Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


The dog stopped barking when he saw me, ran up to me, and gave me a big lick on the leg. He then sat on my lap, trying to lick my face as I relaxed under the trees looking out at the 40 year old eucalyptus tree.

Comunidad Gren

Comunidad Gren

All this green had popped up out of an absolute barren moonscape. Not a blade of grass and then, suddenly, trees and signs of life on the side of the road. Comunidad Gen. An old lady came out of a hut under the trees. She talked and talked in Spanish – happy to see someone. Noone ever comes during the week. Have I seen the chickens, goats, rabbits and ducks? The water for all this is transported from the coast. She has been here from the beginning, and planted that eucalyptus tree 40 years ago. She was proud of the project and happy with life.

Comunidad Gren

Comunidad Gren

It was hot today and the sun was just so strong. Not a cloud in the sky. Nothing but blue sky and bright sand. I would stop under the shade of road signs to put more sunscreen on and had lunch in the shade behind a truck weigh station building.

Near Comunidad Gren

Near Comunidad Gren

Near Comunidad Gren

Near Comunidad Gren

I passed the Tropic of Capricorn as I was blown forward by a strong tailwind.

Tropic of Capricorn

Tropic of Capricorn

I’m in Baquedano – a mining town. It has a bit of a wild west frontier feeling. It’s the last stop before I leave the main road and head towards the small town of Peine – 208km away.

Baquedano

Baquedano

Baquedano

Baquedano

Baquedano

Baquedano


‘Give me a tip. 20,000 or 40,000 – it’s up to you.’ ($A40 or $A80). What could I do? He had my bike.

How did this happen?

‘Antofagasta?’
‘Yes,’ I replied, bike and luggage in hand at Santiago airport, freshly out from customs, just through the sliding door.
‘You’re going to be late!’
That’s when the whirlwind started.
He whisked me away, up lifts, across hallways, jumping queues.
My bag was dropped off at the check-in and the bike was whisked away to oversized luggage by his colleagues while we ran to security.
He also took me past the ATM. I wanted to go to one anyway.

So, my bike with his colleagues somewhere back there and security ahead, he asked for a tip. And not a small one. I only had large denomination notes and he knew it. He had been helpful. He was an airport official. But asking for the tip made me wonder if my bike was going to arrive in Antofagasta at all.

I used my newly refreshed Spanish at the gate to check that the luggage was, indeed, on the plane.

Nothing bad had happened. Lesson learned. Be careful.

The bike arrived in one piece and survived me putting it together.

My evening and next day in Antofagasta was spent sitting on the balcony, getting provisions for crossing the Atacama Desert and watching kids dance in large square.

View from my balcony

View from my balcony

A nice lawn for urination

A nice lawn for urination

The dancing kids

The dancing kids

It seemed that the dancers were all teenage girls, some non-binary kids and effeminate guys. Quite an interesting mix.

Tomorrow the bike trip starts – up and out of Antofagasta and into the Atacama Desert.


In a few weeks time I will be cycling across the driest desert in the world in Chile and up onto high altitude plains studded with volcanos and brightly coloured lakes with flamingos in Bolivia. Then its across the Salar de Uyuni – a huge dry salt lake that stretches off into the horizon. Here is the planned part of my route (several different options) before I take the main road to La Paz. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Thanks to some great blogs with very useful resources for the trip.

 

Laguna Colorada

Laguna Colorada. Image from https://www.etnikuschile.com/bolivia

Sydney Summer Rides video

Posted: August 6, 2019 in Uncategorized

There is so much amazing nature at Sydney’s doorstep, and its just a train and bike trip away. In the summer of 2018-19 I made a series of Sydney day cycle trip videos, and have put them together into a collection video. Take a look at the video, and read more about the individual trips.


Now that the Indian Himalayas cycling trip is finished, I have put together a video of my activities. 🙂
I hope you enjoy it!


That was an experience. Haircut, face massage that included a beating of the head and shaving foam massaged into my face for a very long time. Feels good. The things you do on a recover from altitude sickness day off.

