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Friday, July 17, 2009

Where the fcuk is Bomaderry??   No 13 (The last)

Distance from Stockers: 25,018 kms
Distance form home: 57,568 kms
Top speed: 164 kph (Russia)

" Hoping to ride it till the wheels fall off & burn, & the sun peels the paint & the seat cover fades"
Bob Dylan, via Paul Rooney.

A wet road. A slippery concrete gutter. Max speed 2kph. Down like a brick and tile glider. An ambulance to hospital, a few fractured and dislocated bones in my foot. It helps when you are travelling with a Paramedic. A two hour operation, nine days in a Japanese prison (hospital) $7,500 later and a business class air ticket home, what lessons have I learnt. Probably none! Fcuk me!!! What a bastard!!!! Thank Christ for my travel insurance. Crutches for 6 weeks and off the bike for 3 fcuking months. What a bastard. That's the end of this little trip. I suppose it was a good thing I did not do it in Mongolia or Eastern Russia.

The boys from "Hovel 8" came to see me a couple of times before they all headed to Vietnam via Bangkok, Kim went as well. See them in Sydney next year, Anton in 2 years. The hospital and staff were great. My favourite was Chi, 24 years old and 38 kilos wringing wet. And she was on a diet! Took 8 of them to lift me on to my bed the first day! Fcuk it, I had to come home 4 months early.

Half my family met me at the airport in Sydney. Why, were they worried about about me? Don't they know I am the man they couldn't root, shoot or electrocute? And were the fcuk is Bombaderry? About 140 or so kms south of Sydney, my little sister and brother-in-law live there, (just down the road from Dave Grey), they are trying to kill me with kindness. Tanyia has lent me a car. A bit sad when your niece has a spare car that is better than your own was! How good is that!! Sydney is nice this time of year, but then I hear, so is Vancouver.

On the first day, God created the Heavens, the Earth, and the Oxley Highway. But He wasn't happy. His Kingswood would sway through the corners, crawl up the hills and use heaps of juice.

On the second day, God created the Honda step-through. He enjoyed the wind in His hair (He hadn't created helmets then), and it was fun to ride and used bugger all fuel, but it still crawled up the hills.

So on the third day, God created the Honda Four, and it flew up the hills. With four-into-ones, it sounded okay, it never broke down, but the corners remained a problem. Yet he had tasted power, and craved for more.

Thus on the fourth day, He added two more cylinders and so created adrenalin. His insurance premium doubled and it cost a fortune to service. He also created fear (His hair turned white) and the cliche "Enough is enough".

On the fifth day, God blew a couple of joints with Willie G and created the Harley-Davidson. He'd cruise the hills in top gear and pick up heaps of babes. He got off on the note. But it was too heavy, broke down a lot and handled like the Kingswood.

Then on the sixth day, He made the Bonneville. It still attracted the girls and it sounded good, too. This bike was light and for the first time, corners were fun. It handled! God was stoked. But the vibration pained His arse, it wanted for power and He ran out of petrol every 100 miles. He wasn't happy, but shit he was close.

So finally, on the seventh day, God produced a motorcycle with the speed of the Honda, the torque of the Harley and the handling of the Triumph. He could afford the fuel, tune it himself, pick up chicks and still blow off Ducatis through the corners.

He called his bike, "Rooney Special", and He was happy.

Does it get any better? I think, just a little.

17th October 2008.

ps. One operation turned into two. Six weeks on crutches turned into four months. Three months off the bike turned into six months. Eight months off work, thank Christ for Sydney Ferries.

Who ever heardof Sakhlin Island? No 12

The Iron Tigers of Vladivostok. Max and Mikhael and the boys. Both Mikhael and Max are former Marine Engineers and Max even has green hair. How good are they. Mikhael grew up in Tynda and tells me he was only allowed to walk to school when the temperature was above minus 50 degrees!! My time with them has been fantastic. It is probably every Riders dream is to live in a bike shop. Been there, done that. A few days on the piss and telling lies with Neva, Ron, Yens and Tom. A couple of kilos of hard shell prawns. Many kilometres of walking around Vlad. Time to get outa here. I am off to Khabarovsk to meet Kim , Scotty and a couple of German guys,(Matthias, Honda Transalp, and Stefan, Honda Africa Twin, we had met them in Ulaan Bataar at the Oasis ) and ride to Japan with them. Neva and Ron's bikes are going to Sydney by ship, as soon as the arrangements are done they will fly home. Be home before the weekend. They had not been able to do The Road of Bones either. Rivers still to high, to fast and to cold. They rode the newer road, the Kolmya Highway. 3,000 km in 5 days, good going.

 My bloody alternator spat the dummy again on the way to Khabarovsk, stopped at Luchegorsk to charge the battery. Left an hour later, battery charged and my belly full. Typical Russian hospitality, tea, biscuits and presents. No charge. Unbelievable. I had arranged to meet Den at the fruit shop we had shared a watermellon at two weeks before. I arrived early, the fruitshop man remembered me. I feasted on peachs, grapes and oranges, left with a watermellon, all no charge!! Met the boys and all the local Bikers in Khabarovsk. Fantastic blokes and girls again. Marina, Dens, Mrs Dens and The 'Doc', all great. My alternator was re-wound and now charges like there is no tomorrow. I only want the bloody thing to last another 3,000kms as I plan to update it in the U.S. I should have trusted my own judgement and had the bloody thing re-wound the first time I had trouble with it.
> The Poms and the Germans had rented an apartment in Khabarovsk. They have named it 'The Hovel' rent is 3,000Rb per week. About$AUD120. I have never, ever seen a stairwell so filthy. And fcuking stink!! The boys had to disinfect the floor before they could roll their sleeping mats out! The water in the shower is so hot it is unuseable.All the other tenants have their own toilet seat to use, we do not. The feel of cold porcelain on my arse in the morning does not do it for me! But, it is central and cheap and I have enjoyed my time there. This is a great city. Very cosmopolitian and clean. The local bikers meet every night at a beer tent by the river and drink and talk bikes until late, then ride, as a group, through the city at high speed.
> Vanino is about 600km from Khabarovsk, about 300km of dirt. Not like that shitty old road from Chitta, mostly a good surface, magnificient mountains, rivers great corners, some 20 or 30 kph sections, several river crossings and many, many, rickety old timber bridges. We camped by a beautiful lake. Some ducks flew overhead, we heard shots, ducks plumeted to the ground. A car load of hunters came along, gave us 2 ducks, still warm and the biggest salmon I have ever seen. We swam in the lake, cooked 1' thick salmon steaks on the fire and drank vodka. I couldn't eat any more.The best fish I have ever tasted!!!! In Australia when we camp we do not have to take the fish guts and things several hundred metres from camp so the bears don't smell them and raid the camp. We are lucky.I was washing my socks in the lake, wearing my boxer shorts, when the mossies came to town. Fcuk me. I had at least 30 bites on each leg. On my face , in my hair, every bloody where. Never, ever seen mossies this thick. Bastards! We couldn't break camp until 11 am, the heaviest dew in history. We were still wearing our mossie nets at 10.30 in the morning. I had to have a crap. The biggest of bites, right on my arse! Talk about itch. One of the boys got a bite on the family jewels! Met yet another Russian Biker, met his mother as well, she gave us all the fruit we could eat and carry. Once again we could not pay.
> We picked up another rider, Anton, a Czech on a BMW R1150GS Adventure. A top young bloke, speaks 6 languages includeing Russian and Japanese. Eventually made it to Vanino. This is travelling at a great pace. We talk a lot, laugh a lot and take time to smell the roses. Six totally different blokes, we all get on well. Life is good!! A ferry to Sakhlin Island, the oldest, slowest (15kph), dirtiest vessel ever built. The Captain and crew should have been ashamed of themselves. It took 6 hours to buy the tickets, 3 different offices and we each had to sign our name 21 fcuking times! Only for an inter island ferry trip, not to leave the country! They put goods train waggons and trucks on the boat. And 6 bikes. The crossing was 20 hours and we had an 8 berth cabin, down in the bloody bilges. It stank and was covered in grafity. We called it 'Hovel 2'. A fcuking mess. The weather was great and the beer was cold. Not all bad.
> A bloke on Sakhlin Island took us to the best campsite of my trip. A fast flowing river, heaps of salmon, and no mossies. The track in was muddy, I dumped it in a bloody mud hole on the way out, caught on video as well! Rode some magnificient tracks, many mud holes and many, many river crossings, eventually found one that stopped us. To deep, to fast and the rocks were to big. And damned near freezing as well. We all got our boots wet when Kim's bike cut out in a deep patch on one crossing.Turned back and rode into Korsakov on the black. Yuri, found us and took us home. We drank vodka, ate salmon eggs by the kilo, and all sorts of other things his wife, Olga, served us.Took our minds off the dead body we had found. All slept on his lounge room floor. In bed at 1am, up at 6am to catch the ferry to Japan. Yuri escorted us out of town. Russian bikers are the best. On Sakhalin we were treated like minor celebs again.
> As far as we can make out, there has been less than 40 people who have ridden right across Russia, through Vanino to Sakhlin Island. Four years ago the road did not exist past Chitta, everone had to go by train, as did Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor, who we found out had two 4 wheel drives and two Kamaz all wheel drive trucks when they did The Road of Bones. Thats what happens with a $7,000,000 budget for a 3 month trip.
> The biggest surprise about Russia has been how bloody fantastic the people are. They are incredible. My first night in Russia a Biker (Misha) looks after me, treats me like I am his brother, my last night in Russia another Biker (Yuri) looks after me and treats me like I am his brother. Any Russian Biker, anytime is welcome in my house. I am sad at leaving Russia and will be back.
> This section of the trip has been hard. between the 6 of us we have fallen off 43 times and have lost a total of 48 kilos. We all have different bikes, and all think ours is the best oneto do the trip on. We are all correct. Some people are to parenoid about their choice of bike, their tyres and the weight. You could do it on a Honda Postie or a Fireblade if you took plenty of time. If I had my time again I would still use the Rooney and Mitas EO7 tyres.
> The Ferry to Japan is a shock. Modern, clean, on time and fast (30kph) I love Japan. I did not think I would like it as much as I do. We rode over on the Ferry with Takaoki, a Japanes biker on a 1200GS, silver, my favourite colour as well. He had been riding the tracks on Sakhalin Island. A former RWT. Takaoki helped us through the Customs and Immigration and found us a place to stay, a Bikers Rest and only $6/night. Staying for 3 nights.How good is that. $5 for a bottle of red, and not to foul either. I went for a haircut and beard trim. Wouldn't let me pay. Down to the Onsan (bath house) every day. Brilliant. The Japanese girls also ride pushbikes a lot. It is good for their backsides as well.
> Stefan and Mattheaus rode away. Then there were 4. We left to tour Hokkaido. Could not beleive the brilliant scenary. Rodes are a motorcyclist's dream. The Japanese, as have the Norweigans, perfected the constant radius corner. Little traffic and almost no traffic Police. The Rooney loves the hills and corners. Met Kim, a lovely British girl, in Saporro, she took us to a bar and got us drunk, met her Japanese friend Ayumi, lovely kids. What a night. Scottie went his own way. Then there were 3. Anton. Kim and I rode some great roads. We wild camped, went to Onsans most days and drank gallons of the $5 French and Italian red wine. We judge the success of an evening by the number of bottles of red we have consumed, 3 being a normal night and 7 being a belter! The Japanese have to be the best drivers in the world. This is Bikeing at its best. Three blokes, no hidden agendas and magnificient roads. One mountain pass was so good we rode it 3 times! Wild camped by a lake, sitting in a pool on the edge of the lake, up to our necks in hot artesian water, no one for miles. That night was a '7'.
> Another Ferry to Honshu. The Japanese Moto GP is on. We want to go but he roads are to good, to many fantastic temples, to many great camp sites. Fcuking stunning!!! Fcuk the Moto GP. Casey didn't win any way. We only ride one motorway, expensive and dull. We all rated one mountain pass and that nights campsite as equal to any thing, any where in the world. The red is not so cheap or good quality on Honshu, so we are back to Russian Vodka. Life is a bitch. Eventually make it to Tokyo.
> I like Tokyo. We are in Chiba, about 40 kms from the city centre. And 2 more makes 5, we are sharing a $100/night Hotel room with Stefan and Matthias while we arrange for Kim and I to ship ourselves and bikes to Vancouver, the Krauts to Bangkok and Anton also to Bangkok after another month in Japan. We all sleep on the floor, Japanese style. The room is so crowded one has to sleep in the hallway. Wouldn't have it any other way. I am sorry to be leaving Japan. Eventually able to pick up a new Amex card, after 7 or so weeks without any cards. Still no fcuking Visa card though. Bastards. I think you all might get to meet the Big Pom and the 2 Krauts in Aus next year. Yes, I will be sending them around the country for free beds and food. Things are a bit slow today as last night was a 9.5. The way I feel today, we don't have much to look forward to with Californian red wine. What happened to Alaska, Japan was to good to leave, it will wait for another trip.Scottie seems to have dropped of the face of the planet.
> I think this is as good as it gets.
> Chris.
> 4th October 2008.

