Kashmir and India – the last leg.

 

After two frustrating weeks waiting for his Indian Visa to be approved, Simon finally crossed the border from Pakistan into India, the day before his already extended Pakistani Visa expired. As time was running out, he took an overnight local bus to Manali in Kashmir and started cycling towards Leh in Ladakh.

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It took six days to cycle between Manali and Leh, crossing five high passes along the way.  The highest pass, Taglang La was 5328m, which the road sign proclaimed to be “the second highest pass of  the world”.  Simon reports “this was a great ride, with the altitude, high passes and bad road conditions making for tough riding. But the views and hospitality were superb”.

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Two Swiss cyclists on a 5 week vacation ride between Srinagar and Manali

The people in this region are Buddhists with their picturesque monasteries, prayer flags and stupas, making it look very similar to Tibet.

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Thiskey Monastery, near Leh

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Some interesting road signs along the way!

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“Around Leh the weather was mostly sunny and cool with only a slight breeze. There were lovely block houses with white walls, varnished wooden window frames, decorative doors and prayer flags streaming from the rooves . The houses were surrounded by flower gardens inside walled compounds”.

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The town of Leh

“The ride from Leh to Srinagar was on a better road with only three smaller passes, although it was still a challenge. The people of Srinagar are Muslims and it is a tourist mecca with over 1000 house boats on Lake Dal. The area around Srinagar was very green with the locals busy harvesting crops of rice and wheat”.

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Jhelum River, Srinagar

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Fishing amongst the water lillies, Dal Lake, Srinagar

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Weed removed from Dal Lake

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House boats on Dal Lake

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Rice cut and left to dry, ready for threshing

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Harvesting rice

 

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Srinagar marked the end of the cycling and from here Simon took a 24 hour bus ride to Delhi for his flight home to New Zealand.

Just a few days left for some sight seeing, a quick bus tour to the Taj Mahal in Agra and a visit to the Amer Palace in Jaipur.

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The Taj Mahal

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Jaipur

Amer is surrounded by an 11km stone wall, rather like the Wall of China.

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And just enough time to get tidied up for the home coming, gotta look good!

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Before

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After!!

This is the last blog for Simon’s amazing journey through Central Asia from Istanbul, in Turkey to Delhi in India. Six months, ten and a half thousand hard won kilometres, a lot of sweat and an awful lot of hills, extreme heat and extreme cold. Everywhere he has travelled he has been shown such kindness and generosity and made so many friends along the way.  It is humbling to realise that people all around the world have the same needs and wants as our own, regardless of where they live and regardless of their faith and living conditions. Cycle touring is an excellent way of connecting with local people going about their daily lives.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

PS. Don’t forget to check out the route map which details every overnight stop he made along the way. It is an impressive array of  points across the map! You will find it by clicking  on the heading “Where are we?” on the top menu just under the photo of Lake Te Anau, on the front page of this site.

 

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Simon rides through China and Pakistan

Simon entered China from Kyrgyzstan on 21st July and border staff insisted that he take a taxi 130kms east to the Chinese immigration centre at Ulugqat (official reason: “to avoid cycling the dangerous road”). From here he had a pleasant days cycle ride to the interesting city of Kashgar (a mix of ethnic groups, great markets and great food; better Turkish pasties than in Turkey!).

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Rural China

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Yummy kebabs

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Armed guards in the market

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A park in Kashgar

From Kashgar it was a scenic 2 days ride over a 4000m pass with great views of snow fields and glaciers coming off the 7500m Muztagata.

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Muztagata Peak 7500m

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Karakol Lake

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Roadside shops

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Wild camel

After only a few days in China Simon had to take a compulsory bus over the Kunjarab pass from Tashkurgan, China to Sost in Pakistan. This road is called the Karakorum Highway and has magnificent mountain views. Simon spent some time exploring some remote side valleys in this region with some pretty dodgy roads!

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Good thing that a bike doesn’t need much road!

