Thursday 9 October 2014

Part Two: UK to Democratic Republic of the Congo on a Honda C90 - 27/03/2014 - 15/09/2014

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Laying face up in the pool as the sky descends into the evening, I could hear nothing but the sound of my breathing and limbs keeping me afloat. On my left is the last light of the day, piercing through the blue, and on my right behind the row of houses is an ominous black cloud engulfing everything, enveloping all the light, though the denseness of the cloud was so great it reflected the red's and orange's from Acrra's streets. Whilst up above me is a migration of thousands of bats; either being silhouetted by the blue or brought out by the cloud. The cloud won in the end, and all the while, thousands and thousands of bats beneath the red. Beautiful.

Saturday, 5 April 2014


Since its taking a exceedingly long time to get my replacement passport sorted out there's really not much to report on since I'm stationary. I'm trying to make the most of having access to an oven though! I'm generally quite a lean person naturally, but when your on the road weight just seems to fall off you. I've acquired some pretty serious ribs on route. Hopefully if I carry on eating like this I can put on some reserves for the jungles ahead.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


I've just stumbled across an old blog that my house mate made about me from the old Manchester days, nearly four years ago now. Life without my passport is pretty much a reflection of this old blog really;

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


A weekend away from the urban chaos of Accra spent in a little village on the far West coast of Ghana, next to the Ivory Coast.

We took a 4x4 which was owned by the American embassy (going straight through all the police checkpoints makes a change!) to a remote part of the country in the jungle.

We were aiming to get to a village which is built on stilts in a lake somewhere in the jungle. We found a guy who would row us there in a pirogue. We paid him with Jack Daniels. 

The water on the shore was as hot as bath water.

Everywhere around us was alive with the chirps of millions of insects.

A little boy in his back yard.

Entering the lake. 30 meters deep in the middle. Holds an array of crocodiles.

Approaching the stilt village.

Giving the stand in chief of the village an offering of whiskey. I'm not sure that's standard behavior for an American diplomat... 

A beautiful place.

Life is just ordinary for the people who live here. Fascinating to me.

The village boys challenged me to there local game which is meant to show if you 'have a strong heart.' The challenge consisted of jumping into the lake, going underwater and filling up and emptying a bottle without taking a breath of air. If you fill it and empty it twice it means you have a strong heart. I managed it three times!

Walking through the village with no pants on after I'd been in the water attracted more attention than usual.

We found a crocodile the next day.

This one was calm and they're surprisingly soft and spongy. 

This one didn't like me standing behind it.

 We went back to the jungle later and found some rope bridges to climb in the tree canopy.

 You still get swarms of insects that far up. 40 meters!

Long way down.

Ghana is a beautiful country.

These were some of the best moments I've had in Africa so far. Fantastic invigorating sights. Good respite from the ever grinding headache of sorting my passport out. Thank you, Will!

Sunday, 20 April 2014


My two friends, Stergio and Steven who I met on the road, made it through Nigeria and into Cameroon last week. I should have been with them but the delay of getting a replacement passport and their visas meant they had to go ahead. They went through a total of 53 police and military checkpoints... had attempted bribes at each one and even had a gun pointed at their faces by a drunken official. They had to be evacuated out of a hotel (I'm not sure on the details) and the best bit, got attacked by the moped stick men... These guys are quite infamous. They usually hang around the East of Nigeria, past the capital, Abuja. They roam around on mopeds carrying sticks with the hope of robbing people. My friends got away but they warned me that they can be very aggressive. I might have to carry around a stick in my front shopping basket just in case. I don't think I could out run them with my engine.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Today I got hissed at in the street and my first reaction was 'hmm, I wonder what they want?' instead of instinctively taking offence. That only took five months...

Friday, 25 April 2014


I've just updated the photo's I've taken from Ghana so far. Collected quite a few so best put them online now whist I have the chance!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Stergio's Burkina Faso Video.

Please check the Video Tab for this uplaod - it would''t load due to the length of this post.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Losing luggage.

After a good long while on the road it's safe to say that I know out of the many things that I brought with me from home what I actually use. The truth is, really not that much. Living day to day on the road, what you need in terms of possessions to live is minimal. But the simple worldly goods you own to have a life like this is more than made richer and fuller by the countless experiences, smiles, people, landscapes, ideas... the list goes on and on. It's a good trade!
 I thought I was vigilant when I packed before I left home but I over prepared and I brought way too much stuff. What you really need for life on the road is very basic; A tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag. Cooking equipment. One set of riding clothes, one set of day clothes. Bag of medicines, some sanitaries, some tools and spares, a torch and for my sanity, my e-reader and ipod - these inventions are amazing for a traveller wanting to save space! That's about it for what you need really. Other things can be useful but in the end they just become unnecessary bulk most of the time.
 A water filter for instance... not that heavy but very bulky for a pannier. I drink the local water anyway and it's fine. I've even drank from a lake and its been okay (looks like all those years of purposely exposing my stomach to bacteria has paid off!). A few packets of water purification tablets are a better substitute. Clothes are another thing which I think many people on trips like this take too much of. In the end whatever you wear gets dirty for most of the time so it doesn't make sense to carry around lots of dirty clothes when you can just wear the same ones. Yes, bush living has made my standards drop. Simplifying things works too; one bar of soap can be my shower gel, shampoo and washing up liquid.
 There are some things that you don't need but are really great to have. My camera, net-book, chargers, paint supplies - although I have minimised these. In the end I decided to be ruthless, go through all my things and box up everything that I don't use on a day to day basis or things I'd be fucked without and send them home. Will has been very kind and let me use the US delivery system, which means my belongings will go back to England via America!
 I think it's definitely worth it. All together I've shed 14 kg/30 lbs of weight and bulk. When I finally get my passport it's going to be like riding a new bike. Can't bloody wait!

Saturday, 10 May 2014


My masterpiece at my old job... 

It's been eight months that I've been on the road now and, subsequently the longest time that I've been out of work or study. In a way being on the road is a lot like a full time job. Wake up, have coffee and breakfast, pack up and set off, spend a lot of time on the bike, thinking, pondering, find some type of new food to try, meet some new and interesting people, see some new sights that make you glad you're alive, discover something new about yourself, make some new life assumptions and/or plans, find a place to sleep, set up tent, make food, watch sky until the stars come out (If the insects permit!), crawl into tent and read book, sleep and dream of home... wake up and do it all again! I am yet to get bored of this line of work yet though!

Friday, 16 May 2014


I've just updated my kit list... or rather, crossed everything out that I've gotten rid of along the way.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


Giving my bike a thorough service and makeover. Repaired indicator, thoroughly clean chain, new chain guard, reinforced basket, new water carrying system, new battery, repaired spokes, added fuel filter, cleaned air filter. Checking out these new bad ass off road tyres fit and my inner tubes are up for them and oh yeah, cutting my seat in half! :-)

Monday, 19 May 2014


Checking out all the possible routes through central Africa. I reckon after a month of leaving here my west Africa map will be done an over, this map here is my last Africa map. I'm particularly studying my route through the Democratic Republic of the Congo; taking the N1 route from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi which would take me to the border of Zambia, or take a barge from Kinshasa to Kisangani, leaving a 800 miles ride through the jungle to Uganda. I think I'll decide once I get to Kinshasa and source out the port. Taking a three to four week boat up the Congo river through some of the last remaining virgin rainforests in the World does seem very appealing though!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


I can't wait to fit these things onto my bike and rock the jungles! Uber chunky, wider and they fit both front and back wheels. Going to be unstoppable! (I say this without any experience of off road riding in wet, muddy, jungle track conditions.) My friend Stergio on the Vespa failed in the Republic of the Congo and had to get a lift in the back of a 4x4. I'm going to do everything in my power not to have to do that!  

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


In one of my many moments of genius whilst repairing my tent, replacing the zips with velcro as all three have broken, I realised that my ear stud had fallen out. I looked around and in my sewing kit I saw a safety pin and thought it best to put it through my piercing to prevent it from sealing. 'Hmm, that hurt a bit more than usual' were my thoughts after I put it in. It wasn't until a few hours later when I looked in the mirror that I realised I'd completely missed the hole and just shoved a safety pin straight through my ear lobe. I wonder if it would have hurt more if I knew what I was actually doing...?

Sunday, 25 May 2014


Since it's taking literally months to get a new passport sorted I thought it best to use some of the time to modify/improve the bike the best I can before I set out again.

This little guy; a fuel filter that I cut into the fuel pipe (thanks for making me bring a hacksaw, Dad) At around 70p a pop these little guys are great. My carburettor will be thankful... this fuel here just isn't filtered properly. There's loads of residue in my half litre fuel bottle that I use for cooking. Only been filled and emptied three times. My carb would be gasping for breath!   

My front basket I stole from Morrison's. Has a Morrison's basket ever travelled so far? Must be a record coming up! Anyway, the rack snapped from the basket banging up and down
whilst I was off road riding in Senegal. Had it welded back together for 30p (!) but it looked like some reinforcements were in order.

I picked up four semi bungee cords wrapped in woven fabric, secured them to the basket in areas that braced it the most. Then I covered them with glue to make them stronger and painted over them to make them water tight. 

Each one has hooks on the ends which go round the brackets that hold my front fairing on. I've put bits of sponge onto the fibre glass to reduce wear. These easily come on and off went I want to take my cooler bag containing my day to day used items out of the basket easily and quickly.

There's no more bouncing that goes on with the basket any more. Secure as hell! 

The lasting legacy of failure and annoyance from the last time a mechanic here touched my bike was that he managed to break my chain guard. They like to throw things around, smash things with hammers, hack with screw drivers and generally stand all over things. It literally beggars belief... So a new chain guard was in order. This one didn't quite fit over the front sprocket protector so I used bits of leather from my seat cover (explanation further down) and duct tape (this is a must have in your kit!) to seal them both together. Don't think I made a bad job of it if I do say so myself. 

I spray painted the chain guard black so it blends in with my engine. Don't want any questions on engine numbers from any borders. The more it inconspicuous the better!

For a while now I've wanted a single seat. Having a 3 1/2 litre petrol tank does make filling up a bastard and a half with having to take all my gear off the back seat... then reattach, then repeat, repeat, repeat.  

Since I am extremely sentimental when it comes to my things (especially things I left home with) so I decided against buying a new seat. My ass has been sat on that seat since I rode away from home and I want it to be sat on the same seat when I ride back home... so I just cut this one in half with the hacksaw (thanks Dad.)
Another added beauty of this is that it will give my back sack a lower centre of gravity, which should make handling better. It's also more secure as its jammed in between the back of the rack and the seat, which should hopefully stop it from bouncing around and coming loose when riding off road, which is a real bitch... And I never have to take it off in the middle of the day again!!

I don't think I made a bad job of smartening it up, considering I just hacked right through it and bent the metal until it snapped off (I might have picked up some useful methods from African mechanics after all) I've stuck down the under plate of the seat with super glue to give a wider pivot spot for my back bag. I'm going to cover it up with the remaining leather later to stop it from rusting too.

Now for the tent. It doesn't matter what kind of tent you have, whether you picked one up for £10 or bought the highest class tent for £100's, the first thing that will break (usually) is the zip. 

Mine had three; two for the main door and one for the outer. The main door one's have been going for a good few months now. You can prolong there life a bit by squeezing the zipper back together with a pair of pliers... but you know when you start to do this that your days are numbered. By the time I got to Will's I only had half a zip that would consistently close, so it was time for a drastic remedy; replace everything with velcro!  

I bought some velcro from a lovely lady. For some reason her measurements were in yards even though Ghana uses the metric system, but she charged me 70 pesoas for a yard... which is around 17p. She said 'I am Muslim so I want to treat you fair. I don't want to overcharge you just because you a white.' I love meeting honest people. I bought a sewing kit off her too. She asked me if I could sew and I said 'No, but I'll teach myself.' She gave a concerned look. Ever the optimist against the odds I bought the sewing kit and within 15 minutes of attempting to sew these bits of velcro onto the zip seams I gave up and decided to use a more manly technique. Ultra hardening glue, staples and a hammer. It worked too! It may not look pretty but I don't want to be caught out camping with a tent door that doesn't close and become a meat feast for the masses and wake up with malaria. The velcro does its job. 

I've added bits of thin cloth that drape over the seams too which cling to the tent fabric, further assuring that the mosquito's won't be getting in through the little holes from the velcro seals.

 So that's about it, I'm all ready to go now. All I need is my FUCKING PASSPORT! If I'd have known it was going to take this long to get another one I would have smashed that Benin high commissioner right in his stupid, fat, bald headed face for daring to get angry at me for demanding I get my money back for the visas that were in there. I think here is an insight to the problems of many African countries. It's the people with money that get into high positions and evidently they are stupid. The one's who are smart and with talent but are poor can't buy themselves a job in high up places. I have a feeling the high commissioner of Benin bought his position... because he's a fucking fool.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


I've uploaded more photo's into the Ghana album. Flickr has been an absolute bitch today so I hope you enjoy them...

Thursday, 29 May 2014


With all this time on my hands as the government gets its arse in gear and give me my bastard passport, I decided to weigh everything today.

