India…. A second chance

November 8th, 2010 by admin

Yesterday’s experiences, traveling alone again, which I have until I met my buddies from Singapore in Laos. It reminded me of some of the differences of traveling alone compared to traveling with a group or even just one of your buddies. People ask me all of the time ” why do you travel alone?” it must be dangerous, lonely or boring.

My reply is always ” I eat where I want, sleep where I want and shit where I want!” no conversation about what do you wanna eat, sleep, do whatever, I don’t know, what do you wanna do? Bullshit. But the real reason is that I think it makes me more available to encounter locals. Example: if I pull up in front of a restaurant with all my buddies and we get off the bikes, talking about whatever and go into the place shootin’ the shit and order our food, probably nobody approaches us. Alone, I am likely to be approached by service people or locals who are curious to what the hell is this guy on a big bike in the middle of nowhere doing here. I get adopted all the time. Strangers invite me to stay with them, go party with them and their friends and usually I end up being the only foreigner there. Perfect. I want to experience what the local people are doing not what Frommers or Lonely Planet recommends which means that’s where all the tourist are, and not where I wanna be. Case in point, the concierge from the Taj Bengal ask me if I would like to accompany him to a members only club he belongs to for a cocktail, I accept and he meets me in front of the Hotel after his shift. He takes me to this out building located in a park like setting where his buddies are playing snooker and drinking beers. His wife and son are there waiting for us and we have some killer hor douvors and beers while shooting the shit with his friends. It’s about 8:30 and they invite me to dinner with some of their friends. We go to this funky little place, full of Indians and all start drinking Scotch and waters with meals they order and we just kinda pick at and share. I meet this big x rugby player who loves to sing old blue songs in English and now here I am in India sitting in local bar doing what Indians do. Fricken perfect! I am sure by my previous writings that you can tell I was a little disenchanted with my first experiences in India. This evening with my new friends had totally changed my assumptions. I don’t think that this situation would have happened if I had arrived with all my friends on the bikes together. Most people would have just assumed, that we had plans or that we wanted to do something together. Don’t get me wrong, I have also enjoyed traveling with the boys from Singapore. Usually all the decisions are mine and mine alone. What route to take, how far to travel on any given day, and sometimes in a foreign land with very few people speaking English, you can go days even weeks without a real conversation. Just the basics of lodging, food and gas, with sometimes nothing much better than sign language. On the point of navigation, I have been very lazy on this trip. Chris who I have nicked named the Colonel is always the first guy to have his helmet on and bike started. His cry of “let’s go! 5 minutes”
Means you better get ready to depart or he leaves without you. My MO is that in the a.m. I usually follow Chris out of the hotel. But after lunch I hang back with Eric and run Sweep. Just follow the group, where Chris leads we follow. If someone has a problem, everybody works on the solution to move the team forward. It’s kinda nice not having to make or be responsible for every decision. More time for speculation, photos and just chillin on my bike.

On the bikes early…

October 25th, 2010 by admin

Ok. On the bikes early, it’s still dark outside and we are headed for Patna. We are the only ones on the road. We are on quite little roads after leaving town and are having a very nice start of the day. Then the rain comes and the once before nice roads turn to highways under construction with lots of detours. It not just raining it’s fricken pouring! Low visibility and muddy conditions on the detours. After about 4 hours of it, Cliff pulls into what I think is an abandon gas station which turns out to be a restaurant. We head inside and there is a tour bus parked in the back so we must be good? So we are wet and tired so we stay. We order the food and after about 20 minutes a group of military police show up. I think that they’re here to shut the makeshift abandoned gas station down, but no, they’re here for lunch too. Another 30 minutes go by and I notice all the cops are eating and we haven’t got any food. I ask the proprietor what’s up? He says your food is ready just one moment. Another 20 minutes and nothing! Now this is the second time in 2 days that this has happened. Last night at dinner same thing, Indians who came in after us eat first. That’s the way it is here. Later this same day, a guy cuts in front of me line to order some dinner, I address him with ” you think it’s ok to just cut in front of the foreigner?” he says very clearly “yes I am Indian, it’s Ok!”

