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Old 06-04-2013, 01:47 PM   #61
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Bosnia Part 2

With the side winds and rain abating it was time to leave the safe haven of the hotel and head into the mountains for a trail that should lead us to Mostar



As we climbed higher on a pretty rocky trail the fog started to thicken and got to a point where we could only see 10 metres ahead of us



As we climbed a hill and rounded a corner we stumbled across a guy in a truck picking up logs. As I got off the bike to take a photo he climbed down out of his seat and after we exchanged a few pleasantries by sign language and he found out we were Australian he got a bit excited and invited us into his home for pivo and coffee.



I thought pivo was some type of tea but as he pulled out the beers - at 9 in the morning - I gathered it wasn't tea. I politely declined the offer, I wasn't sure what to expect on this trail so wanted my wits about me



People are totally fascinated by Patty and her skin and that she's riding on a motorbike. Complete strangers will walk up to her asking for a photo or exchange a smile.



We spent the next hour or so in their kitchen eating biscuits and drinking coffee. He was proud when he whipped out his $100 aussie note but wasn't happy when his mate tested if it would burn and singed the edge of it with his lighter. We were so grateful for their hospitality and wanted to leave them something but we didn't have anything, so we took their address and promised to send them the photos we took.



After we left the house the trail was better maintained and passed a couple of houses



A concrete road stretched for a couple of k's through a village







and back onto some gravel roads. Big wide open roads and not a single car in sight, rocky in places but mostly fast











In the middle of nowhere we came across some sealed road but as quickly as it appeared it disappeared again

These blocks seem to have some type of inscription on them.



Looks old



Further along we started to climb again and the landscape became littered with rocks and abandoned buildings



You could tell if a place is abandoned or not by its windows - if they had glass they weren't abandoned.



Windows



The road was one continous rocky ride, stretching for about 20k's or more.



Deep down in the valley below is a village nestled between the mountains



As we approached this puddle I assumed it was relatively deep but expected it to be rocky underneath - I'd been riding cricket sized rocks the last 20k's why should this puddle be any different, right? Wrong! We had our first "oh fuck" moment as the bike instantly sunk from the weight and continued to sink as I got the outriggers out and tried kicking it along. I was close to dropping it so asked Patty to get off - not on the bank side though there could be mines - time to get the boots wet . As she trudged through the mud I kicked and heaved the beast out, sweating a little but glad we didn't end up with a drowned bike that would have been almost impossible for the two of us to pick up loaded. Patty was more worried about being stuck in bear country



It was cold and wet again



We carried on eager to be out of the rain and eventually reached civilisation again. Tuna patte and cheese spread sandwiches, a favoured snack of the trip



We snaked our way down the mountain on a single lane sealed road into Mostar.



A great view and noticeably absent of concrete and sealed roads on the outskirts, if only every city had less of it.



We planned to stay in a hotel but at at 40 euro we skipped that idea and found a nice spot by the lake just outside Mostar



A bit of luxury, table and chairs that the old man at reception brought out for us





The peace was shortlived though as a huge electrical storm drenched our stuff through the night



We planned to stop by the famous bridge in Mostar on our way to Dubrovnik, Croatia but we were keen to hit the road and didn't fancy walking around.

Back in Croatia



The famous walled city of Dubrovnik







Drinks on the wall, now this is a holiday







Next up we duck back into Bosnia for some exploring through Montenegro and into Albania
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Old 06-04-2013, 11:25 PM   #62
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All the best for the rest of your journey! Exciting and fulfilling...well done. If you get to Perth, let me know and you will have somewhere to rest up!
Your lady is tough as, on the back of a mid-sized bike for that distance. Good on her. Make sure you get back in time to witness another Hawks flag!
Cheers, Hewzie
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Old 06-05-2013, 02:12 PM   #63
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All the best for the rest of your journey! Exciting and fulfilling...well done. If you get to Perth, let me know and you will have somewhere to rest up!
Your lady is tough as, on the back of a mid-sized bike for that distance. Good on her. Make sure you get back in time to witness another Hawks flag!
Cheers, Hewzie
Cheers mate, I'm hoping to get over there some time for a ride. Lots of sand! Dunno what this hawks chat is about though, that's not a real sport I'm a league man.