All my gear, that's contained in all of... a bag in the front basket, one bicycle bar bag, two pannier bags, one big waterproof sack on the back and a top box comes to around 33 kg. That's my tent, sleeping bag, mat etc, electronics, spares, cooking equipment and everything I need to live and keep me sane basically.

A dry Honda c90 weighs 85 kg. For arguments sake I'm going to say my bike weighs 90 kg now; bigger engine, takes one litre of oil which is one kg, and taking into account the basket added racks and top box.

I like to carry five litres of water with me, which fluctuates greatly during the day and I also have two five litre jerry cans. I've only had to fill up both of them once, and that was when I was going through the desert. I expect I'll need both of them full for the remote jungle regions too. But I do like to have one of them full, plus say three litres in my tank.... so that's a fluctuating 13 kg during the day - with a maximum of 18 kg in remote areas.

I myself hover around the grand total of 60 kg. Yes, I'm only a little man... so combined;

33 kg equipment,
90 kg bike,
13-18 kg of fuel and water,                  
60 kg of Englishman.

There's also food, but I don't carry a lot... some dry emergency food which doesn't weigh a lot really, and I may put 2 kg of fruit into my bags towards the end of the day for night time eating.

All of this gives a grand total of... a fluctuation of around 190 to 202 kg. That's quite heavy! Still, a dry BMW GS tourer will weigh around 250 kg with no gear or rider. And it doesn't look too loaded now I've feng suid all my stuff around.

Get me back on the road soon!!

Friday, 30 May 2014


My passport has finally arrived at my house back in England. This is a GREAT day! I would like to send out HUGE thanks to my family, my girlfriend and all my friends who made it possible for me to get it. Thank you.

Technically I should have been in England... so the High commission here and Her Majesty's Passport Office say. On that note I would like to express my extreme dissatisfaction with my government on this matter. Changing the law making a British national who does not have a personal address in whatever foreign country they are in to only be issued with a 5 page emergency passport and have to return back to England to get the real deal does not help anyone in my situation. Granted, there aren't a lot of overlanders, but we do exists! This method also makes every British national who has lost or had their passport stolen abroad buy this emergency passport at the not very modest cost of £100 and then go through the rigmarole of buying the official passport as well. Also. the British High Commission here in Accra have been utterly useless in this whole situation. I have no faith in my government if I ever need help off them abroad again. The high commission here serves for Ghana, Togo and Benin. I could have become a resident of Togo to sort out my passport from here, but oh no! You don't live in Ghana! You need to go home...! What the fuck do British people do if they live in Togo or Benin?

   Since I was then left in the predicament of being in a foreign country with no visa in my temporary passport and with a bike that I kept having to have its permit increased I went back to my high commission to ask for an official letter (very useful things in Africa) to show these different governmental departments why I was in this predicament.

'Why didn't you make a copy of the letter from the embassy of Benin?'

'Because it never touched my hands... it went straight to you!'

'Oh.. well... we don't have it to give it to you know... but we can write this and you can go to immigration with it...'

This. THIS is what they gave me.

On a brighter note on my embassy... they do own their own theatre in Accra, with their own bar and restaurant for all those hard working Brits in the embassy. So if you ever find yourself royally fucked abroad, the embassy can't help you out practically... but you can get smashed and watch a play to forget your woes. Great stuff! It's almost as ridiculous as that photo of David Cameron eating a pasty that he bought from that non-existent pasty shop in Leeds train station.

And as icing on the cake... with my many emails asking the passport office where my passport is, when will I get it etc, I got one three days ago saying that my passport was in the 'examination process.' I asked what processes there are after that and when I should expect my passport and... four hours after my passport dropped through the letter box I received an email saying that after the examination process it gets printed, then I should allow 4-5 days for delivery. So basically, when I got that first email saying that it was in the  'ex-am-in-a-tion pr-oc-ess' it was actually in the post. Well done your Majesty's passport tracking service, well done! 

Rant over. 

Now for the positive stuff. When my passport was stolen, along with all the shit that was happening with my engine(s) I had pretty much hit a place where I really couldn't be arsed with any more shit and was ready to sack it all in and go home. I am VERY glad that I didn't. From the many things you learn from travelling, this experience, along with all the others has taught me that you can hit complete rock bottom... but as long as you're not crippled, there's always a way out... and you can meet some great people along the climb back up too. I think later problems along the road will wash more easily over me now. And thank you for all the messages of support when I was considering throwing in the towel. They really are appreciated. 

Soon I can head on and the story can continue! Excited and nervous in equal measures... I've being softened up here! Still, this feels fucking fantastic now my new passport has been made. 

The bar has been raised to what I would do to stop it from leaving my hands, definitely...  

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


Well that was quick... my box containing my passport has arrived in Ghana even though it was only collected on Monday afternoon. Thanks DHL! Now it's just a matter of it getting through customs. With the US embassy delivery address on it, it can either be posted directly there or if customs deem it fit, I would have to go to the airport and pay duty tax. Either way, may passport is now in the country! Will, however decided to bring it to my attention that on average one in ten parcels have something stolen from customs here in Ghana. There was an incident in 2008 where twelve laptops went 'missing.' Customs got sued for that and unsurprisingly, the case is still going on. How many years is that? Six! I hope that with there being the address of the US embassy on the box that they won't decide to rival in with their corrupt little fingers and take my passport... because that will be the actual end of me going further into Africa. I hope my Mum disguised it well; concealed in an envelope, immersed with little books and leaflets... and along with all my other things which really aren't worth that much. I am on the edge of my seat however... Hopefully by tomorrow or Thursday I should have it in my possession. Hopefully!

Thursday, 5 June 2014


This is a Tiger Mosquito. I first came across these little bastards in Barcelona. They originated in East Asia but they've managed to migrate to most parts of the World now. They have even adapted to hibernating during Winter months in temperate climates. In Barcelona, when these first started biting me I would come up in huge welts, my right wrist swelled up, bright red and burning hot. My host, Maria wanted me to go to hospital - I didn't! 
Now with the coming rains these shits are out in abundance. My body has seemed to have gotten used to the reaction; only tiny bumps appear now. I've never really had a problem with mosquito's in Africa thus far. That garden in Barcelona has always had first prize up until now. I imagine when I leave this house and start bush camping again now the rains are here they will become a problem. Hopefully though, if I'm camping out away from the cities and towns where open sewers and stagnant water are the norm there won't be too much of an issue with them. Don't they look evil!   

Friday, 6 June 2014


My passport is here! My passport is in my possession!

Happy, happy boy... Although someone will seriously go ape-shit if anyone tries to steal it from me now!!

Now it's just a matter of visa recollection and then I am gone... on the road again! It's going to feel strange. 

Sunday, 8 June 2014


 Will took me out for lobster platter last night, including a near full bottle of red wine, to celebrate the arrival of my passport. I've never eaten lobster before - there's a reason why it's expensive... It's so good! Thank you, Will! After dinner we went to a 'British pub' as I've been missing good old English ale. The only ale we could find was an Indian pale ale. (I can't remember these being 5.8%!) I can count how many beers I've had in Africa on maybe three hands, and my tolerance is WAY down. Woke up with a cracking hangover and a bruised elbow from backstroking into the wall of the pool at 1 am this morning.

Only just pulled myself together to post this. The lesson is.... lobster is amazing!! 

Monday, 9 June 2014


Well the visa recollection has started. Got my Togolese one today. The Togo High Commissioner had somehow heard about my plight and did the visa on the spot, wavering the twenty cedi expense. Tomorrow I will go back to the Nigerian embassy armed with all the forms I can. Lets hope the Nigerian High Commissioner is as nice as the Togolese one as I know of five other European travellers who've been rejected from there recently...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


I'm about to be on BikerFM, a radio station based on Skype. Try and find it and have a listen if you wish :-)

Friday, 13 June 2014


My girlfriend is in my topbox. Two times a day I get to look at her, and now I'm getting back on the road, every mile gets me closer to her again. (This will be one of very few over romantic posts... just in case it made you feel uncomfortable.) 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


So today I'm setting back on the road again after three months of being out of the travelling routine and just living in Will's house here in Accra. I'm going to say that I've officially lived in Accra from now on! I got all my visas wrapped up on Wednesday, despite a blazing argument with the Benin embassy, (details in my next journal) so in the meantime I've just been wrapping things up here. It's been a week of mixed emotions. On some days I've been scared, really fucking scared of getting back on the road again. These three months in this house have softened me up a bit. I'm almost as white as I was when I left England and I've been sleeping in a room with air conditioning - not once did I take this for granted though! Leaving a place where I've been able to have constant contact with my family, friends and girlfriend is quite difficult too, and also cohabiting. These things I have gotten used to and it is going to feel very strange to leave them behind. But it has to be done. Despite everything I feel pretty much okay this morning, and I'm really looking forward to my 'first' night sleeping wild again.

I can't express how much gratitude I have for Will. For letting me stay in his home for three months and for everything he's done for me has been extremely kind. With all the people I've met on the road who have shown me hospitality it would be unfair to place peoples kindness higher than others, but in this case it definitely makes this statement true; this trip just would not be possible if it wasn't for the hospitality, trust and
generosity of people who you first meet as strangers, and then depart as good friends. I will miss him. Hopefully we will meet up in Benin for a couple of days at the beginning of July.

Here he is. It's been hard to take a photo of him without his eyes been half closed of having a mid-word facial expression, but I managed to get one in the end.

I am really ready to leave West Africa behind me now though and I'm going to really try and get my skates on. I have a few visas and things to pick up in Togo, see Will in Benin and then race through Nigeria... then I'll be in Cameroon and this part of the World will be behind me. I am really ready for that! Below is a picture of my original back tyre that I left England with. It got me this far so it has served me well, but it's now worn to the point it's getting holes. I have one of my fat tyres on the back now... along with a modified set up and a lovely worn in new engine - I'm ready to go!

Thursday, 19 June 2014


I crossed over into Togo yesterday at an extremely out of the way border in the mountains on an unmarked road on my map. I always chose the smallest border I can get to as they're generally issue free, especially considering, A - I'm travelling without a Carnet and B - I was crossing the border with a forged import permit. Immigration looked at my passport like they've never seen a white guy before and customs didn't want to even see my permit - he really couldn't be arsed, it would interrupt his sitting. The huge, inflated immigration woman tried it on and insisted I buy her lunch... I literally had no money and food -not that I would have anyway. Togo side were nice as can be.

It's nice to be back in a Francophone country again. Better food, more polite people and better driving (the driving is still shit!) I've felt the wrath of the rainy season on the way here, with roads being washed away and turning into rivers. I had to stop riding and take refuge under a shack roof the rain was so bad at one point. I managed to half dry my things sleeping on an Auberge rooftop last night. I'm at a campsite now just 15 km outside of the capital, Lome. I'll stay here for a few days while I sort out my Congo visas and residence permit.

It's good to be on the move again!

Saturday, 21 June 2014


I've found a travel partner to cross through Nigeria with. Daniel, a Swiss guy who rolled up at my campsite this afternoon on a 28 year old (fucking older than mine!) Yamaha 600. He's a nice guy. All being well we're planning to travel down to the Democratic Republic of the Congo together before we split up. He wants to go to Namibia, whilst I've got my heart set on crossing DR Congo one way or another (Sorry Mum, I've just mentioned the two countries I said I wouldn't go through when I told you was going to travel Africa. It'll be fine!) Visa collection starts on Monday, where hopefully, I'll become a resident of Togo too. The things you have to do!

Monday, 23 June 2014


"You need to have gotten your visa from your home country" (ie, your country of residence) say the border guards of the Democratic Republic of the Congo... 'apparently.' So with Togo been one of the easiest places to get the DRC visa on route I thought it would be best to get a residence permit to go with. Just turn up at the police station, pay a little money and voila, I'm a Togolese resident for six months. Don't be giving me any racist shit now ay, or I'll get my boyz innit.

Here's a tip, Africa; why not relax your regulations a bit and stop making it a complete pain in the arse for tourists to travel through your countries, who obviously bring with them their foreign currency. Seriously, by the end of this I'd have acquired a library full of permits, visas, passavants, insurances and a huge array of other inane documents that nobody gives a fuck about anyway at the borders, but you're inclined to get them anyway just in case - don't want to be trapped in the bribe bucket.

Open borders.... Bring on South America! 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


I'm now visa'd up until I have to hand over my passport to the Cameroon embassy in Calabar, and then... that should be the last time I have to hand over my passport to another embassy in Africa!!
I got both the Republic of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo visas in my passport today. They're some pretty exciting visas! 
 Although, one would think that when an official diplomatic mission of a 'country' prints out an official form that they would at least run it through spell check first. The one below is from Republic of the Congo... what does that say? 'Cunt'ry!?
 I couldn't resist taking a photo of that painted phallic either. There's quite a few unashamed signs that you come across in Africa. That one's priceless! 

