09.29.09

Spot the difference

Posted in The journey journal, india at 1:55 pm by Administrator

So this is one of the stories that appeared in the local news about us.

Try to spot the difference from my version of the story.

Ians
September 26th, 2009
LUCKNOW – Two men were arrested Saturday for allegedly molesting a 37-year-old Australian woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur district, police said.

The incident took place Saturday in the Collectorganj locality in Kanpur when the woman with her husband was going to meet their friends in the locality, police added.
“Saleem and Naushad – both in their early 20s – misbehaved with the woman and also assaulted her husband while the couple, sitting on a pedal-rickshaw, were on their way to their friend’s house,” inspector Mahendra Kumar told IANS over phone.
“The two accused, who were on a motorcycle, also tried to take out valuables from the purse of the Australian woman,” Kumar added.
Police said an FIR has been registered against the two, who were nabbed first by the locals, who then handed over them over to police.
Kanpur is about 80 km from Lucknow.

As you can see the local authorities seem pretty keen to secure a conviction in this case.

Photos of Nic in her sari will be up on the site soon.

Tc

09.27.09

Quite a stir

Posted in The journey journal, india at 10:13 am by Administrator

So apparently our escapades yesterday made national indian news. The police are always getting a hard time about their image and they were eager to make sure that I was happy with their performance on this matter. I didn’t think it was a huge deal. I just wanted to teach a dirty bugger a lesson (that shouldn’t need to be taught) but apparently it does here. Last night we had some visits from some pretty top brass from the police and from a news crew from a major national news channel. Quite the circus and the hotel staff were so excited. I’m pretty sure tha thte cops tipped the news crew off as they knew just a few too many details about the whole thing to have picked it up by gossip. Either way I’m pretty sure that all is good for us but were are know all around town now and so Nic is staying in as much as possible. Hopefully our package arrives tomorrow (monday) and we can find a person that can tell us a reliable time for the train out and we’ll get to Nepal asap. Once there we plan to kick back in Kathmandu and wait for our onward visas and permits and maybe do a bit of hiking around the area. Also some mountain training on teh bikes as we’ve got a nice big road ahead of us if the visas come through.
In other news the chinese have closed tibet again have promised to reopen it on the 8th of Oct. I really hope so as not being able to do this part of the journey would be the last straw.
Anywya bye for now.

Tc

09.26.09

Time in Kanpur

Posted in The journey journal, india at 11:56 am by Administrator

We have been the last 4 days in the city of Kanpur. I broke my bike seat in half and my awesome parents have sent me a new one and so we are now waiting for it to arrive here in Kanpur. That will take a lot of faith in the Indian postal service. My parents have received a parcel from me here and so I figure that they should be able to get a parcel to me but it is proving a little difficult. I’ve been in and out of the post office nearly every day and while Australia post seems to be able to tell me that its in India the indians have no record of it. Hmmm. The inside of the post office is amazingly dirty and I wouldn’t want my dog to live in the conditions those people work in. They spit all over the walls and floors with the red spit of people that chew beetle nut. Its a pretty universal habit here and absolutely disgusting. The piles of red spit are everywhere and you can’t touch ANYthing because of it. The place also smells of months old urine and there are piles of rubbish in most corners. Its amazing they can even think about delivering mail let alone surviving a day at work.

We caught the train into Kanpur as we couldn’t take the riding in this country anymore. Nic was being constantly harrassed on the bike and there was no room to breath as every where we stopped a crowd of 10 to several hundred people would all push in on top of us to stare. So we found a hotel in the town of Shinkohabad (the only hotel in town and its marked as a restaurant not a hotel, we stumbled across it as it looked like the only place clean enough to eat at). One of the waiters was easily the best in india and could have worked a high class place anywhere and spoke perfect english. man he was wasted in that town. In shinkohabad while waiting for Nic to check out the train schedule (a monumental task in itself as no one in the train station can agree on times or prices) I was asked to sign numerous autographs for some reason. Apparently being white means that you are “rich, clever and famous” according to one of our admirers. I just wish that they’d stand back a mile if they feel the need to stare. They are so invasive. The train we caught was the cheapo regular passenger train and the 200 km journey cost us $1.30 and then and extra 75 cents for the bikes. It took 7 hours to get the distance and we spent that time perched a little uncomfortably but out of harms way on the luggage racks above the other passengers. It was a train full of all types and goats and everything. It was actually quite good as for the most part everyone left us to ourselves which was the first time that had happened outside our hotel rooms.
We’ve been spending most of our time hiding in the hotel in Kanpur to avoid the heat and people. We did go out for a few errands and to see a bollywood movie at the cinema. Hilarious stuff and they seem to speak a kind of hindi mixed with english in the movie. apparently speaking english is a bit of a status symbol.