She's pretty tough and doesn't mind the seat but after a few hours she starts to make a few noises. Most insects still terrify her, and turtles.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:24 PM   #64
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Thanks for the great pics and writting
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:49 AM   #65
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Where you at?????!?!?!

Some crazy stuff going on where you are right now. Hope you guys are OK.
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:31 PM   #66
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Montenegro & Albania

After enjoying our little piece of the luxury life in Dubrovnik we climbed back into the mountains of Bosnia, eager to get away from all the tourists and traffic. This is a panoramic looking back into Croatia before entering Bosnia with an old single lane road made out of bricks on the left.



It was crossing into the Bosnian border that we met our first adventure riders in Bosnia. All through the north west we didn't see any tourists whatsoever - no campers, euro number plates and surprisingly no adventure riders and I loved that about it. Everyone was still surprised to see us and it felt great being a lone tourist in such a beautiful part of the world. On the road between Mostar and Dubrovnik there were loads of campers (mostly German) so it was surprising to see a couple of Triumph explorers pull up behind us at the border. They mentioned they had seen lots of Triumphs on the road but until this point I'd seen none, mostly only 1200GS's along the Adriatic Road.

The locals mostly get about in these little beasts. I expected to see a lot of horse and cart but I didn't see any in the areas we visited.



But plenty of animals wandering the road



We crossed into Montenegro near Bileca which seemed to be mostly locals and trucks and as we entered the border guard gave us a leaflet that showed border crossings and major cities. I had a quick glance at it and noticed it didn't have the border crossing between Montenegro and Albania west of Plav were hoping to cross so I asked the guy and he said there was none. ok well that changes things because it meant I couldn't ride the offroad route I'd planned without doing some back tracking to cross further south of our intended crossing.

We ploughed on and as I scanned side tracks looking for a taste of offroad we were reminded of the Yugloslav war, which one of the locals in Bosnia said didn't affect Montenegro but we still found many abandoned buildings but not on the same scale as Bosnia.








We stopped for a quick photo of this lake after being showered with hail and over to the right I could just make out some towers and what looked like a gravel road. With a little whine from Patty "do we have tooo" it was time to explore



Found it! A partially overgrown but still recognisable road that snaked around the lake. The vines hanging out from the edge were thorns and almost ripped Patty's leg off at one point and it looked as though people were using for mountain biking so we took it pretty steady. Some kids standing in their front lawn looked shocked to see a motorbike and not a mountain bike come bursting through the bushes





Found the tower



The track opened up onto a bright green valley






With our appetite for offroad satisfied for now we gassed it to Albania through some pretty rocky terrain. In the distance Albania is calling.









Almost there




We entered Albania at Bajze on Skadar Lake late in the afternoon and I felt like a kid at christmas with all these mountains so I kept stopping every 5 minutes for a photo. I couldn't get enough of the mountains!





We quickly found a camp site on Lake Shkodra with a resort view.







Our modest abode amongst the unimog - the yellow one has everything, including a washing machine



such a poser



Life is good





The next day we had the option of doing a gravel road that ran parallel to the Albania - Montenegro border that we missed out on because the border closing west of Plav supposedly didn't exist, or skip it and do another road we planned which went from Koplik to Shkodra via Theth in the north east - we chose the latter.

As we rode out ready to do battle the bike felt wobbly and I knew immediately that was a puncture, and a bad one because it was an immediate flat. Luckily it happened just outside camp so I nursed it back home and made a brew while I changed it.

That will do it









The Motionpro beadpro made light work of the bead - these things are the bollocks and copped the abuse I threw at it. The Heidenau K60 scout has a really stiff wall and these things didn't break when I thought they would. I later picked up a third, longer tyre lever to make the job easier.



