6th Aug 2002 – 12th Nov 2002
This was the first ever diary I wrote……
August 6th 2002
Stress last night as I realised that my ipac and mobile were not communicating. Bugsi has done it again In the mornng I realised that my charger for it didn’t work as I had been sold the wrong one.Another crisis but I do know that others will have a charger. I did want to be self reliant so this is unsettling.Still Bugsi drove me to Heathrow and the journey has begun.Still stressed until Adrian sorts it out for me while we wait to board.He is a computer guy and has an ipac of his own.Cannot believe that I am going to be away for three months. I have only had short weeks off these last few years so the thought of 3 months is rather incomprehensible.No one ecstatic with excitement yet but it will come.Dreading the heat in NY.
It is hot…about 80 F.Rather oppressive and humid. Hotel fine. Claire a pain over not liking vario-us foods and fussing around. We went and ate in Greenwich Village.
It is not nice in NY in August.You can’t see the ‘weather’.The air condition units roar away in the buildings.Outside on the pavements intense hot air comes out of ducts either from the air conditioning units or the subway. You can hear the trains just under the pavement.Cars get double stacked in carparks.Otherwise NY seems much the same as 1974!
We set off for Staten Island to get our bikes at 7.30am after a fairly mean breakfast .Its hot but sunny.I wear shorts and motorcycle boots! Get our bikes from the agents on Staten island. All is well and after an hour of packing/dressing we are ready to go. Out on the motorway after going to Manhattan over Brooklyn Bridge and out over George Washington Bge.I love the exits.. Off the duel carriage there are marked exits for lodging,gas, food,camping and even an ‘attractions exit’. These exits do lead to places too.! Great rolling countryside we reach a height of 570m and cover 301 miles.Not heavy traffic once clear of NY and the bike roars along, state limit ignored along with most of the drivers on the road. Petrol is under a dollar a gallon.
Rode with the girls after discussion last night. It went ok for awhile but it was not of my style and I got fed up with messing around at Niagara falls. I went on the’ maid of the mist’.to see the falls. Then I wanted to leave the area because it was hot and full of tourists . As I hate sight seeing when its hot… The falls were majestic. Riding was fairly dull. All interstate highway. Staight and mostly flat. The last bit was atraight into the sun. Finally made it at about 8 pm. Told Claire and Jane that I would not be riding with them any more. No problem with Jane who I now feel sorry for.
August 8th Thursday
Rode with the men. It was so easy compared with Claire etc The road at the end of the day became good fun as we rode bends alongside the sea. Lovely views of the sea. Woods were both hard and soft. Bilberry country.
August 9th Friday
Moose on the loose and dead on the road.We were warned as we set off at 6am to watch out for moose in the dawn. Within half an hour we saw an injured moose which had just been hit . We had a very long day, doing 760 miles ,ending on the west side of Winnipeg. Good weather . We were plagued by state highway police, especially as 4 of the others had been doing bad overtaking which the police wanted to catch them for. 3 were done for speeding. Our gang of 5 did well; JASON, ME,CLIVE,MARCO,and TIM . Some roads were great and some very boring especially the interstate highways and the trans canada highway .
August 10th Saturday
Began in rain but it soon stopped. 667 miles on the trans canadian highway. Straight roads! Scenery like a huge golf course when it wasn’t being farmed. Travelled across canadian praire. Bombed by grasshoppers in the afternoon..quite big with yellow and black wings. Quite tough to keep going but the team did well. Prairies rather like fens but on a massive scale.
August 11th Saturday
Must be the dullest bit. Left at 6.30am in dull weather. Realised I waa going to be cold when I left the carpark.. We were 900m high.we rode for 2 hours to Calgory across a featureless landcape like exmoor,on a wide straight road. Things improved after that. Rockies and the icefield route which I knew from skiing.Achieved 810 miles. One road section was so empty and had such a good surface that we all went that bit quicker.!Tim has drifted off and we are now 4..me,Jason,Marco and Clive. I am so glad I am not with the girls.They arrived late to the hotel. Dawsons creek looks interesting,the hotel is an old building which makes a change. Riding into the sun at the end of the day it looked like farming barley was efficient round here. Not harvested yet.
Tim’s birthday.Woke early out of habit but we have a later start..8am. Left close to 9am 456 miles to do. Road became more interesting the further north we went. I saw a chipmunk run across the road with its tail held upright. Saw a cariboo and some mountain goats. Others saw a bear and an eagle eating a dead carcass. There are endless trees but it isn’t that dull and there are some amazing views. Farmland ran out around here. The 2 girls came in very late. They seem to be doing their own thing and not taking part together.
August 13th Tuesday
My birthday. Wake up to rain. But it stopped quite quickly. Remained grey however. Muncho lake was rather beautiful. The entire place was gravel or slabs of rock. There were seaplanes on the lake..in use. Apparently Canada and the Maldives use seaplanes quite a lot. The rivers are big and fast flowing..the Laird and the Yukon. We camped by the Yukon at Whitehorse. Countryside remains treeclad and mountains mostly on the right. Its all gravel or sandy soil. I saw a Black Bear running up the hillside otherwise not a lot to see. Marco had fun on the side of the road when we had a gravel section and got stuck. It was amusing.
August 14th Wednesday
Rained a lot in the night but tent was good. Nasty grey sand was very clingy in tge morning,which mercfully was dry. No animals,same type of countryside. We did 350 odd miles which is now easy! Dawson city is wonderful with board walks,qooden buildings etc. It is decaying slightly. The last brothel only closed in 1961 aa gold prospecting ceased. We are staying in a lovely old buildiing. Jane and Claire are hanging back to get Nick’s attention and are not joining in at all since they are out of sync.by starting late and finishing late. Jane’s bike had a major breakdown yesterday (camshaft probably) and will have to be mended in Anchorage. Jane riding pillion behind Claire. She is mad. Graham Sanders wondering whether to continue with them. Nick’s bike also having problems with tyres.
