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    18.000km on the road

    Monday, December 3rd, 2007

    Our motorcycle journey is over, so it might be the time to have some conclusions.

    First why don’t we take the bike in south-east asia. The reasons are two-fold. The first one is the cost of transport, we would have to fly the bike from Kathmandu to Bangkok and then again from Bangkok to Bucharest which would be quite expensive. The sea-shipping from Kathmandu is much cheaper.
    The second reason is that Vietnam doesn’t allow big motorcycles (more then 200cubic cm) on its territory. As we want to make a tour (Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos-Thailand) we can’t really leave the bike anywhere and come back to pick it up.

    The bike performed admirably throughout the 17.800 km of the trip. The damage to the bike is pretty minimal: the left rear view mirror was broken in an encounter with a van in Iran but I managed to buy a (second-hand!) iranian honda mirror that fits, the lid of the right-hand pannier had a dent from a truck on the Manali-Leh road, and the bottom of the same pannier is dented from a fall in Rajastan. All this incidents took place at very slow speed or even standing still šŸ™‚

    Apart from the fuel pump which left us stranded on the side of the road twice, we had effectively 0 problems with the bike. This was probably due to a bad case of beginner’s luck as we didn’t even had a flat tyre the whole way…

    If you think of doing the same trip with same enormous amount of luggage (and two-up) it would be a good idea to change the rear spring to a stiffer one. The stock spring is much too soft for such a load and you lose a lot of suspension travel due to sagging. A high performance shock is not strictly necessary (although is certainly nice if you can afford it). If you decide to keep the stock spring try to distribute some of the load to the front of the bike. We had all the weight on the rear and the front was very light and prone to wobbling.

    A long-range fuel tank is both very expensive and un-needed. We had a 6 litre jerry-can (less then 10Euro), and we only used in Baluchistan and in the Himalayas. Even there we could have managed without it, as there were people selling fuel from jerry-cans on the side of the road.

    The Metzeler Tourances performed admirably, the back tyre is squared after the trip due to the load, but the front is still in very good shape. They are not off-road tires by any means so on the sandy and muddy parts you have to be careful but they have decent grip in the wet and are very hard to wear down. A good choice if you decide not to carry spare tyres.
    The panniers performed reasonably well (although I still thing they are a bit flimsy). They are rated for 10kg each and we carried almost double…

    One of the things that you might want to consider is an alarm. I’ve installed a cheap car alarm with a pager. It has a shock sensor, a leaning sensor (set to engage when the bike is taken off the side-stand) and a trunk-opening sensor wired to the seat. The alarm is installed in the toolbox under the seat. Also a bike cover is a must have especially in India.

    we kept records about our spending, this will be detailed in another post.

    One question that is likely to be in you mind if you read this contemplating a similar trip is “How difficult is it ?” . While difficulty is a relative thing so my assessment doesn’t really help, it is almost certainly that you will find the trip easier that you think. Once you are on the road you solve the problems as they arise and you don’t have much time to worry about it. There were some tricky parts (baluchistan etc) but they aren’t as daunting as they look from back home.

    This being said, expect some very long days when things don’t go as planned and you are quite stressed (our worst day was between Sukkur and Multan), but after you get through them they don’t affect your trip too much. There is so much beauty and excitement along the way that the difficulties that you encounter are comparatively too small to matter.

    Before we left there was much discussion among our friends if it’s wise to leave with a single bike. It’s quite clear that with a larger party some of the problems are easier to be dealt with, but it also causes additional ones. If you decide to go in a larger group be sure that you really know (and really like) your travel companions. We were lucky to met very nice people on our way and we went together for a while, but it’s a big difference between riding together for few days and riding together for 6 months, if you choose your companions poorly you will compromise your whole trip.

    We are quite happy with going alone, we managed to get over the hard parts by ourselves and I think it added to the feeling of freedom and unburden inherent in this trip.

    After almost 4 months and 18.000km we are convinced that riding is the best way to travel and hope we will be able to repeat this trip.

