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Jdeks 02-26-2013 01:55 PM

A solo trip through Thailand, Spain and Morocco
This is a report of a trip I did last year- my first time overseas. It's not so much about riding extreme roads as it is about a very eventful cultural and geographic experience, featuring everything from Thai hookers to being (a little) lost in the Sahara. Think of it more as a trip report than a ride report. I write a lot, so if reading ain't your thing, just look at the purdy pictures, or watch the movie.

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Its still a work in progress, but if people like it I'll keep going.

Chapter 0: Prep – Are you sure this bag is 60 liters?

??? - 24 August.

My watch showed 2200. With only 8 hours until my train departed, you wouldn't have though my floor would look like this:
I remembered the 11mm socket for my GPS mount, but not toilet paper.

The pile wasn't actually as big as I thought it would be for a trip of this scale – 3 countries, 17 days, and almost 3000km. The whole trip had originated as a plan to join a friend of mine from the UK, Lyndon Poskitt, on a trail-biking tour in southern Spain as part of a fundraising effort for his 2013 Dakar rally attempt . Of course, when I'd seen the price of the flights, I quickly realized spending that much on one weekend wasn't much value for money. Cancelling the trip was out of the question, so I went to the other extreme – make it as long as possible. It was only when I started route planning for 2 weeks in Spain that I realized Africa was only a short ferry ride away. And so, a plan was hatched.

Landing in Malaga, Spain on the 27th of August, I would hire a motorcycle and head south to Tangier, Morocco. Having been warned by more experienced travelers on the mayhem of African border crossings and roads, I had two plans. I would strike south from Tangier towards the Fez, and see how far I could get before exhaustion or nightfall (having been warned strenuously against riding, or indeed being out after dark). If I made Fez, I would attempt the marathon route: cross the breadth of the country and spend a night in the dunes at Erg Chebbi on the northwest brink of the Sahara. If I didn't, I would do a relaxing lap along the coast and around the Rif and Atlas Mountains in the central north of the country. Being the shorter (and cooler) route, this was the one most of the Pommy experts advised me to take, particularly if I wanted the Moroccan cultural experience. But I'd be damned if I was going to Africa and I didn't try and see the Sahara. Either way, I had to be back on the ferry to Spain by the 31st, for a weekend of ruining the Andalucian hills with the sound of Husabergs with Lyndon and his mates. And after that, I still had 5 days to burn in Spain. I hadn't even begun to plan where I'd go there, but I figured rest of the boys would give me some suggestions over the weekend. Of course, I was getting ahead of myself here. I had a 24-hour stop-over in Thailand on the way there, and I sure as hell wasn't letting that go to waste either; a hire-bike was waiting for me in Bangkok.

By sacrificing such frivolous items as spare underwear and cold weather clothing, I'd managed to make space for the important things like phrasebooks and carbon fiber tent poles. For the kit-geeks out there, other notable superfluous accessories included a Pacsafe 55L steel cable cage for my bags, a Pouchsafe 150 for a body-wallet, my faithful Canon 500D, an EPIRB (yes, they do work overseas – you just have to rely on the locals to pick you up) and a Garmin Montana GPS, which had been dutifully loaded with way-points for hotels, campsites, fuel stations and hospitals from the UK GS'er Morocco Knowledgebase. Riding gear was my trusty Klim Latitude pants and jacket (which for and all black, fully waterproof Gortex suit were going to get their venting merits pushed to the limits), a Shoei Hornet helmet, Sidi Adventure boots and some ratty clapped out old Dri-Rider gloves. After great internal debate I also decide to include camping gear, mainly based on romantic notions of pitching tents on top of sand dunes, and wanting dearly to test my MLD Trailstar (last kit plug, I promise) in the field. Even with my clothes cull, not everything was going to fit into the single 60L hiking pack I'd settled on as my between-pannier carry-all. So I resigned myself to wearing my jacket and boots and carrying my helmet, crammed everything else in the pack, and caught the last 5 hours sleep I'd by having on Australian soil. Not to worry, I heard sleeping on long hauls flights was really easy.
Chapter 1: Bangkok – A city that lives up to its name.
26 - 27 August.

I imagine I looked quite the greenhorn traveler, bumbling around through customs in my riding boots and carrying my papers in a makeshift helmet-come-man-purse. But I made it through my first ever customs passage without making too much of an ass out of myself, and settled into the chair that would be my new home for the next 8 hours. The in-flight movies were all new releases, and so 8 hours later I landed, having taken my Spanish phrasebook aboard for no reason whatsoever. My first introduction to Thai traffic was the 140 kph cab ride from the airport, and so by the time I'd checked in at the hotel and unpacked, despite being 2200 h again (or about 0100 h Australian), all traces of jet-lag had been forgotten, and I was keen to get out and see Bangkok by night.

With a fistful of Baht I waltzed out the hotel front door, only to be immediately accosted by literally a half-dozen 'helpful' cab drivers, offering to take me wherever I wanted. In my naivety, I agreed to have one of the ones with better English, a 'Mr. Johnny' (which I'm sure was his real name), take me out to show me a cheap place to eat and some interesting places to see – and all for only $12 AUD. He dropped my at a very clean little seafood restaurant and promised to return in half a hour, and I sat down to a meal of shrimp which the waiter had assured me were cheap, in his very limited English. It wasn't until I was presented with a 2200 Baht ($70) bill, that I realized something may have been lost in translation.
The most expensive meal of my life.

I literally didn't have the money to pay, as I demonstrated to the waiter by emptying my pockets onto the table. If it was a scam, it was a good one – even the manager came out to verify what was going on. Just as I thought I was about to end up washing dishes or losing my watch, Mr. Johnny showed up. A few minutes of rapid conversation in Thai, and Mr. Johnny had settled the remainder of the debt (if perhaps reluctantly), based on my promises that I'd repay him back at the hotel. Seeing as I had 'rich dumb white guy' written on my forehead, he trusted I had the money, and after I'd payed back what he was owed, plus his cab fare and a bit extra as thanks, he suddenly became my best mate again, and suggested we should go get a 'Thai Massage'. I agreed, but added an explicit caveat to it: “Just a massage”. But when we rounded a back-alley corner to park below a large pink neon sign proclaiming only 'ENTERTAINMENT”, I suspected I may have again become lost in translation...or worse. Upon entering the building I immediately noticed several things: the short but rough looking bouncer on the inside to keep people from leaving if required, a very distinct smell (which would have made me sick if I didn't have $70 of shrimp in me), and of course the rows of naked Thai women behind a glass wall at the end of the lobby. That last one clarified my suspicions nicely: Mr. Johnny had taken me to a brothel.

