Going Walkabout on an 800xc through Russia & Central Asia...and maybe beyond...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by GuiltyParty, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. ACP

    ACP Adventurer

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    Hey Craigo,

    Just caught on to your thread here and read it through end to end.

    I rode out with you a couple years back. Your bike's come a long way since... (literally)

    I think she must have been brand spanking new. We did a bit of green laning up Wiltshire somewhere, you had road tyres on, took a front end slide in some mud and snapped the front brake lever off! You cut your day short and limped back to London :eek1

    Can you imagine that being of concern to you now with all you and the bike have been through!?

    Anyway, I enjoyed the RR and look forward to reading your travels in Oz.

    ATB, Andy

    ps. glad to see you upgraded the handguards :wink:
  2. bavarian

    bavarian bavarian

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    Octoberfest started almost a week ago. Didn't you want to show up here? Just let me know and I surely can arrange something for you!
  3. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    Hey Andy,

    Thanks for tuning in.

    That was a real fun (half) day out! The bike was very fresh then, actually that was the first ride out and like you say before decent dirt tyres and handguards. Hmm in hindsight the broken lever on it's virgin ride could have been an omen. Naaah feck that, that's just my impatience.

    We're on a bus now on our way to Warsaw, and the bus has wi-fi who would have thought?!

    We're still not sure whether we'll make Oktoberfest before we need to meet our friends in Stuttgart for the beerfest there so it's still up in the air. If we do I'll give you a shout and we'll prost!
  4. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    craig, how many miles have you done from your front door until you shipped out the crate, interested as i'll be heading in the opposite direction next year taking a similar route
  5. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    23,000k's. Can I suggest one thing for your route? Instead of taking the Aktau - Baku ferry you should consider going through Iran. Every single person we met on the road raved about it.

    Have fun mate and if you need any contacts when the time comes just PM me.
  6. blacktiger

    blacktiger Tigers R great.

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  7. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    if you have any contacts that you feel i will really early for planning purposes need please drop me a PM otherwise i will be in touch closer to the time

    i agree 100% with Iran, my original plan was solo but now a friend is joining me, quitting his job and leaving his wife at home for an indefinite amount of time so he can do the ride, as he sees it once in a lifetime opportunity, i tell him it won't be, once he is out there he will change and always want more...anyhow i have a UK and US passports, he only has a US, so solo i could do it on the UK one, with him along we are not going to do the ferry but ride north around the Caspian Sea (lots of desert), skip AZ and enter Russia for a third time and then drop into Georgia and continue west thru Turkey

    So as i continue and he finishes, on my second lap RTW i will definitely hit Iran as i'll be coming in from Pakistan...yes i do have a second circumnavigation planned :huh so i'll be dropping in to see you in OZ on that one
  8. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    I subscribed to your thread many moons ago :wink:

    Hopefully the US will have dropped their sanctions by then so you and your friend can travel freely if plans change, because as you say once you've experienced life on the road the plan you originally set out to do will inevitably change.
  9. RoninMoto

    RoninMoto Wanderer

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    Location:
    In the mountains?
    The US have a smart foreign policy? :rofl

    Yeah, I'm waiting for that also.
  10. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    I wasn't going to keep the RR going while we backpack but this has sort of become our personal travel blog made all the better with everybodies comments so hope it's ok. We promise there are photos of motorbikes in it :ear

    As soon as we farewelled the bike at the freight company we bee lined it to the station to catch the Trans-Siberian, our home for the next four and a half days :eek1

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    The Trans-Siberian comes in 3 classes:-
    - 3rd class for the peasants which has bodies everywhere and not much privacy. I imagined a wild four days of vodka shots and cards, but after four days it would get on the nose a bit;
    - 2nd class which has four beds to a cabin and some degree of privacy. If you're lucky enough to get some good roomies it could be really fun. It's half the price of first class but double the price of third class; and
    - 1st class for the Soviet elite too scared to fly with Russian airlines. Expensive and boring.
    We went with second class and hoped for some cool roomies.

    One of our roomies got on the train in Irkutsk with us - a very well-spoken, well-educated lady who has seen her fair share of life in the USSR. The other guy was in his early twenties who we think was avoiding us because we only ever saw him when he went to bed. We exchanged pleasantries and found out she was an English teacher and her husband (now deceased) a former biology researcher. I conjured tales of espionage and chemical weapons in service for the Red Army during the Cold War...they may or may not have; I was too scared to ask.