Goodbye Siberia. The "Road of Bones" not this bloody time!!!! No. 11

Russia III

Distance from UK: 18,898 km
Distance from home: 51,417 km
Moving average: 69.6 kph
Max speed: 125 kph
Moving time: 66.41 hrs

Sadly, sadly sadly, left UB and the two Poms (Kim & Scott) behind. They are going to Vladivostok. Hopefully we will meet up in Central America. No problems with the 360km ride to the Russian border, about 5 or 6 hours at the border and we were in Russia again. Another magnificent campsite and onto Ulaan Ude. Fuel, food and money,not fcuking likely. Somehow I had lost my credit cards, or they had been stolen. Probably operator error. Phone calls to Tanyia, Bronwyn and anyone else in my family who was home on a Saturday afternoon. All cancelled. No problems as I have enough cash to carry on with.

Lake Baikal. Holds 20 percent of the worlds unfrozen fresh water, 623km long and over 1,600 meters deep. Incredible. Bought some vegies from a roadside stall, they gave us heaps and would only let us pay for a little. Camped in a forest by the lake, 27 km's of dirt, Neva's turn to dump it. Swam and bathed. Fantastic. Neva cooked an excellent meal. About to go to bed (early), when a Russian family, camped nearby, insisted we come over for a vodka. We left hours later after vodka, more fantastic food, and with Russian SAS caps and tee-shirts. Was that good or what. This joint was beautiful.

Passed through Ulaan Ude again, headed off towards Magadan. We are on the way. Not for long. The Rooney decides she does not want to charge the battery anymore. Back to Ulaan Ude. An expensive hotel. Do you know they have the largest sculpture in the world, of Lenin's head. Ron and I pull the alternator (after a couple of call to Paul Rooney), he finds a broken wire, repaired for about $8 and we are ready to go again. This repair lasts about 200km. Not charging again. We were out in the booneys, 400km from Chita, rode in on the battery. Found a bike mechanic, he did a brilliant job. The mechanic and his apprentice went away on their bike to borrow a smaller soldering iron. Back in 10 minutes they said. Walked in after 2 hours. Had been arrested by the Police for not having a numberplate. Their bike impounded. Can't see why. A lot of vehicles don't have them. Fixed the Rooney like new. He worked in the most shitty, mess of a workshop known to man. Not even electric light. Back to the Hotel about 11pm, in to bed without a feed. Left for Tynda the next morning. No problems, the Rooney charged like the light brigade.

There are abandoned buildings everywhere in Russia, left over from the Soviet era. We camped beside one. Fcuking mossies. We sat dinking our Vodka wearing Mossie nets. Looked like real drop kicks. Ron's mobile rings. We are miles from anywhere. They have good coverage all over Russia, indeed all over the third world. I can't get signal at Fort Denison, in the middle of Australia's biggest city. Why?? Four years ago the road east of Chita did not exist. You had to travel this section by train. In parts the road is good. At least 50 percent is shitty, gravel or sand. The road base they use is as big as a half house brick. The road always seems to be badly, sadly overdue to be graded, the wheel ruts are deep enough to loose a Honda step thru in, the mounds between high enough to give me a nose bleed, or they have just been graded, which is possibly worse. You can't tell what is underneath at all then. This is an evil, shitty, shitty fcuking heap of a road. To make things more interesting, about 1,000 new, or second hand passenger cars (and trucks) from Japan are delivered along this road most days. This is the quickest way to get the vehicles to the west of Russia. These blokes are paid by the job and the bastards drive them like they have stolen them. The vehicles have the front panels taped up with gaffer tape, sticking plaster, bubble wrap, anything that will keep the stone chips away. Some even tow another car on a very, very crude "A" frame. So you can buy a new Corolla in Western Russia that has only delivery Km's on it. They don't tell you it probably towed another Corolla or Camry over 3,000 kms of the worst road you can imagine! And jesus, you should see the dust!

Rode into Tynda, did some shopping and headed out without time for a breath. Found a magnificient lunch spot about 26 km from town. Our best lunch stop yet. A crystal clear flowing river, skinny dipping and bathing, did the washing and had a fantastic lunch. Fresh bread, salami, cheese, tomato and cucumber. I should have known this was to good to last. About to leave and I noticed the biggest break you could ever imagine in my frame. On the upright, just below the shocky mount. What a fcuker!! Back to Tynda, found a welder, ripped it apart. The rear subframe had broken as well and another crack had appeared in the frame. Welded up in no time. They would not take any money. Welded Neva's tank support as well. I did not have enough confidence in the repair to carry on towards Magadan, told the others to go on and I would head to Vladivostok. What a bastard!! We met Max, a local Biker and the local Kamaz truck dealer. Sells 60 new trucks a year, $44,000 for a new cab over bogie drive, rigid chassis, 280hp , 10.5 litre V8 and Euro 3 specs. Built like a brick shithouse. (all for Lowie and Lawrie) Max seems to have a network of people all over Tynda who report to him the minute any Adventure Tourers (or extreme tourists as we are called over here) arrive in town. He is not a fan of BMW frames as he has seen 3 broken and has never seen a Japanese frame even cracked. Max found us a hotel, let us park in his workshop and looked after us like we were kings. Next day poor old Neva could not move more than 10 paces from the throne. Ron and I went to Max's workshop. My front disc had the rattles, so we pulled it off and Max's main man welded, machined and whatever to make it like new. I am envious of someone with those skills. I am annoyed at the frame stuffing up. I have given it a hard time though. Thrown it away about 15 times in the last 4 years. God only knows what had happened to her before she came to live with me.

Sunday morning we parted, them for Magadan and me for bloody Vladivostok. I got about 250 km, out in the middle of no where, at a nothing of a place called Magdagachi, on my own, and the bloody frame brakes again. My motto has always been "bite off more than you can chew, then chew like all fcuk". Right now I was chewing like there was no tomorrow. I had to ride about 140 km at 30 kph to a place called Shimanovsk. Stayed in a dump of a Guestena and met the locals. They gave me beer, made feel welcome, showed me a carpark full of new Japanese cars that had rolled when the delivery drivers had fallen asleep, and in the morning they welded the bike, properly. I think the new repair will hold to hell and back.I was on that shitty old road by 10.30 the next morning. The carnage has to be seen to be believed. Trucks rolled over, some had there fuel tanks fall off, broken down vehicles every where. The number of punctures, amaxing. I put in a couple of big days, two nights wild camping. (the first on my own for the trip, actually the first ever) Camped in a field, out of sight of the road, fantastic sunset, reading my book and wearing the bloody mossy net. After dark I could hear and see the distant lights of the Trans Siberia Express off to my left and hear the new Toyotas getting their guts flogged out to my right. Do things get any better? Only if you are in the market for a Toyota!

At the outskirts of Khabarovosk I was pulled over by 2 local bikers, Den Taxist and his mate Greg. No english, so they rang their clubs moderator, Marina, she asked if I wanted somewhere to stay for a few days. No thanks have to keep going. (money is low) We swapped e-mail addreses and the boys guided me the 40 minutes to the other side of the city. We shared the biggest, sweetest and juiciest water mellon ever grown and I was on my way. They gave me phone numbers of Bikers in towns along the way in case I needed any help. Russian Bikers, no one else like them, anywhere!!

Into Vladivostok before lunch on Wednesday. Money was short. Found a Hotel and paid for 5 days. Nearly all my money gone. Rang American Express. No problem sir, your new card will be couried to your Hotel, arrives Monday. Pity, I can't get money out with my Amex card unless they have an office in town. The nearest one is Moscow. Rang Visa. What a fcuk up of a company. Many expensive calls to Visa in Australia. They have a toll free number. No good when you are in a country that does not have operator connected calls. Rang Louise and Sharon at the ever helpful Manly Warringah Credit Union. It turns out Visa will not (security risks) send me a new card to Russia. Sharon tells me to go to a Bank that takes Visa card and get an emergency cash advance. I try 8 banks. No fcuking way. Eventually I met Olga, 20 years old and a bank teller. She rates about 14/10 on the beauty scale and about 18/10 on the personality and intelligence scale! Olga makes calls to Moscow and some other Russian cities I have not heard of. No way buddy. She suggests Western Union. I go to the Australian Consulate. Vladimir, the boss there said go with Western Union. Sends me to their agent in the Aussie Government car. (Vladimir tells me an Aussie motorcyclist, Arthur Edwards, flew home to Adelaide last friday, with a broken leg, he threw it away in the gravel on the same section of road I have been bitching about. His bike is still at the Aussie Consulate) No problems, on the phone to Tanyia and Bronwyn and I have money the next day. Thank christ for family. Western Union, good service. Now I have money to buy food and beer and a bottle of Jacobs Creek Cab Sav. I have only been eating the free breaky at the Hotel and drinking water. It does us good to be broke for a short while. As long as it is only a fcuking short while!! No beer or Vodka for a few days probably did me good. I visited the Marina I can see from my room. The 3 best boats are all from Australia, a Rivieria 48, a Maritimo 60 and some flash 15m cat, also from Queensland. We are not doing to bad. I wait to many days at the frlash Hotel for my Amex card. I ring Australia a few times. They tell me to ring Moscow as the card will come from there. Moscow tells me it has to come from Australia. They tell me it will take 10 days. I politely tell them to fcuk off. What about the adds we all see on TV. They don't count if you are an"Extreme tourist"

As I ride the Rooney around Russain cities a funny thing happens. The noise or vibration from the bike sets off the occassional car alarm. In Vladivostok it happens an incredible amount of the time. Where ever I ride I leave behind a cacaphony of alarms. Am I gentle on the throttle so this does not happen? Not fcuking likely. My good mates Jens and Tom (from Germany) have arrived in town. I have moved to the Iron Tigers Motorcylcle Club with them . We are sleeping on the floor amongst many motorcycles and bike parts, drinking beer and vodka and eating salami, cheese, gherkins and onoins. Tellling many lies. And laughing. How good is that. It is like being young again and living with a bunch of Mates. Reminds me of The Kangaroo Edward Inn. There are about 100 bikes in this joint, many thousands of Roubles of parts, but they have given us a key and we come and go as we like.