When I confronted him with my reluctance to get a 'massage', or indeed even sit in one of the chairs, he reassured me vigourously: “Oh no no no! These good girls! Vely clean! Vely Preeeety!!”. As the madam sidled up, sat us both down and passed us two menus (one for the drinks, and one for the girls), I gave Mr. Jonny a long stern look and said quite clearly “I think we've come to the wrong place.”. Looked a little abashed, Mr Johnny exchanged a few quick words in Thai with the madam, who looked at me once, laughed, then said “What? Nosex?”. Seems that I didn't live up to their expectations of the typical Australian tourist. Excusing my reluctance with tales of a fictional angry girlfriend, Mr. Johnny then took me to a proper massage spa that featured a very re-assuring sign on their lift door:
Avoiding any potential 'misunderstandings'.

As I payed, I couldn't help but note that the services of the girls at 'ENTERTAINMENT' central had been cheaper than a legitimate massage, and for that matter, my shrimp dinner. It was 0100 local, and Mr Johnny looked tired. We went back to the hotel and I thanked him for turning my night into quite the little adventure, then took a long hot shower with extra scrubbing, and went to bed. Tomorrow, the 2-wheeled adventure began.

GB 02-26-2013 01:58 PM

Thanks for a great intro :thumb


Jdeks 02-26-2013 02:02 PM

I pulled back the curtains the next morning to have a look at Bangkok from the 11th floor.

The hotel breakfast was expensive and not open yet, so I figured I'd take my chances with street food at the nearby market. The city is full of places like this – backstreets where the entrepreneurial spirit of the locals has taken hold, and people just sell their wares wherever space allows.

Filled up with fresh coconut waffle and sliced fruit, washed down with the strongest iced coffee I'd ever had, I found myself back in another manic cab ride through peak hour traffic, with me riding shotgun as navigator with my GPS. After half an hour and only 4 near-crashes, I found myself out the front of Bangkok Bike Rentals - a quiet little house-turned-garage in the suburbs. I'd emailed these guys about a week prior, and arranged a days hire of a Versys for about $60 AUD (also less than last nights dinner). As he prepared my bike, I chatted with Alex, a French expat who helped run the place, about our mutual love for KTM's, and the best way to get out of the city without being killed.

My plan was to make a bee-line across the country back-roads for the Khao Yai National park, a secluded little patch of mountain wilderness about 100km north of the city. Alex warned me that it would be unlikely I could get there and back in one day, which seemed odd for such a short distance, and said I should take the main highway and not the back-roads. The traffic, however, was insanity. I really can't emphasise how crazy Thai traffic is – the best way I can described it is a continual state of emergency-grade accident avoidance. Indicating, lane markings, speed limits, red lights – all optional. Combined with a cratered, lumpy and often non-existant road surface, it made for a thoroughly exciting trip out of town.

After getting to the highway and finding it gridlocked as far as the eye could see, I decided to default back to my orignal back-road bee-line. So I took the nearest exit, and promptly found myself out of the frying-pan and into the fire. It seems the exit I'd taken led to a road that was still under construction – not that this stops people driving on it. I'd swapped crazy traffic, for crazy traffic on slick mud with road tires.

Mercifully, after 40 or so minutes of crawling along the-road-that-not-yet-was, I was out of the city, and the road conditions improved dramatically.

This turned out to be par for course for the roads in this area, I realised now why Alex had said my trip would take so long. Riding at even 80kph on these roads required serious concentration, and suspension to match. The Versys, however, coped marvellously, and before long I was blasting along the country highway at a good 100kph, watching the strange new world fly by.

The cool, deserted roads of the Khao-Yai were a welcome relief from the 35-degree madness of the low-country, and I frequently slowed to a crawl to enjoy the sprawling views of the rainforest, and the neat grids of ride fields beyond. That said, it wasn't totally empty, and it wasn't long before I ran into some locals (almost literally).

Still, my flight left at 10pm tonight, so I had to press on. Lunch was just the last few mouthfuls from my gifted bottle of water, setting a bad precedent of skipping meals that would become a problem later on. Up ahead was the Haew Narok waterfall, which turned out to be well worth the stop, both for the waterfall and the insanely steep steps that led down to it.

Being the only white guy for miles, and looking somewhat like a stormtrooper, I found myself frequently press-ganged into photos, and after one such event I enquired with the use of my best elephant pantomime whether I could find elephants nearby. Once the laughter had died down, I was eventually told that the elephants did whatever they wanted, and if I saw one it would come down to luck alone. It was getting on in the day, and as much as I wanted to see them, I decided now was a good time to leave. I bought 2L of bottled water for about 20c from the guide hut, and headed back the way I came. The ride back was as pleasant as the ride out, but it wasn't long before I noticed it was getting quite dark, quite early. The reason for this soon became apparent.

I was being chased, hunted by the dreaded South-East Asian Cumulonimbus. I ran as fast as I could, but to no avail. On the outskirts of the city, the heavens opened. Much like the traffic, I really can't emphasise the intensity of that rain. My suit held up and I stayed dry, but the weight of the water and the wind was enough to physically push your head around as you rode, and the previously-visible potholes became vast lakes across the road, leaving you know idea as to the road surface beneath. Then, to make matters worse, I hit peak-hour traffic.

It was quite literally lane-split, or die. You cannot ride like you're on Australia roads – all hyperbole aside, you will likely be killed. Vehicles swap lanes at random, pushing their way in with bluff tactics, even driving against traffic up the shoulder of the road. If you occupy a spot in a lane, cars will move into it without an indicator or a care, and expect you to simply move out of their way. The realm of the 2 wheeled vehicle is in the space that everyone else leaves spare, and you either use it or get trampled. And so, out of necessity, and for the first time in my life, I threw road rules and caution to the wind, and rode like an outlaw. I took any gap I saw, I did any speed I liked, filtering along behind locals on their scooters when the cars were stopped, and slaloming around all of them when the traffic opened up, blasting everyone behind me with a trail of muddy water in a desperate dash to get to the front of the melee. It was insane, it was incredibly dangerous, and it was the most fun I've ever had riding a bike in my life. I was genuinely sad when I pullled up back outside the BBR shop.
8 hours of riding like a nutter in tropical heat had left me rather pungent, so after discussing the days ride over a beer, Alex let me use the shower out the back.

