A couple of years ago I left my home in Boskoop, The Netherlands to travel to Nepal, Asia.

EDIT: This puts it in perspective:

http://www.boskoop2nepal.nl/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/image11.png

During that trip I visited Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgistan, China, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

Preparation (getting the bike ready, visa's, etc.) took about 6 months. I left in the spring and returned (by plane) 3 months later.

I kept a blog during the trip; it's still more or less on-line: www.boskoop2nepal.nl

Proof: This is me riding in N. Pakistan (Karakorum Highway):

http://www.boskoop2nepal.nl/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/dsc-2839.jpg

EDIT 1: The route

http://www.boskoop2nepal.nl/blog/wp-content/themes/autumn-concept-10/images/mainpic01.gif

EDIT 2: A short ride report with pics:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=403365

EDIT 3: Ok, about to go to bed, will check tomorrow for any unanswered questions.

Often asked questions:

-Sex?

It's hard to get lucky in an Islamic country.

-What bike?

Honda Africa Twin. I bought the bike specifically for the trip. It was 2nd hand, imported from Italy (not by me) with 28000km on the odometer. I modded the bike: bigger fuel tank (44liter), GPS (Garmin), heated grips, huge airhorn, steel tube protection frame, aluminium panniers, etc. Also a full service & new tires. All together I think the bike & luggage weighs around 350kg.

-Navigation?

I took maps along of every part of my route. All can be bought online. The GPS helps, nut mostly you just follow the road/path to the next town/village. That can be anywhere from 10km to 600km. Locals can tell you how to get to the next village (but usually not further, they don't know/never been).

-Visa?

Before leaving, I organised all the required visas. Some I got in The Netherlands (The Hague) and for some I had to go to Brussels. It's a hassle, it costs a lot of money, but there is no way around it. You can get agencies to do it for you, but that can cost a lot of money. You can find them on the net.

The Turkmen visa was the hardest to get. Normally, you can only travel in Turkmenistan with a guide 24/7. But there is a loophole: you can get a transit visa which allows you to enter, travel, and leave. So I told them that I would be entering from Iran in order to go to Uzbekistan. I asked for 6 days visa, considering the distance I would be travelling that would give me a day to visit the capital and an extra day in case of emergencies.

-Money?

Some of the countries visited were cash only (for example Iran, Turkmenistan), others have ATM's (for example Pakistan, India, Nepal, China). So you have to bring lots of US$ with you (yes, they accept the US$ anywhere, really anywhere). I carried some on my body, and some was hidden on the bike.

-Costs (EURO)?

Bike was about 3-4K, I spend about 7K along the way, flight back & bike shipping about 2K, paperwork & guides 1K. Add maybe 1K for things I forgot.

-Dangers?

I took a security course in the UK before I left. They cater to journalists & tourists that go to 'difficult' countries. Their analysis was that the biggest danger would be the traffic in India! I took normal precautions, and was never at 1 place for more that a few days. So usually if I would have attracted any attention, I was gone before they really noticed me. But I never really felt in danger. I never travelled at night and almost always slept in hotes/hostels/family homes where the bike was parked in a safe place. Sometimes that would be inside, next to the reception. And, no, I didn't bring any guns (why Americans have such a fascination for guns, I'll never understand).

Contrary to popular opinion, crime rates in most of these countries are very low. In some you have more to fear from the police/military than the population. They tend to be extremely welcoming, friendly & curious.

-Repairs/spare parts

I took a pair of tires with me to switch just before Turkmenistan. I also sent a pair ahead to China, together with oil & air filters. I carried a lot of spares, because after Istanbul, it's really hard if not impossible to get anything for such a (big) bike. I suffered no problems, except a flat tire in China due to a huge iron nail. I also carried spare inner tubes and an airpump. I'm quite handy with tools & repairs, so that was no problem. I took plenty tools along.

-Food & lodging

You can get food anywhere (duh), and they have hotels and restaurants anywhere (duh), although they may not look/taste/smell like anything you've ever seen. A restaurant can be a roadside shack and a hotel can turn out not to have any water .. I always carried a lot of water on the bike, and I had some camping/survival food with me, just in case. I also carried a tent, sleeping bag and simple cooking set. I camped in the desert of Iran and Turkmenistan (amazing).