Also one of our outings today ended in quite an adventure.
We went to fruitlessly check the train times out of the city (the guy kept asking me what train I wanted and I couldn’t make him understand that that was what I was asking him.). So on the way back from the station we thought that we’d get a rickshaw to avoid further sweating (which is profuse in the humidity). A few metres down the road a guy on a motor bike reached out and grabbed Nic fair on the boob. Needless to say I was a little upset about that and dived out of the rickshaw and gave chase. I could only see red and I therefore caught up to him at the next intersection. There was a guy on the back of the bike and I nearly took his head off. His mate, still on the bike, took off and the bloke I grabbed kept pointing at the guy on the bike. I saw him on the other side of a large roundabout laughing at me. I knew then that it was him that had done the dirty dead and I wanted to make him pay so I took off. Only someone that has had a massive adrenaline rush will know the power that it gives and with that power I knew I could get him. Logical thinking would say that a bloke on foot would never get a guy on a motor bike but my god I did. As I caught up to him in the traffic (that he was vainly trying to push through) I took a swipe at his head and as he ducked he reved hard and ran into an auto rickshaw and crashed the bike. I’d been running hard and had to jump to clear the fallen bike and as I turned back I saw that an undercover cop or very concerned citizen on a motorbike had also been giving chase to the excitement. He collared the guy and lifted him off the ground by the shirt. There was noway now that I could take the vengence that I wanted but I don’t feel bad as the treatment that he got at the hands of the police made me feel that justice was served. The undercover cop slapped him around pretty nicely and gave him a few good punches to the jaw and then the uniforms turned up. They all carry large bamboo sticks and let him get closely aquainted with a few of them. As all this was happening some guy tried to run off with the bloke’s motorbike. (what an opportunistic bastard) and off trotted 2 cops and they gave him a frightful smashing with their bamboo sticks. (note to self: don’t piss off an indian policeman). The sticks are used to beat people, clear crowds that gather, move traffic along by smashing lights or poking the drivers and finally as leaning sticks when things are a little boring. After the offender was litterally thrown into the back of the police wagon and carted off they wanted a statement from me. I had to get back nd let Nic know that I hadn’t killed the guy and a mob hadn’t turned on me and so I had to drag a few police back to where I’d left her in the rickshaw with a very bemused looking driver. They then drove us to the police station in a commandeered rickshaw (another use of the sticks is taking peoples property for police use) and drove to the station. We spent a while filling out the statement. The male cops who understood what happened couldn’t really see what all the fuss was about but by the scandalised looks of teh female cops we definitely have some friends in there. After that they droves us back to the hotel and we’re not leaving unless we absolutely have to for the next few days until I can track this parcel down and leave the city.

So that was our adventurous afternoon in sunny india. We’re such a great tourism ad for teh place aren’t we. Its also really ironic as there is quite a few articles in the papers over here about Indians being beaten up in Australia and here I am over here setting a fine example for my country by doing it here. I hope that I don’t make the papers or The Australian reputation is sunk.

Also as an aside we’re not riding anymore in india. Its become too uncomfortable and I’m going to do more damage if the behaviour doesn’t improve and so we’re avoiding it by catching the trains. IF only we can find a timetable somewhere.

Love and hugs to all

Tc

09.21.09

Taj Mahal

Posted in The journey journal, india at 3:20 pm by Administrator

There are some monuments in the world that everyone raves about but they turn out to be a let down. The leaning tower of pisa is one of those. The taj mahal is not.
At the risk of sounding like a woose it is splendid. It is an amazing dedication of love that shows that feeling in every detail. Some structures make you feel small and that one did to me. truely beautiful. See… I’m not a complete pesemist I can say some good things about india.
No photo can do it justice. I feel the same way when I stand under teh eifle tower. That mainly because it is using engineering form as beauty and that is the nerd in me but this contains such great simetrical detail on such a grand scale.
I saw the agra fort today which is a very cool fortress that would have cost 2 armies if you wanted to take it.
Today has been much more of a positive than the previous days so hopefully things improve as we head east. Its 290 km from here to Kanpur and then a couple more to the border and Nepal. Hopefully the strategies that we’re developing to cope with the negatives will work out.
Tc

09.20.09

Going to the toile.. oops I mean delhi.