No hot water, not that it mattered. I said my thanks and snagged a passing metered cab, where I discovered that my previous fares in unmetered hotel taxis had been ludicrous overcharges, and made my way back to the hotel for half what it had cost me to get out there (about $10). I picked up my bags and caught my ride back to the the airport, and the 11 hour flight to Zurich. For the sake of the person sitting next to me, I hoped my shower had done its job.

Jdeks 02-26-2013 02:13 PM

Chapter 2: Spain – Donde esta una lavanderia?
Chapter 2: Spain – Donde esta una lavanderia?
27 August

As I shrugged off my jacket and sat down to wait for my flight to Zurich, something on my arm caught my eye.

The bruising was around the spot where I'd had a blood test almost a week earlier, but how or why it had spread that far I had no idea. I didn't have much time to ponder on exactly what tropical disease this may be a symptom of, because before long they called my gate and I had to board. Having slept all of about 4 hours in the last 48, I was happy to get aboard and crash (figuratively). The 11-hour flight went faster than I expected, and after a curt and highly orderly Swiss entry procedure, I was on my transfer to Malaga.

Upon touching down, I was picked up by Carlos, of Casa Don Carlos. He was holding the hire bike, a brand spankin' new F800GS, on behalf of Hana at Motoadventours, who was away on a tour. Hana's company is unique in many ways: for one, it's one of the very few companies in Spain that will not only let you take the bike to Morocco, but will also kit you out with offroad tires and soft luggage so you can get off the beaten trail (and it doesn't void your insurance). Moreover, she does it for a price that beat most of her other local competitors, and to quote the bio on her website, “....will go out of our way to make your holidays a truly amazing experience. ...Also we don' t spoil any fun, and we are nice to look at !!!!” Based on this, I was expecting quite a machine to be waiting for me, and I wasn't at all disappointed.
Hana had really gone above and beyond the average hirebike standard of service, leaving me a selection of bags to choose from, as well as tire repair kits, luggage straps – the whole 9 yards. Carlos' place wasn't too shabby either.

Carlos fixed me the best toasted ham and cheese sandwich I've ever had, and we sat on the patio and fixed up the last of the bike's paperwork. As much as I would have dearly liked to just stay there that night, I had a ferry to get early the next morning, and he was totally booked out too (no surprises there). So I hit the road, taking the coastal highway south to the little port town of Tarifa.

It was here that I got my first introduction to Spanish driving. I'd been warned about it before, but after Bangkok, I barely noticed. Whilst the roads were far less busy and the people obeyed the more critical road rules (like red lights), they were certainly far more aggressive drivers, concerned only with the placement of their own vehicle. Being overtaken at 40kph above the posted limited became par for course. The hardest part about driving on the right was getting the correct exit ramp so you joined the next road going in the right direction. Still, it was a lovely cruise along a highway that carved sweeping curves into the side of the coastal hills. The F800 was proving itself to be a very capable road tourer. The saddle was comfortable, and whilst it was seemed to be a little lacking in grunt for an engine of its size, it still had the power and suspension to carve up the rest of the traffic in the corners, even with the extra luggage. The fast flow of the sweepers was broken up only by freak afternoon sea-fog across the roads, occasionally obscuring my view of the erratic drivers ahead, and beyond that, the whirling arms of wind farms, and the jagged peaks of Gibraltar set against a blue Mediterranean sea.

Tarifa itself is a small seaside town, built around an old Moorish fort. With all the major shipping moved to the larger port city of Algecircas to the north, it's a rather sleepy little ferry terminal, which is exactly why I chose it, hoping to avoid long lines at customs. Hotel Alboranda was my home for the evening, and I was glad to see that the internet reviews held true; it was clean and comfortable, if perhaps a little pricey at 60 Euro. My grasp of practical Spanish soon proved to be the big disappointment of the day, finding myself unable to understand the checkout girl at the supermarket when I went to buy some spare food to tuck away in my panniers. Having expended my meagre clothing supply in the sweatbox that was Bangkok, my quest from the remainder of the afternoon was to find a laundromat. I had one little morale boost when I asked a gas station attendant “Donde esta una lavanderia?”, and actually understood enough of her reply to know to follow the road ahead and then turn right. But upon finding it, I was further crestfallen when I discovered it was the only laundromat in town, and it was closed. So, as is often the case, necessity became the mother of invention.
Having turned my bathroom into a makeshift washing machine, I ventured out to find dinner, where once again I was woefully disappointed with the extent of my self-taught Spanish. Reluctant to talk to the locals out of fear of embarrassment, I found myself in a strange state – surrounded by people and yet quite alone, unable to speak the local tongue and yet unwilling to be the guy who wanders in and asks “Does anyone hear speak English?”. And so it was that I wandered the streets of the medina for hours, trying to find somewhere that looked friendly enough to tolerate an illiterate. But it wasn't all bad – there was a lot to see.

As much as I was enjoying the sightseeing, all I'd had to eat that day was a sandwich. I was starving. So, I screwed up my courage, consulted my phrasebook, and enquired of a relatively empty pizza place: “Tiene una mesa para uno?”. Much to my relief, the young waitress laughed and answered 'Si', and before long I had myself a meal. With the initial nerves overcome, I found myself remembering more, and while I was still disappointed I knew so little, I at least managed to make myself understood. Midnight rolled round, and I headed back to the hotel, mulling over the events of the day and pausing to take one last photo along the way....

Tomorrow I would cross into Morocco. French and Arabic were the language options there, and I knew absolutely none of either. The Spaniards I'd encountered so far had often spoken a little English, and had been tolerant and even helpful with my ignorance of their langauge, – but would the Moroccan border police be so understanding? And what about further into the country? Would my little phrasebooks be enough? I sorely hoped so - I didn't want the rest of the trip to be like this evening, surrounded by a new country and yet unable to enage with it. Pondering those hypotheticals, I packed my bags, moved the damper clothes closer to the window, and went to bed.

Jdeks 02-26-2013 02:19 PM

Chapter 3: Gimme Eh-yuros!
28 Aug

I woke late the next day, and with only an hour to get to the docks, the language barrier proved strong enough to keep me holed up in my room, washing down muesli bars with UHT milk for a quick breakfast. Human interaction was unavoidable at customs, but the CNP officers proved efficient, and I was quickly through the boom-gate que and into the boarding que. Queing was becoming a prominent feature of border crossings.
The old Moorish fort at Tarifa provides welcome shade from the morning sun.