Anyway, 2 hour lunch now puts is behind schedule, we reach Patna at peak traffic and giant celebration time can’t find fricken hotel, drive around with in crazy hot traffic. At one point we literally have over 100 people at one intersection crowded round our bikes.

Today is the biggest and last day of the Celebration of “Good over Evil” and Patna being a big city means BIG celebration complete with huge Fireworks show we can see from hotel room. After finally finding the hotel and checking inn. We meet for dinner. We go outside and it’s a mob scene. 10’s of thousands of people everywhere. Everybody having a good time but still a little crazy. So we decide to eat in the hotel. The next day we head for Gaya. Another early start and after only a 100 klicks on nice roads we reach our destination. Gaya is where Buddha attained enlightenment. It’s just outside town where we find a nice hotel. It’s a beautiful day with no rain in site. My friends are planing a nice day of temples. We are about 400 klicks from Kulcata and I am worried the next day is gonna be like yesterday, 10 hours of shitty roads and traffic. So I decide to break from the group and head out my own. My plan is to travel half the 400 hundred klicks today and have nice short day tomorrow. About 30 klicks south of Gaya the map says I am to turn onto international Highway # 2 all the way to Kulcata. I have no hope that it’s gonna be any better road than yesterdays International Highway but to my surprise it a real 4 lane divided highway! Real Highway! The first I have seen in 4 weeks! I wick it up to 120 kmph and start thinking,”shit, it’s only noon and at this pace I can make Kalcutta and my first 5 star hotel in weeks!” First 200 klicks are fast maybe 2.5 hours. Then start some truck traffic and cross traffic in towns. There is really no where I can see I want to stop so I continue on. Another 100 and now the heavy traffic you would expect outside any big city starts. So by the time I get close it’s starting to get dark. I don’t see at night like I used to and there is no highway lights to think of so I have to wait for a car to pass me and then get in behind them and follow until they get tired of my lights in there mirror and speed off. Slow progress but I am determined to sleep in big bed with big pillows! So I continue. I finally reach the outskirts around 6 and start looking for Taxi to direct me the final distance to the Taj Bengal, the most famous hotel in Kulcata. Lots of interchange choices, still to far outside city to find taxi. I see this guy on scooter curious about this big white guy on big bike and stop him. I start to follow him and quickly realize he doesn’t have a clue where we are going. He continually stops and ask for directions. I still don’t see any taxis, so he still my best choice. He is trying to help. I run in to this all the time. People I meet genuinely want to help you. They even will agree with you on bad directions thinking they are helping you. So I have developed the 3 answer rule. You ask 3 different people the same question and if you different directions from anyone of them you gotta ask another until you have 3 confirming directions. Works most of the time. But it’s night time and there’s no body to ask and my scooter guy keeps taking me on freeway on ramps going the wrong way against traffic like it’s no big deal!

When we do find the hotel I am very pleased. Real doorman to help with my bags. Welcome drink on arrival. I probably should mention I am most likely smelling a little Foul! Bikes filthy from now 30 days of continued abuse. Haven’t been able to wash any of my outer gear for fear of harsh laundry detergent ruining the protective clothing that keeps me waterproof and no time to hand wash and dry before riding next day. So when I pull up to these kind of properties, I am usually drilled with questions about what am I doing here. These guys were great. As I get off my bike the realization that I just completed a very big adventure starts to sink in. I am here! Kolkata frickin India. Talk about the long way round! I started this RTW in January of 2007 when I crossed into Mexico 25 or countries later here I am. My unconventional method of moving the bike from country to country, leaving it there, flying home and retrieving it later has made for slow progress. But more importantly it has allowed me the opportunity to really get to the people and places I have visited. For me that was what this life journey is all about!