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No helicopters here!

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Chapatis being cooked in a road workers hut.

Simon had some spectacular views on a half day walk up towards the base camp on Rakaposhi.

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Mt Rakaposhi on the right, Darin on the left

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Rakaposhi glacier

 

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Not a lot of health and safety rules around here!

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A Euphrasia?

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Alpine flowers

Another side trip off the Karakorum Highway took him to Skardu (on the way to K2 and some other big peaks) along more rough roads with spectacular views including those in the Deosai national Park.

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A family wagon

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A typical Pakistani paint job

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A good spot for a camp

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From “hotel” balcony, wonder where the sewage goes?

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Armed with shanghai (not necklace!) Simon smiled and biked away fast!

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A curious marmot

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Is that a henna beard on the left?

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Pods pop open to show brilliant red interior.

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A local lizard

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On the way up to Lake Rama

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Armed escort

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Wildflowers in Deosai National park

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“Compulsory but unpaid armed escort” on trek to Nanga Parbat basecamp

 

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Sunrise on Nanga Parbat

 

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A load of poultry

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Tarshing village

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The mighty raging Indus river

 

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From Battagram the route was over a pass out of the Indus valley and a hilly detour to Abottabad on the way to Islamabad and down to hot and humid weather.

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Rhesus monkeys

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Anyone want a brollie?

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Overloaded?

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Pakistani habit of squatting and just watching every move…

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Kids love the bike!

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More friendly Pakistanis with our “trimmed down” Simon.

An armed police escort followed him all the way down the KKH highway and finally departed once he reached Islamabad.  Here, it was a frustrating few days trying to arrange the entry visa into India. With the Pakistani visa running out, problems accessing the Indian immigration website, the heat and high humidity and diarrhoea – travel is not always fun! But finally with the Indian visa application lodged Simon headed south towards the border town of Lahore, where he is now waiting, ready to enter India at Amritsar as soon as the entry visa arrives.

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Hedge trimmer in Lahore

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No need for a bike lock here!

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Street traffic in Lahore

This next stage will be the final leg of his 6 month adventure. He plans to bus north from Amritsar to the city of Srinagar in the Kashmir highlands, from where he will cycle back to Manali.  This should take about 2 to 3 weeks. He will then make his way south to Delhi on about 21 September (by bus probably). This will give him a few days to see some local city highlights and time to pack up his bike ready to fly home to Christchurch on 25 September. The cycle adventure is nearly over and it will be time to come back to the “real world” again (and we will all breathe a sigh of relief when he is safely back on NZ soil!).

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Simon cycles the Stans – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

The 500km ride across Turkmenistan is known by cyclists as the “desert dash”, as it must be completed within the 5 day transit Visa. It is an endurance ride in the arid and extremely hot climate with long straight roads, little vegetation and few towns and villages. Simon reports that a few dirty irrigation ditches gave occasional wet relief!

Naturally, Simon rose to the challenge and crossed the border into Uzbekistan within the 5 days, on 25 June. Here the climate was cooler and the countryside greener:

“the ride was more interesting with friendly people selling food and drink on the roadsides and lots of horticulture with various fruit trees all around, some for plundering!!”

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A short rest in the city of Bukhara, in Uzbekistan and then on to the city of Samarkand, a resting place for travellers and traders on the Old Silk road for centuries. It had refreshing green parks, beautiful mosques and good street food!.

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Oven for cooking meat pasties

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Pasties are stuck on oven wall by hand and removed with mesh scoop on short stick, delicious!

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It only took about a week to cross Uzbekistan before crossing the border into Tajikistan and the city of Dushanbe. “It was a good ride from Samarkand, plenty of ice-cream shops!” 

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Some BIG buildings in Dushanbe

 

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From Dushanbe Simon started on the 1300km journey through the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan and the Wakhan corridor bordering Afghanistan. His destination was Kyrgyzstan and the border crossing into China.