The ferry itself was surprisingly sleek and modern, unlike many of the dented, dusty, clapped-out vans and cars that squeezed their way into its belly, packed with varying collections of junk. Not game to leave my own possessions unattended in the cargo hold, I slung every bag I had over every appendage available and doing my best impression of a human packhorse, I lumbered my way up the stairs to the main lounge, and took my place in the third que of the day: immigrations. The wait in line (or rather, blob) gave me a good chance to observe the human tapestry that flowed past.
First person to guess the nationality of the fellow in the yellow robe gets a prize.

With my forms done , I lugged my bags to the upper deck. Tangier was faintly visible on the horizon, so I found myself a spot on the rail and took the some obligatory photos.

Naturally, everyone in the hold started their engines 10 minutes before the doors opened, giving me all the motivation I needed in my oxygen-deprived state to ignore the protests of the crew and split the lanes of cars as soon as the ramp hit the pier, leaving a big black stripe and an echoing squeal in my wake. Once the dizziness subsided, I made my way to que number four: customs. This was the one I was worried about. Not speaking a word of French or Arabic, when challenged by police over having photocopies of my vehicle forms, I had no way of explaining it was a hire bike. My Lonely Planet French phrasebook set a standard for utter uselessness that it would maintain for the rest of the trip, having neither the word for 'hire', nor any instruction on turning written French into spoken French (two entirely different languages, it would seem). Fortunately, I was saved by a friendly Spanish-speaking customs official, with whom I was once again able to make my situation more or less understood with a bastardised mix of Spanglish and hand signals. He treated me like a regular VIP, walking me right to the head of que five (boy, did that get me some dirty looks). Shortly afterwards, the police returned to inquire about the contents of my luggage.“Pistol? Hashish?” one asked.
“What? No, no, definitely not.” I replied, hoping that my emphatic head-shaking made up for speaking English.
The police seemed satisfied with my declaration, so my official unlocked the gate and pointed me on my way. I tipped him a full 10 Euro for reducing what I had been told would be a 3-4 hour saga to about 45 minutes, and rode a short way to the nearest cash exchange.

No sooner had I dismounted, I found myself face-to-visor with a toothless middle-aged man in a dirty suit, pointing around vigorously and rubbing his fingers together as he demanded euros (pronounced “Eh-Yuros”, with extra spittle). Without thinking, my Australian sensibilities kicked in, and I looked around to see if I'd illegally parked or failed to pay a toll. It took a moment before I realized he was simply demanding money, at which point I gave him my best French “No”, and tried to walk off. But he wasn't giving up so easily; moving in front of me, the demand was repeated, this time more forcefully.“You! Gimee Eh-Yuros!!” he cried.
I moved to sidestep, and he put a hand on my chest. I brushed it off, but it came right back with the same demand. Unsure whether this was just pro-active begging, or the beginning of a mugging, I was starting to get a little annoyed. The arrival of another car caught his attention, and I slipped past as he moved off to harass the newcomers for their 'Eh-yuros'. I quickly withdrew my first few Moroccan dirhams, and moved back to the bike, but I was too slow. Old mate was back, one hand up in a blocking gesture, the other rubbing his fingers together as he resumed his request. That was it. Still mildly hypoxic from carbon-monoxide poisoning, garbed head to toe in riding gear in temperatures well over thirty degrees, I'd done five ques already that day on only 250ml of UHT milk and a crappy Spanish muesli bar - I was officially out of tolerance. I intercepted the outstretched hand, and raised a gloved fist.“No.” I said.
No further requests for 'Eh-yuros' were forthcoming.

I wasn't happy with the way that situation had panned out. Well aware I was pretty much draped in finery, I wasn't sure how I felt about having refused than man my charity. I'm a generous person normally, but was well aware that capitulating to begging in the long term helps no-one, and providing effective aid to the needy in Africa is far more complex than simply handing out cash on street corners. His aggressive attitude had not helped. Nonetheless, I felt guilty for having resorted to threat of violence to dissuade him, and coupled with the reminder of my linguistic ineptitude at customs, that encounter had soured my entire entry into Morocco.

Maybe this was why when I came to the next roundabout, I did something a little strange. Rather than follow my GPS on the main drag out of town, I turned right. For some reason, I just didn't feel ready to leave Tangier just yet. And so, I went up the hill towards the old-town, hoping to see more of this 'gateway to Africa'. Thus I received my first lesson in the extent (or lack thereof) of coverage of Garmin maps in Moroccan cities. I became quickly lost in a maze of tight, one-way alleys, sometimes crammed with traffic, other times deserted. As much as I would like to say aromas of exotic foods and spices filled my nostrils, that would be a lie; much of it smelled like a tip. And everywhere I went, heads would turn and follow me with eyes that weren't quite hostile, but quite clearly said “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”. However, this may well have been just as much to do with my bike, as with the fact I was riding it the wrong way down a one-way pedestrian footpath. It was strange, exotic, grubby, and not entirely inviting. But a worthwhile excursion for the experience.

After half-an-hour of cruising the streets and alleys weaving between fruit stalls and garbage heaps (often adjacent), I pushed up the hill, assuming the higher sections of the city would have the wealthier 'new' suburbs, and hopefully some proper roads. My plan worked, and before long I was back on track. The seaside boulevard was far cleaner than the old medina, but the smell of trash still lingered on the sea breeze, and my frustrations were only exacerbated by African traffic. While Bangkok had been jam-packed mayhem, it had been a controlled mayhem, where the individual skill of each driver and a series of informal customs and 'understandings' had kept people from actually colliding (even if it was only by inches). No such 'understandings' were present in Tangier, and traffic at roundabouts was literally like riding in a bumper-car ring full of selfish children – push in, then wait for impact and blast your horn in indignation. It wasn't until I was clear of the city that I could stop and relax. I picked a scenic spot on the headlands and had another muesli bar and a litre of water for lunch.
At least he has a good view....
Amidst the dry scrub and shanties, the estates of the wealthy can be found, fenced off from the rest of the countryside.
The N16 from Tangier winds its way along a beautiful coastline, which I'm sure one day will become as overdeveloped as its sister shores to the north in Spain.