On the road again. I always wanted to get one of these shots



There's a track in there somewhere



Found it









The unimogs had tried this track the day before but because they're a behemoth they couldn't get through but said the bike might get through because it's slimmer. We'll give it a shot why not. We passed some road works at the foot of the hill. It was a little narrow and muddy but nothing to worry about and thought what are the unimogs complaining about, pussies.

As we climbed we came across more and more road works but these ones hadn't been levelled so there were great big loose rocks all over the place. It was impossible to pick a line as the rocks bounced us from one side of the track to the other. We were careful not to get to close to the edge because it was just too unpredictable and could accidentally send us over. Luckily we left the luggage at camp because we would have really been struggling on this one.





We found the first smooth bit we could and stopped so Patty could climb back on



The culprit



It was first gear stuff for about 2k's of these rocks and loose soil and the triumph took it all in her stride. When we stopped though a gurgling noise was coming from the radiator as though it was overheating (mental note get that checked out).

We zig zagged our way up the mountain and admired the scenery







Ok things are starting to get interesting. Blocks of ice and snow in our path



Now it gets really interesting. Only snow lies ahead





We knew the unimogs had gone a little further than this - they had our respect. We consulted the maps and figured we were about 250 metres from the top on a slight uphill on the highest peak of the road with one more peak to go. We figured if we could do this we could check the down hill slope on the other side and decide then if we could get back up or not. That was our main worry - getting down a slope and not being able to get back up but figured we would assess it before going down it...derrrr. We decided to give it a try...one metre further we were up to the axle in snow. dammit, that means we have to go down that really rocky section. That's worse than coming up it! We nursed it back down the mountain and joined the road works crew for lunch. One of the guys could speak fluent english and mentioned there was 1.50 metres of snow still at the top. We had a motorbike not a snowmobile I don't know what the people driving the unimog thought the bike was capable of This season I would say they'll seal the road, shame cos it makes a good adventure.

We rode back to camp to hang out with some german uni students who had been hitchhiking for the past 9 months on a 200 euro per month budget and knew all the tricks for living on a budget in style.




A clip of the climb


to be continued...
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:37 PM   #67
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Where you at?????!?!?!

Some crazy stuff going on where you are right now. Hope you guys are OK.
Hey mate, in Sivas central Turkey, about three days cruisy riding from Georgia. All is completely fine here not like they make out on the news. Sure there have been riots but not like the news portrays. In Istanbul for instance it's around Taksim Square which is such a small part of the city. We stayed only 5 minutes from there and you wouldn't even know it was happening if it weren't for the news.

Keep safe mate sounds like you found your new home in the 'stans.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:54 PM   #68
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All is completely fine here not like they make out on the news. Sure there have been riots but not like the news portrays.
In reality its NEVER like things are portrayed in the news. For news to be interesting, they have to find the most dramatic extreme examples to put on TV, and then jazz it up to sound like its a big deal.

If they cant make it sound extreme, then the news editors wont bother running the story.

The world is a lot more functional and resilient than news editors need to portray it :)

Keep the pics coming !
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:39 AM   #69
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Apparently some of my Turkish friends were exaggerating also

When do you think you will be getting into Mongolia? I'll be in Altai by this time next week at the latest.

Let me know if you run into bike troubles along the way. I have contacts that can help you in Osh, Dushanbe, Bishkek and now Almaty. The fuel is total shit in Uzbek. I have heard of some people having problems with it. The KTM ran it ok but my MSR camp stove wouldn't burn the shit.

Depending on your where your next oil change is... You can get Motul synthetic in Tbilisi. Also Bishkek and Almaty. Its about 2x as expensive in Bishkek though. I also saw Respol and Liqui Moly here is Almaty.