August 15th Thursday
Cold but sunny.3 C. Good breakfast at Klondyke Kates before the little on /off ferry across the Yukon. Then we took the Top of the World highway. It was cold but great…it was on a ridge. The border was about 1250m high. Dirt road much of the time. Saw two Coyote on the road .One stood and stared at me while I sat on the bike. Then we had bends down to Chicken,Alaska. Later i discovered my sub frame on the bike had cracked through. Rode carefully the next 250 miles to Anchorage. I am not worried since there is a bike shop here and we have one day off. We arrived and caught the guy at the shop. I am relieved. He had obviously seen more.
August 16th Friday
Day off at the shop. After much taking apart I got the bike welded by Unique machines and an extra strengthning plate ,put back together ,oil change and front tyre (18777) miles. Worked all day. Not much of a day off. Camped in evening in the most lovely site. Good weather.
August 17th Saturday
Did 737 miles. I had camped with Jason and Marco. Set off at 6.30am. Good weather for a bit. Then a light/on/off rain began. Long way to go and we had to contend with dirt road quite often. Sometimes heavy gravel. Did not see any animals though Jason has seen a bald headed eagle. The country is made of gravel and sand which makes life eay for fixing the roads..you just drag it across. Fir trees remind me of Cyprus trees and hence it gives a feel of the med. Many burnt trees from past fires…lots. My bike fine after all the hard work. I look forward to a real break.
August 18th Sunday
Another huge mileage day..nearly 700 miles whilst Nick had said 600. This added on another 2hrs. Jason saw several bears whilst i saw none ! Tomorrow hoping to see some bears catching fish in the river near Hyder, alaska, where we are staying the night. Wonderful road from Watsons Lake to Stewert/Hyder. Sadly we rode slowish because Clive had has a puncture today. We all helped to mend it with the bmw kit. The two girls, Claire and Jane set off from Anchorage at 3pm on the saturday because of Jane’s bike being repaired. But they never rode far enough that night and so they never got here last night. They should catch up tonight but in the meantime missed out on this. This being seeing spawning salmon in the riverwith hopefully grizzly bears…
August 19th Monday
Got up at 5.30am to go up the road to see the spawning salmon. Huge fish and 2 bears. Masses of fish. Then breakfast and off at 9.30 to do 450 miles to Prince George. Too much traffic and scenery that was changing to farming. We haven’t seen any farming since Dawson Creek I guess. No news of girls or Leigh or Ian.
August 20th Tuesday
Started 9am Did 503 miles to Vancouver . Nicish weather . Land ranch style, lots of horses and a bit of barley growing. Saw 2 moose as we left Prince George. Took road to Whistler. Some unmade but enjoyed it; good bendy road . Met Lebby and Mike in the evening. Great. Girls came in last yet again. They have been rowing as we saw at breakfast.Jane remains piggy in the middle. Took guys into Whistler.
August 21st Wednesday
Left Vancouver in grey weather and not particularly warm. Interstate highway is dull and full of traffic;built up too. Went south of Seattle for a tyre change. Took ages and finally left again 1.30pm to do another 300 miles. South into Oregan and took a road that went over mt hood. Great trees and then on to a plain with butte and canyon. Very dry. Still quite cold, not above 20 c. Camped in Bend. Girls still not in sync. Jane now having affair with Graham. Claire ! Now 10pm and they still haven’t arrived .
August 22nd Thursday
Amazing Claire woke me with a cup of tea. She is trying. Began at 8am after a cold night,though my sleeping bag is warm especially with the silk liner. Took some small roads including some dirt. Fantastic scenery . Salt lakes which have water in them between about Feb and June just like a giant puddle. Huge wide flat valley and vast volcano crater. Ranching country. Very dry and they had had a fire 2 weeks ago. Saw chipmunks run across the road with their tails held high. Some very isolated homesteads. Can go for miles without any people or houses. Now in Nevada and it is even more barren. Oregon did have lovely trees and volcanoes. Staying in Gerlach…small place.
August 23rd Friday
Last evening we were taken out on the salt lake and stood round a bonfire made by the hard butt club. It was great fun riding the bike on the salt lake,in the dark. This morning we went back for another quike ride. This is the very place thet do the world speed record attempts. Off we went to ride through even more desert. It is covered in bushes…it does undulate though the road is dull if main road. So we took smaller where possible. Petrol was scarce. Wild horses and eagkes otherwise the land is barron. Found big cacti higher up, between 1400m and higher. So entered death valley. Great view down everything is brown ,even more brown than elsewhere. I can’t imagine much living here though I know wildlife has adapted. The heat hits you. It is not a heatwave luckily and is about 110f. Have a swim in outdoor pool. Smart place. Girls missing out again. This was probably the lowest point of the trip in terms of elevation ie 190 feet below sealevel
August 24th Saturday
Got to Las Vegas by about 11. Had a really relaxing time,swimming and shopping and in the evening went to Ceaser Palace . Eat,gambolled slightly and danced a bit. Was impressed. Far less tacky than I thought it would be. Impressed by buildings and the fountain show in front of Bellagio. It was about 100+ degrees.
August 25th Sunday
Big mileage again plus sight seeing Colorado, and the Hoover Dam. Saw the colorado by the bridge. Not as big as I had thought. Navajo indians dotted round the desert. Fed up with desert. Very hot indeed 42c (105f) but when it got dark it got very cold..Had to ride in the dark which was a shame. Skunks apparently ran around the campsite at night . I did not put my tent up so they must have run past my face.
August 25th Monday
Good breakfast and set off at about 8.30 with at least 650 miles to do. Managed to do 8 miles of dirt road inspite of not wanting to be on a slow road. Very hot ..its a heat wave here and has been like it for 4 days. We set off from Colorado,went through New Mexico, and got to Alpine in Texas. Last two days had to ride in the dark unfortunately. Vast grass plains. Sand on road occasionally. Rabbits in the dark and danger of deer. Now fed up with desert. Just heard that it has been the hottest day in Albuquerque ever for this particular day of August .. We came within a few miles of Albuquerque . Volcano plugs,lava flows;mesas and buttes. Miles and miles of fencing for all these deserts\seem to be owned. Electricity poles running for miles as well.