    We quickly discovered there were no showers on board and the only free space was in the corridors. There would be no wild parties. Patty wanted off.

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    Throughout the trip the train stops at stations for an extended length of time and it’s possible to get off and stock up from little vendors beside the track for a pittance.

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    Four days on a train sounds like a looooong time but it goes surprisingly fast. We got into a new TV series (Entourage) and finished two seasons and the rest of the time we spent staring out the window at the landscape thinking about life.

    One of our roomies had bit of a continence problem so by day two we were covering our noses and opening the window to let the cold air blow the formidable odour away when they moved their sheets. I told Patty to wash but she wouldn't :rofl

    I recommend everyone try the Trans-Siberian at least once in their life, if possible during the winter when Russia becomes a winter wonderland. We met this guy on the last afternoon and he was cool.

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    In advance we organised a couchsurf in Moscow but as we arrived very early morning we had the whole day up our sleeves before we could meet our host and drop our stuff off, so we left it in baggage storage at the station.

    How fresh could “fresh” burgers from a vending machine be? We didn’t try one but I wish we did.

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    Easiest way to learn the alphabet - take a familiar word and translate.

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    Are they magic?

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    St. Basils Cathedral

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    State Historic Museum. Best collection of early human culture, tools and weapons I’ve ever seen. Each room showed how weapons and tools became more and more sophisticated through the ages, from using rocks to smash bone to the musket. The descriptions were all in Russian but you can tell by the implements and arts which age it came from.

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    Fishing hooks made from bone

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    Shrek and bugs bunny harassed two asian girls for money for taking a photo of them. We told them to fuck off when they came near us.

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    People stand in the middle and throw a coin over their shoulder and try land it on one of the four quadrants. The lady was collecting the coins they threw, but only if they were big coins.

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    Later that night we met our host Yuri, his wife Sveta and their son Maksim.

    The next day we went to the Tretyakov Gallery with Yuri. It was mostly self-portraits which neither of us find interesting but there were some interesting pieces, like art of places we’ve visited like Rome and Venice. Back in the 1800's photo's didn't exist so the art gave us some insight into how it looked back then. There were also some religious art from the tenth century which was interesting to see although we aren’t religious people.

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    Looks like a photo

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    We met Sveta and Maksim around lunch time to go to the Natural History Museum. This was my idea, not Maksim’s. I love this sort of thing.

    I didn't know mammals got this big?!

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    Imagine that scorpion getting in your tent.

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    I thought it was better than the Natural History Museum in London because it had more than just the stuff kids want to see like T-Rex and Triceratops. This one had all the less known stuff and showed that life was more diverse than Jurassic Park.

    That night we attempted to make some aussie burgers for the family but they turned out poo because we didn’t have any pineapple or beetroot.

    The next day we visited the Kremlin with the family.

    Outside the State Historical Museum.

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    Inside the Kremlin there are a bunch of museums and churches.

    Tsar Cannon

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    The Artillery

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    Maksim my best mate

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    Tsar Bell

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    After the Kremlin we were left to wander the city. Everything is within a short walking distance on wide open streets or the metro if we felt lazy

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    Early the next morning we boarded the train to St Petersburg...luckily. We checked our tickets the day before and the lady in Irkutsk booked us tickets to another 'burg not St Petersburg. We changed them for a small fee and saved us some money in the process.

    3rd class. You can't drop a fart without the whole cabin knowing...

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    In St Petersburg we arranged another couchsurf with a guy named Kirill who met us at the station and walked us to his house, a funky place in the centre of town.

    We instantly felt at home in St Petersburg. It was like a mixture of all the fun cities in Europe. A bit of Amsterdam thrown in with the graffiti and funk of Berlin but the sophistication of Paris, London and Barcelona. It's a really cool city and somewhere we could stay a long time...maybe not during the winter though :deal

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    Yummo

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    Fire = warmth

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    Some asian tourists were rubbing their hands on this guy. I guess little head big body brings good luck

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    Toilet

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    Throughout the day we were dodging shower after shower

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    Steal this car?