Posted in The journey journal, india at 2:14 pm by Administrator

Well after the fun of being scammed good and proper by americans and the people in azerbaijan were too dumb to help we final made it to India. The flight was great despite a few more hassles at the airport because the guy couldn’t figure out how to charge my card for the bikes and after an hour of messing around I literally forced him to retry the card and.. wow it worked. Gee we were glad to be out of that place. As the turkish airlines business class was only 35 euros each extra we went for that option and wow its gunna be hard to fly with the plebs again. Also turkish airlines offers free sightseeing tours to people in transit in istanbul so we took the opportunity to see a few things that we missed earlier and got into them for free. Yay for free.
Then we arrived in Delhi. The airport isn’t the worst in the world so I wasn’t expecting what hit us in the streets once we got there. We landed at 4 am and so the street around our hostel were literally full of people sleeping in the streets as they don’t have any shelter what so ever. It was so much poorer than anything I’ve ever seen. Even Ethiopia had a slightly higher standard than most of delhi. The sights of delhi are pretty cool but having to step around people pooing in the streets really turns you off a place. The poor are uber poor and it really tested my resolve on giving to beggars. but still I won’t give as it makes it worse for all the others in the same situation. The smell in Delhi is quite amazing to say the least but the number one thing that has pissed me off (sorry for the language) is the men of india’s attitude to Nic. They don’t even bother to look at her face. Just straight at her body and then sometimes they’ll look up to make a kissy kissy action. That is kind of amusing because they totally miss the fact that I’m walking directly behind her and consequently they don’t see the elbow to the back of the head. I got ten in a one hour stretch and missed several more.
Once we got on the road we had to quickly change riding tactics. Its true that the indians can’t drive but they are used to people riding all sorts of human powered vehicles and so aren’t surprised by us The thing is that if nic rides behind me, car loads or motor bike loads of morons will cut her off to separate us and then stop and stare at her while making rude gestures. Its been a real struggle for me to control my temper here. I can take anything myself but if someone hassles Nic then I see red and I’ve already punched through the windscreen of an autorickshaw (it was already broken a bit so I’m not a superman here). The indians seem in no way violent, just disgusting, and are pretty intimedated by me. I kinda tower over them which is a nice advantage but I’m doing lots and lots of breathing excersices to sort myself out. There is one thing that I think that I’ve realised. I can see why arranged marriages need to happen, as no girl in her right mind would marry a jerk with this sort of behaviour. I can also see why budhism is a religion of trying to find peace. I might try to take it up here. I think that I need it.
Also its extremely difficult to do anything here without gathering a small horde of onlookers that make no action to communicate other than to just stare at us. My tactic to combat this is to give them a minute to gawk and then I pick the ringleader and stand a few inches from his face and stare back. It usually takes 30 seconds of that and some hand gestures and the crowds dissipate. Still it sucks when you’re mega hot and tired and just want to sit under a tree for a few minutes.
The positives of india are there. They are a long way down this blog but they are here. The colours are amazing and the women seem nice and friendly to us both and the saris are an awesome way of dressing. So colourful. The food is great when you can find a place clean enough to think of eating in and the remaining medieval history is spectacular. We’ve found the sehk guys have been quite gentlemanly and good blokes.
Whne you are in a hotel or something similar then the service is pretty first rate. Things are cheap here and you still get smiles from the service crew and thats great. I’m sure india would be great if you did it in a completely confined tour and had a hotel to hide in every afternoon but its a hard slog on a bike.
The fresh friut here is keeping nic fed and happy and we’ve been doing the vegetarian thing here as we’re not too sure about the meat products.
Anyway thats quite the novel and we have to be up early to catch sunrise over the taj mahal so will be back in a few days.

