Monday, February 4, 2013
|Heading south in convoy, more than 30 bikes|
It was even more heartening to see even more bikes parked outside Perth council house when we arrived there.
|Perth Mayor Lisa Scaffidi with letter from Scottish Provost|
This was overwhelming and I was unsure how to deal with it really, but there I was, some ordinary bloke on a bike arriving home having ridden 28,800km from Perth to Perth.
No big deal surely, but this event today was a big deal. It was magic, everyone was wonderful and I felt really special, welcomed by friends and family who braved the heat of the day to meet me.
So that's it. The END.
The end of this amazing adventure. I'm happy to be able to complete what I started out to do but sad at the same time. Will I ever be so lucky to do something like this again? I hope so.
The last few months have been an amazing whirlwind of ups and downs, mostly ups. My trusty bike has a place in my heart, not like a person, its a machine, but I cant help but feel some affection for this amazing bike that has transported me across the world. Its a motorcycle, one of many similar on the road everyday but this one is special.Its witnessed all of my moods, from good to bad, it's accompanied me over potholes and gravel saved me when other vehicles were trying to kill us both, carried me through torrential rain without a hiccup taken me through horrendous heat and cold, kept me alive and given me a life at the same time. How can I not feel some affection or connection with my close companion that is a motorbike after all. I now have to send it back to UK and I now know I should now sell it for something new but that will be very hard to do.
|My Dad and me. February 2012|
Sad to see the end, now it's back to work and routine. I need to recover so much money now. Yes it's rather expensive but I wouldn't change that for the world, worth every penny. So if you are thinking of doing something similar, stop thinking about about it and just do it before you can't. Life is short.
So what now?
Did you know there is a Perth in Tasmania?
|Fancy that! A Tiger in Tasmania. In Perth as well :)|
Posted by Steven Kirk at 10:18 PM
Saturday, February 2, 2013
|Middle of nowhere|
She pours the entire remains of the finest wine into an empty pint glass, downs the lot and thumps the glass back on the table! Another lesson learned.
|Cable Beach, Broome|
|Now I have my own portable hotel again|
I find the cheapest deal at $250 at a hotel in town but I'm annoyed I didn't think of this sooner. Tomorrow, I'm going to K-Mart and will buy me a cheap tent, no way I'm paying silly money simply for a bed.
I was planning to rough camp without a tent, but this is wet season, it usually rains heavily through the night and mosquitoes are everywhere.
|$17 Tent. You get what you pay for.|
|Carnarvon is famous for bananas|
Next day I'm on the road to Geraldton, slow and easy, its now fairly cool on the coast so I don't need to leave so early. I grab myself somewhere to stay, not your usual hotel but this time its a house. Much cheaper but rather eery as the key is left for me in a lock box to the rear with instructions on how to get in and what room to stay in.
Its starting to get dark and this place is deserted, at least I think it is although I was sure I could hear some moans from one of the locked doors along the corridor inside. I've found the light switches and found my room. This really is a lovely place, beautifully decorated charming and homely. I'm here alone, this is my last night on the road, tomorrow I hit Perth and the journey is complete. This is my last night and I should be partying, but no one is here.
|Geraldton Yellow Submarine!|
Next day I visit the town and whilst filming a wee bit at the yellow submarine, the high winds blow my camera and tripod over. The camera hits the ground hard and I can do nothing to stop it. The camera survives but the microphone on top breaks. Ah well, its made it this far
Tomorrow I'm meeting up with some other bikes just north of Perth and will continue down to meet with the Perth Mayor to hand over a gift from the Lord Provost of Perth. That will be it, the end, the final destination, the conclusion of this mammoth trip across the world. I'm feeling a bit sad about this but happy to see my family and Friends again.
Next: Welcome Home
|Middle of nowhere|
|Crossing into temperate climate|
|Last time I did this it was snowing, I was a bit bored by now, I thought it was apt.|
|The Pinnacles in WA|
Posted by Steven Kirk at 8:54 PM
Monday, January 28, 2013
I've been sending emails to government departments. All of the responses are not good. Most replies are not positive and I'm wondering if I'll ever get the bike released. I've heard of some people being stuck here for weeks whilst the government issue a "Vehicle Import Approval" or VIA" certificate for the bike.
But first chance I get, early morning I visit the shipping guys at Darwin port. Long story, but short version is, get in touch with customs agent, pay him to import and pay the duty charges, quarantine and the 10% GST on its current value. OK its a lot more expensive than I planned but lets try it. 24 hours later I get a call to say its cleared customs, just needs a quarantine inspection and I'm free, unfortunately, its Friday and earliest appointment available is Monday 11am. This means there is no way I can reach home for scheduled homecoming event by next week-end.
Whilst there, I met up with a Dutch guy who was in the same boat, no carnet document. His dilemma was slightly more exciting than mine as his was stolen from him at gunpoint in Dili East Timor along with everything he had in his bag. He was however, actually quite positive, happy to be alive and not caring about his situation.
I have in my bag, a letter of civic greeting from the Mayor of Perth in Scotland which I shall deliver to the Mayor of Perth Australia. This was to be an organised and official affair, and I have no choice but to delay for another week or so.
So I have all week-end to waste so spend a fair bit of it here at the local Irish pub talking rubbish.