Sunday, 29 June 2014


Tomorrow I ride for Benin; the country where Voodoo is the national religion. I'll be staying in a place called Grand Popo which has a high population of Voodoos. I'll also be seeing Will again there for a few days, then me and Daniel will take the road up the country and cross into Nigeria.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


I've made it to Benin. Just sat now at a restaurant table awaiting a steak dinner with Will and Nikos. It's great to see them again. The road here was rough! Rainy season showing its force, potholed roads where they were so big they spanned the width of the road and I had to ride in and out of them. I slept in some sort of gum tree plantation last night. I'm knackered! Staying in a beach side hut here for a few days until Daniel comes to meet me. Then we'll ride up to Nigeria! Benin people have been great so far. I'll be posting my latest and long awaited journal in the next few days or so.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The long delay in Ghana, with a little of Togo and Benin.

Well, it's been a long time since I posted my last journal - mainly due to that fact that I haven't really moved anywhere for the past three months or so. I spent a long time in Ghana; A very long time. I entered on 22/02/14 and left on 18/06/14. This really wasn't expected - I was only meant to be there for three weeks!

So where I left off on my last one, I had just had a new engine put in. I really expected this to be the end of my woes. In the first 6 months I went through one and a half engines (not including this new one) had two new pistons put in along with cylinder re-bores, and two repaired valves also. This was intermittent with ten seizures in total, around seven spark plugs and an engine that was guzzling oil like a lost man in a desert who happened upon an oasis. This made the first 6 months pretty painful. With this new engine I really thought all my troubles would be over for a while and I was looking forward, even assuring myself that there would be some carefree travelling in front of me. I realise now that this attitude was a big mistake. You never know what's around the corner when doing something like this, and to lull yourself into a false sense of security is a dangerous thing to do.

I had my new engine bolted on in Kumasi. I had split up with Stergio the week before and was looking forward to some solo riding with my new engine. The engine didn't disappoint, it gave me 130 miles off a full tank of fuel - which on my bike is only three and a half litres! I made my way to the coast, to a renowned overlander campsite called Big Milly's situated in a little coastal village called Kokrobite. I stayed there for a while, talking to other people about my travels, making new friends, and decided that to run my engine in a little kinder I would go for the weekend to Cape Coast on an unloaded bike and see some tourist attractions for once - those being the slave castles from the old British and Belgian colonial rule times.

 I rode to Cape Coast, just tootling along nicely with my new engine and really enjoying having four gears. It felt great. The sun was up, beautiful landscapes, a sense of freedom without an assurity of an impending doom. Great. I arrived at Cape Coast, checked into a hostel for the first time which was full of Westerners. Everybody I spoke to raved about my trip... and it felt good! I felt like I was properly on the road again. The future felt bright. My plan was to ride back to Kokrobite after I saw the slave castles (harrowing things) get my Togo and Benin visa, meet up with Stergio and Steven and cross Nigeria together and then venture into the Congo's. I was excited.

Cape Coast.

Pigs and Pirogues; standard.

Good old Queen Victoria giving Ghana her eternal gaze.

I stupidly forgot to take my camera to Elmina castle, so here are some pictures I dragged out of the Internet.

One of the slave chambers where they underfed them to minimise the chance of escape before they were shipped out.

The room of no return. This is where slaves who were 'misbehaving' were locked into. As the skull indicates... they never came out alive. It's a small room. Sometimes twenty people were shoved in there and then left until they died. You can only imagine the horrors that went on in there before everyone eventually lay down and escaped their torture.

Kokrobite runs along the same shore as Cape Coast, and the whole place does have its attractions. Unfortunately this has attracted quite a sinister side. I know of three people personally who got robbed at knife point there. There's a lot of Rastafari living along the coast. It didn't leave a good impression with me. Beneath the laid back music and wafts of marijuana smoke there was a definite sense of animosity. It is because of the amount of tourists... it's a big temptation to earn some money when you live in a struggling country. To jab a knife into a 70 year old man's kidney to rob his camera is never excusable though. The man was okay by the way. Nevertheless, I wasn't too impressed with my stay at Big Milly's and was looking forward to meeting up with my friends again.

 I had just two visas to get in Accra, my Togolese one and my one for Benin. I'd commute into Accra central from Kokrobite to visit these embassies. The commute would take over an hour each way... and seriously, the amount of bafflingly stupid driving I would encounter along the road was just unbelievable. By the end of it I hated every Ghanaian behind a wheel.
 The Togolese visa was acquired without a hitch... as one would expect! Now for the fabled Benin embassy... Supposedly you're meant to be able to get it within a day, so I arrived at 11 am, returned at 1 pm as they said, and was then presented with these words...

 "Why didn't you hand in your passport with everything else?"

I did.

After a huge debate we came to the agreement that we would wait a few days as someone may have picked it up by mistake and we would give them time to get in touch if they had. They also said that they would reimburse me for the visas I had in there. I had my hard to get Nigerian one in my passport. MY passport, which had all my other visas in that I could look at later in life and reminisce. A few days went by... we heard from no one. I went to my embassy to see where I stood legally. Hopeless in that matter apparently as I would be taking a country to court on my own. I asked to get a new passport from Her Majesty's Passport Office in the British High Commission... but no. Since October 2013 the British Government had changed the law meaning that unless you're a resident of the country in question then you have to go back to Britain to get a new passport... but they can issue you with an emergency one, with only five pages in. A five page passport is completely useless for me as I have visas to acquire for countries with more than five countries in between. And each visa takes up a page anyway. And at £100 a pop for these passports I just couldn't make it through my journey like this. I had to get a new passport... and all I got from my embassy was that I needed to go home and sort it out.

I was fuming. I went back to the embassy enraged, yet trying to keep calm. I told them what I have to do to get a new passport and how much it's going to cost me and asked for the money that they said they would give me earlier; for my emergency passport, Nigerian visa and Togolese visa. This is where the argument started... not on my part, I never raised my voice. The consulate however... It pisses me off and disgusts me simultaneously just thinking about it. Instantly he threw into a rage; slamming his fists on the table, throwing his papers at the wall, raising his arms up to his god and screaming. It was ridiculous. I only raised my finger. The rage that was inside meant that I wasn't intimidated by his behaviour whatsoever. I'm not sure if this is what he was trying to do. My incline is that he's not used to being in the wrong and to have someone speak to him like he owes them something. I was in there for a good hour, just ignoring his rages; repeatedly asking if I can talk without being interrupted by shouts... this never happened. This man was just intolerable to have any sort of amicable disagreement with. It was quite pathetic really. In the end I stood my ground and got the money back for my emergency passport and Nigerian visa. They said that when I come back with the receipt for the Togolese one then they would give me the money back for that also.
 I was deflated though. From what my embassy said, I had to go home. I completely loathed the idea of having to fly home to get a new passport to sort it out. I'm not sure if it would even be possible for me to complete the journey if I did that as I try to live as cheaply as possible, and to fork out around a £1000 to sort this out when I went in to get a £10 visa... This was just out of the question. I'd had it though. Problem after problem after problem. I just thought ' Fuck this place, fuck this continent, fuck this country, fuck these people, fuck this trip. Fuck it all!' I'd pretty much made up my mind of what I was going to do... salvage as much freedom as I could, turn around and ride home. I was done with this.

Then I met Will. Stergio and Steven had been staying with him in Accra. They'd had to go on due to their visas, but they put me in touch with him and he was happy to take me in while I mulled everything over. It was easier to think about everything and a nice, calm, quiet air conditioned house with my own space rather than laying on the floor of my tent in the tropical heat on my own, sweating my bollocks off whilst Reggie music played all night.
 Will's an American diplomat who works with passports and he was amazing to talk to about the problem I was in. I'm not sure that if I hadn't have met him that I would be here now in Togo, writing this with a new passport in my possession. He said I could get around the bureaucratic hassles of it, and get the passport here without me having to go home. And he was more than happy to let me stay whilst it was all getting sorted out. So I changed my mind. I'd stay, try to get the passport here without leaving... if that failed then I would go home, but I was at least going to try. I got in touch with my family, we pulled some strings together, sorted out the forms, and in just under three months' time I had my new passport with me in Ghana. There were some delays, a lot of stress with me not being there to sort things out on my own... and then there was the 30,000 backlog at the passport office to contend with. But I have it now, it's with me. I have no idea what the British High Commission was on about when they told me you can't post a passport... if you go to DHL's website a passport is the 4th item down the list of the things they DO post.

 Technically I should have been in England to sort out my passport... so the High commission and Her Majesty's Passport Office in Ghana say. On that note I would like to express my extreme dissatisfaction with my government on this matter. Changing the law making a British national who does not have a personal address in whatever foreign country they are in to only be issued with a 5 page emergency passport and have to return back to England to get the real deal does not help anyone in my situation. Granted, there aren't a lot of overlanders, but we do exists! This method also makes every British national who has lost or had their passport stolen abroad buy this emergency passport at the not very modest cost of £100 and then go through the rigmarole of buying the official passport as well. Also. the British High Commission here in Accra have been utterly useless in this whole situation. I have no faith in my government if I ever need help off them abroad again. The high commission here serves for Ghana, Togo and Benin. I could have become a resident of Togo to sort out my passport from here, but oh no! You don't live in Ghana! You need to go home...! What the fuck do British people do if they live in Togo or Benin? Every other European I've met on the road can get another passport sorted at any of their diplomatic missions easily... But not us Brits. I loathed the huge picture of the Queen smiling down at the seats of where her citizens who need help sit and wait.

 Since I was then left in the predicament of being in a foreign country with no visa in my temporary passport and with a bike that I kept having to have its permit increased I went back to my high commission to ask for an official letter (very useful things in Africa) to show these different governmental departments why I was in this predicament.

'Why didn't you make a copy of the letter from the embassy of Benin?'

'Because it never touched my hands... it went straight to you!'

'Oh.. well... we don't have it to give it to you now... but we can write this and you can go to immigration with it...'

This. THIS is what they gave me.

On a brighter note on my embassy... they do own their own theatre in Accra, with their own bar and restaurant for all those hard working Brits in the embassy. So if you ever find yourself royally fucked abroad, the embassy can't help you out practically... but you can get smashed and watch a play to forget your woes. Great stuff! It's almost as ridiculous as that photo of David Cameron eating a pasty that he bought from that non-existent pasty shop in Leeds train station. 

 The bar has definitely been raised with what I would do to keep my passport now though. Not like I had much choice in the matter before...

So three months of staying in a nice, air conditioned house. It was a holiday away from Africa in itself. I had my own room. My privacy. There was Will there who was great to talk to. He's one of the most positive, generous and enigmatic people I've met in my life, and during that difficult time that was a breath of fresh air, and an invaluable thing to have with me. Positivity is very important.

I was pretty angry leading up to the time when I stayed at Will's. Things had been getting to me a bit too much and I hadn't been looking after myself properly, either by acquiring taboo pharmaceuticals and not eating properly. I was quite underweight when I arrived in his house. It was easy to relax there though. To sleep in an air conditioned room with a cool breeze blowing on me all night was so luxurious compared to what I'd got used to over the previous months. I had access to an oven too, began to fill myself up and generally relax, take deep breaths and enjoy none of the stresses of the outside world. I had the nagging paranoia that things might have gone completely tits up with my passport, but that was out of my control. I had things to do on my bike too... but there was no rush, I could do it in my own time. He also had a phenomenal DVD collection and a pool too! Which was amazing. So most of my time there was spent relaxing, fixing things, feeding myself up, writing, painting a little, talking with my loved ones back home, swimming and... Getting rid of the negativity that had been building up inside me over the past months.

Will and his kind, generous face.

The pool! I loved this thing.

Nice cosy bed, satin sheets, cool breeze throughout the night in peace and quiet. Beats laying on the tent floor with the inevitable mosquitoes that get inside, ants that eat through the floor at night and the constant noise of outside. I really enjoy one of those things, half of one and despise the other... but a break was very welcome.

Watching films, wrapped up in a blanket in that alien world of air conditioning.

FOOD! Good food. I'd make good use of Will's kitchen but often he would take me out for meals in restaurants that I wouldn't be able to go to on my own accord.

Aside from taking me out for dinner often he also took me on 'holiday' in Ghana to see some of the wonders of what the country had to offer. I wouldn't have known about them if it wasn't for him. We went to the far West, right on the border of the Ivory Coast with the aim of seeing a community of people who live in a village on a lake with houses perched on wooden stilts. We drove there in an American embassy 4x4 too which had a red diplomatic registration plate, meaning that all the police checkpoints couldn't stop us. This was a welcome change!

A weekend away from the urban chaos of Accra spent in a little village on the far West coast of Ghana, next to the Ivory Coast.

Being driven in a car is a luxury... just sitting back, enjoying the sights and not worrying about dying. Great! 

We were aiming to get to a village which is built on stilts in a lake somewhere in the jungle. We found a guy who would row us there in a pirogue. We paid him with Jack Daniels. 

The water on the shore was as hot as bath water.

Everywhere around us was alive with the chirps of millions of insects.

A little boy in his back yard.

Entering the lake. 30 meters deep in the middle and also holds a large population of crocodiles.

Approaching the stilt village.

Giving the stand in chief of the village an offering of whiskey. I'm not sure that's standard behaviour  for an American diplomat... Unencouragingly though, before we'd even finished introducing ourselves the chief just blurted out "Please I want some beer..." Pfft. 

