Jan 27

Identity crisis

by in Australia

Yippee – I picked up my visa for India last week and posted off my application for the next one to Pakistan. I found that it’s cheaper to get a visa for Nepal on landing in Kathmandu rather than apply for it now so that’s one less bit of paper to worry about. Iran is a different kettle of fish. Rather than apply for a visa through the embassy, it’s a matter of going through an agent who procures a magical number from the Iranian Foreign Affairs Dept which gets sent to a nominated Consular office somewhere between here and there. American sanctions on Iran means bank transactions are impossible but we’ve managed to circumvent that obstacle and pay for the number by alternate means. Here’s hoping the visa itself will be approved and I can visit Iran on my way to Turkey. By all accounts it’s a great place to visit despite the usual bad press the country gets.

One little hiccup in recent days, – the photo booth in the India visa office literally ate a $10 note and refused to spit out my photos until I paid again. A refund cheque is in the mail, or so I’ve been told.

So what’s been achieved? The crate is loaded, the fuel tank on the bike emptied and degassed, clearing it for dangerous goods and my gear is squeezed in around the bike. I’ve been through the stuff bags a dozen times to see what I can do without as they’re bloody heavy, but all I could come up with was a bundle of cable ties and a roll of gasket paper. Somehow I don’t think 20grams is really going to lighten the load and make the pedaling any easier!

Last week I had 50 new valve springs made but the problem, apart from the price, ($356) is they were then too darn strong and they didn’t open – consequently the engine refused to start. So it was back to the manufacturer to get another set wound. Thankfully they worked perfectly, but I have to admit I was bricking.

The carnet went through without any hitches and it’s now awaiting transit after being stamped by Australian customs ready to go. Thai Airways, with their friendly smiles and great service generously assisted with the airfare to Kathmandu – thank you Thai Airways International. I’m now even sporting a spiffy new polo shirt with the colourful Thai Airways logo, so thank you again guys! The bike will fly a few days ahead of me. I’ll head to Bangkok, have a sleepover then be Himalaya bound the next day. Roll on the 5th February! All up expenses to date have cost in the vicinity of $5000.00 so I’m planning on eating lot of rice from here on in!

One nifty little gadget I’ve been given (thanks Mark), is a solar charger for the i-phone. I’ve been testing it in recent days and it seems to do a great job. Only 100mm long it is fully charged after 1 hour in a power socket & 4 hours in the sun and that’s on an overcast day. Unfortunately carrying a laptop is out of the question so I’ll be relying on my i-phone for music, maps, emails, sms, camera, video, phone calls, and possibly my night driving light. Just kidding!!! There’ll be no riding after dark under any circumstances. I’ve done that in my younger wilder days, but a few hairy moments in Mexico after the sun went down taught me a valuable lesson. My plan is to set out at daybreak every day and be well and truly on my way before the cows on the road have even stirred.

I was getting a bit concerned that I hadn’t received a response from my Pakistan visa application so I gave them a call. “My golly, golly gosh, we were waiting to hear where you were planning to stay & the dates you expect to arrive!” Well mate if I knew that I’d probably be travelling by anything other than a motorised camel, but there you go. I guess your average joe blow has some sort of plan and from their perspective I’m not the normal tourist. (Do tourists even go to Pakistan these days?) Anyway, the long and the short of it is that the nice gentleman promised to have the visa and my passport in the post within the next couple of days. I’m reminded once again that most people really do try to help – we just need to be a little clearer about each others expectations. I envisage the official sitting in his office in six months time saying, “I wonder when that Old Bloke is going to call and ask where his visa is”.

It’s now less than a week before I set off and I’m getting pretty antsy I have to say. The weather in Brisbane has been crap of late with heavy rain and flooding so I’ve asked myself what it would be like riding in a torrential downpour for 3 solid days? Best not to go there don’t you think?

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14 Responses to “Identity crisis”

  1. From Pierre LAUMONT:

    Hallo Old Bloke, this sure is a challenge !!
    We’ll be following you till you come to our city : Herstal- Belgium !
    Have a save journey !
    Pierre

    Posted on February 15, 2012 at 6:13 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Pierre

      Great to have another enthusiast along for the ride. Will do my best to stay safe. Looking forward to making it to Belgium.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on February 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm #
  2. From Paula Strong:

    So impressed you’re already blogging!!! Just hope that bike is big enough to carry us all along behind you…. Paula

    Posted on February 5, 2012 at 10:41 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Ha, Ha, there’s not much more room that’s for sure! Doing this with Lynne’s help via skype. Just having breakfast at 5.30 and am off to airport. All good. Take care. TOB

      Posted on February 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Sis,
      Now in Agra with a warm bed, hot shower, home cooked food and Lynne for company. Will be great to relax for a few days, take in the Taj and plot out the next few weeks.
      Take care, Ron

      Posted on February 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm #
      • From Paula Strong:

        So pleased you have some comforts for a few days at least – and do try to get a bit of weight back on as you really can’t afford to lose any!!
        I log in every day – what an adventure! Love you heaps.

        Posted on February 16, 2012 at 12:53 am #
  3. From Matthew Chamley:

    Hello Ron,

    I’ve just been reading my copy of The Classic MotorCycle and saw mention of your adventure. Great stuff! I’ll be following your blog with interest.

    Posted on February 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Thanks Mathew. Hope it will be fun to read – I plan to have a ball!
      Ron

      Posted on February 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm #
  4. From Howard:

    G’day Ron
    All the best for your adventure of a lifetime!
    I am sure the FN will behave it’s self all the way.
    Is there any media coverage at all?
    Howard.

    Posted on February 4, 2012 at 11:41 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Howard
      Great to hear from you. No media coverage planned, tho no doubt there’ll be some along the way. For now just doing my own thing. Am in Bangkok and fly to Nepal in a few hours. FN left before me.
      Looking forward to being on the road.
      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on February 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm #
  5. From The Old Bloke:

    Hey pa, so proud of you for fulfilling your dream! Have a fantastic time – lots of challenges but oh what adventures ahead! Safe travels. Love you so so much! Your girl xxx

    Posted on February 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Thanks girl for all your support and the great job you did in getting the blog up and running. Got lots of people following which is fantastic. Good to be in Agra and have a few days rest and hot showers again. As you would know each day isn’t a picnic but at times it’s terrific just me and my bike. Love you heaps. Your Dad xxxx

      Posted on February 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm #
  6. From kahren, talun, jesse:

    Hi Pop! have a safe and adventurous trip, wishing you the best and have a safe return!

    Love Talun Jesse and Kahren xxxooo

    Posted on February 4, 2012 at 6:51 am #
  7. From Fi Fi:

    Fair winds dear friend.

    Posted on February 1, 2012 at 8:46 am #

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