Nic and Tc

09.14.09

A(AAAArrrrrrghhhhh)zerbaijan

Posted in Azerbaijan, The journey journal at 2:42 pm by Administrator

So we’re stuck for another 24 hours at least in Azerbaijan and we’re uber disappointed to say the least. The delay looks like its going to cost about 1500 bucks at least. The scamming buggers that we booked the ticket through (don’t use airfare.com they suck!!!!) decided that after much correspondence back and forth about me travelling at the moment that they’d tell me that they issued an eticket and then book a paper ticket and not send it to me. So we turned up to the airport brimming with confidence that we’d be out of this nexus of corruption in no time but, oh no, we’re not lucky enough for that. No paper ticket = no fly. Especially when you have a few blokes behind you waiting for empty seats to appear and sporting a much larger bankroll than us. So needless to say we got screwed and weren’t allowed to fly. Argh. Then it was fighting with ripoff merchant taxi drivers to get back into the city and sort things out because it seems impossible to book flights at an airport. MORONS! Anyway we got into the city and found internet and dumped our stuff back at the hostel. (some of the very limited number of nice people in the country)
After a bit of research it seems that we can get a turkish airlines flight (heaps better than uzbek air anyway) leaving tomorrow morning. I also happened to notice that a business class ticket was only a few euros more each and so snapped it up and we get to live the posh life of luxury tomorrow even though we are that lot bit closer to being stone cold broke. So tonight we’re gunna sleep at the airport (thanks to the every reliable info on www.sleepinginairports.net) and head of in the morning (oh great god of optimism please don’t fail me now).

Bye for now and hopefully my next installment will be typed with a mouthful of delicious curry.

Tc and Nic

09.12.09

Baku

Posted in Azerbaijan, The journey journal at 12:02 pm by Administrator

So we are now in the Azeri capital of Baku. We had to bus over from Tbilisi because with my sickness and the morons at the Azeri consulate in Istanbul stuffing up our visas twice we didn’t have time to ride. Now that we’ve done the trip we are sooo glad that we didn’t ride that leg. The bus ride from Tbilisi is 556 km and it took us 15 hours to complete on the bus. They have decided that the highway needed to be upgraded and doubled and so they’ve just spend the last few years turning the main highway into a dirt road so that they can rebuild it. Never mind doing small sections at a time. The whole 500 Plus km has been torn up and as a consequence the bus averaged 30 km/h and was extremely bumpy. It was cheap (about 25 dollars) but we’re not sure if it was worth it. Add to this that the guys that worked on and around the bus, about 5 of them. Decided that they’d try to make a fast buck from us and charge us for loading the bikes. Luckily the scam was slow to spread around them so they loaded our gear before trying to charge us. We insisted that we didn’t have dollars, only a few lari (the georgia currency). I always only carry a small amount of cash in my wallet for just such reasons and so as each one took his turn in trying a different excuse for why we should give them 20 dollars I was able to show a nearly empty wallet and so they gave up. It was a kind of half hearted rip off though. They never really enforced it and so we never paid. A weaker traveller may have gone for it but we’ve seen this junk before and told them where to go. I get the impression that this kind of thing is everywhere in azerbaijan and it is a competing force with the hospitality of teh locals. The bus journey was made great by meeting a local guy on the bus that spoke a bit of english and wanted to practice with us and so kind of adopted us. He took us for a meal at one of the many stops along the road (azerbaijani barbeque is delicious) and handed us fruit whenever he had any. A really great guy and saved our first encounter with the people of this country from being negative.

Baku itself is nothing like the rest of azerbaijan. The oil money flowing into the country sems to have solely effected Baku and as a result there is an emense amount of new development here. The old town is pretty much still entact and is a welcome break from the streets full of gucci and burrberry stores. The prices can get ridiculous here if you’re not careful where you buy and its reputed that you can pay upto 15 manat (equivalent to 15euros or 25 dollars) for a pot of tea. I however have discovered (much to Nic’s disgust) that great oily kebabs can be bought from small shop windows next to designer fashion stores for under 2 manat. The fruit here is also relatively cheap and so that makes Nic happy.
At the moment she seems to have caught a milder version of what I got in Georgia. She never seems to get as sick as I do but if she gets sick then it takes ages to shake. This is not good as I can’t imagine that having a stomache bug is the thing that you want to have as you head to india. Or maybe the curry will clear it up.
Speaking of food. Azeri food seems much more influenced by the turks and so kebabs are everywhere. We’re yet to see much more but have a few days to sample some more. We were still really impressed with Georgian food and actually found it much cheaper to eat at restaurants there than buying groceries and cooking ourselves. We’ve noticed that while canned food or pre-prepared sauces are the cheaper options at home they are teh really expensive and posh versions over here. Thats not good when you are camp cooking on the road s we can’t take loads of fresh vegies with us and paying 7dollars for a tiny bottle of pasta sause or 4.50 for a small can of tuna is a bit silly. Still we’re managing and with a new bit of the world about to hit we’ll have to learn all new ways again and get used to that.
Things are also coming along for the trip through the himalaya with our future guide Surendra in constant contact to try to make sure that things run smoothly in Kathmandu.
Also on of my friends from Uni, Cam will be joining us for the weeks from Kathmandu to Lhasa and it’ll be great to have someone else to share that part of the journey with.
We’ll also have to pick up some extra cold weather gear in Kathmandu as the average nightly temps in the mountains drop below 0 in November and there will be snow along the path. Yay for snow.
Anyway time to go bt will add more when we get to Delhi on Tuesday.