Before long, I turned south off the highway and onto a rural backroad, hoping to bybass the bustle of the Ceuta. My detour soon became a single lane strip of bumpy tarmac, and shortly thereafter stopped bothering with tarmac, and just became bumpy. Not that this bothered me – after my morning of frustrations , I was all too eager to open up the F800 and indulge in some throttle therapy. Out here, I was the fastest thing on the road, and the cars that had cut me off with horn blasts before were left trundling along in my dust. The F800 was proving its merits on the hard-packed gravel, comfortable on the bumps whilst seated, maneuverable when standing. Maybe I'm spoiled coming off the tail-happy 950, but it still felt a little underpowered. Truth be told though, I still had easily enough power to give me quite the exercise in panic braking when upon exiting on particularly rough corner I almost ran head-on into terrain not even the F800 could hope to cross.

Someone had plonked a dam in the road (or the road in a dam?) and failed to update the maps. I soon found a re-route, and before long I was parked on an embankment overlooking a large roundabout on the outskirts of Tetouan, taking a photo of the eerily western-style of green turf garden that dominated its centre. Unthinking, I swung my DSLR out of my bag and took aim, and almost simultaneously, so did the gaze of the nearby police directing traffic. It seems they did not appreciate the photographic merits of this particular traffic island, and despite their formal uniforms, clambered with surprising haste up the embankment and promptly detained me. As I wondered exactly what was so highly classified about this roundabout, I realized it may have simply been the police themselves (although they had been far, far out of shot). As I contemplated how the hell I was going to explain my way out of this with hand signals, to my surprise one of the officers started speaking in English.“Where are you from?” he asked in a friendly tone.
“Ahhh, Australia! Kang-gar-rooo” echoed around the group. “Why are you taking photos of here?”
“The roundabout and the mountains, they look very nice” I replied.
This seemed to confuse them a little, and the brief conversation that followed didn't really explain why I couldn't photograph this roundabout, but with the photos deleted I was returned my camera. “You take photos of other mountains, these ones maybe” said the officer, pointing over my shoulder.
I apologised and they sent me on my way with a smile and a handshake. For my first time coming afoul of the law overseas, it was a surprisingly pleasant experience.

The most remarkable features of the N2 highway heading south were the traffic, and the views. In a strange way, the two complemented each other. Forced to slow to a crawl behind overladen buses and cars in varying states of disrepair, all pouring black smoke like you wouldn't think possible (including vehicles that would be modern by Australian standards), you have ample opportunity to survey the valley that sprawls below and the mountains that tower above, as the road snakes its way south along the length of the valley.
I think their air-con was broken...
Roadside stalls are a part of life in Morocco. From shack to shops, much of the shopping we do at the corner store can be done at the side of the highway.
Not a bad view to have when stuck in traffic.

Chefchaouen (pronounced shef-show-en) itself is a medium-sized town some distance back from the highway, nestled in a valley between two mountains. Unlike Tangier, it did not smell of garbage , and the boulevard I followed through the new-town could have been taken out of any western city. Moroccan cities have a unique and very different layout compared to Australian settlements, owing to their far more lengthy history. Some cities are hundreds of years old, and consequently have an 'old town' or medina near their original center. These tight-packed mazes of mud-brick apartments often lie adjacent to or surrounding the ancient Moorish fortresses that served as the core of the towns governance, but also contain mosques, gardens and businesses. Modern times, however, have seen development of semi-western urban areas on the outskirts of the original city, often complete with entirely new CBD's - a modern satellite-city adjacent to its ancient namesake.

I was bound for the medina, it being the cultural and historical nexus of the town. Problem was that the road leading in ran out in a fenced off, busy courtyard-come-carpark some 500m before my GPS waypoint. On my second lap of the carpark, as I stopped to appraise the width of a gap in the fence, a thin dark-skinned man came forward and politely asked me in good English if I could use some help. I'd been warned previously about 'helpers' in Morocco, and how they would often rely on the ignorance of foreigners to make a quick buck, and after my encounter outside the bank in Tangier I was still feeling a little defensive. Despite finding his quiet, unobtrusive manner to be a welcome chance from the bustling surroundings, I declined his offer with a quick 'No thanks'. But by my third lap of the car park I realised a) I could probably use some help; and b) I wasn't going to enjoy the rest of my trip by spurning all human contact.

I told him where I was headed, and despite looking about half my weight, he insisted on helping me carry my bags, first to my orignal bed & breakfast, and then to two others when it turned out to be full. As we trudged up and down the blue-painted streets of the medina, we talked, and I got to know him a little better. His name was Abdul, and having taught himself English at an early age, he made a living by helping silly tourists like myself around town. He was good at his job, and seemed to be on a first-name basis with every restaurant, hotel, corner store and carpet shop owner in town. Indeed, after setting me up at the third hotel, showing me the nearby hole-in-the-wall (literally) convenience store, the tow square, the main mosque, the bank, nearby restaurant owners, I bought us two cokes for about a dollar all up, and we sat down on some steps and had a chat about the evening's entertainment options.
"If you like, I show you one more restaurant, and then take you to friends wool factory to see some Berber carpets"
“Sure, sounds great. Can we stop by the main square for lunch?”
“No, no! Do not eat in the main square, it will make you sicker than dogs!”
“Abdul, all I see around here are stray cats.” I said.
“Exactly. Dogs are all dead.”

Abdul took me to the wool factory, where I was given another VIP welcome, and given my first real lesson in Moroccan hospitality, as the owner came down and showed me around his workshop, sitting me at his looms, and piling rug after rug on the ground for my inspection as he bought my glasses of sweet mint tea (which is actually delicious). After all the show he put on, I felt obliged to buy at least something, which I guess was the whole point, and after a round of haggling I left with a five-by-three foot camel hair rug, whose fire-retardant abilities he proved to me by attempting to set fire to it with his lighter. I actually felt a little guilty – feeling generous, I'd actually meant to try and tell him I needed to find an ATM to get more cash, and instead accidentally persuaded him to sell it for the remainder of the cash on me – almost half the marked price.
Everything must go!

On the way back to the hotel, I asked Abdul what sort of money someone would usually pay for the help he'd given me, and he replied with the same ambiguous answer that I'd received in the carpet store.
“You say a price, and we will see if it can make us both happy” he said.
I fished the last 20 euro note out of my wallet, which seemed to certainly make him happy. I knew it was a gross overpayment by local standards, but I didn't care. Abdul had proven his worth, and then some. And so we parted ways on good terms, and I headed back to the hotel for a nap.
Dar Yazid is a fantastic B & B, with cozy comfortable rooms, a rooftop courtyard with an amazing view, and a darn good breakfast to boot. Also, best hotel artwork of the trip.

