Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day of the Taj

We were told that the Taj Mahal opened from sunrise to sunset, so we wasted no time and left really early, our guide said that it was good that we got here early since it will get really crowded later. We visited the grounds, as well as the mosque and really enjoyed this architectural wonder which took 22 years to build. The workmanship was fascinating and I got some really good pictures.

We then went back to the hotel, had breakfast, and checked out going on to Lucknow. We decided to take a side road for part of the journey since we didn’t want to re-enter the town and it's traffic, and it was an opportunity to experience a new type of road and see how people lived.

The road was tight and had many speed bumps at times going through crowded local market places; we did an average 40 Km/h on that road for about 2 hours before we hit the NH (National Highway).

We managed to stop for lunch and prayers at a nice rest stop, before pushing on.

We reached Kanpur around 4:30, and took us along time to find the road to Lucknow, when Ali noticed an alarm from his bike, it was the electronic tire pressure monitor which was indicating that his rear tire was deflating. Once we stopped we inspected the tire and found the nail. Luckily we were still in town so he went from repair shop to repair shop looking for someone to repair a tubeless tire. Most of the motorcycles here have tubes in them, only the cars are tubeless.

He finally found a repair shop, and Husain and I found the way to Lucknow, however by the time we were ready it was 5:30 which meant that we would have to ride at night and that was dangerous.

So we decided to stay in Kanpur instead. We knew of a hotel here and once Husain asked about the hotel a fellow biker who spoke good English volunteered to show us the way.

After we had dinner and went back to our rooms I started to hear some drumming noise, and then Music, and when I looked out the hotel window I saw a wedding in the street with people dancing and flashy lights.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Delhi to Agra

We would like to thank all who have left comments on the sit. And I would like to inform you that at this time any one can leave a comment.

While at the embassy in Delhi we found out that the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, we decided to go to agra early any way, and see the Taj Mahal the next day. We left the hotel at 9:00 am and got stuck in traffic again on the way out.

Along the way we stopped at a coffee shop in a mall on the main road about 50 Km from Agra mainly because we have a coffee addict amongst us who needs to have his caffeine.

We continued until we reach Agra, and started to look for a hotel, we finally went with the Trident Hotel which was quit nice considering the price, and the service was top rate. That night there was a Thunderstorm, that rolled in, and at the time we were grateful we had finished riding for the day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Road to Delhi

We decided to get up early so that we can make it to the Kuwait embassy before they closed. we managed to leave at 8:30 am in the direction of Delhi with nice weather most of the way through. while passing one of the towns we made the mistake of not taking the overpass road, and ended up in mid traffic. The problem is that once you are stuck in traffic the temperature starts to increase rapidly both for bike and rider.

It took us a good hour to reach the embassy from the outskirts of Delhi, at first we relied on people giving us direction, then we hired a taxi to show us the way , except he didn't know exactly were the embassy was , and got us in the general location where by accident we met an Indian on a small bike who worked at he embassy and showed us the way.

After meeting Mr. Khalid Al-Yaseen, and Mr. Jamal Al-Shehab, they assisted us in locating and reserving a hotel, and also had a driver show us the way. We were exhausted that day from the heat, and I decided to go to bed early so that we can leave while the weather was pleasant in the morning to Agra

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Into India

We got up late since we were told that the border didn't open until 10:30 am, we proceeded with the formalities noticing that we were the only people crossing that day. As a matter of fact I glanced at the log book, and found that only 18 people crossed from the 5th of May until today mostly on motorcycles, and all entered Pakistan from the Iran Boarder. It took us 2 and half hours to finish both parts of the boarder. When we left it was around 2 pm headed in the direction of Delhi.

We know since it was late that we would not reach Delhi , but decided to ride as much as we could while it was daylight. When we reached Amritsar, we were told that there has been some civil unrest in the next few towns, and that there was a curfew in affect. We were told to not stay in that area, and to move past Ludhiana before deciding to stay at a hotel.

