-class peoples. (To imagine that the Russians would occupy the USA and make the American children speak and write russian etc. is what it really is like). Tibet is losing it's identity with the Tibetans being a minority in their own country, was it not that the Dalai Lama fled to India and the Tibetans that followed him set up a few Tibetan schools.

Tibetan parents save up money of the little they can earn (since they lost all their businesses to the Chinese authorities as well), their biggest dream being that their children can flee to India.

Some of these children (6 to 12 years of age) walked for 30 days through deep snow over 10 high passes, constantly risking to be captured by Chinese border patrols, their eyes blinded by the sun, hands and feet frozen of cold, but their hearts warm and their minds set on one thing: to be free.

We discussed the possibility of setting up a children's circus (Circus Tibet) and the idea was enthousiasticly welcomend by the secretary-general of the Tibetan Foundation.

So after our trip (18-20 months from now) we will be likely to go back to Mussoorie to set up the circus. We will come back on this issue in about a year from now.

The twisty road from Mussoorie to Nepal is only 600 km in distance but it took us 3 full days. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking but so is the driving habit of India's truck drivers. We will probably spend Christmas in Nepal but we are not sure.

Hope you all are in good health and we are looking foreward to see you again, somewhere, someday.

Cheerio Ciao Ciao for now
Rob and Dafne de Jong
Ride-on World tour

Story and photos copyright © Rob and Dafne de Jong 1998-2002.
All Rights Reserved.

If you travel around like us you encounter good and bad things such as:

"Hippies are people that are mentally retarded" Egyptian children learn this in school

"You must be very rich" owner of a brand new Toyota Landcruiser when he saw our US$4000 bike

"You cannot eat our bread???" Iran

"Why do you have a double engine?" mechanic in Egypt

"I can repair that.... What is it?" mechanic in Pakistan

"Do you have good roads like we have" Pakistan (No we don't thank God)

"Please wait for 5 minutes!" Repeated every hour (Customs worldwide)

"Hurry will spoil your curry". Warning against speeding in India

"The road is very good like in Germany.... You can do the 200 km in 6 hours" Nepal

"The vew over the velly is one of the most biootifull in the would" India travel guide

"Speet lemet 40 km/hr" writing on a Nepali truck

"Oh my God" seen in Africa on a truck.


Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

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