    Without any real connection šŸ™‚ , I add some pictures from our second forced stop. Repairing the fuel pump in Madhya Pradesh with some 20-30 spectators.

    gorakhpur01.jpg gorakhpur02.jpg

    gorakhpur03.jpg gorakhpur04.jpg


    Saturday, September 15th, 2007

    Dupa tura de alergare( noi fiind shtafeta) pe tarimuri pakistaneze am luat o pauza de citeva zile in Lahore. Am gasit hotelul recomandat de lonely planet asa ca ne-am intilnit la o birfa sus pe terasa cu 90% din turistii aflati in Lahore. Marea majoritate asiatici, chinezi, coreeni, japonezi dar si citiva europeni rataciti. Prinde bine sa mai schimbam o vorba si cu omuleti mai albi la fata si proprietarul vorbeste bine engleza si eĀ chiarĀ simpatic šŸ™‚

    alaltaieri am dat o tura prin fort, usor parasit , usor renovat cu fonduri unesco, survolat de zeci de ulii, cu multi copaci si verdeata, cu doarĀ citiva alti vizitatori,Ā a fostĀ o plimbare foarte foarte frumoasa.




    o moschee mare darĀ foarte draguta, din piatra rosie, si ea refacuta in parte dupa cutremurul de anul trecut


    si ne-au mai placut foarte tare ferestrele dantelate in marmura dintr-unul dintre palate


    la prinz ne-a luat Malik, proprietarul hotelului, la un fel de “spectacol” sufi, intr-o moschee (decorata ca pentru craciun)Ā au cintatĀ mai multe formatii o muzica ciudata numita quawwali si un batrinel a dansat. Foarte multi oameni, numai barbati si noi turistii pusi la loc de frunte.Ā Ne-au stropit cu apa de trandafiri din belsug, ne-auĀ dat tot felul deĀ dulciuri si-au impartit ghirlandeĀ de flori si auĀ aruncat cu bani pesteĀ solisti.




    daca gasim o sa aducem un cd cu muzica din asta, suna bine, pacat ca nu intelegeam nimic din cuvinte, care aparent erau poezii sufi.

    la final am stat si noi sa ne pozeze localnicii, mi se pare corect šŸ™‚ probabil nici ei nu mai vazusera atitia albi ciudatiĀ šŸ™‚

    pe seara am fost si la partea a doua a spectacolului: omuletzii se inghesuieĀ intr-o curte interioara cu un fel de templu, au fost draguti si ne-au facut si noua loc.Ā cum nu pot sa beaĀ bere :D,Ā fumeaza cu totii cite ceva bun siĀ mai schimba o vorba pinaĀ si dupa ceĀ apar protagonistii.Ā sintĀ doi careĀ bat la tobe,Ā si citivaĀ careĀ “danseaza”Ā . se presupune caĀ ritmul muzicii ( tobeleĀ sunau foarte bine, ceva foarte ritmat-tribal)Ā si hasisul fumat ii aduce intr-un fel de transa si se invirt (cam ca dervisii).

    poate am fostĀ noi rai, dar nu pareau foarteĀ inĀ transa,eraĀ mai mult teatro-mima šŸ™‚ si nici atmosfera nu era prea relaxata, era foarte mare inghesuiala si toata lumea usor nervoasa si pusa pe hartza. Nici macar merele asortate cu cite 5-6 joint-uri nu au reusit sa-i relaxeze šŸ˜› cam atit cu sufi šŸ™‚

    a doua zi am pornit spre orasul vechi ….mama ce trafic si ce mizerie !!! nu poti sa respiri pe strada e un fum si un praf de abia te vezi om cu om, cu cal, cu vaca, cu masina, cu motoreta…


    si putina liniste siĀ porumbeiĀ la moscheea indelung cautata


    azi programasem sa mergem sa vedem ceremonia (mult laudata de toata lumea de pe-aici) de inchidere a granitei dintre indian si pakistan. ne-am dat cu autobuzu obosit si am ajuns putin dupa ce incepuse.Partea indiana era reprezentata de circa juma de stadion si partea pakistaneza de fo 30 de oameni, putini da hotariti šŸ™‚


    foarte frumos, au alergat cu steagurile,au tropait soldatii,Ā au cintat, au scandat (india vs pakistan) …cam caĀ pentru copii asa šŸ™‚





    in final au dat steagurile jos sincron si gata šŸ™‚


    noapte buna tuturor!

    mai transmitem de la indieni cind o sa se poata šŸ™‚

    pakistan 1

    Friday, September 14th, 2007

    nu am mai scris de mult, dar am tot fugit prin pakistan. O sa fac un rezumat šŸ™‚

