|05-23-2011, 03:12 AM||#1|
Joined: May 2011
Mototrepidation or my world shenanigans
Hello to all, enclosed are the tales of my now in action round the world trip, for the back story please visit my site www.mototrepidation.co.uk. I am currently in Russia in Astahan and heading to in Kazakhstan week after next. From there I will visit Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan Mongolia and Siberia. From Siberia I head over to Japan, meeting my friend Jody then USA, Central and South America before heading to Australia to work to pay for the second half of the trip through Asia and Africa, Its been an idea for many years and has finally come to fruition. I'm loving the road it's treating me well. I plan to update both my website and here weekly.
On leaving Bratislava I head to the High Tatras, a mountain range bordering the entire length of northern Slovakia and Southern Poland, it's stunning the foothills are rolling pine forests, riding through the forest I am aware of the damp, zesty pine infused air, I feel alive a twist of the throttle sends shivers running through my body from head to toe. They are not shivers from the damp air but rather from feeling so happily intertwined with the road, my bike and the landscape I am in, I'm digging every vista that opens up before me and grinning like a Cheshire cat from behind my bandanna, I want to run up to ever passer by and tell them, let them know of this feeling, everyone must know but instead I beep my horn and wave at passing cars.
Myself and the red baron at one with the road
A secluded luch of bread and chocolate spread.
As the evening draws closer I happen upon a campsite, unfortunately its shut, tourist season has not started here yet, but for only eight euros I take a room. The balcony overlooks a small, placid stream which waterfalls just right in front of the balcony. I eat and drink and reminisce on a perfect day. I hope for many more and find solace in the knowledge that there will be.
Waking late I march further east, always going east for the next four to five months, still in the Tatras mountains, the morning and early after noon are warm with blue skies but late afternoon turns to dark overbearing clouds, it threatens to rain and eventually does. The heavens open, my bandanna becomes so saturated it hard to breathe. My 80s sunglasses with high tech spandex era suspension on the arms mist up. Letting off the throttle I cool it down and run at 45mph, its easier to see riding a left hand bend a car coming towards me toots its horn, my lights aren't on so I take it as a warning to turn them on, I do so. Three miles down the road I hop up on the pavement and shelter in a much welcomed bus stop. My jeans weigh twice as much as they did this morning, casting an eye over my bike from the shelter I notice my camping gear is not with me, it's has instead decided to part company, I search the ditches beside the road for the last 20km but I see not hide nor hair of it. I 'm sure the tooting car de-marks where it fell, I search everywhere but there is no sign someone must of found it by now. With pangs of loss for my abode I begrudgingly take a room in a hotel in the town I have just passed through. It's family run and homely enough, the host turns down my offer of a beer so I retire to my room and sleep.
In the morning I relay my tale of loss to the lady at the hotel, enquiring where I can get new gear. A shopping centre is only two miles away. It's like every shopping centre the world over, its benign metal exoskeleton encases your usual fashionista shops and electronic goods. On the third floor at the back is an army surplus shop, brilliant I think good cheap robust gear ahoy!Infact it is not every thing is brand new and expensive, more for hunters than campers. A sports shop furnishes me with everything I need and soon I'm back on the road with a new fabric abode in tow. Its satisfying to have everything condusive to life on my bike. I camp close to the Ukrainian border, planning to cross the next day.
About midnight I arrive at the Slovakia -Ukraine border. It's split into two sections, in the first I meet an official who has recently come back from working in Essex,England he checks my documents and turns a blind eye to me not having green card insurance for Slovakia “it does to matter to me” he says Onto the second section, I over shoot the mark and park where I shouldn't. They are unhappy with my passport, it had got wet some months ago and now the laminate is starting to lift around the photo page., I bury them with every photo document I have trying to prove I am who I am. After hours of deliberation, proving I am who I am. It's doesn't help that I have no hotel booking in Ukraine, no definite route and no idea of even how long i'll stay, and putting every possession I have on show, they stop at examining my dirty underwear, I wouldn't go there either mate!. They are enthralled by my medical kit, a skull and cross bones symbol or the word alcohol means a hundred questions and the necessity to take it inside and check with the internet that it is in fact a wipe to cleanse cuts and not in fact that I'm a hardened alcoholic who saturates his moonshine liquor in wipes for a quick hit. Once in Ukraine village scenery soon changes, house look cheaper but the owner still proudly paint them is gay colours, I see my first Lada as well, a decrepit black machine inching its way along wheezing for breath. Seeing a logging road heading into the forest I follow it, it soon turn into a small river, I ride up the river bed for roughly a kilometre until a clearing opens up. A bird of prey rides the thermals above me, there is a cuckoo chiming away in the background and its all fenced in by a blooming deciduous forest, I fall asleep to the sounds of nature .
