Then and now – 40000km

Today, it’s been 7 months since I left Paris on a sunny afternoon after getting my vaccinations done at the Pasteur Institute. Yesterday, my bike’s odometer turned 40000km. That means I have sat on that saddle for about the circumference of the Earth and the trip is far from over. My dear companion had about 7000km in the odometer when I left, that makes 33000km in 7 months. When I left, I had had the bike for 9 months. That’s about 800km per month before leaving and about 4700 per month for the last 7 months. Now, when people ask me, I can tell them that my average is around 160km per day but enough with the numbers.

Far from me to do a balance post right now when I could be enjoying some fine Australian wine but I have something as significant as that. Here’s two pictures of the bike. The first one was taken when I was setting off, the second a couple of days ago at the Madura roadhouse on the second day of the Nullarbor crossing. Find the differences!

Ready to go Z
Departure day Z
Mature Z
Madura Z

 

Lock, stock and China

Saturday – Garage sale

The living room
Lots of leftover flotsam and jetsam

This was a big success. I wanted to let go most of my things but I didn’t want to just throw them away, I wanted other people to use them and reuse them so I set up everything I wanted to leave behind in my living room and invited the whole building and all my facebook contacts in Paris to come and choose and pay whatever price they wanted to leave with my things. I enrolled the help of 2 wonderful ladies, Alice and Renae so that at times I could sneak out and start loading the truck I had rented to move the things I wanted to keep into Caro’s basement. What I didn’t count on was that Renae would bring along Léo (I should have suspected it though). Léo instantly felt that he had a mission that day: to sell all of my things at the right price and he instantly took over the management of the garage sale. It was pretty funny seeing him become the manager of his own bazaar, he was obviously having a lot of fun and there was no reason to stop him. He was just great and I had time to load the truck with Cleber, Dan, Florian, Khaled and Salim. Still at the end of the day all the big stuff was gone and a lot of the small things too but now I have a lot of work to remove everything.

Sunday – The move

Me and my sfuff
My life now fits in 6 cubic meters

I woke up early to take care of the big mess in my room, and I didn’t. To say that I did nothing would be unfair, I prepared all the soft luggage containing most of the clothes that I won’t wear anymore in the coming week and put them all outside while I waited for my friends to come so that we could set off to Caro’s. Little by little they came, except Salim who was exempted on account of a sort of intoxication and Khaled who was still sleeping on account of another kind of intoxication. Lucky I had called for backup and that Cleber was nice enough to stay and help when he had only come to pick up some stuff from the garage sale he couldn’t carry with him on Saturday. With the full team assembled, the Avengers set off: Adrian, Cleber, Dan, Renán, Santi and yours truly left Paris around eleven to move my most cherished things into a basement. Nothing left to say except that it all went well, my stuff fit alright in the basement with a lot of leftover space for the owner to still keep some stuff.

Monday and Tuesday – China welcomes me

Despite all that I had left to do in the apartment, the most important thing today was something else. After the LOI, it was time to pay a visit to the “China Visa Application Service Center“. A bit nervous about the whole thing, I went up the stairs and asked for a form and started to fill it when my number was called. Oh my! They are already calling me and my form is almost completely empty. “Never you mind, this is not the US embassy, we are not here to humiliate you, just go fill the form over there and come back when you are ready”, the smile of the lady behind the counter seemed to say. And so I did, came back and then the dreaded question came “your plane ticket, please”. No, you see, I arrive by the road… Oh, just wait. [phone call] Ok, go to counter 15. On my way! To the journalists counter! Now I was nervous, I had just been sent to the same counter as the journalists, what am I going to do? What will they ask me? A statement from my insurer actually, that was the only thing :D. And all is well that ends well, today I went to pick it up, here’s a photo.

Passport picture
My Chinese visa!

PS: Yes, 1 day, I was so impatient I paid for the express treatment.

PPS: I also received confirmation of the apartment checkout date: June 25th, Monday. Now I have a definitive departure date, I leave on Monday right after the apartment inspection. It’s ON!!!

A mother’s gift

At Decathlon the sign said “Try me”

Yesterday I went gear shopping with my mom. Yes, my mom wanted to say goodbye before I embark on my big adventure and so she came all the way to Paris to spend a week with me and spoil me one last time before the rough year ahead. Rough? Well, I don’t plan for rough but for sure I won’t be living in luxury.

So we were shopping for the last bits of my kit that I’m still missing, like a sleeping bag, a small foldable hammock, a medkit (still have to get that one) and some more bits and bobs. Renán joined us for our second visit to Décathlon, he was in the neighborhood and I know he loves to browse that store.

First visit to Décathlon was to the big one in Bibliothèque (map) for information and just because I really like that shop, 2 whole floors of sports and camping gear goodness. From there we were off to Au vieux campeur, the legendary Parisian outdoor shop. It’s not so much a shop as 27 different same brand shops in one neighborhood, each with a specialty. We started with the guide and maps shop just because you need to start somewhere, especially to ask where the one shop you are looking for is. The plan was to buy my sleeping bag there but their prices are so high I ended up just buying a sleeping bag liner and decided to go to another Décathlon to get the Quechua bag, a lot cheaper for basically the same quality.

But there was one thing I had seen on TravellingStrom’s blog that had attracted my attention. Everyone knows (or is it just me?) that my biggest geekery, the device I would by a million times over and never stop enjoying and using is GPS. Everything GPS-related just automatically attracts my attention, some time later, Paul posted it on my wall “you need to get yourself one of these 😀 SPOT Tracker thingies (that’s an affiliate link there)” and so I ended up at the GPS and binoculars branch asking about the SPOT. As the sales guy explained how this tiny orange box tracks your every move and enables you to send an SOS message to rescue services wherever you are in the world with you GPS-calculated coordinates by simply pushing a button, my mom understood that this was the gift she wanted to give me for my trip.

Brand new SPOT
GPS goodness and security all-in-one device

Really, what else can your mom give you as a gift when you are about to embark on a motorcycle RTW trip during 11 months if not the possibility to come back home safely if anything goes wrong or worse. And this is how I got a SPOT :-D. Shopping concluded, let’s go back home to activate it.

PS: I don’t really want to post from home anymore. I want to leave now!!

PS2: That’s me getting impatient. There’s still a lot to do before leaving.