Neva and Ron flew in tonight and early next week I will ride the 750km back up to Khabarovsk (and the local Bikers) and meet up with Kim and Scotty. We will probably ride to Vanino nd catch a ferry to Kholmsk on Sachalin Island and then ferry it to Wakkanai in Japan. Jens and Tom are taking the Trans Siberian back to Moscow.

No, it does not gat any better.


Mongolia. The last motorcycle frontier???? No 10.

> Distance from Home:46512km
> Number of 'offs': About 12 or 13
> Mongolia max speed: 116 (on the dirt!)
> Mongolia moving average:45.3kph
> Mongolia moving time:46.5hrs
> The bike festival. Great. We were called to the stage on Saturday night, for a change we were modest and hid in the bar. Two german bikers (Africa Twin and BMW F650) turned up. Ron was up drinking vodka with them until 1.30am. His latest night drinking for 30 years! He surfaced on time in the morning, no sign of Tom and his mate though. We had been adopted by an extended Russian family. Three generations. They gave us food and presents and of course we drank vodka with them. Nicoli, the patriarch, was ex army, been to Chernobyl 3 times and was dying of cancer. They had a stretcher by the camp fire, so he missed out on none of the action. He walked up to our campsite and even came down to listen to the band. Our time for being minor celebrities was over, said goodbye to our 'family' and hit the road. What a weekend!!
> We rode for w few hundred km through the Altai Mountains, this is a big holiday camping destination for the Russians, people camped every where. Crossed our highest pass on this section of the trip, 2660 metres. Another fantastic camp and into Mongolia in the morning. We crossed the border atTsagaanuur, took about 7 hours, we were lucky, people had been camped there for two days as the border was closed on Sunday. I picked up a young English hitch hiker. You cannot cross the border on foot, so he needed a lift, it is about 20km to the Mongolian border. there was a group of 24 Dutch in 4x4's on a rally to Bejing, via the Gobi Desert to watch the Eclipse. their leader had given the Russian immigration people the shits, so we were let through in front of them. Saved us a few hours. They do not have roads in Mongolia. Only tracks. They do not have signs either. To make navigation harder, the silly bastards can have several towns in the same area with the same name. almost no one speaks English. The food is crap as well. So is this fcuking key board' And fcuking hot and dusty!!! The scenary is stunning and the people are sensational. (sorry Stockers) I love Mongolia and will come back. We dropped Ian (the backpacker) off at the first dusty little town. He wanted to buy a horse and ride across the joint!. Within 200 meters we were lost. Who cares. We didn't! Another magnificient campsite. Cooked a meal, drank vodka and told lies. Rab was right, it is bloody cold here at night. Next day we got lost big time. Had to return to our start point after 3 or so hours. A guy sold us a meal and some beer and gave us more directions. Made it clear we shouldn't go to the coal mine. No problems. Camped beside a river. Great. Kim dumped it big time in the morning, his first of three for the day. Decided to fit nobblies to the Pom's bikes on the side of the road. Four tyres changed in a little over 2 hours. Not bad. Some how we ended up at the coal mine. Another wrong turn. Westerners seldom go there, particularly those on bikes. After all it is a prohibeted area. The local kids were great. Someone gave us directions, over a 2,556 meter pass. It had rained, the track was muddy, there was snow on the ground. the track almost didn't exist I dumped it. I had fitted a new throttle cable in the UK. As a precaution. The bastard broke a couple of km later. Time to camp anyway. Another stunning campsite. Another stunning area to ride through. We stopped at a Bhuddist Chorten to take photos. A Mongolian family stopped to pray. Forced us to drink a bottle of vodka with them, before breakfast! A nomadic herder came up and gave us a big pile of cheese. Had to force him to take money. What sort of animal did the cheese and milk come from we don't know. I think it was horse. Bloody good old horse anyway. Vodka, cheese and biscuits for breakfast. Is there another way? Ron had never been pissed before 9am before. Rode down a good dirt track, cruised at 85kph. On to our first patch of sealed road for days. Found I was only doing 75kph. Went for a bath/swim in a cool, clean river. Neva's turn to dump it.
> We passed through Olgiy, Kovd, Ulaangom (Mongolia,s 2nd largest city),Tosonchengel, Kharkhorin and on to Ulaan Baatar. Took us 8 days to reach UB. Great tracks, shitty tracks and fcuking awefull tracks. Several passes over 2,55 metres. Heards of sheep, horses, goats, cows and camels. Mongolian horsemen everwhere. Magnificient. No tracks sometimes so we rode across country. Through rivers and creeks where there were not any proper crossings. The Rooney performed brilliantly. A good hard clay track. A sprinkling of sand. I was leading. Locked the front brake. Down like a bag of shit. Half hour to bend the handle bars back, tighten up the brake unions, use a rock to straighten the bark busters, etc, etc. Windscreen and headlight protectors gone. Cracked anither rocker cover. This screen was a prick of a thing anyway! Back on the track. Five or so km later. I am leading. Deep sand. Down like a brick and tile glider. Only thing hurt was my confidence. Belted a little bank as I hurtled out of control through the sand. Little bank has a big rock. Split my lovely panniers. Fcuking bastard. Cost me $US100 to have welded in UB. Fcuking burgler. Same day. Up out of a creek bed. No track. Off again. Some days we should all spend in bed!
> Made UB. 2.5 million in the country. Nearly 1 million in UB. A big, shitty, dusty city. In these countries the man- holes in the roads are cast iron. Cast iron is worth a lot of money. People in Russia, Kazhkstan and Mongolia steal them. Makes for exciting riding. We don,t ride at night. A days maintamance in UB. We had tyres air freighted from the UK. Fitted them, oil change, panniers welded, washing done. Ready for the road tomorrow. We have been staying at the Oasis Guest House. An apt name. Fantastic food. Cold beer. Very clean, helpful owners. Neva and I were interviewed for TV today. Bloody media groupies. Last night there was 28 motorcycles at teh Oasis, tonight more, plus a couple of pushies and the odd backpacker. Riders going in all directions. Fcuking great.
> What more can I say. It definately does not get any better than this.
> Chris.
> xx

From Russia, with love. Or the where the fcukarewe tour. No 9.

Russia 1.
Top Speed:137kph
Moving average: 72.3kph
Moving time: 52.54hours

Top speed:128kph
Moving average:78.4kph
Moving time: 42.39hours

Distance from home: 43,817kms.

Norway's roads were a motorcyclists paradise. Beautifully smooth surfaces, magnificent grip in the dry and still plenty in the wet.(Did I mention it sometimes rained there?) Unlike the Greeks, who don't know what a constant radius corner is, the Norwegians have perfected them. The scenery was sensational. Speed limits of 80 and 90kph were rigidly enforced. Still plenty of fun. Finland's roads had a 100kph limit, long straights and nice flowing sweepers. The smooth surfaces were very wide.

We crossed into Russia at a little used border crossing that was not even on the map. Nor was the road to Murmansk! Fcuk me. The Russian roads didn't even have a surface on them! We could not believe it! They seem to be, as in India, in a state on constant work in progress. The lumps of blue metal were the biggest I have ever seen. If I had fallen off it would have hurt. After a while the road improved to become only bloody terrible. We met a Russian Motorcyclist, returning from Finland in his car. It turns out Mikhail Kraplya is a former Ship Master. now CEO of a Murmansk based shipping company and is the head honcho of the Murmansk Riders MC. A top bloke too. He escorted us the two hour ride into Murmansk, a good thing as it turned out as the road we had chosen was not even on the map and the GPS Euro map finished at the border. The road improved immeasurably to become only dammed lousy. Michael found us a hotel, sent us for showers and said to ring him when we were ready and we would go for a meal. Neva suggested we go somewhere close by. No problems.

We rang, Michael said he was 5 minutes away, told us to wait out the front. Ten or twenty bikes turned up. They passed around helmets, Gloria was lucky and got to travel in a sports car, Ron was on a cruiser, Neva on ZZR and I was on Michaels FJR1300. Fcuk me. They all took off like cats shot in the arse!!! We were doing 160kph through the city, lane splitting, the lot. I was scared the front was going to go into orbit when he took off from the lights. Neva's knees were up around her pilots ears. A girl, Lada, rides a Yamaha 600 and mixed it with the best of them. My knees were knocking like an old Russian single cylinder diesel and Neva's olive complexion had turned white. The harder she punched her rider in the back the faster he went. Ron just kept shaking his head and scratching his balls. More bikes turned up, well over 20 all together. After a top feed and a few beers we caught a taxi back. Next day Lada took us for a tour of the city and the surrounds. She drives her car a little like she rides her bike! She and her partner, Igor, are fantastic. We went to their clubhouse to change a tyre for Ron. What a setup. It was a long day. I found a bar and was drinking with my new best mate Kosta until 4am. Neva woke me at 7.30, and we had a long ride ahead. No sympathy either! A bit weird leaving a bar at 4am and it is still daylight.

We spent a couple of days riding down to St Petersburg. At first the roads were incredibly bad, but gradually improved to range from excellent to a little shitty. We were only stopped by the cops once, it would have been easier for him to tell us what we were doing right than go through the long list of things we were doing wrong. A laugh, an apology, a shake of the hands and we were on our way without a fine or a bribe. Even the highway patrol are friendly in Russia. They have a big problem in this part of the world. The roads are built on perma frost and fall apart every summer. The maintenance costs must be horrific. Finland and Norway seem to have their act together in regards to road building, Russia has a long way to go. We left the Artic Circle, not having seen darkness for about two weeks. We shared a meal with another Master, Alex, he introduced us to drinking Vodka, Russian style. Straight out of a shot glass, maybe an apple juice or a little water as a chaser if it is a particularly rough Vodka. We have all adopted this Vodka drinking technique with gusto.

St Petesburg is a marvellous city. The buildings are stunning. It even gets dark for a while at night.They really loved Neva and have named everthing after her. The city is built on the Neva River, there is a Neva Bridge, a Neva Hotel, a Neva Road, a Niva car, even the bloody toilet paper brand is called Neva! A lot of good lines there and I wasn't game to use any. I think Australian women are the most beautiful in the world. Russian girls come a very close second. Russian girls subscribe to the theory of "If you've got it, flaunt it" I like this theory. The girls in Murmansk seem to have invented this theory and definately mastered it. The scenary was amazing!!