“Once on the Pamir river the road steepened, heading over a number of high passes, up to 4655m, but although the roads were in terrible condition, the gradient was usually rideable  and the scenery spectacular with snowy mountains, deep gorges and arid red rocky hillsides; all in techni-colour from the incredibly clear air that you get at these altitudes.”

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Tajikistan petrol station

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Lush green meadows and herb fields at about 3500m altitude.

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Some stunning mountains!

On this section of the ride he started to meet a few other cyclists.

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Mark from Perth, heading for Europe and been on the road for 2 years!

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Nice to meet some friendly fellow cyclists who speak fluent English!

 

 

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“After heading north through the mountains of Tajikistan the road finally descended in dramatic fashion into Kyrgyzstan, out of the rock valleys and into a wide lush valley dotted with smoking yurts and their surrounding horses, cattle, sheep, goats and children.”

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Simon passed through Sary Tashkent in Kyrgyzstan on 21st July and crossed the border into China the following day.

The next blog will have photos of the journey from here – through the incredible Karakorum Highway and into Pakistan.

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Iran – the friendliest people in the world.

From the  freezing temperatures and high altitude of Armenia it was a relief to experience warmer temperatures down at the Caspian Sea in Iran. Then came some big hills to cycle over before reaching Iran’s capital city Tehran.

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A water reservoir in the mountains

 

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On the road to Tehran

After just over a month in Iran Simon can confirm his first opinion of Iranians being the friendliest people in the world!  “It is the most amazing country to cycle culturally, every stop has a story of kindness”. He was offered free drinks, food, ice creams (his favourite!), accommodation, free mechanical repairs to his bike and countless other kindnesses.

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This friendly family provided tea and biscuits on the roadside and then later welcomed him into their home in Tehran for a sleep over.

 

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Another welcome!

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These men in a park produced cold drinks.

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A typical meal – often provided free!

 

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More hospitality in an ornately furnished Iranian home.

Najaf, a steel worker, was a particularly generous man who befriended Simon in Tehran. He provided meals, helped Simon arrange his visas for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and even paid for a (much needed) hair cut! While Simon was waiting for his visas to be processed, he spent a few days exploring some historic cities in southern Iran – Esfahan, Shiraz and Yadz.  Najaf arranged and paid for a VIP bus trip (and taxi to get to the bus) to take Simon down to Esfahan and stored his bike while he was away for a few days. Before he departed on the bus Najaf presented him with a million Iranian rials (about $30US) – incredible generosity! and he has invited us both back to stay in one of his 3 houses in Tehran – could be good!

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A picnic with Najaf and girlfriend Ida

 

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A new man!

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The beautiful Shahcheragh mosque in Shiraz.

 

 

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Fantastic tile work.

 

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Wow!!

 

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A lovely traditional hostel in Shiraz, much nicer and cheaper than hostels in Tehran and almost empty of guests.

 

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A truck loaded with melons – no wonder it had a puncture!

Back in Tehran, another friendly man spent quite a few hours escorting Simon around the markets and explaining some of the crafts and customs.

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In the markets in Tehran –  hand made mats that have been crafted by this family run business for the past 250 years

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Baking bread in Tehran is a real art.

 

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A motor cycle cemetery – apparently they are confiscated by the police in lieu of fines!

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Najaf and friends say farewell to Simon as he leaves Tehran and heads east towards the border with Turkmenistan – about 1000kms away.

 

So it was back on the road again in the heat, with the Uzbekistan Visa safely in the pannier bag and Turkmenistan Visa to be collected at the town of Mashhad 130kms from the border.

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Barren hills

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Crazy man!

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A local reptile

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Colourful roadkill

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Eh?!

 

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Mosques are quite good places to camp. They usually have water and toilets

The climate is very hot here and the land a desert.  Cycling is only bearable from 6am until midday and then another couple of hours after 5pm. Simon describes it as the “hardest riding I have done because of the heat and having to wear long pants” (for cultural reasons). Needless to say his derriere suffered!