-Route (loop in China)

I wanted to cross the desert, and I took the Cross Desert Highway, 600km of sand, sand and then some more sand. So I made that loop (clockwise). Cool, you can see that desert from space!

-General

I found people on average everywhere very friendly and sympathetic to my travels. People in remote places are thrilled to see strangers visit them, especially someone from that far away, all alone on a motorcycle. Poor people relate different to motorcycles then we do. For them it's the transportation of the poor, the rich have cars, the poor ride bikes .. so if you're on a bike, even from the west, you can't be rich .. that decreases the distance / creates empathy.

I also 'discovered' that:

-governments suck, not people

-Iranians don't hate the west, they want the best for their childern as well

-Northern Pakistan is the most beautiful place on earth (or maybe Tikal, Guatemala)

Comments: 1484 • Responses: 69  • Date: 

ForgotenPasswordGR212 karma

Which country has the best and cheapest prostitutes?

emilesprenger501 karma

Easy: The Netherlands

MomoTheCow193 karma

Did you find the cultures to overlap/change gradually as you travelled from region to region, or were there jarring contrasts between some borders?

emilesprenger163 karma

Great question! It really depends (like everything else in life ..). I first noticed a decline in wealth as I travelled through the Balkans: poverty, beggars, stray dogs, etc. Turkey I knew, I'd been there before. Going into Iran was a change, for sure. Very obvious, all the woman wear scarves (they have to). From Iran to Turkmenistan was also a big change, because Turkmenistan is so strange (as in really strange). The landscape in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is not very different (desert). Tajikistan and Kyrgyztan are typical Central Asian mountain states, a lot alike. China is also a big border, although I was in Xinjang, which is populated by the Uighurs, a muslim population, not typical Han Chinese. China-Pakistan is also another world. Pakistan-India is odd, as the two countries are still technically in a state of war with each other. You do see some regional cultures which cross borders (for example the Kurds in Turkey and Iran). Also in Central Asia culture is mixed (Pahtun in Afghanistan and Tajikistan and Pakistan).

CannibalHolocaust80 karma

Why is Turkmenistan so strange? How do the central Asian countries compare with one another?

emilesprenger146 karma

It's one of the most (politically) isolated places on earth, comparable to N Korea. The former dictator had a Kim Il Sung-like personality cult. It occurred to me over there: we only have statues of dead people.

arbuthnot-lane25 karma

I'm pretty sure there's at least one statue of Queen Beatrix in Amsterdam.
Turkmenbashi was plenty crazy, nonetheless. Making up his own religion, changing the names of months into his own and his mother's name, bulding stair into mountain sides, and the annual government run/roast is quite far of the reservation.

emilesprenger36 karma

Nope, only picures, no statues Really, I thougfht a lot about this, it's not often that you see a statue of someone who was alive when it was made. The guy who got the job after Turkmenbashi is not as crazy, but also a very nasty dictator.

a_stray_bullet147 karma

Why did you decide to do this?

emilesprenger209 karma

Good question .. I was asked this all of the time as I was preparing for the trip. First of all I love travelling and visiting new/strange places/countries. Second of all I love riding motorcycles. So for me bike travel rules. I did a short trip the year before (from The Netherlands across the Alps to Southern France) and realised how great that was. So I wanted to do another trip, this time a bit longer. Initially I thought about going to the Northcape (Above the Aric Circle in Norway), preferably being there around 21 june (longest day .. big party oiver there). Due to circumstances I was without work, and so a longer (=further) trip was possible. So why Nepal, then? Well, when I grew up (late 60's/early 70's), going overland to Nepal was the big (hippy) thing ('The Magic Bus'). I was way too young for this, but the sound of that country, 'Nepal', was special for me. I felt sad that I wasn't part of that scene in those days. So I always wanted to go to Nepal .. then it hit me: why not take the bike? That was the easy part .. deciding to go .. the hard part was figuring out what route to take, what countries to visit, how to get visa's, etc. Oh, and convincing my wife to let me go ..

a_stray_bullet30 karma

of course haha. A trip like that sounds extremely difficult to plan. Did you have to do alot of planning if so what kind, or did you just wing most of it.

emilesprenger90 karma

First, I planned the trip (route, what countries). I then had to get visa's and other documents. That took about 3 months (a lot of visits to Embassies, etc.). IMHO, careful planning is the key to succes.

a_stray_bullet37 karma

This is something I need to learn how to do first :) I plan to do an entire Europe trip and Asia (China, Tibet, HK, Taiwan, Sth Korea, Japan)

emilesprenger71 karma

Good luck on preparing for your trip. China is a pain (you need a guide) and Tibet next to impossible. Central Asia is amazing.