Further south from St Petersburg to Novgarod, Charlie had recommended it and what a city, has its own Kremlin, probably better then Moscow's. Next a few days in Moscow, also incredible, Red Square, The Kremlin, Lennin's Tomb, the lot. Teamed up with three Irish Harley riding boys, Dave, Sean and Frank. To many beers, to much food and to many laughs. I did not make it back to our hotel until midday the next day, shared Daves room. Great blokes, even if they rode Harley's!! Unfortunately Gloria's time with us was over, she flew to her and Ron's daughters in Hong Kong for R&R on the way home. Gloria was excellent to travel with. St Petersburg and Moscow are like any other big western city, many shops and a good variety of bike and car shops. There is plenty of money in Russia.

South east from Moscow to Kazakhstan via Samara and we are in the Steppes. Rabi told me the Steppes are in Mongolia. They start in south east russia. We spent about a week riding through Kazakhstan entering at Oral. The Steppes are vast, some parts reminding me on the Nullabor or Hay Plains. Ron recons if they ever get their act together they could flood the world with wheat.In a joint called Aqtobe we met a couple of British bikers, Scott Mitchell and Kim Moss on Yamaha XT600's. In spite of them being on Yamaha's, and being Poms, they are really, really top blokes and good fun. Are on the road for two years, hopefully we will ride together for a while. The Kazakhstani people surprised me by their openness and friendlyness, much like the Pakistani and Iranians. The Russians are a little reserved at first, their initial shyness gives way to them being very warm and open. Kazakhastan, like Russia, suffers from bad press. Both countries are a lot more advanced and with a better standard of living than I had thought. Although far from the city they are a both primitive. We see very few motorcycles, most we do see are Japanese, next to no Russian cycles.We got lost one day, ended up many hundreds of kms out of our way on extremely shitty roads ar tracks. Fantastic days ride though. Neva and Kim up ended their bikes in the mud. My mud riding experience has increased by 400%, still fcuk all though.Qostanay, Arqalyo, Esil and Astana (the newly built capital) Had the most fantastic pizza in Astana. Next day we had 13 shits and 8 showers/baths between us. Pavlodar, then to the border with Russia at Semey. The border formalities took 4 hours to get in to Kaxakhstan and 4.5 hours to get out. No hassles, just go with the flow. Finally, we are into Siberia.

We have adopted a bit of a routine, awake at 6am, on the road by 7.30, a meal around midday, find a river for a swim/bath in the late afternoon, buy a bottle of vodka and look for a campsite about 6 or 7 pm. All wild camping. Just find a field or forest out of view of the road. All beautiful in their own right. If there is some where to buy a meal we do, otherwise we cook up a storm. Fantastic.

Met 4 Aussies on bikes coming the other way, 3 DR650's and a KLR. The Kate MacMuun Gang. They had ridden from Vladivistoc, Neva was rapt to see another Aussie girl on a bike. She wanted her photo taken, I don't think she wanted to leave her. Something wrong with Ron, Scott, Kim and my company? Our first large Russian city this time around was Barnaul, we took a day off to give the bikes a bit of TLC. The hotel was great, did our laundry, ate good food, drank good beer and good vodka. The girls in Barnaul have the same philosphy as those in Murmansk. The locals very friendly and helpful. I liked it there.

We had been told of a Motorcycle Festival near a joint called Gorno Altaisk, about 250km from Barnaul on our route through the Altai Mountains to Mongolia. We would call it a bike rally. About 600 Russian motorcyclists camping in a magnificient forrest, beside a magnificient river. A brilliant band, events we don't see, like motorcycle engine throwing (5.5 mtres!!) Good food and beer. Vodka, bloody vodka. We cannot walk the lenght of the campsite without drinking many, many shots of vodka. Most lovely and smooth, some like cats piss. A lot of Russian made Ural motorcycles, heaps of Jawa and HHH 2 strokes, but mostly Japanese bikes of every description, like any rally at home. Only two other BMW's, both F650's, a GSPD and a Scarver. We are treated like minor celebrities. This is an exceptionaly beautiful area.

Tomorrow we head towards the border, Monday into Mongolia. I have been thinking. It definately does not get any better than this!!!

Take care,

Cameron Donald is "The Man" No.8

Norway average speed: 68.4 kph
Norway max speed: 145 kph
Total distance from Home: That is another bloody story.
Average km/day since Stockers joint: 379.4 km's
No of hangovers: Nil for a long time
Total number of times stopped by the Police: 6 or 7

Great ride to Heysham, great Ferry trip to the Isle of Man, great weather also. As usual, Stockers came through and found us a bungalow at Union Mills. Shared our good Mate Damien's house. Sulby Straight, Balaugh Bridge, The Gooseneck. All the grouse view points. Even watched from the grandstand at the start/ finish line one day. Jeff Lowe had recommended it. All the tourist things, Laxley, Ramsey, Peel, Castletown and Lady Isabella. Watched in amazement as the Peel Lifeboat was launched and retrieved. Beers and St Hilliers Pear Ciders at The Railway Hotel, Sulby Glen Hotel, The Craig and for old times sake, Queens (several times), as well as all the pubs in Castletown. watched the 125 and 250 races at Castletown in the first ever TT races held there. Plenty of action on the Prom. Beers with Graham and Kaci. Coffee with Ashley, Jake and Jane. Bumped into Andy White (Strapz) and his girl. Met Lord Newman Sir Phillip John Newman-Perathoner, he rides a BSA 350 and has done India and Pakistan on it, just about to head to Norway. Good bloke as well. Took the Rooney for 4 or 5 laps of the 73km TT Course. Worked out I would have qualified on the front row for the 1926 Senior TT!! Four of my laps were aborted when the mountain was closed for accidents. Had a cup of tea, at last, with Mary Brett. Cameron Donald was the first Aussie to win a TT in 25 years. Then he won a second TT. Then he took a second place in the big race on Friday, would have won that as well only the bike developed a bad oil leak. Stockers took my photo with him. Balls the size of water melons. Rides for Dave Jefferies old team. Definitely the gun rider of the moment and a top young bloke, a good ambassador for the sport and for our country. And can that bastard ride!! And it was sunny most of the time. I would go to the TT every year if I could. Rum & Race Tour punters, eat your hearts out! A couple of beers at the pub at Heysham. Watched the races on TV. The pub was not the same without the Rum & Race Tour boys.

Ron and Gloria went to Scotland, I went back to Stockers and Jacquie's. Met Stuart Jenkinson, a mate of Stockers. He is in his 70's, leads Motorcycle Tours to Europe on his Vincent Black Knight. Immaculate condition and 748,000 miles on the clock. Stuart purchased it new in 1955 and it has only had 3 engine rebuilds. Original rear wheel bearings and paint. Fcuking amazing!! To Whitby Pub (Captain Cooks port) to watch 'Troy Bayliss' blow them away at a karaoke pub. Bat Out Of Hell again. Brings back memories. A bit unreal, sitting in Captain James Cook's living room, once again, watching videos of Stockers and his mate racing when they were young. Would Jimmy Cook have approved? The place is almost a shrine for Aussies.

Put 2 new Mitas E07's on the Rooney. The old ones had over 19,000 kms on them and still plenty of meat left. Not so popular here and none in the country, so Kevin from the importers, CGS Tyres, brought in 4 from Czechoslovakia for me, and had them delivered to a local dealer. Is that good service or what? The price, about $AUD400 for the 4 tyres. How good is that! Put my riding gear in the laundromat for the first time on the trip.

Stockers and I went to Scotland to the Bob Mac classic race meeting at East fortune. Ron and Gloria turned up as well. Magnificent setting, racing, company and bikes. Something unreal about watching David Hailwood do demonstration laps on a Honda 250/6. Made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. And the exhaust noise. Bloody music. Stockers and I talked at length to him. A bloody good bloke. Caught up with Stockers racing mates, Hartleport Dave & Angie, Doncaster Dave, Wally and Eddie. Good blokes, many beers, much red, to much Vodka and the odd bottle of bundy. One 4 am knock off, next night we were in bed early, about 1.30 am! Lindsay would have loved it again this year, the girl behind the bar asked after him.

Back to Jacquie and Stockers joint. Neva turned up with the worst case of jet lag anyone has ever seen. Took her a week to setle down. Changed the oils in the Rooney. The gearbox was meant to hold 800mls. Only had about 350mls. Fcuk the bike shop in Istanbul. Pulled the box out and took it to my new best Mate, Roger Bennett. (01422 835566 if you want your engine or gearbox rebuilt by the best in the UK) I had met him at the Lydden CRMC meeting. He dropped everything to re-build my gearbox in 3 hours. He is the Man. Does all the BMW Airhead race engines and gearboxes. The gearbox was ratshit. Probably wouldn't have made Magadan. Roger did not know what the problem was. Said the lack of oil would not have helped. Broke Karen's screen (the GPS) repairs would take 3 weeks and cost 130 pounds. Bought a new one $700. She is called Emily. Karen cost me $1,500 and we bought 5 to get them that cheap! Fcuk me. A fantastic meal at Martin and Leslie's and on to the boat from Newcastle to Stavanger in Norway. Cost about the same for a 20 hour trip, with a cabin, as it did for the 3 hour trip, without a reserved seat, from Heysham to Douglas on The Isle of Man. Problem is, the Aussies (Macquarie Bank) own The Isle of Man Steam Packet. And they want to run Sydney Ferries!!!!! What a fcuking joke.

An absolutely brilliant ride down to Evje to see Bec Williams and her boyfriend, Morton. Top chick, top bloke. Stayed two nights at Morton's parents Campground. Lovely people, cooked us a magnificient meal. Took us on a tour on the lake (an inland fiord) on the 'D S Bjoren', a steam ferry, built in 1866. Amazing! Rode for a few days up through Norway to the Artic circle. stayed at Geiranger. This is the Fiord where the cruise ships anchor for the day. Incredible to see three large cruise ships anchored in a little bay only 2 or 3 times the size of Sydney Cove. P & O's 'Arcadia' was there when we were, she is big. In Melbourne it rains a lot. In Saltburn By The Sea it rains a lot. Add the annual rain fall of these two places together, double it, multiply by six and you will get the weekly rainfall for Norway. And fckucking cold. But that is to be expected as you can almost see the North Pole! Rode past the amazing Jostedalsbreen Glacier to Trondheim and into the Artic Circle. Bloody cold. Went up as far as you can go and still stay on land, Nordkapp (North Cape) Santa Clause and the North Pole are the only things further north. Still incredibly amazing. Stayed in little cabins in the campgrounds, all very clean and about the same price as a tent site. But warm and dry! It does not get dark at all in this joint. We have not seen dark for days and days. Is that incredible or what? Saw many reindeer. Blitzen and Rudolph and the rest. Ate reindeer cooked many different ways. Even reindeer jerky. Norway is a place I will come back to. I can see why Troy Malcom, Justin Hovey and Mark Hebden keep coming to Norway.

Finland is a lot flatter. Many beautiful forests and rivers. Stayed at a really sensational campsite. Ate more reindeer in a fantactic log cabin. The roads in Norway were incredible for motorcycling. Even better than those in Tasmania. Finland had great roads and a more realstic speed limit. Crossed into Russia. What fcuking road!! Jesus! But does it get any better? I think not. And it still has not got dark!!

Troy Bayliss, Colin Stockdale. One and the same. No 7.