August 27th Tuesday
After 751 miles yesterday,we only have had to do 100 miles today. Camping in Big bend national park. Very hot very scenic. 40+ degrees. Stony campsite. Birds of prey circling over head. Bears,cougar,coyote,snakes,road runners etc. Got to lock up anything that smells. Sitting in the shade with tremendous view with no one bar ourselves around.
August 28th Wednesday
Warm night but did not sleep well because of stones! Up early. Claire and Jane both fell off their bikes on a bend..Claire was not looking. Her own fault. She ended up breaking her shoulder (cracked clavicle possibly) Jane alright. They were both asking for it. Good breakfast with eccentric lady (tracy). In to Mexico . Hot again. Lovely road by rio grande. Saw a road runner and some vultures with red heads. Desert in Mexico to start with. Now watching for dogs and bad drivers. Vehicles shabby. By afternoon in green land for first time in days. Beautiful valley. Lots of people walking ,dirt roads in town centres. Hotel great. We are attracting interest when we ride or stop. No longer so hot and we are high up, 2350 metres. Rob,Leigh,Tim,Gary and Claire not doing/making Mexico.
August 29th Thursday
Amazing scenery as we rode an easy day. Green valleys sometimes reminiscent of Norway . People walking by the road in colourful clothing,or sitting in the shade. Donkeys,horses cows. Friendly people and nice food…cheap. Petrol is not cheap and to own a vehicle is obviously something . They are all in a terrible state. Wonderful canyons deeper than the grand canyon (possibly 6000ft deep). Farming in valley floor..grass and maize. Staying in Parrell.
August 30th Friday
Great breakfast 15 miles down the road. Weather warm but not to hot. Green countryside. I lost my top box off the back of my seat and it took awhile to find it in the long grass on the verge of the road. Came off because of the rather bumpy road. Sleeping policemen a major hazard, though a selling opportunity for the locals. As you slow down they try and sell you foood etc. Lovely hotel in Durango..very grand! Clive pissed off.
August 31st Saturday
Began the day with acute food poisoning along with others. Felt dreadful..stomach cramps. Seemed to abate about 9.30am. Rest of group waited for me. Jason was affected aa well,and Marco later but I was the worst. Set off to do acute bends for 157 miles in srunning scenery. I was feeling very weak but with rests made it. We ended the day on dull,dull motorway in heat having come down to the coastal plain from the cool hills. The hear plus my lack of energy was hard. We got here 8ish having gained an hour. Amazing mountain thunderstorm going on to our right. Oppressive heat here in Guaschill ?
We saw brahamin cows/bulls,donkeys and horses grazing the verges in the mountains . Very green,like I imagine Peru to be. Coastal strip as any coastal strip. There are shanty towns.
Sept 1st Sunday
Feeling better though diarroa still. Motorway today to hermosillo. Did 395 miles. Began bearable in a bit of rain but ended really hot at at least 104f. Duel carriage way had tolls,cows,goats,people walking and crossing, cyclists either on the hard shoulder or in the fast lane going against the flow, tractors, broken down lorries on the road, and army check points. Pickup trucks full of people standing in the back has been a usual sight. One had a Kathie sitting on a chair with the rest standing . The pickups and cars are generally very old and tied together with string. Seems amazing they move. Seen lots with oil belching out. Most lorries are in the same state, groaning up the hills making a lot of noise as very few exhaust systems seem to be working properly.
Reached our most southerly point yesterday when we were south of the tropic of cancer.
Had a swim in the bay of california. It was warm. Before the road left the coast.
Sept 2nd Monday
Short milage. Temp at 8am was 90f. Nice road ,bends,more prosperous but dry and desert like in parts. Giant cactus. Ended just over border in USA in Douglas ,Texas. One thing I haven’t mentioned re. Mexico is their extraordinary habit of indicating left (driving on the right) when they want you/think it safe to overtake. They indicate right to say no. If they do turn left they generally don’t let you know! Nightmare. Most of their vehicles probably don’t have working lights anyway.
Still got the runs.
Sept 3rd Tuesday
Start at 6am. Long way to go. Began well with ok road but the interstate highway took over and it got hotter and hotter. Turned out to be the hottest day yet…probably 120f or 47c. Very dry heat. One tends to fill up with petrol and then rush in to the aircoditioned shop to drink yet another flask of drink and cool down. LA is vast…it took miles of freeway to get there..Redondo beach near the airport. Arrived to find all the missing people there,including Claire. Still got the runs.
Sept 4th Wednesday
Got up to wash the bike and have it to the freighters by 10am. Sea fog. Clive then hired a Harley and took me to have a look at Beverley Hills (hollywood). Not particularly impressed.
Sept 5th Thursday
Relaxed,went to Santa Monica by Harley and then finally flew out at 22.30pm to Sydney. Flight was 14 hrs long but went well.
Sept 7th Saturday
Lost a day! Sydney is very nice. Weather pleasant and spend day wandering the town. Clive took me to the opera in the evening and we saw Weber. Had a good meal afterwards near the opera house. We are staying at the YHA.
Enforced wait in Sydney for our bikes. Nick’s reason is Sept 11th but others are more critical. In the meantime I did make contact with Robbie Porter. Clive and I had supper with him on mon eve. It was great and he told us all about his court case. I saw Leify and Will the next day. It had been 7 years since I last saw them. Judy and Robbie have split up. Clive and I also did a harbour cruise and a museum. We began to get fed up. In the morning of the 11th we heard that some bikes ,8, were cleared…one was mine.
Sept 12th Thursday
8.30am and we lucky 8 were off to the freighters. MOT,petrol and ins and then it was back to the YHA for me to get my luggage. Then I set off for Woollengong for a BMW agent where Jane and I were to have our bikes serviced. I arrived about 3pm, Jane had already arrived . Found somewhere to stay for the night. Shop began work on the bikes.
