UPDATE: 11 November 2013, just ridden Copper Canyon in Mexico and WOW is that place a fun ride.
61 countries 5 continents coming up on 3 years on the road since I first left home, now in the America's, in Mexico next stop Central and South America on the 2nd of October 2013, so far so good, this riding a motorcycle around the world is fun.
My baby enjoying the Grand Canyon
Ok from the start
Hi there my name is Sheldon Thomson and this is my little round the world adventure, its just a Sunday ride that has gone for 950 days or thereabout so far.
From the very start my real adventure really got underway on October 25th 2007 when I pulled over on the Pacific Hwy New South Wales Australia to answer my mobile phone when a Kenworth semi tralier came into the break down lane and rammed into my car leaving me with 13 fractured ribs, 6 fractures in my back, lacerated liver (nearly in half apparently), collapsed lung and a knock on the head.
Ever misplaced your favorite golf putter, well I did but found it when I was looking through this photo of my accident, if you look carefully you can see it in there.
First thing I remember coming too and the ambo chick cutting my soccer shirt, so my first words after the accident were "dont cut my good f$@king soccer shirt" I did apologise to her for that later by the way. 40 minutes later im in the biggest nearby hospital at Tweed Heads on the border of New South Wales and Queensland here in Australia.
I was in intensive care unit was there for awhile then things took a turn for the worst.
They took me for some scans and was in some machine scanning for whatever and I remember the Dr saying "get him off there we need to get him back upstairs right now" So back up in intensive care now ok the right side of my lung was collapsed the left partially and my chest is filling with blood so I couldnt use what was left of my lungs, no biggie I only use them to smoke ciggies anyway.
The Dr rolled me on my side and said im just going to have to cut you, ok no probs looking at the scalpal in his hand always a nice look. Ok he jabbed me with a painkiller then slash yeah righto mate that sort of hurt, but the best was yet to come.
There he is standing over me trying to push this tube into my chest, me lieing there screaming "f$&king hell" and he says im going to have to cut you more, so I yell "well just do it". So here he is cut me for a second time standing over me trying to push this half inch tube into my chest and he's beading up with sweat im looking at him doing it and to be honest it wasnt a look of confidence he had, and he says I cant get it in to which I yelled "well push f$@king harder you c&@t". A few seconds later POP!! in she goes and I take a big breath of air, now that wasnt so hard was it, pussy. Thankfully he did save my life right at that moment, good on ya Doc.
So there I am blood being pumped into me and coming out of me into a bottle next to the bed, oh ok I guess a Mac attack is out of the question at that moment.
Things were'nt looking good for me at that stage so they decided I needed to be flown to Brisbane a few hours away via the careflight helicopter as there was a team of surgeons there that may be able to save my life if things didnt improve, apparently they didnt hold out much hope for me at that stage, they didnt count on me being such a tinny pr$(k i've always got out trouble when others wouldnt of.
My son was brought in, not ideal holding your sons hand seeing him so upset and saying "just grow up to be a good man" its not everyday you have say goodbye you your son like that, probably the most painful thing of the whole experience actually. He got lucky though usually it would of been "get a job" or "Jared, do the dishes" both of which he hates hearing.
The one thing I do remember clearly thinking, well ive had a good run so as you can imagine now im still alive its like a absolute bonus and certainly gives you that appreciation of just how precious the little things are in life.
Anyway to cut a long story short survived the helicopter flight, surgery, a few weeks in intensive care and a few more in general ward and im at home lieing on my bed thinking now this hurts a tad.
12 months lieing around recovering feeling sorry for myself I thought I needed to set a positive goal and decided since i'd always wanted to go to Africa and Europe I would ride there on a motorbike. Dont ask me why I couldnt of just set a goal of going to the local shop or the pub, oh well the decision was made easier by the head injury I got as well so it's all good.
Although there is so much more to my recovery with support of family and friends you guys are here to read about motorcycle adventures not me having my ass wiped, ok that didnt happen but you know what I mean.
I actually left home in January 2011 on my old Klr 650 and had little side trips to Thailand, then another little detour trip to New Zealand and another around Tasmania with my sons before I left Australia, Sunday the 26th June 2011 I flew to Johannasburg South Africa then planned to head to Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey then up into Europe spend awhile there see how i'm travelling I might turn right and go around the world, back across Europe, Russia, Alaska, North America South America and home, first goal is South Africa to Europe, I havent got any real route planned just a basic oh yeah that would be cool.
