After reading the book 'adventure motorbike handbook' of Chris Scott Johan came with the idea of traveling around the world by motorbike. Milda decided to join and we started in April 2010 making our first plans for our travel from Vilnius to Kuala Lumpur.. The 'adventure motorbike handbook' was a very useful tool for the preparation of our trip as all steps are clearly described.
Purpose of travel
The purpose of our travel is to get to know different aspects of different cultures and try to adapt to them. The best way to do this is to stay with locals in small community's. During this trip we'll try to avoid the big cities that might be stressful to drive in and to find secure accommodation for us and the motorbike. Anyway we both love to be in the nature and the best hotel for us would be one with a canvas roof. When we stay overnight in a city we'll try to make use of the help of locals (couchsurfing might help us with that) that could show us the nice spots around.
|Couch surfing in Ukraine|
When and where to go
To enjoy an overland trip covering several continents the minimum duration of the trip has to be about four months in our minds. Both of us didn't want to quit our jobs so we decided to leave in September 2011 and come back in January 2012 as these are the months it is least busy at work. This period limits the options on 'where' to go to the southern part of the world. The first idea was to travel to Australia. But because of the heat and the time limit we decided to skip the Australian part of the trip. We're heading to Kuala Lumpur!
After reading stories of fellow travelers we knew that we wanted for sure to see Iran, Pakistan and Turkey and came up with the following route: Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal. From Nepal we will fly to Thailand continuing our travel through Cambodia, Laos, Thailand (again) and Malaysia.
Maybe the most difficult part of the preparation was the decision on which bike we'll take for our trip.
First we thought about travelling with the KTM Adventure 640 which was already standing in our garage (if you can call it a garage, maybe wooden box). Due to reliability problems and comfort we decided to keep the 640 Adventure at home. Later we couldn't decide to go for the Adventures' bigger brother 950 or for a 650 V-strom. After comparing both bikes the V-Strom won because of it's reliability, economy, price, comfort two-up and the availability of spare parts during the trip.
|Ready to go|
Traveling overland two up on a motorbike makes you aware of how much you really need. Not much!
In order to control the bike in dirt we really need to do our best to keep the weight of the motorbike inclusive the luggage as low as possible. When purchasing the luggage we kept in mind how much space the luggage takes and from which fabric it is made (as f.e. cottons are drying very slow and add up extra weight). The clothes we have to carry in compression bags that compresses all air out of the bag which makes the voliume much smaller. We've chosen for the smallest tools available so that it packs up under the seat of the motorbike. To keep the center of gravity as low as possible we keep the top box to the bare minimum. In this way we always have free space to keep our riding gear when we go away from the bike.
We were thinking long time if we should take cooking equipment or not. After hearing the advices of several fellow travelers we decided to leave our cooking gear at home. The cooking gear adds up weight, it costs nearly the same to go out for dinner and we love to try the local food from different countries. All the smallest items we carry organised in zip lock bags.
As we both have different nationalities it is not easy to arrange all documents. Normally, each of us should apply for the Visas in the embassies that are authorised to issue the Visas for our countries. In this case Johan needs to get the Visas in the Netherlands that is not so complicated. But Lithuania is a small country that doesn't have such a wide international relationship, so Milda needs to apply for the Visas in several countries like Poland, Denmark and under more strict regulations. As Milda doesn't have an opportunity to apply for Visas in the Netherlands we decided to get apply the Visas at the embassies that are appointed for Lithuanian citizens.
According to our planning we needed to start with the first letter of invitation in the end of may (according to the website of the company that issue's the LOI 99% get it within 2 weeks). In the end of July we were still waiting for the LOI of Iran and decided to apply first for the Pakistan Visa. In meantime Johan got his 2nd passport. Halfway August (so in total 3 months) we received our Iranian Visa.
Lithuanian citizens need to get a LOI for the Pakistan Visa. We applied for the LOI, got it within a week and send all the documents by express delivery to the Pakistan embassy in Copenhagen, according to their website the processing time was 4-6 weeks! We tried to get in touch with the embassy everyday by calling them. This seemed to help as after providing them a travel itinerary of every day they gave us the Visas. In the end it took us 2 weeks to get the Pakistan Visa.
The process of getting the indian Visa is rather straight forward. The processing time is 2 weeks and Lithuanian citizens need to apply in Warsaw. There is no LOI needed for the Indian Visa. For an Indian Visa we need to have a flight reservation (they don't issue a Visa when you come overland from Pakistan).
Carnet de passage:
For the Carnet de Passage we ended up at the ADAC in Germany. Everything is straight forward, documents are clear and it's rather easy to get the Carnet de Passage. The Carnet de passage costed us 160 euro, with a deposit of 3.000 Euro which can be returned ones the vehicle is back in Lithuania.
Useful tip: We became member of the automobile club in the Netherlands (which costs 14 Euro) to get 100 Euro discount on the Carnet de Passage.
We were not able to find a Dutch travel agency that would cover us medical during our trip and the Lithuanian insurances wouldn't cover anything higher than 6.500 Euro (???).
Instead we found an American established medical insurance (of sevencorners.com) which is affordable and would cover us up to 500.000 dollar.
International drivers license:
Johan applied for an international drivers license which should save some hassle on border crossings.