Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Turkey to Nepal

I'm really sorry about the delay in proceedings, but due to the unavailablity of a fast internet connection(and other reasons), have been unable to update my blog until now.

Anyway, the ride continues.......

I applied for both my Indian and Iranian visas in Istanbul. Rather than stay in central Istanbul(15 million or so population) I found a nice little beachside resort on the Black Sea called Kilyos. It was very hot so having a beach nearby was great.

I spent a bit of time in Istanbul. This is the view of the old part of town

The beach at Kilyos

Kilyos from the hills

I ended up being in Turkey for about a month. The Iranian Embassy had decided to stuff me around so didn't bother sending my application for approval. I had to re-apply after nearly three weeks of waiting . In the meantime, I went for a ride around Turkey. I had met another biker, Tino, and we headed east along the Black Sea for a few days.

Crossing one of the big bridges at Istanbul

Somewhere along the Black Sea. We were totally lost at this stage

Our campsite was at the bottom of these cliffs.

Tino hanging out with a couple of locals on the beach.

Tino continued east while I headed along the bottom of the Sea of Marmara towards Gallipoli.

The town of Gelibolu(closest town to Gallipoli) from the ferry

Anzac cove

And Anzac Cove

More Anzac Cove

Lone Pine Cemetery

I stayed at Gallipoli for a couple of days then headed towards Istanbul to collect my Indian visa.

It was an interesting ride around the Sea of Marmara.

Sunset with the locals.

Drinking tea and making sign language at a stop somewhere. The people were very friendly and most stops tended to be drawn out affairs with many cups consumed.

Pollution is a big problem in Turkey. The beaches were mostly covered in plastic!!

After I collected my Indian visa, I headed east to catch up with another biker, Andy.

A mountain pass in Northern Turkey.

I caught up with Andy, and we ended up at a campsite in Eastern Turkey. There
were some other travellers there, who put on a great BBQ .

Preparing for the BBQ

Andy relaxing at the campsite

Then it was off to Erzurum to wait for my Iranian visa. I was stuck there for more than two weeks and met another biker, Chris. He stayed a couple of days before heading into Iran.

Oil change at an ultra-modern pavement garage in Erzurm.

I eventually received my Iranian visa and headed into Iran with Markus, yet another traveller. We parted ways in Tehran. Markus headed south to catch up with Chris while I applied for my Pakistan visa and had to contend with mad, crazy Tehran!

The traffic in Tehran was the most amazing sight!! I reckon it must be amongst the worst in the world

Open aggresion against the American Imperialists, the "Big Satan". Read the wording.....

The most popular (and most enviromentally unfriendly) car in Iran - the Paykan. It is a copy of a 1966 Hillman Hunter, and has a fuel consumptioon of approximately 25litres/100km, and uses LEADED fuel. You can imagine how bad the air pollution in Iran is. Thankfully they stopped making them in 2005. They are now being made in Sudan or somewhere like that......

I received my Pakistan visa in a week, then headed south to catch to one of the oldest towns in the world, Yazd. There I caught up with Chris, Markus and another traveller, Andy Lord. We stayed for a few days before heading towards Pakistan. Alby and Alex turned up as well, so a good time was had by all.

Wandering through the mud brick buidings of Yazd

A local woman carrying bread home

How's this for a different version of a trike!

The bikes outside the Silk Road Hotel in Yazd

Alby and Alex's mode of transport - a 34 year old Forward control Landrover. The brakes didn't work but the horns were great!!

Then it was on the road towards Pakistan....

Taking a break in the desert. It was very hot.

Cruising up a mountain pass.

Andy had a puncture in the middle of nowhere. We had it repaired quicksmart.

Iranian roads were surprisingly good

We eventually crossed into Pakistan after riding some of the most desolate roads I have ever seen. But worse was to come......

Typical Western Pakistan road. At least this part had bitumen!

Stopping for fuel at one of the many blackmarket fuel suppliers. The petrol was decanted from bottles.

One of the advantages of blackmarket fuel stops. Chris and I drinking tea with the headman

We had a pretty bad sandstorm on one section. Very often, the desert sands were encroaching onto the road

A rest break in the middle of nowhere

After a nice couple of days in Quetta, we had been advised that the short route through the mountains towards Lahore was closed as the "bandits" in the hills were shooting at all the vehicles travelling through there. About 30km out of town, we came across our first police/army roadblock. From there, it was police and army escorts for around 2000km, all the way to the Indian border.

