Category Archives: Round the World 2002

3 months, 32000 miles around the globe in a big hurry

2016 Ride Route

The route I followed for the London to Bangkok 2016 ride.

London to China

Through China

And finally Laos and Thailand

If you would like to play with the KML yourself – here is the data

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Far East Motorcycle Tour

Ride with me on a UK to Bangkok motorcycle tour.  Out from the UK and east to the land of the Hammer and Sickle.  Up to St Petersburg, down through Moscow and out to Kazakhstan on our way to China and beyond to the far east.

28 days from the UK out through Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and border with China.  Across the Torugart pass into China then 26 days across and down to Laos in the south.  In 2017 I plan to travel through the high Himalayas and visit Everest base camp before continuing east through the Tibetan capital of  Lhasa before heading east through the Leaping Tiger gorge and Shangri La before turning south to Mohan and out through Laos.

This ride departs from UK Aug 8th or 9th 2017.

Stage 1

Leave the UK and ride east across Europe into Russia, then down through Kazakhstan and into Kyrgyzstan where we reach the Chinese border.

Stage 2

Ride 26 days across  China.

Stage 3

12 days in Laos and Thailand to Bangkok where we finish.

You can join this tour for 1, 2 or all stages, the choice is yours.  Together they constitute a single trip from the UK to Bangkok.  From there you can continue on around the world or sea freight your bike back to the UK.

All the details of the 2017 tour can be found here.

If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d be very happy to hear from you.

UK to Bangkok Motorcycle Tour

Ride with me on a UK to Bangkok motorcycle tour.  Out from the UK and east to the land of the hammer and sickle.  Up to St Petersburg, down through Moscow and out to Kazakhstan on our way to China and beyond

27 days across China from Kyrgyzstan in the west down to Laos in the south.  In 2017 I plan to travel through the high Himalayas and visit Everest base camp before continuing east through the Tibetan capital of  Lhasa before heading east through the Leaping Tiger gorge and Shangri La before turning south to Mohan and out through Laos.

This ride departs from UK August 8th 2017.

Stage 1

Leave the UK and ride east across Europe into Russia, then down through Kazakhstan and into Kyrgyzstan where we reach the Chinese border.

Stage 2

Ride 28 days across  China.

Stage 3

10 days in Laos and Thailand to Bangkok where we finish.

You can join this tour for 1, 2 or all stages, the choice is yours.  Together they constitute a single trip from the UK to Bangkok.  From there you can continue on around the world or sea freight your bike back to the UK.

All the details of the 2017 tour can be found here.

If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d be very happy to hear from you.

Europe and Morocco

Mon 21st Arrive in Istanbul.

Another airport, another city, another set of customs, another chance to loose baggage and sure enough someone’s bag goes missing and we wait for a while but it’s not turning up.  I reckon most of our clothes are perfectly capable of walking off on their own now after so much wear and so little washing.  Head into town into a little hotel in the city centre with the smallest TV so far which annoys my roommate.  He likes to sit 1 inch from the telly to simulate ‘wide screen’ but with this one he’s going to have to press his nose right up against it.

Tue 22nd

My bloody leg and knee is killing me and it’s not helped by being on the 632nd floor of a hotel without lifts, or being at the bottom of a steep hill.  Spend the day hobbling round the city visiting some of the sights like the Blue Mosque and the bazaar.  The thing I really notice here is the smoking.  Everyone smokes.  The blokes smoke, the girls smoke, the kids smoke, the petrol attendants smoke, everyone smokes.  Even the birds fly around with 1 eye shut and a fag in their beaks.  Eating lunch is an exercise in how long you can hold your breath.  Some of the restaurants have firemen as waiters, in full breathing apparatus. They’re the only one who can see further than 2 feet in front of their faces.  It’s disgusting.

Wed 23rd Istanbul to Karala 280 miles.

Up early and ready to go.  Ready…steady….steady…steady… bugger, more waiting.  The customs are being a real arse about releasing the bikes because so few of the riders smoke apparently, I dunno.  We go out to the freighters and wait for hours on the grass being watched by the squareheads.  Turkish men seem to have the squarest heads in the world, no question.  It’s like their heads are made in boxes and they have a large flat bit on the back where they’re thumped out the mould with a plank.  You could stand 4 Turkish men together and put a square hat over the 4 of them together with no gaps, weird.  Anyway, we eventually get the bikes cleared and have to reassemble them in almost complete darkness with only the faint glow of a thousand cigarettes as light in the warehouse.  Eventually get away about 4 and head out of Turkey towards Greece.  It’s raining and cold and dark when we cross the boarder into Euroland.  Speeds increase as usual the later (and more dangerous) it gets and everyone wants their beds.  Two boys see a dog in the middle of the motorway but they’re shifting and it’s down to lady luck.  Dog gets a kick from the first which puts it into a spin like a figure skater on steroids, then the second bike runs it over, job done!  Both claim the kill but I still remain the only unambiguous dog killer on the trip.  Arrive late again in Karala and crash out after eating something unidentified but squashy and warm, tasty.