October 24th, 2010 by admin

I you haven’t figured it out by now, I am traveling with a bunch of Buddhist. There is not a temple or religious site on this trip we have not been to; very enlightening! Today we are in Lumbini, Nepal, located just 20 klicks from the India border. We head out early from the hotel, cross the street and walk down to what is the birth place of Buddha. Godfather, Chris and Phoah are still with us, though not on the bikes but in the chase vehicle. They fly home from Kathmandu tomorrow. Interesting place, the ruins are in a protected area and there’s an X to mark the spot of the exact place of Buddha’s birth. How do they know that 2000 plus years ago this is the spot? I don’t know but here we are. Godfather and I do some shopping and the group says our goodbyes and the Five of us head off to the border. Who’s left? Me, James, Cliff, Loh and Eric our ring leader. We head for the India border. It’s a little easier with just 5 bikes but I already miss Chris’s excellent navigation skills. But after a couple of wrong turns and asking directions from locals we find the border crossing just as it starts to rain. Typical border chaos, cows everywhere, a big giant elephant is wondering down the road. First we have to exit Nepal, we find the immigration building and take turns watching the bikes and processing. Eric goes over and takes care of customs for the bikes and we cross into
no-mans land. We enter India and locate the customs officials and in a shitty little building as the rain is now pouring on us. I am parking my bike next to Erik and step into a giant pile of Cow shit! Erik laughs and says that must mean “Good luck” I think it would have been “good Luck” if he stepped in it! We cross the street to customs, in India they require a Carne De Passage, basically it’s a guarantee that that we promise not to sell our bikes in India and show proof of our departure or forfeit the guarantee. the equivalent of 50k in cash. The processing of the five bikes and stamps and interview takes an hour and a half or so while we stand in the rain in all our gear taking turns going in out of customs, then cross to the place that looks like a open storefront with 3 guys sitting at a folding table. This is Immigrations!? So we all process and head out of the little border town. It’s now about 2 and I know that lunch will be imminent, we pull in front of what looks like the one reasonably clean building we have yet seen. I park the bike take off my helmet and look up at the sign and see “Chinese Food”. yep our first stop in India to eat and it’s Chinese again! The truth is we order Nan, lamb masala and chicken vindelu and it was killer! While confirming directions with a local at the restaurant, he informs us that today is the start of India’s biggest celebration! I can’t make this shit up! Yes, once again, everybody’s on the road. To add to the mayhem, every little town we pass through has these big booth set up with crazy loud Indian music playing from street level giant sound systems.

The drivers here are the most aggressive group of drivers I have ever seen! The roads are shit, trash and cows everywhere and the people drive like they have no will to live. Standard overloaded buses and truck exercising their “Might is Right”. Families of 5, on scooters with mom clutching baby in her arms. Constant honking by everybody. Oh there’s one more new threat, two teenage boys on scooters who come along side and leer at us? Not just one set but hundreds in every little town. They follow close on each side and the guy in back taking pictures on cell phone. They harass us at every opportunity. Stop short in front, pass us on blind turns. We have a couple runs where we are literally bumping into them! All this makes for crappy experience and all of just want to find hotel and chill.

We do and go out for nice dinner later but decide we will be up at 5 and on the bikes by 6 to get the hell outta here and get to Kulcata as quickly as possible.

Nepal day 2

October 23rd, 2010 by admin

After a great meal in the open air restaurant on the river we retired to the equally beautiful bar. For the first time in a long time, I was able to enjoy some Jack Daniels with Ice! You see China apparently does not have ice!? Everywhere we went, even nice hotels, bars and restaurants, no Ice. Everywhere we went my cry for ” Ping Quey” (ice in Chinese) was returned with looks of dismay. It became the joke of all the riders. I would ask for ping quey and the riders, especially Godfather, would start repeating “pinq quey, ping quey”. But it rarely ever appeared. So after to many JD’s we all walked down to a big fire pit by the river and just hung out. Something we have I little time to do.

We ride everyday, rarely less than 8 to 10 hours on the bikes with some 12 to 15 hour days for good measure. The next morning, after a good nights sleep we get a late start at 9am. Everybody is feeling rejuvenated. We head out of the hotel on decent dirt road that turns to asphalt after a few klicks. As is now customary or another odd coincidence, it the biggest holiday in Nepal! A Hindi celebration, which once again means that all of the citizens of Nepal are on the roads traveling for vacation. Lots of couples on scooters with backpacks, families packed in small cars and old piece of shit buses packed to capacity with 20 to 30 people riding on the roof! With crazy ass drivers with no concern for anybody’s safety. They haul ass down these cliff-side roads, honking and careening along with passengers clinging to each other on top. No one seems to concerned, they actually look like they are having there own adventure!

