Monday, 1 December 2014

That dam reset button

So after the health issues last year with my sight that delayed my departure, I reset and aiming for April 2015 - which in the end has been something of blessing as it allowed me to be slightly better prepared and more confident in my plans..

Due to recent world events I will stay away from middle eastern routes and head north...
Now heading from the UK at the end of April

> Germany / Austria / Italy - Until the end of May
> Greece / Turkey - Until first week of July
> Georgia / Azerbaijan / - middle of July

> Kazakhstan - August
> Russia - to Vladivostok by middle of September
> South Korea Until middle of October

- Ship the bike direct to Australia - Korea shipping link - Travel Philippines / Malaysia / Indonesia without the bike

- End of October to end of November

> Australia end of November - Melbourne by Christmas
> New Zealand - January - Ship Bike to USA west coast by mid February
- bikes abroad link
- GetRouted link
- Cruise People link

> USA west coast / USA East coast by early April
 - Ship bike back to UK Dynamic freight link

> UK by mid April

I hope to be able to arrange most Visa's en route so that I'm not stuck to being at certain borders by certain dates, but will look more into that over the next couple of weeks.

Would definitely like to sort out the Visas up to Russia as that shouldn't be too difficult I hope.

My brother is moving to South Korea so will spend a little time mooching around there while I sort out shipping the bike directly to Aus.. Lots of shipping agency links that seem to suggest that is entirely feasible.. It frees me up for a little bit of R&R off the bike to travel through the south china sea / pacific islands before getting myself to Aus.

I then plan to travel down the east coast of Australia - despite advice from a friends who emigrated to Aus a couple of years back that December isn't the best time to be in northern territory.. To visit him on Melbourne by Christmas

Then I want to get to NZ before shipping to the USA to cross west to east and head back to the UK easy ! anyway - The bike is prepped - apart from fitting a set of new tyres before I depart

- I have all the kit I need (and probably more - but that will sort itself out as I travel) and fitting a sump guard 

Money situation is good - I don't envisage many issues Still got to sort out renting the house out for 12 months.. 
Will look at that early January 2015 - hopefully renting shouldn't be too difficult to sort out - available from beginning of May. 

Carnet - should be little bit cheaper by missing out Indonesia.


Quick glance at the Thevisamachine
prices are from VM site including their charge 

Turkey - eVisa 
Georgia - not required 
Azerbaijan - 15 day visa £90 
Turkmenistan - 30 day visa £100 (£50 @ Embassy) 
Uzbekistan - 7 day visa £119 (£79 at Embassy) 
Kazakhstan - not required up to 15 days - £90 for 30 days (£35 @ Embassy) 
Russia - 30 day transit visa + Invite £166 (Embassy £82 + invite cost) 

South Korea ?? 
Philippines - £53 (£22 @ Embassy) 
Indonesia - on arrival 
Australia - 12 month £15 (£0 at embassy ?) 

Looking ta the RAC site.. I reckon that will cost somewhere in the region of :- 

Step 1: Cost of the Carnet de Passage document (non refundable) 5 pages - £215 

Step 2: RAC deposit (for Private vehicle applications only and is 100% refundable on receipt of the correctly discharged Carnet and within the timelines set out in our Terms & Conditions) £350 

Step 3: Country specific payment (50% refundable on discharge of your Carnet as detailed above) Vehicle value x Security Risk Rate x 10.6% (Assuming highest rate for far east -South Korea @200%- otherwise Australia at 150%) Valued at £1000 * 200% = £2000 / 10.6% = £212 

Total: £777 - (£456 refundable on return) total cost £321

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Wake me up when September ends...

