Saturday, 29 August 2009

Korea. A breath of fresh air after Siberia

Met some good people. A 'copper' who just wanted to have his photo taken with me and called up a squad car to come and take the photo. The biker who led me through Seoul and I seem to have forgotten to include myself in the photo at the cafe. Perhaps I was spending too much time improving my chopstick skills which are now awesome. You should see me handle noodles.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Tried to do a few cultural things. Went to a cave that was so clinical it was a real shame. TV screens to give information, coloured lights to show the way and wire cages to make sure that ensured there was no way to bang your head. The temple I visited was presented in the same way. The photo of buddha is taken to hide the placards at his feet.

I have stayed in some nice hotels. This was one of the better ones. In the morning I realise what those Spanish holiday makers must think when they find that their hotel is actually a building site. Teach me to arrive after dark.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

From Vladivostok it was a 16 hour ferry ride to South Korea. Great cabin for 8 all to myself. Confusing since there were only 6 bunks. Then I realised that the open wooden area was for 4 others to kip on the floor. Confirmed at the first hotel where I had to sleep on the floor. Not that comfortable but it means all of the beds here are nice and firm and not those wimpy jelly like matresses.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

End of the 1st phase

Arrived in Vladivostok on 20 August. Finally at the end of the 1st phase of the trip after 99 days, 20 countries, 8833 miles and a broken leg. The Trans Siberian Railway past and present. Though considering the speed of the newer train they would be better off using the steam engine. I spent an afternoon at Costa del Vladivostok.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Siberia. Trees, -55, mosquitos and a never ending road of gravel and tarmac

Why would anyone choose to live in Siberia. Firstly Stalin did not give the ancestors of these inhabitants much of a choice and then I came across Khabarovsk. A bit of an oasis in a land of bleak Soviet style towns. Beautiful, cultured, relaxed and an abundance of long legs and short skirts. The people still come across as unfriendly but after a couple of minutes Russian people show their real character and are some of the friendliest, hospitable and generous people I have come across. That said they are always warning you about how dangerous it is in Russia. It would appear that a smile, a handshake and telling them how good their English is will soon have them warming to you.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The next couple of days were spent camping in the great wilderness of Siberia where the mosquitos reign supreme and are the size of small sparrows. It is just as well that they start life living in water since there is plenty of that. Dirt roads that turn to mud as soon as look at water and campsites that become quagmires where the locals have to help prevent motorcyles from becoming permanently entombed in 6" of mud. 'Yammy' became so embarassed by being trapped that she refused to have hey photograph taken. It was hard enough to get earlier shots of her lying on her side.

Friday, 14 August 2009

From Ulan Ude I headed out across the vastness of Siberia. Wooded, vast and not a lot to stir the interest. On arrival at Chita found a hotel that had a wedding reception and so no spare rooms. The bride and a lot of the guests came out to look at the bike and said they would find me a hotel. Then one couple of guests offered me there house to stay in. Took me back to theirs where I put my bike in their secure underground car park, had a shower and then we returned to the reception where I was asked to give a speech where I gave the usual congratulations to the bride and groom. I think that this van was carrying their wedding presents. Either that or all of the vodka that they made me consume.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

From Ulan Ude I did a day trip to Lake Baikal. This is the worlds deepest lake at 1637m and contains one fifth of the worlds unfrozen fresh water. It was a long wet ride to get there and rather than the beautiful blue waters that are its trademark. I was greeted with the set from the film 'The Tempest'.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Having left Ulaanbaatar I managed to get to Ulan Ude, Russia in one day. That included getting through the border. Met up with some of theKudu Adventures group who I had met in Ulaanbaatar. They are doing a guided round the world motorbike tour.

In Ulan Ude they have this huge head of Lenin. I tried to get David Bailey to take a photo of me with the 'Head' but he was on another photo shoot so I had to make do with the bag lady. She clearly had difficulty composing the picture. Either that or she does not like the top of Lenin's head.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

4 Wheels Rather Than 2

I am currently waiting for a new shock from the UK that dad and J&S Motorcycles have sorted for me. Thank goodness for my back up team at home. To get a part here from Japan was going to take 2 weeks and all the time my visas are expiring.
The Dorking boys have just left so Gobi Dave is seulement again. Before they left I made a few prayers at the local monastery. Giving thanks for my incredible good fortune when things had gone wrong and hoping that I do not have any more set backs.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

3) both brake shoes ended up on top of each other and the back right wheel locked solid. We were assisted by a road worker in his dump truck he was joined by 4 other trucks and a excavator. They even provided and cooked lunch for us. There is a van in there somewhere.

2) simply unable to start. We had been bump starting it since I joined the crew. A very kind passer by helped us with some extra muscle power. The non f*t and g*y rallyer looks on.

The van had had a hard life. We had three breakdowns 1) break fluid leak on the rear right so we simply did away with that brake.

My throne.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The next day was going fine until the bike started behaving like a 'Space Hopper' on ice. The rear shock absorber had blown a seal. I rode on for 45 minutes but it was getting too dangerous. Seeing a truck coming towards me, the first vehicle in 3 hours, I decided to flag it down and try to get some help. Then over my shoulder I saw a white vehicle speeding towards me. It looked like a van, I had never seen one since leaving Turkey. Waving by arms like some wierdo I tried to flag it down. Thankfully it stopped. It had a UK number plate. I greeted the occupents with a 'what the f**k are you doing here?'. Turns out they were 3 Dorking lads, Stephen, Thane and Kyle doing the Mongol Rally. After a number of team talks they agreed to take me to Ulaanbaatar. Thank God for small mercies. It was a bit cramped in the back of the LDV Convoy.