Camp pitched in a Ukrainian national park.
Next day I head through the town, checking the map I meet two Russian riding brand new BMWs. They like to ride long distances, having circled Europe in only 4-5 days, 1000 miles is a usual daily mileage and they plan to be back in Moscow this evening a cool 1600km away. We ride out of town together, they take the motorway and I the winding old road to Lviv. The old road is stunning, a time capsule of rural Ukrainian life some are still plowing their small plots of land by hand. Everyone is out in the field toiling except for the old men and women who sit by the side of the road talking and watching life pass by
The winding mountain road unfolds its beauty at ever corner
In Lviv I pull over to ask a policeman for directions. Instead he takes my documents, keeping hold of my passport and driving license he asks for a bribe, feigning ignorance he leads me further down the road, this time he asks more vehemently and the sum has risen to 100 Euros. I talk incessantly in English trying to bore him enough he send me on my way, it works after ten minutes, I wrangle all my documents back and head on my with 100 euros still in my back pocket. I find the hostel I'm looking for, they let me park my bike in the hallway. That night I meet an Italian traveller, we drink wine in the kitchen and head out into the city for food and more beers. A few bars down, everything is starting to close. At a whisky bar I get talking with a shaven head fellow drinker, he's quite drunk chatting up the girl behind the bar. He imparts words of wisdom for my future travels “ You must cut your hair or they'll be trouble” I'm quite attached to my wild hair do, but every man in the Ukraine has a shaven head, maybe I should to, I will ponder on it.
Lviv is very pretty especially at night in the old part of town, the yellow street lights give it an ancient hue.
Lviv town centre is jam packed during the day.
A typical Ukrainian village, as the villages get poorer the churches become more decorated.
I ride east for the next couple of day, always heading east. At Uman I stop to check the map against a road sign. A big gregarious chap rolls up on a Goldwing, we get to chatting and apparently there is a biker party starting the next day only 200km from here. He invites me back to his house where food is piled in font of me, I feast then shower. Natasha, washes my clothes. He's happy to have me and I'm happy to be here, the language barrier is difficult but with body language and my pigeon Russian we chat away happily. His daughter is stunningly pretty and knows English, one change I have noticed in the Ukraine is the women are stunning and the men are much less so, it's a right old juxtaposition. Xoxny's biker mates soon roll in, they invite me to the party, sure I want to go sounds right up my alley. As night begins to fall we set off, Xoxny promises to see us there tomorrow. We make good time and stop often for coffee, as we get closer we see more bikers. On arrival at the party I'm treated like a king, they waiver the entrance fee only wanting to know all about me, where I'm from, how many days I have travelled and how many kilometres. Camp is soon up and we dive into the party. Within about two hours I feel I've shook hands with everyone, spoken with everyone and had about 1000 offers of vodka. We get to the drinking, everyone's a friend and the atmosphere is perfect. It turns out it's more a drinking party with a motorcycle problem. Loud customised dnepers are shown off. I get talking to an old biker he takes me into a headlock and we intertwine arms and feed each other shots. As the music stops we encircle a campfire, we listen to Ukrainian folk songs and biker songs being sung. Sergy and I stay up till the sun starts to rise talking about everything under the sun. I'm so glad for these on the road fortunes.
The day after we lie in the sun and eat a lot, I have so many lunches everyone offers what they have. I see hardened bikers drink half a litre of vodka before lunch. Late afternoon and the festivities start again, people in chain mail with sword and shield re-enact fights of old. A contest to see who can ride their bike the slowest is the main activity with a tug of war a sideline. Wheelies, burnouts and side-cars going round on two wheels happen all around us. Later on it's brought to my attention that the tannoy from the main stage is calling out for me. Sergy translate “There is an English biker in their midst, we are very happy to have him would he please come on stage” We run over, I go on stage and they present me with a night birds t-shirt (nightbirds are the club that have organised the even) Everyone wants a photo or a handshake and I’m much obliged. The generosity I have been shown in the last two weeks I feel so fortunate to have received, and I feel if the trip was to end now i'd be changed for a life time
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