Quite a lot to cover in this post as, due to a lack of decent internet, I have not done a blog for the last 375 miles. I’ll gloss over some of the boring parts of this leg and focus on the juicy bits (Sleeping rough, muddy mountain roads and crossing fields and train lines in the dark).
It feels good to smash another thousand mile marker. Arriving in Trabzon in many ways marks one third of the trip as being complete. I’m exactly 3,000 miles into a roughly 9,000 mile trip and I’ve ridden through 40 of the 121 degrees of longitude that are the namesake of this blog. This is also where the real bureaucracy starts but I’ve hit the ground running by successfully getting an Iran visa, an application process more akin to a lottery.
Another little leg of the journey done and I’m glad to of found out that my fitness hasn’t seemed to have suffered too much despite my 6 week break back in England. I rode just over 400km in four days through fairly tough terrain climbing two passes over 1100m. Not bad at all!
Well I’m finally back on the road and have just finished my first little stint. I momentarily considered changing my route, heading south to Cyprus, but changed my mind yet again after realising the ferry to the island costs almost as much as a flight from London. I’ll save that trip for another day.
Around 50km or so North East along the road from Hargeisa to Berbera, the capital and port city of Somaliland respectively, there is a rocky outcrop that is home to a set of caves and shelters that feature what are considered to be some the best preserved cave paintings in Africa.
Tell someone you are going on holiday to Somalia and you should rightly expect to be called insane a few times. Especially when you mention the fact that you intend to check out some of the desolate beaches that line the Gulf of Aden, the most pirated stretch of water on earth. Now obviously I am not insane (At least I hope that that’s obvious…) and nor do I have some deep desire to be kidnapped by Al Shabab militants. So what’s the secret?
I’m back from my little side trip to the Horn of Africa and will be back cycling out of Istanbul on Monday. In the interim I’ll be putting up a few posts from Ethiopia and Somalia. I’ll keep the text in this post short and sweet and head straight on to the pictures.
I’ve been a bit busy (and a bit lazy) but I’ve finally gotten around to doing the equipment posts I promised. In this first one I will deal with the bits of equipment I am replacing/upgrading detailing why I’ve chosen to do so. I’m on a pretty tight budget for this next stage of the trip so I’ve had to put a lot of thought into what I spend money on so hopefully some of you reading this will find my choices helpful!
Firstly the upgrade that in my mind is the most important, which was also the priciest, my new sleeping mat. I’ve decided to replace my Therm-a-rest ProLite sleeping mat with a Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xtherm for several reasons. Mainly the old mat was just not warm enough for camping out in close to zero temperatures. The XTherm is, by all accounts, the warmest carry-able sleeping mat there is. It’s even suitable for sleeping on snow which may prove very useful when I ride up into the Turkish mountains in February. The only mats warmer are big heavy things used when setting up a long term camp.
Just a quick post to fill in the void before I carry on cycling from Istanbul. I’ve just managed to get my Chinese visa in London which was one of my big reasons for coming back (preceded by my little jaunt to Somaliland in fortnight). Why couldn’t you just get the Chinese visa on the road in a Chinese embassy in a differant country you might ask?
Joy! I’ve just reached Istanbul having cycled all the way across Europe from London. I was worried that it wouldn’t feel special to reach here as Istanbul is somewhere I’ve visited before, but, as it turned out, during the agonising three days cycling towards it my memories of the place are what spurred me on to reach it a day early. This may seem like a depressing post but I will now detail probably the three most physically gruelling days of my life.