We stop for lunch at a restaurant on top of the mountain and enjoy a wonderful meal provided by the restaurant owner who was from Spain. I get to work some of my bad Spanish and he tells about how he came to be the proprietor of this estate. He came here in the 70’s as a long haired hippie married a Britt and stayed here in paradise. We head out towards Kathmandu and the traffic it promises. We meet up with a guy on a very cool Enfield Bobber that Chris has made arraignments with to ship 3 of the bikes back to Singapore with. Miasfta?( totally butchered, sorry) a member of the Handlebar Motorcycle club with their own bad ass club house. Chris, Phoah and Godfather need to get back to Singapore so after sorting out the details we head over to the hotel. We meet in lobby at 6 and head out to a traditional Hindi dinner show. Classic bad meal with good entertainment. It’s Chris birthday so some of us head out to the bars of Kathmandu. It’s everything you think it would be. Narrow streets with lots of backpackers speaking all languages of the world. Guys trying to sell me “some killer Hash”. No, I didn’t buy any! We go up some stairs to a grimy little bar and order a bottle of tequila. Yes tequila! Mucho’s in hog heaven! There’s a little stage and after a couple of minutes this guy with a painted mustache on his face and a big knife starts dancing around lip syncing to some strange almost sounds like Rob Zombie music in Hindi. He’s the warm up guy! After him a young lady comes out in traditional Indian garb and does her own dance. A guy from the audience gets on stage and kind of does a mock dance with her. No one seems to care and the show continues. Miasfta and a friend of his are here with us enjoying the tequila, he says “This is Kathmandu! MF! This shit happens all the time”.

And now we are 5
The next day it’s up early to visit “Old town” and another temple. I am nursing a slight hangover, decide to stay back and watch the bikes. Usual crowd forms, same hundred questions, but a bunch of nicer people you couldn’t find. Just interested in what this mass of bikes is all about. I put one guy in charge and wonder across the street for a cup of tea. There’s a little group of mostly men sitting or standing at the curb. There’s a little old lady crouched down in the street/gutter with her little gas stove. I get in the queue and watch the process. Basically she only has about Ten glasses to serve the crowd. So when 1 person is done, the helper guy takes the glass rinses off in the semi dirty bucket of water then hands glass back to old lady. I’m thinking WTF this Kathmandu this lady probably been squatting here for eternity if everybody was getting sick from the process she would not have so many customers… Best damn tea I ever had! Made with milk, she boils it with the tea leaves then pours over strainer into waiting glass. All for about 10 cents US. I got back in line for seconds. Tried to keep my glass, but helper guy needed for other customer in queue,.
Off to Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha!


October 23rd, 2010 by admin

So after a very hectic day on Everest and a hurried morning departure, I am excited at the opportunity to continue my adventure. We start on some great asphalt and head for our summit of the day, K2, the 4th highest peak, before dropping down to the border of Nepal. It’s absolutely the coldest day we have had and we’ve had some fricken cold ones. Big gloves with liners, heated grips, micro tee, long sleeve turtle, MSR micro fleece, electric vest, Joe Rocket jacket and Gortex cover. Pants with micro long-johns, gortex liners and two pairs of socks. I feel like the Michelin Man. But I am warm! It’s clear and beautiful! The roads are dry, the bike, after all of yesterdays issues is running and handling great. It’s a massive mountain range that almost surrounds us. We stop for customary photos, everybody is feeling good and are all excited about another border crossing into Nepal. We start to head down the back side of K2 and the temperature starts climbing, by the time we reach our first police checkpoint of the day we are all boiling with all our cold gear on. We start peeling off layers to just basic protection gear. After the check point we start down into a huge, steep, narrow gorge. Once again the road is cut into the side of the cliffs with hardly any guard rails and huge vertical drop offs. I want to try and get a picture to show the giant drop but get to freaked out that I’m gonna tip the bike over and plummet to the bottom!

