Disclaimer: Due to the number of comments that have been received it has been felt necessary to clarify that this trip is in no way based on "The Long Way Round" which the authors of the trip were not aware and nor was it first broadcast of at the time at which this trip was drunkenly conceived. The authors of this trip would like to distinguish their intended trip from the journey undertaken in "The Long Way Round" in that unlike Charlie Borman and Ewan McGregor they are not experienced riders (they have both only been riding motorbikes for just over one year), they are not receiving sponsorship and they will not have a support crew with them at any point on the journey. Just to avoid any further confusion it has been thought that it would be helpful to point out that Tom Horovitch and Peter Caley are both fictional characters and are not famous film stars.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Final Post - Patnem Beach, Goa, India - 14,795 miles from London ... and Ghent, Belgium - 250 miles from London

Tom at the Taj Mahal
As many of you will now already know on the 30th January 2007 Tom unexpectedly passed away while he was visiting Bombay with friends. His death came as a complete shock to everyone he knew and my heart goes out to all of his family and friends. I for one am still struggling to get my head around what has happened and it is with a real sense of disbelief that I write these few words. Tom was a warm, intelligent and wonderful person and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. We had the most amazing trip down to India and I know that Tom was proud and happy to have achieved what he did in face of the many obstacles and difficulties we faced and the fact that we reached India shows, to my mind, how strong a person he was; during his last few months here in India Tom was incredibly relaxed and was loving life, the people he met and the country he was in and we must take some consolation from that. For my part I could not have had a better travelling companion and friend with which to do what we did and the time we spent together since we left London merely strengthened the friendship we had developed in the years that I have passed since I first got to know him and made me see even more clearly the many qualities Tom had which made him such a good and loyal friend.
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Tom on the train to Kerala

If anyone wants to ask me anything about Tom’s death or to pass any messages onto Tom’s family then they should please e-mail me on peter@motorbiketrip.com and I will contact you directly as soon as I can.

We had originally planned that the final entry on the website would be about something that had happened right at the very start of our trip, but we had not told anyone about owing to the fact that it would have been somewhat embarrassing to put as one of our first posts!. To my mind though it only seems right that I finish the website as he had wanted to finish it and so put the post on the site.
On the second day of our trip (6th June 2006 for those who have forgotten – I did!), and after having left the campsite we spent our first night away in, we were making good progress through Belgium with the intention of getting to either Holland or Germany by the end of the day; however, in what was to become a fairly common occurrence for the rest of the trip, disaster stuck. Riding at a speed in the fast lane of the E17, with Tom a few cars ahead of me, I happened to notice lying on the side of the motorway a metal box looking remarkably similar to Tom’s left hand pannier. As I shot past it I realized that in fact it was Tom’s pannier. Hastily cutting across the three lanes of traffic I pulled into the hard shoulder and leaving the bike I ran back just in time to see the pannier be hit by a car. The car was presumably OK as it carried on and seemed to have wavered little in its progress. The pannier had suffered a noticeably worse fate though as I saw Tom’s clothes scattered along the side of the motorway luckily remaining in the central reservation. After waiting for a gap in the traffic I ran across the road, grabbed as much of Tom’s stuff as I could and ran back to the relative safety of the hard shoulder. Getting back to my bike I was, at that moment, called by Tom who had pulled into the service station a few miles further along the motorway because another motorcyclist had pulled up next to him and pointed frantically at Tom’s bike. Tom had not felt anything when the pannier fell off and it was with some shock that, when looking at his bike at the service station, the puzzlement he felt when trying to work out what the other motorcyclist was pointing out was instantly answered by the sight of the gap on the left side of the bike.
Tom's Pannier Tom's bike minus a pannier
He told me afterwards that his first thought when he realized what had happened was that the pannier had hit me and that something had happened to me, but when he saw that the traffic was still flowing he knew that was unlikely. After we had spoken he came back to meet me and just as he arrived the local police pulled up; it seems a passing motorist had called them out having been confused as to why a guy was sitting on the hard shoulder with a BMW bike, a bent metal box and a pile of clothes next to him.
The police helped us to get our things to the service station and once we had sorted ourselves out we were then faced with the problem of how to get out of this mess. In the end we managed to limp to the nearby town of Ghent and spent a few days there getting Tom’s pannier repaired so that we could carry on. The garage who eventually helped us, did manage to rig something together for us and when we got to Oulu we eventually got hold of a replacement pannier. It is amusing now to think that the pannier that fell off in Belgium and which was replaced was in fact the same pannier that was hit by my bike when we had our accident in Kazakhstan!

Written by Peter

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Patnam Beach, Goa, India - 14,795 miles from London

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It is 11th January, but it still seems to be Christmas here in Patnam.

A blog entry by Tom

I’ve moved beaches from Palolem to Patnam, a quieter and more idyllic beach, only a short ride away on the fishing boat that I hired for the move. As I unloaded the metal boxes (I had Peter’s
too) and huge top bags I was greeted by sun bathers wanting to know why I had so much luggage and whether I was doing something like making a documentary. Sorry to disappoint, I explained that I was merely on a motorbike trip and was too lazy to pack the bike and would be returning to Palolem to pick it up later.

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A holy cow lies on Patnam beach.

So I left Palolem after Christmas and new year with memories of meeting lots of random and many interesting people, late nights and staying awake to watch too many sun rises including the one on Christmas day, an unfestive but very pleasant and drunken Christmas and a new year with friends from England who had come to see me on their way to other places in India. It was extremely sad to see them go and reminded me one of the reasons why I have been so home sick at various points on this trip. I also spent much time with Anders, the biker from Denmark who we have met at various points and who made it down to Goa just in time to spend Christmas here.

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Bud and Ollie enjoying their meals at Ma-Rita's on Palolem beach

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New Years Eve on Palolem beach - Penny on the left, John, Sarah and me

It feels like we have reached the half way point in this trip and now a number of issues need to be addressed. I suppose this is the perfect place to address them; in a calm and collective way and this is also a good excuse to stay here for what seems like excessive period of time. The issues as I see them are:

Peter’s intensions for the rest of the trip. He left for England on 23rd December and proposed to his girlfriend, Miriam. Congratulations are in order because she accepted (!!) and Peter returned here two days ago. I have no idea what he is planning to do, and I am not sure whether he does either. Before he left he was talking about going home to be with Miriam and not continuing on to Australia. My suspicions that he will do this have been aroused further when I spotted on the floor of his hut the Lonely Planet guides for Iran and Pakistan and I realised from this that one option for him is to travel overland back home. I think he needs time to decide what is right for him, as do I, but I think there is a possibility that we will not be traveling on together. I do however sincerely hope we do.

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Peter returns...

The next issue is my bike which has serious oil leak that must be fixed before I carry on. Oil is leaking from what is called the rear axle final drive and if I continue with this problem I risk ruining the gear-box. It appears that the problem is due to a faulty seal and is probably a manufacturers problem with the bike. BMW in the UK have been extremely unhelpful and say we need to replace the entire unit (900 GBP) and that they need the old unit back before they would consider this as a warranty issue. They also don’t have the unit in stock in either the UK or Germany and can’t say how long it would take to get it. They also say that to do the work we need a special tool that they are unable to show us. However, Anders who is a self taught mechanic, has actually managed to take the whole unit off the bike, have the tool made locally and thinks the problem can be fixed by simply replacing the seal which has ordered from a friend who knows someone at BMW in Switzerland. So it looks like we are getting there with this problem and I must say a massive “thank you” for all Anders’s help with this.

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Anders talking off the rear axle final drive. The special tool he had made is in his hand. The axle is still on the bike at this point.

Lastly, the route that we are going to take it a big consideration. Where do we go from here? I have already mentioned that Peter is considering going home and I suppose that is a realistic possibility for me too. Although it is extremely cheap to live here in India, shipping costs and petrol are expensive and I am running out of the money that I put aside for the trip. So returning to England, either riding the bike or shipping it back, is a possibility.
If one or both of us were to carry on toward Australia the most ambitious route would be to go to Nepal and then cross back into China. In China we would go cross province to the border with Laos. This is meant to be very difficult, mainly due to the logistics, and I am not too sure if many people have ever done this on a motorbike. From Laos the journey would then take us down in Thailand and then Indonesia where we would island hop until we could find a boat to take us to Australia. Anders is keen to do this and he has a contact in China who can help to organize this trip – so one option would be to go with him. There is also a possibility that he can find other people who want to do the same trip and we could travel in a group to keep the cost down.
Probably the least ambitious plan would be to do something like ride to Madras (in the south of India), put the bike on a boat to Thailand, then ride to Singapore and put the bike on a boat from there to Australia. Perhaps ride across Australia and then come home.