MickeyFinns24 karma

What do you mean by you need a guide?

emilesprenger77 karma

You're not allowed to ride a -foreign- bike (or drive a car) without a guide in China. You need an agent to set up all the paperwork beforehand. It's quit a hassle, and expensive as well. Of all the countries I visted, China was the only one that doesn't allow you to travel alone!

a_stray_bullet18 karma

Why next to impossible? and thank you :)

emilesprenger61 karma

China doesn't like independent travel in Tibet, let alone on a bike. You need to pay massive bribes (or have them paid by an agent) and very lucky.

Contact Taher Anvar at Kashgar New Land International Travel Service Co. Ltd. if you're planning to go to China.

Really if I had to do the trip again, I'd avoid China, although that would have meant bypassing the KKH, which was one of the highlights.

peaches017144 karma

Just wanted to say that this is one of the best AMAs in a while and you've done a great job answering the questions. Cheers.

emilesprenger59 karma

tnx!

kefka5150100 karma

I'm very jealous right now. I'd love to take a bike around Iran, but I'd just endup in Evin (I ran a proxy in 09 and my name is on a list).

What is it like in the mountains?

emilesprenger84 karma

Beautiful and desolate

Juris_LV83 karma

add in your blog configuration file or main file (index.php I think) this line: ini_set('display_errors', 0); so no warning errors appear on top of Your page ;-)

emilesprenger44 karma

tnx .. I'll see if I can get that fixed ..

weekendofsound70 karma

What would you say was the most notable experience throughout the trip? And what is the best thing you ate?

emilesprenger191 karma

The most notable .. that's hard, so may impressions. But riding the Karakoram Highway (1.200km) from Kashgar, China to Islamabad, Pakistan was special. Along the way you pass the highest border crossing in the world (Khunjerab pass >4.000m). After the unfriendly Chinese officials and the freezing temperatures at the pass, it was great to be invited to drink some tea with the Pakistani border guards: http://www.boskoop2nepal.nl/blog/wp-content/gallery/B2N/IMG_1861.jpg

The best thing I ate .. must be Birjani in India (I love Indian food). Worst food: Central Asia

ThraseaPaetus62 karma

What are some places that a person MUST NOT MISS?

emilesprenger135 karma

-Esfahan, Iran (forget Brasil, the most beautiful women in the world live in Esfahan)

-Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

-Khiva, Buchara & Samarkant, Uzbekistan

-Fan mountains, Tajikistan

-Panji River, Tajukistan

-Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan

-Karakoram Highway, China/Pakistan

germancurious62 karma

I always hear about guys going on adventures like this. It seems wonderful. However, do you think it would be as easy for a woman to make the same journey through these countries? Especially in central asia?

And if there's a woman out there who has gone on such a journey by herself, can you share your experiences?

emilesprenger97 karma

Before I left, I read a story about 2 (lesbian) Belgian bikers who went to Nepal (albeit directly via Iran->Pakistan, not Iran->Central Asia->China->Pakistan. They had no problems, but they carried pictures of their 'boyfriends' who were waiting for them in Nepal. Central Asia is Islamic. That means that women don't get hassled a lot (I know we think differently over here). Also care of stangers/travellers is a cornerstone of Islam. I don't think, though, that I would go alone as a woman, but that has more to do with handling the bike & maintenance.

mrsavage8454 karma

Did you need to seek medical attention in any country and if so, what was the experience like?

emilesprenger89 karma

I crashed the bike @ 80km/h in Turkmenistan. Luckily only some bruses and scratches. The bruses were painful and in Tajikistan I showed them to a doctor. He was English, also staying at the homestay where I was staying. I did buy some medicine, stuff like Paracetamol and Ibuprofin due to muscle ache. Most stuff can be found, although sometimes the pharmacies have little stock. I had a special travel insurance so in case of emergency I would be brought back home ..

Ptarmigans25 karma

What kind of gear were you wearing?

