In Which We Ride... A Scot and South African go Long Haul

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 44

    Krakow

    Stupidly, I didn't take the good camera into Prague or Krakow the last few days. I figured that as I had been both places before I wouldn't need another set of photos.

    How wrong I was. When you visit a city as beautiful as Krakow for a second time, you appreciate it on a much more intimate level. The first time, 5 years ago, I was a gawking tourist as we all would be. This time, with memories of the city layout, I felt much more confident to walk the streets late at night.

    We must have easily walked 20 miles the last few days. From Clepadria Campsite 4km North of the City to way down past the Jewish Quarter in the South. And by no means in a straight line.

    Being the fool I was, I only took the phone, with a out 15% charge at that. So all I have to offer you is a few random snaps of some of the quirks of the city.

    In other news; Kyla's right knee seems to have sprung a random injury. Now, it's a been a few months now since I quit work to travel this little planet we call home, so my activity injury diagnosis may be a touch rusty. But the location and symptoms of the injury would point to a fairly certain Cruciate Ligament injury, LCL.

    Swelling is very minimal, she claims pain to be tolerable but I have my doubts (tough cookie syndrome). I'd imagine there is a very small amount of fluid in the knee. We have no major days hiking or walking for the next week or so. I hope it turns out to be perhaps a minor strain or microtear that can heal at least moderately quickly. I'm hoping the pain is merely amplified from the long walk as opposed to the severity of the injury itself so to speak.

    So to finish on a positive; Here is Kyla eating a 40cm half loaf with chicken, corn, cheese, mushrooms, brocolli and pineapple on it. I forget the name of it, perhaps a passing Pole can help me find the word? It's a Polish delicacy that starts with a Z.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    XXX

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    Unidentified foreign tree dwelling fruit?

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    The Grand Cloth Hall

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    Cardboard cutout Kyla

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    Too hot to camp
    #41
  2. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 47

    EU Frontier

    We have been lucky the last week or so with campsites. We have stumbled across a series of great little spots, mostly on the banks of local lakes or in the national parks.

    But we really struck gold with this one. For just £4 we pitched our tent right on the bay of Lake Solina, a reservoir lake just inside the Polish/Ukrainian border... and I mean just inside. You could throw a rock and hit Ukrainian soil from here.

    By the way, the lofty price of £4 included pitch, wi-fi, electricity, canoe hire and seemingly 5 star views. I'm still shaking with disbelief.

    Now, where was I... ah yes. Proximity to the EU frontier. Which of course means that tomorrow we will, once again, leave the safety, security and predictability of the EU for the Ukrainian/Moldovan leg of the trip.

    Any tips or advice from fellow overlanders, we've do everything much reading into the places but nothing beats first hand experience.

    Love,
    Brucie

    [​IMG]
    #42
  3. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 47

    High Tatras

    Before I do a full road report on our brief flirtation with Slovakia, I just wanted to share this quick snap of the Tatras Mountains that create the natural border between Poland and Slovakia.

    So often overlooked by road-trippers, in favour of the Alps and Pyrenees, I think this place deserves it own little mention.

    Love,
    Brucie

    [​IMG]
    #43
  4. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 50

    Poland/Slovakia

    After leaving Krakow, we debated whether to visit Auswitz Birknau Death Camp or not. I had been before in 2011 so the decision was left up to Kyla. After looking over the route, and considering the backtracking we would need to do, we decided to miss it out.

    Sadly, it was a decision she seemed to immediately regret.

    Note to Self: Don't pass up on important things, especially if you are in the region.

    Our route from Krakow followed a rather erratic South-bound route. We could see the Tatras Mountains waaay out on the horizon. Our goal was to simply ride towards them and stay away from the main roads. Easy enough surely? The only problem is that the road quality in the very South of Poland is perfectly smooth tarmac. Good for the nation - bad for adventure. No matter how far we strayed from the beaten path we found caravans, campers and long tails of 'regular traffic'

    We finally reached the Slovakian border just East of a town called Zakopane. We slipped over the border without even noticing. These EU Schengen borders may be the negative talking point of the European Migrant crisis, but they sure make for easy travel. Over a 2 day period we crossed back and forth 4 times each way between the pristine Southern Poland and slightly more wild Slovakia.