    Multa lume (si noi inainte deĀ a veni incoace) asociaza Iranul cu o destinatie exotica, usorĀ  ciudata, usor periculoasa. Realitatea e ca diferenta intre Iran si Germania este infima in comparatie cu diferenta intre Iran si Pakistan šŸ™‚

    De abia dupa Quetta incepe sa fie exotic cu adevarat, oamenii nenumarati, o mizerie de numa-numa, poluare cum nu am vazut nici in China šŸ™‚

    In principiu, cam ce ati auzit dspre Pakistan este adevarat:

    1. Mai toate camioanele sunt pictate:

    pakistani truck

    2. Chiar se circula pe acoperisul autobuzelor in mod curent:

    quetta5.jpgĀ  suk3.jpg

    3. Traficul e mai rau decit ati putea sa credeti. Totusi soferii sunt usor mirati cind au accidente šŸ™‚


    Acu’ sa nu aveti impresia ca nu ne place aici.Ā  Oamenii sint ok, peisajele sunt frumoase (in vest e desert dar dupa ce treci Indul parca esti in asia de sud-est).

    Doar ca iti trebuie un pic de timp sa te obisnuiesti cu nebunia care e aici.Ā  E destul de greu de explicat, va pun citeva faze sa va lamuresc.

    1. In Danbaldin, mijlocul Baluchistanului. Iesim sa cumparam ceva de mincare, mergem pe marginea drumului (evident nu e trotuar). Pe linga noi trece un nissan patrol de prin 1980 cu 50-60km/h, la vreo 20 de metri in fata noastra ii sare roata stinga fata. Masina aluneca catre marginea drumului pe discul de frina. Roata intra in multime si loveste un batrinel. Soferul sare din masina, fuge catre batrinel, continua sa fuga pe linga el si isi recupereaza roata care se incotopenise intr-o taraba. Linga masina se stringe instantaneu o multime de 40-50 de oameni care ofera solutii de indreptat discul de frina, batrinelul reuseste sa se ridice si pleaca usurel spre casa. Drumul e blocat pt vreo juma’ de ora šŸ™‚

    Accidentul (incidentul šŸ™‚ ) a avut loc in curba din poza:


    2. Plecam din Sukkur, pe malul Indului. Pakistanul are cel mai mare sistem de irigatii din lume. Construit de englezi acum 80-100 de ani. Ecluze, canale, motoare de la inceputul secolului, o bijuterie tehnica. Si mizerie, mizerie cit nu poate spala toata apa Indului šŸ™‚

    Aici pe malul riului, pe un maidan era instalata o masa de biliard. Pustii erau atit de absorbiti de joc, incit doar doi au venit sa se uite la moto


    bivolii apreciaza sistemul englezesc de irigatii


    3. Dupa ce in Baluchistan am fost singuri, din trecatoare Bolan am primit escorta militara. Din 40 in 40 de kilometri o alta toyota obosita ne escorteaza.


    Dupa ce ai primit escorta, e practic imposibil sa mai scapi. Fiecare echipaj trebuie sa te dea in grija cuiva, fie altui echipaj fie hotelului unde stai.

    Problema e ca hotelurile nu prea au chef sa te ia in grija. In Multan, dupa 450 de km de drumuri pakistaneze (9 ore), colindam pe la 6 hoteluri. Nimeni nu vrea sa ne dea o camera. E ora 10 seara. Politistii din escorta sunt disperati ca nu pot scapa de noi. Unul dintre ei are o idee geniala. Imi spune zimbind “You are going to police-land”. La ora 10:30 sintem la comandamentul politiei Multan, stam de vorba cu seful politiei (prin translator pt. ca omul nu vb engleza).

    Ne zice ca putem pune cortul in curtea politiei. Ii spun ca nu avem cort. Se pare ca o sa petrecem noaptea in cazarma politiei Multan.

    Pina se rezolva cu cazarea fac conversatie cu politistul. Il intreb de ce avem escorte peste tot in Punjab unde nu e nici o problema dar ne-au lasat singuri in Baluchistan. Omul nu crede, ma mai intreaba o data ca sa fie sigur, dupa ce ii confirm ca am dormit in Danbaldin il bufneste risul “You are very lucky sir, lucky for your life”.

