Thursday 20 March 2014

The fallacies of African paperwork.

I've manage to make my bike legal in the country for another 30 days. I started the process yesterday and finished late this afternoon. The process consisted of; go to the main customs office in Accra with all my papers, getting batted from room to room (in each room most people were asleep at there desks) before I found someone who could do it. They then said 'yes you've come to the right place, but you need to go to the place under that tree so they can fill out a form that means I can process yours...' I get batted around the many trees before I found the person who could right 'this letter'. I return to the main office with said piece of paper. 'Now Mr Parkin you need to go to the customs office on the other side of town to pay and bring back a receipt before I can stamp this paper'. I ride 15 miles to the other customs office where they then tell me that the main customs office made a mistake on the issue number. I ride back to the main office and explain. No apology but they assure the problem is fixed. I then ride back to the other side of town and the same problem was there. I ride back to the main customs office (quite angry) and they give in and just stamp the paper...

Now coming from an organised culture wouldn't it make sense to just have everything centralised?? All this for the equivalent of £3... which I didn't pay anyway. Africa.


  1. lol, well you didn't expect it to be easy did you? ;)

  2. O.K Liam this could/will be a good time to do some peventive maintainance, of couse there are two view points to this, the first is if it's not broken then do not fix it, and the other is to have a good lndepth look around for potenshal problems, and sort then before they fail. You will need to make your own educated assessment.
    It does sound like there could be chance that you could find a a good garage to help out.
    I of course would pull all the stuff you have strapped on, give the wee beast a really good was, then have a good look to see if there are any cracks on the welds,.
    Then have look for loose spokes? I broke 4 while touring Ireland last year, one word of warning if you do find one of more loose, there could be a chance you have flat spot on the rim, so pull them up so they are as tight as the rest, but make sure that the spoke is not now indanger of peicing the inertube..
    I could go on and on and on, but for now do what you can to make sure the bike is fit for another few thousand miles..

    Enjoy your stay.

    John S.

  3. Will do John. That's my plan whilst I'm staying here, getting the bike up to scratch. So Far I've only managed to break one spoke. I really like tightening them, getting them all in tune; nice sounds. Looking forward to getting some real off road tyres too!

    1. reat stuff, of course if you need any advice then the boys and girls on the C90 forum will be there to help.
      Just a few words of wisdom about basic self preservation while travelling will not go a miss me thinks.

      Some of the greatest World travels, and many who you will meet on your travels, you could not pick them out in the street in there civilian cloths, and traveling alone you must try to blend in be cool, even if you were to say loose your passport.��

      Never ever talk or make comments about religion or politics to any one and that means any one, many a good friendship has been lost while chatting over a few beers, so take heed..

      Drive like the locals.

      Avoid eye contact with other road users while driving? In many parts of the World, eye contact means you are giving the other road user the right to pull out, and as we British know than was not YOUR intention!

      The use of your indicators can also get the wrong response to what you intended so forget them, and give cleare hand signals, then every one will hopefully understand your intention.

      Actually eye and body language are also a very good indicator as to how some one is reacting, so observe and learn.

      Try to lean a few word of the local lingo, it helps to brake the ice along with a smile of course.

      Thats enough peals of wisdom for now.

      Ride safe.

      John S.

    2. Good idea regarding off road tyres, I know this sounds obvious ( every thing is obvious once you know the answer ) but I humblie suggest you make sure your tyre levers are man enough for the job, much better to have ones that a bit big than too small.

    3. What's your history, John? You write as if its from experience.

      Driving out here is an adventure on its own, and not a wholly fun one. I have learned that we on motorcycles have no right on the road and quite often it comes down to just having to get out of the way. Usually when I make eye contact with people it includes a raised middle finger as well. Many a time have people nearly hit when there has been no need.

      And with religion an politics... I never initiate, aside from sometimes with politics with people I have befriended. This has always gone well. But when people ask me about 'my religion' I have no qualms about giving them honest answers about my views. I am a man of science and I do not believe that a woman was created from a man's rib and that the World is 6000 years old. This is in regards to Christianity and I feel that since it is a religion of my ancestral heritage I have a right to say what I wish about it. In fact, in Ghana I find the constant portrayal of God quite offensive in a lot of ways. I'm not a fan.
      Whereas in Muslim countries like Mali for instance I only go as far as telling them that I have no God. I do not feel comfortable in challenging Islam when I'm a guest in their culture, nor do I have the want.

