Touring Ted

2 wheels & no sense. My Motorcycle travel blog.

Archive for October, 2010

well, it’s been a long time since my last post and so much has happened that I don’t know where to start.

From my last post, we were all kicking back and enjoying the sun, sea and scuba in Hurghada, Egypt..

We left Hurgharda and headed down the Nile to luxor.  The same old story of blazing sun, desert roads, dead dogs and cut throat truck drivers tooting you along.  As we approached luxor things started to change. GREENARY !! Oh how i’ve missed it. The water irrigation really shows here and there are trees and fields running along the nile.  Even though the blazing sun would melt your visor, seeing flowers and palm trees lifted our spirita and urged us on.

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Eventually, we rolled into town and immediatly into the only camping ground in Luxor. Reziky camping (or something lol). Is a bit of a haven for overland trucks, bikes and landrovers… They have good camping, showers, wifi and A BAR  :) 
 The prices were rediculously expensive and required much bartering to get the beer down from 2 quid a bottle to 95p ! My salesmen skill come in handy now and again !  It was nice to chill out for a few days here and do nothing but play with the resident stray kittens.

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Not much for us in luxor so off we headed to Aswan and the ferry to Sudan. we knew this would be a nightmare of paperwork and running around so no one was really keen to go there…

We left early and after a few hours of desert road, we got there in one piece. We had the address of Mr Saleh, the shipping agent who would organise our tickets so headed straight there through backstreets, over railway tracks, between parked trucks. We had the wrong address !!!!  Just to add to my stress I realised that I had lost my offfical Egyptian number plate on the way somewhere ! These plates are was essential to hand back to the police in order to leave the country.. ahhhhhhhhhhh !! Not a happy bunny !

I decided to ride back the way I came to where I thought I might of lost it. Cam had clipped my bike in the madness of the traffic which I dismissed at the time but it was probably where my plate was lost. .. I rode up and down the roads scouring the dirty litter covered streets with to no evail..  Just when I thought life couldnt get any worse, a taxi driver decided to pull out in front of me requiring an emergency stop on a sandy patch of road.. Down went me and the bike !! .. Much swearing and hand genstures later  I was back upright with a broken exhaust bracket  and a temperature warning light.. Great !! could today get any worse !  at least I was ok !

I met back up with the other guys who by then had been adopted by a local copper who drove us aimlessly around town in the baking heat, taking us nowhere useful at all.. why ????  Anyway, we were saved by Matt’s GPS maps which showed the ferry company all along so off we blasted through the town just to find it was shut.

Now, the next task…. We all needed an extra number plate as we were meant to be issued with two in Alexandria. I  had NONE at all after my incident so was riding around illegaly and wouldnt be allowed out of Egypt without them. In true African style, we decided to forge some. We rode around looking for workshops and were eventually led to an old market by throwing a local kid on the back of Neils bike. I showed them a photo of my plate and they got to work making us some great forgeries while serving us tea and generally mucking around.. What a great experince.

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By now we were all pissed off, knackered, roasting in our bike clothes and dead tired. Off we headed to “Adams place”, a kind of hostel in the desert where we we could sleep and cook..  what a place though. Run by friendly nubians.

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The next couple of days in Aswan were a NIGHTMARE !! Running around from one office to the next with piles of paper we didnt understand. Paying for this and that, showing passports, getting lost, photocopying, waiting around, more waiting around and even more waiting around.  It’s an experience I never want to repeat and sums up Egyptian efficiency and beaurocracy perfectly.  Finally on monday morning, we were convoyed down to the port, passed off our fake plates,  finished our paperwork and customs and settled in for the the six hour wait to load our bikes on the barge and board the ferry. 

Now, loading the barge was a story in itself… It was a battered old barge with a broken ramp and obviously too small. It was a hustle and bustle of shouting and logistics but we finally got the vehicles on even after after a big German truck broke the ramp and beached the barge ! A few of the bikes had to be stashed on another barge so lets hope they make it to Sudan too….It was 6pm and just in time to get ourselves on the pasenger ferry.

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The passenger ferry was in itself an experience of a lifetime. 320 sudanese and egyptians with a years worth of shopping on a ferry built for maybe 150 people with no luggage. We were crammed into a small corner on the top deck, hopping and crawling over people and their belongings and thats where we spent the next 17 hours. Some us up sneaked up a ladder and onto the roof of the bridge to sleep and many people ended up in lifeboats and hanging off the sides etc ! Very funny !  We got into port at noon the next day and after an hour or two of hustle and bustle to get us and our bags off the boat we arrived in Sudan !!

So here I am, in wadi Halfa, sudan ! I’m waiting for the slow barge to arrive and then to head south to khartoum.  This small border town isnt really much to talk about but the Sudanese people are so warm and friendly and have a great sense of humour. The toilet in our “hotel” is a festering hole in the ground that you can smell from 50 feet away and the shower is a bucket of mudy water… still, I think im going to like Sudan !


