- Left – 1 year ago
- 7th April 2014 – 7th April 2015
- Miles rode 22,900 (36,600km)
- Countries visited – 28
What about my F650GS Dakar?
- Tyres – 3 sets, (1 x Mitas E-07 / 2 x Heidenau Scout K60’s). No punctures!
- Crashes – I slid down a wet road in Croatia for 10 metres, hit a cow in India and a car also hit me India. No injuries.
- Dropped my bike – I’ve lost count how many times! After being ill and feeling very weak I dropped my bike in a river crossing riding the northern part of the KKH in Pakistan, the issue here was water got into one pannier and ruined my iPad (costly error), I also lost a lot of paperwork.
- Services – 3
- Repairs & parts needed – throttle cable / 2 x batteries / pannier frame straightening & welding / 2 x chain tensioning mechanisms / sprockets & chain / fuel filter / head bearings / fork seals / side stand repositioned / re-ground front disc.
People – it’s all about the people. The hundreds or maybe thousands of encounters I’ve had with people wherever I’ve been have been an inspiration.
Borders – most borders are easy to cross if you have all the paperwork prepared and are patient. I love the remote borders, I wanted to cross from Bosnia into Croatia at the top of a mountain but was told I couldn’t, it was just for ‘locals’ so I had to backtrack. At eleven in the morning I was the first to cross from Armenia into Georgia, again at a remote, deserted border, as I was the first of the day they unlocked the gate for me. To my surprise you get a free fifteen day on arrival visa at the Iraq border. I had my fingerprints taken at the Iran border. When I crossed from Iran into Pakistan at Taftan late in the afternoon I had to spend the night in jail as it was safer inside than out. Riding North from India into Nepal I didn’t see the border so for ten miles into Nepal I was illegally there. And lastly, when I crossed from Laos into Cambodia the border guard had so little to do he had fallen asleep! I woke him up and he laughed with me.
Bikers – whilst I met overlanders riding bikes there aren’t too many doing the long haul, but everyone I have met without exception has been great to talk to, ride with and share advice and experiences. The biker community is great, so helpful and inspiring. I’ve been to many countries and places I hadn’t intended to due to these wonderful people. Keep riding and stay safe.
Bus drivers – I’ve been in some dangerous situations because of the landscape or political situations, but without a shadow of doubt the most danger has come from buses. Small mini-van buses or large ones they are reckless and have no regard for other road users. I’ve had to take action so many times, normally swerving off the road to avoid head on collisions! What is it about bus drivers all over the world?
Experiences – I’ve had so many different experiences, I laughed, cried, been hot, cold, hungry, poisoned, swam in the bluest sea, drank beer under palm trees and rode my motorbike through both the most beautiful places in the world and the most inhospitable. My most fulfilling experience has been spending such intense time with my kids, Beth & Olly. We travelled together, swam together, shared amazing experiences together, got drunk together… They have moved on now, Beth is travelling in Australia (Beth’s 21 and solo travelling) and Olly’s back in the UK about to embark on a new career. I’m now feeling so fulfilled. Beth & Olly have grown into wonderful people, they react in positive ways in many diverse situations, they are so very social and I see them contribute to other people’s lives engaging with everyone, the young to old, the rich to poor, they do not discriminate. When they talk to people I see the positive reaction they get from everyone. They work hard to achieve what they want and whilst they will have to negotiate life’s twists & turnes, ups & downs, the practical and emotional obstacles that life will throw up I have no doubt they will live fulfilled lives. I sleep well at night.
1 year and still going – The courts in England decided I wasn’t fit to have a driving licence so 3 weeks before I left banned me from driving for 6 months for cumaliative driving offences, the last, driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone. I stressed about my predicament for a few days and then decided I would continue with my adventure, I rode illegally through 25 countries before getting my license back. Ha Ha.
Riding down through Europe at the start of April was amazing with blue skies and snow either side of me as I crossed the Alps. The Dalamation Coast was beautiful and empty of cars as it was early in the year. I spent 1 1/2 months in Turkey and the Caucasus region before heading further east to Iran & Iraq where I experienced such a wonderful welcome from everybody I met, people wanted to talk, they were curious and wanted to share lifestyle stories.
