Sunday, February 24, 2008


Well of course I made it to Dubai and with recent hurdles I have faced i have not had time to update the last leg of the journey across to Yemen from Djibouti then onto Oman and here. So these are the last days of the mother ship.

The journey to get here was sure eventful with many surprises. It started with the 250 kilometer crossing from Djibouti to Mocha in Yemen aboard a small wooden Dow. So it was myself, Rene the Canadian and Micheal from Germany. We man handled our bikes aboard the old fishing boat and tied them down as the sun set on us in the Port of Djibouti, with our passports stamped this was the last hours on African soil, I could not believe it I was leaving Africa, as the captain head us out to sea, I had left Africa, after just over 17 months I had conquered, slept, eaten, survived Africa.

Loading the bikes onto our ride to Yemen.

My last sunset on Africa, Djbouti Port.
Suddenly it seemed so far away as the stars became the roof over my head as I lay on the deck of the rocking boat, sharing it with a goat, a sheep, three bikes and about 20 other people, all with different reasons why they were aboard this old boat, mine was to take me out of Africa and to the Arabian peninsular. I lay there thinking off all that had happened since leaving London almost a year and a half ago, what an adventure it had been, in the beginning I always knew Africa would provide me with the adventure I yearned for but the question was how much? Well Africa delivered and delivered well, everyday was a new adventure not knowing what was around the next corner. At times I also wondered if I would make it out of there in one piece, I had, I had survived, the mother ship survived as well, what a bike, it got me through everything, never letting me down. My last thoughts as I tried sleeping on the deck getting sprayed by sea mist was lets just hope this boat stays afloat, there is more adventure to come.
Arrival at Mocha, Yemen, Oil Tanker on the right, camel carrier on the left.
The arrival in Yemen saw the arrival of a new continent, a new country and of course a new adventure. As we clumsily bumped into a mooring position it was quite a sight, one side of the
dock had a huge Norwegian tanker unloading perhaps oil, the other side a ship not of such a high standard unloaded camels, was a sight for the eyes. Since we were not able to pull right along side the dock there was a 2 meter gap between it and the boat. So now of course a bidding war started between us and the local port men on how much to pay to get these quarter of a ton bikes up out of the boat and across this gap to land. I got frustrated they wanted too much money so I looked about the boat for some planks, of course not to start swinging them in anger but to try and make some kind of ramp. We found three thin planks to bridge the gap across the water, and at this point we were all thinking the same thought, to hell with paying these guys lets lift them out ourselves, I was feeling strong! We lifted the first bike nervously up over the edge of the boat onto the planks, one bad move and the bike would have plunged to the bottom of the harbour, very slowly and carefully we rolled it across the plank to Yemeni soil. One down two to go, the other two bikes went across without a hitch but lifting the third seemed quite a struggle, not so strong after all! So after that ordeal, customs and immigration clearance commenced, this involved a lot of waiting and sitting around in the thick dust that blew in the air, eventually we got the nod to pass the Port barrier, we were in Yemen.

Unloading camels from the ship.
With the questions and hesitation of coming to Yemen due to recent killings of the Belgium tourists, our senses were heightened and all a little nervous. The quick stop in the first town for a cool drink and fuel did not do anything to settle our nerves, a white van pulled up abruptly and out out jumped a young man, looked at us went back to the van gestured something to his companions, they passed him an AK-47, walked passed us then proceeded to buy something from the shop, hopped back into the van and left by spinning the wheels, hmm all a bit strange for me, it was only really a taste of what was to come.
One of our escorts, a mounted anti aircraft 50 calibre, bit over the top boys!
Armed guard whislt we fix a broken fuel pump.
We rode onto Saana on the crazy but beautiful roads winding through the mountains, this would be our last part of the journey in Yemen with out company, from the capital we would have a police or military escort with us all the way watching our every step, which had just been enforced since the shootings. Due to this, the route that we wanted to take was out of bounds and the only road was along the coast. Each day involved a high speed race with the police, they had no concept of the way we wished to travel-wanting to stop when and where we wanted, may have been for our own safety, but it was a bit backward to me, they would have sirens blaring, lights a blaze and telling people to move out of the way over the loud speaker, my theory was if 'they' the people wanting to cause trouble wanted to know where we were, simply look out for the police escort, hard to miss. So along with the escort came no bush camping, only possible at police check points, not so desirable.

Another police escort, holding his bag of 'qat' with his cheeks full of the hullicinating plant.

All the women cover up completley in Yemen.

The scenery was spectacular, lunar landscape to volcanic fields and high plateaus, the people also were amazing, from invites to sharing food to a police commissioner insisting he fill our tanks full of fuel, at 25 cents a litre I did not feel too bad about taking 10 litre's on board, Yemen was a pleasure on the hip pocket.

The capital Saana, some say the most beautiful City in the world.

A checkpoint camp, the wet patch at the back of the photo is the toilet, not good on the nose!