Sept 13th Friday
Mechanics had almost finished as we appeared at 10am. By 11am we were on our way to Melbourne . Took the coastal highway. Beginning to ask about the trees. Some lovely red flowers on some trees…think they are Banksia. Colourful birds. Gum trees,wattle trees and… Countryside like no other. Weather lovely and good for this time of the year. Fun riding for a couple of days with Jane away from everyone else. We should all meet up in Melbourne on Sat night. Other people getting services elsewhere. No riding after dark because of animals on the road. We stopped in a place called Genoa. One unlikely place to stay and long conversation with a part time farmer. It rains 36 ins a year here. Seems strange since it seems very dry. They get cyclonic rain as well as ordinary.
Sept 14th Saturday
Got up at 5.45am to get max hours daylight. It was 0c. And frost on our seats. Good road …we saw one live Wallaby. Lovely road…thought Lakes Entrance was very pretty . Colourful birds everywhere . Got to jane’s relations about one. Then I made my way to Toad hall in the middle of Melbourne. Great weather they say….80f. From freezing to 80f its quite a difference. Tree with red flowers is a Wara?
Sept 15th Sunday
Set off with Clive from Melbourne at 7am and had breakfast in Torquay. Great coast road but later the wind became a bore. Blowing from the north it was mostly sideways and very strong but warm. Road remained fun. Wonderful views of bays plus surf. Saw the Apostles. Longing to see a Wombat alive and a kangeroo etc Great black and white birds; and pelicans, also black and white. Rain forest. Love the inlets from the sea. Got to Robe ,still very windy with a touch of rain. Went through our most southerly point today in the southern hemisphere…Port Apollo.
Sept 16th Monday
Were wined and dined by a Tiger Moth fanatic in his hangar and given breakfast by his wife. Finally got away about 7.30am to do 600 miles. Briefly saw Jenny Clift near Adelaide. Saw my first kangeroo and then later 3 emu. Pink salt lakes northwards from Adelaide . Pelicans. Day will be remembered for strong cold side wind,cold temperature, getting in to the outback,arriving in the dark. It is apparently extra cold for the time of the year, combined with a bit of rain.
Lovely road this morning up the coast. Lots of farm land ie sheep and cattle. Sheep are a sort of grey/brown colour which blends well with the gum trees and landscape. Farming is all animal oriented in the area we have been through. Saw a Kim Cairns number plate in a bar in Pimba.!
So now in the outback with miles to go!!! Clive a bore and grumpy.
September 17th Tues
650 miles from Glendambo to Ayers Rock. Cold but sunny, prob.10c to begin with rising to 20c very gradually. Set off in front as Clive still being a pain. He and the rest then played silly games all day. Jane got abandoned by Graeme who was also being silly. In fact most of the men were being ‘manly and pathetic’. Scenery ever changing from trees and bushes to smaller scrub and back again. Always the red soil. Nasty litter by the road, cans,bottles,tyres and burnt out cars. Probably the aborigines who do exactly what one has read…sit around drinking and drunk. As a consequence many bush fires from the glass. Always hoping to see animals and today saw 2 kangeroos,a dingo and an emu. Lots of large eagles eating road killed kangeroos. There were lots. Wild gourds growing on the verge. Lovely colours from the vegetation. Road trains every now and then. They can be 4 trailers long but lack of traffic means they easy to overtake. Road mostly straight but land undulating with odd outcrop. Jane and I finally got to yuluru about 5pm. Clive finally thawed after a few chosen words from me plus nearly 2 bottles of wine down him. Excellent meal of emu sausages and kangeroo steaks.
September 18th Wed
Ayers rock at 5.45am to see sunrise. It was okay but full of tourists. Then had uneventful ride to Alice Springs to have half day break. Saw a heard of camels though. Nice to relax. Swam in pool….very pleasant weather.
September 19th Thurs
Began at 6ish with 700 miles to do. Termite day! Red termite mounds everywhere looking like gravestones when enmass.Stopped in Tennant Creek for breakfast. A goldrush town! Quite alot of aboriginies, as in Alice Springs.3 kangeroos,several cows across road and many dead animals(kangeroo ). It became a bit of a marathon. Clive was a pain because he always wants to lead and also seems unable to have me in front. He goes really slowly in the dusk and then was silly when we got to Katherine and lead Jason and I the wrong way. Saw some water buffalo. Masses of small wallabies or kangeroos in the camp place. Took a picture in the dark of them. We got here about 7pm and 766 miles. A long day. Small cabin rooms great though. We had begun with temp of 8c and ended with 37c.
September 20th Friday
Tyre change for back tyre. Finally got on road with Clive at about 9am with 750 m to do. Clive’s large aluminum box came off his bike about 100 miles out. Luckily I always leave space . Bends for awhile then became more boring. No animals. Trees plus terrain does change. Baobab type trees. Huge termite mounds. Halls creek full of aboriginies and so is Fitzroy Crossing when we get there. It gets dark about 6pm and we are 150 miles from Fitzroy. Cows and wallabies are a danger but finally a road train overtakes and we hang in there behind it; hopefully it will sort out any cows. It swings round a wallaby but signals to us ! We make it. Clive drinks loads of wine again and we are regalled by aboriginies . I finally sleep in the open in the campsite. Very warm and full moon. Temp had reached 100 plus f.
September 21st Saturday
Clive wakes me from my open site and off by 6am. Warm. A dirt section of road works gives drama. The red soil becomes like an ice rink when wet. They were wetting it to give a hard finish when dry. Wet was a disaster for bikes and 2 people came off in front of me. Unhurt on the whole. If I had been leading I too would have slithered off to be covered with red mud!. Altogether 6 came off including Nick!
Went to Broome…beautiful coloured sea. Uneventful road after that. Boring,straight,no animals,no bends,couldn’t see the sea though close. Saw a few camels. Side wind. Port Hedland rather desperate iron ore port with salt pans behind. Temp today not so bad…reached 95f. Backpacker spot very basic and port noisy all night.