Continue reading Europe and Morocco

India

Thur Singapore to Madras

Boring day waiting around for the the flight from Singapore to Madras via Kuala Lumpur. Get to Madras sometime around 12pm. I always find it weird coming out the airport in any country as your senses get assaulted by the new sights and sounds but this is really weird. All the cars look 20 years old and there are loads of blokes looking like the ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster walking around in uniform and carrying a huge ‘beat stick’. The auto rickshaws are everywhere too, and beggars. Get into a circa 1950 coach for the ride across town. Madras is a huge city but it’s dead this time of night. The traffic is light but there seems nothing on the road that would pass any sort of MOT test. This place looks squalid. We arrive at our hotel which seems an oasis in the early morning, two of us in each room have to sleep on the floor but better that than be in the ‘thunderdome’ outside the gates.

Fri Madras.

We’re riding Royal Enfields across India and today we go to the factory to collect the bikes. We get a bus for the 30 minute journey and I really can’t describe the scenery outside as we travel. The place is absolutely heaving with people, animals, auto rickshaws, lorries, bikes and various other machinery. The city is a grade 1, 100% money back guaranteed dump of the first order. It’s just simply incredible. The whole place is a squalid, filthy, smelly mass of humanity where people are living, washing, eating, pissing and literally shitting in the streets amongst the throngs moving to and fro. The poverty is incredible with straw huts on the edge of the roads next to piles of stinking rotting rubbish being picked clean by goats, cows and dogs. The shops are holes in the walls and the entire city seems to have that ‘post apocalyptic’ feel with survival amongst the ruins the only thing on peoples minds. There are people just everywhere. I’ve just not ever seen anything remotely like this before. All the traffic seems to have at least 400,000 miles on the clock, no brakes, a smoke generator for an engine and a horn that would be more at home on a cross channel ferry. We get to the factory and it’s like a 1950’s propaganda video with people working away making bikes with no safety goggles or any sort of health and safety rules at all, anything goes. The blokes are testing the bikes on a rolling road within 2 yards of the production line. One slip and a line of people immediately get deleted, mad. We have a bit of a chat and stand in the heat. 41 degrees and 75% humidity, nice. We then choose our bikes and take them on the ‘test track’, a 30 yard oval with a loose surface and tree branches overhanging. These bikes are CRAP, awful, uncomfortable slow old dogs. They also have the controls back to front and upside down. Now children, on a ‘normal’ motorbike the gearchange is on the left. From neutral you press down for first then up for the other gears in sequence but on an Enfield the gearchange is on the right and you press up for first then down for the other gears. A ‘normal’ bike has the back brake on the right foot, but the Enfield has it on the left, is that clear? Now imagine getting into a car with the brake where the clutch is and the gearbox having the normal pattern reversed and you see that things might get a bit tricky. We go out into the city for a ‘play’ with the traffic. This is the ‘WWF, no holds bared’ sort of traffic like nowhere else in the world. The only rule of the road is ‘biggest has priority’. It’s completely insane. Traffic comes at you from every direction, looks at you then just pulls straight out in front of you even if your 2in from the front of it. Riding in that in the heat on weird bikes is a bit of a challenge to put it mildly. We get into a huge group and the chief of police escorts us across town to the hotel. Through every traffic signal and round streets the wrong way etc with all the riders going ‘first…… second SCREECH bugger , wrong foot, that’s the brake… right second……. SCREEEM 5 million revs….. bollocks, that’s first again… what a laugh that was. Still, we all arrived safely, compare horror stories and look forward to tomorrow with trepidation.

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Continue reading India

Asia

Tue Perth to Singapore

We’re up at 4am.  It’s weird but across Australia we’ve been staying in hostels, usually 6 to a room and we’ve developed a new non-verbal method of communication that we all understand when we arise.  You’ve heard of ‘body language’, well this is ‘bottie language’ and we’ve all formulate an agreed vocabulary that saves us the usual ‘morning mate etc.  Only trouble is, a couple of others and I overdosed on vegetables last night and we’re having trouble keeping our voices down this morning.  The only downside of this method of conversation is the disagreeable ‘morning breath’.  Anyway, we check out of the hostel and get to the airport and fly to Singapore. We all arrived safely but one of my bags didn’t, never mind, it’s only got my leathers and boots in, nothing important.  I’ve spent some time in Hong Kong but I’d forgotten about the heat and humidity.  God knows what it’ll be like riding here in leathers.  Later we go for dinner at the yacht club (not as posh as it sounds) where one of the riders is a member and watch a spectacular tropical storm plus thunder and lightening go across the straight between Singapore and Malaysia.  That weather should be a laugh to ride a bike in too.