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Dry and barren but with its own beauty.

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Simon eventually reached the city of Mashhad – where each year millions of pilgrims visit the vast Holy Shrine and tomb of Imam Reza. He visited the beautiful Goharshad mosque during the day and again when it was lit up at night.

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The carpets cover a huge marble courtyard and are hot on your bare feet.

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The faithful at prayer facing mecca.

 

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The mosque comes alive at night with lights and people.

 

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Glittering chandeliers and mirror mosaics.

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The busy night time streets in Mashhad

After collecting the Turkmenistan visa in Mashhad (with the help of a hostel employee who transported Simon to the consulate twice on his motorbike and another time by bicycle) – he departed for the border 130kms away. The timing had to be perfect as the Turkmenistan visa only allows a transit of 5 days – and there are 500kms of hot arid desert to cycle to reach the border of Uzbekistan on the other side.  So he was waiting at the Turkmenistan border for entry on 20 June and has to be at the other side by the 24th – known by cyclists as the “desert dash”.

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After jumping though hoops and wires – the Turkmenistan Visa at last!

The next country is Uzbekistan where the visa is for a longer period – a month I think?

If you have reached the end of this rather long post I take full responsibility for any inaccuracies in this account. But just enjoy the photos – great aren’t they?!

Sue

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Iran, via Georgia and Armenia

If you check out the “Where are we?” page on the top menu above you will see that Simon has been pretty busy since the last blog in late April. He decided to do a bit of a detour north to check out the countries of Georgia and Armenia, on his way to Iran. These are both poor countries with a Russian influence and he discovered some hard riding at high altitudes and some very cold conditions.

Simon described the Goderdzi Pass as a “90km climb from sea level (the Black sea) to 2025m on a road that was a pot-holed rocky mess with water running down it, snow thawing and cold”.  Yes – it looks seriously COLD!

He described Georgia as being like Turkey but without the sun. Most of the people only speak the Georgian language which is not spoken by any other country – hence they can’t communicate with the rest of the world. But the people were friendly (although more reserved than in Turkey) and curious about his trip. He had some nice homestays.

It has a poor rural population and lots of hills.

After a few days in Georgia Simon crossed the border into Armenia on about 8 May. He described Armenia as “tough riding, grinding hills and cold miserable weather with snow in patches…”   Hmmm.. maybe the NZ winter and heat pump isn’t so bad after all!

Some impressive mountains including Big and little Mt Ararat that he had seen when he flew over head en route to Istanbul a month earlier.

The cars are predominantly “rusty old Ladas or Mercedes and vehicles have smokey diesel engines often looking as tho they on fire”. The Lada in the picture is a “good one”. Some interesting farm vehicles and village roads …

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A friendly lady who served me fried potato fritters. She was interested in my trip.

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A group of Russian cyclists on a 3 week tour of Armenia.

Yerevan is the capital city of Armenia. It had an impressive Republic Square with some interesting sculptures.

Back on the road again – more hills and interesting sights.

The last pass before crossing the border into Iran – more tough cycling.

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Pass at 2535m. 13 May 2017

Simon is now in Tehran – the capital of Iran and reports that it must be the friendliest country in the world. More about his adventures in Iran in the next blog.

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Simon in Turkey

Simon has been making good progress across Turkey, aided by a strong tail wind last week. However, both the bike and the body required a little TLC!

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Modifications to bike seat to ease the “mightily sore bum”!

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Some pleasant camp sites

 

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Roadside water troughs are common.

He now reports that “the weather is perfect with hardly a cloud, little wind and nice mild temperatures. Nice countryside with snow peaks behind, big roads but not busy. People still very friendly, get offered tea a couple of times a day”.

He has just visited the impressive rock formations and cave dwellings at Cappadocia.

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Cave houses in Cappadocia

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Snowy mountains nearby.

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Nice quiet roads

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Cappadocian cave houses

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Iconic Cappadocia rock formations

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Springtime in Cappadocia

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Not the best spot for a little loving!