    Speaking of migrants, or at least - those more unfortunate than ourselves, we took a wrong turn close to the town of Ždiar in Slovakia and ended up in some kind of temporary camp set up by a derelict building. Rather ashamedly, my initial thought was 'We have to get out of here, this is some kind of dead-end ghetto, rife with crime.' Now, I don't know much about the ethnic make-up of a country like Slovakia, but these people were much darker skinned than we had seen everywhere else in the country. Migrants? Roma? Just a reeeaally poor neighborhood? I'm not sure.

    However, as we drove through the camp. We were not mugged, nor kid-napped or murdered. Instead we were met with perplexed looks from the adults and the most enthusiastic smiles and laughter from the children. I can vividly remember the piercing blue eyes of one of the young girls, maybe 6 or 7 years old, as she ran alongside my bike giggling. I can't imagine that much goes on down there, so I hope we brought at least a little happiness to the kids. If even for a moment.

    As it got late, we crossed back into Poland for the last time. This final stint saw us through the Dukla Pass, or the Valley of Death as it was known, the site of an extremely bloody WWII tank battle where the Russians T-Model tanks carved a path into the Nazi held Slovaki region. Today the tanks are set by the roadside on large concrete plinths as an open air roadside museum.

    As night fell we headed towards Lake Solina, a kind of local holiday camp, where we pitched our tents for 2 nights by the lake, to be further blessed with 30 deg. sunshine and still waters. I even took a step overcome my irrational fear of open water and took a kayak out onto the lake... with Kyla on hand incase I capsized. Ha.

    The last few days have summed up exactly why I chose to go this adventure. And what an adventure the last few days have been.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    Jagged Peaks of the Tatras

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    Polish/Soviet Monument to WW2 at Dukla Pass

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    Travel Light!

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    Camp Spot at Lake Solina
    #44
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  5. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Week 5 & 6 in Photos

    The previous fortnight was fun, but a bit of a mad dash to make up distance Eastwards to catch back up to where we were prior to Kylas Visa setback in mid-June, which meant not many quality photos and only a few minor stopovers.

    But still, here's what was sat on the camera reel!

    Love,
    Brucie

    FaceBook Weeks 5 & 6 Gallery
    #45
  6. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    *** UP TO SPEED ***

    Ok doke folks... That's the thread up to speed. Which means that everything from this point forward is in fact Road Report Live. Right now I am sat in a hotel in Lviv Ukraine. It's 4am here, and i've spent the last 2 hours copying everything over here to ADVRider. I should think it'll be one of the better moves i've made on this trip.

    Thanks for tuning in folks.

    Love,
    Brucie
    #46
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  7. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Location:
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    Day 52

    The Ukraine.

    Firstly, nobody seems to know whether it is 'The' Ukraine, or just Ukraine. For me, the word 'The' seems to involuntarily flow off the tongue very naturally anytime my brain sets up for the word 'Ukraine.' I wonder why that is?

    We reached The Ukrainian border quite early. We packed up camp quite early that day as we had read stories of the smaller border points having terrible queues. Upon arrival we were indeed met with a very small border point. So small in fact that the Polish and Ukrainian border checks were just 2 different windows in the same small building. After around 30 minutes in the queues, and then 15 minutes at either window, we took our first steps into The Ukraine.

    Some borders you don't really notice. This one however you really can't miss. The Polish side was quite relaxed, just one nice blonde lady asking us benign questions in shattered English like "You go Ukraine?"

    The other side was quite heavily guarded. Stony faced Ukrainian Police, Border Agents and military personal were posted all about the access road. Most of them leaning against fences smoking, or pacing about looking impossibly bored.