Helmet, armored jacket and pants as well?

emilesprenger80 karma

Of course, dress for the crash .. allways So, helmet, armoured jacket & pants, leather gloves, boots.

ELNOOBSTER50 karma

Thanks for the AMA, inspirational stuff.

Travelling is the best way dispelling prejudices.

emilesprenger78 karma

Yep! And if you travel: travel independently, that way the locals get some of your money ..

ghostbackwards49 karma

Did you pull any wheelies?

emilesprenger151 karma

Only at border crossings :)

XQYZ45 karma

How expensive was it to put this together? Was it worth it?

emilesprenger78 karma

Second question first: without a doubt .. if I had the chance I'd go again without thinking .. First question: pretty expensive .. bike/mods/equipment/etc. was about EUR 6.000. China was very expensive, since need lots of papaerwork and you are required to have a guide with you at all times (China was the only country where I wasn't allowed to travel alone! Not Iran or Turkmenistan. IIRC that was about EUR 1000. Visa's were also espensive, usually about EUR50-EUR100 per visa. Fortunately, the cost of living in most of the places I visited was low, so you can get by for EUR50 per day, or less. Fuel was also a big factor, especially in Turkey, but in Iran and Turkmenistan, fuel is rediculously cheap.

seeasea37 karma

Did it take much planning to ensure you're not in the middle of nowhere without fuel?

emilesprenger65 karma

It was ok as I increased the fuel range of the bike to about 600km.

seeasea47 karma

Very good.

Also, odd, touchy, question. Did your skin/hair color make any problems anywhere? Or at least make you a curiosity? Any interesting outcomes because of it?

emilesprenger128 karma

No, the bike itself was enough of a curiosity. It was only after I removed my helmet that they could see who I was. You get attention everywhere .. in those countries they only have small bikes, more mopeds than proper motorcycles. So anything > 200cc gets a lot of attention. People love it when you arrive on a bike. Also .. in those places a bike is a sign that you don't have a lot of money (compared to a car). So travelling by bike is always good ..

seeasea44 karma

Thanks for your replies.

It was a fascinating AMA and blog

emilesprenger47 karma

tnx! it was a fascinating trip :)

hilarious_dawg26 karma

This is a confusing reply, can you give an overall estimate on how much you spent, from the planning to your return? did you have a lot of back up money?

emilesprenger54 karma

Something like EUR 15-20K. I took lots of cash with me (some hidden on the bike). Many places have no ATM's.

Techre8 karma

Did you bring it in euro's?

emilesprenger13 karma

Euro's and US$

goldfish_memory43 karma

Did you visit the big burning hole?

emilesprenger61 karma

Yup, eerie

RomulusAugustulus40 karma

Did you ever come across any problems with local officials or police?

emilesprenger98 karma

Actually, I had great fears about this before leaving, but for 99% officials were very friendly and welcoming. I had to bribe some soldiers in the middle of Tajikistan (about $20) and at the border of Nepal they asked for a 'voluntary donation'. This is a pic of very friendly Iranian police manning a speedtrap: http://www.boskoop2nepal.nl/blog/wp-content/gallery/B2N/IMG_1015.jpg

WhatsInANayme36 karma

  1. What is the highest pass/motorable road you traversed?

  2. Did you also hop off your bike and go trekking in Nepal?

  3. Was there ever a fear of getting robbed in any of the third world countries?

emilesprenger79 karma

1) KKH (1st) and Pamir Highway (2nd) both > 4000m 2) No, after 3 months of travel I relaxed in a -very luxurious- Hotel in Kathmandu .. I had to arrange to get the bike shipped back to The Netherlands. Would have loved to have done some trekking, though .. 3) Nope, none at all. I've found that 99% of the people are not criminals, robbers, murderers, etc. In fact most people are very friendly if you arrive on a bike from a place far away. The only 'bad' experience was a couple of drunken Uzbeks .. but I just walked away.

WhatsInANayme34 karma

Thank you for answering. I am from India myself and plan on riding north on a bike to the Leh-Ladakh region, which I'm sure you've heard of. It also has some of the highest motorable roads in the world, inlcuding Khardung-La, allegedly the highest.

Your story has already inspired me! Thanks again! :)

emilesprenger32 karma

I really wanted to go to the Leh-Ladakh region, but lack of time ..

