Archive for September, 2010

We decided to wake up and hit the road at 4am the morning to miss the desert heat and get some miles done. The problem is that Lindsay and I stayed up a little late, so only got about 4 hours sleep, which meant we were a little tired on the road.

As we left, riding through the little town, there was a very oily patch in the road, very slippery and I didn’t have enough time to warn Delilah who was riding behind me … I soon heard a yell and she came off quite badly … or so it seemed, but she was fine ! Thank goodness …

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early the morning in the desert

We stopped to have some breakfast next to the road and soon some kids joined us, we gave them sweets and biscuits, but they probably already had a breakfast of their own, so it seemed like they rather wanted some money πŸ™‚

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Delilah admiring the sunrise at breakfast

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Money please !

After breakfast we hit the road again, but I was so tired, I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so it was time for a power nap. We stopped at the first little abandoned building we saw (for some shade) and had a power nap for about an hour or so. In that whole our, we probably only seen one car go by …. really not much going on, on this desert road … except road blocks … loads of them.

Just as we started to get ready again, we saw a very welcoming site …. in the distance was a car, not thinking much, but as it got closer, we recognised it … Pete, Matt and Pete’s wife Aisha in the Land Rover … very glad to see them again. Obviously seeing us next to the road, they pulled off and we were re-united again since Alexandria. Pete very generously offered to carry my spare TKC80 rear tyre in the back of his Landy … saving me about 10kg on weight.

We deciced to head to Dakhla to have some lunch and we stopped at Arabi Restaurant. He had Stella beer … and prepared some nice food for us.

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Catching up with Pete and the gang at Arabi Restaurant

After lunch we headed to the next town on the desert road, called Kargha, but the police followed us all the way from the checkpoint and made us go to the police station, where they wanted to copies of our passports and we had to report to the station at 10pm that night … the hotel was also very expensive, but at least we could buy some more beer and some water and ice cubes for our camelbaks. We decided to rather leave town and head to a little town called Paris πŸ™‚ What a dump !

No campsites, no hotels .. just what almost seemed like an abondoned building, but the locals insisted it is a “hotel”, but we ended up sleeping rough outside in our tents rather … employing one of the local boys to be security guard for the vehicles .. sorry no photos of this, too tired … couldn’t be bothered and it’s late already …. done loads of kilometeres today, long day !

Tomorrow we head for Luxor … and then the final stretch to Aswan on Saturday.

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This morning, the Talat (the owner) served us breakfast, some omellete, cheese, bread and jams. He sat with us and also offered us some fresh dates. He said he is addicted to them. He actually runs Desert tours, so check out his website, http://www.edengardentours.com

As we left the campsite, Delilah came off her bike in the deep sand roads, getting her foot stuck under the pannier, but a helpful local quickly picked the bike up for her, even before Lindsay could get off this bike. She hurt her ankle, even with boots quite badly, she can still walk and ride, but hopefully it will get better soon.

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Eden Camp

We headed to the next “oasis”, Farafra on the Western Desert Road and again, some of the hottest days I have ever experienced. 44 degress celcius of just plain sun, no shade, no vegetation, just desert. When we do decide to stop a little, even little birds would come and sit in the shadow of our bikes just to get some shade.

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Western Desert Road

I think the biggest problem we had in the desert was our water getting warm so quick, even completely frozen bottle water, Mr Talat gave us, was warm in no time. Lukewarm water is not nice, but better than nothing in the desert.

We arrived in Farafra and ended up staying in the Badawiya hotel … at last, what I imagined in my mind what an oasis should be in the desert … a nice swimming pool ! The place was only 10 Euro per person per night … not bad. For lunch, the local tourism polise officer took us to a small little restaurant in town which prepared a meal for us … I have to say, I was quite sceptic, but Lindsay loved it and ate it all πŸ™‚

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The pool at Badawiya Hotel

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The little restaurant in Farafra

Oh yeah, a few days ago, at Alexandria, we lost contact with Peter and Matt in the Land Rover, so we don’t know how to contact them as stupidly enough, we didn’t even get a contact number from him. We knew that Peters’ wife flew into Alexandria to meet up with them, so we were hoping to catch up with them on the road …

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Our bikes in front of the Hotel in Alexandria

We had our breakfast early the next morning in the hotel in Alexandria, packed our bikes and we headed for Cairo. For me, this was a first taste of the heat of Egypt. Alexandria is a mucky and dirty city, so didn’t enjoy that much, however we were soon out of the city and on the road.

Around 200km, we arrived in Cairo and went straight to the pyramids. We got so much hassle from the security who didn’t allow us to ride up to the pyramids and made us park outside, but we could then walk in if we wanted to. I am sure for a little fee, we could’ve, but I was in no mood to haggle with them.

