As you might have noticed over the last weeks, the blog is not nearly as up-to-date as I would like it to. It’s actually not as much fun to write so much besides travelling as I would like it to and it often takes quite a lot of resources to get things done here. Pictures have to be chosen, compressed and uploaded. Long texts have to be written. And I need a calm and cheap place with electricity and good wifi for that- a combination which can be hard to find.
So no worries, I’ll obviously continue to write the detailed stories here. But the actuality of all my posts here will be also in the future not that high. Instead, if you really want to follow my stories with almost no time gap, check out my Instagram and Facebook accounts where there are many pictures being uploaded constantly and some stories written as well.
The immediate connection and feedback to the reader simply make it a lot more fun to post stuff instead of writing it to a rather small audience here. I’m not going for high numbers of likes, as I don’t care, but it does provide you with some satisfaction if people far away kinda like what you do.
So check out the Social Media Accounts for up-to-date informations, and stay tuned for future posts with many, many pictures here!
After Canada was quite an amazing experience, but I decided to shortcut towards the USA, I…well…entered the USA 😉
I expected major customs problem due to the bike being foreign registered and many horror stories I heard about this. I got up front an approval-letter by the EPA – the Environment Protection Agency – which basically says nothing but “Ok, come in”. They don’t do any kind of tests on the bike, they do it purely by mail at no costs to you buuuuut it takes 3 weeks. And after I thought I really needed it and panicked a little, it wasn’t necessary at all at the border.
“Do you need this?”
“No, we don’t care as long as you stay less than a year”
But besides complaining about unnecessary paperwork I fully prepared – so German – everything went smoothly and nice – and the US welcomed me with these panoramas.
But at these panoramas were along a very touristy and thus also crowded road I decided I need to do more offroading! 😉 So I went offroad and worked myself several hours over nice roads up to those kind of viewpoints.
To in the end end up at beautiful cities right in the middle of lots of trees and lakes!
And with camp spots at stunning alpine scenery – but not after more and more offroading. There are roads in the US legal to ride which would be very illegal in Europe. Deserted forest fire roads where you can go along everywhere you want. Climb up ridges, go about vast valleys and all nicely quick with the bike 😉
After Montanas beautiful countryside I went on towards Salt Lake City, my first expected big US city. But not after I visited Paris. Bawahahaha 😉
But after the heat of over 40C was really getting me down I looked so forward to my stay in Denver. On the one hand the way lower temperatures also meant to cool down a bit but I had also a repair of my front wheel in sight. As I had a major front accident in India the front wheel lasted but had a severe wobble ever since. At Woodys Wheel Works I expected it to get repaired and was stunned as Woody allowed me easily to stay with him during the repairs.
I don’t want to say publicly too much about Woody. But I was very glad after I could leave. A character which is just a severe character. Enough said.
But he repaired my front wheel and I got on my way towards Pikes Peak! The mountain of the USA which is obviously easily rideable gave on a sunny day stunning views over the surrounding countryside.
But as I made progress towards the West-Coast I saw more and more rain clouds covering the sky. Quick progress and lots of luck with the route made it though possible to avoid them all.
And as I closed in towards my over-night-hold I only knew that there were some offroad bits in between. But I didn’t know which kind. And my god, was I stunned.
These roads were so utterly amazing. They are suicidal and very technical, would definitely be illegal in Europe but were so not so in the US. And thank you for that! As the Alpine Loop is a network of many offroads you’ve got many paths to choose from and thus never have to ride roads just having to return exactly them again. It was so so so satisfying.
So far these have been the best offroads I’ve ridden.
And after still being so stunned by them I continued further West-bound and unfortunately caught up with rain here and then. Once it went bad as I didn’t expect lots of mud right after a hill around a corner. Good thing nothing happened. Lots of karma involved.