Talk about a small world, while in escort one morning we pulled into the a checkpoint and there parked was a bicycle, of course not an ordinary bicycle as they are everywhere but an overland bicycle with panniers, as I pulled up the owner of the bike stood up and came over to introduce himself as 'Lars', I said 'ha I know,' I took my helmet off and he also recognised me as I did him. I met Lars, from Sweden in Namibia, riding his bike from Sweden to South Africa and last I heard he was in South America, now due to the escorts he was not allowed to pedal a metre. Especially in the area we were in, Wadi Hadromat, Bin Laden's home province and where the recent killings took place.

Lars, in a police escort, no pedalling for him.

Young Yemeni boy resting on the mother ship.

The coastal road, a very scenic, rugged coast line
A low early morning fog settles on the back drop.

'Attack' is that a sign!!
So since Lars was stranded and the roads were nice, all tarmac, a plan was born, three motorbikes, one to take his luggage, one to take his bike and one to take Lars himself, so after a bit of rearranging of our luggage a new member was added to the entourage.

Lars's bike strapped to the back of Micheal's bike.

I took Lars on the back of the mother ship, took the extra weight in its stride!

The Past Two Weeks

Maybe there's something in title "The Hard Way Home" the adventure is sure living up to its name! Where do I start, so much has happened, from the beginning I guess.

With the mother ship gone I was undecided of my next move, of course I wanted to go on but the question was how? Within days I had received so many emails from people telling me not to give up, I did know I could not stop at this but to be reminded sure helped me sorting out my next move and to get back on the road.

It was not only the bike that was stolen but all the attachments on it, my GPS(with every single 65 023ks recorded on it since leaving London), my tools, some spares under the seat, all gone. Its well and good to buy a new bike but it does require set up before tackling a ride to Australia, its not just a Sunday drive down to the beach and back now is it! So I thought I would just have to take a loan and get on with it, at was at this point that I was overwhelmed by people- I receive emails from family, friends and complete strangers saying "hey we want to help", "lets raise some cash, its more fun that way"

From the very beginning when this adventure was only a thought in my mind, I made it grow, I worked and planned hard to put it together-never asking anyone for anything but I never thought I would be faced with replacing my bike and kit along the way. And now people wanted to help me, ha me the Aussie Adventurer as the front page of the Gulf news titled me, Alby Mangles eat your heart out!

Onto the scene came Sean Linton, Sean owns and runs Gecko motorcycles, also running an off road rally team here in the UAE, Sean suggested to ask Honda for a new bike, why not nothing to loose, so at this point I have gone from never asking for a thing to approaching Honda for some support and generous people wanting to help me out, how will I ever thank you all enough. Well Sean posed the question to Al Futtaim Honda, UAE and the fact that I was, as mentioned before on the front page of the biggest paper in the Arabian peninsular which may have helped, Honda suggested they'd step up to the plate!!! Holy crap I could not believe it!

Now the biggest problem I face, which is not such a bad predicament to be in, is how does one show his appreciation for the amazing generosity I have been shown whether it be in the form of a Motorbike from Al Futtaim UAE to a donation by you how ever big or small or even an email urging me to keep going and not give up? Its simple, people have helped me in my time of need so if I can do the same for somebody else in an unfortunate position then perfect.

Therefore I want to try and raise some money for the Dubai centre for Special Needs, these kids face problems and obstacle's everyday of their lives, I faced only one big problem and the help I have received has made my life a lot easier so if I can help the misfortunes of others because of my own in any little way then great as I know how it feels.

Its still along way to go, its been over two weeks now and still no bike, the mother ship was never found, many people have suggested its already in Iran or in a container back to Africa, I wounder where it is....... So Honda are still sticking to their commitment but things do happen slowly here in the Emirates, once I get the bike I need to kit it out which will take some time also. Fortunately the bike they are getting me is another Africa Twin, its a 98model, same as the mother ship, so I know it from top to bottom and besides what other bike is there to ride around the world!

Boy does it have some mighty big boots to fill that's for sure!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thankyou for your amazing support

I have numerous request from people that they wish to donate some money to help me find a new bike, I am lost for words and its a great reminder to me that there are amazing people in this world, thats why I do what I do-some of the sights are great, the deserts, the jungles, the mountains but always the most interesting/amazing thing of all are the people.

I have set up a Donate button on the side for those people who have suggested they would like to pitch in some help I cant thank you enough.

To anyone who has emailed me I will reply but right now I am very busy going to the police, having a look around myself and looking at all my options and whats avialable to me.


Friday, February 08, 2008


I write this post at 4.31 in the morning from Dubai, I have just returned back to the place I am staying after spending all night with the police very degected, very defeated, sad and at a complete complete bike has been stolen, my dream, my trip, my journey is over just like that, I hate some people in this world right now, why, why my bike???

From here I do not know, all I can do is cross my fingers that it was only for a joy ride and dumped somewhere not in a river or the ocean or even by now in a foreign land, I have come so far, 32 African countries with no drama and now of all places UAE, people call it the safest city in the world.......and my bike is gone. Where is it right now, every problem I have faced no matter how big it is I have been able to fix, able to control, able to overcome but this I feel completely utterly useless.

My story made front page of the biggest newspaper in Dubai, the Gulf News, the link is below

Gulfnews: Stolen bike brings world tour to a stop

Also in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald