I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.

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PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Back in Business

Islamic weekend, starting Thursday evening, 12th June

Early morning, Friday-13th - unlucky for some - but not for me.

The problem of the bike apparently stuck in a cargo warehouse somewhere on the periphery of Istanbul Int'l Airport was soon sorted after an exchange of e-mails with an Istanbul-based friend, Mehmet Zeki Avar.

Mehmet had no hesitation in going to the airport to resolve matters - and later that evening, Thu-12th, after several delayed departures, the bike was on its way to Dubai .. and finally arrived there at 1:30am, Friday-13th.

I was right back in business .. well, almost.

 It took from around 8 o'clock in the morning to late in the afternoon - 4:48pm to be precise (see online tracking notes above) - to get the bike released from the bureaucratic grips of Dubai's Customs Control officers, who, quite frankly, didn't seem to have much clue about how to organise the temporary importation of a foreign-registered vehicle that turns-up, literally out of the blue, from the cargo hold of a Turkish Airline's Boeing 777-300ER passenger flight.

Without the help of my newest and one of my now best mates, Saleh Alsharif, solving the multitude of problems as and when they occurred, I'm not quite sure how I would have coped that day.

I say more about Saleh, and the members of the Dubai Riders Club below.

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By tea time it was all over - a brief, but no doubt comprehensive nervous breakdown avoided - and it was time for a change of flag.

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New tyres fitted; German-made Heidenau K60 'Scouts'. I've always fancied a set, and as these were the only type available anywhere in Dubai .. well, I had little other choice but to buy them.

Dual purpose (50:50) tyres that are supposed to work very well in dry dirt and on roads as wet as you like, but manage to last for thousands of miles. I'll find out in the fullness of time.

A 140-millimetre wide rear, which is 20 mm above the manufacturer's (Honda's) recommended width of 120 mm. So far it's working very well; providing more traction, even if leaning into corners is taking a little more effort.

I had been carrying a spare heavy-duty front inner tube during this particular trip and thought that now would be the ideal time to have it fitted. I shall say more regarding the outcome of this decision later.

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I must give big thanks to a couple of friends of the family back home in Cornwall, Chris and Verity Rosewarne.

We had planned on taking-up C&V's kind invitation to stay with them, at their home in the Al Rashidiya suburb of Dubai (close to the airport), for no more than 2-3 nights. Because of the bike's shipping delays, however, this turned into six nights all told, for which we are extremely grateful.

So THANK YOU guys for all your hospitality, which made the long wait for our 2-wheeled transportation far less painfull than it might otherwise have been. See you back in Newquay one day .. soon, we hope.

Soft strokes all around too for: 'Sammy' - 'Midas' - 'Gucci' - 'Yellow' - 'Blondie' ..

.. and even grumpy ol' 'Kit Kat' the pussycat (not in above the picture.)

.. their pets' names always made me think of: Hugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub! [perhaps an idea for the next generation of the Rosewarne household's menagerie?!]

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During our 13-day visit to the UAE we went to the premiere private viewing of a movie called 'Around Africa by Camel' starring the exploits two Emerati adventurers who last year (2013) rode a couple of camels all the way from Yemen to South Africa, taking more than eight months to complete the trip.

Pictured above with one of the adventurers.

 Having your picture taken with a dignitary, person of influence or celebrity  - or indeed any nonentity (like us) - is a favourite pastime in the UAE; it seems to be the same all over Asia .. and why not?!

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Saleh - the same kind young man who tossed me the keys to his Honda GL1800 Goldwing and his spare mobile-cell phone, and whose help was so priceless during the bike's importation process - took care of nearly all our other requirements; never hesitating to offer and provide a helping hand whenever it was needed.

In the UAE every Friday is set aside for religious contemplation and family union. Saleh invited me to attend his [all male] family gathering for a typical lunch. Really tasty vittles, eaten the traditional way, sat on the floor around far too much food .. all amongst friendly company. What could be better?

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I had been exchanging emails with Steph, an English girl [well, 'quasi' Welsh actually] for a couple of months. Steph is currently riding a motorcycle around the world - solo - in the opposite direction to me. The twist with Steph is that she intends to circumnavigate by way of all seven continents .. including Antarctica.

We agreed some time ago that, should our paths cross - for instance, somewhere in Iran, the UAE, or the subcontinent - then we would try to meet-up and exchange whatever useful info we could.

I am pleased to say that we hooked-up (twice) for drinks and giggles during the near fortnight we spent in and around Dubai. You can follow Steph's travel by clicking on this link: One Steph Beyond...

Saleh, together with a handful of the Dubai Riders' Club, provide friendship at the Bikers' Café, Jumeirah Road (sea front road), Dubai.

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There really is an indoor ski slope, with real snow, in Dubai. We had lunch there on Thursday-12th.

It's the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East, offering a terrific setting for kids especially, to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing, or just playing in the white stuff .. when it's 40°C outside. Amazing!

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Saturday-14th

Our ferry passage booked and paid for, we still had two whole days in hand to explore the UAE before our departure on the following Tuesday (17th).

We therefore headed eastwards across the scorched Arabian landscape towards the Indian Ocean and the Emirate of Fujairah ..

.. remembering to ride on the right-hand side of the road, something I had not practiced since leaving Cambodia in November of last year (2013.)

The oil, gas and petrochemical industries together make-up the substantive part of the UAE's economy; it is not surprising, therefore, that the country should want to have an export facility on the Indian Ocean seaboard .. just in case trouble flares-up in the region. To rely exclusively on the narrow Strait of Hormuz as the conduit for oil exportation may not be in the country's best interest - a fact which has not gone unrecognised by the Federal Emirates Monarchy government.

Sunday morning (15th). Breakfast-time at our stopover: The Sandy Beach Hotel & Resort

Heading 130 kilometres [81 miles] in a broad northwesterly direction from the Sandy Beach Resort will bring you back to the Persian Gulf and ..

.. the border of the Musandam Governorate, which is a tiny enclave of Oman that neighbours the UAE.

The Musandam peninsula juts into the Strait of Hormuz and is dubbed the "Norway of Arabia." We had the time .. so we just had to go there.

[Panorama - click to enlarge]

It was a sensational ride up to the enclave's tiny capital, Khasab; and at that point in time, definitely one of the highlights of the whole trip.



Our Khasab-based hotel at night. Still a more than balmy 30°C.

The ride back to the border and the Emirate of Sharjah beyond was equally as thrilling.

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Tuesday-17th


Evening (Tue-17th) - Finally, after such a long delay, I was at last riding my black beauty onto the ferry at Sharjah docks, which overnight would carry us across the Strait of Hormuz to Bandar Abbas, Iran.

Who would have thought it .. eh? Iran, that most enigmatic of all countries.

I wonder what lies ahead?

Stayed tuned - and just like me, you'll soon find out.

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