I then spent 5 weeks in Pakistan with Heiko from Germany and Garth from Canada, how I loved my time there. The beauty of the extreme and diverse landscape, riding from the desert in the centre to the northern Karakorum mountain range where I arrived at the Chinese border, this was one of the many highlights and emotional moments of my travels. The people, yes the people throughout the country who only wanted to help in what is a troubled area of the world. I will always remember the wonderful people who just wanted to help, talk, share experiences and secure my safe passage through their country. Pakistan is a dangerous place, not only did I have to negotiate terrible roads I had to develop skills riding along dirt tracks, sand, rocks and across rivers but also one of the most dangerous roads in the world from Taftan to Quetta where the possibility of being kidnapped is real. I experienced for the third time in my life an earthquake too.
I had been on the road for four months when I arrived in India and headed straight to Kashmir, The ladahk region in The Himalayas with Heiko. What an amazing two weeks. We rode the highest navigable road in the world and at 5,379 metres Heiko tattooed me with power from his motorbike battery. A few days later we rode The Leh-Manali Highway where we rode the second highest navigable road in the world peaking at 5,353 metres. For two days we rode crazy, dangerous roads but it was truly wonderful. I then met up with Oli from London and we rode East from Delhi to Varanasi. Varanasi spun me around a few times and dropped me back down again, is there a more fascinating place in the world?
I spent two and a half months in India with trips to tropical Sri Lanka and mountainous Nepal in between.
I entered SouthEast Asia at the start of November and five months later I’m still here. Initially I joined ten other bikers and crossed Myanmar, the land of the smile and the country time forgot. Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are wonderful places to travel in, beautiful, diverse with amazing beaches and dense jungle. It’s all about the people, yes the people have made me feel so welcome.
It’s hard to leave.
What started out as no more than riding a motorbike East has developed into so much more. My ratio of riding : stopping is 1 : 2.7
Western Media – The news is 99% bad news and has an agenda, BBC, CNN or RT they are all the same. It’s been great not watching the bullshit news and finding out for myself what the world is all about and what different cultures and religions really feel like. The constant negative news regarding the Muslim world is so destructive and unfortunately influences so many people back home who only get their news from these biased sources. I always knew the constant negative news regarding Muslims must be false and now I know for sure, it is! I only had positive experiences from Eastern Turkey through Iraq and Iran to Pakistan. The people are so friendly and helpful everywhere, they know how they are portrayed in the western media and relished the opportunity to discuss the real Muslim world. Thank you all for making me so welcome and being so kind.
Life in the western world – I believe life is all about balance and many people in ‘the west’ don’t seem to have that balance. I’ve been trying to restore my balance for some years now. We’re told by everyone in society we need to get a job, work hard, borrow money to buy a house, buy a new car, buy a bigger house, borrow more money, buy a big TV, work harder, borrow, buy more, spend, spend, spend. I understand this ‘makes the western economy’s work’ but this perpetual work hard and consumption doesn’t fulfill many people even though many do it. Oh, If we’re really good we get two weeks holiday each year to fly to the sun and two days off at Christmas to see our family! And of course we must raise our kids with the same values.
Many wise people have said these words before me.
I want to add to these words and say that whilst everyone needs money, maybe for some people not spending all of it on material things may be more fulfilling? How about making a plan to follow your dreams whatever they are?
I’m the same as most people in that when you play ‘the game’ to think too much about it would mean you would have to question it and if one ponders on it for too long the next step maybe a feeling of unfulfillment. The really challenging and possibly frightening thoughts would be to consider changing something! I understand why ‘running with these thoughts’ could be considered dangerous! I like to think it’s putting your life in balance.
I imagine that some people consider this for the first time when they retire.
So, after a year of opting out of the ‘bullshit’ I don’t want to either revert back to being a slave to the corporate world of maximising my income or opt out of society. I hope to find a balance of earning enough money to do the things I love. Live in an affordable house, help my kids have fulfilled lives, spend time with the people I love, further travel seeing our amazing world and meeting wonderful people, finding the truth out for myself.
Who knows though, maybe when I return home I’ll forget these thoughts and join the ‘bullshit’ again?
I believe life is all about balance.
What next? I leave Thailand for Malaysia on Saturday and a week later I get a boat to Indonesia. I’ll then spend a few months riding down Indonesia from island to island where I’ll hopefully arrive in East Timor where I’ll ship my bike to Australia. After a few months there I think I’ll come home as I want to see the many people I love there.
After one year away I feel very relaxed, calm and not a sign of stress anywhere.