So we pushed on in the heat reaching at times 44.5 Deg. C. and stopping briefly when needed .We saw some of the destruction that happened along the road in the form of burned vehicles, and broken glass. We rode until late afternoon when we felt we needed to stop. Were stopped at a road side resort 20 Km before Ambala, and expect to reach Delhi by tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reaching Wagha Border

After I got up I called the next room where Husain and Ali were expecting them to be up since we intended to leave at 7 am, I had slept late that evening working on the blog updates, Husain picked up the phone and informed me that Ali had not slept yet, and that we will need to leave later after he had a few hours of sleep. We managed to leave the hotel at 10:45 headed for a gas station where we fill the bikes up, and then to Lahore since the border is right after.

I did realize on the map that there were two roads to Lahore, and the embassy mentioned the road to be in great condition. Well what happened is that we took the old road since we were directed by asking, and found out later that the bikes were not allowed on the main highways.

The temperatures ran between 38, and 43 Deg. Centigrade and the road condition varied with traffic that we rode at an average of 80 Km/h. The combination of not ridding for a while and the head really mad us tiered so much so that when we reached the border at 4:50 pm we were glad that it was closed, and in fact it closed at 4:30 pm.

There was a small hotel at the border that we stayed at, and went to see the ceremony for the border gate closing which is viewed by both sides of the border as each tries to tease the other in their marching performance.

We then had our meal, and went to bed in preparation for the next day of crossing the border.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We have Bikes

After coordinating with the shipping agent last night I had all the passports and Carnets ready for him to pick them up in the morning. We relaxed that morning, and I worked on some videos for the blog.

We were in direct contact with the Kuwaiti Ambassador in Islamabad Mr. Aziz Al-Dehani, who sent us a driver to the embassy where we met the ambassador and his staff discussing the events of our trip and plans. The Ambassador was so generous that he invited us for lunch, where we felt the core of Kuwaiti hospitality. At this time the team would like to Thank the Ambassador, and his staff for their full support.

After lunch we left for the hotel and waited, around 5 pm the bikes arrived each on a truck still in it's crate, we then saw how 5 men hand carried the bikes from the trucks to the parking lot. The services from the shipping agent here in Islamabad was top rate the carnets were given back all stamped, and we spent the rest of the afternoon preparing the bikes for our departure the next day.

Monday, May 25, 2009

To Murree

We arrived around 3 am where we were met by friends who had reserved our hotel for us. Thanks to Ahmad Alam, Maqsood Ahmad, Amir Abbas, and Shabbir Ahmad for their support.

We got up at noon and our friends advised us to visit Murree up in the mountains which was about one hour from Islamabad. We got a driver, and had lunch there. the weather was nice and cool in the mountains, and the natural beauty was magnificent, even the road to Murree was good. However on the way back the driver took the old road to Murree which was full of construction, and potholes.

We arrived back at the hotel around 10:30 pm where we usually have something light to eat, yogurt, bread , and my favorite peanut butter and strawberry jam.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Goodbye Dubai

Some have asked me about the videos while riding, and I wanted to inform all of our helmet cameras. It took me a few months to find the right camera since most had a low resolution, and Husain wanted to make a DVD of our trip once we finished. The camera we are using is the V.I.O. POV Moto kit which gives a max resolution of 720 X 480. It also has a hard plastic cover to protect the glass lens from sand , and stones. It can run on 4 AA batteries, and can be connected directly to a 12V car or bike battery. It also has a built in microphone for sound.

We went to airport today to fly to Islamabad to meet our bikes on Monday

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Preparing to leave Dubai

We are eager to continue our adventure, and have booked a flight to Islamabad on Saturday the 23rd of May, our plan is to finish the customs clearance on Monday, and leave for India on Tuesday, were the temperature is around 40 Deg.We were also invited to a Mexican restaurant for lunch by a Mexican friend of mine who is living in Dubai.

Salvador treated us to the Maya restaurant in Le Royal Meridian hotel. Although the food was excellent we were the only ones in the restaurant.