08.10.2010

Well, what a time we’re having in Egypt. It’s been a right ol’e mixture of highs and lows. Where do I start !!

We got ourselves booked into a cosey hotel in Cairo in what seems like months ago. Nice place with a roof top pool, good internet, breakfast etc. The manager kindly let me haggle him down to 10 quid a night as long as he could jam four of us in a double room with some matresses… We will do anything for a discount and he even threw in free breakie when I told him I was going to send him lots of overlander business… Its the Swiss Inn, Giza !! Plugged !! :)

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We were all set to go into the city centre the next day, visit the embassies and get our visas for Sudan and Ethiopia and head south asap for the ferry to Sudan. We got our “letters of invitation” from the British Embassy easily enough so we set off for the Ethiopian embassy to get that stamp.  After walking around in the baking heat looking for an embassy that didnt exist (thanks lonely planet), asking loads of people, shops, soldiers, cab drivers etc we FINALLY found the embassy in its new hidden location.. It had just closed !! Great !
 Just as well really as they told us we needed our Sudanese visas first. The Sudanese Embassy was closed by then so back to the hotel for lazing around the pool… 

Next day, off we went to the Sudanese embassy to put our applications in… “Come back in four days” was the reply !  GREAT !  There went our plans to make the  Monday Ferry to Sudan and also our room was only booked until Saturday night and the hotel was now full… ahhhh

The silver lining in our plan was that I just recieved an email from fellow Brit  overlanders, Matt & Kim who were also waiting for their visas and were staying in a great little hostel in central Cairo. Bikes packed up and off we headed into the mayhem to find this place.

We eventually rocked up to a lovely little place called the “let me Inn” hostel run by a wonderful old couple and their friends. Very warm and welcoming and almost stress free if the 1920’s elevator didnt keep jamming between floors and slipping on it’s cables ! GULP !!

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By now, we’d been in Cairo over a week and it was really draining on us.. 

Luckily we were saved by Ali………..

We were all walking through town when Neil got talking to an Egyptian guy called Ali who invited us to his small village near the pyramids in Saquara. He wouldnt take no for an answer and arrangments were made to meet him the next day. We saddled up, met Ali (who just jumped on the back of Neils back) and were were whisked off through the city, into the country, through towns and then into his village.  This was REAL Egypt, where woman carried bags on their heads, goats lived in the kitchen and most of the kids hadn’t seen a tourist on a motorbike. We were instant celebs and show the unmost hospitality. We were cooked a meal by his family and taken for a private tour of closed Pyramids accross the desert as Ali’s father happened to be the town major !  A very tiring day.. Stuffing our faces, playing with the local kids and getting our bikes stuck in the desert, but it really broke up our frustration and boredom with Cairo.

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Monday came around and all six of us (Me, Neil, Cam, Craig, Matt & Kim) headed down to the Sudanese Embassy to collect our visas.  We all had an approval apart from Neil.. … “Come back tomorrow” & ” Not my problem” were the only grunts we got from the official..
 This was really bad news as it meant Neil would have to wait four more days to gethis Ethiopian visas due to the Arabic weekend and a public holiday. The five lucky ones decided to take a crazy fast cab to the Ethopian embassy and get our visas which we got the same day ! Neil couldnt bare to wait another four day in Cairo so ew decided to obtain it in Khartoom instead. Hopefully it will work out ok !

SOOOOOO !!  Out of Cairo we rolled and as we had now missed the ferry and the one the following week was booked out. (yes, we forgot to book it and have to wait until the 18th Oct)

As we have time to kill, the decision was made to ride up to Ismalia and visit the Suez canal. It turned out to be a 3-4 hour round trip to look at one big shit in a canal. hmmm ! Not my idea of time well spent but it was better than sitting in a hostel. 

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This rather long detour and our lack of sunset judgement put us in the outskirts of Suez, on a motorway with the sun going down very rapidly. We got to the point where it was just dangerous to carry on with the terrible roads and crazy fast truckers going hell for leather.  A wild camp it would have to be…
 We spotted a dirt track heading into the rocky moutains and very luckily it led us into a disused quarry where we spent a very cool night unders the stars. Our only company being cheaky long eared foxed and clicking bats ! Great fun though and 100% free :)  One of those memorable nights to be sure.

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We set off at 7am the next morning and headed down the coast road all the way to Hurgharda ! Six hours of sore bottom riding later (only broken up by a dip in the red sea on the way where I stood on a sea porcupine and got a foot full of spines) and here we are !!

We are chilling out here now, doing some scuba diving, sunbathing and bike maintenance. Soon we will leave for Luxor and then to Aswan for the boat to Sudan.

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Cairo to Hurghada