After SF was utterly amazing and also food wise great I continued southbound towards to LA towards Mexico. Here the famous building of “The Office” – a great TV show – was an attraction I finally wanted to get off my bucket list 😉
After Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Downtown LA and Longbeach all weren’t too spectacular I continued further towards Mexico. But first I needed the 40.000 km service to get done which I did so in San Diego – with amazing Carlos who later helped me even more. 😉
So after I put my bike – and myself – onto the plane towards Canada both of us arrived there safe and sound. There was a slight delay with the bike as it was held up by Taipei Customs due to an incorrect delivery address in Vancouver. That took 3 days to be sorted out but it was afterwards no problem to get my bike out of Canadian customs.
The Canadian customs lady was also nice. She asked me:
“Do you have insurance?”
“What’s the state of your bike? Is it clean?”
“Yes, I spend 4 hours cleaning it thoroughly in KL, Madame”
“Ok, you’re good to go”
That was literally it. Not even a check. It set the course for the niceness and trust the people have towards you in Canada! 😉
I was very happy as it has been 3 months separated from my bike. It feels strange to say this but when you spend so much time riding it you definitely get attached to it to a certain degree. Anyways, I paid and went on my way. But just 15 minutes later it looked like this:
It was strange. Everything was fine for some time and then the bike slowly got slower. I had this before on my very first very old bike when the brakes couldn’t release pressure and would thus consistently brake. As the brakes heat up the brake fluid starts to boil, expands and causes the brake to brake more and more being unable to move the bike after some time. But as I didn’t have my tools with me I was at first contacted the dealership who were oblivious to help me due to the late time of the day. So I rode on very slowly to the hotel to be able to fix it there.
It turns out that my rear brake, the foot lever on the right side was bent after a tip-over in India. Malaysia has bended it back into its original position but was now not able to go into its fully relaxed position as it was not bent horizontally anymore but vertically. Fortunately there’s an adjustment screw and it was easily fixed.
The upcoming days I spend to fix further stuff on the bike including brake pistons which broke after a hasted tyre change in Iran 😉
The repairs got to that extent that I tried to balance my front wheel. I spent several hours trying to fix my front wheel which – as I know now – is not possible without proper bending tools. That was a day wasted but it improved the overall situation at least a little 😉
Unfortunately I ran right here just 200km away from KL into bigger tyre problems…again. The Heidenau rear tyres were besides their overall bad performance again worn out after a mere 8000 km. This has gotten unbearable now. Those tyres are seriously expensive outside of Germany and neither perform well nor last long. I was fed up and looked for many alternatives when I randomly ran across Pirelli Scorpion Trail IIs. I took the bus up to KL, got them and drove with an Uber for 20$ for 2 hours back down – so cheap! 😉
That tyre turned in the end out to be a dream tyre. So lucky 😉
I wasn’t really satisfied and excited about travelling anymore, to be honest the nomad life started to catch up with me. Having no routine is amazing for some time. Seeing all the time new stuff is also amazing for some time. And exactly not all the time.
I know…mimimimi. Look at the world-traveller complaining about the amazingness of it all. But seriously – there’s no-one telling you you have to enjoy all of it. I started to get fed up and made up my mind that I didn’t want to spend the several thousand dollars on the transportations to Indonesia, to Australia, to New Zealand and then to South America. Just to be in fairly boring first-world-countries on fairly straight roads in winter.
So I decided to go where it’s summer. To North America. To Vancouver, to be precise.
And after 2 weeks of organisation there I was. Packing the bike again to fly it out of the country I flew it in to just a few months ago. Frustrating. But that’s how stuff happens when you change plans. Expensive changes -.-
So after finishing everything off in Nepal and putting my bike into a plane towards Kuala Lumpur, I went towards…well…KL 😉 The customs process was quick and easy. Malaysia said hello in a nicely manner.