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Pyramids in Cairo

After our photos, we left the other boys in Cairo as they had to sort out some Sudan visas and Lindsay, Delilah and I headed off on the Western Desert Road, South ! There were times I regretted this decision ! πŸ™‚

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Western Desert Road

The Western Desert Road is HOT and there is actually NOTHING to see, except the “oasis’s” after hundred of kilometres. Our first stop for the night was Bawiti and we headed straight for the first campsite on the GPS, Eden Campsite. A few minutes after we parked, I just heard a loud bang, then I realised that a heavy bike and the soft sand was not a good combination

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Soft sand, heavy bike at Eden camp

As we arrived we received a very warm welcome from the owner and his workers, but also from a massive spider which left Lindsay without words … he even considered going somewhere else, hehehe. The spider actually ran up one of the workers trousers while he was trying to catch it, which even made me sqeemish !

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Spider in Lindsay’s room

Nice campsite, well recommended, the host is really friendly, wants to make you feel at home all the time and very accomodating. He even had a hotspring (a pool he called it), but it was brown and some skimming spiders on the water, so we gave that swim a skip.

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Eden Camp, the next morning

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Mr Talat, the owner of Eden Camp

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Alexandra port

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My new friend, Francisco, one of the waiters on the ship

Yesterday after breakfast on the ferry we just hung around the ship waiting for the 14h00 arrival in Alexandria, Egypt.

We finally arrived, but man, was it hot !! I was boiling. The customs and immigration boarded the ship and went through our paperwork, but that was only the beginning. Once we received our passports back and stamped, we were allowed to go down to the bikes to disembark.

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Waiting at customs for bike and security checks

We basically rode of the ship, 100m and was ordered to stop. This was in the midday sun, sweating my ass off. We now had to go through the police control, more customs and security checks. Think it took us a total of about 4 hours and we were eventually on our way.

Outside the port gates, lies Alexandria, what mayhem … words could not describe, traffic is hectic, doesn’t seem to be any rules and they are all over the place, not the mention the speeding.

We were looking for a hotel, but everytime you stop just to talk to each other, people surround you, shouting stuff and all try to help in their own way I guess.

We finally found a local guy, nicknamed Micky … quite good english and he found as hotel with “secure” parking for the bikes accross the road. He then spent all evening with us, taking us around the city, taking us out for a meal at a seafood restaurant … lots and lots of food !!

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Having a huge meal at the seafood restaurant

left to right, Mikey, Neil, Lindsay, Delilah, Ted, Andre, Craig and Cameron

Walked around the city again for a bit … actually quite a long time .. and eventually headed back to the hotel where we are now … about 01h30 in the morning local time. Everything is buzzing, this place is non stop, apparently some the shops stay open 24hrs in the summer !

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Walking back to our hotel

We will be heading to Cairo tomorrow and after that hopefully some open road away from the cities. We then plan to take the Western Desert route on our way down to Aswan.

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It’s the third day on the Visemar Ferry and I think we are just South of Greece due to stop over in Tartous, Syria tomorrow morning. Some of the guys on the ferry are getting off tomorrow in Syria, these include a German couple also on BMW motorcycles (G650 Xchallenge and G650 Xcountry).

During the day it is quite boring, nothing much is happening, a few TV’s, but all in foreigh language, so nothing we understand. The ferry itself is only 18 months old, so pretty new, modern and clean … very cool and well recommended !

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Lindsay and I on the bridge of the ship

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The third officer of the ship

Last night was quite rough at sea with some rain, but this morning again, nice and sunny with just vast ocean around us. It’s beautiful and quite cool just to stand outside and watch the water …

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Above is Matt (left) and Peter (right), the guys in the Landy chilling on the deck of the ship (windy though)

We have met some other travellers, Peter and Matt, also from South Africa. They are travelling in a Land Rover, doing more or less the same route. They even have a freezer and fridge in the back for beer and ice for the gin and tonic, so I guess we are sticking with them as much we can. Matt will only be travelling to Aswan and will then be flying back to London. Peter’s wife will be joining him in Alexandria, Egypt, so from Aswan it will only be Peter and his wife.

The other guys, 2 english, Ted (http://www.touringted.com) and Neil (http://neils.in) will also be travelling the same route, but they still need to get all their visas, so might be slighly behind us on this trip.

There are also 2 kiwi guys, Craig and Cameron (http://cam-africa.blogspot.com) and they have more or less the same route and timescale than us, travelling on a Transalp and a Yamaha Tenere, so we might end up travelling together.

In the evenings, we just sit and chat, play cards, drink “expensive” beer and try and watch foreign TV …

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The guys playing cards last night … from left to right, Neil, Ted, Craig, Matt, Peter, Lindsay, Cameron

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We are now on the Visemar ferry, four days at sea, arriving at Alexandria, Egypt on Monday afternoon. Very kindly the crew on the ferry organized us a UK to Europe mains converter so that we can charge our laptops πŸ™‚

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I have done quite a bit of riding the last 3 days, first day to Strasbourg and yesterday to Bergamo in Italy (where I stayed in quite a snazzy hotel). The ride yesterday was great, mixed motorway and non motorway, obviously non motorway riding providing the best scenery. I went through all this small little villages in Switzerland which was very beautiful.

As I say, I stayed in Bergamo last night, had a few beers as some of you who are following me on twitter would have noticed and then this morning I almost overslept again, but made it in time with just 200km of straight motorway riding to Venice.