September 22 nd Sunday
Left Port Headland at 6am with Clive. Jason and Marco left earlier to do 1000 miles in one. Early morning mist and road kills. Saw Emu…several. 550 miles to do. Un eventful road. The roadhouses can be interesting spots. Heard that Adrian has a wheel bearing problem and that Graham has a knee injury from yesterday. Weather getting slowly colder but still around 80f. Sunny. The road is near the coast but you cannot see the sea. We deviated to Brome. Tropical. Beautiful sea..turquoise. Bushes in the sea …mangrove like. The whole coast is tropical though inland it continues to look like outback. 565 miles and stop in Carnarvon.
September 23rd Monday
Weather getting colder.. Also more flowers on the bushes are very pretty. Roadkill of large kangeroos. Goats by the road, healthy,pretty,all colours . Sheep. Big kangeroo . Emu. Scenery continues to undulate and subtly change. Push on 570 miles to Perth. By the time we arrive it is spitting with rain.
September 24th Tuesday
Breakfast down the road and get to the freighters to pack the bike. Have my hair cut in the afternoon. Shop around and look at Perth. Quite nice but not as good as Sydney .
September 25th Wednesday
Up at 4.15amto get to the airport for flight at 7.20am to Singapore . Flight 5hrs and we stay at the Meridien in Changi. Clive takes Jason and Marco and me to the Changi sailing club for dinner. Very tropical and it thunders,lightningand rain. Swim in pool.
September 26th Thursday
Went into the city and shopped. Cheapish and can bargain. Bought a watch to replace my old one. Wandered around. Very steamy hot,bit like a sauna. Went to Holland village for supper. Also Raffles long bar to have a Singapore Sling.
September 27th Friday
Hear the bikes have come through earlier. Good thing ,it is pouring with rain! Warm though. Took ages however but finally went down there at about 5pm and brought bikes back to the hotel. Clive took Marco and I to the sailing club for supper.
September 28th Saturday
Set off about 10am for Malaysia. Hot,sticky. Not far to go to Melacca. Clive took us to Kikut up (?)for our lunch then we took the coast road up to Melacca. Majestic palm trees in palm oil plantains,loose chickens,some cows,loads of honda 50’s buzzing around. We attract attention. Pretty,lush,bungalow type buildings in the woods. Flowers.Busy road. 200 odd miles.
September 29th Sunday
Clive a pain but we all set off at 8.30am. Short day. Saw monkeys cross road enmass. Lovely road, palm plantations ,roadside stalls. Hondas everywhere. Ended up in Cherating Beach. Beachy kind of huts on stilts, very basic but fine. Couldn’t swim because of jelly fish but paddled. Like a warm bath ! Great beach.Good restaurant. Paid through the nose ie 4 pounds for a main course. Had a main course last night for 50p. Petrol is 20p per litre. So different to Mexico where the poorer went around in the back of a pick up with one of them owning it….very clapped out. Here they each have a honda…old in some cases too. Amazing shops open till 10pm or more. Extraordinary casual style shops…internet cafe in a shed etc. Clive continuing to be sulky about nick etc and stays somewhere else.
September 30th Monday
Set off earlyish at 7.30am with 500 miles to do. Up the coast and then back across to the east coast to George Town on Pinang. Lovely mountain road with jungle views. People with stalls all along the roads selling mainly fruit and veg. Cows,chickens and goats wander everywhere. Rivers slow moving and muddy. It rains all year round,just one part of the year is wetter than another. I rode with Marco today. Clive not around or refusing to meet up and jason wanted to take photos. Traffic quite busy in parts. Plus little bikes. They all have their jackets on frontwards instead of normal…not sure why..the rain I guess.
October 1st Tuesday
100 miles to the border. Saw paddy fields and egrets. They were using some funny machines with wheels in the watery fields. Thailand was immediately full of colour and flowers.Trucks overloaded. They are open backed and the load is on the open tail gate as well as going up high. Their front wheels are almost off the ground when they get a bounce on. The mopeds are also loaded to much the same degree. On the dual carriageway people walk/cross,mopeds go either side and either way of you. Generally they use the hard shoulder but some times it does not exist. Cows geneally tethered but not always and dogs are not. Countryside green. Pickup country again. Unlike Mexico the pickups are quite good. Here they are used as taxis. High side frame with canopy and side seating. Tailgate open,though, so when full people stand there as well. Ends up quite top heavy. Nothing like the loads they carry as well. Totally overloaded like the lorries with very high load. All these loads are covered with tarpaulin so we do not know what they are. We did 625 miles…too much and it was 35c or 94f plus the humidity. I have never been so sweaty all over. Huan hua(?) seems nice …we arrived after dark just. Amazing smells all day…and nice not to see so much religion. All those poor little girls in Malaysia with headskarves. They keep them on even under crash helmets. In Thailand they do not seem to be muslim and look much happier.
Went and found the beach,very lovely.
Claire has managed to hook up Jane again,and Graham. They have gone to Phuket. Quite a few have not made it this far here.
October 2nd Wednesday
Clive and I have opted to try and get to Cambodia to see Ankor Wat. So trying to get to the border today. First saw ‘the bridge over the river Kwai’ . It was interesting. Then on we went. The river Mae Nam that runs into Bangkok had burst its banks in Ang Thong.Lots of sandbags and muddy water. Minor fun as we motorbiked through flood water on the road. Life by the roadside almost everywhere. More dogs. Mopeds coming everyway and confusing in the dark (we had half an hour aa it gets dark early). 426 miles. Stayed in a very smart hotel costing £15 per room. Unbelievably cheap and staff everywhere. Not that many people speak English in this part.
Trucks ,6 wheeled, still defying their loads.