      Learning some local dialect is very important, that's true. Saying 'thank you' in local tongue has brought many smiles and laughter. Its well worth gathering those words into your memory.

    4. Oh, and I could use my tyre levers as defensive weapons if it came down to it. They're man enough.

    5. Firstly this blogg is about you not me!
      Driving? Riding a wee Honda cub out any were is all ways going to put you into the working class/poor categorie, the Honda unlike the mighty BMW Gs's and other big trail bike has/have a presence, something the cub does not, is that a bad thing? I think not, if you have ever tried to pick up a loaded GS in sand,snow or what ever, let's say for the tenth time the big bikes soon loose browning points.
      Now you know the pitfalls you can ride like the locals, if they ride in the shade :-) then that's were you ride, because that is were other road users will expect you to be.

      This thing about politics and religion, I cannot stress enough, your in very great personnel danger, with this attitude you have, no bull shit! You are in many peoples eyes a rich white boy, who has no need to work, money in your pocket and passport to get out of the country, say the wrong word and you will fell what the end of a rifle but feels like, again no shit, wars are started this way, nothing will be gained with your loose talk, your God will not be offended in your dinal, so keep that mouth shut!!

      I fear that you do come across with the attitude just like Jeramy Clarkson? Were British and every body is shit!! Just try and be more like James May! He understands being the under dog, so can relate to how the locals feel..
      You did say some time back that you were so disapointed about how the local mechanics worked, you would not let then work on your bike, even going so far as to say you shouted at one!!!! That is really asking for a few iron fillings/small nuts and bolts dropped into the engine behind your back..
      Remember YOU went to them for help, you a rich white boy with a passport, but no idea how to fix it you self. Then you humiliate one of them, maybe in from of his co workers by shouting. I tell you what how you did not get your skull caved in I do jot know? They could have followed you, and while you slepped set fire to your bike..... Just digest that idea for a while.

      This is an adventure, but all ways remember in the locals eyes what ever country your in, your another rich white boy, with money in your pocket and a passport to leave the country!
      Enjoy you stay and think of the cosiqueness of all your actions.

      P.s. We all start out with this attitude we british, hopefully you will see that to blend in, bend and smile will get you a very very long way.

      Pp.s Your in Africa, another country will feel difrent and less threatening!!

      Enjoy your stay.

    6. Hi John. I asked about you history and experience with travelling before because I was curious about the credibility of your advice.... Don't get me wrong, I'm all up for people giving me mechanical advice, words of encouragement etc, but people telling me how to converse with locals and the general way that I should travel, I am not.

      Have you ever been to Africa? If so I'm surprised that you think that I'm going to get my face smashed in when I talk honestly about my religious views with a lady in a cafe, or with friends of friends etc. There has been no hint of animosity with any conversation I have had with anyone about religion or politics. I agree with most peoples political views out here, which is generally an air of disappointment. My point being... I am not going to 'start a war' by talking to people. This is what travel is about, sharing views and learning from each other.

      Also.... these times with the mechanics. One time I snapped was when they took my oil stick out, got distracted, dragged it in the dirt and then went to put it back in the engine... This was also after a huge amount of mistakes and sloppy work. I could go on but frankly I can't be arsed. The other time was when another mechanic had my exhaust pipe in his hand and wanted to put it on the floor. How did he do this? He threw it on the floor... not just place it down like a normal person with respect for peoples things, he threw it down.

      Now, everyone who knows me would not compare me to Jeremy Clarckson. I don't like arguments and I try to make peace with everyone. I had handshakes with all the mechanics after our 'differences'. No one is going to break my skull in, follow me home and burn my bike down.

      The point of all this John, as I said before I appreciate people giving me mechanical advice, encouragement etc... but do not tell me how to travel. I completely disagree with how you perceive the locals will react to me from mere conversation and I do not want to have to explain myself about the conversations I have with people etc.

      I agree with you that every country is different, and risks are increased/reduced... but I do not need people telling me what to say to people.

      Don't bother commenting if your going to come at me with scare stories...

    7. Woe, what's all this about?

      To be honest this advice is freely given, you never asked for it, it's just one old biker trying to help some one not to make silly and obvious mistakes, how you use this advice is like your World tour, you will have to live and deal with your actions.

      If you like riding in the sun, then get out there, like wise chatting about politic and religion, if that's you bag then enjoy, as you say the idea is sharing views and learning from each other. 10/10

      You know my views, so I hope we can leave it at that.