XQYZ35 karma

What kind of bike did you ride? Did you had any mechanical failures?

emilesprenger66 karma

I rode an Honda Africa Twin, probably the most reliable bike ever build. Only failure was a flat tire in China. I did did a lot of preventive maintenance along the way, for example new oil & filters in China. Also, I took a set of tires along to swap in Iran and I send a set ahead to China.

emilesprenger34 karma

I'm going out for a while (-still- wonderful spring weather, and the dogs need a walk). I'll check in in about 1 hour to answer some more questions.

trotsky194728 karma

Thoughts on The Long Way Round?

emilesprenger50 karma

It was an inspiration .. On the one hand, of course they're Hollywood rich guys who don't know what they're doing and have a >$1Million budget with support cars, etc. On the other hand, they did ride their bikes around the world and that's quite a feat! But to be honest, I'm very proud that I did my trip all alone.

trotsky194713 karma

Yeah, the only thing that irked me was the support cars. It would have been much better if it was just them and Claudio. I definitely thought it was funny how Claudio's Ural was better than the super fancy BMWs they had. Must have been a great feeling finally reaching Nepal!

emilesprenger46 karma

Yep, when I saw Kathmandu, I cried ..

nikiu26 karma

Hey buddy, why did you avoid Albania?

emilesprenger60 karma

I was told & read that the roads are really bad & a lot of criminality. Also Kosovo seemed really cool (ISAF was there at the time). Nice detail: I was inspected at the Kosovo border by a Nigerian soldier working for the UN!

habibe78625 karma

I am from the Northern parts of Pakistan(Chitral/Gilgit region) and driving a vehicle like a jeep is harsh in those regions let alone a bike. Did you have any near death experiences riding along the Karakorum hwy?

emilesprenger23 karma

I love Gilgit! The most beautiful scenery I've seen. Traffic was ok .. a bike is small, that helps But you do have to be careful & get used to driving on the other side of the road. KKH was ok, near death only @ Pamir Highway

mapachethegreat25 karma

Have you since tried to enter the US?

emilesprenger49 karma

No, but I have a new passport, without all the visa's. But I must be on a list somewhere ..

peeweemen24 karma

Can you give us a detailed explanation of your planning phase? Such as what cheap hotels you decided to stay at, how much food you packed for the road, how you calculated the distances between fuelling stops, how you paid for everything, what various parties you had to communicat with etc etc. Also did you use a map or satnav? Cheers!

emilesprenger53 karma

Wow .. do you have a couple of days? Hotels: I used the Lonely Planet guides and other travellers (going the other way, he he). Food: Only emergency supplies. Tajikistan was the most desolate so I figured I would need to have 3 days of food. I also had a water purifier. I took trekking/camping food along .. never needed it. Mostly you can find a restaurant (or something like it) along the way. I fitted a special fule tank (40 liters) in order to increase the range of the bike to 600km. By pointing to the gas tank, most locals know what you're looking for. Money: Mostly cash, some countries have ATM's. I took along lots of US $'s (Ironically the only currency you can use in Iran) I fitted a gps on the bike, but mostly used maps ..

quinch24 karma

That's a long list of countries, what one stands out as being the most different in reality from what your preconceived expectations of the country were from media/education in the Netherlands.

emilesprenger88 karma

Iran and Pakistan: I'd expected AK47-toting mullah's on every corner .. I found stunning scenery and extremely friendly people. Turkmenistan: The wierdest country in the world (on par with N.Korea) Tajikistan: Very, very poor, but very, very beautiful (especially Panji river/Afghanistan border)

LockhartGardner21 karma

[deleted]

emilesprenger51 karma

I'd love to do another trip like this .. If I had the time & money (especially the latter is problematic ..). Where to go? I'd love to visit Iran and Pakistan again, they were by far my favorite places (beautiful countries and very friendly people). Tajikistan is also on the list .. simply stunning .. But there is still so mych to see in Europe! I still want to go to places like Georgia (the country, not the state), Azerbedjan, etc.

furze20 karma

I've always wanted to ride a motorbike across spain, main reason is to see Andalouisa. Problem - I cant even ride a push bike and I'm nearly 24 haha (never got taught as a kid, never had money to buy one as an adult).

I got to say, you have pretty much lived one of my dreams x 100. Hats off to you sir.

emilesprenger58 karma

Get your licence! I was >40 when I got my (motorbike) licence. Andalucia is amazing! Go Go Go!