> Olimbiada. Aristotle was born on the hill above my Hotel. Walked around the pile of rocks that used to be his house. Alexander the Great's mother was born here. Enough culture for the trip. I don't know about Captain Ernie Stroud anymore. Saw a few Greek fishermen. None had hats like Ernie's so called 'Greek Fisherman's Hat'
> Long breakfast with my Pommie mates, Allan & Barbara, left Olimbiada to late, it was to be an easy ride to Igoumenitsa, via Thessaloniki and Ioannina. Famous last fcuking words. It pissed down pick handles for 560km of the 580km ride. I did not know it could rain while there was fog. Fog in the bloody tunnels as well. The fog disappeared, then the wind blew its guts out. What a bastard. I thought I had lost me nerve, I could not ride properly, sliding all over the joint. First gear around the hairpins. Would have been a great ride in the dry. I am told Greece's roads are famous for being incredibly slippery in the wet, bikes, cars & trucks all have the same trouble. Beer was $5 for a six pack at the wharf at Igoumenitsa. I bought a couple and handed them out to the motorcyclists as they arrived to wait for the ferry, they all needed them. I had bread, smoked meat of some description and cheese. Ended up a good little party, a Greek, an Italian, three Croats, a German and a few Dutch. They all had big trouble with the wet roads. Met the leftovers from an international Africa Twin/Veradero/Transalp rally. Had been 200 bikes in Greece for it.
> The number and size of the ferry fleet is incredible. Mine, 'Olympia Palace' was 214 m LOA and good for 31.6 knots I timed it at 53 kph with the GPS. 1912 pax and bloody hundreds of trucks and cars. It was in good nick (built in 2001) a very professional operation. Travelled with my new best Mate, Cosmos (Honda CBR600) Rode most of the way up to Monza with him. Bloody good bloke! On the boat from Greece to Ancona in Italy.
> Greece was fantastic. I had also forgotten how good Italy was. Got off the motorway, even paid the toll, first since Cambodia, and got hopelessly lost, just headed NW by the compass, many, many, many lovely little villages. They ride a lot of pushbikes in Italy. I think riding pushbikes is good for the girls backsides.
> Monza. Unbelievable!!!! World Superbikes. Unbelievable!!!!The prettiest campsite ever, (apart from Gloryvale) right on the track. 13 Aussies racing and I met or saw them all. My new, new best Mate, Paul Seaton, got me into the paddock all weekend. Talked at length to Chris Seaton, Brendan Roberts, Russel Holland and Gareth Jones. All great young blokes and fantastic riders. Saw Franki Chilli, Dr Costa, Davide Tardotzi and anyone else who was anyone. The best race meeting I have ever been to. Me, in the fcuking paddock/garages at Monza. All weekend. How good is that?
> A quick blast from Monza up to Bardonecchia to Steve and Julia's ski 'lodge'. Rained all the way. Bloody cold and it snowed at night. What a joint, what an area. Steve must have known I was on my way. He was in Australia. Julia treated me like a king. Rode through the Italian Alps, fantastic roads and scenery. Aosta, how good is that joint! Through the 11km long Mont Blanc tunnel into France. Exited the tunnel. Four men in uniform on the road, one with a large paper in his hand. French immigration? Not fcuking likely. Police. Speeding again, 86/70 in the tunnel. 'My speedo is a GPS and doesn't work in the tunnel Officer' Bad luck . Pay $200 cash, now, or you can spend the night with us. Had the Rooney's photo and the camera reading already printed. Couldn't eat this one. Welcome to France and have a nice day. Get fcuked.
> Spent a few days riding (slowly) through France. Radar camera's every where. Top roads and country side. Camping, wine, cheese. salami, ham, beer all cheap and quality. Natives friendly. Through Switzerland briefly, French Alps, Swiss Alps. No borders anymore, one currency, how simple.
> Caught a Tassi Cat from Boulogne to Dover. She was the 'Speed One', Ex 'HMAS Jarvis Bay', 85 metres, 200 cars and 800 passengers. On the bridge most of the way across. Much traffic, 2 nm vis and 30 plus knots. Talked wages and conditions. We are not over paid. To Lydden Park race circuit to watch Stockers and 250 of his closest mates race their classic race bikes. Met Stockers at the gate. His van full with his race bike, beer, red wine and Jacquie must have spent all week cooking. He had 'Advance Australia Fair' at full blast on the CD. Sang the Anthem as we drove down to the track. What a couple of wankers. These guys, and girls do not show any respect, mercy or consideration for the age and value of their machines. One race had in excess of $200,00 in the value of the 4 bikes on the front row of the grid. The Rooney was awarded a bottle of champange for best bike of the meeting and me a trophy for solo rider of the meeting. A TV interview and I made the 6pm news. Signed my first autograph. Felt like a bit of a fraud actually. What have Stockers and Troy Bayliss got in common? Both did well in their first race and had a DNF in their last race. The best race meeting I have ever been to!!
> Up to Warwick to Toc and Sue's for a couple of days. As usual, Sue tried to kill me with kindness. Good to see Debbie and Louise as well. Toc took me to the Coventry Transport Museum. The Poms do fantastic museums. Saw Charlie Borman's R1150GS Adventure. I don't feel so bad about by bike and riding gear being putrid after seeing Charlie's.He probably had a team to wash the bike and do his laundry as well. Down to London by bus a couple of times to get Russian, Kazakhastan and Mongolian visa's. All done in three days. Caught up with Ron and Gloria, played tourist and did visa's together. Drank beer and crashed for the night on their Hotel room floor.
> How long can this sunny weather last? Rode up the Brotton (near Whitby) to Stockers and Jacquies place. Broke a throttle cable on the way. The Rooneys first breakdown. I had replaced the cable in Bankok as a precaution, they don't make them in Thailand like at home. As I jury rigged a length of string to the left hand carbie a lot of cars slowed down to watch the action. They don't seem keen on leaving a safe distance from the car in front. You guessed it, an almighty arse ender. three cars stuffed. Cars locking up and sliding everywhere. On the Rooney and outer there! Stockers has all the gear and we will make up three new ones and go for a ride tomorrow. Went to a party with Kat and met her new guy, Dave. Must be a good bloke as he rides a bike. Down to Felixtowe to pick up Ron and Gloria's bike. A little bit of TLC lavished on the Rooney and we are ready to to to the Isle of Man for the TT tomorrow. Stockers is coming too. Do things get any better?
> Try this : Thanks Ian. Bails will have my photos sorted out on photo bucket in a couple of days. Check them out. and cowper_photos I think you click on Cowper RTW trip.
> Take care,
> Chris.

Europe. How good ıs that!! No 6.

Distance ridden from home: 27,337 km
Daily average, Dhaka to Istanbul: 298 km/day
Nepal has 122 ATM's
Laos has 1 ATM
Pakistan top speed: 142 kph
Iran top speed: 126 kph
Turkey top speed: 116 kph
Pakistan moving average: 52.5 kph
Iran moving average:86.6 kph (faster than Australia)
Turkey moving average: 68.4 kph
Pakistan moving time: 91.3 hours
Iran moving time:31.14 hours
Turkey moving time: 41.34 hours
Iran cost of a tank of fuel: $16.00
Turkey cost of a tank of fuel:$116.00
Istanbul ıs the worlds 4th largest city

Sadly had to leave Yazd. Very sorry to leave Haydn & Dianne. They have a top web site Simply the best to travel with. A quıck blast to Keraj wıth a drıve through of Tehran on the way. As I was readıng the map and lookıng for a Hotel a motorcyclıst pulled up and to cut a long story short, I ended up stayıng wıth hıs famıly for the nıght. Bugger all money, but they went the whole 10 yards. What a feast. They lıve ın one room, about 10X10, we all slept together on the floor. My new best mate, hıs wıfe and the two young kıds. Trıed to send me away wıth a thermos and a pıle of food. Next nıght was Tabrız, only a couple of hours from the Turkısh border. It got colder as the day wore on. Through the border ın under 1½ hours. It started to raın, couldn't see Mt Ararat. Couldn't see much at all. My heated gloves worked well. Gave ıt away at about 3.30 pm. To foggy, to wet, to slıppery and to many trucks. Been so long sınce I had a beer I forgot what ıt tasted lıke. A dry town so had to search to fınd a couple of Tuborgs.

Today was fıne. Magnıfıcıent roads and scenery. Hour after hour of snow capped mountains. Not much traffıc. Coppers pulled me over for doıng 104 ın a 100 zone. (they are supposed to gıve 10%) I argued the poınt.He tells me the speed lımıt for motorcycles ın Turkey ıs 70 kph (100 for cars) I tell hım there are no sıgns. He doesn't care and books me. I dıdn't lose my temper and swear. He wrote the fıne and I smıled. He gave me the paper, I shook hıs hand and gave them both a bıg hug and a kıss. They couldn't wıpe the smırks off theır simple little faces.I put my helmet on, flashed up the Rooney, rıpped the fıne up ınto about 10 pıeces, screwed ıt up ınto a ball and ate ıt! Theır jaws nearly hıt the deck! If those prıcks thınk I am ever goıng to pay that fıne they can go and get fcuked! I felt like giving every Polıceman I saw today the one fınger salute. Chıldısh. It took for ever to cover 750 km at 75 to 80 kph. Lucky they dıd not catch me earlıer, there had been some great sweepıng corners, good for 115 on the Rooney. Tonıght ıs a town called Tosya only 490 km from Istanbul (Europe) and the fırst wıth a European feel. Tıme for a beer.

Away early and into Istanbul just after lunch. Europe at last. I had forgotten how good this joint is. It is beautiful. The women all look terrific after 4 weeks of only seeing girls wearing a chador. They have figures.Nice little family run Hotel, clean sheets, soft pillows, plenty of hot water, cold beer and great food. Cable TV. Don't even have that at home! Hard to comprehend ten days ago I was sharing a grubby room/cell with Haydn, Dianne & a new Police motorcyce. Two tins of tuna and three chapatis for dinner between us. No one in the joint had ever owned a cake of soap, or thought about useing one. Prisoners watching us all the time. Needed a Police guard, and a gunman to go and buy a bottle of water. A yard full cars and bikes written off in fatal accidents and a guy on the fortress like gate with the obligitory auto shotgun.

Found a workshop to service the Rooney. KTM and Ducati dealers.They let me do the work with their gear. Only charged me for the oil, and then at a good discount. Met many of the local bikers, drank about 4,000 cups of tea. Duncan would have cried, they had a 1098 the guy had thrown away. Took the photo from its good side so as not to upset him. When I left they gave me the biggest cannister of Turkish tea known to man. Gave it to my little mate at the Hotel. He brings me cold beer up to the roof. Great afternoon.Did all the sight seeing things today. This poor uneducated generation of backpackers think 'The Pudding Shop' is only a Cafe. They don't even know who Billy Hayes was and haven't even heard of, let alone read Midnight Express. Guess I am old and from another generation! Told the guys at The Pudding Shop I was here over 25 years ago and they fell in love with me. Wanted to give me free sweets. Accused me of being an Old Hippy, sex, drugs and rock & roll. Told them the sex and rock & roll were OK, but I wasn't keen on the drugs. They said all the Old Hippies say that. The ATM gave me money and then ate my card. Who cares, I am going to Gallipoli tomorrow.