I woke later in the dark to the sound of music. I ventured out into the alleyways again, saying hi to the local boy at the front desk, dressed a stylish western fedora and playing on his smartphone. Much like in Spain, the city came to life after dark, and as hungry as I was, I spent several hours exploring the streets and indulging my zoom lens.
Main square by night. Apparently all these people would be sick like dogs by tomorrow.
More rudimentary tastes are catered for too.
Late night trading. Chefchaouen is actualy quite the tourist destination.
Screw bedtime.
Had to go back to the carpet shop to get a shot of their leather goods.
These kids were *seriously* good at soccer.
It's all about the bikes.

By the time I'd had my first Moroccan dinner (an excellent couscous and beef stew) and made my way back to my room, I was exhausted. No philosophical musings that night – I was asleep before I hit the pillow.

gavo 02-26-2013 07:29 PM

Great read. riding like a maniac in Thailand or S.E.A. its great fun , there's not a lot of counties i want to see in Europe but Spain is one of them.
My wife was in Morocco 30yrs ago and I find the Moorish architecture interesting so maybe I'll get there one day.
Also I know what you mean about language, oh to be able to speak the native tongue fluently.

Jdeks 03-04-2013 06:18 PM

Chapter 4: A dune too far.
Chapter 4: A dune too far.
29 Aug

I finished the last chapter after a night in Chefchaouen, so it makes sense that I start waking up there. Breakfast was a rooftop affair, set to a soundtrack of crowing roosters and the call to prayer, with views as exotic as the food.

You won't find any weetbix over here. Breakfast is served late, and consists of warm flatbreads with yoghurts and butter and jam, washed down with sweet mint tea. It's tasty and extremely filling, and I left town feeling that I got good value for my 50 Euros.

The route for that day could be summarized in 3 letters: N13. The N13 is a lumpy highway that bisects the country north-south, running all the way to the deserts of the northern Sahara, near the Algerian border. It's all sealed, but I wanted that. I'd promised myself I wasn't going to to come to Africa without seeing some desert, and I only had 3 more days to get there and back. As much as I wanted to explore the sedate gravel backgrounds that wound their way along the Berber villages, I didn't have time to do both. My destination was Erg Chebbi, one of the larger section of dunes near the town of Merzouga – over 600km away. It was 10am and already about 32 degrees. Today was clearly going to be the marathon stage of the trip, and a test of the F800's cruising capability (and its saddle).

A good ride doesn't always have to be just bulk knee-scraping corners. Sometimes it's the scenery that makes your day. This was one of those rides. Like a living documentary, I watched Morocco roll past. As I wove and bumped my way south, mountains gave way to rolling hills, then pine forests, followed by grasslands and arid plains. Everywhere men squatted in the shade at the roadside (a national African pastime, it seems), some smiling and waving as I passed, others too busy with the toil of the day to waste time on the frivolous gestures for rich tourists. Between towns, women huddled by rough roadside stalls, their colorful hooded robes contrasted against the brown backdrop. Boys with sun-darkened skin and bright white teeth sat sidesaddle atop donkeys that meandered 3-abreast across the road, laughing and chatting and making wheelie gestures as I rode past. The towns were as varied as the countryside . Some were comparably modern burgs with lanes and tarmac and roundabouts. Others, appearing suddenly in the middle of seemingly barren plains, were dusty, chaotic affairs, where the road was any place the squat breeze-block buildings hadn't occupied. 40-year-old Mercedes trucks overtook shiny modern BMWs, both pouring black smoke as they strove to double-park against a donkey and cart, all on the wrong side of the road, outside a shop roasting entire ( I mean entire) goats on the footpath.

Some might say that I shortchanged myself, choosing mileage over meetings. And I see that point. But not knowing the language left my communication options limited, and what I lost in cultural experience, I gained in geographic exposure. The N13 cut a vivid cross section of the country, and all I had to do was watch it roll past.
Donkeys get worked hard in Morocco. Sadly my request for “Un foto” of this fellows' owner was declined. Moroccans aren't big fans of photos.
This hill writing was outside a lot of towns. Prize for the first to translate it.
Yep. Looks legit.

Not sure why he wasn't riding in the front.
Couldn't resist taking the detour to get this shot. These dust devils are frequent in the arid south. Protip: don't ride through them.

By mid afternoon, I was hungry. The great thing about Morocco is the highways are littered with rustic little roadhouses, or 'auberges'. The one I stopped at (a little way south of Azrou_ was a well-kept log cottage staffed by a young guy who greeted me with a friendly “Bonjour” and an open interest in the shiny motorcycle now parked in front of his shop. My chicken kebabs and couscous salad were fantastic, and I was a bit of a spectacle to the other patrons, who were all quite friendly and curious about what I was doing. It was yet another bittersweet moment, where the language barrier stopped me from being able to do more than smile and shrug like a simpleton. When I finally picked a bit of Spanish out of the mix, I was able to tell them I was headed to Merzouga, which seemed to surprise them, and I knew why.

I'd been mulling it over as I ate my lunch: it was 4pm, and I had over 300 km to go. It had taken nearly 6 hours to cover much the same distance, and I really didn't know anything about road ahead. The sensible option seemed obvious: concede I couldn't make the dunes, stop here and have a relaxing return journey with more time to explore. So naturally, I finished my Coke, set my GPS for Merzourga and buttoned down for the long ride south. Fuck sensible; I wanted to see some desert.

I wish I'd marked a waypoint for this place. The atmosphere, despite seeming more appropriate for Europe, was as nice as the food. Which was pretty bloody good.

As I went to throw my leg over the bike, I heard someone call out from the door. It was the young publican, with the same friendly smile on his face. Out he strode, and extended his hand, speaking for the first time in English.
“Nice to be meet you! Good Luck!”
I shook his hand and gave the best reply I could come up with.
“Merci, et toi!”
I rode off, sincerely wishing I had taken the time to learn more French.

Ahead loomed the High Atlas Mountains. Traffic thinned and road conditions improved as I shot across the rocky plain. I have to say at this point the F800 did disappoint me a little. The previous 6 hours of potholed and rippled tarmac had been slow by necessity – whilst the suspension did well enough in most situations, I really felt the bigger bumps at speed. But now the smooth roads were back, I was missing the big lazy thump of my 950 twin (Actually, I was just missing my 950 in general). The F800 seemed a little more strained than it should have above 120kph, the steering became a little light and the wind blast a little strong. More importantly, I couldn't wheelie in second! Not by any means a serious issue, and the saddle was still keeping me happy well into the 7 hour mark, but it just wasn't what I was used to for high speed cruising, and I really needed to do a bit of that right now. Of course, I forgot all about that once I entered the mountains.