    They waved us through, after I mildly upset one of the military guards by crossing a white line prematurely, and finally, after around an hour; We were in Ukraine... but not just any Ukraine, we were in THE Ukraine.

    We had been warned from everyone from Germans, Poles and Swedes that Ukraine was dangerous, dirty and the roads were terrible. They were right...

    And it's AWESOME.

    The small back roads here are in fact so bad, that they are actually good again. Potholes range from tennis ball sized to bathtubs. The rural gravel tracks have long since had their gravel swept away. The streets are scattered with geese, cattle herds, horse and carts, local drunkards, old Ladas, shoals of children, tractors and anything else that you could imagine to distract you from that oncoming pothole that could easily swallow your front wheel.

    At one point we even passed an alarmingly large wildfire that I guessed had started as a deliberate crop blaze but spilled over into the surrounding fields. The ground was very dry there, it clearly hadn't rained in a while and if the temperatures that we were enduring were typical of the area then I imagine it could get very hot and dry.

    After being chased by numerous stray dogs snapping at our heels, or at least rear tyres, we weaved our way through the crumbling paths for around 100km before we thought to set up camp... and what a camp site it was...

    Possibly the creepiest, scariest, murderous, nightmare-inducing horrid little forest path you could imagine. Remember that film, The Hills have Eyes? It was like that. Picture if you will, a small dirt path access road through a thick wood off of an already pretty desolate road. The woods sat in between two very small villages where the local hobbies seemed to include; walking around the perimeter of the woods shrieking, or if that didn't float your boat then you could stand silently at the edge of the woods looking in.

    The whole night we were kept on edge by haunting noises, horror-movie style breeze rustling the trees, and the odd set of heavy animal footsteps thrown in for good measure. Oh and remember the wild fire? Well that had now caught up and was now visible on the horizon.

    The next morning we woke up vowing never to choose a wild camp spot so fleetingly again.

    We plotted a route North-East toward the city of Lviv. Again we took the smallest rural roads possible. This time the road quality switched from actually quite decent (given the standards) to hilariously bad. After being almost T-Boned at a junction by an enormous horse, we turned onto our first Ukrainian main Road to the city.

    Know this; Ukraine is cheap. Really cheap. I believe that the fact that the country is currently at war (or at least some kind of pseudo-war) over the Crimea situation hasn't helped the currency. We arrived in Lviv and checked into the 4 Star Lviv Ramada Hotel for 2 nights for the total cost of £7.65 per person per night... Crazy.

    Lviv is gorgeous. It's certainly geared for tourism, and although it has a very Western feel to it, the Cyrillic signs and very Eastern sounding Ukrainian language catches your ears as you walk the streets and you are reminded instantly of where you are. The streets remind me of Paris in a way. Kind of classy and dirty at the same time. It's nice.

    It's a big city here in Lviv, around 800,000 folks, but has a very small, and very old, city centre. The fact that everything was so cheap meant that we inescapably overspent in the end. My 150% tip to my super-friendly taxi driver probably didn't help, but when you get a 7 mile trip for £1.80 from a guy who taught himself English from movies like Rush Hour, you just can't help but feel he's earned it. Our daily budget averages out around £30 per day, I imagine in the rest of The Ukraine that will be easy enough to achieve.

    Tomorrow we start the journey further East through more rural Ukraine with, hopefully, more horrible roads, more nice people, and more of the unexpected.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    I love these old busted up cars that litter the cities here


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    One of a few beautiful churches


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    The crumbling buildings have a very genuine character


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    More city characters


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    That my friends is a waffle bubble


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    This is by far the best piece of road we found in the countryside.


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    Murder Road


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    Colourful Sidestreets of Lviv
    #47
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  8. Ruud109

    Ruud109 Dutch in Barcelona

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
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    380
    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
    Nice to see the pics and read the updates Bruce, happy for you guys that you are finally back on the road! I always had a fascination for taking a bike east and see those places.. one day!