Hair salon

Hair salon

I went to bed last night planning to climb 1000m into the heavens to see the world from above. This morning my headache made me consider otherwise. I decided to take the main road to the big town and chill. I realised I had made the right decision when every bump in the road made the headache worse. On arriving I went to the German bakery and ate a loaf of bread, a cinnamon scroll and another pastry.

I was hungry

I was hungry

I then went to bed. That’s what one does on a day off. Tomorrow some beautiful monasteries.


I sat on the balcony, breathing in the view of the massive mountains on the opposite side of the valley. In front was the temple village of Kalpa. Slowly, slowly, the shadows of the mountains behind crept up the mountains in front until it faded to darkness.

Kalpa

Kalpa

The weather changed with a thunderstorm at 2am last night. It was cloudy and beautiful weather for climbing up the valley today.

Rock cut road

Rock cut road

The narrow road was cut out of a vertical cliff in parts. In others it dropped down to run just above the river.

Bridge

Bridge

There were lots of hydro electricity plants and lots of military garrisons. Regularly I was passed by one military truck after the next. You can tell this is near the disputed border with China.

Hydro power

Hydro power

The highlight was the climb from the valley to the capital of the district – Reckong Peo, and then up to the temple village of Kalpa. It was a bit of a slog though. Kalpa is over 1000m above the river.

Reckong Peo

Reckong Peo

Kalpa

Kalpa

Kalpa

Kalpa

I’m all kitted out for a forey tomorrow across the inner line – the area near the Chinese border.


Well. It wasn’t how I planned, but I’m here in one piece, as is the bike. No ordered taxi but an oversized motor rickshaw to my Dehli hotel at 1am. A 12 hour drive through the Himalayan traffic jam to the ski station (so the sign says) of Narkanda. The cycling can begin.

The plane was 2 hours late and my taxi driver didn’t show up. On ringing the hotel, they said they’d send him. I rang again half an hour later and they said I should find my own taxi.

I passed trough the crowds of taxi drivers offering exhorbitant rates, people pulling my packed trolley left and right, and ended up with my prepaid taxi slip being led to an oversized motor rickshaw. Somehow the bike fit, and we drove off into the Delhi night smog.

The driver didn’t know where the hotel was, so we stopped at the police to ask, called out to a homeless guy curled up in front of a shop window, and asked some dudes just hanging out, with their bellies exposed to the elements, China style.

I got to the hotel at 2am and then proceeded to put my bike together.

It all worked, and I smiled. I was one step closer to starting!

It was scorching outside as my taxi took me and bike through the heat along the dead straight freeway, lined from beginning to end with ‘dhabas’ – places to stop for food.

Finally the road started winding into the hills – and the traffic started banking up. The mountains are beautiful – not high yet, but very very steep. The road curls along their side with steep drops above and below. Villages consist of buildings on top of each other marching down the slopes.

The plan was to reach Shimla by 3. We were there as the sun was setting. My hotel and starting point of the bike trip was 60km past Shimla. We got there at 21:30. I’m knackered, and feel bad for my poor driver who must be even more tired. He had a 12 hour working day. I gave him a nice tip.


The bike is 26kg. I thought it would be 20. The second check in bag is 16kg. I thought it would be 12. That’ll be $700. Ouch. Time to panic.

Lucky Aaron was there to calm me. I stress out in situations like this. I repacked, had 2 heavy but not too volumous pieces of hand luggage and 33kg of check in luggage. Cost – $0.

It was good to catch up with my cycling buddy Mark again. We cycled together in Tajikistan, Krygyzstan and Laos.

This time he was giving meet tips of amazing, secluded monasteries high in the remote Himalayas, and beautiful side roads across the high, barren landscapes. He had been talking about it all last night, apparently. We both got excited – him from the memories and me from the expectations.

A walk,

and a dimsum later,

and I find myself in Hong Kong airport again ready for the last leg to Delhi, and then taxi to Shimla. Bring it on.


I jumped on the saddle again after a few months in Adelaide to go to Sydney for Christmas. To make it interesting, I passed by Mt. Koscuiszko – Australia’s highest mountain. Here is a video of this little escapade.