Dark cloud loomed over the baking rock peaks, contradicting my expectations of the desert as they draped tendrils of rain over the moonscape, evaporating before they hit the ground. The road itself was a double edged sword – smooth sweeping bends, each with an equally random chance of sporting the oil slick that would kill you. If Moroccans maintained their cars a little better, this would be a fast, beautiful riding road. As it is, it's a death trap, with many car wrecks scattered at the roadside to remind you. On my half-'n-half tires and with the sun already set in the valleys, I took no risks, and no photos. After an hour I had wound my way between the jagged teeth of the northern mountains, crossed the sparsely populated central plateau, and descended through the table-tops of the southern ranges into a second sunset over an eerily green lake. As I rolled down into town, my fuel gauge flashed on the bottom bar - it had been 340 km since I last filled the 16L tank. It was here I realized the big strength of this Rotax engine. I know my 950 would have needed another 6L to get that far, and only if I had nursed it.

I watched the sun set and took what I thought would be my last photo for the day, as I waited in line at a grubby petrol station outside Errachidia. With 130km to go, I had some crackers for dinner and set off to do exactly what everyone had warned me not to do: ride a motorcycle in Africa at night.
By the time I made this stop, my pockets were so full of change I sounded like a tambourine. A 20 dirham (~$2) tip to the fuel pumper always got a big smile and a pat on the shoulder.

Whilst it was harder to see (owing to the Moroccan propensity to 'save electricity' by not using their lights), the traffic by night didn't change much. This wasn't really a good thing. Trucks, tractors and pedestrians would wait in the middle of the highway in a slow-moving reverse-ambush, and the no-holds-barred traffic in these rural desert towns was hard enough to deal with when you could see them coming. Africa comes alive in the cool of the night, and in towns, the poorly-lit streets are just as packed with cars as they are with pedestrians, bikes, scooters and donkeys, all shrouded in a haze of woodsmoke and dust. By the time I made my way through the bustle of Arfoud to what I thought I was my turn-off, I was well keen to just get the hell out of there. My GPS said I was on-route, so when the street became an alley, and then narrow road lined with construction signs in Arabic, I didn't give much thought to turning back.

The road was good, but for the first time, it was totally deserted. I figured that out here, a paved road must surely lead to a town. I pushed on, anxiously ticking off the kilometers to the hotel I had marked as a destination. The infinite velvet darkness of the surrounding plain was cut only by the now seemingly very small cone of my headlight, illuminating that comforting strip of asphalt. A hot night wind picked up a sandstorm that swirled in my headlights, shrinking that little cone of comfort and forcing my goggles back on. The going was slow and the atmosphere tense, with the silhouettes of the dunes creeping onto the road in deep drifts. At 40km to go, the tarmac ran out, becoming a rough, horribly rutted gravel road that looked more like the foundations of a highway, only buried in sand. Before long, the earthworks came to an end, replaced by a faint set of car tracks, in an otherwise smooth plain. Then without warning, the single track became many, starbursting off in all directions, each no more than a pair of slight indentations in the sand. Before I had a chance to slow and even think about choosing one, I was past the mark, into soft the sand, and on my side.

Getting back upright and moving took a bit of time with all the luggage and the 50/50 tires. I turned around to follow my tracks back to the junction, but they were gone, covered by the same sand filling my goggles. I cut a few widening loops, trying to find hard ground again, but it was all a featureless plain now. It as 10pm. The tarmac was miles back, now also likely swallowed by sand. I killed the engine, stopped, and took a good deep breath. The silence was broken only by the sound of wind on my helmet, the darkness around as featureless as the seemimgly tiny wedge of illuminated sand in front. As I pawed at my GPS trying to find a road or town I could set as a new reference, I noticed the label Garmin had automatically printed on this section of the map: Sahara Desert.

I had arrived.

Dr AT 03-05-2013 01:32 AM

Spectacular. You just became official local ride reporter!

naveenroy 03-05-2013 02:32 AM

I'm in. Damn interesting!:lurk

SR1 03-05-2013 03:30 AM

Very good so far!

jmcg 03-07-2013 01:44 PM

Great report + pics.



Jdeks 03-07-2013 04:38 PM

Chap 5: Not my eyes!
Chap 5: Not my eyes!
28-29 August

What's that saying everyone has on their mugs now? 'Keep calm and have a cupcake'? My pre-trip research had drawn my attention to the sad story of two Portuguese motorcyclists, who had died on their Morrocan adventure 2 months earlier. They'd been riding about an hour from where I was now.

Whilst I had no cupcakes, I did still have a tin of 'estofado' and some muslei bars from the supermarket in Tarifa, along with at least 2L of water. It was now in the 'cool' of night (30 degrees qualifies as cool out there), and the bike had half a tank of gas, all my camping gear and a working GPS. 30 km of what I assumed was flat desert lay between me and my destination, which I figured I could cross as the crow flies. So I wasn't in any real danger – I just didn't want to get locked out of my hotel.

All hopes of straight-line navigation, however, were blown away as fast as my tire traks. The plain was far from featureless. In some places the sand had blown away to reveal fields of ruts and jagged rock which proved intolerable for my stock suspension. Gentle flats would abruptly end in long-since-dry river beds with steep entries, steeper exits, and a lot of soft sand in between. Everywhere, the hard-packed sandy gravel would give way to pockets of deep, soft grit, throwing the front end wide as it sapped the the power from the spinning touring tires. In the day, with better tires and less weight, I imagine the varied terrain would be a hoot. But at 10:30pm, running on three crackers for dinner, with little more than 20m of headlight before the next surprise, the going was getting arduous.

To make matters worse, I'd never really ridden in desert sand before. On this unfamiliar bike in deep, soft drifts, I just wasn't picking it up. The smooth power kept the back controlled, and 'Weight back, power through' was working on the straight bits. But there just wasn't enough kick to lift the front when it dug wide. Whether it was the suspension, the luggage, or (most likely) my own ineptitude, steering with the pegs couldn't reign in that free-spirited front wheel. By my third off in the deep sand, this time straight over the bars at 50kph, I realized the 30km to Merzouga could take much longer than I'd thought.