    Your change of bike raises a lot of questions, could you explain a bit more? Are the Beemers back in the UK or where you left them prior to flying to the UK? Did you arrange Carnets for both the Beemers and the WR? And how do you like the WR and did you do any modification to it (i did notice the Acerbic tank on one of them).

    Cheers
    Ruud
    #48
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  9. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Really enjoying this.
    #49
  10. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    Try letting the bikes warm up a bit in the morning before going on, wait to see if it is a real problem or just a cold weather reaction, you do have a few milliliters of coolant as a spare?
    #50
  11. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Thanks Ruud, it's good to be back. I feel at home on ADV.

    Ah ok, so when we found out about Kylas refusal for Russian re-entry it was on the way out of St Petersburg. It took about a week for us to explore our options before confirming that it would require a trip home. Because of this we deliberately headed to the city of Klaipeda because I have a contact there. The brother of a guy I work with. The beemers were with him for about 5 weeks before one of our sponsors started to kick up a fuss (guess what one pfff). They had the bikes shipped to the UK where they now reside with the local BMW dealership. I think they are using my bike on the floor as a kind of display piece since it has their brands logo on it. This is fine for me as it's basically free secure storage back in the UK.

    The WRs were thrown together in about 10 days. No mods done really at all. My one came with the Safari tank already on it. I built the screens from pieces of £3 plexiglass. Tool tubes were from eBay and the luggage plate I welded myself from an old Givi monokey mount ( if you look you'll see that the top boxes are the panniers I had on my BM, they just clip off). They don't even have pannier racks, the soft bags are enduro style that just hug the sub frame.

    The rest of the bike is bone stock. We stuck new front tyres on and left in a rush.

    We can transfer the carnet details to the WRs if we wish for the princely sum of €0 thanks to ADAC because we have not yet entered the validity period of the first document. I'm holding off on that just now, we have a few big obstacles to overcome now. Mostly climate issues in our East bound schedule. We simply can't arrive in Vladivostok in November/December.

    We might have to rethink the route on a big scale. But for now we have the Balkans, Turkey, and a few other places to explore.
    #51
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  12. Manneke

    Manneke Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Thailand Bangkok
    Sure, I will follow this thread until the end, love it
    Easy reading, very nice photos and great adventure...
    When you arrive in Bangkok, send me a message. Would be glad to help you or give you some advice on southeast Asia riding :) :)
    Cheers
    Fred

    Sent from my Mi-4c using Tapatalk
    #52
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  13. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Thanks for catching us up on the journey so far.
    I think you two will love the wrr's for the next parts for sure!
    So has it truly sunk in yet? The idea that you are on this amazing journey?
    #53
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  14. motopoet

    motopoet The Moto Poet

    Joined:
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    New York
    Well that is just outstanding. I've been following since The Planning of a Monster then through FB and now here, very exciting indeed. I was also curious about the bike switch, and even though you rushed out on the WR they seem to be well equipped, besides im sure you will accommodate as needs start to pop up. Im heading from NY to Argentina in a couple of months on the baby sister of the WR, a XT250 and have found all your entries to be both helpful and inspirational, thanks for sharing!

    Smile, ride on, blink slow

    D.L.C.L
    @motopoet
    ww.themotopoet.wordpress.com
    #54
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  15. computer_freak

    computer_freak Been here awhile

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    Dutch
    Brucie,

    Something I noticed about the world-record, how about the following rule?

    • The same motorcycle should be used for the entire journey.
    #55
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  16. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland

    Of course, what's the Thai weather like in December/January?

    It's very slowly startingto. Sometimes I get a rush of excitement and I think I think of all those months in the planning phase. It felt like the day would never come.

    Glad to have you on board!