There are many factors to consider, but something like a plan will come together in the next month, during which time I may take a train and explore Kerela and Mumbai while I wait for spare parts to arrive for the bike.

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Francis, Carole, me and Dad having lunch on Patnam beach.

My father, brother and his girlfriend all came out on New Year’s day and are here until the 15th January. It is wonderful to see them and they have brought something to me here that I find it difficult to put into words so I am not going to even try. My father has rented a house in Patnam and I am currently staying in a little room attached to the front of that house. We are using the front of the building to repair the bikes and we are using a spare room to lay out the luggage, the tools and spare parts. We all do our own thing, but we meet as and when. Francis is doing a yoga course, Carole seems to be getting into alternative medicine and writes her diary and Dad reads, swims and does a lot of walking. They all say that they don’t want to leave and are having a great time. Goa is a transient place, where people come for a short time have fun, make bonds and leave. It is hardest when those closest to you leave a place like this. I will leave too one day!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Merry Christmas from Palolem Beach, Goa, India - 14,791 miles from London

Christmas Photo

Ho, ho, ho! A very happy Christmas to one and all! This cheesy photo was taken in June, many thousands of miles back. The Santa Claus pictured is not one of the fakes that you see in shopping centres in the UK, but the real guy. He lives in Rovaniemi, Finland on the dividing line of the Arctic Circle. He seemed like a jolly nice chap.

Entry by Tom (photo by one of Santa's little helpers)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Palolem Beach, Goa, India - 14,791 miles from London

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Palolem Beach in Goa - our home for the next couple of months
After five months on the road, having ridden through sixteen countries and covered over fourteen and a half thousand miles we can finally give ourselves a bit of a rest as we have reached Goa and are planning on staying here for both Christmas and New Year until sometime in January.Since we left Agra we have been back to Delhi to pick up the bikes and from there we have ridden south stopping at Jaipur, the tiger park at Ranthambore, the abandoned city of Mandu, the ancient Buddhist caves at Ajanta, Aurangabad famous for it's "Baby Taj Mahal" and a handful of other places en route with little in the way of mainstream tourist sites but with sufficient numbers of friendly local people and glimpses of normal Indian life to have made the journey memorable, albeit, given the distance we have travelled, very tiring.

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The outside of the The Hawa Mahal at Jaipur - built to allow aristocratic women the chance to stare at the masses and the every day life of Jaipur without being seen themselves
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One of the three tigers we saw at Ranthambore Tiger Park

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The peaceful long abandoned ruins at Mandu

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Tom forcibly meeting and greeting locals at Dhule after we msitakenly made a brief stop in the centre of town - both Tom and the bikes are in the photo if you look hard enough!

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A picture (completely failing to do justice) of the amazing cave sculptures inside the caves at Ajanta

The Baby Taj Mahal in Aurangabad - Web-site quality photo
The Baby Taj Mahal at Aurangabad

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Peter on the final stretch of road into Goa - Web-site quality photo
Tom and Peter on the final, unexpectedly incredibly difficult to ride, stretch of road before we arrived in Goa

Written by Peter

Friday, November 24, 2006

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

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A camal stands across theYamuna river from the Taj Mahal.
(underlined text is a hyper-link to Wikipedia)

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The Taj Mahal - one of the classic views of the monument which was built as a mausoleum for the favourite wife of the Mughal Emperor Shāh Jahān. We arrived at 6am to see the sun rise and to get some pictures before the crowds built up.

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Us outside the Taj Mahal. Have you seen enough picture of it yet?!

To see more pictures click here to go to our Flickr photo gallery

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Whilst in Agra, as well as the Taj Mahal, we visited a number of the other famous sites including Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb, which is sometimes called the baby Taj, Agra Fort (which we saw from the outside only) and we took a trip out to Fatehpur Sikri (pictured) which is a whole town built by the Mughal emperor Akbar only to be abandoned shortly after completion due to a lack of water in the area!

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We traveled to Agra by train with Laurent and Anders. Laurent is pictured here outside Fatelpur Sikri petting puppies (a favourite past-time of his - he also pets sacred cows and goats). We will be leaving Laurent and Anders behind in Delhi as they need to wait for parts and repairs to be performed on their bikes. We hope to see them again in the south of the country over the Christmas period.
Entry by Tom

Monday, November 20, 2006

Delhi, India - 13,188 miles from London

Our Indian mobile numbers: Peter: +91 99 15363918 ; Tom: +91 99 15363922

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A monk spins the prayer wheels in Mcloed Ganj, India, the home of the 14th Dali Lama and the Tibetan government in exile.

