March already! While we have been busy planning, drawing up schedules, checking websites, reviewing visa requirements and generally getting more organised, we are get closer to departing from Australia, under four weeks to go and I can hear the ‘tick’ ‘toc’ ‘tick’ ‘toc’ of the clock getting louder. Anne is ahead on the packing front, ready to depart now and I have a vague mental pile of what I need to take. The action list seems to be like the tide, it appears to be retreating, then rushes back in again, higher than before as we identify new tasks. All this activity has been focused on heading out across Europe, through Iran and the ‘Stans’ and onwards to Mongolia. However………
A week ago we suddenly realised that we would be in Iran and the ‘Stans’ during Ramadan which is from the end of May to the end of June this year. The main reason we are returning to this region is to spend time with friends, which would be more difficult for them during Ramadan (when eating and drinking during day light hours is not allowed). We have been so focused on weather, visa and associated timing issues, we missed this additional dimension. At the same time, I had been discussing airfreight options with Air Canada both to and from Canada ahead of the release of their 2017 ‘Fly your Bike’ program.
As we walked last Saturday, for our usual morning constitutional, we both realised that all the issues we had been considering, Ramadan, air freight options, ferry capacity from Vladivostok to South Korea in July, crossing Europe during upcoming elections etc, could be ameliorated by a change of direction!
We are now going round the world (RTW) from East to West instead! Unwinding our previous trip in a directional sense. No more sunrises in our eyes, just sunsets.
So we will ship the motorcycles back to Montreal, where we completed our 2014/15 RTW trip, with Air Canada in mid April. We will then head west across North America to the west coast and then ship Streak and Storm to South Korea, take the ferry to Vladivostok and overland back to Europe via Mongolia, the ‘Stans’ and Iran. All in the same timeframe we hope. The flight to Montreal is booked for the 13th of April and we need to wait until 30 days before departure to book Streak and Storm, a normal air cargo procedure.
It may seem a little strange, so close to our departure to turn everything around, but the ball of visa spaghetti that Anne has so eloquently drawn and written about can be untangled in many different ways one strand at a time.
We have always said that it is easier being on the road dealing with the challenges: visas, shipping, routes etc as they occur than tackling the sometimes overwhelming task list we seem to build before departure. Our change in direction really only affects our sequencing of visas, we will now do more of them on the road. (Pity we had already paid for and obtained our Letters of Introduction for our Iranian visas which are now obsolete due to the change of dates.) The other advantage we have is that having undertaken a similar trip before, we are comfortable in making this decision based on the experience we have already.
We also had my annual medical heart checkup this week. I felt like the proverbial hamster in the wheel while on the treadmill doing the stress test, fast running out of puff as the speed and angle of attack were increased, seems the gradual rate of increase approach of the past has been changed. The good news is that I did not collapse and get flung off the back to become another stain on the wall and the specialist saw no changes that would require action or an adjustment in my medication. A clean bill of health and good for another 12 months. He wished us a good trip and I will see him again next year. Excellent news, always good to tick another box.
How will it all turn out? You will need to stay tuned for further instalments over the next seven months.