Belgium Apr 10 - May 12, 2006
A month spent with family, some preparation for the trip, a memorial for my mom and a balloon ride with my dad.
No, we don't have your motorcycle Apr 10, 2006 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Collecting the bike proved to be a nightmare. For those interested in the full story, drop me a line. Below is a pic of the bike, as it was handed to me by KLM Cargo, circumventing customs rules. As I said, it's a long story...
Can you fly an airplane? Do you
speak Arabic? Apr 9, 2006 - Underway over the Atlantic
T minus 6 days Apr 3, 2006 - Vancouver, Canada
After much effort and a few choice words, the move is over. A week or two ago I cleaned out my apartment and everything, including the red motorcycle, is now in storage. The inventory of stuff I own seems to grow organically. I moved 11 boxes more than my last move, barely 2 years ago. Who keeps acquiring all this stuff? Thankfully, it's all behind me. After spending today successfully culling my trip packing list, I must say I am pleased with the result. Note that the backpack includes my helmet, riding boots and riding gear. I packed to simplify the switch from travel clothes to riding gear when I get to Amsterdam. The bike leaves on April 5th and I fly out on April 9th.
Packing continues unabated Mar 8, 2006 - Vancouver, Canada
Packing is highly underrated. Trying to collect all the bits and pieces for being on the road for a long time requires going with the absolute minimum, and then cutting it in half. I'm down to just over a 109 pounds, including the bags. The right Touratech weighs 33 pounds and the left 36. I'm also carrying a backpack across the two which weighs 40 pounds. The Zega cases and the backpack weigh 21 pounds, so a net weight of 88 pounds or 40 kilos of gear, including spare parts and tools. Not a bad first cut.
Just leave it blank, we don't care Mar 3, 2006 - Vancouver, Canada
I wanted to avoid a repeat of the Iranian visa fiasco, so I called the Syrian embassy in Ottawa before I sent in my paperwork. Some servile behaviour resulted in knowing exactly what to fill in where. As to the section on "references", the answer was curt. "You're a tourist, we don't care, just leave it blank". And so went the paperwork to Ottawa. And surprisingly, it came back in less than 3 days with the desired result.
Are you a cartoonist, per chance? Feb 16, 2006 - Vancouver, Canada
It is proving hard to get an Iranian visa. My initial application was refused. I'll try again through a "tourist agency" that deals with the embassy in Ottawa. The other options are to try in Brussels and Ankara. A few weeks ago visas (15 day, renewable in Tehran) started becoming available at the Iranian border. However, the Danish cartoon fiasco curtailed that for the time being. Maybe visas are now harder to get overall. Some British riders had issues in the past week as well. My contingency plans include going through Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman and taking a dhow from Muscat to Karachi. Alternatively, I can go through the Stans', over the top of Iran. Hopefully I'll get the visa situation sorted out.
Collecting the hard-to-get parts well in advance Jan 11, 2006 - Vancouver, Canada
After a few phone calls I got in touch with the right person at the Pakistani diplomatic mission in Ottawa. Since the standard visa application guidelines were well outside of my time frame, I decided to see what I could arrange. The result is more than I could have hoped for. Although I'm not sure if the "Purpose of visit" says Tourism or Terrorism. See here.