October 3rd Thursday
Mum’s birthday. We set off at 9am to see if we can get through tge border. We succeed with no problems with the help of a wheeler dealer in return for about £3. We are so sweaty by the time we finish. Its about 90f as usual. The border is teeming with masses of handcarts going in every direction loaded with all kinds of produce. Wild! Little boys running in every direction. Mopeds everywhere. All sorts of smuggling going on. We get through and then see the road…worse than any farm road,potholes every inch of the way. It takes an hour to do 7 miles. We are told it gets better. It does and we have potholed tarmac for 20 miles. We are trying to do just 100 miles. Very poor people. Villages full of shacks. Filthy. Most houses are wooden affairs on piles above the water which in turn looks like a putrid swamp. Water buffaloo, cows,dogs all roam. Complete subsistence existence. Our tarmac gives out and it is potholes all the way till we hit water. We watch others and go for it. At first we suceed but in the third bit the bikes cut out. Lots of boys push and we get them out. We attract lots of attention as we try to get them going again. Water in the cylinders. Get mine going but not Clive’s whose starter motor sounds dreadful. All this time we are in motorcycle trousers and boots which are wet with water and sweat. The crowd decide that I should tow Clive to the next village. They are amused at this since they assume I am Clive’s wife. This sounded dreadful…towing over the potholes. However it worked very well till we reached more water before the village. Clive pushed his. Mine conked again and had to be dried out again. Then its starter sounded dreadful but it started. At the village the mechanic was not capable/frightened of touching the bmw. Again lots of people. Very crude existence. Very friendly,no one thieving, beautiful girls. We have to give up and negotiate a ride back in a pickup with the bikes. 60 miles…it took 4 hours. Still in my motorbike trousers and swimming wet feet. We get to the border at about 10pm. Its closed and we stay in a hotel there. Already people are queueing for the morning and tgey sleep anywhere. Mopeds don’t seem to get used in the dark. Most probably don’t have working lights. Our pickup…nice driver…only had temp gauge working. He needed it…had to stop for a top up. Anything broken down just stops in the road. But all willing to help each other. The pickup had 4 people on the back somewhere clinging as we lurched through the holes. In the rain it would be in passable. It was quite a day. In all this we had no cambodian money . No small change for all our helpers. A few pence was all much of it cost. But we managed with thai money. We never saw anything resembling a bank!
October 4th Friday
Unbelievable mass with their carts trying to get through the border. The nights stay cost £6. We push our bikes through all the various checkpoints along with the carts. Mine would not start this morning either. Think we are going to push them to the hotel but too far. Get a kind of motorbike taxi to tow us. In tandem we must have looked amazing. It worked! Mechanic sought and find both starter motors cracked. The heat followed by the water cracked the metal. This hotel luxurious ,all for £15 a room. Its a day off luckily. Have to be in Bangkok tomorrow night.
October 5th Saturday
Go to Bangkok . Much traffic but following a moped we get there. General reunion of the others who went north. Frank had broken down and was being repaired in Bangkok . Drinks with the mayor! Bit of shopping. Amazing stalls everywhere especially food. But so humid. The temperature has been very constant, 84f in the night rising to 95f during the day.
October 6th Sunday
Off at 8.30am. Bangkok does not signpost anything outside the town! Went past the Grand palace . Very beautiful . Now going back down the same road we came up. Stayed in Chum phon. Arrived early enough to have a swim in the sea at last. Like a hot bath! Lovely islands off shore with what looked like nice beaches. 410 miles.
October 7th Monday
Off at 7.30am. We lose an hour today and we have 500m to do. Still back tracking..this time to George Town. See two monkeys in the back of a pickup…not tied up. Otherwise we take a scenic route for a bit. Got slightly wrong which added a few miles to the day. It rained a fair amount. Warm..one doesn’t bother with waterproofs. However it got fairly uncomfortable! Did mostly dry out before arriving. Starter motor still sounding scratchy but working. Heard that Jason and Marco saw an elephant in the back streets of Bangkok . It had a red light on its tail in the dark.! Wish I’d seen it.
October 8th Tuesday
Up to start at 7am but Clive had overslept. Left at 7.30. Motorway driving. Teams of workmen with small strimmers strimming the motorway banks. Ridiculous!. Real rain forest to be seen. Kept going to Johor Baru just opposite Singapore . Clive got lost ,it poured , thundered, and lightning. Got wateroroofs on in garage to Be confronted by a river to cross as left garage!. It was deep.! Rivers of mud!. Couldn’t believe we were in water again ! Had to turn back at one point because to deep. Exciting. Finally made the hotel.
October 9th Wednesday
Lengthy proceedure getting through border. Then went to bmw shop where Clive got his bike seen to. He has a missing tooth on his fly wheel…he is not happy. Mercifully mine seems intact. Did some shopping.
October 10th Thursday
Hung about doing this and that including crating up the bikes for the last time. Once again dripping with sweat. It has been a constant 95f whilst in this region. Fly out this evening.
October 11th Friday
Arrived latish at the Taj hotel. Up early and off to the factory; the enfield factory. We were totally catered for and collected our Enfield bikes. Mines blue! Everything back to front, gears on different side and up is down and down is up. Strange single cylinder bikes. Chennai or Madras is very filthy and poor. People living in ‘palmy’ woven houses. Filthy dirt pavements and pollution. Colourful pretty people, especially the women.
October 12th Saturday
Chennai to Bangalore. We all rode together following the factory guys. Sign posts not great and concentrating on the traffic. Lorries overtake on blind bends etc. We have to get out of the way. We only had 380 KILOMETRES to do but the bike is not fast…top speed 100 k. All traffic seems to go about this speed. Our bikes have useless acceleration too though since I am the lightest I can go the best up hills. Poverty in Madras. Countryside green, earth pale red. People walk,bicycle and a few have mopeds. There are white taxis of an ancient car design..very old fashion. There are toot toots in all towns. Many buses crabbing along the road. A few amazing loads on lorries though nothing like Thailand . No pick ups. We arrive in Bangalore in the dark led in by enfield people. It was quite late and several men are fed up with the bikes since they had overheated the clutches by not getting into neutral . Clive flipped too.