Firstly, a Big Hi from India. Love everything you do and the choices that you’ve made. You are a great inspiration. Keep writing and stay awesome ! Ill see you on the road soon (I hope), Keep the shinny side up and rubber side down. cheers & godspeed..
great writing,great points and thoughts.Stay chilled and enjoy,you have put lots of thoughts into my head.
Great year summary Dan. I share your thoughts and hope to see you on the road again soon…..
It has been wonderfull meeting yu in person and love to read your posts which will help me massively if I get an oppurtunity to chase my dreams one day or maynt. But still I cherrish those 1 hr takking with you in CCD.
Munch miles as faras you can and ride safe mate..!!!
Congratulations on your “travelling birthday” Dan – excellent words; you are truly an inspiration and at least those of us still embedded in the “rat race” can live vicariously through your blog!! At last I’ve got the kit car on the road so when you finally get back I’ll take you out for that beer in it – probably not as exhilarating as biking through the mountains, but no need for a tin lid! Stay safe!
It has been brilliant reading your blog over the past year Dan and I feel honoured to have played a tiny part in your adventure.
Be safe and I am glad it is going well for you.
Don’t rush home but I look forward to enjoying a beer and a curry with you! John.
John, don’t underestimate your input, without you I wouldn’t be with my Dakar and I wouldn’t have been able to deal with breakdowns. As you know I’m no mechanic, but have so far managed to keep going. I’m amazed every time I do a repair the bike starts first time and there aren’t any bolts left over! Thanks, and yes a beer is 100% on the cards.
What can I say! An amazing piece of writing (yes, I am your mum and would say that wouldn’t I) A brilliant summary of your trip and best of all the very personal comments all of which I 100% agree with.
Inspiring, beautiful photos.
Hi Dan, I am truly impressed and somewhat jealous of your trip. I’ve followed you and wish you safe and well as you continue
All the best Dan Marks
Well done Dan! No-one could get away with 25 countries without a driving license, apart from you! Well written post, great photos and I fully agree with your philosophy! One year on the road, have fun in the next one and… don’t ride in Oz at night (kangaroos are big…!)
Big congrats form a couple of Leprechauns here! good to see you still going strong 365 days in! We did the Pan-American 10 years ago on a pair of 650GS – 35,500 miles in 15 months on the road. Whole thing was a blast. Getting ready now to head off again in June on the same bikes – East this time – on a year + travel around the globe. Keep in touch & ride safe!
I did similar experience from Japan to Nepal via Russia and Europe last year for 36,000 km, 24 countries by solo riding. Please look at my riding report at web site above, but mainly written in Japanese, partially in English (^0^;
After Australia riding, please come to Japan. Let’s ride together.
Take care and safety riding.
My web site is as follows;
Happy traveling one year birth day and thank you for the amazing read. I have just passed Malaysia and Australia on my solo trip and my bike is now being shipped to Canada as I am on my way back to Europe again. I have touring friends in Malaysia and Sydney that have done similar journeys (22 countries so far on this trip) and I am sure would love to meet up with you so if you still have those to places left to do and would like to say hi to some like minded people them let me know and I will pass you their details. // Respectfully / Henrik
Henrik, good to hear from you. If your on Facebook make contact and we can swop contacts. Otherwise mail me email@example.com
Some great pictures and interesting reflections. I’m now a month into a trip around Africa having read and been inspired by Graham Fields book. Unfortunately it will have to come to an end well before I reach a year, but I agree with you on many aspects. Ride safe.
Amazing trip and life philosophy. On your way back home please do stop for few days in Israel. Promise to show you the better side of the country and its people all on our bikes.
Isaac, great to hear from you, but unfortunately I have no plans to visit Israel on this trip, it’s way up on my must visit countries so who knows. Dan
Keep on riding. Keep on stopping. Keep on smiling. Keep on blogging. Thanks for the ride!
I got the same bike. Good to see you’re using it for what it was made for.
Jealous in Brussels
Really enjoyed Cat Ba Island with you and Oli and of course Micki. I love meeting happy and inspirational people and you easily fit the bill. Keep living life to the fullest and as always stay safe. Love your blog.
Mark & Sue
I can say to you ” Horas Horas Mejuah juah ” which means ” luck, prosperity, health “. A friend from Medan the city of Bataknese, North Sumatera Indonesia. Johan
Very, very inspiring Dan. Your overall philosophy on life is outstanding. I hope to start my “freedom riding” in a few months. My good friend will be starting his RTW trip this summer. All the best in Malaysia (my wife is from there 🙂