Tc

09.09.09

The Stats to Tbilisi

Posted in The journey journal, Uncategorized, tips and repairs at 8:12 am by Administrator

Countries visited = 15
Total Km = 6878.0
Total elevation gain = 51753 m
total days = 116
cycling days = 84
Highest point = 1864 masl
Days of rain = 30
Days with head wind = 36.5
Day with tail wind = 25
Injuries
-Trent = 10
-Nic = 3
-Christal = 3
-Road Kill = 1 poor little snake
Flats = 14
Repairs
- 2 chain breaks
- 1 new hub
- 2 new tyre
- 2 new sets of brakes
- 1 bag clip
Co riders = 9
Side trips = 6
Visas required = 1
Visas gained = 3
Passes 1000 m plus = 8
Passes 2000m plus = 0
Longest day = 148 km
Fastest speeds
-Tc = 68.8km/h
-Nic = 62.1km/h
Average time on bike per day = 4.5 hrs
Steepest grade
-official 11%
-unofficial 15%
Hottest day = 42 deg C in Greece
Coldest day max = 16 deg C in UK
Longest time without shower = 6 days
Days of free camping = 53
Days of hospitality accomm = 19
Wedding proposals = 2
Average km per cycling day = 81.88 km
Average km per day = 59.29 km

09.06.09

Into the Caucus region

Posted in Georgia, The journey journal at 11:45 am by Administrator

So we have crossed out of Turkey after a solid amount of time and have been having some grand adventures in Georgia. This is a truely intersting country. Not always comfortable but really interesting. We’re in the capital Tblisi at the moment and have been here a week and a bit. That is a little longer than we had planned as I went and got myself some kind of nasty virus that knocked me around a bit and so we had to spend a few days holed up in a hotel in the town of Stalin’s birth, Gori. The country itself is pretty poor and the infrastructure is severly lacking but the people are relatively happy with the world and so feircely proud of being Georgian that its crazy. All the tourist liturature here is calling georgia the place tha europe starts but they keep failing to realise that gerorgia isn’t really anywhere near europe. There is a kind of europe a hundred years ago feel to it but no matter what the feel its not in the same geographical region. Another few things that a lot of georgians seem to think which condradicts a lot of what we’ve been taught is that, Stalin was a great guy (hmmm I’m pretty sure that he wasn’t all that nice), that georgians invented wine, that viruses couldn’t happen in a country as advanced as georgia, that bubbly water is heaps better than still water, that its fine to set up a butchers shop out of teh back of your car on the side of teh highway and that load limits and seatbelts are for pussies.
The driving here hasn’t been terrible so far. The emisions are terrible but the Georgians seem to be aware of their brakes and some indicators. The only problem is that they drive way too fast on bad roads that are literally covered with cows. There are a scary number of cars driving around with a completely smashed in front end, a missing rear bumper bar and two head shaped smash marks in each wind screen. Yes thats right, after a horrific smash where both driver and passenger try to put their head through the windscreen they con’t bother to fix the car, they just keep driving. Also I’m pretty sure that there is a job vacancy for a mechanic that actually knows how to tune and engine here as none of teh cars that I’ve seen so far have been tuned right and as a result breathing in the towns is somewhat difficult. Also it seems that the rishest man in georgia is the guy who was the Ford Transit van salesman in the mid nineties. Three quarters of the world’s transits of that era are here and none have been sold here since 2000.
Our second day in the country saw us wanting a short day and as it was shower time we thought that we’d stop in the regional centre of Ozgureti. After some quick groceries we asked a few people if they knew of a hotel around. The first few couldn’t help as it seems that Ozgureti doesn’t have a hotel but teh last guy that we asked just happened to be best mates with a bloke that was trying to open a guest house and kickstart regional tourism. (if you want any tips on georgia we can put you in touch). So his family adopted us for the evening and if we had have stayed I’m sure they would have leagally taken us into the family. They fed us, got us drunk (ok just me but I still managed to avoid the breakfast shots of homemade grape vodka) washed our clothes, sang for us, gave us a bed and taught us about the region and the accepted georgian version of history. They also sent us off with a gigantic care package that I’m lucky that I specified as “small” or we wouldn’t have been able to carry it. That is a typical example of georgian hospitality. Some days we have to hide from people so that they don’t keep giving us too much food that we can’t carry it all. I mean just out of tblisi a random car pulled over in front of us on teh motorway and flag us down. In typical georgian style it was ridiculously overloaded with fruit on the way to market and a guy jumped out of teh car and proceded to overload us with apples and peaches and other stuff. Nic had to balance the fruit in 2 bags across the back of her bike just to get it to camp that day.
We also had the great fun of having to do a hospital dash while in the mniddle of teh country. I decided that I needed to get a bad stomache virus as far away from civilisation as possible one night in camp. I got a nice fever out of it and a bit of spewing and so it wasn’t going to be possible to ride the next day. So Nic packed up camp whie nursing me in my Man-Flu affected state and then flagged down a van going the way that we though was best to find a doctor. I passed out in the back with the bikes and lugguage on me while Nic had an interesting adventure in the front seat with the driver. You have to wonder about a guy that offers a sick bloke a ride to hospital and then tries to pick up his missus on the way. I mean, it wasn’t even terminal. but yay to Nic for sorting it out and putting up with the crap and getting me to the ‘Legally low persons and modern military hospital of Gori’. I spent the day there and then we spent 3 nights in a hotel while I got some strength back. After recovering we also found out that gori is the birthplace of stalin and they have built a park around his birth home and then built a marble pedistal over the top of it. Hilarious stuff.
Gori also has a great example of the history available in georgia that is undisturbed by tourism. The fortress over the town with its giant bronze 1st crusade knights around it was ace.
Anyway nearly time to head off but I also should point out that the scenery here is awesome and the mountains and valleys are great. The war, political and religeous history is amazing and the people are unique and great. I’d recommend that people come here as part of a new frontier, if you want to get away from the tourist hordes and still see cool stuff then here would be a good place to do it.
We’re in Tblisi a few days and then we have to bus (because of my sicky delay and stupid azerbaijani consular officials) to Baku.