A beautiful place. I love this photo.

Life is just ordinary for the people who live here, yet completely fascinating to me. It's one of my favourite places I've been to in Africa so far.

The village boys challenged me to their local game which is meant to show if you 'have a strong heart.' The challenge consisted of jumping into the lake, going underwater and filling up and emptying a bottle without taking a breath of air. If you fill it and empty it twice without coming up for air it means you have a strong heart. I managed it three times!

Walking through the village with no pants on after I'd been in the water attracted more attention than usual.

We found a crocodile the next day.

This one was calm and they're surprisingly soft and spongy. 

This one really didn't like me standing behind it.

 We went back to the jungle later and found some rope bridges to climb in the tree canopy.

 You still come across swarms of insects that far up... 40 meters!

A long way down.

Ghana is a beautiful country.

These were some of the best moments I've had in Africa so far. Fantastic invigorating sights. It was good respite from the ever grinding headache of sorting my passport out. I can't thank Will enough.

So as the months passed and passed I settled into my comfortable life in Will's house. I got to know the ladies selling local foods and fruit outside of his embassy (I got proposed to six times!), made friends with his friends and got used to cohabiting with someone. It was a home away from home. I think three months in that comfort was a bit too long though. But it was hard not to be seduced by it! I began to un-acclimatise to the outside world that I was used to. At first I thought his house was freezing and outside was normal. This quickly reversed. I lost my tan and got back that familiar Northern European paleness. And being away from the stresses too... that had an effect that I didn't like. I began to get worried about heading out on the road again and fear started to build up inside me. Nothing will compare to when I left my girlfriend in Leeds on that grey September morning... but at least then I had Europe as a nice comfortable buffer zone before I reached Africa. This time round I practically had Nigeria on the doorstep... and my friends had gone. I started to become worried as the time went on.  

It was total joy when my passport finally arrived in the parcel sent from home. This tiny little booklet; it's such a precious thing for me. I then had the task of reclaiming all my visas. I had been warned that it was near impossible to get the Nigerian visa in Accra, I know of five other European travellers who had been denied their visa in Accra... but thankfully I had kept the receipt of the one I got in Ouagadougou. I went to the embassy armed with as much paperwork as I could; police reports, insurances, import permits, my website details, the receipt and a personal letter to the consulate explaining who I am, what I'm trying to do and emphasising that it was all Benin's fault why I was here in this embassy wanting a visa - Will told me it's good to put the blame on other African countries... gives the other one a sense of superiority I guess. Nevertheless I got the visa the next day. Great success! Togo, easy as always. In fact the Togolese consulate had heard of my troubles with the Benin embassy and gave me a discount, "To relieve the pain a little." He was a very nice man.

So three months to the day of when the Benin embassy allowed my passport to be stolen when it was in their care, I went back in to get the visa and get the money back for the Togolese one... Sure enough, straight away I became baffled by the consulates behaviour. Instantly slamming his chubby fists on the table, screaming and shouting his fat face off. It was just appalling. Three months previous the words that came out of his mouth were "When you come back with the Togolese receipt, then we can give you the money for it." It seems he changed his mind in the three months in between. 
 During our first argument when I was made to argue with him to get my money back for the emergency passport etc, I still wasn't sure what I was going to do and at that time my plan was to put some visas into the emergency one and maybe try to get to Cameroon. To try and cut the argument short the consulate was blurting out things like "Time is money, go go!" Time is money ay... Three months I had been delayed because of him, and he showed no remorse whatsoever. Again I stood my ground, demanding my money back that he said he would give me. He was having none of it though. I tried to retort his words of 'time is money' and make him empathise with me that I had been stuck here for three months... but I couldn't get a word in; just idiotic shouts and shouts and shouts with fat finger slams. 
 What sealed the deal in his mind for him not to give me my money back was that someone else who was getting a visa that day forgot and left their passport in the hotel where you get photocopies from for the visa. The consulate took this as divine intervention as this sort of thing 'apparently' only happens when I'm in the embassy, and so they took it as a sign. Alain Guedegbe, the consulate and Mohammed, the clerk, then started chanting "God is great, God is great..." I just shook my head. The word 'COINCIDENCE' exists for a reason.

 When I first entered the embassy, Mohammed said he would sort out the visa 'straight away' as I was on a very tight time schedule and needed to get to the Nigerian embassy later that afternoon to minimise the chance of overstaying my already forged extended import permit. You can make the Benin visa in ten minutes if you wish... But I think because I'd made such a fuss to get my money back - which I was perfectly in my right to do, they kept me in there for three hours. My passport was handed round and round and whilst I waited I asked Mohammed if the consulate was religious,

"Yes he is."

"And religious people lie?"

"No they don't."

"Well... he's a liar, because he told me he would give me my money back and he isn't. What's his God going to think of that?"

Mohammed didn't know what to say.

Time went on and in the end the high commissioner, Daniel Alima (I really hope these guys Google themselves) another fat twat dressed in a bright yellow patterned robe, which at first I thought looked quite nice, came down the stairs and said,

 "We are not obliged to give you this visa..."

He now had the appearance of a giant inverted mass of vomit and shit. 

After having my passport stolen because of them... being stuck in Accra for quarter of a year because of them... having to constantly extend my permits by none understanding or caring officials because of them, having my whole trip jeopardised because of them, having to buy a new passport and have it shipped over because of them, being lied to and paying double for some visas because of them... they then turn round and denied me the visa...

I caught I quick glance at my visa page. Everything was there apart from a few stamps and a signature... I already had a completed Benin visa in my emergency passport 'I can do those' I thought.

"Right, give me my money back for the (Benin) visa then. I'm not coming back here again, this place a complete and utter shambles!"

"I'm sorry sir, but this receipt is not refundable."

I weighed everything up. I can finish the visa myself, It's not worth anymore of my time arguing with these cunts for the £40 Togolese visa, and I couldn't stand to be in that embassy with those idiotic people anymore. 

I stood up, shook Muhammad's hand, he's a good man and he really tried to help me the best he could. The Consulate and High Commissioner however... they were both stood there. I pointed to each of them in turn, called them both fat, stupid bastards and told them both to "Fuck off!" And then walked out.

This was the first time I'd said anything like that to anyone.... and I meant every word, and every word was true... and they deserved to hear it.

Here is the problem of Africa; the elite. It's the people with money or who are from a background of high society that get into the important jobs. It's not because of how intelligent they are, it's not because they can do the job well and it's not because they are even competent or good people... it's because they know people who give them the job or they buy it. My friends who I made in Kumasi were really intelligent people and most of them had degrees, but almost none of them could get a good job because they couldn't afford to get one. They said to get a decent job it would cost you around the equivalent of £1000. This is such an unobtainable figure for most Ghanaians to get. And why should they have to pay!? A job interview should be all it takes... They're intelligent enough, they can work well... but instead it's people from wealthy and elite backgrounds who get jobs in high places, no matter on how good they are at their job. It's sad and destructive. As you can see with both the consulate and high commissioner of the Benin embassy, these people acted like children when confronted with a problem that was their fault. They've had a life of constantly being entitled, and for them to be in the wrong produced this child like behaviour. They didn't know what to do. No one who represents a sovereign state should scream and shout and bang their fists on the table over a disagreement... Especially when it's their fault! It's pathetic behaviour. 
 Both of those people are some of the worst people I have met in Africa so far, and they are the perfect insight into why Africa has its problem as being the most failed continent on Earth. It has stupid people in power who bought themselves into their positions, whilst the intelligent, decent people from poorer backgrounds who, despite being perfectly qualified, can't get into a job to make a change for the better. Instead it's ruled by baby minded children, such as the fools in the Benin embassy.

Corruption is the plague of Africa.

Well, I’m sat here in Benin now, finishing this journal… so I got through the border with no issues. Looks like my painting skills have come in handy! That signature too, I just moulded the five other authoritative signatures I have on various bit of paper together, they usually have circling swirls in them. As usual the border guards were pretty feckless so there was no problem.
Fuck you Benin embassy of Accra. Fuck you.
The people of Benin on the other hand, have been great so far. It’s fantastic to be traversing countries again too… and not breaking down! Togo was the only country since Morocco where I haven’t broken down. Granted, you can walk across Togo in a day if you really go for it (I went the long way round though) but still… I’m loving this engine. Onwards and upwards!  

Thursday, 3 July 2014


Well here's one to take off the list; Malaria. Synopsis - It's not very nice! I started with symptoms last night... a little headache which has turned into a complete bastard at the back of my head now. Can't keep any food down. Shivers in 30c heat. Malaria haze dreams when I sink down. Every movement hurts and requires a lot of effort. I suppose it had to come at some point...

I'm taking medication for it, eight tablets a day in total for three days. hopefully that will be it as I've got to ride half way up the country and into Nigeria by the twelfth - that's when my visa expires...

At this moment in time I don't care much.

Saturday, 5 July 2014


I've uploaded my Togo pictures into the photo gallery. It was a welcome change taking photographs in a different country again!

Feeling better with the Malaria. These pills seem to be doing the trick. It's the confusion that's got me the most. Would be quite funny under different circumstances! Still getting the odd chills and headaches along with a complete lack of energy with aches whenever I start walking, but they're all subsiding compared to what they were like a few days ago.

I think the day after tomorrow I should be well enough to take to the road again and make it up to the Nikki border at the Nigerian frontier.

Bon chance!  

Sunday, 6 July 2014


I think we ride in the morning. I felt pretty good yesterday but this morning after a coffee I felt like utter shit again. My girlfriend later told me that apparently it's not good to drink coffee when you're recovering from malaria. I fucking love my coffee in the morning... I'm a zombie otherwise.
 This evening I'm feeling better. I finished the last of my medication last night but just to be on the safe side I'm going to take doxycycline for a week on top... don't want any of those little bastard parasites in my blood stream anymore! As far as travel illnesses go malaria has been the least painful out of what I've had in the past, surprisingly. In India I had both dysentery (to the point where I was gushing blood) and altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was the worst by far.

Anyway, we're giving it four or five days to get up to the Nikki border crossing into Nigeria - thus begins the mad dash across the country!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Boko Harem, gunshots, attempted robery - Nigeria.

Hello! Sorry it's been a while since the last update. I've been making tracks quick through Nigeria, and there's been a distinct lack of wifi on route. I'm in Calabar now; a city near the border to Cameroon. I should get my visa either tomorrow or the day after... Then I can leave this country!!

So, first up; Malaria has all gone. The medication worked and I've felt fine for around two weeks... so now it's just one more thing to add into the experience bank.

Now for Nigeria... Nigeria is really not a good place to travel at the moment. I have never been to a more dangerous, hostile, scary, annoying and frustrating country in my life. It is because of the crisis in the North... but for me and Dan to be treated like suspected terrorists and to have experienced the hostility that is brought with it is beyond reason. There have been some very sketchy moments, I have never felt more scared in my life in some of them. Things were fine for the first few days, in fact the people matched the welcome and hospitality of the Senegalese - which is saying something! Then we reached our first big city, Iloren, got stopped by some police who immediately took my keys from my bike. They wanted to see all our papers and then a crowd started to form. Then we heard shouts of 'Boko Harem!' coming from the crowd. The crowd then turned into a mob. We were surrounded and people started to pull on my arms and drag me into the crowd. It got very heated and then the police started firing their rifles over the crowd to disperse them. My heart has never beaten so hard out of fear in my life.
 This happened on another time in some village in the arse all of nowhere on a dirt track. Again people thought we were terrorists, a mob gathered and started to scream and shout... there were no police to calm things down that time. People became very physical and one guy started to punch me so I kicked into gear and rode through the crowd shouting 'Get the fuck out of my way or I'll fucking run you over!' All we came to the village for was for breakfast...
 We got surrounded by the infamous 'stick men' a few days ago... although this time they weren't carrying weapons... they were just posing as police and then stole our keys and demanded money. After being surrounded by a mob of around 200 and 100 on two different occasions these eight men and there shouts didn't really hit the spot they intended, and we got our keys back without handing over any money.
 The police also... they were the people I feared the most on my journey through Nigeria, but overall they haven't been a 'problem' as such, just annoying. We have been treated with suspicion throughout the whole country and on three times we've had to go to the police headquarters and have every single piece of our luggage inspected meticulously. This has really slowed things down. Some asked for money, but we never gave and it hasn't been a problem.

Now here in Calabar, where every hotel is quadruple the price that it states on the internet, I'm glad I'm only a few days ride to Cameroon. I can't wait to leave this country. The levels of animosity are just unbearable at times.   

Monday, 21 July 2014


I'll be making my way to Cameroon tomorrow. Got the visa today; was the easiest visa to get ever! I've changed my route into Cameroon due to the constant rains and I'll be taking a Northern route instead of taking the road straight from Calabar. Should take me two days to get into Cameroon and I have a nice place to stay on route too. Means I can set off early as I don't have to pack up and make it out of Nigeria as quickly as possible. For once it's not my bike that has broken down... it's Daniels. I can't stay here in Calabar though as I won't be able to afford to feed myself if I stay any longer! Hopefully I'll be meeting up with him again in Yaounde.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Found Couchsurfing host here in Calabar. Decided to stay here with Dan for a few days while he fixes his bike. Make final decision to change my sprockets and chain tomorrow - that was my tomorrow morning job. Three mile ride to hosts house in the storming rain down a busy road... chain snaps.