I did have my Kawasaki Klr 650 Tengai all decked out to do the trip but the other day after constantly being told i'll get shot or cooked over in Africa I thought stuff it what the hell better buy myself a new toy before I go then. So went oput and bought the 2011 Bmw GS 800 which flew into Africa with 250 k's on the clock, a new start for both of us.
I have a website facebook pages etc but since I used Advrider to gain so much advice over the last few years of planning I thought i'd share some of my trip with you guys and if worse happens I could let you know what it's like to be shot or cooked, either way it might be helpfull to someone.
Ive had lots of advice about my trip but im just going for it and seeing where it leads me, people keep telling me this trip will change me forever, surely I cant be a bigger c$&t than I am already, oh well i'll give it a shot.
Anyway thanks everyone for your stories blogs etc its certainly helped with my preperation and inspiration to keep going and hope my journey is somewhat interesting as well.
By the way dont get your hopes up if you want to hear of my conquests of the fairer sex, I dont kiss and tell so if your wanting to hear some stories about some of the chicks I give the best 2 minutes of their life to it ain't going to happen, ok maybe depends on how many drinks I've had.
Where im from in the world, just a few k's north of Byron Bay in a town called Brunswick Heads
Cape Byron certainly a beautiful part of the world in it's own right
And where i was living before I left Brunswick Heads
Below is a picture of me and my little hero and champion son Logan who was there throughout my whole recovery, he was kind gentle and understanding the whole time, just an amazingly beautiful human to be gifted with, he gave me the strength to stay positive as I recovered which was a long slow process of ups and downs, hopefully he will understand one day why ive set this goal and I am leaving him, on a positive note I was seperated from his mother if you could ever call us together and she made my life misery trying to be in his life having to go to court 20 times over 5 years, so as you can imagine it actually makes it alot easier to leave Logan knowing i dont have to deal with her crap any more not to mention it will give him some peace and quiet, I know thats selfish but im sure theres a few guys out there that can understand what I mean, plus with my injuries after the accident and how bad my back and neck are I might not be able to do something like this trip in a few years, I'm not getting any younger so its now or never with this little adventure and little Loges is easily the biggest sacrifice I have had to make.
My 22yo son Jared with little Logan, i'll be meeting Jared in Ethiopia at some point and he will be bringing all the soccer gear we raised for the kids in the Ethiopian schools in the Gondar region and then he heads off to the UK to work and play for a few years.
UPDATE: Jared has now joined the family travel scene and has backpacked through 30 or so countries himself.
The original Kawasaki Klr 650 I was going to do the trip on
Heres a few pictures of what I like to call my bump in the right direction, Ive always said if you are going to do something do it once and do it well
Move over big boy we are coming in, where I sat in all this is anyones guess
Wow! Thanks for the intro! Best wishes for a safe adventure! You've had more than your fair share of misfortune.. :thumb
Good thing no one was in the back seat of that car! Holy SH*T!! :eek1 It really is remarkable you survived.
Ride safe and thanks for taking us along with you on your adventure!
Preperation of paperwork
For anyone that might be interested heres some quick figures on how much it cost to ship the bike and what I had to do
Exporting the Bike
Dangerous goods cerificate usually there is one near the airport somewhere the one I used was
DGM AustraliaPty Ltd
32 Ricketty Street Mascot NSW 2020
Phone Number 02 9669 4811
Fax Number 02 9669 4822
Just take your bike in there in office hours 9 to 5 and they will be able to do it for you
Cost $104.00 that includes GST
Bike shioment via Qantas airlines
Freight Weigh bill and all other paper work needed by Qantas all done at their office as part of this fee. $2089
Garmin Zumo 660 bought at http://www.ryda.com.au $844 got my maps for Southern Africa and Eastern Africa around a $150 each through them very helpfull service.
Spot tracker http://www.findmespot.net.au/ a very handy devic e that allows you to give your exact position and subscribe to tracking and emergency call, cost all up was around $330 for the unit $224 and a 12 month subscription around a $100. If you have an incident you can flick a a cover and will send your exact location to emergency personal or on the other side just send emails to family and friends to let them know you are ok or if you need help. You might find it cheaper but I bought mine from this mob and recieved it on the east coast from Perth in 3 days with no dramas.
Actually did a bit of research on this as well and World Nomads I found were on of the better priced http://www.worldnomads.com.au/ cost $648.00 for 12 months including my Nikon D7000
Use the promotional token VOYGNR for a 7% saving on your policy which works out a fair bit on a 12 month policy, that worked for me but if it doesent work just google, world nomads insurance promotional token and you will find some others.
Check out if you need it where you are travelling, needed usually in Africa, Asia and South America and are valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
Firstly and I know im in New South Wales in Australia so this is only going to help Aussie riders unfortunatly.