The only problems I had during customs were two things. I a) only had a litre of petrol to get the next fuel station and b) the air-pump to inflate the empty tyres has given up. So I had neither lots of petrol to run with nor had the tyres lots of air to roll properly. I barely managed to get to the next fuel station with the bike shaking and almost dying of in every corner – but I got there 😉 Only to figure out that they didn’t have anything to pump up the tyres with. But after taking a few lucky turns I actually managed to find an air-pump – lucky day 😉
I afterwards spent a few days waiting for an important parcel from Germany. As I was in the meantime stupidly believing that leaving my helmet on the bike would be safe I, well, got my helmet stolen. But Malaysia being Malaysia I quickly managed to get a new one – only the lost money is a real shame. But so far this was the only thing I’ve got stolen – so all in all I was still lucky.
The highlight of my visit to Nepal was obviously the trek to get to the Everest Base Camp. I was really excited for some days on my own in the mountains just to get to know what my mind is all about at the moment.
Going to the Everest means needing to fly into Lukla – one of the most dangerous airports in the world. You basically land against a mountain and are committed to a successful landing at one point – any problems and you’ll die. You can obviously only land during perfect weather.
Let’s continue the story where I left off last time; straight out of the hospital. I stayed in that bloody thing for two days which felt like an eternity. Although I had everything I needed to entertain myself – reading books, playing video games and listening to music just gets so damn boring easily. When I got out of the hospital I was so relieved and excited.
As Goa was the place where I got sick, I immediately left it south towards Kerala. And I just love the traffic signs of India.
A particularly nice stop was Honey Valley – a former valley used to gather honey which is now widely used to grow coffee beans. The sights here were fantastic and there was lots of walking to do. I met so many nice people here. Egna, Lucas, Stefan – just to name a few of the many lovely encounters. We celebrated New Years Eve here which was so absolutely stunning. No big bangs, no unnecessarily drunken people everywhere besides us, very few people but lots of good stories and many nice people. Just amazing and easily the best way I ever celebrated NYE.
The highest mountain of the surroundings didn’t give too many nice views as smog is a big thing all over India – but it was still absolutely fantastic.
And as India has an ever-changing landscape, you can turn a corner and suddenly be in a very new environment. Those trees were so huge and you were simply riding straight through it. Stunning.
Ooty was the central city for me. A city fairly high and cold but quite decent and full of good accommodations. Centrally located exploring was nice and easy from here. I even managed to find a proper place to change the rear tyre.
After continuing north and riding through a Tiger Reserve I arrived in Mysore – a touristy city famous for its palace. This is quite a common sight – a sugarcane lemonade producer. You pay hardly anything to have a very fresh and delicious juice. The only problem of those stands is the way they grind the canes. They use petrol-powered machines which produce lots of emissions. Besides the many scooters doing the same thing these are also a part of the reason for India’s very bad air.
In Mysore I tried to be a little artistic with my pictures. You’re the judge 😉
After leaving Mysore I had a short visit to Bangalore. I initially planned to stay there for several days as it’s famous for its international kitchen. But nope. It’s a terrible city. Loud, smelly, nothing to see. Just terrible. I bleed towards Hampi 😉
As I started to feel not well in India, just in general, I kinda despise the culture in wide regards, I decided to leave it asap. So I hitched up a plane. I had 1000 km towards Rajasthan before me as this was the state I wanted to visit more intensely again. And as it was Central India there was absolutely nothing nice to see. So I decided to do a long day:
And afterwards I continued north towards the Ajanta Caves – a series of caves in a small valley. Partly very huge temples have been dug a long time ago, with lots of religious stuff going on. Rather amazing.
And as everything took me further north towards the big goal – Nepal – I came by Mandu fort. It’s one of the biggest Afghan ruins still in great condition. It was actually really fantastic as there was hardly any crowd, very few tourists. Very nice.
After seeing the beautiful Taj Mahal I went further north towards the Himalayas. I stopped by at Chandigarh – a city famous for its Rock Garden. It’s a composition of weird sculptures done by a single person. At first secretly he later formed his private park into a public one with the help of the government. It’s said he was traumatized by a bad childhood and this was his way to compensate for that and get his childhood back. I’ll just let the picture speak for themselves. The fog on that day added to the setting.