Cappadocia (or Goreme) is located near the centre of Turkey. From here Simon is now cycling northeast towards the Black Sea. Turkey is a huge country and the Iranian border is still a couple of weeks away.

Follow his route on the map under the “Where are we?” page above.

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Simon’s Central Asia adventure begins!

Simon is on his way – flying into Istanbul on 5 April. His plan of assembling the bike at the airport and cycling to his hostel in the city centre was thwarted when the bike missed the onward flight from Abudhabi!

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Lake Van in southern Turkey, Mt Ararat in distance.

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Mt Ararat & little Mt Ararat

He visited the famous sites in Istanbul – great photos of the Blue Mosque:

He reports that people are very welcoming (tho don’t speak a lot of English); and there are lots of friendly dogs and cats. Food and accommodation is very cheap – so life is good!

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Dogs often have plastic ear tags.

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Yummy food!

He took a ferry south across the Marmara sea on his way to visit the Dardanelles and Gallipoli.

 

 

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Leaving Istanbul by ferry across the Marmara Sea

 

He visited the ruins at Troy and found some pleasant seaside camp sites.

Simon is currently cycling south towards the Acropolis and will soon start on the journey eastwards across Turkey, visiting the famous rock formations at Cappadocia on the way.

He expects to spend about a month cycling across Turkey before entering Iran. From here the plan is to cross the “Stans” (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) and cycle into China.  Then cross the Himalayas via the Karakorum highway into Pakistan and finally into northern India (Kashmir). His flight home is from Delhi on 25 September – a 6 month adventure!

To follow his journey on the map – check out the “where are we?” page above.

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The UK and last leg of our adventure.

Hi all

We arrived in Plymouth in the rain (our first rain for 3 months!) and continued cycling in the mist for the next 2 days across the grazed hills of the Dartmoor National Park. We met a number of hardy walkers who were also out braving the damp weather along the numerous country trails.

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An ancient quarry on the Dartmoor Hills.

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Dartmoor hills covered in heather (a despised weed in New Zealand)

But the weather improved as we cycled through Exeter and down to the coast again, staying at a camp beside a picturesque beach near Budleigh-Salterton.

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Exeter Cathedral.

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Looking down to the coast near Sidmouth.

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Our camping ground on the terrace above the beach near Budleigh- Salterton

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The lovely sea side village of Sidmouth.

Another days cycling (via Sidmouth) took us across the Blackmoor Hills. We found that England (and also Wales) have some extremely narrow country lanes with high hedgerows often bordered with blackberry bushes and stinging nettle (not a nice retreat if a vehicle comes along!) They also often have hills with ridiculously steep gradients (or maybe we are just getting older and weaker!)

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Narrow lanes.

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16% - that's RIDICULOUS!!

We made our way to Axminster where we caught a train east to meet Sue’s sister Liz in Winchester, where she is a matron (or dame!) at the historic Winchester College, founded in 1382!  We had planned our arrival to coincide with a canoe trip on the Thames with a group of 7, including the chief organiser, Hazel, who is an old school mate of Liz’s from Feilding, and who is now a dame at Eton College. We were joined by another Kiwi, Jilly, an ex-dame from Harrow, Hazel’s partner Fred and another Liz, a local who provided 2 of the boats, invaluable local knowledge and experience of the river. We were in illustrious company and had a hilarious time (helped along with a bit of alcohol!) camping on the riverbank for 3 nights with the group. It was great to have some laughs and a welcome change from our long cycling days with only our own company.

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Jilly and Liz all ready to start paddling!

England turned on it’s best summer weather for our 3 days paddling on the Thames.  The first day was an epic paddle of 39kms! (including negotiating 6 locks) but the following 2 days were  much shorter, more relaxing and very enjoyable. It was a wonderful trip along a lovely peaceful stretch of river with the occasional lock to negotiate, various interesting other river craft to watch and the opportunity to peer into the back yards of some elite English mansions.

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Blissful paddling.

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Inside the lock with the water level dropping.

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A canal boat on the Thames.

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One of the many mansions.

We returned to Liz’s flat at Winchester College for a night, then Liz kindly drove us out to view the ancient and very interesting rocks at Stongehenge. The following day Liz departed on her trip to Russia, and we headed across to Cardiff  by train to spend our last week having a look at Southern Wales.

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Stonehenge.

True to form, the Welsh rain returned! We had a leisurely trip (dodging the worst of the rain) cycling through the Brecon Beacons National Park, an open grazed area with numerous peaks and attractive reservoirs.

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Why are these walls so high? The highest peaks are in the background.

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A nice sunny spot for lunch.

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Welsh ponies.

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A canal near the town of Brecon.

We attempted to follow the National Cycle Trail through the middle of the Brecon Beacons and then up to the famous literary town of Hay-On-Wye, then southwards along the Welsh/ English border down to the city of Bristol, but without a GPS log of the trail, it was very frustrating trying to stay on the right route.

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A downhill at last after a long climb up!

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A field mouse munching on a hazelnut.

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We cycled over this 2 km long bridge over the Severn river near Bristol.

However, we eventually made it to a hostel at Bristol. The next day we (eventually) found a bike shop that could supply us with suitable cardboard boxes for our bikes, carried them to the bus station where we packed the bikes up ready for the bus trip to Heathrow and the flight home.

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Some spontaneous musicians entertained us as we waited for our flight at Heathrow.

And so another cycle adventure is over, another good one to add to the memory banks. About 8,000kms and no illness or major injuries; only a few UFD’s (Unexpected Fast Dismounts) between us; no real mechanicals, not even one puncture! We have a lot of happy memories of our times on the road, in the camps and hostels and above all, of the very friendly people we have met in every country – Spain, Portugal, Morocco, France, England and Wales.

Thanks to everyone who has been following our blog.  It is very encouraging to have your support!

We are currently winging our way home, enjoying the Qantas luxuries and dreaming about the next adventures, so many places to go!

Looking forward to getting home,

Lots love
S n S

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France

Hi all
Our crossing from Spain into France was via the Col de Puymoren, in the Pyrenees. It was a long gradual climb up and an exhilirating descent. We were lucky to have a nice sunny day and good views of the green hills, with only a tiny patch of snow left.

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The gently graded road and a ski run between the trees.

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On the top, feeling a bit sweaty!

We passed through some lovely towns in southern France, one town had a thermal pool in the central shopping area where people were sitting paddling their feet. It would be fun in the winter but rather too hot when we passed through. We headed northeast across some pretty rural areas, to meet the Canal du Midi, which links the Atlantic coast with the Mediterranean Sea.

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Lovely cycling on quiet roads.

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The fields of sunflowers were spectacular splashes of colour.

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Great cycling on the Canal du Midi.

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A loch on the canal.

We followed the canal west through the city of Toulouse and then north long the Garonne canal, eventually leading us up to the region of Dordogne. We spent about a week here, following a Lonely Planet cycle route that took us past some spectacular scenery and delightful little historic villages. The prettiest part of France that we have seen so far.

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A great piece of track built into the cliff with rock art along the walls!

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The lovely clifftop town of Rocamador.

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There are many limstone caves in this area, which have been occupied for at least 29,000 years. We visited the Pech Merle cave which had some amazingly vivid prehistoric cave drawings. Mind blowing to think how old they are. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos.

The last town that we visted in Dordogne was the rather touristy, but very pretty town of Sarlat.

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Since we were running out of time to get to Winchester in England by 13th August, we caught a train from Sarlat to Bordeaux on the huge Garonne estuary, and then onto to Rojan, also on the estuary but further up the Atlantic coast. From here we joined the Eurovelo 1 cycle route up the Atlantic coast and through Brittany to Roscoff on the north coast.

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The cycle trail meandered through all sorts of different areas but luckily we had the route down loaded onto our GPS which reduced the number of times that we got lost! You wouldn’t want to rely on following the cycle route signage. We cycled up the coast to the mouth of the Loire and then inland to the city of Nantes.

From here the route followed the Nantes to Brest canal.

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At last we reached Roscoff, another very pretty little seaside town. From here we departed France by ferry to Plymouth, England (a 6 hour trip on a very comfortable

We had really enjoyed our time in France, lovely weather, beautiful villages and countryside. Some great cycling on trails, canal tow paths or quiet roads, very friendly people, plenty of supermarkets and lots of camping grounds. Everything a cyclist needs!

We arrived in Plymouth on the 9th August and began the last stage of our cycling journey, with only 3 weeks left before the flight home from Heathrow. Hopefully, we’ll get time to post a few photos about this before we board the plane.

Regards to everyone and looking forward to seeing some of you soon!
Sue n Simon.

PS sorry about the lack of captions and a few photos missing, another dodgy internet connection!

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Granada to Barcelona

More great cycling in Spain!

We spent an enjoyable rest day in Granada and followed a Lonely Planet “graffitti walk” which took us to some lovely parts of the city.
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From Granada we continued northeast along an inland route heading towards Barcelona. We passed through some beautiful rural countryside and villages blending into the rocky landscape.

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Hilltop villages.

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Village blending into the hillside.

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A marble quarry.

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Hilltop castle.

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A nuclear power plant.

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Lots of fruit orchards. This one was almonds.

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An inqusitive squirrel above our camp site.

We cycled through an interesting hot and dry area where almost all the houses were caves. The houses were
underground but had a front facade and chimneys for ventilation. There was a mix of very old houses as well as some quite modern ones. Presumably they are cooler than a traditional house.

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Our favourite town on this section was Teruel which happened to have a festival on when we arrived.

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Street parade, Teruel.

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Buildings in Teruel.

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Ornate stone steps in Teruel.

The lady at the information centre encouraged us to go to a bull fight, she convinced us that it isn’t cruel and the bulls actually enjoy it! We found it very exciting with the torreadors running for their lives at times, and one even got his pants (and more!) ripped open when he slipped over. A couple of times one of them somersaulted over the top of the bull as he charged at him. Simon got some good video footage which unfortunately we can’t put on this site. The still photos were poor, but you get the idea!

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We eventually made our way out to the coast south of Barcelona and enjoyed some easy cycling along the seaside cycle paths, interspersed with cooling swims in the warm clean waters of the Mediterranean. The fresh water open showers along the sea front were great too!

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Barcelona was a highlight with some interesting (and weird Gaudi) architecture.

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Central Barcelona.

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A Gaudi creation (centre).

One of the weirdest buildings is Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, which he worked on for 40 years (until his death) and it is still far from finished. It is supposed to have 19 towers when it is complete. We didn’t go inside as there were queues of people waiting for tickets and it was all a bit touristy for us.

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Sagrada Familia

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Front of the Sagrada Familia.

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Amazing intricate detail on the Sagrada Familia.

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Lots of different architectural styles.

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An up- market market full of tourists.

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Beautifully presented fruit stalls.

We shouted ourselves a night out at the fantastic theatre “Palau Musica de Catalunya”, where we watched a flamenco show with Spanish guitar music and colourful flamenco dresses, lots of stomping and energetic dancing, great!

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Theatre entrance.

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Inside the theatre.

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Fantastic ceiling and tiled columns.

We spent 2 nights in Barcelona and took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to see some of the sites. It would certainly be easy to spend a lot more time exploring this interesting city, but the bikes were feeling neglected and so we mounted our steeds yet again and headed north towards the Pyrenees and France (the next blog). We have been impressed with the great variety of scenery in Spain but are now enjoying slightly cooler temperatures in the impressive limestone valleys of Dordogne.

Hope all is well with everyone.
Bonsoir from us!

S n S

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