You know all that 'good luck' that people keep wishing me... please stop as I think it's having the opposite effect!

Friday, 25 July 2014


I'm actually setting off for Cameroon tomorrow. My bike is all ready to go; new sprockets and chain, nice fat, chunky tyres on both wheels and a perfectly running engine. I need to get some more miles in. I have South America on my mind a lot at the moment and I have a very long way to go. The jungles of Africa should be fun though. And as soon as I get to Cameroon I change direction and start making for the South. Then it will feel like I'm making real progress I think. Dan's bike is properly broken. He's had to open up his engine and can't find parts anywhere (makes me more thankful that I'm on a c90) so I have to set off alone due to visa dates. Hopefully we'll meet up in Yaounde... and hopefully there I will have access to some unlimited wifi so I can get back in touch with people who have been sending me messages. I should be there within a week...

Thursday, 31 July 2014


I'm in Yaounde! I crossed over into Cameroon on the 27th. It's very nice to be out of Nigeria and to not have my keys taken out of my bike from a policeman appearing out of nowhere every time I stop for fuel, something to eat... anything, and then to be demanded to have all my belongings searched among an occasional mob that has to be backed away by gunfire! Cameroon is a beautiful country. Lush green mountains, rolling hills, good roads (for the most part) and wonderful people. I've managed to find a church that has taken me in and let me camp... which also has wifi... record breaking wifi; one and a half hours to load up this site, emails and Facebook. Still, it's great to be able to write this in my tent. The journey here was quite rough and I'm pretty knackered it's going to be nice to rest for a while. Cameroon is very wet!

Friday, 1 August 2014


I've just uploaded the photo album for Voodoo land; Benin. Take a look in the photo gallery. The one's for Nigeria will be coming soon... though there aren't many pictures as I didn't feel too comfortable in taking my camera out there too much.

Friday, 1 August 2014


Again, please see the Video Tab for this sideshow of West Africa

Saturday, 2 August 2014


The few photo's that I took in Nigeria are up in the photo gallery. As for here in Cameroon... I've found a wonderful place to stay in this Presbyterian church that I came across by chance. They're letting me camp for free, invite me for breakfast and dinner and the wifi in some areas is the best I've come across in Africa. Full of very noisy Christians though!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Leaving the peace of Togo, malaria in Voodoo land and riding through the hostility/hospitality of Nigeria.

Leaving Will’s house was a lot like leaving home again. Saying goodbye to familiar faces and surroundings. I’d spent a quarter of a year there so I had grown some roots. I was ready to leave Ghana though. Out of all the countries I’ve visited so far (aside from India) it was the most annoying, and I was happy to be getting out of there. I was also due to meet up with Will again in Benin in a few weeks’ time so the goodbye was okay. I don’t like goodbyes.

After three months of comfort and air conditioning the outside world showed me no mercy when I first wild camped on my way out of Ghana. I was riding through the mountains to a remote border and started to hear thunder at around 4pm. I thought it be best to stop and pitch my tent before a torrent came. I pitched and waited… but no rain. As it got dark I climbed into my tent, finding it stifling and sweltering. By 8:30 I went outside to brush my teeth and that’s when the rain hit…

I scrambled back inside and read my book as masses of water pounded onto my rain cover. Rivers of water started to flow underneath my tent and parts started to sink into the mud. Liquefaction had set in; a condition in which water turns what was once solid ground into a watery substance. It wasn’t very wise to park my bike right next to my tent as, sure enough, the mount sunk into the earth and my bike fell into my tent! I already had my head torch on so I scrambled out immediately and wrestled with the mud and the bike, stark naked amid the flashes of lightning in the thundering rain. Thankfully the bike and tent were fine. Lesson… always use the kickstand propped up against a rock in the future!

The rain came and went intermittently all of the next day. I was riding on rough mountain roads and some parts had been washed away by the rain. I had to wade through torrents of water with my bike. Eventually I made it to the Togolese border on a road which wasn’t even on my map. The road through no mans’ land was practically a river. I don’t like riding through water as you never know if there’s a giant pot hole underneath, so I sacrificed my shoes and walked the road whilst sat on my bike. I don’t think the border guards had seen many white people coming through there as they seemed baffled by my passport. Nevertheless, it was nice to be in a Francophone country again; better food, politer people, better driving.

I made my way to Chez Alice, a renowned overland camp place where the owner, an 81 year old Swiss lady lets you camp for 1000CFA. It’s a nice place, about 15 km from the capital, Lome, which reduces the noise. I was wondering if I would ever meet another travel partner on the road. I would have liked to as I had Nigeria coming up and wasn’t fond of the prospect of making my way through it alone. Then, two days into my stay at Chez Alice, Daniel, another Swiss on a Yamaha 600 pulled into the camp… and then asked me if I wanted to go through Nigeria with him. Sometimes things do really work out for you on the road!

We stayed there for a while, sorting visas for both of the Congo’s. We had to become residents of Togo in order to get our visa for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’ve heard stories of people turning up at the DRC border with a visa that they got on route and then were not allowed in. One man even stayed at the border for ten days trying to get through, but because he didn’t obtain his visa from his ‘country of residence’ they wouldn’t let him through. So officially from last June I am a legitimate resident of Togo for six months.

A sample of the rains. This was flowing underneath the road. In some areas the torrent would wash the road out completely... Too much rain for me to get my camera out for that though at the time!

Daniel on his Yamaha Tenere 600 just outside of the DRC embassy.

My resident paper for Togo. Don't know how much use it's going to come in really, but it's always good to have some sort of document to dish out, baffle and then be told to go.

A dutch couple have been travelling around the world on this for years. They told me South America is like a haven compared to Africa. Open borders, people leave you alone, respect your privacy. It has got me thinking ahead to South America quite a lot.

Children! They just come out of nowhere whenever I stop to do anything!

I crossed over into Benin with no problems at all; considering I had a forged stamp and signature on the visa (fuck you again, Benin embassy of Accra!) I made my way to a place called Grand Popo, a village community on the coast that is renowned for still dwelling in the practices of their Voodoo heritage. I was also meeting Will again which was great. When you're on the road there's not many opportunities to meet up with old friends again. He arranged some beachside cabins for us to sleep in and I was expecting Dan to meet up with me within a few days. But until then it was time to see some first hand Voodoo rituals...

Meeting up with Will and Nikos again. Nikos is a Greek guy who lives in Accra (often at Will's house) doing business. I've learned in Africa it's hard to set up a business.

We met a 'guide' to take us to his Voodoo village. Upon walking up to the water we could see a number of boats, good boats! Our boat was this dug out Pirogue that needed to be emptied of water...

Will's graceful disembarkation from the boat...

The Voodoo chief himself. A very deep eyed man.

This is the ritual chamber. Full of shrunken heads and other sorts of Voodoo paraphernalia. 

Nikos decided to have a ritual performed on him. That's the actual ashes of a deceased elder that are being rubbed into his arm. 

I felt as fit as anything on this day. Been rowed around in a Pirogue, exploring villages full of Voodoo statues, seeing human ashes been rubbed into a man's arm... it was a great day. We had a good meal that night and I went to bed feeling calm and happy...
 I then woke up at four in the morning, shivering like crazy and fighting off sickness. I tried to sleep but a headache steadily creeped on and by morning I was ruined. It was quite obvious it was malaria. I stayed in bed past breakfast time and forced my way to the restaurant to tell Will and Nikos what I thought was going on. It was like walking through water... I had to put so much effort in, and this headache, forcing my face to the floor. I was ruined. It's quite amazing just how fast it came on.
 Thankfully Nikos had some strong, short treatment pills. Eight pills for three days. I vomited until I was empty before I started to take them, and Will very kindly bought me the room in the hut under the mosquito net for another night. This was our goodbye. I'd been his housemate in Ghana for three months but the only goodbye I could muster was to hold his hand from under the net. I would have liked to be able to say goodbye a different way and thank him for all the things he'd done for me, but I just didn't have the strength. Dan turned up as Will and Nikos left too, and looked quite surprised by my state when he came into the room!

Malaria face. Happy face.


After a few days sitting around by the beach in my tent I began to feel better and we decided to make our way up the country to the border crossing of Nikki - a small border which usually means less hassle. It was good to be riding and camping with someone again. I felt bad for Dan though, as I just could make his usual speed and he would have to ride considerably slower behind me. He was a good travel partner though; chilldout, mellow and obsessed with taking pictures of the moon. Benin was a really nice place to ride through too - the people there bore no resemblance to the Embassy workers in Accra, thankfully. The people were extremely friendly. Huge groups of children would gather and scream with excitement whenever we would stop, adults would wave as we rode past. It was a friendly place.

It was good to be camping with someone again.

I pulled a Liam and stupidly left my tent pegs in my last camping place in Togo, so I got some new one's made... African style!

The smiles and excitement of the children of Benin.


This is Ron, a South African guy who's cycling every single country in Africa. He's already gone through Somalia, South Sudan and the Central African Republic! We met him just before crossing into Nigeria. He said it was all fine. I think when he finishes he will actually be a record holder. You can check out his website here;

 *Here is an excerpt taken from my as yet, unfinished, unedited and unpublished book. It's a much better portrayal than the original blog post I'd written at the time.*

We camped around a mile away from the Nigerian border, a few miles East of Nikki in the hope of giving us the best chance to make as much progress as possible once the border formalities were through at first light. We met Ron in Nikki; a South African cyclist who was riding through every country on the African continent. After already riding through war torn South Sudan, Somalia and the Central African Republic before he crossed Nigeria, he told us in honesty that it was the one place where he felt continually insecure. “Tensions and hostility have risen dramatically since the recent rise of Boko Harem” he warned us as we shared a drink. I bought a machete with the naïve hope that it may be beneficial.

 A storm brewed in the distance as we splayed our map on the floor. We were entering at the halfway point up the country, and we traced a diagonal line with our fingers to the South Eastern town of Calabar, where we could obtain our Cameroonian visas before escaping into its relative safety. We planned to avoid as many large towns as possible over the estimated seven hundred miles we had to traverse, and gave ourselves a week.

Many people had warned me that I wouldn’t be able to enter Nigeria without a Carnet. Dan was also travelling without one, yet had been managing to cross borders solely using his Guinean import permit as a false travel document. His un-official piece of paper was covered in entry and exit stamps of every country he’d travelled through since, and he’d never had pay duties. “I stamp here?” said the customs officer as Dan produced his multi-coloured Guinean TIP. Dan shook his head with a friendly smile. I thought I would try my luck with the Ghanaian import permit that was never taken off me, assuming the ambiguity of it would be enough to suffice.   

    “I’m sorry sir, this is the wrong paper. Do you have another?”

    “Oh. How stupid of me. Looks like I need another.” I said, trying to claim blind innocence. They produced a slip that are only issued for African registered vehicles.

    “How long are you planning on staying in Nigeria?”

    “We think it may take us a week to get to Cameroon. But with my bike I’m not sure…” I turned my head and indicated towards my laden bike, propped on its stand by the doorway.

   “My Jesus! You’ve come all the way from England on that!? You are a strong man. A strong man.” He scribbled over the allocated seven day transit time printed on each slip and gave me fourteen. It had seven Nigerian Naira printed on it and I went to fetch my wallet.

   “Sir, this is my pleasure. If you’ve come all the way on that, God must be with you, and it’s my duty to assist you.”

Everyone in the office came over to shake our hands and wish us good luck. The sun shone down on us as we sat on the steps outside to wait for a money changer, with our spirits lifted from these acts of kindness and hospitality. The money changer arrived, gave us a fair deal without the need to barter, and Dan and I looked at each other with the mutual feeling that we might just be okay. We rode on into Nigeria with genuine excitement circling through us.

We stopped at a petrol station to re-fuel. Due to Nigeria’s immense amounts of mineral wealth, we could get vastly more petrol for our money than any other African nation, and we filled our tanks and spare jerry cans to the brim to last us through the quiet dirt roads we were planning to take ahead. Yet just like any other African nation, the radio was turned up to a distorting, high volume, and as the seemingly eternally smiling attendant worked the pumps, a crackling thud of an irate preacher poured out of the speaker.

‘When I was walking down the streets of New York I literally saw the ground open up before me and swallow people whole as they listened to music with their earphones. Music is the laughter of the Devil, and all these souls were doomed to eternal damnation as they joyfully listened to the laughter of the Devil in their ears; corrupting their lives and souls!
The petrol attendant smiled and waved as we rode away. If the poisoned words of extremism from the preacher had any effect on him, he didn’t display a glint of it.

Nigeria had recently become Africa’s strongest economy, but that fact was lost into the dirt that made up the roads, the sticks and branches that made up peoples’ homes and the almost none existent infrastructure. This western region of Nigeria was poorer than most places I’d travelled through, and seemed to be lost and forgotten by the rest of the country. The locals, isolated in their land showed an intense curiosity towards us. It was a predominantly Muslim region, and grey, flat walled mosques towered over all stick made dwellings in every village. They were only matched or outsized by the ancient trees that looked to be the centre spot for business in each community.