Firstly become a member of the NRMA, RACQ or the revalant motoring authority in your state.
Now the contact details for the girl Amanda that handled my Carnet and was really nice not to mention good looking lol
Amanda Mulder at NRMA Tourism & Leisure
Level 20, 141 Walker Street North Sydney NSW 2060
Phone Number 02 89 13 0600
Fax Number 02 99 56 7707
Carnet form available and other information available on this page
Things you will need
Copy of Passport
Copy of Lisence
Copy of NRMA or similar card or at least your membership number which is all I had.
Copy of current Registration
Motorcycle Evaluation (I got mine of off the net or ask a dealer to write you one out with their shop logo on it.)
Departure date for you and the bike or car.
Rough intinary or countries to be visited
As all countries have differing rates you need to cover ( mine was in Egypt of 150%) some are up to 450% but they are such as Iran 400% and Syria 450% etc but they are the minority, I paid the indeminity part which is in my case the value of the bike x 150% divided by 2% which in my case worked out to be $1170.70.
$250 of that being a refundable deposit on return of the Carnet.
The steps I took I rang Amanda and then faxed off my paperwork and she emailed me back what I needed or had forgot. Basically allow 10 days to recieve it but as I went in to the office in North Sydney I was able to get mine from the time I sent all my updated paperwork to the time I got it was 4 days including a weekend so very very helpful service.
Important to not lose it and make sure you have it stamped in and out of each country check that it is done and and ask for it to be corrected if nesacary all onus is on you to fill it out and have it filled out properly.
Thanks for your posts guys hope it can inspire someone to get off their ass when things arent to good and have a go, in the wash up I could sit here and whinge about how sore i am or go to Africa where no one can hear me and I was lucky theres no doubt about that.
Last night in Oz
Off out of Oz in the morning looking forward to hitting the road, Just headed down the local servo here in Mascot to grab myself a trusty ol meat pie for dinner might be awhile before I have one again mmm bloody beautiful mate loving it sauce all over my shirt cold coke watching the footy ahhh them are the days, bumped into a guy on a GS 800 at the servo had a chat for awhile, hey Tom hows it going, a bloody Rabbit's supporter here in the National Rugby League competition in Australia I thought about pushing his bike over and saying follow a good side mate but he seemed nice enough so left him be and the way my Tigers are playing I cant actually say that. He seemed to think it will be a massive adventure but all im doing is going for a ride it aint that big a deal really.
Im staying at the Holiday Inn in Macot near the airport so not slumming it to hard thought I might as well live it up but being the using www.lastminute.com.au saves you shitloads anyway so only just more than staying in a dump. Anyway all I have to do now is wake up in the morning, never been much of a morning person, they better not have early rising chickens where im going or there will be hell to pay.
The Holiday Inn at Mascot
Sydney Perth Johannasburg
Sydney Perth Johannasburg
Well today has gone ok so far other than leaving my passport at the phone when I was ringing the freight mob to see how my bike was going or gone, apparently no one had made a booking for it which John at Qantas freight said was slack but I sort of understood that it didnt get booked on it just went there is space on the plane whatever day that is so he booked it in for Wednesday. I just saw on the inflight thing theres a game reserve not far from Joburg so will give me time to possibly go there but you know how it is you seen one elephant you seen em all, all they do is stand there swinging their trunk.... Boring
As I blog we are flying over Madagascar cant see anything as its night out there now and there serving food, got to get your priorities right. Anyway will be interesting when I get to Joburg was due in at 4 pm now its going to be just after 8, think ill rent a car and drive over to the guesthouse its not far from the airport a few k's and ive got the gps with the south African maps in it so should be no dramas, hopefully dont get held up in customs for to long.
Up up and away
Being up here gives me plenty of time to think about what lies ahead.
Flying over Madagascar
And here is what lies ahead the African coast,
Arrived in Johannasburg and now at the Sunrock Guesthouse, nice warm welcome from Arthur the owner. What a mission that trip was, shitty flight bumping nearly all the way, still feel like im moving around and just on 24 hours from motel to motel. Got off the plane everyone pretty helpful but felt a bit uncomfortable being called boss by atleast 3 people in my first 15 minutes in South Africa, maybe its just like us back in Oz calling everyone mate but nevertheless I didnt like it. Hired a car for a few days till my bike arrives so will go for a cruise and check Johannasburg out. Im uploading this from my phone and doesent allow the pics ive taken on it to be uploaded which sort of sucks. Oh well the adventure has begun.