Speaking of pictures, unfortunately all the photos on this blog are from my iPhone. I actually have taken close to 2000 plus photos from the road with my Canon SLR, it has a pistol grip that I can easily remove from tank bag while I am riding. Hold it with my left hand and aiming the camera freehand and take some great action photos without having to stop all the time. Problem is my laptop is in my suitcase in Bangkok waiting for my return. I will download camera when I return and update blog.

As we are approaching the border town and before crossing into Nepal the entire surroundings have changed. It’s like we have entered into a beautiful jungle. Its humid and everything is green, huge palm tree’s,giant ferns. The most magnificent waterfalls are at every turn, sometime going over the road itself! It’s all kinda crazy! We have the coldest day of the trip this morning and now 2 hours later it’s the hottest. We stop before crossing for what will be our last Chinese food meal, after 42 in a row! Actually I did have a Yak steak with Chris and Cliff in Lhasa.

So we are leaving China after 14 glorious days of some of the most challenging conditions I have ever ridden. The usual no nonsense stiff Chinese border guards, no smiles or acknowledgements, nothing. They do a full inspection of all our bags, always a giant pain in the ass! Then after what seems like an eternity we are granted permission to leave China. We are instructed that we must walk our 600+ lb bikes across the bridge over the river to Nepal. Huffing, puffing and sweating we complete the portage. I am always amazed that at most border crossing’s,usually two countries separated by some natural divide, mountain range or river, you are transcended into another world. Switzerland/Italy, USA/Mexico, Singapore/Malaysia and now China/Nepal. Back across the river, the machine gun toting guards are in there perfectly pressed uniforms. Spotless facility, with properly set up booths for processing. Now, cows, porters, mostly old women, carrying giant loads, trash and broken down cars and trucks..guys playing pool in outside bars. Moneychangers begging for your business. A completely different world, just 100 yards away. I love this place! Reminds me a lot of South America. Immediately the people are smiling and waving at us. They are curious as usual about the bikes but stand back respecting our space. Was not this way in Tibet. We had a lot of issues with people sitting on our bikes and dicking around with all the controls.

We locate immigrations, a shitty little building between 2 Bars and half of the group goes in for processing while the other half stays back to watch the equipment. There all back in 5 minutes. I go next and walk in where the guy waring Khakis and a stained shirt is scribbling in his log. He smiles at me, welcomes me to Nepal! Cool. While I am waiting for my stamp a another guy behind the counter offers me a slice of apple from a semi dirty plate with a couple of flies hanging round for good measure. I am reminded of that scene in one of my favorite movies, “Papion” , with Steve McQueen. The scene when Papion is at the Leper Colony and the leader of the lepers, offers him at hit off his slimy cigar, to refuse might be considered insulting. So I grab 2 slices and pop one in mouth. After everyone’s cleared, we load up and head out. Muddy one lane dirt track with tons of two way traffic clinging to the hillside with giant gorge on one side! Sound familiar? Fricken Dragons Tail all over! Water-crossings with big boulders, waterfalls, big trucks trying to squeeze buy. It’s awesome. My Singapore buddies are seasoned professional now! Only a couple of slow speed tip overs and we turn into our Guest House for the night.

Riverside resort, ON the river is more like it. It’s gorgeous, big tents under A-frame tom roofs. Nice mattress’ and bedding. Big open air communal showers, with the roar of the rapids and noises from the jungle trees.

Totally in nature. Dedicated to reusable resources. More tomorrow. Adios!


October 23rd, 2010 by admin

The highs and lows of Everest!