    Luckily the minimum qualification parameters need only be set on 1 bike, so since we are still in Europe we could meet the criteria on either the WR's or still the Beemers if that makes sense.
    #56
  17. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
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    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 53

    Corruption Scandals, Paper Sandals and Other Such Dramas

    It was tough packing up to leave Lviv. A combination of having a roof over our heads in the form of a 4-star hotel, as well as the charms of the city itself made for a real tough goodbye. I was sure to steal a pair of the complimentary paper slippers that they offer to guests in the room welcome pack, purely because It's the only thing I have room for. When the time came - I could have cried handing the room key back to the reception staff.

    "I'll always remember you."

    We headed back out into the great unknown of The Ukraine. At this point we didn't have any set route at all. Not even a vague direction to follow. After a look at the map we decided that our usual motto should apply; When in doubt, go South East.

    We got onto a highway to get some distance between us and the big city. I feel it's much easier to get your bearings and find those diamond in the rough roads and tracks when you get about 20-30km away from the major urban centres. Usually these trunk roads to-and-from cities don't harness much drama...

    This time however... well...

    Around 5km into our short highway blast we discovered that the road changed from dual-carraigeway/highway into just regular 2 way traffic road. It was still a major road however, you can tell by the fact that the potholes on this stretch are measurable in inches rather than yards. It was on this section of road that I found myself, as I often do, stuck behind a big, smoky, Soviet era Kamaz truck kicking up all the dirt and dust that it's dangerously under-inflated tyres could manage. As per usual I looked to overtake and get back into the fresh air... To be free once again.

    I swung to the left of the lane and peered around the truck, after allowing a small fleet of cars to pass I see a gap. A loooong way into the distance I can see a yellow transit shape van oncoming. The heavy, old Kamaz bumbled along slowly and my young, snappy, rev-loving motor could surely dispel this foe with ease.

    I pulled out gallantly and opened the throttle, as expected I flew past the truck in 2 seconds. I always like to get about 3-4 car lengths between me and a vehicle after an overtake before I pull in so I stayed in the oncoming lane for few more seconds. Overtake complete, onwards and upwards!

    Wrong.

    Just as I look to pull back into lane, I feel a light, but noticeable jerk, and a sudden deceleration. Now, this was hardly the place to conduct a vehicle inspection, but it was clear the motor had cut out right under me. My speed dropped with only my momentum now carrying me and the 15 tonner creeped back alongside me, we were now aligned.

    "Well this isn't great." I thought in a moment of completely unsuitable calmness.

    Then I remembered... The yellow van.

    It was a perhaps the quickest assessment I have ever made. I absolutely did not have time to brake and pull back in behind the truck. My options were to squeeze into the space between the truck and the van, or pull left and slip between the van and the side railing. Honestly, it's not the best dilemma i've ever had to forego.

    But then, as if nothing had ever happened, with a gentle final release of the clutch the bike bumped back into life. A quick shift into, I think, 3rd gear, I pulled the throttle to the stopper and just made enough headway to get back ahead of the Kamaz and to safety in my own lane.

    I pulled up about half a mile later to assess the situation... What happened? Then I remembered, this happened once before a few weeks prior in Germany, funnily enough whilst overtaking too. You can't ask too mush of these little bikes before they are fully warmed up. The bikes had been sat up for 3 days during our Lviv visit and this was just 5 minutes into a new day.

    Morale of the Story: Let the bikes warm up.

    I try to think of it this way: I certainly wouldn't like to be pulled abruptly from my bed, and asked to run sprints within 5 minutes of waking... So why would they!

    Lesson learned.

    (Cont.)
    #57
  18. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    : : Continued : :

    Shaken from the Kamaz incident, we decided to stay on the main road for a while to let my blood unfizz itself. It was a close call, but on reflection and looking back at the road there was actually plenty room in between the vehicles. I most likely could have slipped through the gap quite handily. But at 70mph things really seem to close in on you. I was quite proud of how I handled it.

    We continued on this long and fairly boring road towards the city of Chernivtsi in the South of Ukraine. As time passed we debated whether to go explore the back roads or to head to the next town and camp up, the latter seemed the best option. Chernivtsi it was!