Cheers for now

Tc and Nic

09.02.09

The last of Turkey

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:56 am by Administrator

So we are now in Georgia but more about that latter. For now I’ll fill in the gaps on the last few days in Turkey. Thankfullly the road along the black sea is flat pretty much all of teh way from Samsun to the border which is hundreds of Ks and thats awesome. The winds were variable but ever present. Some in front and some (yes) were behind. After trabzon and the hundreds of km of passing through hazelnut areas it was nice to pass through the tea growing regions. The terraced hills of tea are so beautiful. We dropped in and visited a mine that I worked at a bunch of years ago and apart from upgrading the road in there not much has changed. We got free Cay in Cayeli which was cool and had some nice free camping along the way. We met a polish cycle tourist near the georgia border and he gave us his map of the country which was awesome.
One thing I will say about Turky is that after 5 odd weeks the drivers of the country have really started to wear on me. Their constant use of the horn is excrutiating. They seem to have mastered 2 opperations of their vehicles only. Those are the accelerator and the horn. I mean why use indicators when you have a horn. Why use brakes when you have a horn, why use the radio when you can’t hear it over the horn, why use mirrors when everyone else (except cyclists, but they don’t matter) has a horn. They even took great pride at tooting at us while travelling through tunnels to let us know that they were there (idiots!!!) The turkish driving is pretty appauling. Not nearly as bad as the kosovans and a differewnt bad from the Australians but still bad. (I still rate the drivers of Australia in the worst 3 in the world) One Turkish example of great driving was that as we were cruising along a double highway, with not a car in sight in either direction, in good light and good road conditions we both jumped out of our skin as we heard behind us a skretch of brakes. We looked to see a car vear from the left lane across the right and hit the gutter and then roll over and slide down the road towards us. It happened about 200 m behind us and the guy couldn’t have been travelling at more than 80 kmph. I mean, how can you roll your car in perfect conditions travelling at 80. The thing that scared us was that if he had have done it 2 seconds latter he would have taken us out. The tool crawled out of the car ok and got straight on the phone to his family (bugger the police). We left when the crowd of onlookers and finger pointers blocked off the whole road and so that we knew that we’d be safe riding for a few hours.
Anyway gotta head but have fun and I’ll write about our georgia adventures (and wowo they’ve been adventuresa so far) soon.

Tc and Nic