MrSm1lez20 karma

From the sound of it it seems that a lot of countries were friendlier/less hostile than you anticipated. What was Iran like compared to how you originally anticipated it to be? Also, more details on Turkmenistan? That's not a country I know much about, but interested to here why it's so strange.

emilesprenger66 karma

As I wrote, I'd expected Iran to have AK47-toting mullah's on very corner. I was warned not to go to Iran: 'It's a dangerous place!'

Instead I found the people to be extremely friendly and polite. The history and culture is amazing. No, they don't all hate the US; Yes, they don't like Israel (but not Jews, there are many Jews in Iran).

turkmenistan is one of the most isolated countries in the world. Until a couple of years ago it was ruled by a Presiden for life who called himsef 'Turkmenbashi' meaning the father of all the Turkmen. There are over 20 golden statues of him in the capital Ashgebat. The guy was truly nuts, but enjoyed the backing of Euro/US oil companies.

booyah219 karma

Did you ride in all weather conditions? What kind of weather would you refuse to ride in?

emilesprenger31 karma

I avoided riding in the snow (Turkey). That's not a good idea. I rode in a sandstorm in China, also not a good idea. I had rain for about a week as I started in Europe, not much fun. It took until Iran for the weather to get better & temps to rise above 20C.

shadoworc0118 karma

I have a few questions. 1) I am trying to plan a similar trip, but with 4 or 5 people. Is there terrain I should think about in terms of vehicle selection? 2) How many languages did you need to speak? 3) What happened in China? You started to go in and then turned back around.

emilesprenger53 karma

1) Get a bike that can handle abuse, because it will get abused. Get a bike that's lightweight, handling a BMW 1200GS in the sand is not my idea of fun. Get a bike with at least some off-road abilities. Put Conti TCK80's on the bike.

2) I speak about 4-5 languages (Dutch, English, German, French and some Spanish). All were mostly useless except in Iran and Pakistan where most speak English. I picked up some Russian in Central Asia. Usually it's hands and feet. I also had a small book with pictures, especially for travellers (hospital, hotel, food, etc.).

3) I looped the Taklamakan Desert. That was the plan. I wanted to cross the desert.

[deleted]18 karma

What did you do when it rained?

emilesprenger256 karma

I got wet

mohsinkhan29317 karma

What ethnicity are you? Did it play a role in letting you have a peaceful trip?

emilesprenger23 karma

Caucasion .. no role at all

Viridovipera14 karma

I have heard many wonderful things how wonderful the people, landscapes and rich history of Iran are. Until this most recent turn in politics I was actually planning a trip there. Tell us a story that sheds light on your experiences in Iran.

emilesprenger77 karma

An Iranian story:

I was fearful over going to Iran, as I thought all Iranians hate the West, wear beards and carry AK47's. They kill babies and shoot foreign bikers. They're also not very nice to their pets.

So I was in Yazd (one of the oldest cities in the world) walking on the sidewalk (yes they have sidewalks over there) and I saw a soldier ahead, coming towards me.

I should mention, that Iran has a draft, so you see a lot of soldiers in drab in their free time walking about outside. No AK47's on them ..

So the soldier was approaching me, and my thinking was, what does he want from me?

As the guy got closer, maybe a couple of feet away, he stopped. He put his hand on his heart, and bowed politely to me. He then walked on.

Another story: I was in Esfahan, Iran, walking about. In the center of the town there is a station of the 'Tourist police'. I saw the barrack/shack and stopped to look. One of the police saw me and came over. I was unsure what he wanted. He spoke to me (in English): "hello, we are the tourist police, if you have a problem or want information we can help you"

Viridovipera27 karma

Ah, I really want to go. I'm not much into history normally, but Iran (and Iraq really) are where civilization as we know it basically began! What's not to love??? Thanks for sharing!