So after a bit of a break from blogging, planning and generally working..all the time! It feels like I should start getting things moving again. As the year races by and it's already August I would have been on the road for more than 3 months by now. Conversely it's only 8 months until I plan to set off again.. This is a strange place to be. Neither here not there.
I have had a couple of mini adventures, first taking a trip down to Brittany on the Triumph in June. I managed to carry a surprising amount of camping gear on the back seat and had a thoroughly enjoyable week in the warm French sunshine. Lots of glorious French food and wine, warm nights, hot days and buckets of local muscles made it a trip to remember.
A month later and the Kawasaki was fully loaded for a trip to Cornwall and the chance to test out some of my collected camping paraphernalia.. The additional tarp on the front of the tent proved its self to be an invaluable addition and I slept extremely well on a lightweight inflatable mattress. Apart from the chain leaping off the sprockets about 10 miles from home it went very well. I knew the chain was worn, with a severe tight spot but I had hoped to make it last a while and replace it during the winter.. But it cried enough and after slipping it back into place we limped home without further mishap.
One thing I did find out was that the seat on the versys was not at all comfortable for any type of long distance. Since getting back it has been suitability modified with the addition of a gel insert and a new cover. It remains to be seen if it is viable for more than a couple of hours non stop travel.
One other short trip I did in June was to go to the hubb meeting at donington park, which proved a very enjoyable and inspiring weekend with lots of great travel stories adventure films and some useful advice
Since then it's been a case of all work and no play. Earning cash, stashing savings and sometimes spending more than I should! But right now it feels that having been given the additional time to save I don't have to try so hard. Maybe that's a bad thing but sometimes life is for living and 3 months ago I was about to manage on what I had, if I can't manage better on what I will have it was a fools plan from the start.
I am seriously considering a ride to the Adriatic coast in September. Wednesday to the following Thursday taking in the motogp round at Misano... Part of me is saying do it, another part is saying spend the money on a few bits I need to do around the house.. Troubled times!! Hardly!!
On the house subject, I am now leaning more and more towards selling up. What I will do when I get back I don't know, but I have lived here for 10 years. Longer than I have ever lived anywhere in my life and i it feels like time to move on.. And yet it is somehow difficult to imagine doing so. I guess that's the downside to settling in somewhere, you get to know people and places get familiar. There are positive and negatives to every situation in life.
I have been thrilled at the uncertainty of travel on my little trips. Not knowing where I will stay on that night, getting lost and finding my way with equal aplomb. It feels like what I should be doing. So I have gained another insight into what works for me.
So. The plan for now and in the new year is to  start the buildup again.

One major milestone before all that will be the birth of my first grandchild in a few short weeks from now. An occasion I wasn't going to be around to see had initial plans come to fruition. More to follow on that one!
Granddad will report in again soon!
So long as this blogger app on the tablet manages to actually spell the words I type! 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Well  one week  post planned departure and sat at work thinking about where I should be is difficult to deal with, but it is what it is..
My eye is actually not too bad at the moment. The irritation has dropped off after the stitches have been removed. Next on the recovery is for a check up at the end of June to look at a cataract op.. Fun fun fun!!

On a plus side I have been doing improvements to the bike that I had not originally thought I would do.
So far I have upgraded the forks with new progressive springs and new oil. I have ordered a custom built rear shock to core with the increase in weight of me and the kit over the standard setup. Hopefully a test ride will prove it to be a worthwhile investment.

As soon as I get some time I'll post up some pictures in the bike section.

On the weekend I was originally planned to depart i still packed a bag and set off on a little jaunt. It was just a shame I had to come back home the next day.

Later in the year I'll have a mini adventure run on the bike to somewhere warm and sunny hopefully.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy! 

(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!)

Which in effect means I have been delayed in my departure
plans. A couple of weeks ago now I had a operation to repair a torn retina in my left eye. What this means is that my planned departure for the end of April is now not going to happen. The Dr has told me to look at a recovery of 3 - 6 months. It is also expected that I will develop a cataract that will require further surgery to repair.

All this means I cannot go ahead with my original plan.. That is a major knock after 3 years of planning to get to this stage.

The best option for me now is to get everything resolved with my eyesight and allow time for it to settle down. On top of that, I have to make sure that I give my employer the notice they need to cover my sabbatical. Plans had already been put in place that now need to be re-adjusted. Difficult to say the least. 

After being forced to sit still during the initial recovery I had a long time to ponder the failure to launch as planned. I have to admit to being  dark place for a while

Update 29th March

I haven't found myself able to publish that last update, and a month later on it is still difficult to do. 

An appointment at the hospital yesterday saw 2 of the 3 stitches in my eye removed in a briefly painful moment! The 3rd will remain and hopefully dissolve of its own accord. Which has removed some of the irritation I have been experiencing. The Dr identified the beginnings of a cataract and I will have to re-visit at the end of June to pick up the next phase of the recovery.. he is also slightly concerned about something in my right eye, which will be checked at the same time.

Anyway enough health issues! this is about travelling and having accepted that I will be delayed for 12 months I have to be positive and re-target a new departure date, which I plan to do at the same time next year, id est. the last weekend in April 2015 In the meantime I will use the 12 months to save more money, which might allow for a few luxurious hotel stops along the way!It also allows me time to do some other preventative maintenance to the bike that I had not reckoned on.. So taking positives from the whole affair I will be better prepared than I originally intended. 

Staying in that positive frame of mind has been difficult, but given no option its the only way I can proceed.. 12months delay to the experience of a lifetime is a small price to pay  One other positive is the news that i will become a grandad in September and consequently will be at home to see that occasion 

feeling old !

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

February 2014
Well its been a month of ups and downs..
Problems with the route plans. Upheaval in Pakistan has meant a lack of enthusiasm for traveling in that region. My own timescales not matching up with fellow travellers plans and notification of border crossing difficulties.

In the end I have decided that I need to refocus on my original plan, which has been for some time to plough my own furrow and chase my own dreams.

Trying to make my plans fit in with someone elses isn't how it should be. If our plans coincide then all well and good. As much as it would be good to travel with a like minded group of folks, that was not the original plan and I have been diverted from the purity of that initial thought because I have sought comfort in companionship and a sharing of the difficulties instead of looking after myself and my own thoughts.

Yes I will find times when it would indeed be very nice to have someone to lean on. Someone to go to for guidance or even encouragement. But finding my own way, reaching into my own thoughts and psyche will be cleansing for the soul and character building - is that too much of a cliche I wonder? Will I just want to run away from the difficult bits? Its a possibility.
Of course I am fully expecting to find fellow travellers en route - I like the idea of chance and luck coming into who I meet along the road.

Finding my own limits is part of the adventure I think.

Anyway as far as the route goes. There has been ideas and plans to cross the "stans" and into China. However there are 2 difficulties for me taking that route and one that everyone that has thought about the route. That being the security issues recently in Pakistan. Which has reduced the enthusiasm for using the Karakorum highway from Kyrgyzstan into China (Kashgar) and Pakistan. That route also includes a 4000m high mountain crossing and while I was confident in my ability to deal with anticoagulation for a limited period of that trip the alternative that re-routes away from Pakistan crosses the Tibetan plateau for a significantly longer period of time at extremely high altitudes. Not something I think I can deal with.
In addition the expense of that crossing would significantly impact my ability to compete the planned journey.

So an alternative is to head toward Mongolia where I have read it is possible to air freight to Bangkok, putting me back on track and on schedule. I hope!

So time to get moving!
Still lots to do and time is marching on.
While my plans will mostly chase the sun around our blue planet this summer, the winter in the UK seems to be doing its best to make sure I appreciate a bit of warm sunshine. Time will tell !

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future

Fly Like An Eagle. Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' Into the future!

Well – with 3 and a bit months to go I have made a last minute change to the route that I have had planned for the last 3 years.
After taking a long look at what I want to achieve the costs and time involved in travelling through Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China are a big overhead to the overall plan.

It feels like a bit of a compromise but after getting in touch with some other overland travelers who are planning similar adventures a route across Iran and into Pakistan seems a viable alternative. There appears to be some security issues in Pakistan, but then there are even bigger ones in northern Pakistan, so either way there are risks involved, but then if I was worried about that I would stay at home!

Anyway financial and time savings will help me push on to the rest of the adventure and the challenge of India will make up for the loss of crossing the Himalayas. Anyway my Doctor had already recommended I stay away from that 5km high route.. so for once I guess I will listen to advice.

So moving on , having made that (difficult) decision, I can put plans into action and start making it happen.
The bike is almost completely equipped. I still have a few maintenance tasks to undertake. My own kit is sorted. Paperwork still needs fully sorting out and the money needs gathering together from the disparate sources I have spread it across.

Keeping on keeping on – heading into the sunrise