    Pina la urma, la insistentele sefului politiei, unul dintre hoteluri accepta sa ne dea o camera cu conditia sa plecam a doua zi.

    4. Pe drumĀ de laĀ Multan catre Lahore se fac 10.000 km de cind am plecat. Ii conving pe trupetii din escorta sa faca o poza cu Grasu’ si cu Ioana


    Nu am avut curajul sa il rog pe unul dintre ei sa stea cu spatele. PeĀ spatele tricourilor scria “NO FEAR”

    Gata pt. azi šŸ™‚ miine punem poze din Lahore


    Saturday, September 8th, 2007

    We are leaving Kerman at 7 o’clock, preparing ourselves for the first real desert crossing.
    After 2 hours we stop briefly in Bam. The city is still badly damaged by the earthquake and the traffic is completely chaotic.

    As we exit the city we enter Kavir-e-Lut one of the two main deserts of Iran.
    We are welcomed by a fine sand-storm with the windĀ  blowing almost perpendicular to our direction of travel from the left so I have to lean the bike at least 15 to 20 degrees to go straight ahead. I can hear the sand hitting my helmet,it’s like siting in a sandblasting machine.

    After an hour I’m beginning to worry about the storm which seems to get stronger, I see some army barracks and stop for a short break (this part of Iran doesn’t have a very good reputation).
    As we drink a bit of water an army jeep comes alongside, asks for our passports, checks them, and goes back to the barracks. Just as we are ready to leave, a soldier comes and tells us to wait, we will be getting a military escort.

    The escort consists of on old Paykan with 4 soldiers armed with AK47s and a machine gun. They ask us not to exceed 80km/h, and we leave. I slowly accelerate to 100 and we continue for 40km.

    We stop in a parking to change escorts with the new one being also a Paykan even more beaten then the previous one. After 80km we get a new Toyota jeep that can easily do 120km/h.

    The last escort is also a Toyota so everything seems to be ok, until 25km before Zahedan. The soldiers signal us to stop in a parking, and they tell that they don’t have anymore petrol.
    We must wait for a another car that will arrive in 5 minutes.

    In the meantime they are stopping passing cars and ask for gasoline šŸ™‚

    25 minutes have passed, I ask what is happening: 5 more minutes they say (they don’t speak any english, we are communicating in sign language).

    They stop another car to ask for gas, the driver gives them a couple of liters and stops to watch us. He talks to the soldiers gives them some fizzy drinks, and gives some hashish to the officer. He also rolls a joint for himself.

    45 minutes have passed, all the soldiers are quite relaxed by now and the friendly drug dealer is still here. I’m beginning to have a strange feeling.

    I decide to make a little test, I tell Ioana to get on the bike and I go to the officer and start to yell (in romanian) that we cannot wait anymore and we have to leave.

    In the meantime I get my helmet and mount the bike. One of the soldiers gets in front of the bike and signals me to stop. I look at the officer, he seems totally relaxed.
    Ā I start the engine and accelerate hard. The soldier gets out of my way as we exit the parking. That’s the last that we saw of our escorts šŸ™‚

    After a bad hotel in Zahedan, two hours at the border, we are in Taftan (humorously described as “hell on earth” by Lonely Planet), and ready to leave for Danblandin, some 300km into the desert.
    The road is good (apart for some sand blown over the road), traffic is almost non-existent but the heat is on.
    4 hours and 6 liters of water later we are in Danblandin in a shitty hotel with no water and no electricity. It doesn’t matter, we only want to sleep.
    The night passes quickly, and we are up for the last leg: Danblandin- Quetta 350km.
    This time the road is bad, a narrow lane of pothole filled tarmac that can only accommodate one truck. When you meet a lorry coming from the opposite direction you have to stop and let it pass. When you want to overtake a bus or truck, you have to get off the asphalt and on the gravel shoulder and pass.
    It takes us 5 hours to reach Quetta. We celebrate the crossing of Baluchistan with an illegal pakistani beer (the first one since Urfa in Turkey)

    baluchi childrenĀ  road from taftan to danbladinĀ Ā  taftan2.jpg

    taftan3.jpgĀ Ā  taftan4.jpgĀ Ā  taftan5.jpg

    danbaldin11.jpgĀ Ā  quetta1.jpg