Friday, 29 July 2011

12 months out

At this moment in time, I'm reasonably calm about my planned trip, but fairly sure that in 12 months time I'll be a nervous wreck, worried about a million irrelevant and inconsequential things, wobbling my way up the Great Northern Highway towards the top end.

I firmly believe that I've chosen a great route (19 countries in total), that I have the right bike, the right equipment and that I will be suitably clothed for most eventualities apart from formal dinner parties and severe cold, the latter of which I have no plans to experience until the UK. The trick is to try and get the whole trip to go like clockwork, but I'm at the point of giving up doing that because I have no idea of what is really ahead of me. Sun, sand, sea, jungle & motorcycling yes, but I have never ridden a motorcycle from one country to another, I have never dealt with border crossings, other than European, and I have never had to find a different place to sleep every night for an extended period of time, so a lot of what I am planning to do is rather foreign.

View Australia in a larger map

View Indonesia & Timor in a larger map

View Malaysia & Thailand in a larger map

View Laos & Cambodia in a larger map

View Nepal to Turkey in a larger map

View Turkey & Greece in a larger map

View Italy to UK in a larger map

I've read blogs, websites, articles but nothing has given me any idea of what it's going to be like to say goodbye to Lynne here at home and head off into unfamiliar territory all alone. I'm not even familiar with being alone, for as long as I can remember I've always had someone there to share my experiences as they unfold. An entry in Matthew Cashmore's Journey to Morocco blog summed up his feelings about travelling solo rather well, but I hope I don't feel quite so desolate, a very good read nevertheless, he does pen a good story.

I suppose I'll be relying on that interweb thingy quite a bit when things are bleak and I'm in need of a cheery hi. I can only imagine what it was like for someone like Ted Simon all those years ago, travelling the world alone with little or no means of communication. Recently I've been following the exploits of a young lad from England named James Heaney, currently circumnavigating the world on a similar route to those larrikins from The Long Way Round, only James is doing it alone and sorting things out for himself. James is quite an inspiration as he always appears upbeat and very positive no matter what is thrown at him. I really don't know how I'm going to feel when things go pear shaped and I have to face the consequences all alone. As a part of my preparation I've told myself that this is going to be the adventure of a lifetime and every day I must smile, laugh and enjoy it because after all, that's the reason I'm doing it, and I don't think I'll ever do it on such a scale again. I'm sure most days I'll be like a kid in a candy store, in a state of total fascination with many amazing and tempting things all around me.

As I mentioned in 'When and where', my greatest fear is the import/export of the bike and visa acquisition especially for India, Pakistan and Iran. I'm struggling to come to terms with having to wait until I'm in one place before I can apply for a visa for another, It's not like applying for something when at home, where everything you need is at hand, and everyone you deal with speaks your language. Again through the internet, specifically Twitter, I have connected with Pascal & Arja, a couple of intrepid travellers, and from them I have received some solid advice regarding visas and timings, and I'm hoping likeminded people will be available with help on my trip should I need it. I suppose my concerns have much to do with my nature as I have little patience and like everything planned to the smallest detail. I'm hoping my trip will make me less impetuous and more easy going. I'm sure that I will have to learn to be more tolerant, especially with foreign officialdom.

Another concern, again related to my nature, is that I will find myself going along at a million miles an hour and before I know it I'll be in the UK. Once I've made my mind up where it is I'm going I usually want to get there as soon as possible, whether by bike, car or even at work, I'm always in a hurry. I'm going to have to learn to slow down, relax more and take in the scenery, I may never pass this way again!

I still have things to test or put through their paces, like wet weather clothing, charging stuff, efficiencies around unpacking/packing and one-off transfer of kit into accommodation or bike transportation, but this will all be done during the following months. I'm sure that planning can be 'done to death', there comes a time when it's just a matter of 'getting on with it'. I just hope I'm a bit more organised than The London Biker when it comes to leaving, good onya Matthew!

I feel that I'm ready for this trip, and would dearly like to set off now, unfortunately that wouldn't fit in with other plans so I have to wait. I have all the information needed to get my pre-trip visas for Timor Leste and Indonesia and feel reasonably confident around the acquisition of the subsequent visas. I have put things in place with my GP around managing my diabetic needs and vaccinations but this can wait until 2 months out. So... come on!

I call upon all readers of this blog to offer their thoughts and experiences regarding what is ahead of me. I am extremely spongelike at the moment, I crave information...