Don't forget about the tire I left you in the desert
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Old 06-13-2013, 11:41 AM   #70
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Apparently some of my Turkish friends were exaggerating also

When do you think you will be getting into Mongolia? I'll be in Altai by this time next week at the latest.

Let me know if you run into bike troubles along the way. I have contacts that can help you in Osh, Dushanbe, Bishkek and now Almaty. The fuel is total shit in Uzbek. I have heard of some people having problems with it. The KTM ran it ok but my MSR camp stove wouldn't burn the shit.

Depending on your where your next oil change is... You can get Motul synthetic in Tbilisi. Also Bishkek and Almaty. Its about 2x as expensive in Bishkek though. I also saw Respol and Liqui Moly here is Almaty.

Don't forget about the tire I left you in the desert
Tell your friends to stop rioting

If all goes to plan we should be getting into Mongolia 15 July. We're in Tblisi now until the 18th cos I have two exams on the 17th - can finally dump 5kg's of text books! Hoping the locals in Azerbaijan don't give me the same trouble they gave you cos that will set me back.

Thanks for the heads up mate I'll keep all that in mind. I might have to try running the bike on vodka if fuel is that bad

Altai will be unreal.
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:42 PM   #71
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I might have to try running the bike on vodka if fuel is that bad
I remember Triumph saying during the launch that they designed the T800 to run on the shittiest fuel out there. You're either going to prove them right or wrong.



I'm enjoying your trip so far.
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Old 06-13-2013, 02:00 PM   #72
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Albania contd.

We left our resort camp shortly after the crack of dawn to catch a pre-arranged ferry that ran up Komani Lake from Koman to Fierze and needed to be there by 10.

The road between Shkodra and Koman was utter crap, mostly sealed but with gaping pot holes all over the shop. I would prefer unsealed dirt roads than sealed roads with huge pot holes because at least the dirt is a little more forgiving on the rims than the edges of bitumen. After every cringe as the wheel took a pounding the throttle still had a habit of twisting though





Along the way we passed all forms of transport known to man, including a ferrari. Why they had a ferrari on some of the worst roads we've seen so far has me beat. Albanian mafia.

If your scooter is broken chuck it in the back of the horse and cart



Do you want fries with that sheep? A sheep market on the side of the road



Patty wasn't convinced we were on the right road when we came to this tunnel that looked half-finished and almost pitch black. The camera has done a good job in filtering what little light there was to get this shot. After a little reassurance there was no bears in the tunnel we pressed on.



Koman Lake is a man made lake for hydro-power and used to be a main ferry crossing until the highway was built. The passenger ferry still runs but the vehicle ferry has been shut down so we got in contact with Mario Molla (mariodethi@hotmail.com) who could ship the two of us plus the bike for 25 euro. Ferry takes about 3 hours and Mario's a really helpful guy.

He wasn't there when we arrived so while we waited we got chatting to the locals and took some snaps.









Love the Albanian flag



Some Israeli's joined us as they were going for a week long hike around Fierze and they came well equipped - Johnny Walker black label



The ferry took about 3 hours through some interesting gorges.

These houses were nestled up in the mountains and could only be accessed by boat



Not sure what happens on these islands, could be a nudist colony. On the left is a cross which according to the Israeli's is a church



We got off for a quick look. Fascinating stuff - a cross on an island



But we upset a seagull



So before the mother attacked we ran back to our ferry



We stayed the night in a hotel near the Kosovo border in a place called Bajram Curri and it's the first time in the trip we felt a little intimidated and unsafe, almost like we were unwelcome. We tried shrugging the feeling off but just wanted to get the night over with and get out of there. I also had my worries about the bike parked downstairs. The whole town saw us ride in and gave us the evils and even though it was in a locked compound I was still restless. I felt a little better when the guard dog emerged from his kennel which you can see in the foreground of this photo. This was taken from our room window - in the foreground is a blue door which is a tunnel leading to three bunkers near the trees in the background. It would have to be the coolest dog house ever!



