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Old 11-07-2012, 04:16 PM   #16
MFS
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Congrats on what seems to be an epic adventure that has left you in one piece! So far

Can't wait to hear the rest! Best of luck to you,

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Old 11-10-2012, 01:34 PM   #17
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Hy guys, I'm back on my computer and the story continues… This time – I promise –*I'm gonna find a way out of dead-end situation!

I was one of the last travellers getting out of the Himalayan region for that season. It must have been late October, or even early November. The nights were already cold up there. Freezing cold to be honest. The days were still beautiful and enjoyable. There was barely a cloud on the sky and the sun got to warm up the town Leh, the biggest town in Ladakh. Leh is at about 3500 meters altitude (12.000 feet). Even many locals leave the area for the winter. I rode West towards Srinagar and it was presented with grand views along the way. A magnificent ride. Not much traffic at all. (About three vehicles a day passing) The road was challenging and fun, with all its potholes, landslides, cliffs, lack of tarmac, deep truck-tracks and countless twists, curves and turns. Just wonderful. The only worrying part of it was when I rode by a big yellow sign saying: "You are watched by the enemy – be careful" To interpret this correctly you need to know that the Pakistanis and the Indians have been fighting over this area for the last decades. It's the highest battle ground in the world. Many fights took place in hot spots higher than 18.000 feet. I'm not sure whether more soldiers were wounded by gun fire or injured by accidents and the cold. Anyways, I could be sure that the Pakistanis were looking down on me riding this road. And the Indians were so kind to let me know about it through their yellow sign. I guess the bike and I didn't make as much of a target as the Indian army trucks made. Long story short, I made it to Srinigar which is an amazing place. Another story… This is where I saw it. The big bright-red truck that was to make the difference. But I didn't know it yet. It was a fire-fighter truck with cross-country capabilities, converted into a RV. And it had German number plates on it. Imagine my surprise. I hadn't seen a fellow German in a long time. I stopped, I got off the bike, I walked around the truck and I knocked. Nothing! I knocked again. Nobody home. I left a note with my email address and the message to get in touch if they wanted under the window wiper.










Months later, I was sitting in Kathmandu, Nepal, working on job over the internet when I got an email from the big bright-red truck people. They were a couple and they seemed fun. They said in the email that they weren't gonna write because they thought I was well gone by the time they got my note, so why bother, but then…. they thought, why not…. since they were looking for other overland travellers to team up and share the cost of going through Tibet and China to reach South East Asia (where I wanted to go, but didn't know how). I thought about it for a momeYEESSSSSS I'M IN!!!!!!! What a wonderful thing. I could never have pulled it off by myself, but with the big bright-red truck people and another couple in a VW camper-van I could. We shared the cost for all the visas, permissions, documents, the mandatory 24/7 guide, the Chinese drivers licenses, number plates and everything. It was still hugely expensive and I put all I had on the table, but I found a way!!!! YEAH. The only thing left to worry about now was: How will I make it across the Himalayas in January? With the snow and all… The others were on 4 wheels, but I only had two and from experience, using the panniers as a third foot to stabilise, never happened with something getting ruined. Plus we were on a tight schedule, every day extra will cost extra. A lot! Well… it wasn't as easy as I thought. But more to this next time.
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:24 PM   #18
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Tip Jar

Hi Daniel, I am in . Great reports , I also comment on your vimeo video and suggest that you will add "Tip Jar" to the video, that way riders and other can tip your vudeo and send you a money. 10$ is waiting to you!


Cheers

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Old 11-11-2012, 01:32 PM   #19
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Hi guys.

You wouldn't believe how thrilled I was to be able to ride into South East Asia overland, on my own bike. And secondly I would be riding through Tibet as a bonus. I haven't dared to even dream about this. I've grown up behind the iron curtain in East Germany and the first 12 years of my life went by with me believing I won't ever be able to travel except across my own small country and a few neighbouring communist ones. When this all changed in 1989, I was not ready to grasp the newly gained possibilities right away. I guess it was a process and even when I was about to enter Tibet and ride the highest mountains in the world, this seemed like something that I was only watching in a movie. A movie which was secretly and unapprovedly brought to me while I couldn't go where the movie took place. But I was about to live this. I was so excited about it, I almost forgot about that it'll be January. And the Himalayas are high! Winter + High = Cold + Snow. I experimented with a bunch of ways to put snow chains or spikes onto my bike. Nothing would work. The resources available in Nepal were very limited. And the design of my bike didn't leave any space between the tire and the kardan swing arm to fit a DIY snow chain. I was NOT prepared for the worst. But I was hoping for the best and I would definitely take it as it comes. Little did I know, that apart from ice, snow and the freezing cold, I'd have to deal with something much more challening for this upcoming section of the journey.

But before I get into this, first some pictures from lovely Nepal –*the base camp for the icy ride to come.