Sat Singapore to Malacca 180

Got the bikes from the freighters yesterday and this morning we’re OFF. Out through the traffic to the boarder with Malaysia. At least they drive on the left here which makes life easier. We clear customs at Singapore and cross the causeway to the Malaysian side. There are so many motorbikes going to and fro across the boarder that they have special lanes for them. We spend a pleasant 30 minutes sniffing the gentle aroma of 2 stroke engines and bake in our leathers. Forget the F-Plan diet, this is the ay to loose weight. Sit in black leathers in 30 odd degrees and 80% humidity on a black air cooled motorcycle and hey ho, all your fat turns to water and deliciously dribbles down the insides of your clothes and out at the cuffs, job’s a good’n. Anyway, across the boarder and there is instant culture shock. After the organised cleanliness and control of Singapore comes the motoring chaos and anarchy that is Malaysian driving. asia9We drive down to a fishing village built out on the water on stilts. The drive is incredible. There are motorbikes everywhere, and trucks buses and cars going in all directions. It quickly becomes apparent that road markings are to be ignored completely. Double white lines are really tram lines for motorbikes, and speed limits are all minimums instead of maximums. There seem to be three lanes of traffic in each direction, but only one lane is marked on the road. Add kids, goats, cows, chickens, dogs driving buses, bulls driving bulldozers and random bicycles going against the traffic in the verge and you have a typical main road. You quickly end up driving like they do though and it becomes more fun. On returning to the bikes from lunch, I appear to have my first puncture, bugger. At first I think the kids have let the tyre down for a laugh but after torturing a couple, it appears they didn’t and I do have a flat. It’s always a pain on a bike with no spare wheel but I use the puncture kit then sweat blood pumping it up again in the heat. Time to fill up. How much, are you sure? Blimey, £2.50 to fill up. 20p a litre, what a rip off. We spend the rest of the day playing dodge the accident up to the hotel. I call them hotels, but most the places we stay are very low rent hostel/backpacker places, definitely not somewhere I’d stay given a choice. This place is ok though, clean (not all have been) and comfy.

Continue reading Asia

Mexico and Australia

Wed Big Bend to Creel 420

The instructions in the handbook said ‘leave the campsite, turn left and at the first sharp bend throw bike into big steep gully, break shoulder and cause fellow riders to drop bikes’.  Luckily, I’d heard it was a printing error before I left the site. The first group had stuffed themselves at a steep 100 degree bend.  The bike was upside down and the rider had hurt her shoulder.  It was manhandled out and she rode it 25 miles to breakfast but by then the adrenaline was gone and she was in trouble.  Another person to hospital and probably going home.  We all take it a bit easier today.  We’re off towards Mexico and ride a rollercoaster road along side the Rio Grande river for 50 miles.  Nearly hit a roadrunner and the sky is full of vultures waiting for motorcyclist roadkill.  Over the boarder and we’re in a different world, where visa cards are laughed at and the towns all look like ghettos.  First impressions aren’t good but later in the countryside the scenery is fantastic.  Green and verdant with valleys full of horses and children alongside the rivers.  Bloody  scary roads though.  All the women in the countryside wear the traditional colourful costume and the blokes ride the horses with the obligatory cowboy hat.  The people are friendly but want to diddle you whenever money is involved.  We arrive in an amazing little hotel off a dirt street in a little town and park the bikes in the courtyard.  Hardly anyone speaks English (or will admit to) so buying anything is difficult.  Nice to really feel abroad though.

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Thur Creel to Parral 230

Getting the bikes out of the courtyard up the stone steps proves tricky but we’re all away and out safely then up into the mountains around the copper canyons.  These canyons are HUGE and dwarf the grand canyons.  The deepest is 6200ft.  Holy smoke!  Mountain roads to motorcyclists are like red rags to a bull and we’re off.  What a ride this is.  Imagine going on one of those carousels at the fair where you sit of the chairs and spin round with the centrifugal forces taking you out sideways.  Now imagine putting the carousel on top of a 40 storey building, then cut the pole to 5ft long and spin you at 70mph with your feet just off the floor.  Now, for a little excitement get your knife out and start cutting the cord on your seat till you’re swinging on a thread.  That’s what it feels like today, excellent. Lots of the riders say they were riding on ‘full wets’ today.  That’s not their tyres, that’s their pants.  My sphincter was waterproof to 4000 ft all day but I really enjoyed it,  Not sure about the bike though.  All arrived safely at the hotel and locked the gates.  Looks like Mad Max thunderdome outside but I’m sure it’s safe, probably.

Continue reading Mexico and Australia