The state of the roads gradually diminished as we ventured deeper; with deep sand, jagged rocks, uneven terrain and occasional flooded sections that appeared to soak up the dust. Up until then I’d ridden around five hundred miles off road, and my confidence at steadily negotiating my way through rock filled, sinking, contorted earth was high. I rolled over the dirt, weaving and meandering as I picked my smooth flow through the tumultuous road as I gathered speed. Dan was surprised at the rate I was covering distance, and I marvelled at my judgment at the speed at which I chose the smoothest way for my wheels, planning it all out in an instant as my eyes flickered around the ground. I deflected off mounds of dirt, bumped over rocks, followed narrow tracks that flipped in rising and descending gradients and propelled my trajectory forward until I weaved into a patch of rocks and clipped my front wheel. My handlebars shook violently from side to side, sending my bike swaying. I gripped them with all my strength; focusing too greatly on steadying the bike instead of hitting the breaks until they threw themselves from my hands. I hit the ground as fast and sudden as the sound of the bike crashing into the dirt exploded into the air. I could still hear the smashing, buckling sound of metal hitting rock echoing through my mind in those slow, transitory seconds I laid on the ground until I felt the pain shoot through my body and bring me back to the moment in an instant. I laid there motionless, waiting for the onslaught of isolated, rising agony to tell me that I’m seriously injured. My hip soared above all layers of pain and my left arm was numb. My fingers felt loose and unresponsive. I turned my head in my chipped and scratched helmet. I had fallen on jagged rocks and bounced where I’d hit the floor. My bike was still ticking over on its side, and I looked in dismay when I saw oil tricking from the engine. A local boy had seen me fall and came running over. I staggered to my feet to meet him and limped over to the bike where we both heaved it up. To my relief the engine hadn’t split, it was just the angled that allowed the oil to fall, but I worried about interior damage. The left indicator and mirror had both completely smashed off, the front fairing had cracked and shattered at its edges, my foot pedal had bent to a thirty degree angle and my front basket had entirely caved into itself. With my engine switched off and damage assessed I turned my attention to my body. My jacket and jeans had torn on the rocks; if it wasn’t for the knee, elbow and arm protection I had bought in Ghana it would have been my flesh that shredded instead of my clothes. No doubt rock would have met bone. My hip throbbed, and I looked down at my belt that had also shredded. That had saved my skin, but a deep bruise had already started to form. Dan, who had been riding in front of me came back, and as shock was still turning through me we both decided to make camp early. My bike still started first kick, and we rode into the bush where I topped myself up with dihydrocodeine and bent, glued and taped my bike back together. I couldn’t sleep on my side that night, and it would be weeks before I could turn in bed without waking in pain.

I was still shaken from the crash, and as the roads became worse the further we went, I didn’t dare venture out of second gear. The going was slow. The heavens had opened during the night and entire sections of the road had become flooded. We would have to veer through the trees on either side to be able to find safe paths around. One local boy on an Indian Boxer 100cc motorcycle saw us having difficulties and showed us safe passages through the waters with masterly knowledge. We followed behind him slowly for thirty miles, and he would patiently wait for us in silence as we tried to ford through the sunken sections. We couldn’t speak each other’s language, yet his quiet desire to help us was met with many thanks. It took a full six hours of riding to cover just forty miles that day.

Once we happened upon villages the welcoming curiosity of the local people never abated. I lost count of the amount of times we heard shouts of “You are welcome!” as we rode past people. I always found the hospitality of Muslims to be unequalled by any other people where religion determines their actions. The remoteness of the area we were travelling through, meant that to these people, we were a unique sight in their otherwise, limited world. Yet the welcome we received was unequivocally honest, and we simultaneously became their guests without question. People would give us bags of pure water as gifts and when we stopped to eat in a small shack people would try to refuse money for the food we’d eaten.

 Stopping for supplies always attracted a large crowd, where we would become circled by people who had gathered around to stare. There wasn’t a shred of animosity in the air, and our smiles were returned by the leaping joys of the young to the toothless grins of the old. Yet after days of constantly been the centre of attention, being an obscure oddity started to become a little tiring. It was a strange sensation to be sat, eating the very normal food of rice and beans whilst a crowd of fifty men, women and children, from the extremely old to the very young watch with their mouths open as I ate every single mouthful. Though when I look up and see a wave of smiles sent back to mine, they wash away any form of irritation. And when I finish the meal and get up to go back to my bike, all the children from the crowd run over to me, jumping, shouting and clapping. I go to shake the hand of a little boy next to me and everyone runs to have a go. My blue eyes were always a cause for extreme curiosity with children, and some of them hold a gaze at my face before nervously touching my cheek with their finger and then run away screaming.

The dirt turned to tarmac as we made our way out of the rural regions of West and into the densely populated and urbanised areas of Central Nigeria. Islam had given way to Christianity. People would still gather by the roadside to stare, but now many would run away and occasionally take offence when I pulled out my camera. Ilorin; a city too big for comfort that was large enough to have its own airport was coming up on our map. We had to cross it to make our way to one of the bridges further south. Neither of us wanted to, despite the initial hospitality we’d received; a densely populated Nigerian city made us both uncomfortable.

 We looked upon the fume infested urban sprawl from the crescent of a hill. A grey and black corpus of concrete and congested roads spanned the valley below us. We pointed our fingers in a straight line towards the horizon and made our decent into its mass, trying to keep a linear line as possible. Yet we quickly became tangled within its clogging arms, and keeping our line south was lost in the spreading maze of roads. Neither of us could fathom when it would ever end. Cars jammed around us and rickety, overcrowded busses pushed through in flumes of choking smoke and crackling engines. The sun went behind the clouds and I began to taste the tension and animosity in the air as people glared at us through the shrouded windows of passing vehicles. I stopped at a pair of traffic lights and heard the shriek of a whistle and saw a policeman running up to me with his hand held high. Suspicion glowered on his face as he rushed over and grabbed my keys from the ignition. I opened my mouth to ask him why, yet before I had chance to speak he pulled my machete from my front basket and held it high in the air in a triumphant raise of accusation. My heart started to pour beats of fear as I began to realise the gravity situation when a hand grabbed me on the shoulder and spun me round. Before I even had chance to register the man in front of me he lunged at my belt, and pulled his fingers behind my trousers and underwear, and ripped out some of my pubic hair as he held me. Waves of invasive fear shot through me, and as he forcefully pulled me towards him with his firmly gripped hand, my eyes widened at the automatic machine gun hanging from his shoulder.

    “Where are your weapons!?” He screamed at me.

    “I don’t have any weapons…” I said, almost lost for words.

    “Where are your weapons?!”

    “I don’t have any. I’m just a tourists. All I’m doing is trying to get to Cameroon.”

    “Where is your passport!?”

Fear beat through me, causing adrenaline to set my veins on fire. I noticed that through instinct, I’d automatically raised my arms, and displayed my open palms in a defensive position. My ears still pounded with the sound of my heart, and as I tried to see through the vibrant blur of fear and answer his question, the traffic policeman put his hands in my bar bag, took out all my documents and handed them to the armed man. I looked at him as he stood there, wearing no uniform, no badge, just a man with a gun holding both my passport and keys. Three other armed people in plain clothes ran over and stood around us, and as the frenzied seconds ticked by, the sight had caught the attention of the locals. Hundreds of people rushed over and surrounded us. And as I faced the armed man, I felt the energy from the mass of people behind me tighten the air and suddenly burst as a man from the crowd shouted ‘what is in your bags!?’

    “You have to come with me!” Said the armed man as his eyes frantically searched around us.                       “Where!?” I shouted, as fingers and hands started to grope at my arms and pull at the back of my jacket.

  “You have to come to the station!”

 “That’s fine. Just give me my passport back and I’ll come to the station with you.”

“No! You have to follow me! I carry your passport!”

I didn’t realise it at the time, but fear can make me angry. It never used to do, yet the sight of that man with my passport brought out a fighting fear in me. If it was stolen again, my trip would undoubtedly be over, and for all the reason in me, he had no right to be clutching my precious passport. Yet the crowd behind me swelled, and as confusion and fear ripped through them. Shouting began to erupt around us. ‘What is in your bags!? Hands began to pull and tug at me. ‘What is in your bags!?’ Hands grip at my clothes and I try to shake them off. ‘Boko Harem! Boko Harem! The calls came from all around us. ‘Boko Harem! Boko Harem!’ Mob mentality infected the crowd and fingers plunged into my skin and hands gripped my arms. ‘Boko Harem! Boko Harem!’ My nervous system seizes as four pairs of hands grab me and begin to pull me backwards. I try to lunge forward, then my heart suddenly freezes as a gunshot is set loose from the man’s rifle over my head, and the three gunshots that follow are replicated by my heart like cannon fire in my chest. My stomach turns to embers and my skin grips my fingers close. My eyes search for an escape as the ringing in my ears distort my mind. The crowd has now run away for cover and the man with the gun is shouting into my stunned mind.

    “You have to come to the station now!”

    “Yes, I will. Just give me my passport and I’ll come. I am its bearer and that passport belongs to me!” I said, still trying to cling onto some form of resilience.

    “You can have your passport, or your keys!” he compromised, and held them both up for me to choose.

    “Fine!” I whipped my passport from his hand. “I’ll push my bike to your station!”

I secured my passport back into my belongings, and turned around to notice that Dan had already gone. With all the adrenaline and confusion flitting between the clenching, undulating minutes I had forgotten about him. Some of the armed men were beckoning me to follow them, and I knocked my bike from its centre stand and began to push its heavy load down the street. Crowds started to form around me again, and shouts were being fired into the air. I focused on pushing, feeling the weight of the bike lift as adrenaline began to soar further. People began to burst from the crowds and run at me, and as I focused on them I saw their direction change course as more gunshots fired and flew through the air. The crowds dispersed. I still pushed. The crowds formed again, people ran and still, more gunshots were fired.  

    “It’s too dangerous for you here!” said the armed man with my key as he ran over and hastily thrust them back into my hand.

I followed them into a compound where they slammed a set of rusty gates behind me. Dan was underneath a tree, surrounded by a group of armed men. Hordes of people still shouted as they surrounded the compound, held at bay by guards carrying machine guns. But the security that they, and the fence provided put us all in comparative ease, and as Dan and I stood astride our bikes, with our helmets off, able to talk in relative peace, their demeanour changed. The armed man now wore a genuine smile on his face, and as the chief of police came over and articulately explained himself, his men and the situation to us, I realised that the man’s actions were due to fear.

    “All these people are scared. They are uneducated, you know… Nigeria is in a crisis at the moment, and they fear strangers.” He said, as him and his men tried to calm us down. 

    “We need to search all your bags to show them that you are not terrorists and that you are who you say you are. We believe you, but we need to show them.”

A pang of fear shot through me. In my left pannier I had a medicine bag containing hundreds of opiate based drugs and Valium pills. They proceeded to search Dan’s luggage first, and meticulously went through each item he had, questioning his water purification kit, asking what his malaria medication was and even making him unroll his sleeping bag. I prompted the search of my bags as Dan was having his checked, to divert the amount of eyes scrutenously looking through my belongings. By the time they were finished with Dan, and we were down to my last, left pannier, their curiosities had been satisfied. The armed man then wrote all our details down on a piece of paper and went to go speak to the crowd, assuring them that we weren’t terrorists.

    “You need to be careful” said he chief as he gave me my machete back.

    “Here.” He gave me a scrap of paper with some pencilled scrawls. “If you ever come into contact with the police again, just tell them that you were searched by the chief of police at Ilorin and you should be okay.”

We were free to go. Yet adrenaline still gripped us both, and inner, pressing urges drove me to get as far away from Ilorin as I feasibly could. All the shouts of ‘you are welcome!’ that we heard as we rode out of the city fell on my closed ears.

We were arrested twice the next day, and on most subsequent days thereafter we were arrested between one and three times. Police and military checkpoints were becoming all too frequent, and when the charm offensive failed, or we knew it was pointless to begin with it at the first glance, we were demanded off our bikes and either taken under a tree or escorted to a police station. The piece of paper that the chief handed me in Ilorin was useless.  They were particularly interested in Dan’s huge, metal pad-locked cases that he had on each side of his bike, and would usually, to my relief, decide that we were free to go after he had been searched. One of the major aspects of travelling through Nigeria that I had feared the most was corrupt officials, yet each time we were detained, corruption was never a problem. The setback that each arrest made however, was the most troubling. Each search could take up to two hours and seeing as we were arrested nearly every time we stopped for some food, water, a break, to look at the map and on one occasion to save a bird, these delays meant that our time schedule to traverse the country collapsed. On one day we went through nineteen checkpoints. We had formed a code between us when we approached the barriers in the road, and would nod to each other to indicate whether we could make it through without stopping. On some of the heavily congested roadblocks, where lines of trucks and cars formed behind the barriers, we dared to pass on the outside of one of the trucks, giving a friendly wave to anyone who saw. This tactic proved effective on each time we decided. We could sense between us when we could get away with it.