October 13th Sunday
Bangalore to Mangalore on the west coast. Pretty, we do a pass at about 1100m. Jungle,raining,lorries and bad road surface in parts. We see about 4 major truck crashes. They not only crash but collapse in the crash! Axles,etc. When 3 trucks meet something has to happen ! My bike had a minor fuel problem and I was givena ride in the back up van. Quite bad news…safer on the bike. He overtook on blind bends with his horn blaring. We must use horns when ever overtaking. No one looks in mirrors,no bus seems to have brake lights etc that works. It began to rain. I have no waterproofs with me as it was not meant to rain. We stop in the most sordid looking place and have some food . It is amazingly good and 2 meals,3 pepsis cost 41 rupees (70 to the £). It pours and we have to go. It rained the rest of the way. I was not very happy.
October 14th Monday
Same milage to do 375k to Goa. Up the coast. We begin in rain and I wear a dustbin liner underneath! Its warm though. It does stop but by tge end of the day has begun again. This is not normal..the monsoons should have finished. Many cows wandering and dogs, apart from vehicles. Animals perhaps the worst today. See monkeys and an elephant. He was a temple elephant . As we came into Goa it was very pretty. Road varies. Green countryside with various crops. We finish at Sinquerim beach in Goa.
October 15th Tuesday
To Puna 450 plus kilometers. The only fun bit was cutting through the mountains. Very rural..cutting goats up by the roadside,cows, waterbuffalo,oxen ploughing,threshing corn by the road etc. Road was tarmacked but very rough in parts. Then we went through Kohlapur, an ordinary town…it was teeming with people. The traffic was huge but it all trickled through the town in ordered chaos…oxen,bicycles, people,trucks etc. The main road was awful. With 100% concentration we got along. We heard later that there was a bad accident with dead on the road. Countryside has now changed from tropical to a drier look. I did not like the steamy Goa. Everything wet. Beach was pretty!
October 16th Wednesday
It was raining a bit and photographer wanted pictures in the rain . I was not playing ball and nor was Clive. Nick had tried to get us up early with a 6.45am call to do 230k. I was not pleased. C and I began after everyone and arrived first. All the rest got sidelined by a dealer to some party in the rain. It did not rain on us! Scenery changed…drier,more open,some fine views. Green trees dotted around. Women washing clothes in the rivers,men washing their trucks. Well water being hauled up by rope. It is very basic and lots of more of the same.
October 17th Thursday
7.30 start. Good weather . Busy road. Main highway from Bombay to Delhi. With 130k to go it turns very bumpy. Only managed 35k per hour. Wild traffic. Trucks crawling uphill at about 5mph but all over the road. Trucks also on wrong side of road. Coming into Indore (425k) the pollution just hung in the air. We all arrived with black faces from the traffic. Absolutely disgusting. Countryside has become quite dry. Towns much the same…squalid and full of people.
October 18th Friday
Up at 5.30am and off at 6.30am. Not long after Clive crashes. He collides with a bicycle going across the duel carriageway. Clive is concussed, mildly. Everyone arrives and soon we are at the police station. The boy on the bicycle is fine, small bang on head, but the family see this as a great opportunity for making money. Police station,hospital,police and then court. I had a pee at the police station…outside round the corner were two latrines and a space! Elspeth stood guard while I squatted and then I stood guard for her. After much background pulling of strings Clive is free to go. He had to pay various officials etc. The family got 1500 rupees…they should not have had anything. However blame was not the issue! Normally this process would have taken 3 months . Mice ran around the police station floor,rats were seen outside. Filthy black hairy pigs now a feature of the streets. I saw one having its nose licked by a puppy. At 3.30pm we left. Clive in the service van and myself,Richard,Elspeth and Gitain (indian friend of Matts) riding the bikes. Clive’s bike okay enough but light broken. Dirty and finally in the dark we could not make contact with the service van which had our bags. So Clive had to find somewhere with his indian drivers/mechanics and the 4 of us elsewhere. Found a basic hotel (clean sheets,towels but no loo paper or shower) costing 250 for the room. Still in our filthy,sweaty motorbike clothes we ate a good meal in this filthy town, Biaora. Dirt street,no elec because it had failed,pigs,cows,goats,people,dogs rubbish etc. Driving at night we had trucks with no lights plus oxcarts,tractors people,bicycles all with no lights and coming towards you they don’t dip.
October 19th Saturday
Trying to get to Agra…400k. Up and off by 6am. Had walked the main street and people sleep anywhere,pigs wander,rats,open sewer. Best part of the day with the country waking up. It soon gets going and we are soon ever more dirty. Filthy towns with dirt roads. Absolute chaos. One town there is a fatal accident and huge crowd. We can’t get through even by bike. More truck accidents on the open road..remains of anyway. We plug on,sweaty with chi breaks and finally arrive in Agra at about 6.30pm. Had a bath with a glass of indian wine!
October 20th Sunday
Up at 7am to see the Taj Mahal. Its by a river which was a surprise and in the town. Agra is filthy as well. We attend press conference. Everyone is now together and Clive back on a bike. We set off for Delhi enmass, led by various Enfield guys. Press again when we get there. Hand over the bikes,shower and try to get some sleep before leaving for the airport at midnight.
October 21st Monday
Hang about airport at Delhi till flight leaves at 4.30am. Arrive Dubai 7ish. Hot. Clive hires car and shows Marco and I around town. We then have a swim in the sea and pool beside Meridian hotel. It is all much as I would imagine Dubai to be. Expensive. Plane to Istanbul delayed,left an hour late. Arrived about 7 local time and after a bit of food went to bed.
October 22nd Tuesday
Did a bit of sightseeing..blue mosque plus bazaar. Pleasant city. Nice weather. We all relaxed. Went to nice restaurant in the evening called Rami.
October 23rd Wednesday
Hung about. Got my bag that had gone missing on the plane . Finally off to airport. Nick without Elspeth is a disaster. We lie around on floor and grass only to find that Nick must have done little yesterday. Finally get the bikes and set off about 4pm. We get to the border as it gets dark and then have to ride on for another couple of hours to Kavala in Greece .