Bullet holes in the windscreen of our escort vehicle. As you may understand, this inspired us with the greatest confidence!

Another day, another police/army checkpoint

The escorts changed every hour or so. It became very tedious trying to explain to them where we wanted to go

One night we ended up camping at the local police compound. The buiding in the background is the jail. That night was bizarre - it would make a great plot for the next Mad Max movie!!

A "few" burnt out police vehicles in the compound.

We were escorted out for our meals too. Here I am making sure Markus doesn't get up to any trouble

After nearly a week of police and army escorts, we said goodbye to Andy and arrived at the Indian/Pakistani border. We arrived early enough to watch the border closing ceremony, which happens every night at sunset. It is basically an "Up Yours" show. Both sides strut around and try and antagonise each other, but in a well rehearsed fashion. I thought it was hilarious!

Leaving Pakistan. What a relief!! It was one of the strangest weeks in my life

Our first stop in India was Amritsar. We visited the Golden Temple, one of the Sikh temples. Very pretty

Getting a ride on a rickshaw.

We went to see the Dalai Lama in the mountains at Mcleod Ganj. Plenty of Tibetans, priests, cows, dogs and pseudo hippies to contend with. We all agreed that we had gone there to "find ourselves" but left empty handed!!

The view from our hotel at Mcleod Ganj

Markus and I walked up the mountain to see the waterfall. A mountain goat befriended me on the way back. I reckon he would have made a great mutton curry

The view of Mcleod Ganj on the way back down the mountain

Indian road authorities have a great sense of humour.....

My ugly mug covered in soot after a day on the Indian roads. The pollution from the vehicles was horrific.

A typical Northern Indian "road"

Every time we stopped for a break, we were mobbed by cow-eyed locals. It became very irksome after a while, but we soon learned to ignore them

Trying to work out how to get the bikes out of the hotel courtyard in Agra.

A typical street scene

Burning the dead in Agra.

Indian horse getting ready for a parade.

We were too stingy to pay to see the inside of the Taj Mahal, so the hotel driver took us to see it from across the river.Chris, Markus and the driver.

Another view of the Taj Mahal. The cheeky bugger in the foreground wanted me to pay him for taking the photo!

Being mobbed again at a tea stop.

Ho hum! Another day, another accident on Indian roads. There seemed to be absolutely no rules. Every minute on the roads required huge concentration.

And another one

After more than two weeks in India, we arrived at the Nepal border to more chaos. This is the view from the Nepalese customs office. Getting our paperwork stamped was very funny, but also tiresome. It took more than four hours! Reminded me of a Monty Python show......

Nepal's roads were not too good, but there was a lot less traffic. Scenes like this are the norm because of frequent landslips.

Typical Nepalese road

A lightly loaded bus. Plenty of carnage on the roads here too

We stayed in Pokhora, Western Nepal, for a week. This is the view from our guesthouse. The mountain in the far background is the "Fishtail" - more than 8000m high!

Chris had a pretty nasty accident on one of our last days in India. We managed to straighten out his panniers using modern equipment such as a hammer and bricks!

The Festival of Light was underway in Nepal. A local family with the "Tika" on their foreheads.

Lunch break on the road to Kathmandu

We arrived in Kathmandu and did a bit of sightseeing. There were hordes of tourists

Some pigeons chilling out with a cow(or was it the other way around)???!!

Kathmandu from the roof of the guesthouse. Terrible air pollution though

I decided that enough was enough, so organised to fly myself and the bike home from Kathmandu. After a bit of negotiation with a freight forwarder, the bikes were crated up and airtickets purchased.

Crating the bikes to be sent home by air.

My bike almost ready to go

Nepalese forklift - 6 blokes pushing my crate around to the customs area

After nearly 7 months I was finally homeward bound. More than 30 000 km on the road and the best memories eva!!!!
I had the most fantastic trip imaginable, and the memories will live with me for the rest of my life. It has taught me a lot. One of the most striking lessons is that no matter where we come from,no matter how we were raised and no matter what our beliefs, we are all people of the world, and mostly have the same needs and wants. If only the politicians and the media were to do a similar trip, the world would be a far better place!!
Personally I have realised what I am capable of.
I hope all of you enjoyed sharing my experience, and if there are any of you out there who want a bit of torture, I have a few thousand more photographs that I could share with you whenever you feel like it..................but you would need more stamina than I needed riding a bike that far!!