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Linda on BMW: Start of the Trip in Castellar

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Linda FAQ

As many people have asked me these questions along the way I thought would add this section for easy reference…

What is your purpose/mission/reason for this journey?

I have been meaning to do the Overland route from Europe to Australia for many years. I have had three previous opportunities to accompany other people on this route, once in the 60's, once in the 70's and again in the 90's. On all three occasions I decided to do something else instead. When Jenny and Peter mentioned 2 years ago that they were going to do it, it inspired me to think that it was really time that I should. At present I still have the strength and motivation but I am not a spring chicken and this could change in the next 10 years or so, so it could be now or never!
I don't really need a reason other than I like to travel to other countries to see the people and places. My purpose, other than that, is to see if I have any chance of claiming a pension in Australia and to do the paperwork I need to access records that are there, so this is a good way of getting them.
I collect traditional music along the way and hope to put together a photo and music presentation for schools and associations and maybe I will write a book when I stop long enough.

Why are you using a motorcycle?

I have been using a bike to travel ever since I learnt to ride one in the 1960's. To me it is a friendly way to travel. You meet the people more easily than in a car as it is more unusual and open. I haven't got the energy for a bicycle and I get very travel sick on buses. Motorcycling has a world of its own and I have met many aficionados all over the world.

Why are you doing it alone?

For a start not many other people have the time, money or inclination to do an overland journey. Yes, if you look on the Horizons Unlimited web site it is possible to meet other people who do want to do this and a few have joined forces. However, I have made many trips alone previously and realise that I meet other people along the way and, unless you are very close to someone else it is often hard to match pace and interests and travelling is not easy to do if you have the added problem of a partner you are not happy with. There are times that things would be easier for me if I was with someone else but, on the whole I perer to do it alone.

Aren't you worried about being a woman alone, especially in Islamic countries?

I must say that I have a big advantage in being older. 30 years ago when I was travelling in Africa I did have problems with harrasment but now I am old and grey I am looked on as a grandmother (I'm not!) and this leads to more respect. It has given me a great freedom to meet both men and women and be welcomed into their families.

What do your family think about your travelling?

They are so used to it by now that they hardly take any notice anymore. Of course I keep in touch by email and one of my sisters came out to India to meet me for my 60th birthday party, and that was great.

What happens if your bike breaks down? Can you fix it?

Luckily, so far the bike hasn't broken down. I am not familiar with Suzukis as I have spent the last 30 odd years nursing BMWs. I brought some spares with me and have had to relearn how to adjust a chain. I can change the oil and filters, cables etc. I can't mend a puncture  alone as, with no main stand, it takes two people to remove the wheel. So far, when I have had a puncture there has been someone around on the road to help. In India puncture wallahs are everywhere. I have yet to find out what happens in Thailand!

I have a set of tools and have brake pads, oil filters, spark plugs, cables etc. I cannot carry much more because of the weight.

Why didn't you use a BMW?

My  BM is 28 years old and therefore always need something doing on it. It is also about 70kgs heavier than the Suzy and eats twice as much oil and petrol. The new BMs are too heavy and far too expensive for me.  The F650 is not a boxer so I am not familiar with that engine either, it would have been no advantage over the Suzy.

How can you afford to do this trip? Do you have any sponsors?

No one has sponsored me. Friends gave me some motorcycle clothing before I left (most of which has been lost or stolen en route)

As with all my travels I worked hard and saved money for a while and then set off travelling very simply. I use a tent where I can and the very cheapest guest houses in Asia. I also dont eat very much and when I do I eat in local street stalls and not tourist restaurants. I very rarely drink alcohol because that is relatively expensive in Asia and doubles your expenditure.
In Europe I am lucky enough to have friends to stay with through motorcycle or music contacts. I was advised that I should budget about 500E a month for this journey and I think that has worked but I'm not very good at keeping records. So far the ATM is still giving me money. I will have to find some sort of work when I run out.

How can you communicate if you don't speak the language?

It can be difficult at times but a smile and friendly body language goes a long way to establishing good relations and then you can use sign language or drawings and, if long enough in a country, buy a dictionary and learn a few words at least of greetings. English is an international language and someone, somewhere in Asian countries can usually speak a little. I have never really had a problem.

Isn't it dangerous for a woman of your age to be doing this?What happens if you are ill?