October 19th, 2010 by admin

So another early start on the bikes.
After a lite breakfast at the hotel we we are on the bikes by 7am. It’s an absolutely beautiful day! Clear but very cold, we are at about 7k feet and are all wearing everything we own. We head up to our first Summit of the day and our first view of Everest. The road is awesome! Asphalt switchbacks to the top of the mountain where we get our first glimpse of Everest! You see it on TV and think it’s impressive in person it’s firkin Spectacular! Here we are at maybe 10 thousand feet looking across a big gorge and it is towering over us. The road turns to dirt and snakes down the other side of the mountain to a little Tibetan town and China government checkpoint. Baca and Vivian get to work and after not very long we check in with passports and are granted permission to enter the protected zone. Sweeet! We head out about 50 klicks over a couple of mountain ranges on some fast crated road. I have all my cases on the bike but with lite loads so I wick it up and hall ass out in front of the group and have a blast. Then you see it looming above you, totally majestic! I can’t believe I’m actually here. There’s only some guided 4×4’s and us. You almost feel like you have the place to yourself. Everest Base camp. We can see the entire mountain. Vivian says she can’t believe our luck. This is her 4th time up the mountain and she has never seen the top of Everest because of weather and we can see the whole thing! We all take tons of pictures and then move down the mountain for lunch with one of the locals in his heated hut. It’s taken the entire day to go up and down. Base camp is at about 15k feet and everybody is feelin it. We decide to head back, I lag back a little to take some extra photos. Head into a little mountain town and get some water. The chase vehicle with the guides catches up and I send them ahead. So I am looking forward to a brisk ride back on the hard pack dirt, I cross a dry river bed at speed, hit small G out and all of a sudden the seat pops up and hits me in the groin? I think WTF? The seat on impact must have come loose. I stop, get off and try to push the seat back down and it won’t go? On further inspection I see the problem. The whole rear subframe has broken in 4 places and the rear fender is sitting on the on the rear tire! I am totally screwed! I am in the Everest mountains, its late in the day,everybody including the chase rig is front of me and I am still 50 clicks from the checkpoint Shit! So I start thinking about how I am going to deal with this and get back. I am caring 2 pair of heavy duty tie downs that I use to secure the bike when I ship it. I get them out of the tail bag and start trying to figure out the best way to get the whole back of the bike propped up and secured for the long dirt ride back and I see the chase vehicle approaching. Ivan one of the riders happened to be riding in the car today and they had stopped up the road. When they had not seen me catch and pass them, they had decided to come back and see what was up. Yep, lucky once again! So with the help of Ivan, Baca and China military guard they were giving a ride to, we lifted propped and pulled the frame together. 2 straps over the front of the tank to the tail section and 2 straps from each side attached to the forward crash bars. Unfortunately the Jerry rig was good enough to support the tail section but not me. So with Ivan’s help we get the bike started and with a running start, I swing my leg over and stand on the opposite peg and ride it back standing the whole 50 Klicks at a slow 15 mph all the way to the checkpoint. Ok, so now what? We have a very tight schedule. No time to repair, we have to move on the next morning early.
So we limp back to the hotel and Baca, I and Ivan go to the little town and locate a guy with welder. The minute we stop in front, a whole crowd of Tibetans crowd round to see what’s up. Grandma, moms with kids tied to them, young boys and dads…everybody.

We start trying to communicate with the welder how and what I want him to do and he says some bla bla bla to Baca, Baca says Bla bla bla to him then says to me. We have to wait until tomorrow? Because it’s now dark outside and the town power supply can’t lite the town and the welder at the same time! I tell Baca it’s gotta happen tonight! The group needs to move forward in the AM. Some more bla, bla, bla and Baca says ok, there’s a guy with a generator that we can use down the street but we have to pay him to use it. Yea yea I know! Everybody gets a little piece of the Lawhi! So we move the bike, welder and some pipe i scavenge from the shop, down a dark ally to the guy with the generator. We have some more conversation and now a new crowd of Tibetans start to gather. These guys are basically men who have nothing else to do but ad to the already chaotic situation with there opinions on what the solution is. Lots of yelling and more bla bla bla. I know what I want done but have to stand back while they BS around. Finally I get the chance to tell the fabricator guy and the welder guy what I want done. Basically I want him to insert a sleeve between the the breaks then weld split pieces of round stock over the outside. When completed should be stronger than stock. More discussion around the crowd in Chinese and they think it’s to much work and over engineered. With Ivan and Baca’s help we convince them that is what I want. At the same time we are in the dark working with flashlight cause the guy won’t start the generator until he is going to weld! Also every time I put down a tool or flashlight it disappears in the crowd! I have no pictures because I have to take the batteries to power my micro mag-light and I am afraid of loosing my camera in the chaos. It’s a nightmare. Ivan and I disconnect the batteries to save the electronic systems on the bike witch means we have to remove the 32 litre gas tank. In the dark while watching our tools so they don’t disappear. The guy fires up the generator then one guy starts his scooter to provide some light and says I need to pay him for his gas! And the fabrication and welding starts. 2 hours later we finally complete the repairs. We still need to hook up the batteries and secure the gas tank but there is still a crowd and I decide that we should get the hell outta here a push the bike back to the hotel. 8 k of elevation and 1/2 mile to hotel kicks all our asses. When we reach the hotel it’s 10:30 and I am cooked. I still don’t know if the bikes gonna start and I know we gotta be on the bike at 8 am in the morning to maintain our schedule. I go to my room and sit on the end of the bed with all my gear on in another shit whole of a hotel room. No heat, cold water shower and a hole in the floor to shit in! I am thinking I am fricken burnt, bummed and done. I fall asleep in all my gear and wake up with a bunch of dogs barking and roosters crowing.