Monday I'm with the quarantine inspector at a shed on the wharf. They open the door and I'm pleased to see the bike intact, some dust but that's it, no damage. The quarantine guy goes over the bike looking for dirt or traces of seeds or dust from alien countries, he runs his fingers under the mudguards, under the seat. He checks under the seat and is satisfied I've done a great job of cleaning the bike. I open the panniers where I've squeezed all my bike clothes and to my horror one has an incredible amount of mould growing all over my things. I'm thinking that this will almost certainly be a problem and I'll be stuck another few days whilst the bike is cleaned again. The quarantine inspector hands the mouldy contents to one of the customs agents and asks him to run a hose over it! Thats it! All good, sign some papers, stamp some documents and I can leave.
|Freedom! Bike on Australian roads|
Pleased as punch, next day I'm off, first destination is Katherine, around 360 km South, from there I'll turn to the West and head for home.
A fairly easy day, stop for the night then head to Kununurra. This is when I learn one major thing. Always carry spare water with you. I have a 2 litre backpack Camelpak. This is exhausted in one hour and another hour later so am I.. I'm not exerting myself much but the hair dryer wind could dry even the wettest washing in 10 seconds. I'm 200 kms from anywhere and I've run out of water, the temperature hovers around 38 degrees C but in some regions where bush fires have blackened the surrounding bush, the air gets even hotter, almost unbearable. I'm starting to get a bit worried as I'd not seen any other vehicles for at least 30 minutes. There is no shade here either, the trees are too small to sit under so imagine my joy to see a sign to a 24 hour resting place ahead.
|saved by a shelter|
|forgot about crocs|
Next day Im in Halls Creek and have some drinkies with the local Aboriginal community.
Next: "Share us yer grog mate"
Posted by Steven Kirk at 9:03 AM
Friday, January 11, 2013
Bangkok traffic is easy but there is so much of it. It took me five hours to get from airport to city and back. Next day the heavens fall down and I'm driving through the city on a 3 lane river following the wake of other vehicles. I've been soaked through but its a cool change from the hot and sticky 35 degrees of previous days. Its also washed the bike for me for the first time since Amritsar in India.
|Jeroen and the KTM|
We catch up in Bangkok and as has been the way so far, share a few beers. There are many nice places in Bangkok, there are many seedy places as well. We've managed to fall into one of the latter where I share the bathroom with several Thai beauties, most fixing their hair or make up, one in underwear proposing her eternal love for me whilst I stand pissing at the urinal. I've never been
|all sorts of weird stuff here|
I'm waiting in Bangkok for my laptop to arrive, for some reason its delayed and I decide its better to head off to see some more of Thailand. Im heading north to catch up with a mate who's planned a few days away. Simon is originally from UK an has been here for a few years. He is fairly handy when we have to communicate with the non-English speaking locals. After the much slower but mad pace of India and Nepal, it's great to be able to move faster without being killed by dippy suicide driver. Freeway speeds in Thailand are pretty much same as France or Italy. I never looked at my speedo but we're around 160 km hr again. :)
|Simon guides me around Thailand|
allow bikes to pass.
So we head north to a place called Nan, stopping on the way at Sukhothai Temple for a few hours.
We get to Nan on a Saturday and we're entertained by one of Simons Thai friends. I've since forgotten names, it was a good night. I didn't even put my hand in my pocket to pay, such is the generosity of some people. Next day we're off to find some amazing twisty roads in the hills. These are recently laid and the surface is perfect. I take advantage of the safer road surfaces manage to finally wear in the remaining edge portions of my tyres. Both my tyres and me have been waiting for this since Turkey some 10,000 km ago!
Back to Bangkok for a few days then south to Phuket, not to be pronounced "foo kett" apparently!
|2pm everyday this happens|
been a bit smarter and left early in the morning but thats too sensible for me and everyday I get soaked thoroughly.
In Phuket, I become the tourist and visit the islands surrounding the area, especially the James Bond rock, filmed in the cheesey "The Man with the Golden Gun" way back in the early seventies. We drop by a few islands on a fast speedboat but I've been not well, the hangover of a lifetime after having downed some free shots the night before with friends I also have a drama with funny tummy and drop toilets, the ladies I may add. No lock, no balance, no paper and some people trying to push in isn't very dignified.
|Islands off Phuket|
Heading south to Malaysia I stop at the border controls to get my passport and carnet stamped. It seems they don't really care but i get it all in order just in case I have a problem trying to leave the country. Much of the same weather and environment, my bike cllothes certainly don't need washed as they are well drenched every day, I continue via Penang and down to Johor on the border to Singapore.
|Loading bike in no mans land|
But there's a problem. My existing carnet document does not include Australia, yes I should have added it at the start of the journey but original plan was to use another bike in oz instead. I've applied to the carnet people in UK weeks ago, but still there is delays. Several emails, phone calls and faxes later, I'm still waiting, but remain optimistic all will go to plan.
I'm going to fly to Darwin via Bali to meet up with family and have a few days off. In this time, hopefully all will work out. This is not the case when I arrive in Darwin and the carnet people tell me I cannot get an updated document to enter Australia, just when I need it. So now the bike sits pretty in the bonded warehouse as I wander the Darwin streets wondering what to do next.
Meanwhile, Jeroen has problems of his own and needs some spares flown in to Penang. Will he make Australia?
Next: Cancel the homecoming?
|Happy chappy at one of the many temples of Thailand|
|Ferry made of canoes|
|Enjoying ferry ride|
|Triumph factory in Thailand|
|I'm not the only one with a hangover|
|Islands off Phuket|
|The boat hotel in Malaysia|
|James Bond island|
|Last stop before heading to Singapore|
Posted by Steven Kirk at 11:07 AM