Did you see any cool animals along your trip??

emilesprenger35 karma

camels and elephants

aboycandream14 karma

Where was the best food?

emilesprenger35 karma

Pakistan & India

minhhale14 karma

How do people often react upon hearing about this epic journey of yours? If a dude IRL told me he'd rode 17.000km through foreign and potentially dangerous places, I'd wide open my eyes and mouth in awe and admiration!

emilesprenger116 karma

Imagine how women react ..

jrosey14 karma

Was there anything extremely sad you saw on your trip? Or anything that you feel was life-changing?

emilesprenger59 karma

Extemely sad: Gipsy children begging in the street Life changing: Northern Pakistan (the most stunning scenery in the world/the most friendly people in the world)

greymethod10 karma

A few things -- questions first:

1) Tell us more specifically about your encounters with the people when you were in Northern Pakistan

2) You said you were expecting AK47-toting mullahs at every corner -- why then did you still make the decision to go through with the trip? Before getting to those places (Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc.), was there a nagging fear at the back of your mind that something bad might happen?

3) Did you have any interactions with women in Islamic countries? Say more about that please.

Comments:

1) Oh my goodness, I envy you so much I cannot even put it in words. I was born and raised in Pakistan but got out of there early -- I never got to see Northern Pakistan. My father keeps telling me it's "heaven on earth!" and "the most beautiful place" -- and I used to give him an eyeroll and would smugly say "nu huh, Swiss alpines, x, y, z..." -- but for whatever reason when I see pictures he's taken in old albums, and pictures I see online (including yours right now), they sort of evoke some longing to be there and feel the place for myself once, for some reason it feels more 'home' -- a place I really would like to be at, more than I had ever I imagine I would have liked to.

2) I'm so, so happy that you found Pakistani people to be friendly and welcoming. Because they are -- I recall when I was little we'd see foreigners (people who looked different from us) roaming on the street, and we'd never skip a chance to invite them and give them a meal. Sure there's the occasional riling up over petty differences, and I'm rather conflicted in what to feel about it -- on the one hand I almost feel for them -- they feel oppressed by Americans, they do think Israel's actions are in some sense 'evil' -- it's the same tribal thinking you find in any human being, but on the other hand I lived and grew up with them, when they see you face-to-face they'll invite you to a cup of tea, no matter your religion/color. Really, they would -- my dad sure as hell invited Jews, Christians, whatnot over when he got the chance to. I'm just really happy you found them to be friendly. I'm glad you had a safe & enjoyable trip, thank you so much for sharing. :)

emilesprenger12 karma

What a nice comment from you!

1) It started at the border, where I was invited for tea. The guard told me (Imagine the Paki accent"): "You must now tell us of your travels" It was so nice to be able to speak with locals after such a long time. The way I was welcomed when arriving at a hotel, even the custom guys were friendly. So you have very freindly people and stunning scenery (Hunza Valley).

2) Well, I was a bit fearful, but had read that Iran was a great place to visit. But people here ware warning me (based on what?), it's dangerous, etc. All bullshit, they don't know anything, it's just talk & politics.

3) Nope, well, did talk with the daughters of the owners of two Homestays in Tajikistan. Also in Iran, they flirted with me from a car window!

BarnabyFuttock13 karma

Did you catch any nasty illnesses on the road? I've found that of all things tummy bugs are the biggest bummer when travelling

Awesome trip though dude! I'm in the early stages of planning a trip to Delhi to buy a Royal Enfield Classic 500 and ride it back to the UK. it's a while off though - I've picked up some good advice in your comments, thank you!

emilesprenger20 karma

As most, in Asia my stomach contents often left the same way they came .. but as you get accustomed, it stops .. hopefully Westerners can't handle the local bugs, and you're going to get infected weather you like it or not ..

Constantlywelldone13 karma

I'm currently looking into doing travel in a similar fashion to this either through America, south america or southeast Asia. Did you save up money beforehand or did you find ways to support yourself along the way?

emilesprenger53 karma

There is no way you can support yourself along the way. In most countries working as a foreigner is illegal, let alone that the standard of living is a lot lower that you're acustomed to. Save beforehand and spend your money over there. It'll help the locals!

Tiak13 karma

To what degree do you think your (presumably) Dutch citizenship made the process easier? Would this have been possible for a US citizen for example?

emilesprenger31 karma

Only Iran would be a problem. I met some Americans that rode a bike across Iran, they needed an escort at all times.

erikperik12 karma

How fast did you go? Did you try to keep to the speed limit? I can imagine that it's quite tempting to go crazy on those long and empty roads.

emilesprenger62 karma

Most countries speeding is hard because of the shitty road conditions ..

