- Left – 1 year ago
- 7th April 2014 – 7th April 2015
- Miles rode 22,900 (36,600km)
- Countries visited – 28
What about my F650GS Dakar?
- Tyres – 3 sets, (1 x Mitas E-07 / 2 x Heidenau Scout K60’s). No punctures!
- Crashes – I slid down a wet road in Croatia for 10 metres, hit a cow in India and a car also hit me India. No injuries.
- Dropped my bike – I’ve lost count how many times! After being ill and feeling very weak I dropped my bike in a river crossing riding the northern part of the KKH in Pakistan, the issue here was water got into one pannier and ruined my iPad (costly error), I also lost a lot of paperwork.
- Services – 3
- Repairs & parts needed – throttle cable / 2 x batteries / pannier frame straightening & welding / 2 x chain tensioning mechanisms / sprockets & chain / fuel filter / head bearings / fork seals / side stand repositioned / re-ground front disc.
People – it’s all about the people. The hundreds or maybe thousands of encounters I’ve had with people wherever I’ve been have been an inspiration.
Borders – most borders are easy to cross if you have all the paperwork prepared and are patient. I love the remote borders, I wanted to cross from Bosnia into Croatia at the top of a mountain but was told I couldn’t, it was just for ‘locals’ so I had to backtrack. At eleven in the morning I was the first to cross from Armenia into Georgia, again at a remote, deserted border, as I was the first of the day they unlocked the gate for me. To my surprise you get a free fifteen day on arrival visa at the Iraq border. I had my fingerprints taken at the Iran border. When I crossed from Iran into Pakistan at Taftan late in the afternoon I had to spend the night in jail as it was safer inside than out. Riding North from India into Nepal I didn’t see the border so for ten miles into Nepal I was illegally there. And lastly, when I crossed from Laos into Cambodia the border guard had so little to do he had fallen asleep! I woke him up and he laughed with me.
Bikers – whilst I met overlanders riding bikes there aren’t too many doing the long haul, but everyone I have met without exception has been great to talk to, ride with and share advice and experiences. The biker community is great, so helpful and inspiring. I’ve been to many countries and places I hadn’t intended to due to these wonderful people. Keep riding and stay safe.
Bus drivers – I’ve been in some dangerous situations because of the landscape or political situations, but without a shadow of doubt the most danger has come from buses. Small mini-van buses or large ones they are reckless and have no regard for other road users. I’ve had to take action so many times, normally swerving off the road to avoid head on collisions! What is it about bus drivers all over the world?
Experiences – I’ve had so many different experiences, I laughed, cried, been hot, cold, hungry, poisoned, swam in the bluest sea, drank beer under palm trees and rode my motorbike through both the most beautiful places in the world and the most inhospitable. My most fulfilling experience has been spending such intense time with my kids, Beth & Olly. We travelled together, swam together, shared amazing experiences together, got drunk together… They have moved on now, Beth is travelling in Australia (Beth’s 21 and solo travelling) and Olly’s back in the UK about to embark on a new career. I’m now feeling so fulfilled. Beth & Olly have grown into wonderful people, they react in positive ways in many diverse situations, they are so very social and I see them contribute to other people’s lives engaging with everyone, the young to old, the rich to poor, they do not discriminate. When they talk to people I see the positive reaction they get from everyone. They work hard to achieve what they want and whilst they will have to negotiate life’s twists & turnes, ups & downs, the practical and emotional obstacles that life will throw up I have no doubt they will live fulfilled lives. I sleep well at night.
1 year and still going – The courts in England decided I wasn’t fit to have a driving licence so 3 weeks before I left banned me from driving for 6 months for cumaliative driving offences, the last, driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone. I stressed about my predicament for a few days and then decided I would continue with my adventure, I rode illegally through 25 countries before getting my license back. Ha Ha.
Riding down through Europe at the start of April was amazing with blue skies and snow either side of me as I crossed the Alps. The Dalamation Coast was beautiful and empty of cars as it was early in the year. I spent 1 1/2 months in Turkey and the Caucasus region before heading further east to Iran & Iraq where I experienced such a wonderful welcome from everybody I met, people wanted to talk, they were curious and wanted to share lifestyle stories.