An Argentinian couple I met along the way. My own bike badly damaged by a ruthless Indian truck driver.

















Soon to be continued.... Always happy about feedback. Till soon.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:20 AM   #20
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Before I start writing about riding in Tibet where I faced great challenges apart from ice and snow, I'd like to go back and mention what this meant for me financially. As you know, I started this trip without any cash. All my savings (which wasn't a lot) went into paying for preparations (like bike modifications, visas, vaccinations, equipment and so on). So I started on a full tank of fuel and a full stomach… over a year ago. So every mile I covered I payed for with money I had made along the way. A great challenge at times. To be honest, I didn't know if that was possible at all. I just thought I'll try and see how far I'd get. Now, having made it to Nepal, made me a little proud of myself. Sure, I haven't always dined in 3 star restaurants –*actually I never have –*but my requirements were brought way down to the basics. I had reached a point where living cheap without any luxury but experiencing the thrill of this adventurous life was way more important to me than any mosquito-free, well air-conditioned, safe and clean but boring life.

However, the trip through Tibet had to paid for. The documents, permits and 25/7 guide required by the government cost a huge chunk. And if I wanted to go over land, this group, this opportunity, the 'now' was my chance. And I took it regardless of the fact that I would come out broke the other end with no certainty of finding a way keep financing myself.

Odd job: printing stickers



Odd job: Painting a bridge…




Oops, gotta run.
This is only half of an entry. Will continue tonight. Promise.
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:45 AM   #21
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Cool man!

Schreib bitte ein bisschen weiter.

Gruesse,
Stu
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:23 AM   #22
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I'm in :)
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:03 AM   #23
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Hey guys. How are you all?

I get asked on a regular bases, 'how did you do it, how have you been finding jobs along the way?' Looking back it's a mystery even to myself. At the journey's beginning I easily became nervous every time I ran low on money. Well, I was always low on money. I mean I got nervous when I run below $120 dollars. Later, years into the journey, it would still happen, I'd still get into over-draft on my bank account, without knowing where my next job will be. But I wasn't worried about it so much. Something always came up and often in last minute. And I think the system I developed came out of necessity. I never said 'no'. First because I had to and later because I realised that something good always comes from saying 'yes'. So in the beginning, if someone offered me $3 dollars for washing dishes for an entire day, I'd say yes because I had no other option. Later I'd do it because I knew, something else would come out of it. For example I would meet the chef while washing dishes, he appreciates my work and let's me mow his lawn for $10. His neighbour would then ask me to throw his son's toy back over the fence. I'll make him curious because of my foreign look and sound, we get to talk and I end up working in his company as a well paid photographer for a while. Hah! I am off again with enough cash that keeps me going for a couple of months. So it was saying 'yes' all the time, even if that meant doing lots of crap for next to no reward and networking. I tried to get in touch with people who could make use of my skills way before I arrived at a place. I'd send emails, tell people about what I'm doing, share stories and when I arrived – there was no job! Almost always. BUT, I already knew people and the process of finding work was hugely sped up by that. There was one other thing that helped. More soon… gotta run.
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Old 11-15-2012, 02:31 PM   #24
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Laugh In

Subscribed and donated.

Thanks.

Let the People Speak and be heard and we will find peace.
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Old 11-16-2012, 03:02 AM   #25
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Looking good and looking forward to more. Excellent photography by the way.

Cheers,

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Old 11-16-2012, 07:06 AM   #26
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The other thing that helped me score jobs – especially better paid jobs – was the internet. Of course, extensive networking was only possible because of the internet, but the opportunities to work over the internet was a real blessing. I acknowledged, that I could easily and without signing any paperwork, work on a rice field for as long as I wanted. And this would feed me. But this would not provide any chances of saving up some money which could then be used to travel any further. So, working was possible in all kinds of countries, but not very helpful in terms of making progress with my journey. Working over the internet, building websites for example was a great way of earning a decent amount of cash. However, it wasn't as easy as it might seem. Nobody would ever hire me before he/she has met me. I think this is a trust thing and very human. So only clients that I have met in person and ideally worked for before, would not mind trusting me with a job despite the fact that I was sitting in a hammock on a beach with a straw hat on. Well, often they didn't know any details about my current office, only that I was halfway around the world in a foreign place. All in all I loved it, although I never was successful enough to make any excess money so I could maybe update serious parts of my equipment. But that was ok, I loved the lifestyle and the freedom that came with it was way more important the feeling of security. I even managed to pay for this trip through China. As I was writing about before, Tibet was one of the highlights on my journey. But also a proper challenge.