So far so good, only a cold or slight stomach upset have stopped me for a few days. Please look under Health and Safety (at the end of this section) for more details.

When/where will your trip finish?

At present I don't know when. My limitations on this trip are money, visa requirements ( how long you can stay in each country)and the seasons. I am already several months out to keep in the dry season in Asia and my travelling now is dictated by rain showers, if I want to be comfortable. However, a trip like this should not be rushed as who knows when/if I will be passing this way again. Though my initial aim is to get to Australia, I would also like to continue to South America when I have more funds. From there I could go up to North America, Canada and back to Europe but who knows...

Don't you miss your home/friends?

After 12 years of battling with house building and associated problems in Spain I am happy to be on the move again. Of course I want to keep in contact with the friends there and I do this by email. I have made many friends en route and like to hear from them all. This is where the Internet is a great help. I can say hi to all my Faraway friends.


I am very fortunate that I am basically a healthy person and have no physical/medical worries. Having survived all these years on my own cooking I reckon I can survive anything! I have been drinking local water without ill effects (well, once in Pakistan and once in Nepal) and have tried all sorts of strange foods in the markets. So far so good. I do carry a first aid box with anti biotic for stomach and other problems and the usual bandages and plasters. Some clean needles in case I need an injection. I am not taking anti malaria pills but have Malerone to take if I do get it.
I did have all the usual recommended injections before I left and also insisted on Rabies because the dogs are a menace in Asia.
There is usually a local doctor, hospital or clinic around and I have taken out Health insurance in case of accident or serious illness.
I have been trying to keep up the yoga exercises I learnt in India as it does keep the body supple and the muscles toned and I need strength and balance for the bike, which is much too big and heavy for me.


On the bike.

Most motorcyclists have different ideas on what they should wear to be safe on the bike.
Some would not go without full leathers, full length boots and full face helmet, special gloves. Others use jacket and trousers with armour and kidney belts as well. There is a wide range of motorcycle clothing and equipment available now, especially in Germany. It is obviously good to be well protected, especially if you like riding at speed or do a lot of off road biking on rough terrain. But you need to take weather conditions into consideration.
When I first started motorcycling they didn't make full face helmets and I have never felt comfortable with one, especially in hot countries. I find them suffocating. when the weather is bad I put a visor on my jet style helmet.
A waterproof motorcycle jacket with a zip in quilt is great and I have one for cold climates but in the hot Asian countries this is impossible to wear so I use a very thin leather jacket but since I have had two of them stolen and can't find another to suit I am now using denim.
My trousers are of denim material also and I have fallen off many times with no adverse effect to me or the trousers. Thanks to the Turkish military police for these.
I have some nice German ankle riding boots which are warm but no longer waterproof and cannot wear these in the heat either so have some really light weight leather baseball type boots.
Gloves are a must and I have winter and summer ones but am seriously missing my Barbour over mitts for cold and wet.
I don't often ride more than about 100kph and, although my bike is an off road model, with all the weight I am carrying I find it very difficult to control on dirt so am very much slower off road. I have not suffered any injuries falling off (which I have done many times) I ride very defensively and not at night.



In travelling through many different cultures and countries it helps to find out a bit about local customs to avoid offending people and therefore inviting aggression or negative feelings. I dress conservatively, smile a lot and keep my wits about me.
I think I have developed my intuition to judge fairly rapidly peoples manner and intentions and if I don't feel comfortable in a situation I get out of it as quickly as possible.
Many strangers have invited me into their homes to stay and I can feel if this is ok. I would also never camp out on the road unless I felt thoroughly safe. Either near a house at which I have asked, or far away from anywhere where I would be seen, ie hidden in a forest. However, as I cannot pick the bike up if I drop it, I have to find an easy place to park.
Asia is a very easy continent in which to travel. Of course there is theft but on the whole the people are non agressive and, especially in Islamic countries, you don’t have the problems associated with too much alcohol . I think things are far worse in Africa, South America and the ex USSR.
Being alone I often have to leave the bike on the street unattended but I have lockable panniers and a wire cable lock for helmet and jacket. It is wise to take everything off and up to the hotel room/accommodation at night.
I try to act sensibly .(but I still lose things!!)

If anyone has any other questions they would like to ask please do so.


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