I had several back-up lodgings, but they were little more than arbitrary co-ordinates scrounged from forums, scattered along the fringes of the dunes. I dug the GPS out from where it lay buried in the sand, still attached to the bars. As I panned the map about, I realized what went wrong. Had I not been in such a hurry to leave the bustle of Arfoud, I would have realized the turn-off I wanted was further south. The main highway then doubled back east to Merzouga, on the western edge of the dunes. But the road I'd taken tried to 'cut the corner', going south east, straight to the town. Marked rather prematurely as completed, it certainly looked shorter on the GPS, but it wasn't the route I'd originally entered. At some point in the day (probably when my batteries last conked out), my SD card, along with ALL my waypoints and routes, had been wiped. The unit had defaulted to the shortest route it could find to the town center, and I was now in the no-mans-land north of the dunes, literally on a road to nowhere.

It was at this moment that four days of dawn-to-dusk riding, jetlag, skipping lunch and 30-plus degree heat caught up with me, in the form of a whopping dizzy spell, an overwhelming desire to nap, and a headache that came on so fast, for a moment I honestly thought my head was swelling in my helmet. 30Km isn't far, but it was late, the going was slow, and there was no denying it: I was shattered. I thought over my options: backtrack, push on south and try to find the highway and hope to stumble across a place to stay, or pitch camp here. As I wondered whether my tent was in the pannier buried under the sand, I suddenly realized I'd bought along much of my research on my phone, and there was a good chance some of the articles had the waypoints I needed. And so, in a truly surreal gen-y moment, I sat upon my upturned motorcycle in the sands of the Sahara, helmet and goggles still on, and started playing with my phone.

As my thumbs tapped across the screens between gulps of water, the wind died down, the sands settled, and for the first time I could see the plain around me. A blue-grey martian landscape cast long, low shadows in the moonlight, the vague silhouettes of the Atlas mountains far to the north, and to the south....a single, faint point of light. Exhaustion evaporated. Thumbs danced across glowing screens as heavy eyes squinted. Sands swelled and sunk as tired arms heaved. A cough became a roar, and with a fountain of orange grit, I pointed south to the string of numbers I now knew as Kasbah Yasmina.

The first sign of civilization was the corrugated road I went right over. The second was the beaten metal signs, in English, that I almost ran into. One light became two, then four, as the ruts shook me to bits and the sand drifts made me long for the the ruts. I wasn't expecting much when I got there - a few mud huts and a tap maybe. But as the lights grew closer still, I couldn't believe what they revealed.

It was a palace, styled after the Moorish forts that dotted this country a thousand years ago, although they probably didn't have swimming pools. I rode in through the gates, parked in front of the largest building and slouched into the lobby. The neat robed man who greeted me spoke good English, and wore surprise and concern openly on his face.
“You were riding out there, in the storm?”
“Yea, I got a little lost. I was trying to get to Merzouga.”
“Ah, you took the Arfoud road! It is not yet finished, you see?”
I told him I did see. My requests about a bed and a meal were met with emphatic reassurances, and insisting that I pay in the morning, he led me to the empty dining room, where I was given a deceptively large entree of amazing bruschetta, followed by an equally impressive (in size and flavor) plate of koftas. As I ate, I talked with the two waiting staff, both of whom had little else to do, and lounged on cushions watching “How I met your Mother” on a laptop. My original host bought me a two litre bottle of water, and much to their amusement, I downed half of it in a single swig.
“So you are English, yes?”
“No, Australian actually”
The obligatory impersonations of kangaroos were performed, then one inquired where I'd stayed in Morocco so far, and whether their country was living up to my expectations.
“Well, I stayed in Chefchaouen last night, and it was fantastic”
Incredulity spread across his face. “You came from Chefchaouen? All in today? No no, it is too far, you make a mistake?”
“Blue city, up in the mountains, lots of cats?”
They seemed convinced, and quite impressed. “ I have never before heard someone go that far so fast. And how long?” asked my host.
I said about ten hours, and they all nodded appreciatively.“I am thinking you are very lucky to make it here, my friend. You look very thirsty, very tired” he chuckled.
“Yeah, I figured all the hotels would be closed, I was about to get out my tent”
“Oh no no no, you cannot camp out there,” chimed in one of the others, “You will be hit by truck!”
That hadn't occurred to me.
“Yes, yes, you are very lucky you find us here. Just over there, is Algeria. If you ride there, the army, they catch you, shoot you, pull out your eyes!” said my host emphatically.
I started to laugh, but it was met in triplicate with humorless faces etched with concern. I learned a lot in that conversation over dinner. There are dozens of these desert palaces scattered around the dunes, all for rich western tourists to relax in comfort with an African icon on their doorstep. They're fed by generators and underground springs, and the staff learn English and travel from all over Morocco to live and work here and send money home. But the one overarching theme was that Algeria is a very bad place. The border between the two has been closed for many years, it seems in both the cultural and geographical sense.

I bade goodnight to the staff, and as I sat alone in the dining room, gathering up my things and listening to the chef clean up in the kitchen, I caught a flash of color in its doorway. A very beautiful face with long black hair and almond eyes, framed in a bright red silk hood, looked out from behind a fridge. Morocco is one of the more progressive Islamic nations, and so far I'd seen plenty of women out and about, many even wearing western clothing. But I still wasn't sure what the rules were. So when I waved, gave a smile and said “shukran”, I was glad I got a smile and a wave back. Then she was gone.

The room was modern, enormous and air conditioned (even if a wobbly shower-head belied a slightly lax construction code). With my phone on charge, I slipped into my swimming undies and made for the pool. As I soaked away my headache, I struggled to comprehend just how bizarre it was, to be in the swimming pool of what was arguably a four star hotel, here in the middle of the desert. It was certainly not what I'd been imagining as I sat in the sand three hours before. Part of me almost wished it wasn't here - I felt like I was cheating. Oh well. Maybe it would seem less surreal in the morning light.

ata 03-08-2013 01:11 AM

awesome RR
waiting for more

tehdutchie 03-08-2013 02:31 AM

Great report!!

GB 03-08-2013 03:42 AM


Originally Posted by Jdeks (Post 20866313)
This hill writing was outside a lot of towns. Prize for the first to translate it.

Government propaganda, it reads:

The Motherland, The King"

What's my prize? :lol3

Excellent report, thanks for sharing it :lurk

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