We finally received the bill from the shipping company and as I suspected the difference between my bike and the other was 146 KD due to the extra space from the poor crating. It was at this time that we decided not to use the same shipping company for shipping our bikes form Beijing to Alaska.

Friday, May 22, 2009

More Issues with Shipping

Although we were told that at 8:30 the crew would work on crating the motorcycles, and that it would take only one to two hours to finalize the shipping we noticed that they didn’t know exactly what they were doing even though on the first day when we spoke to them we explained what needed to be done. We received a phone call from the shipping company stating that the crating will start at 10:30, and that their initial attempt at crating was week, and they needed to get bigger pieces of wood to insure that it could handle the load.

We arrived at 10:30, and there was no one there, we waited for 20 minutes making phone calls until the supervisor showed up and another 40 minutes until the crating crew with the wood made it into the hanger. We then realized that they intended to use steel belting to fasten the bikes to the crates, as Ali put it "They think they are crating fruits?". Once we explained that they needed to have proper tie down belts, and where to put them, they had a better idea.

We decided to leave them and come back in a couple hours since it was time for prayer and lunch. When we got there we found one motorcycle (Mine) already crated, I also realized that there was at least 20 cm of space between the steering bar the top of the crate which is dead space that they were going to charge me for it. After a lengthy discussion they agreed to minimize the space for the other bikes and not touch the one they finished since it was already mid afternoon, and they needed to send the bikes to the airport for the freezing period before the flight.

We also noticed that the fan in the workshop was working fine for the crating crew, however when we were working on our bikes we were told it was not working. After making sure that the other bikes were properly strapped in we left for the hotel for a well deserved rest praying that the bikes would make it on time in one piece.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Issues with Shipping

It is the third day and the bikes are still not crated we were initially told that they would be working today but after we sent all our updated papers to the shipping office here in Dubai we noticed nothing was touched, we then were told that they have taken the measurements and will prepared the packaging tomorrow. I sent an email to complain about the delay in packing, and was given an unsatisfactory reason that the change is destination was the reason, HUH… was still going to leave, and still needed to be crated! At least we had a tentative date for shipping which was Friday the 22nd of May.

In the mean time Abdulla, Ali's brother arrived in Dubai, and delivered the Garmin Zumo 550s we were promised by the Seas and Deserts Company in Kuwait, and I started loading the maps in preparation for our next journey.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back to Pakistan

We were just about to leave to see the crating of the motorcycles, and to deliver the required documents to the shipping company, when I received a phone call from the shipping agent in Kuwait informing me that India has banned the Air-freighting of Motorcycles, and that the only way to ship was through sea-freight. This would delay our trip another 15 days which was undesirable and unacceptable, so we asked if the bikes can be shipped to Islamabad.

We also realized that when we prepared our Carnet (KT) we didn’t include Pakistan since there was a fee to be paid, and we didn’t intend to visit, so Ali made some phone calls and realized that we needed to visit the Automobile & Touring Club here is Dubai to get the Carnet approved for use in Pakistan.

While I was busy working on updating our blog Ali and Husain met Mr. Adel Kassem who was very helpful in dealing with the Kuwait Auto Club, and took them to meet H.E. Mohammed Ben Sulayem the former rally Champion who was now the Chairman of the Auto club who expressed a genuine interest in our trip. We finally managed to get the Caret approved for Pakistan and we wanted to express our gratitude to wards Mr. Kassem for his support.

Bike Prep for shipping in Dubai

After getting up all sore from the long ride the day before, we contacted the shipping company and rode our bikes to their warehouse where we started to prepare the bikes for crating. We needed to minimize the volume to reduce the cost of shipping, so we removed the mirrors, windshield, and top box, we also moved the CB radio as well as the GPC bracket. We also removed the battery and stored it in the panniers. The warehouse was hot with no wind draft, not even a working fan.

By the time we finished we were exhausted and left the warehouse for the Hotel. We also found out that there was some miscommunication regarding the shipping since the shipping company was under the impression that we were going to clear the bikes customs our selves. We managed to get that sorted out and expected to see the motorcycles being put in crates the next day.