After exiting the city north it was finally time to get into the Himalayas. It was fantastic although not nearly as scenic as I hoped it would be. And cold. Yes. It was very cold.
As I was now starting to continue Southeast towards Nepal I went through more and more mountains. I even found a lake which seemed to have clear water in it. Incredibly. Clear water in India. Hard to believe.
And after having one of the worst accidents – nothing seriously happened but it was a high difference in speed – I actually managed to arrive at the bloody border to Nepal. I was so relieved. Finally leaving India after almost two months. So relieved.
It’s very hard for me to summarise my thoughts about India. It’s a country hard to get. The missing logic, the terrible people of Central India, the nice people of Rajasthan and Kerala, the terrible road conditions, the awesome food – I couldn’t get a proper understanding for the whole thing. I just don’t get what this country is about and to actually think that they got access to nuclear weapons is really hard to believe. Well, as India’s spirit didn’t catch on to me, I’ll most likely never return despite for business purposes. But a short visit for the awesome food might be an option as well 😉
Next time I’ll continue with Nepal. You liked this article? Consider donating a few bucks for the good cause for Ingenieure ohne Grenzen. Check it out here 😉
So after being 1,5 weeks back home in Germany I went back on my trip, this time to India. Well, to say things rather clear up front. India and I did actually get off onto a good start, but it went kinda bad in the end. I didn’t really get the hang of it and I didn’t become the biggest fan of Indians…but you’ll see about that during the next posts 😉
After arriving at the airport and quick border-stuff thanks to my in-time-on-the-very-last-day 6-months-visa I initially headed quickly out of the airport as I usually do. I just don’t like airports – but who economy-flyer does really. So after leaving the airport and going towards the first ATM – which was empty – I quickly realised that the money problem here was much bigger than expected.
The president recently decided to fight all the illegal money out there and to get people into putting their money into bank accounts – so the 500 and 1000 Rupee-notes would be invalid. As there weren’t enough notes available to replace all old notes, he decided to limit the daily withdrawal limit to 2000 Rupees, about 28 dollars. He decided that on some days evening at 6pm and the actions took effect the very next morning at 8 am. No kidding. Imagine in your country all bank notes become invalid immediately. The result is total chaos. Obviously.
Although that was a month previous to my arrival at the airport, the chaos still went on and there wasn’t any relief in sight. One actually kinda intellectual decision he made at the same time was to make it possible for foreigners to change 60$ at the airport…only problem here was that there was only one counter for the whole airport available. Rather ridiculous. So I needed to queue up for more than an hour just to get 60$ changed, with a hotel – the cheapest in a good neighbourhood I could find – which costs 27$ a night. 60$ one time change, 27$ withdrawal limit per day: you can see the problem there.
And this is kinda already the main point I didn’t get about Indians and which I really was furious about in the end: the missing logic everywhere. There is hardly any logic involved behind almost all Indian decisions. You can imagine people doing those decisions rather easily.
“We need to get rid of all the illegal fake money. Let’s change the notes. Can we do that?”
“Yes, Sir. *headwobble*”
“Are you sure? Do we have enough new money available?”
“Of course, Sir. *headwobble*”
“Great, let’s do it. *headwobble*”
It took me quite some time to get around the whole headwobble thing. The Indian head wobble is a head movement which concentrates around the center longitudinal axis of ones head. It’s turning clockwise and counter-clockwise sometimes with a slight movement around the y-axis of ones head. You maybe know of the western world that we shake our head to the left and right to say no or to shake it up and down to say yes. The headwobble is kinda mix out of both.