I go downstairs and then Ivan shows up and we get the batteries connected tank secured and fix another broken weld on the muffler we did not see in the dark with some big heavy duty Zipties that I carry on the bike for this kind of situation. Also the night before during fabrication one of the sensor wires for the ABS break systems was broken. We try to start the bike and to my complete surprise it starts! Lights flashing on the console are disconcerting but who cares it’s running! The team assembles and we take off on time!
On our way to Nepal!.

Tibet Crossing

October 19th, 2010 by admin

After crossing into Tibet the first roads we traveled were epic! New asphalt had been laid and we were once again traveling along a beautiful river canyon. Then the asphalt ended and the the roads turned to shit! It was late in the day and we came across a very deep water crossing. Cliff, one our riders tried walking across to check how deep it was up to his waist, with a wicked current. No way to ride across. There was a makeshift walk-way built by locals and after inspection we decided to go for it with the bikes. I was chosen the first victim. It was a little hairy, me and my 600lb bike with the rickety bridge no wider than two feet with slick mud all over it but with help of everybody I made it up and over. I parked my bike on the other side and ran back to help with the rest of the riders. All made it across with only one incident. One the bikes slip over and landed upside down off the bridge with the help of everybody including onlookers the bike was righted and got to the other side. By the time the last bike had completed the portage, it was pitch black. Then one of the riders yelled ” check your stuff- there had been some people dicking around with the bikes ” I quickly went to my bike, checked my tank bag and sure enough my waterproof bag were I keep all my important documents, passport,visa’s and 2k in cash was gone! Fuck my trip is over! While I am checking through my stuff and freaking out some of the riders race a up the hill to see if they can find the thief. It was at this time I saw Cliff, the rider who tried walking across the river with an oxygen tank. He was inhaling from the tank and looked like he was about to pass out! He was white as a ghost. Another rider, Ivan was with him. I came over to assist and noticed he was shivering and realized it was not altitude sickness but the first stages of hypothermia! It was probably 40 degrees outside, combined with the freezing snow run off, he was in bad shape. I stripped off my jacket and heated vest and with Ivan’s help stripped off Cliff’s wet clothes, Chris brought change of clothes the support truck and we put him on my bike and plugged him in. Ivan and I stood on both sides hugging him to try and bring up his body temperature and protect him further from the outside cold. While this was going on the other riders who had no idea what was happening with us, were going house to house looking for the thief. The chase driver and guide had gone into town town to get the police. Cliff was still in a very bad way. He had almost no pulse and was speaking gibberish. After about an hour one of the riders came back down the hill and said to my astonishment that while checking the houses one very brave boy had giving the name of one of the thief’s! I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t think there was any chance of locating my stuff! A little later an excited rider James came down on his bike and yelled ” you are the luckiest MF ever! With the help of the police they had located my passport and some of my other things! A frikin miracle!