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    That night we went out with Kirill to a local bar to catch up on internet and play foosbol, or kicker as the Russians call it. Kicker makes so much more sense

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    The next night we boarded a bus to Riga. Exiting Russia I thought we would be asked about the bike but we weren't nor were we asked about registering in hotels which we didn't do along the way. Goodbye Russia and thanks for the memories.
  11. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    London
    You're waiting for a smart foreign policy or drop sanctions? :rofl
  12. Rich B

    Rich B Long timer

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    My guess is, hell will freeze over first :rofl

    Nice pics of St Petersburg. Brings back some memories. Keep saying I need to get back there some other time than March. Neat city, lots of history ther.
  13. Grifter

    Grifter Adventurer

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    Next door to the Jersey Devil
    Well done guy's! Poor old Liger looked a little sad in her crate lol. I'm going through withdrawal symptoms, you need to keep posting!!
  14. sharkey

    sharkey XLV750R

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2003
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    875
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Wow, amazing report. Poor Liger, glad you guys turned out okay! Be sure to get in touch when you get to Melbourne, perhaps some of us locals can help out.
    I reckon it looks good, just replace those crappy lights with some Cibie Oscars or similar :-).

    BTW: someone mentioned ignitech.cz upthread, I can't speak for their chipping service but their replacement CDIs have a good reputation in the XLV750 world.
  15. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    March must be when it gets pitch black for the whole day?

    The Liger still hasn't arrived in Vladivostok so it will be at least another month before the Liger is unleashed on Aussie shores :wink:

    Will do mate. A pair of those Cibie's up front would be a nice touch, and I could actually see at night!
  16. hAjPR

    hAjPR Adventurer

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    Patty & Craig: We want/need updates with pictures :clap
  17. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    Soon buddy. There are photos of an African Twin in the next update :evil
  18. WIBO

    WIBO Will it buff out?

    Joined:
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    64800French Pyrénées
    Great to read your update young man.

    Keep at it...onwards and upwards.

    Keep safe.


    :D




    .
  19. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    Coming into Estonia we thought it was cute how the cockerspaniel kept returning to our bags for a sniff. Each time he returned his excitement would grow, until he could contain hs excitement no more and started to scratch our bags. I offered to open my bags in full view of everyone to show I had nothing to hide but she wasn't having it so into the back room we were lead. Patty was told to sit on one side of the room, me on the other - both with our hands firmly on our knees.

    We were then divided into separate rooms and I could hear Patty explaining to the customs lady the only drugs she had was the medication for her arthritis. I was dealing with my own problems as the dog kept scratching my sleeping bags and air mats. She pulled out a few questionable items from our bags, like some brown gauze for fixing the tent. "Where is your tent" she asked. Oh that's in Russia. "Russia?" We had some random items on us that we should have sent with the bike but forgot.

    As one lady left the room and instructed me to pack my bags I turn around and see a guy pulling on the rubber gloves :eek1 He asks me to remove first my shoes, then the socks, then the pants but luckily it stopped there. I breathe a sigh of relief and pull up my pants before he changes his mind.

    They let us both go and luckily the bus ws still there waiting for us.

    We arrived in Riga, Latvia early morning and took the opportunity to go for a wander while we waited for our bus to Poland later that afternoon.

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    Our first vegetabes in a long long time

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    Our aim for the day was to see the Riga Motor Museum. We went to where it was supposed to be but the building was undergoing major expansion works but we eventually found it on the other side of town.

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    The owner had to prove that "the money for the car was obtained legally"

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    My favourites, a couple of Indian Scouts

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    Later that evening we caught an overnight bus to Warsaw to save on accommodation costs. We were going to spend a day walking around but decided against it and went straight to Krakow where we would spend a few days and make a day trip to Auschwitz.

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    Our boat hostel

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    The entrance to Auschwitz I - the concentration camp.

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    Many of the prisoner quarters had been converted to museums for Auschwitz II - Birkenau which is the death camp a short distance from Auschwitz I.

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    Zyklon B pellets that were dropped from holes in the ceiling into fake showers which caused a terribly painful death.

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    Every material possession was stored in warehouses the prisoners called 'Canada' because Canada was the land of plenty

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    The only remaining gas chamber and furnace. The Nazi's tried to destroy the others to cover their evil as Soviet troops advanced on the camp.

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    The entrance to Auschwitz II Birkenau death camp.

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    People would arrive here by train (80 to a carriage) where capable men were divided from women, children and the elderly. The capable were sent to the housing for labour and the rest directly to the chambers.