I then spent 5 weeks in Pakistan with Heiko from Germany and Garth from Canada, how I loved my time there. The beauty of the extreme and diverse landscape, riding from the desert in the centre to the northern Karakorum mountain range where I arrived at the Chinese border, this was one of the many highlights and emotional moments of my travels. The people, yes the people throughout the country who only wanted to help in what is a troubled area of the world. I will always remember the wonderful people who just wanted to help, talk, share experiences and secure my safe passage through their country. Pakistan is a dangerous place, not only did I have to negotiate terrible roads I had to develop skills riding along dirt tracks, sand, rocks and across rivers but also one of the most dangerous roads in the world from Taftan to Quetta where the possibility of being kidnapped is real. I experienced for the third time in my life an earthquake too.
I had been on the road for four months when I arrived in India and headed straight to Kashmir, The ladahk region in The Himalayas with Heiko. What an amazing two weeks. We rode the highest navigable road in the world and at 5,379 metres Heiko tattooed me with power from his motorbike battery. A few days later we rode The Leh-Manali Highway where we rode the second highest navigable road in the world peaking at 5,353 metres. For two days we rode crazy, dangerous roads but it was truly wonderful. I then met up with Oli from London and we rode East from Delhi to Varanasi. Varanasi spun me around a few times and dropped me back down again, is there a more fascinating place in the world?
I spent two and a half months in India with trips to tropical Sri Lanka and mountainous Nepal in between.
I entered SouthEast Asia at the start of November and five months later I’m still here. Initially I joined ten other bikers and crossed Myanmar, the land of the smile and the country time forgot. Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are wonderful places to travel in, beautiful, diverse with amazing beaches and dense jungle. It’s all about the people, yes the people have made me feel so welcome.
It’s hard to leave.
What started out as no more than riding a motorbike East has developed into so much more. My ratio of riding : stopping is 1 : 2.7
Western Media – The news is 99% bad news and has an agenda, BBC, CNN or RT they are all the same. It’s been great not watching the bullshit news and finding out for myself what the world is all about and what different cultures and religions really feel like. The constant negative news regarding the Muslim world is so destructive and unfortunately influences so many people back home who only get their news from these biased sources. I always knew the constant negative news regarding Muslims must be false and now I know for sure, it is! I only had positive experiences from Eastern Turkey through Iraq and Iran to Pakistan. The people are so friendly and helpful everywhere, they know how they are portrayed in the western media and relished the opportunity to discuss the real Muslim world. Thank you all for making me so welcome and being so kind.
Life in the western world – I believe life is all about balance and many people in ‘the west’ don’t seem to have that balance. I’ve been trying to restore my balance for some years now. We’re told by everyone in society we need to get a job, work hard, borrow money to buy a house, buy a new car, buy a bigger house, borrow more money, buy a big TV, work harder, borrow, buy more, spend, spend, spend. I understand this ‘makes the western economy’s work’ but this perpetual work hard and consumption doesn’t fulfill many people even though many do it. Oh, If we’re really good we get two weeks holiday each year to fly to the sun and two days off at Christmas to see our family! And of course we must raise our kids with the same values.
Many wise people have said these words before me.
I want to add to these words and say that whilst everyone needs money, maybe for some people not spending all of it on material things may be more fulfilling? How about making a plan to follow your dreams whatever they are?
I’m the same as most people in that when you play ‘the game’ to think too much about it would mean you would have to question it and if one ponders on it for too long the next step maybe a feeling of unfulfillment. The really challenging and possibly frightening thoughts would be to consider changing something! I understand why ‘running with these thoughts’ could be considered dangerous! I like to think it’s putting your life in balance.
I imagine that some people consider this for the first time when they retire.
So, after a year of opting out of the ‘bullshit’ I don’t want to either revert back to being a slave to the corporate world of maximising my income or opt out of society. I hope to find a balance of earning enough money to do the things I love. Live in an affordable house, help my kids have fulfilled lives, spend time with the people I love, further travel seeing our amazing world and meeting wonderful people, finding the truth out for myself.
Who knows though, maybe when I return home I’ll forget these thoughts and join the ‘bullshit’ again?
I believe life is all about balance.
What next? I leave Thailand for Malaysia on Saturday and a week later I get a boat to Indonesia. I’ll then spend a few months riding down Indonesia from island to island where I’ll hopefully arrive in East Timor where I’ll ship my bike to Australia. After a few months there I think I’ll come home as I want to see the many people I love there.
After one year away I feel very relaxed, calm and not a sign of stress anywhere.