    But the day was not finished with it's dramas just yet.

    In Ukraine the speed limits seem to be made up. Signs will say 80, only to be followed by signs reading 70, 50 and back up to 80 again all within a few hundred yards. Around one particular bend just outside of a small town en-route to Chernivtsi, my eye is caught by a speed limit sign. It clearly reads 80km/h, my speed somewhere between 65 and 70, it's hard to know exactly as i'm running a MPH speedo.

    Anyway... 100 yards down the road? You guessed it. A policeman and his 2 cronies wave Kyla, myself and the white van in front of us into a layby.

    The main cop walks over to us and paces a few lengths past all 3 vehicles. His eyes lit up at the sight of our foreign Reg Plates. The Ukrainian van drivers eyes probably lit up too as he was swiftly told he could go.

    He indicates to me to walk over the small dilapidated hut by the roadside, repeating the words 'Document' and 'Registraya'. He leads the way, followed by me, and then the two other much younger and seemingly lower ranking, officers behind me.

    After 10 minutes of confusing conversation he indicates in broken English to me that I was travelling over 80 and that this was very serious. He says that because I am not from The Ukraine he can confiscate my motorcycle. I ask him why only me and not the van driver nor Kyla was affected. This prompted him to ask for Kylas nationality, to which I reply "South Africa, no English, only Afrikaans." He pondered for a moment, coming to the conclusion that perhaps even he didn't want the hassle of an angry African busting up his hut that day. She was left outside with the bikes, I however, was rich for the pickings.

    "Show me your licence" he squawks. Reluctantly I show it to him, he grasps it from my hand and stuffs it into his pocket. He swings his 1990's computer monitor around to display the Google Translate Page. He types furiously into into the box. The page loads for a moment before it coughs up the following harrowing message;

    "Your licence is officially confiscated, fine is 100 Euros to return"

    Wow. My very own real life police corruption scandal. "Let me type" I say, pointing to the keyboard. He slides it lazily over to me knocking papers all over the desk in the process. I ponder for a moment, knowing that I probably only get one shot at this. With a plan forming in my mind; I hit the keys. Google does it's thing and the screen displays some Cyrillic text that I can only hope comes across as I intend;

    "Слухайте дуже уважно . Ми тут для офіційної громадської благодійної роботи , хіба ви не бачите емблеми на велосипедах ? Для цього штрафу мені потрібно буде поговорити з вашим капітаном і місцевим бюро поліції . Я впевнений , що ви розумієте ."

    Or;

    "Listen very carefully. We are here for official public charity work, don't you see the emblems on the bikes? For this fine I will need to talk to your captain and local police bureau. I'm sure you understand."

    His eyes stay fixed on the screen for a moment. The two sub-officers also lean in to read. I see the smiles on all 3 of their faces disappear. The two young cops look at each other with worry, but the main one looks directly at me.

    Suddenly, his English doesn't seem so broken. "I am very sorry for this, I didn't look closely. Please take your documents. I am very sorry to have troubled you."

    I reluctantly shook his hand and hurried back to the bikes. Ironically we took off down the road well in excess of 80km/h.

    What a day.

    Love,
    Brucie
    #58
  19. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Dundee, Scotland
    Week 7 in Photos

    Creepy campsites, Luscious Lviv and Ridiculous Roads.

    Week 7 saw us leave the EU and delve into Ukraine for our first taste of the Wild East. Sure we have certainly been further East before, but The Ukraine carries a hefty reputation that lived up to it's name.

    Love,
    Brucie

    [​IMG]
    200? Really? I'll give you 125 and not a penny more

    For more see:

    Week 7 FaceBook Gallery
    #59
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  20. Manneke

    Manneke Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
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    12
    Location:
    Thailand Bangkok
    December and January are the best months for riding in Thailand. Not hot, can even be cold in the north, 10-12°C. The southern part is hotter but still very enjoyable, no more than 30°C and normally no more rain !
    You'll love it for sure !

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    #60