So… On Christmas eve I rode from Kathmandu to the border with China. The big bright-red truck and the camper-van were already waiting there. It was late at night and nobody was on the streets anymore. Only a couple of homeless kids that made themselves a fire with the plastic rubbish that was lying on the streets. The border-town is very small, only a few lights lit the one street which led straight to an iron gate with the Chinese flag on it. There were a bunch of trucks lined up, waiting to cross in the morning. I was lucky to find a place to stay for the night. A lady let me stay in a run-down guesthouse and even prepped some instant noodles for me. The interior lights of the big bright-red truck and the camper-van was already off, so I would not meet my fellow travellers until the next morning. I gave the homeless kids some cookies and snacks in exchange for a huge smile. What a Christmas eve! Pretty awful if I look at it now. But back then I was filled with so much excitement and positive anticipation about what was to come and what I was going to see in Tibet, that this didn't feel anything short of a proper Christmas eve with family and friends. The border crossing the next… well, wasn't as expected. But more soon….
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:56 AM   #27
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In. I also must comment that you seem to have a practiced photographic eye.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:04 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slide View Post
In. I also must comment that you seem to have a practiced photographic eye.
Thanks slide, I do my best.
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:25 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Open-Explorers View Post
Hey guys. How are you all?

I get asked on a regular bases, 'how did you do it, how have you been finding jobs along the way?' Looking back it's a mystery even to myself. At the journey's beginning I easily became nervous every time I ran low on money. Well, I was always low on money. I mean I got nervous when I run below $120 dollars. Later, years into the journey, it would still happen, I'd still get into over-draft on my bank account, without knowing where my next job will be. But I wasn't worried about it so much. Something always came up and often in last minute. And I think the system I developed came out of necessity. I never said 'no'. First because I had to and later because I realised that something good always comes from saying 'yes'. So in the beginning, if someone offered me $3 dollars for washing dishes for an entire day, I'd say yes because I had no other option. Later I'd do it because I knew, something else would come out of it. For example I would meet the chef while washing dishes, he appreciates my work and let's me mow his lawn for $10. His neighbour would then ask me to throw his son's toy back over the fence. I'll make him curious because of my foreign look and sound, we get to talk and I end up working in his company as a well paid photographer for a while. Hah! I am off again with enough cash that keeps me going for a couple of months. So it was saying 'yes' all the time, even if that meant doing lots of crap for next to no reward and networking. I tried to get in touch with people who could make use of my skills way before I arrived at a place. I'd send emails, tell people about what I'm doing, share stories and when I arrived – there was no job! Almost always. BUT, I already knew people and the process of finding work was hugely sped up by that. There was one other thing that helped. More soon… gotta run.
This ^.

Always find a reason to say 'yes'.

Too cool - ride on.
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Old 11-17-2012, 03:00 PM   #30
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I got up early in the morning. My travel companions and I haven't yet talked about when to cross the border, but I didn't wanna start off by holding them back. The air was clear and the border-town streets were more lively than when I arrived, although not by much. The iron gate to China was still closed, but some of the trucks had their engine already running and queued up in anticipation. I packed everything on my bike and I had a quick breakfast while keeping an eye out for my new friends.

"You have to wait until 11am before you can cross" said the Nepalese customs officer. The others groaned. "How can this be? 5 hours to kill… Is there no other way?" My traveller friends were not happy. Admittedly, we had a tight schedule in Tibet. Along the route, we were supposed to report on all checkpoints on certain dates. If we were late, we would get into trouble. This could mean hefty fines. But I thought 5 hours won't make the difference. If I had known what obstacles would lie ahead and how they would set us back, maybe I wouldn't have been so relaxed about it. I invited the the Nepalese customs officer for a cup of coffee and talked to him about the weather for a while. He was very friendly. And I don't know why, but suddenly he let us pass the border without the wait. Maybe the coffee was so bad, he didn't want to get offered another one. My traveller friends were happy about this and congratulated me on my strategy. I never told them that this wasn't a strategy, I just wanted to share a cuppa with the guy.







Our joy about not having wasted time lasted not very long. At the Chinese side, we were told to wait again. "Technical Problems" they explained. We spend almost the entire day in no-mans-land between Nepal and China. Five in the afternoon the Chinese guide was let through to us and we could get the border crossing sorted. Yeah, we are in Tibet! We covered about 30km and the sun was about to set when we came to a road barrier. "Road constructions". This time we got no explanation by anyone. The workers played some board game in their shed and used their hands to mime us "Chill out, wait an indefinite amount of time and use it to do what you like." It must have been past midnight until the first trucks came through from the others side. By then I had already gone for a wander to see what's going on. The road construction must have caused a landslide and a bulldozer was trying to clear it. They only managed one lane in the 'shortness' of time. It took a long time until the train of trucks coming from the other side trickled out and we were allowed to go. The first day of our Tibet expedition started early, lasted way past midnight, included a whole lot of waiting and brought us not farther than 50km in total. Ok, this needed to improve, otherwise we'd get in a lot of trouble.
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