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Friday, July 17, 2009

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.

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