The Sunrock Guest House
Went into the city today just for a look around was really busy and fortunately I had my Zumo Gps so made getting around finding parking etc a breeze. Got a South African sim card and had to register it so as I passed a big shopping centre that looked easier on the way in so headed back there. Got back to Eastgate and went in went to Whippys like Maccas so had a pig out just to keep the fat content in my diet steady. They tell me I need my passport to register it so ok ill come back tomorrow. If your looking for anything when you first arrive Eastgate Shopping centre is it, got everything you need in there, you cant miss it on r24 from the airport Kempton Park to Joburg city and theres this big statue of a chick riding a horse, you cant miss it, i think it was a chick probably some dude But you might take more notice of it than I did.
Got back to the Sunrock Guest house was pretty rooted from the big day of travel so went and chillaxed, ended up falling asleep at around 6 and not waking up till 11 so watched Escape from Absolam on tv then crashed again.
Johannasburg, from what ive heard of this place all these people are carrying weapons ha ha
This lady must be carrying an anti tank gun under her skirt
Ok my bike arrived in 6 days from me riding it to Qantas in Sydney to sitting outside my room at the Sunrock guesthouse in kempton park Johannasburg.
This is how it all went down.
I went over to the Swiss cargo at the frieght terminal, grabbed my paperwork from them then drove up to the customs house, which the big grey building about 200 metres up the road. Went to the 1st floor counter 5 they called one of the guys from upstairs, 5 minutes later he's taking me upstairs wait another 5 minutes my carnet is stamped, go back down stairs pay the 10 rand parking fee just inside the main entrance to the building, so I can get out of the car park, drive back up to Swiss cargo give them my paperwork pay 180 rand, 25 aussie dollars, they take me to my gear in a bag and my bike i say, ill take my gear go get my helmet and be back. Take my gear back the few minutes to the Sunrock guest house grab my helmet and walk the 10 or so minutes back over to the freight terminal grab my bike, sign for it and ride away. To bloody easy, you may save some money shipping by boat but boy quick, no dramas and no damage other than a little scratch on the top of one of the panniers and im back at the Sunrock Guesthouse within an hour and a half of deciding to go see if my bike was there.
Thanks Qantas and everyone involved highly reccomend that process. If your thinking of bringing your bike I have no hesitation recommending that way.
Looks to heading for a hell of an adventure. No carnet (lot cheaper than I thought it would be, maybe because Australian??) needed for South America yet it could only makes things easier. You are going to be hauling ass to make this trip in that time. Goodluck and enjoy and don't pull over on the shoulder to answer your mobile:eek1:lurk
Got on the piss, turps, soup, grog, whatever you call it where your from with the local crew last night and a few of the other travellers, Funny thing one of the young guys knew about my nephew Daniels fish surfboards and was raving about them, he probobaly knows more about what Daniels up to than me through surf magazines etc. We were drinking beer, tequila slammers, bourbons so needless to say i was hammered drunk, so today has been a bit of a non event, well a total non event but thats ok im not in a hurry to go anywhere just yet. Tomorrow im going for a ride into Pretoria to have a look around and hopefully i'll be feeling half human again.
My nephew Daniel on one of his fish surfboards
Went for a ride over to Soweto today, thought its one of those place i have to go have a look at. The traffic was prety ordinary, I was lucky i was on the bike as I just shot up the inside most of it at around 40 k an hour but for everyone else it was bumper to bumper for miles and miles. I have made a decision not to go looking for non tollway routes as im sure ill find plenty of them in my travels so if ive got a good road to ride on im going to ride it. Stopped at the Apartheid Museum very interesting and obvuiously alot of Nelson Mendela stuff in there but an interesting look into the history of South Africa.
Eventually got into Soweto and was quite and eye opener felt a little hesitant at first as I had been warned not to go there and that it was dangerous but it was ok, the funny thing is that over in Soweto there are kids playing everywhere on the street but in just about every area ive been to kids are a rarity and they just arent playing on the streets like they were over there, very interesting i guess everywhere else the kids are behind big high walls that are covered in electric and barbed wire.
The housing over there in Soweto is pretty basic well deadset basic but from getting around this area there seems to be alot of that what we would call slums, although I dont want to call them that as these people live in them and from what I could see of the kids they all had smiles on their faces so i guess you just make do with what you have in this part of the world. Went and had a look at the soccer stadiums, no games on their actually quite big im sure they must get good crowds to the local games.