Cliff was looking a little better but was still not well. He kept passing out and I new we had to keep him awake until his body temperature returned to normal. It was late and we still had a lot of miles to cover that night to make our original destination. It was decided to stay put and give Cliff time to recover. The town was on the others side of river and nobody wanted cross it again and we needed to get Cliff someplace warm fast! A farmer house was located and we moved Cliff there. We had been traveling through the countryside all day and I had been taking picture of these traditional Tibetan farms wondering what they looked like inside and now he we were in one! Rustic does not begin to decide it! We all of a sudden were about to experience the Tibetan home life for real. Its was basically a big stone Barn. There was a little compound inside the stone wall so we had a safe place to keep our bikes. Inside the main building, the cows stay downstairs and the family lives above. The head of house was stirring a large pot of warm yogurt above the fire, which provided the only heat for the big one room farmhouse. Wooden floors with whatever was tracked in from downstairs, some makeshift chairs and some beds surrounded the room was all they had. We got Cliff upstairs and close to the fire. His color was coming back and was starting to talk normal. Grandmother and children all looked at us with all our adventure moto gear on with amazement and curiosity. Grandmother recognized Cliff’s condition and moved a big pot close to him and filled it with coals from the fire to warm him. Papa offered us some hot yogurt and reluctantly some of us tried it and it tasted a little sour but it was hot and we were freezing so it was well received. These people who live a very simple life, opened their home to us and were willing to share all they had with complete strangers. The police showed up and to my complete amazement had my passport and most of my money along with all my important documents. The young boy who actually lived in this house had given all the names of the boys involved and the police had gone from house to house recovering what had been divide up!

We all huddles around the stove in our moto gear. Drank Yak milk and warm yogurt. Some of us tried the fermented yak milk but it was kinda fowl. We worked hard at keeping Cliff awake while he sat close the stove and was coming around. They were not much for bedding options, the host graciously over their beds but we all chose to sleep in our gear on the floor. I woke up a couple of hours later freezing. The fire had gone out and the Tibetans don’t normally keep it going but with out blankets we were all freezing in our gear and I was still worried about Cliff. So Eric our guide and I stoked the coals and got fire going and kept it stoked for the rest of the night.

Around 5 am the family started getting up and boiling hot water. We ate some noodles and tea then went to check on the bikes. The bikes were covered in snow and it was still snowing. We were already behind our already tight schedule. We loaded up the bikes and started up the mountain to the summit. Fortunately the snow was not sticking to the graded dirt road and we made over without incident. The rest of the day was an incredible ride. 200 kilometers of dirt 2 track that wound in and around some incredible scenery. I forgot to mention that the day we entered China was the start of their national 7 day holiday. Basically all 1 billion of the population get in there cars and travel. Off road traveling is very popular here. So we are on these one lane roads that are sloppy mud with Asians traveling both ways! It was like an obstacle course. Everyone trying to pass and crap by with cliffs and rocks and slippery mud. Lots of bikes went down many times but everybody helped out and after another 15 hour day with major snowy summits we arrived at our hotel.

Lhasa, Tibet

October 18th, 2010 by admin

Ok, after 14 continuous days of riding, some 15 hour days on the bikes, we take a break for one day in Lhasa. Lhasa is basically the Holy Land of Tibet. As soon as we entered Tibet we began seeing hundreds of Tibetans walking or doing what they call 3 steps along the road. 3 steps means the a person walks three steps then lays down on the road and must have 5 points of their body touch the ground. They do this for hundreds of miles until they reach Lhasa! The journey can take one to two years to complete. Families sometimes sell all there worldly possessions to fund their way. They pull in carts, tent and essentials and camp along the road. There destination is the Potala Palace, or the home of the current Dalai Lama. Basically the living Buddha. Who does not necessarily live there? The palace was built in the 2nd Century and stands on the mountain side over looking the city. It’s very impressive. So on our first day off, we meet in the lobby at 7 am and head over to the palace for the tour. Sorry no photos inside. Every Dalai Lama, currently on number 14, has studied and or lived here and now buried here since the second Century. Hundreds of statues and monuments to Buddha. All of the Buddhists we have seen on the roads are here to pay homage. The palace is surround with a thousand prayer wheels where people pray for the universe, the sky, earth, natures’ creatures, family and lastly, themselves. Eric, our escort for China heads back for Kunming and is replaced by Vivian and Baca, our escorts for Tibet and Mt. Everest. Baca has special permission to be able for us to ride our motorcycle’s all the way to Everest Base camp. And he says that I am the first American to do so… I don’t know if that’s really true but I like the sound of it! Tomorrow we ride to Everest!


October 18th, 2010 by admin

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