As our head movements are usually an answer to a question or some kind of oblivious situation we’re usually not lying with these gestures and everyone has established them quite well. The Indian headwobble is in quite a contrast a head movement which can mean ANYTHING. The Indian standing opposite of you can mean to say yes, no or “I don’t know”. There’s no indication what he means. He can say yes to your question which together with the wobble can actually mean yes, no or “I don’t know”. No kidding. Indians are afraid to lose their face in public when they don’t know stuff. So they lie to your face and just do the head wobble. That can get you rather mad rather quickly – let me tell you.
Even in the two months of India I didn’t get around that. I just couldn’t. I got mad. Very mad.
“Where’s the hotel?”
“To the right! *headwobble*”
“No, no, no. Where’s the hotel?”
“To the left! *headwobble*”
“No, no, no. You have no idea, do you?”
That seriously happened to me in not just one occasion. It’s very infuriating especially when you’re in need for help. The Indians on top of that take pictures of you all the time or do selfies in very uncomfortable situations just comes on top of that 😉
Well, no matter what that stuff is all about, let’s start to talk about what actually happened. After arriving in Mumbai the city itself was rather amazing. It was just huge fun to get the first experiences with India and thanks to the highly international culture India it was a rather soft introduction. It started of with all the amazing small shops which have a Mr. Beans like humour.
He wasn’t alone but also brought his girlfriend Lauren along. She too has a bike, a small Honda, which was on its way via air freight and we’d soon ride out together towards Goa. Exploring Mumbai together was huge fun!
I especially adored the unfiltered experiences India gives you. It’s just raw. There’s just no polish anywhere. It’s truly honest beauty wise (but not people wise!!!) which leads to a rather “Can you handle it” kind of experience.
This sign is clearly explicitly permitting to pee in public. Also for women. But that clearly didn’t stop them for doing so.
A perfect example for doing your business in public was this city-“beach”/”harbour” whatever you wanna call it. It’s in the middle of huge slums and, well, people are using it as a toilet. We were just standing there, having a look into the distant sun and into the slums from a distance, viewing the locals. And well, there was rather simply a guy walking by, already having his pants half way down to tell the world: “Oh, yes. I’m going to do my business here”. Then he squawked down and did so. No shame involved. Incredible.
Well, enough with feces. Sorry for the detour. But that’s just rather simply one of the first impressions you get when arriving to India. Hygiene is just not a thing. Or it is to a certain degree. People wash their butt after they did their business only with the left hand, they shake hands, prepar meals and so with their right hands. That’s the hygiene there is. Plain and simple. But not nice.
But let’s focus on the nicer aspects of Mumbai, the architecture. As the British did a lot of stuff here, it’s just beautiful and easily admirable everywhere.
What you really notice a lot if the same-sex-affection people are showing. Being gay is illegal in India and is being punished by death. Just to point that out. But men showing affection for each other is a very common thing. Men are holding hands, walking together arms in arms. Stuff which couples in the western world most commonly do. It’s weird here and goes even to that point where showing affections between different sex is sometimes even offending others. Just strange.
Randomyl we were in Dubai when there was Navi-day going on. Lauren, as an American, was actually truly funny when she said that she was astonished that the US Navy even shows stuff in India – quickly realising her misconception immediately afterwards.
And after doing some sightseeing it was time to get our bikes out of customs. Which was a true pain. It truly was. So what we decided beforehand was to ship our bikes via ship from Dubai to Mumbai bypassing Pakistan. Well, that idea was terrible because we didn’t know about bloody Indians customs.
This was us discovering all the hidden fees we weren’t informed about. We were being fooled quite a bit by our agent in Dubai. He didn’t tell us everything, lied to us in our faces. There were hidden storage fees, new customs fees coming up – all rather surprisingly. Well, you can see why India and I haven’t become big friends. I don’t really want to get into too many details but in the end we paid almost double we would have paid with a much quicker air-delivery as the Indian customs is full of bribery and shitty people. Yep, I need to be that clear and specific about it as it still buggers me. A lot of money thrown into the wind.