Dealing with people in threatening uniform and bearing arms became a normal aspect to our days. The life gripping fear thrown at us in Ilorin had still not fully subsided and we were both still on a level of high alert. Each time we had to deal with an obstacle; fuel, food, water or a mere interaction, it was facilitated through a matter of instinctive urgency. It was hard to let ourselves breathe without feeling a pressing urge to cover more distance.

We stopped in a small town to re-fuel. Nigeria had now been with us for five days and we knew our routine. We had our bikes under a patch of shade away from the fuel pumps and would walk over to fill our jerry cans. A man on a small bike pulled up to a pump, filled his tank and went to pay the attendant girl. A dusty, dented and rusting white van pulled in off the road, drove into the station and ran into the man’s bike, knocking it to the floor and grinding it along the concrete before running over it with his front wheel. The owner of the motorcycle blew into a rage and ran at the van door, kicking it as he launched himself upon it. The man behind the wheel still wore his slit-eyed, nonchalant expression he had before he drove into the man’s bike, and slowly opened his door. The driver showed the same amount of capacity for empathy as there were words in the air before they were locked into each other’s raging arms. Neither of them had room to throw a punch, so they grappled, trying to force one another to the floor. This approach seemed fruitless after thirty seconds, so instead they proceeded to grab at each other’s genitals, clenching them in their hands and trying to pull one another off the ground by them. No sounds came from the grimaced faces as they twisted, grabbed and pulled. The motorcycle man then managed to get his left arm around the white van man’s neck, pull his torso down, lift with his right hand, making it look as though he was pushing the other man’s bollocks far into his rectum, before advancing to slam the man’s head into his van’s door. Friends of the motorcycle man then ran over, lifted the other man into the van by his hair, bollocks and legs, and drove off.

    “Does this sort of thing usually happen here?” I asked the girl who tended the pumps.

    “Welcome to Nigeria.” She said as she still sat on her stool, unmoved as Dan and I had been constantly taking slow, anguished steps backward. She then got up and bought us a bunch of bananas as a present before waving us goodbye in the same welcoming, genuine smile that I’d seen hundreds of times throughout my journey.


Hunger called on us to find breakfast as we rode along small dirt roads the next morning. Our food stocks were low due the need to avoid stopping, and from our previous experience, we both agreed in earnest that people were more receptive of us when we travelled along the smaller trails. No towns were on our map for miles, but small, un-marked villages crept up on us often. Frequent stops had to be made as concentrating on the terrain was difficult with hunger burning into our stomachs. The roads were in the same dilapidated state as that which I had my accident on when we first entered the country, yet the sense of peace and ease that we had experienced then had long vanished. Buses would occasionally pass us, and as the ball of dust that consumed the air formed in their passing, I sometimes caught the shout of ‘Boko Harem!’ Three times I heard it, and after a man leant out of a window and shouted it at my face as he locked eyes with me, Dan and I stopped and discussed whether it was an accusation or a warning. For the sake of our optimism we decided on the latter and carried on further in search of food.

We pulled up at a village. It was of moderate size and we knew there would be some sort of small eatery within. Yet almost immediately after we came to a stop hundreds of people ran towards us, waving their arms and shouting. We were surrounded by an uproar before we could get our bearings and decide to flee. Pounding, heart thrusting fear screamed through me once more. Aggressive yells, shrieks and accusations poured around us. Hands pocked, grabbed and probed my arms, jacket and bike. I panicked and turned around to tell Dan that we should leave but his defensive smile was shrouded and distracted by surrounding shouts and arms reaching all over his bike.

    “You get off your bike and stand over here!” Demanded a man in front of me.

    “No, I have to see if my friend is okay.”

    “You get off your bike and come over here!”

    “No! We only came here for breakfast and now we feel in danger. We just want to leave. I have to leave with my friend!”

    “You get off your bike now and come with me!” He blared and punched me three times in the shoulder. My inner reasoning split, and the flight and fight reflex of adrenaline burst through me simultaneously.

    “Get the fuck out of my way or I’ll fucking run you over!” I yelled as I kicked my bike into gear, plunged the throttle and ran at him with a swiping of my arm. Some people gave chase but in seconds I was on my own in the village. Thoughts of wanted to flee the situation, to be free of danger and then of Dan darted through my mind and I circled the track around the village to ride back to him. I was now behind him. He was still on his bike surrounded by the crowd, and people quickly noticed me and my wide, fleeting eyes. Among the people who ran at me there was an old man. He carried a staff, wore a ‘hat’ and had a manor about his pose that beamed authority.  

    “Who are you and what do you want?” He confidently and calmly asserted.

    “I’m just a traveller. Myself and my friend over there are riding our bikes to Cameroon and we only came here for breakfast. That’s it, just something to eat. We’ll leave now if you want us to.”

The man said something to the few men around us and they darted around the crowd calling for silence. The man with the staff then addressed everyone amid the still present callings for order. He explained who we were and what we wanted. Some people protested, demanding that we should leave straight away and an aggravated discussion ensued. By this moment I had pushed my bike through the glares of people and was alongside Dan. We looked at each other with a shake of our heads. It was decided that we were allowed to eat, but that we had to be accompanied and must leave straight afterward. The chief and his children stood by our bikes as we made our way inside the small café and sat with the other high ranking men. Yet any thought of food was far beyond my mind, and I could only muster a drink into my tightened stomach. Dan managed to eat briefly until we were ushered outside. A man still banged on my panniers by the doorway, demanding to see what was inside as I distantly mounted my bike and then both rode away.

We decided between us that considering the levels of animosity and relative dangers that could erupt from our presence that it would be better to try and find guest houses to sleep in rather than to camp in the bush. Though as the sun set that night it was plain to see that we had no other choice. Nigeria was densely populated, and finding places to hide out for the dark hours proved extremely difficult without disturbing others. We managed to befriend an elderly couple with friendly gestures through our language gap that lived in a shack off a main road and was allowed to camp in one of the fields adjacent to their home, with a line of trees hiding us from the road. The ochre dust ridden days of our first few days in Nigeria had now been replaced with lush greens and vibrant life. Butterflies hovered over the field and cows bearing twisting, elongated horns grazed in the distance. The always expected visitor to the camp wandered over in the form of a twenty one year old farm worker. He told us that he works on a tractor two fields away from us and would like to move away to Ilorin to experience city life, but his family needed him to work the fields. Speaking to a friendly face that wasn’t insistent that we were threats worked at calming my nerves slightly. Yet having thought that I my actually die on two occasions over the previous days made for some blunt conversation on my part. Fear, and the rippling aftermaths that follow can consume your state; closing you, gripping you, pushing and pulling you, and it was the former and latter that had taken over me.

I was more concerned with studying my map, planning the shortest route out of Nigeria and getting an early sleep so I could be on my way. I awoke that morning, glanced through those few brief seconds where you don’t know where you are, and then let out a sigh that I was still in Nigeria. The farm boy came back that morning with his entire family, as he promised he would. Three generations stood in line as they watched Dan and I packing up our gear. They could speak English well, but conversations came and then fell away. There was no sense of hostility from these people, and it was only their friendly, innocent curiosity that had drawn them to us, but my previous pledge to harbour more patience had been irradiated, and being the sole Spector of endless gazes had once again began to gnaw. It was time for my seven hundred mile oil change, and after I’d cleanly funnelled the spent oil into an empty bottle I began to fill up my oil sump. Six of the men gathered around me and stared as I made every move and breath. I looked up with a smile. “Are you okay?” It was returned with nothing but the same curious eyes. I searched my mind: they work with tractors, bikes are extremely common here, mine is smaller than most, and I’m wearing dirtier clothes than they are… why is this so interesting?

    “Look, you know where I’m from it is very rude to just stare at people when they’re trying to concentrate on something…” I said, appealing for some privacy.

“Oh.” The same stares continued until they were added with handshakes and waves of goodbye as we rode away.

The rains of West Africa had been mounting for some time. I had been studying its course whilst I was at Will’s, and had hoped to pass under it through Togo and Benin as it moved west and I moved east. But it was Nigeria where we would feel its permanent presence. Clouds had gathered ahead of us, forming a dense mass of dark blue as electrical energy tingled in the air that burst above us as we rushed for our rain gear. I had to tilt my head down so I could see in my visor-less helmet as the rain rushed toward my eyes. My backpacking raincoat was useless against the torrent and I soon became dowsed in water. The wind ripped under it as I sat on my bike, causing chills to pinch my skin until I shivered as I rode. It had only been twelve days since I came down with malaria and I wasn’t to full strength. We spotted a small chop house and pulled in to see the rain off and replenish ourselves. There was a cauldron of food in the back sat atop a layer of burning embers, sticks and ash. We bought some food from the cauldron and I sat by it trying to warm myself up. I never expected to shiver so violently from the elements this far into Africa, but the cold in my body would not give way. I stretched my hands out, trying to harness the heat after we had finished eating.

    “You have to go now. You have finished your food.” Said the previously friendly woman. I tried to plead, explaining that I needed to warm myself up.

     “No, you are strangers and you have finished. I don’t want strangers in here.”

    “Can I buy something else so I can stay?”

    “No, strangers are not welcome here. By God’s grace I do not trust you and you have to leave.”

 My bike had fallen in the mud outside, smashing off my glued mirror. Another lady came over from a chop house while I was picking it up and invited me to stay by her fire. She and the other woman had come over to us to offer us to eat in their place when we first arrived. I should have chosen her smile. I thanked her, but decided to ride on dejectedly.

The rain was still pelting as night descended. We were now in the Southern reaches of Nigeria and finding a place to camp among the swelling population seemed pointless to attempt. We tried at a church but were turned away because we were strangers. After many hours of riding into the night we eventually found a hotel. Our belongings were searched for bombs and weapons before we were allowed in. After haggling the price down it was more than double than what I’d paid for accommodation since I left home, but there was no other option. We asked if we could share a room but was promptly told that it was illegal for two men to share a room, even if there were two beds. Yet we enjoyed the secure freedom of four walls and a roof and studied the map over many cigarettes, reassuring ourselves that we only had two more riding days to reach Calabar.

Grey concrete now replaced the green. Towns and cities were connected with heavily ridden highways and well maintained roads. The affluence and wealth of Nigeria was now apparent and we wondered that now we were on a main route that we would be treated with less suspicion. This was the case, but it also meant that we were now targets for thieves. We came to a cross roads and headed in the direction of Calabar. A whistle blew with the shout of ‘Stop! Police!’ A man wearing a high-vis vest ran over to me followed by five other men. We quickly realised they weren’t police but before we could ride away they took the keys from our ignitions and demanded money. I turned around to look at Dan. His face of agitated disgust mirrored my feelings. After facing angry mobs of hundreds, these six men, although inducing a blood pumping fear, had little effect in the submissive state they were trying to produce from us.

    “You give me money now!”


    “You are in violation of a traffic law and you need to pay a fine!” He was still trying to hide behind his fooling pretence.

    “No you’re not. Just give me back my keys!”

The argument continued on like this until another crowd started to form around us, and I saw the unusually welcome sight of a policewoman.

    “What is the problem here?” She said with some degree of authority.

    “This man’s stolen my keys and is demanding money for them.”

The men barked at her and she collapsed inside herself.

    “You’re on your own mister.” She said, and as she walked away she took any form of authority away with her, and left us alone within the total disrespect for law that these men had. Angered at the situation, the fear and adrenaline that had swirled through me the past week now manifested itself into a defiant rage.

     “I’m not giving you a fucking thing!” I belted at him and lunged with my hands, prising my keys from his clasped palms. In my life I had never been in a real fight before, and never rose to anger out of a situation where I’d deal with it physically, but within this unknown rage I stood up to the three men in front of me, ready to take on their anger with mine. In that moment the only way they would get anything from me would be to try and take it physically, and they understood I wouldn’t back down. I turned to Dan who had his hand out.

    “Just give me back my keys.” He said, shaking his head. He was calmer than I, and showed not a shred of fear, which under most circumstances is better than reacting with anger.

    “Just go!” said the original man, slamming his fist on my back box.

    “Not until you give my friend back his keys.” Dan’s calm demeanour had washed onto me. Dan had his keys handed to him.

“Just go!” screamed the man, bearing an obscene amount of anger and frustration on his stupid face. Another group ran at us that day, but we’d learnt our lesson not to stop for them, and instead chose to retort with a prompt ‘fuck off!’

The rains fell from the sky, deafening the air, rebounding off the road, and catching us in the middle in a half-drown, sodden existence as we rode. We were one hundred miles away from Calabar in the town of Ugep and were taken by a sign brandishing ‘Royal Guest House.’ The father and son, Bukola and Osaro were happy to put us up for the night, and it seemed to never cross their minds that they may have had to search us for bombs. They were both calm people, and it was refreshing to be able to sit and talk with people that didn’t hold hostile, suspicious tendencies towards us. We sat up late with them, talking about the troubles we’d encountered as we shared bananas and papayas. They were both deeply saddened about our experiences, and were troubled by the exasperating times their country was going through.