      I have been to Africa( twice actually ) but not on the tourist route, I worked for four and a half year as a driller in the Libya Sharara, on development drilling inside military zones. So I know what libian, chad and Maltese drill crew look and work like. we were drilling 9000 feet wells on footage,( paid by the foot ) this is real John Wayne ramming and cramming, and with President Gaddafi in charge it was not unusual to have military patrol truck out side the mess hall ( a 40 foot trailer ) and inside seated at the long table conscripted close head shaved soldiers , rifle's stud up between then legs all munching on our food, to be honest most were educated students from good back ground and spoke English better than I did, but of course we only chatted about the weather, sand storm and Manchester United.. :-)

      One night my back to back driller and mate was running his crew back about 3 miles to base camp 12 maybe 12:30 at night, he was stopped, although he was know to the patrol, he failed to have his driving pass, the he and his mortally crew asked to leave the Toyota land cruiser, then they shoot two tyre out and told them all to walk back to camp in the dark.. O'h how we all laughed!!..

      The next time was 14 month in Madagascar, wild cat drilling in the bush...

      Then 2 year in the Persian gulf, 2 on 1 week off living in Tehran at the commodore hotel, pissed out of our trees for 5 day living on Vodka, seven up and pistachio nuts. On a big workover Jack up rig o , repairing and bring oil wells that are under performing back up to full flow, dirty, hot hard labour, with a bunch of evil little Iranian drilling crews, I did not see my wife for 11 months and only and then for 3 day when we had a very short holiday in Malta, I did not see my two children for another 4 month until they can out to Malta, too live for another 3 years. That 2 shit years in the gulf paid for our house, £16,500 in 1980 cash, and we still live here..

      I have worked the Southern and up in the deep water high above the Shetlands. North sea. That southern rig was drilling for gas way out off Great Yarmouth, at that time the Americans were running the whole show, and we even had american crane drivers who treated us like white niggers! that was until they could see that we were really up to for the very hard work.

      Drilling off Denmark another jack up, then out to south east Turkey drilling out in real bandit country west of Diyarbakir, Blistering hot in summer and down to -30 in winter, turkish drill crews and brilliant local truck drivers.

      A spell in India on a 14,000 foot wild cat up in the hot dry north, Indian drill crews and best roast beef and Yorkshire puddings I have ever tasted, and work gear washed and ironed ready to wear. Russian boys running the cement pump trucks.

      I think that will do for now.

      But to get down to your question, Yes I have been to Africa and know the the real psychology that drives these some times really great people, once you understand how they think and persevere you...

      Just to end I have added a wee like to my humble web site, please do not get to upset when you see the green of the English flowers.

      Enjoy and ride safe..

  4. Lad that sounds more of a pleasant experience than border crossing into Cambodia. It seems like you had it easy lad!

    1. �� and I was paids to do it, how good is that. But these how can I say polity 'workers' could some time fail under who was/is the boss...
      But the doarder crossing, How hard can that be? Old Top Gear Clarkson would show you young wipper snappers how to to it ��

      Ride safe. .

    2. You are right though Pete, once you know the rules of engagement!.. Libya was a fun time! They were at war with Chad, most of my raghead...Sorry co-workers were from that most scenic part of the world, but they were all happy little ragheads......Sorry co-workers as we droving out the rig for a 12 shift just before midnight we would all sing happy song's, clap and tell each other really interesting stories.
      Any way getting sack to this little war, the military thought it would be very good idea to bring in a bit of new blood to help out, so the evil,sadistic power that be popped in one night as asked if they could borrow a few of my raghead......Sorry must stop calling them that! Co-workers to play out, well you could imagine my reaction, as they pointed a not very well maitainted AK 47 in my direction. I of course was very very reluctant, these were my little friends, I consented of course but made sure that I have all there home addresses, you the thing, Christmas cards, picture of our children and seeing there new additions like the new donkey!!!
      So after the military have helped them pack all there Worldly belongings into the bags, they helped into the waiting truck. I was very touched when one or two wanted to stay and help me make a small fortune, but after a really good thrashing, with long sticks and size 12 boots, they agreed that the life fighting against there own people could pay more and be just as intesting? So all my little raghead...... Sorry co-workers were all driven of into the night. What really pissed me of was that I never got a even a post card saying that the arrived O.K...

      Just one other thing, why does every one talk about the problem's getting into Cambodia? You should try getting a pint down the dirty duck at 11:30 at night!!! The plus side is of course, that would be the same time as my mortally crew of Chad ragheads..would be jumping around eager to eager if the truth be know to jump in the pick up head out to the rig