Rode down the coast to the Gallıpolı Penınsular vıa the scenıc route, Tekirdag, Kumbag & Sarkoy. Magnıfıcıent weather, dıd a tour of the penınsular. What a beautıful area. Found a Toyota Hı-Lux load of Aussıe/Kıwı Overlanders and we sat ın the stands at Anzac Cove and told lies all nıght. Got there at 5pm, for the dawn servıce the next day. Had a good position. All nıght sıttıng up, the wınd would blow a dog off ıts chaın and the temp was down to minus 3 ın the early hours. 11,000 plus, maınly young Aussıes and Kıwıs. Drunk, noısy, foul mouthed, arrogant, dısrespectful to the deceased Anzacs, sleepıng on the headstones. All the bad thıngs we have read ın the press. And all bullshıt! Do not belıeve anythıng you read ın the Murdoch press. They were the best group of young future leaders of our socıety we could hope for. If these guys and gırls are the future of our country, ıt ıs ın good hands. All had travelled thousands of kılometers, at great expense, to pay theır respects to the Anzacs and learn about our hıstory. The Dawn Servıce and the servıce at Lone Pıne are a must. Anzac day the optımum tıme. Chrıst ıt was cold.Found a fantastıc B&B at Seddulbahir, the southern most vıllage on the penınsular. Three generatıons of the famıly have worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commısıon. They know everthıng. The Old Man has been awarded an OAM. Presented to hım by our Prıme Mınıster, at Anzac Cove, on Anzac Day. The fırst tıme I have ever seen one! Walked down to the vıllage for a bottle of local red. Not to foul. Watched the shıppıng pass through the Dardanelles from my wındow. Never seen so many. Spent the next day doıng a tour of the war graves. Nobody else there. Fantastıc but bloody cold and damp. A shıtty wet rıde back to Istanbul. Jesus ıt can raın ın thıs joınt! Did I remember to mentıon how bloody cold ıt was?

Dubai, flew with Singapore Airlines, simply the best airline I have been on in ten or more years. Stayed with Dave & Natalie and kids. Beach resort in the morning, the pool with Mia in the afternoon, taboggoning and playing in the snow in the evening. How weird is that? This joint is amaxing! Liked Dubai a lot more than I thought I would. Never seen so many Porches. Nearly every Cayenne made must be sold here.

Overnight flight back to Istanbul with Singapore again. Still good. Picked the Rooney up and rode to Greece. Have only paid one toll in the whole trip. Wasn't going to start in Turkey. Amazing sound and light show behind me every time I blasted through the E tag booth! Teach those pricks to book me for speeding!

Greece. How good is this joint. First night camped at Alexandroupolis. (, full of great people. Once again was nearly killed with kindness. Made me drink their wine. My new best mate Anton sent me away with cold meat, biscuits and chockolate and more maps than I can carry. Read me like a book and told me not to eat all the chockolate at once! He told me it was the best camp ground in Greece and I should stay a few days.The others I have seen were pretty shitty. Full of the Greek version of trailer trash. Was going to one of the Islands. Found paradise on the mainland. Name of the village is similiar to the surname of Jimmy 'The Greek' who used to own the milk bar in Mona Vale. Great Hotel, great food, cold beer and the best wine since the Darwin RSL Club. From the family's vineyard and no chemicals. Cheap as well. Weather is fantastic. Hotel is right on the beach. People are terrific. Girls must be poor though, most can't afford swimming costumes. I could live here. I don't say that often. Will stay a few days. Great motorcycle roads and not much traffic. They love Adventure Tourers here. Many, many BMW R1200 GS's. A few F650's plenty of Africa Twins, V Stroms, Transalps and a Yamaha Tenera. None seem to have ever been on the dirt. Met a bloke with a new Hyabusa, 195 hp. Crazy stuff.

The Rooney is going well, although after 27,000 km she needs a little TLC. She will wait to the UK. Next weekend I will watch Troy Bayliss kick arse at Monza. And an overnight Ferry trip to get there. How fcucking good is that!!!! Does life get any better? I think not.


Haydn, Dianne. The KKH' Hunza Valley & Baulchistan No 5.

Kathmandu. Did not want to leave. Caught up with old mates. Dropped into Himalayan Encounters Trisuli Centre for morning tea and to see Durga, another old mate. Did not want to leave. Dropped into Bandipur for lunch and to see the latest lot of renovations at 'The Old Inn'. Did not want to leave. Stayed at their Base Camp at Pokhara and did not leave. they would not let me pay for my accommodation or meals. Had a great time, stayed two nights. Rode about 80 km up the Kali Kandaki Valley (the deepest on earth) The road, or track, is complete all the way to Jomsom, but not open yet. I got very close to Tatopani and was stopped by the Army. Tried to talk my way through and was politely told to fcuk off. The Jomson trek and the Annapurna Circuit trek will be no more after this season. pity. dragged myself away from Pokhara and rode west to India. Great ride and a couple more Maoist blockades. Stayed at a shitty village on the edge of the Terrai, Chisapani. A dump but lovely people. Crossed into India and rode the bike like I had stolen it. Met a guy on a Bullet 350 who advised me not to go into New Delhi if I was not going to spend time there as it was the Holli Festival. In this festival they throw red dye or water coloured with red dye, at anything that moves. As a tourist, and on a bike I was a prime target. New Delhi was the worst place for it. Headed north and stayed in an overpriced Indian resort. Rode hard to Amritsar. The most holly joint for the Sikh people. Managed to catch up with a couple of Aussies on a R1200GS. Haydn & Dianne Durnell.
> The roads are more crowded in Bangladesh and the bus drivers are manic, the rest just lunatics. In India they are all fcuking manic. No fcuking idea!!!! They all believe when you die you go to a better place. I can't convince them I don't believe in that. I think when you die it is all over. I am not ready to go yet but they don't seem to care.
> Day off on Amritsar. Golden Temple by night and by day. Fantastic. To the Indian/Pakistani Border to see the closing parade. Incredible. Crossed in to Pakistan and stayed in the dirtiest, most overpriced hotel in Asia, possibly the world. Attempted to ride the motorway to Islamabad. Motorcycles not allowed. Cops threw us off, highway was more interesting anyway. Stayed with friends of Haydn & Dianne. Old Zehad must be doing O.K. as his house had 9 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. Servants, the bloody lot.
> Rode up and back on the Karakorm Highway (KKH) for a couple of weeks. It is hte main trade route between Pakistan and China.Only open for about 5 months a year. (snow) An amazing road. Constructed between 1966 and 1978, 20,00 Pakistani and 20,000 Chinese road workers. One Pakistani worker was killed for every 2.5 km of road. It is about 600 or 700 km long. First day we had a little rain. The Rooney goes alright in the wet. The back stepped out to let me know it was slippery. I slowed. A couple of little front and rear slides, I slowed more. Apparently not enough. The back stepped out and I was sliding down the road on my back watching the Rooney do the same. Bit of a scrape on Lachlan's panniers and Paul's crash bar. No problem.
> The scenery on the KKH is incredible. 'The ultimate manifstation of mountain grandeur' (Eric Shipton, mountaineer) The best, most amazing ride of my life. Snow capped peaks on both side of the valley all the way. Sensary overload!! Went up as far as Sost. The border was closed, a couple of Customs guys took us about 10 km further up the road in their 4X4. The same walking track that Marco Polo used runs beside the road. I had to climb up and walk a few metres along it! Rode up to Scardu on the way back. A town of 40,000 and no crime what so ever. Amaxing again!!!Had a new horn fitted. The $US90 imported from the US horn had chucked it weeks before. Now have a $6 Pakistani horn and it would wake the dead. Did a side trip up the Astor Valley. Impressive as well. Last day on the way back to Islamabad we road for 8 hours in the rain. no one slows down (except us) It was hard, slippery as shit. The rucks drop plenty of dieso. We had to get out as the road can be blocked for weeks with landslides once it rains.
> The people in Pakistan are simply the nicest I have ever met. Every day we are asked into someones home/office/shop or some where for tea, at least 6 or 10 times. They love Australians and Ricky Ponting must be the most famous Aussie ever. They even love the Americans. No malice at all. We go to purchase something and they will not take money as we are their 'guests'. Back in Islamabad we stay at Zehad's mansion again. They will not let us put our hands in our pockets at all. Had the bikes oil changed and took a couple of days leisure leave. One of his boys even washed my bike.
> Left Islamabad just on daylight. We had a few long days to go to get to the Iranian border. There is a problem with kidnapping and bandits in this area. At times we will only be 10km from Afganistan. The Defat travel advisory warning tells us not to go to these areas. They tell us to leave Pakistan immediately. We discussed it and thought, with a few precautions, we should be O.K. 45 minutes into the trip, a small town, we are on the second busiest
> road in the country (bit like the Hume), 70 kph speed limit, things going well. A group of people walk out in front of me. Brake, steer to the right toward a concrete barrier topped by a steel fence, sound the horn, people keep comeing, I hit one. They go down and so does the Rooney and I. Once again I watch the Rooney slide down the road. Ran back, punters helped the woman to her feet and put her in a tuk tuk to go to Hospital. Lucky two spectators speak english and tell me not to worry about the cops. They seem more worried about me and want me to go to hospital. I am worried about the sheila and the Rooney. What steps do I take? Fcuking big ones. Finally we reach Multan. Our smuggled rum had run out a few days before. I could have used a gallon that night.
> We had been told to reach our destination no later than 4pm and then not to go outside at all until daylight. We travel with a Judge and his escorts, the biggest, meanest looking SAS type soldiers ever seen. All carrying automatic shot guns. The Judge is a good bloke and wants to have tea with us. We felt his escorts only attracted attention, not wanting to get caught in the middle of a gun fight we let them go ahead, stopped and talked to some villagers who took Haydn & Dianne for a donkey cart ride. Got to the outskirts of Sukkar, escorted to our hotel by the cops and instructed not to leave until our escort arrives in the morning. Up early and legged it right on daylight, before our escort arrived. Rode for an hour or so and were stopped at a Police road block. Many radio calls and we left. They have a good system. In the dangerous areas a Police Toyota Hilux waits and escorts you to the border of their area and hands you over to the next guys and the process is repeated. They all have shotgun or machinegun carrying blokes in the back. We make sure we are in front. That way we can set the pace. Sometimes they cannot keep up. I think they stuffed a few Toyota utes trying. One guy even sounded the siren every time we wanted to pass a truck. I liked his style. We were in Baluchastan. Incredibly harsh, beautiful country. They want independance from Pakistan and Iran so have been taking tourists hostage. Last one was Japanese, has been missing 6 months. No wonder they are all jumpy.
> Escorted into Quetta by two motorcycles. The rear one, of course, had an auto shotgun. Police told us to ring them for an armed escort if we wanted to walk outside the hotel. We had a shower and went for a walk. Should have taken the ecort as it rained and we got wet. Left early the next day. Did 140 km before we realized we were on the wrong road. Saw some beautiful country that tourists never get to see. Got back to town and there was a 'wheel wrights' stike. No vehicle in the state could move. On the way back to our hotel it was weird, no civilian vehicles and many, many Police and Army. The people at the road blocks were friendly.
> Left for Dalbandin early the next morning. What a fantastic ride. Great roads and scenerary. We were not allowed to stay in a hotel and had to sleep in the Police Station. It was like a fortress. Also served as a gaol. Had a look in at the prisoners, hope I never go to a Pakistani gaol!! We had to wait until they could spare a Policeman and a Gunman to escort us to the shops. Interesting to say the least. Had a chapati and a tin of tuna for tea. the cops didn't feed us.
> Left at daylight for the border. Typical border town shitfight joint. Crossed into Iran. Like moveing to the 21st century.We could not believe how modern and civilized it is. The Police escort had to travel on the back of the Rooney. I do not have a pillion seat, I bet his arse still hurts. Shouted ourselves a nice hotel in Zahaden, had trouble accepting the change from a shitty cop shop/gaol the night before to a 3 star hotel.
> Rode into Bam. What a mess. An earthquake killed between 40,000 and 60,000 a few years ago. I feel privilaged to have seen the old mud city years ago. now it is a pile of dirt. The hotel has a Pommie motorcyclist, who was killed in the quake, bike left there. Very sad. The people of Bam are very grateful for the help western countries, includeing Australia and the US, gave them after the quake. The Iranians are lovely people. they like Aussies and even the Americans as well. We have met US travellers. No problem. I feel guilty for not putting Australia stickers on my bike. It is covered in them now. Had to take an escort when we toured the old city. A Policeman even slept outside our hotel door. As soon as the escort arrived we left, our last day with an escort. About time!!
> Put a 600 km day in to get to Yazd. Fcuk me. I had to spend a day here. I will come back to Iran. Lovely people, food and buildings. Don't believe all the bullshit we hear!
> Haydn and Dianne are staying here for a week. They have been the best to ride with. Sorry to see them stay. should be on Turkey in 3 days and then in Istanbul in another 4. Hopefully will make Anzac Day.
> Chris.