My record was in China (crossing the desert) @ 155km/h. I got caught speeding 3 times (radar): Turkey, Iran and Uzbekistan. In Turkey I had to pay (I forget how much). In Iran I just had a friendly chat. In Uzbekistan I acted like I was a complete lunatic/idiot, and they let me go without paying (Uzbek police always try to get money from you).

sprwlf30 karma

In Uzbekistan I acted like I was a complete lunatic/idiot

By doing what?

emilesprenger139 karma

The guy stopped me because of speeding. He spoke 2, maybe 3 words in Engligh; I spoke 0 words Uzbek. So he's showing me the radar-thing indicating the speed I was going. I pretend not to understand. Het then says 'Camera, camera'. I tell him that I understand, and go to the bike to get my camera. I start taking his picture. He freaks out. 'No, no!' He then pulls me aside. He gets out a Piece of paper and writes '$10'. I pretend to understand 'Change!'. I get out my (special) wallet that only contains about $5 local currency. I take the money out, and offer it to him saying 'Change, change'. While this is happening, lots of -local- cars pass that he misses out on, so after a while he gives up and lets me go.

[deleted]9 karma

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emilesprenger12 karma

Yup, often used travellers 'trick'

Great for holdups as well

hungoverbear11 karma

As an avid motorcyclist I have to ask, what and were was the most fun rode to ride on, which won was the scariest?

emilesprenger26 karma

Most fun: KKH (Karakoram Highway) Most beautiful/challenging: Tajikistan (the whole country is off road riding!) Scariest: Pamir Highway (very desolate and >4.000m altitude)

tempuro6 karma

What effect did the altitude have (on you and bike?).

emilesprenger15 karma

At 4000m topspeed went down to around 80km/h Running stationary the bike would stall (also because of the shitty fuel)

At one point, riding the Pamir Highway, I started hallucinating. At night I had trouble sleeping, although your body does adapt (the bike doesn't).

prettyfly4abrownguy11 karma

What kind of a gear did you pack? Also, how did you go about researching your trip?

emilesprenger21 karma

Gear: clothes, sleeping bag, tent, cooking equipment, spare parts, emergency food, etc. Research: places like http://www.advrider.com/ and http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ also Lonely Planet guides.

watabit10 karma

Wow, this is so cool. I've always wanted to do something like this, but I'd have been worried about the bike and my belongings. To what do you attribute the lack of theft along the route? Nobody stole the bike or anything from it when you were sleeping or touring somewhere?

emilesprenger33 karma

No riding at night. I always put the bike in a safe location, sometimes inside the hotel next to the reception! The panniers were hard (aluminium) and lockable. In India they stole a water bottle from the bike ..

notfrostbite10 karma

traveling around the world out of a few bags through a number of climates, what would you say your top 10 important items were?

emilesprenger19 karma

-Passport -Travel insurance -Return ticket -Cash -Credit cards

Anything else you really need, you can buy along the way.

Mackin249 karma

How did your body hold up? I know after about an hour on my motorcycle it's time for a break because it gets uncomfortable.

emilesprenger21 karma

Well, you adapt, or get used to it. The longest day trip was 600km across the desert in China, I was sore after that! The position on the bike makes a big difference, sportsbikes are back-killers ..

TheAuntiKarma9 karma

What is the most important thing you learned about people while on your trip?

emilesprenger66 karma

We are all the same

Governments suck

TrueNorth08 karma

I'm a 56 year old woman who would love to make that trip alone on a motorcycle. Do you think I would be subject to arrest simply for traveling alone along your route? (Obviously there are other vulnerabilities, but I'm wondering about the legal question.)

emilesprenger8 karma

Can't think of a reason. Iran is NOT Saudi-Arabia, women drive cars and flirt with you (if you're male, ha ha)

Awaaz6 karma

How'd you like Nepal? I'm Nepali, and would like to know what you thought of our tiny country?

emilesprenger10 karma

I loved it, but was a bit shocked by the poverty (especially in the west)

americanslang596 karma

Have you seen The Motorcycle Diaries? I have always wanted to do something like this but I don't have the guts.

Also, what is with the big loop you did in China?

I'm extremely jealous that you have the courage to do something like this.

emilesprenger9 karma

-Great flick. Just go, you don't need a lot of guts, just perseverance.

-The loop is the Taklamakan Desert (you can easily see the desert from a sat picture!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taklamakan_Desert