After leaving the region of Mumbai towards Goa we quickly discovered the huge chaos on India’s roads. It was just crazy, so so crazy. Lorries overtaking absolutely everywhere, buses overtaking in blind corners. Everyone honks, everyone just rides where his mood is taking him. It’s loud, it’s slow, it’s sometimes far to quick and it’s just a general bloody dangerous chaos. No fun experience. In my whole lifetime I never did so many bloody emergency braking than in the short time of me riding through India. The first meters were terrible and it got worse over time. I escaped death so so many times.
But let’s not think about that in detail and talk about it later on. After two days of riding through the stressful chaos I finally arrived in Goa – the promised beach-heaven I was looking for. And it was rather fantastically nice and chilled-out.
After being in northern Goa which is full of Russians and in general a wild party-place I moved down south towards southern Goa. On the way there I noticed a huge crowd on the side of the road quickly realising it was an accident. As I bypassed another accident deciding at the time not to get involved I did a different judgment call here. From now on I wanted to stop for each one I see to see what I can do. There are many other Overlanders specifically not stoping as you can get in quite some stress being as a foreigner near an accident. The language barrier and confused people can cause quite some stress. But I didn’t want to do so – Karma is a thing.
I quickly got my first-aid-stuff out of the bike and approached the accident. A young girl had a scooter accident with an open wound on her left leg. Guys were putting a dirty bag of ice on it. I disinfected it and put some proper stuff to close the wound on it. It was not nice and there was a lot of blood everywhere. But the ambulance arrived rather quickly and I just hope the girl is fine.
As I was chilling out on the beach there was an Indian guy too stupid to pull his hand brake. His car slid down from the car park to the beach with his wife and his children still inside. It could have gone much worse but fortunately nothing happened despite his car being stuck in the deep sand. With the help of a lot of people, more were there to help later, and with the help of the beach-guards off-roader they managed to get it out after two hours.
The actual reason I went to this beach is for it to be known as popular in between Overlanders. There was a car from Sweden with a lovely couple, a truck from Germany with a couple and a truck from Germany with three early-20s. I hung around with the young Germans a lot as they were a lot of fun – but the Swedish were nice as well!
The truck of the young Germans, an ex-firetruck, is really awesome. They built it for almost the same cost I paid for my bike. Rather amazing. And it has good everthing you need onbard, like a fridge, a proper bed and so. Definitely rethinking my choice here 😉
The Swedish couple took this rather amazing picture of me.
I put up my tent in between the vehicles and got regular visits from cows 😉
And the sunsets were just brilliant.
In the end I got a stomach infection as I was just plainly stupid while eating raw vegetables. Don’t do that. The story itself was rather terrible. I defecated blood in the evening of the 24th so I decided to immediately head out to a hospital. I called my insurance a day earlier already to ask for a proper one and as it was happening in the middle of the night, I decided to go there asap.
As I was arriving there with huge signs for “Emergency 24h” everywhere I got in the Emergency Room just to find a nurse asking me what was happening. I asked for a doctor, she said she was one whereas she clearly wasn’t. She explained to me that I needed to wait as the doctor was apparently not there, at 5am, but could be called at 9am and could then be at the hospital as early as 11am. But as it was Sunday – he usually wasn’t working on Sunday – there were low chances of me seeing him anytime soon.
I was stunned. As I was in severe pain and lost quite some water I just needed plain help.
I called my insurance just for them to tell me that it would take up to three hours to find an alternative hospital. Well. I googled. I called a new one an hour away. I drove there. I fortunately got cared about really well. I was so relieved once I got fluids pumped into my veins that I started to cry. I really thought there was nobody there wanting to help me. I was just so, so, so relieved.
As I had similar problems with my health insurance before I learned now finally that I’ll never call them again in case of health problems. I’m covered for all the expenses anyways so I’ll organise help by myself in the future.
So with this troubled start into India I will write in the next part about my experiences of continuing further South.
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