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    The housing without heating

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    Communal toilets, which the 'scheizer command' cleaned

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    The changing room before the chambers

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    Destroyed chambers

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    I commented to Patty that I could smell something sweet then shortly after our guide said the prisoners reported a sweet smell coming from the incinerators. I felt sick and wanted to get out of there.

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    The ashes were used to fertilise the area. Whether the smell still lingers or not I don't know. It didn't matter, we both felt sick and wanted to leave.

    The next day we walked around town a little more and went to another museum.

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    We then caught an overnight bus to Prague, Czech Republic. We've become super efficient at spending the last of the coins in our pocket because they can't be changed so for dinner we ate a feast of cheese & crackers, salmon and pickles. It was a Ukrainian bus that was super uncomfortable so we got little sleep.

    We gawked at the receptionist of our hostel when she told us the price but luckily we checked the prices online only 10 minutes earlier and the price was £7 cheaper per night than the price she was advertising. We whipped out the laptop and booked it online as she sat and watched us, saving us £28. We were so tired we slept the afternoon away.

    That evening we caught up with fellow ADV inmate Jakub (inmate hAjPR) who has plans to do a similar trip in a couple of years.

    mmm beer

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    He showed us around town and took us for a meal of traditional Czech dumplings and cheap mojitos yummo

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    We took a day trip to Kutna Hora to see the Church of Bones. The monk who put all these together really had an eye for detail, however macabre.

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    Battle wounds/fatals

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    When poor Peter the potato farmer looked upon the magnificence of this gothic church and could hear the ringing bills from across the hill it must have been irresistable to not be a part of it. One of the most interesting parts of this trip has been the diversity of religion and architecture as we travelled west to east then to the north. In Moscow we would see people walk with purpose to the church after a day at work. I've never noticed that anywhere before.

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    After we did our sightseeing we met up with Jakub who was in the market for an African Twin. It was in excellent condition and the seller didn't really want to let it go so Jakub wasn't sure he would get it or not.

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    A few days later we saw on facebook his 640 Adventure parked alongside an African Twin :clap

    For our last day we wandered the streets of the most incredibly beautiful Prague.

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    We stopped in Nuremburg for a night and went to the Nazi Party rally point. It's now a football field and the startline for the car races but the size of it is still epic.

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    And finally beerfest! Stuttgart

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    Wine at a beerfest :huh

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    That's better

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    After that the night became a little blurry :freaky

    By this stage we are becoming very conscious of how much money we are spending. Our short trip through Western Europe from when we left the bike in Irkutsk is costing almost as much as what the entire 'stans cost us. We felt Europe was becoming a bit samey after awhile so we decide that we've seen enough and make a beeline for the UK.

    We caught a train from Stuttgart to Strasbourg, just on the other side of the border in France. We got in at midnight and didn't see the point in getting a room so we slept on the waiting room floor while we waited for our 05:30 train to Paris.

    We've been to Paris before and although it would be nice to stay one more night and just wander the streets there was nothing we felt we had to do so we caught the first bus to the UK using the tunnel.

    We've spent the last week catching up with friends and wandering the streets of London. In that short time since we've been away there is already some noticeable differences. There are new double decker buses that look like Robocop and some buildings under construction are closer to completion. We were living in Battersea and there is a whole heap of construction of underway so when next we visit the whole area will have almost completely changed.

    We caught up with our friend Adam (inmate stamp) who we started the drop off with and celebrated his birthday this week.

    We contemplated where our next trip will be over curry and beer. Taken on Adam's phone.

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    And Patty had a crack at riding a 125 and she went really, really well. She didn't want to get off :D She wants to get into riding so when we get to Oz and get settled we'll pick up a 125 or C90 for her.

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    Maybe a little too early to be doubling me

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    In Vladivostok the bike has been loaded into the shipping container and departs 16 October for the one month voyage to Melbourne. The crate, it seems, was a waste of time.

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    Tomorrow we catch a flight to Thailand where we'll backpack for a couple of weeks before heading home.
  20. hAjPR

    hAjPR Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    31
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    Czech Republic (that's in between Germany&Poland!)
    As I said, it's been a great pleasure and feeling to be a part of your adventure for those couple of days!

    First half of this update is a bit scary I must say. But on the other hand it is good that people still can remind this way what was happening there.

    This is the best picture out of all. Sehr shön! Eine typische Deutche Mädchen :evil Cute!

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