Eager to get out of the town we climbed back into the mountains overtaking lorries spewing exhaust



We followed the Albania - Kosovo border down it's length on some endless twisty roads that even though they seemed new still had some interesting sections.



Endless mountains and interesting scenery







The main road had about 14k's of fast gravel and was a welcome break from the normal road.







With some incredible views







We sort of felt by this point that we had 'done' Albania so were keen to reach our next destination - Lake Ohrid on the Macedonian side.

Not wanting to get anymore Albanian money out we rolled into Macedonia with the fuel light on. We'd spoken to some locals who said there was a bank and fuel just across the border so thought we give it a shot.

We rolled into Struga on the northern shores of Lake Ohrid late in the afternoon and found a cheap hotel on its outskirts called Euro Hotel. It was one of the weirdest hotels we'd stayed in. It was a massive resort with tennis courts and all that jazz that I don't think ever reached capacity. There was furniture in the lobby and in our room but everything else was bare and was a little creepy but I kept my thoughts to myself, not wanting to scare Patty. It was a bit like a hospital but as we were the only guests in the whole place they let us store the bike in reception.







I dug out my second tick of the trip after incinerating him first with the lighter. This one had been feasting awhile, it was a biggin'



The next morning there was no running water and I quietly joked to Patty that they had shut it off to prepare it for demolition.

Lake Ohrid is split down the middle between Macedonia and Albania, and when we spoke to some Albanians they said to drive around it on their side because the Macedonian side was cliffs and dangerous. We'd also from others that the Albanian side was more beautiful and best viewed from Macedonia so we decided scenery took priority over danger and decided to ride along the 'dangerous' Macedonian side.





The dangerous part was running into the back of us as we stopped for all the photo's. The road was perfect.





Not sure what this is - maybe an old hearth - but the locals felt it was significant enough to cover it with a roof.



We weren't having any luck with the weather. So far we've been wet 9 out of 10 days, it just seems to keep following us. As we got near the top we stumbled across a lookout but the clouds were teasing us and blocking our view. They seemed to be moving pretty fast so we decided to wait it out and see how it goes.





It paid off, with a cracking view



We pushed on and stopped at a little roadside market for lunch and as we were about to start eating a guy on a Triumph travelling the opposite direction gave a wave and pulled in.

Robert was a kiwi living in Berlin who had been travelling for the past month through eastern Europe travelling as we were.





We broke bread, shared stories and as the threat of yet another storm threatening to unleash on us we hopped on our bikes and rode in opposite directions.



There was something really cool about that moment that I'll remember forever.

We took a little detour off the main road just to mix it up a bit as we headed for Greece

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Old 06-13-2013, 03:38 PM   #73
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I dug out my second tick of the trip after incinerating him first with the lighter. This one had been feasting awhile, it was a biggin'
If you start to see rings around any of your tick bites.. Seek medical attention ASAP. It could be lyme disease. My mother had it in '91 and they didn't catch it at the start so she was on meds for over a year. If you catch it early it's easy to shake. Of course the ones that carry the disease are "deer ticks" and they are smaller the the normal wood tick. Something else to think about
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:58 AM   #74
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If you start to see rings around any of your tick bites.. Seek medical attention ASAP. It could be lyme disease. My mother had it in '91 and they didn't catch it at the start so she was on meds for over a year. If you catch it early it's easy to shake. Of course the ones that carry the disease are "deer ticks" and they are smaller the the normal wood tick. Something else to think about
Good to know. I was worried about paralysis ticks which we get in Oz, they've killed some cattle and a couple of our dogs.

Your report is making me get itchy feet and lose concentration on this exam man. I wanna be on the road again!
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:00 AM   #75
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I remember Triumph saying during the launch that they designed the T800 to run on the shittiest fuel out there. You're either going to prove them right or wrong.



I'm enjoying your trip so far.
Think they'll send me a replacement if I get stuck?

Glad you're enjoying it
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