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I met up with Lindsay and Delilah (http://uk2za2010.blogspot.com) at the Visemar ferry port this morning, so now we are re-united for the trip down to Cape Town.

We also met a few other travellers, some on bikes, some with trucks and some with land cruisers, from German, Italian, British to some South Africans. There are also loads of rally cars and bikes onboard as well as some helicopters, assuming to film the rally in Egypt.

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The check-in process was quite painless, but quite a wait, but in no time we were on the ship, only 50 or so passengers on the whole ferry … I also managed to organize my own 3 berth cabin πŸ˜‰

Food on the ferry is quite expensive as you can imagine, a beer is 5 euro and food for the 4 days are about 89 euro, but what can you do. The internet on the ferry is 7 euro per hour .. which is also expensive, but I reckon is not too bad for internet on the ocean. There is also mobile phone coverage, not sure how that works.

Next stop is Egypt … I hope I can keep this blog up to date, subject to internet availability, but I am planning to keep you all updated via twitter

Laters !

Was a bit of a rush this morning as I almost overslept, that is the 2 hours that I did sleep. Packed up this morning and headed off around 5am … weird photo I know πŸ™‚

I hate the ride the Folkestone and this morning it was cold and foggy … at times I could barely see a thing. Made it just in time for the train and in no time we were in Calais.

Much better than to UK, or so I thought, a few miles out of Calais, exactly the same. Cold …. and lots of fog.

Stopped off at a petrol station for something to drink and a bus load of people arrived and looks like it was the first time they have seen a bike before, everyone stared at me and smiled. One french guy was really concerned that my shocks will give in .. not sure why he was so obsessed about it .. πŸ™‚

As soon as I left, the sky opened and was sunshine all day around 21 degrees, lovely day, just a shame I was so tired !

Headed mostly motorway which is damn expensive by the way and now sleeping in Strasbourg. I plan to leave tomorrow morning early, heading to Italy.

The battery on the laptop is running low, so I better make this post quick ….

Will do a better post when the laptop is charged … going to bed now !

Countdown is on, only 2 and a half days left ….. early Tuesday morning I am on my way πŸ™‚

Been cleaning, de-greasing, polishing and chain lubing today … the bike looks nice and clean now, dont you think ?

Sitting in my room, staring at all the things I have to pack .. especially now that I Β have a spare rear tyre as well … will it all fit ? How heavy is it going to be ? … planning it in my head already. I think I should at least pack most of the stuff today or maybe tomorrow and see how it feels and how the bike handles.

As I said, I have ordered a TKC80 rear spare tyre since I do not want to struggle in Africa sourcing a suitable tyre, so I will just have to strap it on somewhere and ride with it all the way. It will be easier and I think I will be glad I did when the time comes to change tyres. I am sure the front tyre will see my all the way to Cape Town.

I also bought loads of instant “dry foods” … like noodles, soups, pastas, breakfast bars, instant 3-in-1 coffee sachets, Horlicks, Hot Choch and Smash (instant potato mash for those who don’t know). I think I actually bought too much, but it will be for those days when we find nothing to eat and nothing better than waking up, putting on the stove and having a nice cup of coffee in the morning πŸ™‚

Anyway, speaking of which, very hungry now, so I am off to the take-away … not long now, can’t wait. Remember, follow me on twitter for the latest … laters !

Only a few more days to go … a surreal feeling that something you planned and dreamt about for a long time is now happening. I think it’s going to be so much fun, but at the same time difficult. “What have you got yourself into …?” will probably cross my mind every now and again πŸ™‚

Anyway, recently I discovered that when BMW Park Lane/Battersea did the last service on my motorcycle, they either used loctite or over-tightened the bolts on the front of my bash plate so much, it was impossible to loosen them with the tools in my possession.

I phoned them up, but they were not very helpful, claiming that they fasten it by hand and to the correct torque settings as per BMW. It is not even a BMW bash plate, how would they know what torque settings to use … I gave up in the end, but I need to get these bolts out to access the oil filter to do my own oil changes during the trip … so I had to get some help !

I took my motorcycle to Mark Holden Motorcycles in Bromley, Kent. Awesome guys .. they too had to struggle, couldn’t believe BMW would tighten the bolts so much, but eventually got them out and replaced them for me with normal hex bolts, all this basically for free … great guys, well recommended and they are BMW specialists !

… and yeah, I know it is dirty, but I have not yet had the chance to wash the bike since the off road riding this weekend, will wash it before I depart on Tuesday though …

Tuesday morning early I am setting off on my African adventure, twitter will be my main form of updates, so be sure to follow me

That is it ! I do not think I can do any more or prepare anything else. Only packing left to do now.

Bought a few stuff this week, shorts, trousers, medicines, toiletries … you name it ! Pretty much done on the shopping front.

We also did some byway riding this past weekend down near Guildford, was good fun, dropped the bike on some heavy sand, so I am not looking forward to any sand (I hate riding in sand …)

In a week, the 21st of Sept, I am setting off around 4am heading as far into France as I can in one day … follow my adventures for the next few months by following me on twitter or checking this blog …