Manic Drivers, Kirsty, Ship Breakers & Kathmandu No 4.

Hangovers: 2
Bangladesh Average speed: 48.3 kph
Bangladesh Top Speed: 122 kph
India/Nepal Average speed: 47.8 kph
India/Nepal Top Speed: 105 kph
Daily average kilometres since Dhaka: 286

Arrived in Bangkok, the city was dry for 3 days while the election was on. We found a joint that would serve us Heineken Coffee, A big coffee mug would hold a stubbie.

Leaving Bangkok and they have round 2 of their election, the joint is dry again. No Heineken Coffee as the cops have taken to checking individual tables. But we had a good session drinking rum, Neva style, tipping some coke out of the bottle and topping it up with Rum, drinking through a straw. Hangover material!

7th March. Flight to Dakha, Bangladesh was late. Last time I came to this joint I flew Biman Bangladesh Airlines (with Ann, 26 years ago) the plane was 3 days late, a bit better now at 1 hour. Must have been the first Airbus 310 built by the look of it. I hoped the bloke that fixed the interior did not do the engines. Went to they cargo area at the airport. Fcuk me. Hired a little man and his sidekick to help me and to oil the wheels a little. The best 3,000 Taca I ever spent. Took about 14 hours spent over 3 days. They did not know what a Carnet was. A lot of our time was spent educating the officials on Carnets. They love little stamps and signing papers. By the end you could not read some of the paperwork as there were so many stamps and signatures. If you can't beat them, join them. I had a stamp made up: AUSTRALIAN REPRESENTATIVE
Oliver C Cowper
Sydney NSW 2103
Every time we got a new form and they stamped it and signed it, so did I. Probably only created more confusion, but good fun. I am having trouble resisting the temptation to have one made with 'Australian Government Representative' on it!!

Stayed with Kirsty Jenatsch while I sorted the bike out. Had a great time with her and her friends. A great group of young Aussies doing great things. Stretched out on a carpet and cushion, with Kirsty and her friends, on someone's roof, drinking salt water cooled Heineken, watching a 3 hour Bollywood epic on a big screen. Does it get any better? I think not!! Rode down to Chittagong yesterday. These pricks are manic on the road. The worst I have seen by far. A trip in Dakha was almost suicide. On the highway it cannot be described. I tried to get into a few ship breakers yesterday, no way. From outside it looked amazing. The village nearby sells everything that comes out of a ship, galley appliances, lifejackets, lifeboats, nav lights, lathes, drill presses, engines, flags, sextants, furniture, aux engines, pistons, liners, pumps, compressors, turbo's, pc items, the lot. You name it they have it. Last night I had a meal with Sallah, a mate of Saif. (an engineer on the Jetcats)This afternoon we are going to tour the breakers. How good is that!! It is a pity I am not a cricket tragic as there is a game on in Chittagong on Sunday, Bangladesh v South Africa. Heaps of famous cricket people staying at my Hotel. .

9th March Chittagong Ship breakers. What a blast. It was the highlight of the trip so far, by far. Being able to walk up to 30,000 tonne tankers, high and dry on the beach is awesome. Big sections of ships lying all over the beach. They are a bit paranoid about photos, so only managed a few from a distance. Went to Sallah's yard. A treasure trove. They break about 100 ships a year. (they do about 500 in India) Rode back to Dhaka yesterday, 265km, worked my arse off and only managed to average 49.5 kph! And on Saturday, quitest day of the week. Being Islamic the weekend is Friday and Saturday here. Weird. No Iranian Visa today as promised, come back Tuesday. Pricks. Can think of better places to be stuck in. The Rooney gets a lot of attention here. Most have never seen a bike its size. The biggest they can buy is 125cc. When I tell them it is 1,000cc they nearly always say it has a bigger engine than their car!

13th March. Visas promised Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Finally got it at lunch time on Thursday. I had sent so much time at the Iranian Embassy the guy let me sit in on a couple of visa interviews. Stuffed me around a lot, but good blokes. Jumped on the Rooney and shot through. The bike had been pinging like a bastard with my last lot of fuel. Funny, he promised me it was the strongest gasoline in Bangladesh. Put 36 litres in it on the way out of town. The best fuel in Dhaka.(again) He promised me it was a genuine 67 Octane!! The Rooney pulls like a train, loves it.

17th March. A quick blast through North Bangladesh. Stayed a night at Mymensingh. OK. Next night at Patgram, (26degrees 20.839'N 89degrees 01.487'E) 13 kilometres from the Indian border. Was at the border at Burimari waiting for them to open. In Bangkladesh every time I filled in a form they want to know my fathers name. I did not even know my father. He was an unsuccessful farmer and Council labourer. I decieded to give him a title. I started to write him down as Rear Admiral Sir Hugh Kennedy Hassan Cowper. They asked a couple of questions. All went a bit wonky trying to get out of Bangladesh, the Immigration guy rang the National Security guy and he gave me the third degree. Thought I might be a bloody spy! Rode about 120km through India and entered Nepal. No problems, the Nepali people are great. Riding through the Terrai area of Nepal was not a problem. The Maoists had called a strike. All cars, trucks and buses were blockaded, reminded me of Razorback in 1979. I don't know if they liked the Rooney Special, thought I was good looking or what, with a little bit of sweet talking I was waved through every road block. No traffic, riding the Terrai with the Himilayan Foothills on my right. Does not get much better. In a few months I will be on the other side of these hills, riding the Steppes.

Took a short cut over some mountains to Kathmandu, supposed to be the best view of everest from the top (2,488m), bloody haze, no view. It was an amaxing ride, almost like trekking but without the walking. Little traffic. Met a couple of Germans on a BMW Airhead, with a sidecar, Kai and Annette. Kathmandu, why have I been away for 4 years, it is still bloody terrific. Caught up with a few friends, Tom and Jerry Pub, Khukri Rum and listening to George and The Delaware Destroyers. How good is that. They even played Bad To The Bone several times for me. A steak and a bottle of Aussie rough red at K.C.'s. Fcuking great. If I can get a few litres of petrol (they blockaded that as well) I will leave for Pokhara tomorrow.

Stand clear, doors closing.

Don the "Temple Hunter" No 3.

Distance Traveled: 12,564km
Average/day: 209.4km
No of offs:8
Hangovers: Several
Number of good people met: 4,300,021
Number of dickheads met: Nil

How good was Mai Nam Beach on Koh Samui. Eventually made our way to Bangkok, stopped for one night at some little joint, Champorn (liked the last part of the name), another shack on the seafront, liked it so much we stayed 2. Great sea food restraunt down the road. Had a slipway & hardstand down the road, spent hours there, some new buildings and plenty of dockings. Worked out a route into Bangers but no one told us you couldn't ride bikes on the motorways. They wouldn't let us through, so we held up every lane, did a u-turn and headed up the bloody main drag the wrong way! Chaos!! Cops pulled us over, I blamed Charlie, he blamed me, Cops thought we were both stupid and told us to shoot through. Spent three or four days in Bangkok, a little hard on the body! Picked up Visa's for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Bangladesh. Had the bikes serviced and got Charlie a hangover. We played tourist a little as well, but were glad to leave.

Headed to Cambodia, got on another motorway somehow, just ran the damned toll and kept going. Payed a little man a few dollars to sooth the way across the Thai/Cambodian border at Poypet. After a little while I said to Charlie 'What side if the fcuking road do they drive on?' He replied, 'How the fcuk would I know, you have been here before!' It is chaos, a complete lack of road rules. (They drive on the right) Like the stupid little boys we are, we pushed on to Seim Reap, the road was shithouse. Dust, potholes big enough to swallow a Toyota Camry, gravel, sand, cows, kids, trucks, buses, bicycles and anything else they could throw at us. it got dark and no one has lights, I have a tinted visor, so had to lift it. All sorts of Cambodian wild life was landing in my helmet and eyes. I scooped bugs out of the helmet by the handful, some big enough to eat. Did I mention the dust, by the way it was dusty as well. The beer in Siem Reap was good and cold. Christ, has this place exploded in the last few years. Angkor Wat is still bloody amazing, Ta Prom still my favourite. Surprised by the good road to Phnom Penh, has that joint changed as well, paved roads and all now.

The joint is amaxing! The bastards are crazy on the road though! We hired a bloke to take us on a tour of the Killing Fields today. We had a Honda 70 Stepthrough, water cooled. It towed a trailer, connected by a towball mounted where the pillion seat should be, takes 4 passengers. Front drum brake and no brakes on the trailer. He has a 5 litre plastic container sitting above the engine, in front of and below the rider, connected to a hose that drips fresh water on to a rag that is folded across the top of the barrel. The amazing thing is it works and keeps the engine running cool. Very common modification over here.

The Killing Fields and the S21 Museum are terrible, very depressing, but are a 'must see'.

We met Don 'The Temple Hunter' Duvall in Phnom Pen. I have declared him an honary Aussie. The first section of road to Saen Monourom was OK. Things went rapidly downhill after Snuol. We tried to sneak into Vietnam via a little border post, many miles down a dirt track past Snuol. The border guard did not even get up out of his hammock as he told us to rack off. The road detoriated further. We saw three little posts in a triangle denoting a land mines several times, even saw a bloody mine right beside the track. You are not supposed to walk anywhere that has not been walked or driven on before. It is the most heavily land mined place on Earth. Could not make Saen Monourom so stayed at a shitty, dusty, dirty town called Kaev Seima no restraunt or cafe. Nice shower and a clean bed though. Fruit for dinner and warm beer did not hurt us. Blasted into town, had a mad coffee (and I don't drink coffee often) and checked into the Nature Lodge. What a place. I slept in a tent on a big platform up a tree, above the roof of the bar. Brilliant. Rode about 40km to another Border post to try Vietnam again. Very friendly people, but still told us to get lost. We had been told they do not like letting big bikes into Vietnem unless you pay $2,500/bike. Stuff that! It was worth a try. We both threw the bikes away on the way back from the border. Mine was a big one, I hit hard. Guess which one of us was trapped under their bike for 20 or more minutes and had to lay there until a 4X4 load of young Swedish NGO's (girls) came along and lifted the bike. What happens on camp stays on camp! Don 'THe Temple Hunter' rode into our place and made us drink beer and rum until late.