October 24th Thursday
Longish day to Igoumenista the port for the ferry to Bari in Italy. We go across Greece through very pretty mountains on a lovely road ,twisty with lorries. Very slippery surface in places and we all three (clive,marco and I) slip a few times..a bit scary. Arrive in Port at 7pm. No Nick ofcourse but we eventually get on the 9pm by the skin of our teeth. Others get on a later ferry.
October 25th Friday
9am and the boat docks. Soon on our way. 480 miles to do but all on motorway. Italy looks pretty,green etc. Weather is very pleasant and the sun mostly shines. We call on some relations of Marco’s near Rome. This delays us but he is pleased. Finally get to Florence about 7pm. Clive gets cross because we can’t find the place !.
October 26th Saturday
Another motorway day. Florence to Montpelier. 500 miles. Lovely weather after a cloudy start. Marco goes alone to see Pisa, so Clive and I alone since Jason likes going fast on motorway. Pretty scenery, typical french/italian but not fun from motorway.
October 27th Sunday
Great riding through Pyrennes and on into a very rural area north of Teruel for the night. Very small narrow road, very bendy and hotel in the middle of no where. Trout farm nearby. It was near Villarluengo.
October 28th Monday
A hugely long day 563 miles. 2 hours of bends to start with then motorway and then the Sierra Nevada. We rode over 2 passes of 2000m on small roads. Constant bends and as it got late we began to get weary of bends! Finally got there about 9pm. It seemed very pretty. Lots of villages in the hills and probably lots of brits!
October 29th Tuesday
Began at 7am to go to Granada to get a front tyre for me. The road was twisty for a while. Never saw the area in proper day light. On from Granada to Algerceras to catch ferry to Ceuta and thence to Morocco. Border into Morocco was tedious. Arrived in chefchahoun an hour after dark. It gets dark early at this time of year. Very attractive town,full of li,cafes ,restaurants etc. Rough in parts but cleaner than I mught have thought.
October 30th Wednesday
400 miles to do. Nice winding road. Green rolling countryside. Olive groves,old and new. Good soil which probably needs irrigation . Ploughing by donkey as well as tractors. Donkeys everywhere as well as mules and horses. Donkey carts ,donkeys being ridden. Few mopeds. People carried in transit vans. Few pick ups. Some very poor but cleaner than India. Mercedes taxis and cars everywhere…masses of them. Not to much traffic so nice riding. Just got to Marrakesh before dark at 6pm and got a moped to take us in. Seems to be full of different compounds. Lively ‘place ‘ full of food stalls selling cooked meals. Its not that cheap and petrol is quite expensive.
October 31st Thursday
Began by getting
Clives tyres changed as well as Bills and Johns. Motorbike round Marrakesh and end up in impossibly narrow ‘streets’. Centre is tidy for tourists.! On through the Atlas mountains . Dramatic scenery. Lovely road. Short mileage today so really enjoyed the riding. Ended up in Ait Ben Haddou in the Atlas mountains near the sahara. People have been selling crystal quartz by the road. Villages very original and houses made of mud. They seem to be subsisting on tiny fields terraced in the river valley. Hotel simple but foreign!
November 1st Friday
88th day. Went for an early morning walk to look at the older parts. Clive came too. Apparently this town is used as a film set. Only 120 miles to do we began at nine am. We pottered along. Desert like with houses made of mud. Sadly replacement walls are being made of cement. Not so many animals as not much to eat. Temp.pleasant at about 75f. Towns fairly organised…traffic light. Most traffic is tour operators in 4 wheel drive vehicles…endless stream of them. Spend the night in Teneiher(?) which seems to be not on the tour operators agenda for the night. Hotel made of mud originally. Ate Tagine. Stew. People walk everywhere…all along the roads, even in desert areas. We have been at above 1100m the last two days in and on the edge of the Atlas mts. Wild camels. Masses of olives.
November 2nd Saturday
89th day. Began at 7.45am. Beautiful morning on the edge of the desert. Stop in Errachidia for tea/coffee. Gorge de Ziz was disappointing as a gorge but otherwise very scenic. Before Ifrane it looked like an alpine valley and Ifrane seemed like an alpine resort centre….very strange. It is the king’s summer place spot. Many herders with their sheep…its quite high..leading what looked like a nomadic existence. Mules ploughing. Fes for the night. Road been good and little traffic. Went to the medina…old city…narrow streets,very alive ,donkeys/mules well laden.
November 3rd Sunday
90th day. Leave Fes to go back to Spain. Go through area of good farm land and everyone is very busy ploughing with donkey /mules . Saw some broadcasting seed by hand. They do have tractor powered drills too! Weather still very,very pleasant. Reach ferry at 1pm having done 200 miles. Destination Ronda where we met mum and dad. Wonderful gorge. Good meal in restaurant over the gorge.
November 4th Monday
91st day. Had evening with Mum and Dad who stayed in the hotel with us. Breakfast and off by 9am. Clive and I are now on our own. Head for Valencia and end up slightly north after about 465 miles. Acres and acres of olive trees to start the day but ended with more concentrated farm land near Reguene. Heavy into grapes too. Beautiful scenery,lovely mountains. Stayed in a motorway hotel…..fairly awful.
November 5th Tuesday
Day began badly with Clive’s bike’s starter motor failing. It was damaged in Cambodia. Wasted the morning, but it was replaced finally, and we set off about 12 ish. Motorway,pretty countryside, ended up in Carcassone at about 7ish.
November 6th Wednesday
Began 8am. Cold 45f. Bit of motorway and N road. In the afternoon it began to rain. Still cold. 400 odd miles again. Got to Tours in the rain. Quick intro to autumn in northern europe. Bit of a shock.
November 7th Thursday
Sun shining. 300 miles to Hesdin. Some rain ahowers around. Coldish. Autumn countryside …rolling .
November 8th Friday
Day relaxing before the shock of Norfolk in November .