Mt Ararat

7 05 2011


This ain’t no Mt Arapilies. It’s where Noah, allegedly, crashed his overloaded ark after 5 months of floating about. And it’s big.


What? What do you mean I can’t tick a mountain unless I climb it? Ok, well, I’ll conceded this one, but we might have to talk about a change to the rules when I finally get to the Himalayas. Soon.

East gobble gobble gobble

4 05 2011

This is a bit out of date, but to keep everyone back home up to date with what’s been going on…

2011_04_29 17_51_19I left Cappadocia and rode like crazy to meet Jurg and Rahel in Erzurum. That was where the hotel from the last post was located. I bummed about there for a few days, because I was too fast. J&R arrived, but the following day it rained and was utterly miserable, so we talked a lot and then did the only sensible thing – bought a big cake and celebrated Rahel’s birthday (which is in June). Why not? – we just needed to have an excuse to scoff a cake – and Jurg and I had already had birthday cakes in Santorini.

2011_05_01 11_11_58Jurg and Rahel had decided to go around Iran (via Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea), since they couldn’t get an Iranian visa, so they were heading north, while I should have been continuing east. But I couldn’t let them escape that easily, so I took their route for a few days. It was good to be riding with friends again, and this makes 3 continents that we’ve ridden on together (random fact of the day). The rain let off, and came back agian, the roads were not so busy, but somehow they picked some big hills to go over. It was very pleasant riding for a few days.

The day we parted I was sorry to see them go. So I put on an audiobook, and put some energy into going a fair way. Over a pass and through the biggest town in the area. I probably should have stopped there for the night, but I kept on and as I climbed over the next pass I was watching several storms raging all around me (lots of lightning). One 2011_05_03 13_17_15of them came my way and drenched me just on sunset so I pulled in at the next small town (Dağpinar). I asked a soldier if there was a place to stay. There always seems to be a soldier around, the number of army seems to be increasing the further east I go. He didn’t speak any English, but indicated there was not. He pointed me to the bus station and townships council offices, which were closed for the day. This brought me to a very small shop, where I met the owner who spoke a few words of English. Somehow, with the help of Google Translate (which I’ve used a few times, with varying degrees of success, to have conversations), we established that there was a place I could put my tent out the back, with the cows, horses, mud, rain and cold. Or I could come to stay in his house.

Well… what could I do? I accepted and Hakan and I drank tea and chatted using the computer until 11pm (still raining). By then I was dead tired and didn’t have much energy to have a conversation with the rest of the family when I got to his (as it turned out) parents house. I was put up in the ‘spare’, ‘guest’ bedroom, which also happened to accommodate Hakan’s brother. We agreed to go back to the shop at about 7am (early for me with such a late night).

2011_05_04 08_03_37So at 6am I woke to Hakan pulling away my blankets, and about 60 seconds later we were walking back to the shop. I hung around the shop for a while, being a celebrity and (I’m sure) earning Hakan some kudos by being the one who put this strange foreigner and his bike up for the night. We ate some breakfast, had tea, took photos and the morning rush happened. It could be that most of the sales from this shop are sweets and chips for the children. The school was right next door. I talked and messed about with the kids until they cleared off for lessons. The day had finally warmed up and I was thinking about making tracks when a group of girls came out of the school, approached me and asked me to come in and teach them English. The teacher had asked them to come and get me.

2011_05_04 11_01_48But I can’t teach English! I was eventually convinced and was brought in to find the teacher. I realised that I haven’t been inside a school for many, many years – and this was a primary school – apparently the secondary school was down the hill in the city. I’m not sure if the teacher really did send for me, but she brought me in and I spent the next 2 hours being displayed to several of the classes of older, hyperactive, kids. I’m not sure I taught them any English, but it was fun to talk about what I’ve been up to and at least they now know where Australia is!

New High Score

23 04 2011

Well! After 5 days of hanging around in Cappadocia, I must have recharged or something. Yesterday everything seemed to work well, and I pulled off a new high score. 220km in a day. That beats my previous best in South America of 209km (which was the first day in Argentina, where you come down several thousand meters from the altiplano of Bolivia), or 190km in Egypt. I must admit I had a tail wind for some of the day, but I was climbing overall (1,500 high meters).

You don’t have to be impressed, but you should be. It took me almost 11 hours riding time, 7 chocolate bars, and 2 packets of muesli bars (that I was given by Abdullah when I left his place). I left in 6°C, it dropped to 4C and the high was about 15C. It rained twice, but by then I was on a mission and didn’t bother with the rain coat.

I listened to most of an audio book. The scenery is quite nice, but even though it’s almost 1500m altitude it’s surprisingly flat. Almost like the Bolivian altiplano (although it’s much easier to breathe at only 1500m). Needless to say I was quite tired after a day like that, and couldn’t find a great place to camp, so I stayed in a small clump of trees by the road. Too tired to cook, I ate a can of beans and passed out. And only woke up when it started to rain (always fun having a wet tent…), and then again quite late (09:30). I managed to get away by 10:00, but because of the late start, and more rain today I could only back up with 110km. But tonight I’ve found a great campsite. Right next to a rather large river, just outside a small farming village well off the main road. If only it would stop raining!

I have a bit of a target to achieve – Jurg and Rahel will be back in Erzurum in a few days and I’d like to meet them there. They are threatening to bring chocolate back from Norway. I’m sure I can help them eat it as a belated Easter.