After spending awhile in Soweto then headed back to Johannesburg as it was sort of on the way. Had a good look around was around 3ish so the traffic getting in there was pretty heavy but it was ok m not in a hurry, I was happy to sit in the traffic in the city centre to have a look around and had my camera out snapping away while going nowhere. Stopped and had a drink and then thought i better get going and head home. as it was getting late.
Really nice dinner as usual the food they are dishing up is bloody lush, Had a chat for awhile but was pretty tired so called it a night.
The Apartheid Museum was really interesting
Obvioudsly there was a big presence of Nelson Mandela in here but it had alot of other interesting history on South Africa
Hartbeespoort Dam and Sandton City
Woke up around 8ish and headed over to the pretty nice breakfast they put on every morning, had a chat to this Kiwi girl from Hamilton that is staying here she was off to see some Lions and Rhinos today, thought I should ask her if I could go but im so not into the organised tour deal, something ill have to change if I want to get into the Game parks as they dont let motorbikes in them.
Thought i'd head over to the Hartbeespoort Dam Arthur had told me about so got him to put it into my gps after breakfeast so that was the plan for today.
Was having a great ride the weather has been absolutley perfect for riding loving every minute of being out on the road, just beofre I got there a couple of guys rode past on Bmw gs 1200's so I followed them. Arthur had said the dam was a popular ride so thought thery must know where they are going.
They had stopped at an intersection so I pulled up to say G'day and introduce myself to Kill and Peiter and see if indeed they were heading to the dam. Kill asked me to join them for lunch, i needed a drink so thought it was a good idea. We went down the road to a little place, monkeys chucking stuff on the roof while we sat there. Id only just pigged out on my breakfast so wasnt that hungry so i just had a coke and and a local ginger beer that Kill said I needed to try, ok that was crap give me as coke anyday. Spent a little time there chatting then headed down to the dam and took a few photos was. Was no Hoover dam or anything special so didnt stay there long. Kill and Peiter suggested I follow them back and as I had basically no idea which way i was going i thought that would be cool to just follow them on their ride to wherever.
Rode for about 30 k's then stopped and Kill asked me if I had seen any lions yet, obvioulsy i hadnt arriving just the other day so he took me down past the lion and rhino park, im pretty sure this is where the kiwi girl was going today. I may go back over there tomorrow and have a look inside im not much for looking at animals in cages from where we were.
From there we headed over towards Sandton, on the way said good bye to Peiter so me and Kill continued into Sandton City centre and the Nelson Mandela Square, I must says its a nice place very clean compared to Johannasburg and Pretoria and very modern, apparently its the new business centre of this region now. Kill asked if I wanted to go have a beer but was getting late in the afternoon and didnt want to do any riding at night at night if I didn't have too especially since I had to still get home and I wasn't sure how to, so I decided Id better skidattle and head home as I still had about 20 or 30 k's to get back to Kempton Park. Was really nice to meet some friendly locals.
I must admit I was getting pretty tired by the time I got back so just had a shower, did some washing then tried to log on but no luck the internet, it has been off here for a few days or pretty useless even when it was connecting. I went over watched the Crusaders and Stormers rugby match with Arthur at the bar here at the guesthouse and in walks this gorgeous blonde girl from Grahanmstown down near Port Elizabeth, she's off to Maritius in the morning, she was obvioulsy a stormers fan so instead of settling in and supporting my hosts South African team I barracked for the Kiwis and shouted rip his friggin head off to the ire of the home supporters.
One of the other guys Alan from the north of England told me about a motorcycle rally from the north of Italy into Switzerland that I should get too which sounds great so will see if I can look it up when im up that way but ill worry about that when the time comes it seems so far down the track to be talking about Europe just yet.
Had the regualtion steak with Mushroom sauce for dinner had a few beers having a chat to some of the other guests staying here, always really interesting to talk to everyone they always have some great ideas on places to go and things to see.
Back in my room pretty stuffed so will have a early night, I've got to get off my ass and move on soon, been to most of the cities in this regiion now so it might be time. Its been a great place to settle in and get the feel of South Africa and ive really enjoyed my time here with Arthur and the crew and could quite easily stay longer but if I dont start moving it may take me forever to get to where Im going, wherever that is. It helps not knowing where im heading so maybe i should give that a bit more thought, oh well its a big planet and this is just a long Sunday ride so either ill wake up tomorrow and head off or ill leave it till Monday morning which will mean ive spent a week in this part of the country and briefly seen the cities Johannasburg, Pretoria, Soweto and Sandton all very interesting in their own right.
I posted the picture below in Facebook and asked who the hell is this guy and one of my mates repsonded with a tirade of abuse towards me for being so ignorant and not knowing Mohammed Ali when I saw him
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