Hi, my name is Phil and this blog describes a Solo Round The World Motorcycle Trip I am starting in May 2012. The blog also contains info on other motorbike trips I have made. It is named after the Lee Marvin hit from the 1969 film Paint Your Wagon. It just seems to sum up how I feel when I am on the road. I was born..etc..etc..

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

23 - 25 May 2012

Wednesday 23 May, Day 20 - Turkey
Left Panarama Campsite at around 9.30am after having breakfast with Rudie and Fabienne, the Swiss cyclists, and taking a photo with them.

I headed across central Turkey for Malatya and got as far as Gurun by lunch where I stopped for a rest and did some shopping after the compulsory Chai with the locals. I have seriously lost count of the number of times I have been taken in for Chai with café owners, petrol attendants, etc, etc. The hospitality and welcome here is fantastic.
I asked about buying camping gas cannisters and was sent to a shop called Isktanbul where the owner offered me more tea and insisted I sit down and explain where I was going etc.  He was great and advised me not to continue to Malatya because the road afterwards was really bad.  He told me the best route to Batumi was via Sivas and Trabzon then along the coast.  I took his advice and headed for Sivas. Shortly after leaving Gurun I met three Germans, two on a tandem, and slowed down to say hello.
I headed a place called Erzincan where I knew there was a campsite but it was getting dark and my lights let me down again on the last mountain descent so I stopped to fix them and ended up having tea with the patron followed by a Kebab. I camped round the back of the shop in an empty half built campsite for 10 Lira.
Thursday 24 May, Day 21 - Turkey (Black Sea Coast)
Up early again and on the road at 6.30am.  Had some great mountain riding as far as Gumushane.  Awesome scenery with plenty of snow on the peaks. I stopped outside a bakery and once again was dragged inside for some very welcome chai.

I finally reached the Black Sea coast and passed a cyclist just after Trabzon. I looked him over as I went by but guessed he was probably European because all the previous ones had been. By chance, I looked in my mirror and could see him waving at me. I stopped and he caught up. To my surprise his name was Mark from Oxford.  He was just as surprised and glad to meet a fellow Brit. We agreed to meet for tea at the next stop which was only 5 mins. We had a great chat, he was on a three year trip around the world.
We had 2 cups of tea each and a plate of pastries and when we went to pay the attendant she wouldn't take a penny off us.  We said our thanks and goodbye and hit the road.

Stopped at a town called Pazar and with the help of the locals, I found a shop that sold the gas fitting I needed for my stove. Result! Then I was befriended by a guy called Biercan. He spoke pretty good English and took me looking for shoes and of course we had to have Chai with his seven friends. Great stuff, we talked about football as usual.
Set off again and just up the road I caught up with 4 Yamaha XTs with Swiss plates so I slowed and said hello.  I reached the last town before the border called Sarp and stopped to spend my last Turkish Lira.  Then I noticed the Yamahas had pulled in so went to say hello properly.  Turned out they were delivering the bikes to the Kyrgystan tourist agency to be used as hire machines. Lucky sods.
Managed to find an abandoned place right on the beach to bed down and I started cooking up some sausage on my new gas stove.  The owner of the next house came over and I thought he was going to move me on but he was really helpful and said it was ok to camp.  I showed him the maps and he said the coast road I was intending to take through Georgia into Russia was a problem.  He didn’t speak a word of English, but we got by.

He told me the best way to Russia was to go via Azerbaijan and ferry top Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan.  I hadn’t realised there was a ferry to Kaz so this was valuable info.  The problem with going that way is that I will only have 5 days (exactly 120 hours) from the minute I enter Azerbaijan until I leave, and the ferry schedules are completely random to my knowledge. I will sleep on it.
I explained I needed some water and he took me to his house to fill my bottle. He had 2 lovely dogs, one an English Setter and he explained he was into shooting. I went back to my tent and some kids who were hanging around came over so I took some pictures with them on the bike. They seemed ok.  Next thing, the bloke from next door turned up again with a plate of pasta and cheese for me.  Fell asleep to the sound of the Black Sea waves crashing on the beach.

Friday 25 May, Day 22 - Turkey to Georgia
Up early and decided to have a go at changing my front tyre this morning.  If that goes OK I will have a go at the rear.  Made coffee and ate the second half of last night’s cake. Managed to get the front tyre changed without too much trouble but I had a feeling the rear was going to be a different proposition so I made a brew and sat down to think about it. 

Got the rear tyre off without too much effort but couldn’t get the new one on to save my life.  I just didn’t have the technique so I decided to take the wheel and tyre into town to try and get some help.  Luckily my camp site was just on the edge of town so not too far to walk.

I asked for directions from a group of blokes and one of them gave me a lift to his mates workshop where a young lad made short work of getting the new tyre on using my tyre levers.  I got a lift back to the site and got it fitted.  Went for a test run and everything seemed fine.
Another 2 young couples showed up followed by a 4x4 with 3 lads in it. I was starting to think that too many people knew I was camping there now so decided to up sticks and head for the border.
I crossed into Georgia with no problems and headed for Batumi where I changed some money. 2.25 Georgian Roubles to the Euro, then got some fuel at 1 Euro a litre. Thats more like it!  Batumi was chaos and there were loads of cows, horses, etc just wandering the streets. Don’t know how they knew whose was whose. Had a nightmare trying to find the road for Tbilisi so gave in and just took the first decent road I saw heading into the hills.
My new tyres are great and I was enjoying the reduced weight aswell. Stopped in a village and asked if it was ok to camp.  This caused all sorts of confusion and the cops turned up to sort it out.  When I showed them the map to explain I was going round the world they couldn’t have been more helpful and one of the young lads helped me put my tent up.
I offered to pay and one of the men laughed and said no no no.  It had started raining and one of the cops joked that the stream was going to flood and wash me away.  
Later on I was crashed out when I heard a Georgian voice calling ‘my friend’.  I got up and some local lads had gathered for a chat.  I took them for a spin on the bike and they took me to their bar for a beer. Excellent! I took a photo of us all and got the impression none of these boys owned a camera.  I gave one of my old LFC fan cards to one of them. He was chuffed.  I retired to my tent and then disaster struck, I managed to smash my laptop screen by leaning on it in the dark.  Absolutely gutted!

1 comment:

  1. good to hear you are ok! still enjoying & meeting new people we are off to Lake como next week not quite so adventurous as you
    enjoy!! keep save