To see more pictures click here to go to our Flickr photo gallery

We crossed into India after spending a four days in Lahore, the city known as the cultural capital of Pakistan. As well as visiting the usual tourist sites and the India / Pakistan border closing ceremony we were privileged to go to a Sufi spiritual event where drummers played hypnotically until 2am, huge amounts of dope was smoked and Sufi dancers spun around to the tribal sounding beat. Even though we smoked no dope, the whole thing was pretty mesmerising and a facinating insight into the cultural side of this strain of the muslim religion.

Crossing into India we were blatantly aware that we were joining the tourist trail after many months off it. I personally welcomed this change finding it comforting to be around Westerners and English speaking Indians after so long in places where the language barrier had meant that we were often in a state of confusion about what was going on around us. Also, not only were we crossing over into the largest democracy in the world, we were entering the first democracy that we had been in since Russia (back in August). In the border town of Amritsar we joined hundreds of tourists and thousands of Sikhs who were walking around the Golden Temple. Entrance to the temple and the museum is totally free and, if you are hungry, we discovered that you can eat there for free too! After a day in Amristar we made our way up to Mcloed Ganj in the foothills of the Himalayas. The town proved to be quite a cool tourist hang out with lots of vegetarian cafes, places offering yoga and Tibetan cookery courses and a handful of Dennis Hopper hippy types wondering around in bare feet. It is of course the home of the Dali Lama who we saw very briefly when he passed us in a car.

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A Sikh man bathing in the pool which surrounds The Goldern Temple in Amritsar, India

We were joined in Mcloed Ganj by two bikers, Laurent from Switzerland and Anders from Denmark. We had first met them in Almaty, Kazakhstan and then again at the camp site in Islamabad where Anders had kindly helped to fix my brakes and side boxes after the accident I had on the Karakorum Highway. We decided to ride together for a while, and this was to be the first time on the trip where we had traveled with anyone else. We set off from Mcloed Ganj and headed for Kalka where we planned to get the narrow gauge train up the steep climb to Shimla, a hill station originally established by the British. We estimated the ride to Kalka would only take a day, but as a result of slow road which twisted through the hillsides we had to break the journey halfway and continue the next day.

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Robin, a round the world cyclist, getting ready to clear customs at the Pakistan / India border.

We arrived in Kalka on the afternoon on the second day and spent much of that afternoon buying tickets for the train, an unbelievably arduous process. We bordered the train at 5.30 am the following morning and made the 5 hour 90 km ascent. It was raining in Shimla and due to the altitude we found ourselves wandering around the main shopping street looking at the British architecture in the clouds. If the clouds had been sea mist it would have been just like a wet weekend in Scarborough up there, made even more surreal by the presence of monkeys and large numbers of Indians. After a very expensive gin and tonic (incidentally we hadn't had a drink for quite a few weeks due to the ban on alcohol in Pakistan) at a very impressive hotel, we boarded the train for the 5 hour decent. Yesterday morning we left Kalka and made the surprisingly easy ride to Delhi where we pitched up at a very cheap guest house (about two pounds a night) with prison cell like rooms, but a nice atmosphere and cricket constantly showing on the television. My first impressions of Delhi are that it much less polluted than I had expected and much more developed and ordered with an impressive metro system which is in the process of being extending to the suburbs. I think I was expecting Delhi to be more like Lahore, but these are boom times in India and things seem to be very different here compared to Pakistan.


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A stripped down truck at a truck painting yard in Rawaipindi (the city adjoining Islamabad), Pakistan. Trucks (usually old Bedford trucks) in Pakistan are very elaborately decorated inside and out with such things as brightly painted murals, coloured lights, clinking chains and spinning flowers. The cab doors are even replaced with hand crafted wooden doors.

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Chinese rally drivers taking pictures of the bike with over-sized cameras outside Indian customs on the Pakistan / India border. We had seen the same rally drivers in Kashgar, China.

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Stirring up the crowds at the India / Pakistan border closing ceremony.

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The entrance to Lahore Fort, from inside the complex.

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A "river" in Lahore, Pakistan, a very dirty and polluted city.

Laurent (left) and Anders (right) at the campsite in Islamabad. Anders's bike, which he was repairing at the time, is pictured.

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A polite notice outside KFC in Lahore, where incidentally all the staff are deaf and you have to order using a "point it" menu.

Written by Tom