We had been riding up sections of the Ho Chi Min Trail and continued on it up a highway Don calls The Highway of Death. We had 200kms to go to Ban Lorng. The first 100km to Kaoh Nheaek was a reasonable but shitty road. The last 100kms. Fcuk me. It was impassable to 4 wheel drives. Only an very occasional truck, Ox Carts and motorbikes can traverse it. We got out of 2nd gear only about 3 times in 75km, and then only to 3rd. The wheel ruts cut by the carts are at least 350mm deep. We both dumped it several times. Many, many deep dry creek crossings. Real bastards. Remember what I said about staying to the track. Stuff the land mines, we rode through the scrub, sometimes unintentionally and out of control. We took a wrong turn, even more shitty track. Don 'The Temple Hunter' came blasting along on his XR400, can that prick ride. About this time I appointed him an Honary Aussie. If I am plied with enough Red or Rum I will relate the story. I don't like telling stories where someone else is the hero. Don carries 3 front sprockets, changes them in a minute according to the conditions. We ran out of daylight, had to sleep among the land mines, both in Chilla's $28.00 tent. Listened for tell tale clicks every time we rolled over. I thought the next time I would be camping in the forest would be in the Steppes! Crossed our first Asian vehicular ferry the next morning, scary to board. Finally made it to Ban Lorng. (for Bailey, 13 degrees44.426'N ,106 degrees59.468'E) Shower, beer and bed. Don disapeared into the scrub to look for more Temples. About 200 km of easy dirt the next day and then the first sealed road for 7 days to take us from Stung Treng to the Laotian border. Boring really.

Four days of riding up the black top to Vientiane in Laos. Met Paul, a local recently returned from Uni in Lismore, took us to his Families village for a tradional Laotian lunch with his extended family. A highlight of our trip. Great ride from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, 350 metres above sea level. (19degrees 53.840N, 102 degrees 08.544E) never done so many corners in one day, great scenary. World Heritage listed town, stayed 3 nights. Back down through the corners to Vientiane for a couple of nights. Lovely.

Crossed the Friendship Bridge, between Laos and Thailand, built and paid for by Australia. Two day ride to Bangkok. Stayed one night at Phon on the way to Bangkok. We tried to get our Iranian Visa, takes two weeks here, no good to us. It takes 5 days for the paper work and permits to export the bikes. We had to get crates made, all has gone pretty smoothly. 3 1/2 hours two prepare and crate both bikes. Both my bike and I fly to Dhaka in Bangladesh on Sunday evening. Looking forward to seeing Kirsty Jenatsch. Ian Bailey has set up a photo shop bizzo for me. Unfortunately the lead I need to operate this in with the bike. Photos, soon?? Thats all for South East Asia.

A couple of changes to the crew, Neva has pulled out of South America and Charlie is shipping Dr Duck and himself back to Sydney from here. A pitty as they are both fantastic to travel with. I can't wait to get out of Bangkok!!

Stand clear, doors closing.

To infinity and beyond. No 2.

Did you know. Len Atlee and Bryan Hindle won the first Castrol Six Hour Race in 1970 on a Triumph 650, the only time the Poms ever won. They did 306 laps and won $1,000. Then the biggest prize money in Australian motorsport. The Tadano was an 8 wheeler. Our distance from home is 7461kms amd the Rooney is running at 17.488 l/lm (49.32mpg) and Dr Duck is doing 20l/km (57mpg). For Bailey we are at 9 degrees34.323'N and 99degrees59.681'E.

My Aussie designed and made Lachlan Campbell Panniers are probably the best in the world. They are so good I take them off the bike and into bed with me every night! The sheets are usually pretty shitty looking in the morning.

Iluka. Wet. Pottsville. Wet. Dinner with Tom, Suzie & Will. Wet on the inside. Morgan & Wackers, Gold Coast & lunch with Adam & Natalie. Still wet. Fell in love with CJ. (six weeks old) Over the range to Toowoomba, pissing down pickhandles. Darling Downs, sunny warm and lush. Western Queensland & Northern Territory, bloody hot. We had to stop for water every 100kms. Took 10 kms or so to find a tree for some shade many times. Kept the speed down to about 100kph out of respect for the bikes, 600kms was about it for a day. We did 820 one day and were stuffed the next. Anyone who says they can or did big miles up here in summer probably did not, or was not even there. Camped all the way. Fantastic.

Darwin. Great. RSL Club (Cavanagh Street) $15 'T' Bones, cold beer and a good wine list. Northern Territory Motorcycles for a service. Good people. Had to wait an extra day for my Carnet to arrive. Express post is four days from Canberra. Made friends with Dwin Delaney, I should have bought the bloody boots last time, they are now $3,500! Charlie got a nice pair of kangaroo skin boots though. Played the tourist thing for a couple of days, shipped the bikes. (no problems) Moved into a posh hotel. All good. Taxi to the airport, things still good. Airport security was very efficient, took my shampoo, nail clippers, deodorant (2 bottles), water and anything else I could use to blow up the plane. Tiger Airways, cheap!!! What a shitfight. Pay full price and enjoy the trip. No leg room, dirty and shabby planes. So hot we sweated like pigs. No movies, no food or drinks. They turn the lights on and announce you can buy food and drink when ever they think you could be nodding off. Don't be a tight arse like us, pay up and you will live to enjoy it.

Got out of a Taxi in Singapore, the first person we saw was a Billy Boy. Tried to buy her/him for Charlie, I don't think he is ready for it yet! (Mick & Don nothing changes in Singapore) Spent the weekend being tourists in Singas. Raffles for a beer, $35, fcuk them. Rode the MRT, did a Harbour Cruise. Rang to pick the bikes up on Monday morning (as arranged) It seems they liked Sydney and decided to stay for a while. Why were they in Sydney when they flew Darwin to Singapore. Don't even ask!! The Rooney and Dr Duck arrived on Tuesday, we got permits, picked them up and cleared customs without much trouble.

Did I mention it was the monsoon season over here? Fcuking rain, every afternoon. Made the rain at Pottsville look like a sun shower. Around 5,000 motorcyclists commute to Singapore from Malaysia every day. They ride like there is no tomorrow and don,t care how hard it rains, yes, we were in the bloody middle. Malaysia was great, fantastic people and brilliant scenery. We crossed the Malaysian Peninsular a few times, found some top motorcycle roads, not much traffic either. Met Danny, a Christian Malay of Chinese ancestry, talk about a minority! He ride a Honda 600RR, both he and the bike have more bling than I thought possible. Showed us his town, markets, palaces, yacht club, silk factory, the lot. wouldn't let us pay for lunch, top bloke, having both recently sold BMW K1200RS's we had a bit in common. He even found beer, a mean feat in a Muslim country. We even rode for a couple of days without getting lost. Made up for it since.

Crossed into Thailand, running late and they have a Islamic insurgency problem near the border areas. Plenty of Army, James would have been rapt, real live Hummers full of machine gun carrying mean looking blokes. We had to get at least 100km from the border and find a hotel before dark. Cleared the cobwebs out of the bikes, even the buses have an armed escort. Krabi was great, Phuket was better. Bloody Koh Samui. Fantastic!!! Charlie has fallen in love with Thailand, particularly Samui and wants to bring Barbara back. Caught a Ferry over, 1.5 hour trip, bike and rider cost $6.25. We rode into Lollita's Bungalows. Been staying there for 18 years. Lollita is always pleased to see me as I spend money, she asked after Ann. I said we had split. Introduced Charlie. She gave me a room key. You wouldn't beleive it, she thought I had jumped the fence and had given us a bungalow with the biggest King size bed ever made. If nothing else, Lollita is adaptable! Arrived in time for the Full Moon party on Koh Phangan. Did the tourist thing again today, went trail riding up to the top of the Island. It has always been closed by the Army before, some great tracks.

Weathers great, food is great, people are great. Guess we should stay another day or so before we tackle Bankok. I forgot to put some people on to my e-mail list. Talk about go off like a pork chop in the hot Koh Samui sun! And it only rains in the evening.

Take care,

Things you should know. No 1.

Did you know you cannot have a cold shower in Winton. the water comes out of a bore at 88 degrees, is cooled to only 42 before it enters the towns pipes. A Tadano crane weighs 44 tonnes and has a top speed of 90kph, has a fuel range of 600kms, can lift 50 tonnes and has a reach of 54 metres. Cost $750,000. Qantas had their first board meeting at Winton. The Ulysses Adventure Riding Group has 300 at their 2007 meeting at Winton. A ship enters or leaves Singapore Harbour every 4 minutes 24/7. They have about 140,000 movements a year.

So far:
Distance travelled: 5043km
Moving average: 88.7km/hr
Time underway: 58.38hrs
Top speed: 160kph (sorry Paul)
Highest temperature: 45C or 113F
Most expensive fuel: 196.7 cents at Renner Springs
Present position: 1degree 18.556'N
103degrees 51.201'E
Hangovers: Nil
Masala Dosa's eaten: 6

I had a great days ride with George (of the desert) We rode in to 'Caravan Ubeautis' as Lawrie 'Dobber Duff' and John finished work. For a change everyone was sober. With style and flair I went to flick up the chin piece of my three day old $890 BMW helmet. Fcuk me, the bloody thing was stuck! The locking mechanism was jamed!The boys pissed themselves laughing, dropped tools, eventually, and came to help George try and get the thing off my head. They pulled and twisted so much my scone nearly parted company with my shoulders. The next day I felt as if I had gone 15 rounds with Anthony Mundine. They threatened to parade me around Iluka on New Years Eve . John came out with an angle grinder and an extension lead. I told him to fcuk off. Margaret suggested they squirt lube oil up into the helmet to help it slide over my melon. If she wasn't such a nice girl I would have told her to fcuk off as well. Charlie arrived and suggested they tie my feet to a tree and a rope from my helmet to Lawrie 'Dobber Duff's' Peterbuilt truck and pull. I told him to fcuk off as well. In fact I told them all to fcuk off many times. They stuck screw drivers into the helmet, I was scared one would go through my jugular or into my ear. The noise inside the helmet was terrifying! I was beginning to think the angle grinder, maybe, was the way to go. Eventually George decided to pry off little cover plates on either side of the helmet, this enabled them to undo 2 screws, they attacked the chin bar with some snips of doubtful heritage, giving them room to take out another couple of screws. After 2 fcuking hours I was free. Yes 2 fcuking hours!! Also my new helmet was rooted, completely. Who was the girl who persuaded me to buy this style of helmet?

Take care,
ps. Morgan & Wacker on the Gold Coast gave me a new helmet. Thank Christ.
BMW Australia still have not replaced my faulty boots.