 The rains had stopped by morning, and we packed up to set out to Calabar. Yet as my bike was still refreshingly starting with the first kick, Dan’s bike, ran for three seconds and then died completely. We worked on it until afternoon before we conceded to stay for another day. Though having more time to enjoy some much needed warm company and the basic bucket shower was a welcome fall back. The courtyard in front of the guest house attracted throngs of people selling nuts, fruits, the boys shouting ‘pure water!’ as they carried buckets on their heads, or just the curious people that came to see the two travellers and their bikes. Bukola and Osaro were popular characters, and the seemingly perpetual joints that were drifting smoke from Osaro’s hands put all the youths who came to visit into laughing, blurry states.

 Though due to the basic stores in the town, Dan was unable to fix his bike. We made plans to meet in Calabar after a truck had been arranged to carry Dan’s bike It seemed suspiciously easy, but we were both certain we would meet up within a day or two. As I was securing my bags the following morning a young man who I’d briefly met the previous day came into the courtyard.

    “I will follow you.” He stated as he stood by my moped.

    “You can’t follow me.”

    “I will follow you.”

    “Do you know where I’m going?”

    “I will follow you?”

    “You know I’m riding this all the way to South Africa. I don’t think you can just follow me.”

    “I will follow you.”

    “You need visas for every country, a bike with the correct paperwork and a tent if you plan on living alongside me.”

    “I will follow you.”

    “And once in South Africa I need to find a way to South America where I’ll meet my girlfriend and ride with her up to Canada.”

    “I will follow you.”

    “And once in Canada we will be living there for a year with working tourist visas and share an apartment together. Are you going to do that with us too?

    “I will follow you.”

    “You can’t just invite yourself into my life. Do you even have a bike?”

    “I will sit here.” He pointed to my dry bag, stuffed to the brim with my roll mat, tent, cooker and other gear, draped with two tyres and a jerry can tied around the top with cable ties as it squeezed into the space where the end of the seat used to be before I sawed it off.

   “Please stop talking to me.”

Calabar was a large, modern city, and the accommodation prices were adding to the mounting expense of sleeping within walls in Nigeria. Though as the rain continued to fill the air outside, having a fully equipped room with an adjoining bathroom was welcoming as mould had started to grow on my clothes from constantly been in the damp, tropical heat. I was surprised to find that what remained of my belt had turned into a fury, green life form as I wore it.

 Dan later wandered into the foyer at night as I was talking to the receptionist, his dreadlocks were dripping with rain.

    “You’re a bit late. Smooth journey?”

    “No! After measuring the bike, the guy with the truck who was adamant it would fit turned up with this tiny thing, and it was obvious at first sight it wouldn't fit. Then he went to go get his friend and never came back. I had to put it on a random lorry to get here. The military guys at the checkpoint near the guest house were very nice though.”

I felt safer in Calabar than I did in any other place in Nigeria, yet I still felt uneasy walking around at night. Rain had been beating down for seven days straight and the storm drains around the city had burst into murky rivers and yellow waterfalls as they carried the litter and filth from the streets with them. Potholes began to form from the rains effect on the poorly built roads and pavements, and the streets became dangerous for the ill footed. An old woman walking towards me gripping carrier bags loaded with goods slipped and fell through a hole in the pavement where three slabs had collapsed. Men walked past her as she struggled with her bony fingers on the jagged concrete before I managed to run to her. I gripped the papery skin on her hands and lifted her out of the hole. Her bags had spilt, and as I was collecting up her food and belongings for her she kept muttering the words ‘God bless you, sir.’ I asked if she needed help carrying her bags home, but when she looked at me I saw embarrassment in her eyes on my part. She gripped my arm in a thanking gesture and limped away.

Having already acquired our Cameroonian visa from a consulate wearing a Simpsons t-shirt, we were still stuck in the limbo of mounting hotel costs as Dan had still been unable to fix his bike. Yet Elias and Christina had put us in touch with a ma they had stayed with.

 Babson was a professor of visual arts who lived in a single story house in the suburbs. He was very affluent by Nigerian standards but could still only afford a modest home, yet he did have the luxury of been able to afford a home cinema. Most evenings he would have children from the neighbourhood over to watch films on his overhead projector. He was happy to take Dan and I in whilst Dan worked on his bike, and forwent the homosexuality fearing law of the government and showed Dan and I our room with the single, double bed. Babson was a level headed, good natured, intelligent man who had a relaxed, comedic demeanour.

 I had been planning to change my chain and sprockets with a set I bought in Ugep whilst I was staying at Babson’s, but as the law of unforgiving circumstances with my bike and I were still rolling, it had snapped two miles from Babson’s house as I was following him in his car. I had to leave it by a restaurant under the guard of his friend. “Don’t you worry about your bike, we’ll get it here by tonight.” He said reassuringly. “There are either two options. We can either learn magic and, boom, your bike is here! Or you can just let me take care of it for you.” He hired his friend’s pick-up truck and flatly refused when I tried to pay. The bill was larger than I’d spent on the hotel.

The Nigerian government had recently banned the use of large motorcycles in the Cross River State which we were in. This caused major problems for Dan. He was an engineer by trade, and was good with his hands. But as he was reduced to opening up his engine in a state where parts were unobtainable, with the hope of been able to spot what he needed to have shipped, his situation became desperate. Babson had a contact in Lagos who may have been able to help Dan, but it would be weeks before he could, and as the days ticked by, it became evident that we would have to part our ways, and I made the decision to ride to Cameroon where we hoped we’d meet. I had already changed the dates on my entry stamp in my passport and import permit, and they were now beyond the possibilities of false extensions. He had the blessings of his ambiguous travel document on his side, yet I knew how frustrating it was to have a broken bike. I didn’t enjoy leaving him behind  

Within the space of a week, the clear, one hundred mile stretch of road North to Ugep was now decorated with two burnt out trucks that had collided with cars, and a single, misshapen, gouged and broken body that lay by the side of the road. I felt slightly unnerved about making the final stretch of Nigeria alone, but after all the trauma Dan and I had faced, I felt as prepared as I could be for what may come. I wasn’t prepared in terms of money, however, assuming I had enough for fuel and to spend the night in transit at the Royal Guest House in the two day journey to Cameroon. I didn’t have enough. Upon seeing my dwindling wallet, Osara, through his glazed eyes kindly gave me a discount on the room, and I was obliged to break my post malaria pure water rule and drink the water he and his family had collected during the rains. My stomach never protested, and it tasted far better than the sterile water wrapped in plastic.

I made two traffic offences as I made my way out of Nigeria the next morning, The first was merely 500 metres away from the front door of the guest house where I ran through a faded and almost illegible stop sign painted on the road. The policeman manning the road promptly arrested me and told me I must go straight to jail before appearing in court to pay a hefty fine. My visa was due to expire the next day, and I had literally no Nigerian currency to my name, so I was curious, more than anything, to find out what the initially irate policeman would do with me. He shouted, almost red in the face at first, and after I apologised, and accepted what must be done, almost none caring due to my visa predicament being handed to them should they hold me until it expired, he calmed down; his face mirroring my disdained apathy. Another crowd started to form.

    “You see these people here? They are watching you because you have done something wrong.”

    “Nah, people always gather around whenever the police stop me.”

    “Who are you and what are you doing here, anyway?”

    “I’m an artist from England, and I’m riding this bike around Africa for ideas. And right now I’m on my way to Cameroon for breakfast.” I said, relaxed.
    “Well, on this occasion I’m going to let you go. But if you’re doing this again… straight to jail!”

I hadn’t adjusted my rear break enough after I changed the chain-set at Babsons', and it was overly loose. A police checkpoint was ahead with a line of slow moving cars moving towards it. I was riding too close to the car in front of me, a policeman suddenly threw his hand into the air, the car slammed on its breaks and I rode straight into the back of it, sending my rear panniers flying from the rack right in full view of four policemen. Whistles were blown, eyebrows were raised and palms were rubbed as the four policemen placed me under arrest. Again, I was told I must go to jail, appear in court and pay a hefty fine. Against the four of them, I decided to go on the charm offensive, apologising profusely whilst attempting to make friends with them through humility and lack of pride against their judgements.

    “Have you eaten today, sir?” asked the policeman with all my papers.

    “No. I’ve run out of Nigerian money and I need to get to Cameroon in order to buy breakfast.”

    “Well that is very stupid of you, because you cannot ride like this so carelessly. You need to eat before you are riding your bike.”

    “I know, I’m sorry.”

    “Well… I should arrest you, and you should go to court… but seeing as today is Happy Sunday and we are celebrating, I will let you go. But if you ever do this again… straight to jail!”

I had just ten more miles of Nigeria left. The border town of Ekok was the only border open in South Eastern Nigeria due to the rains closing the other, small jungle track crossings. This meant that bandits, thieves and the infamous ‘stickmen’ of the region had now taken to solely patrolling this road out of the country. I had encountered fake road blocks before, where a groups of young men in Benin had secured lines of rope to trees by the side of the road and would lift them up when they saw us approaching. Although the perpetrators carried sticks, a brief argument and a quick escape when the rope was down set us loose. Yet I never imagine that I would encounter them so prolifically this close to an international boundary. I saw the tell-tale signs; the rope across the cracked concrete, the small shack by the side of the road, and then to my dismay, a group of three men brandishing sticks with nails hammered into them. I find it hard to comprehend the reasoning and nerve behind my reaction now that I reflect from the normality and safety of my home. But in that moment I abandoned all consequence, all reserve and placed the magnitude of what might have been into the recesses of my mind which were only opened, or shrouded by the continuous vehement existence of fear of my present days. I saw the rope lift from the road, and as it became the barrier on my horizon I slammed down on the throttle and tucked my body into myself; I was going to ride through without stopping, whether they lowered the rope or not. They were thankfully not serious about causing grievous bodily harm, and I left them shouting into the fading distance of my mirrors as I soared through.

Another two road blocks were manned by people with planks of wood, punctured with nails that they would throw into the road to rip your tyres. We had ridden though these before in Nigeria also, but they were preoccupied with trucks as we meandered our way around, where shouts were only raised when they noticed us too late. I made my decision and tucked into the right, making them throw the spikes into only one side of the road as I slowed down. And when it was firmly decided that I would stop, I veered to the left and spun round them before they had chance to throw the other.

 Come the other spiked road block, they had already thrown both sets of spikes into the road, and I had to ride into the safety of the trees to make my escape. On each set of these spiked blockades there was one man wearing a pair of handcuffs on his belt, trying to façade some degree of authority, yet the ignorance on their faces and anger emanating from their eyes revealed their true intentions.

I was angered by the incompetence of the Nigerian government. Not only did it frustrate me how they could let such blatant lawlessness and attempted robbery be acted out so close to their international boundaries, but that the country was rife with crime, lawlessness, terrorism and corruption in itself. One un-uniformed man at the border, who I couldn’t tell what his job was tried to bribe me to get my passport back. I took it out of his hand as he held it up whilst asking ‘who the hell do you think you are?’ and walked out shaking my head. I was frustrated by it to the point of recklessness. Yet here I realised, that this glimmer of my own reserve breaking from outside pressures helped me to comprehend the aspect of what I found most enduring out of Nigeria; fear. It was fear that was the culprit of most of the hostility towards us, a fear driven out of insecurity, and an insecurity that should have been dealt with by the government.

 Before I left England, I confided in my uncle that I was scared about crossing Nigeria. He reassured me in his calm, intelligent and experienced voice that ‘Nigerians are wonderful people, and you will see...’ His words sang true in many people that I met, and some of them rise above most as the utmost kind, generous and selfless people I met on my travels. But for many of them, they have been infected with undue amounts of fear and pain over the past years, corrupting their lives, layering agony and reflecting grief as they try to live out their existence. It is a sad situation.

The machete I bought just before entering Nigeria. It was never used. I must say though, that is the scariest face I've ever seen!

Rough roads! There were parts that were far worse than these but we were too busy/tired trying to get through them to get the camera out.

The friendly yet very curious people of Western Nigeria.

The bird that I untied the plastic string from its legs before the police came and took us away. The police didn't understand why I was doing it...

This guy's called Aba. He saw me struggling trying to get the nuts out of my original sprocket (well, they had been in there for nearly 25 years!) and he took time out of his DHL job to ride it to a mechanic to get them loosened. He didn't expect any money either. After a while on the road you begin to know who you can trust as a second instinct.

 It was a breath of fresh air as soon as I crossed into Cameroon and to not have that constant niggle of impending danger in the back of my mind... as well as people treating me like an actual genuine person with no malicious intent. Upon arriving at the border a huge storm hit... and on my map it showed that the road in front of me was impassable in the rainy season. I took refuge in a small cafe in the border town, waiting for the rain to stop... but it was clear that it was going to be an all nighter. I looked into the backroom of the cafe and asked the guy cooking eggs if I could sleep in there for the night. He seemed a genuine guy and didn't have a problem with it. This is the sort of thing I like about travelling in Africa; beyond all the annoyances and the hassle you can find genuine people who will help you out almost everywhere. I doubt you could sleep in a store room in many places in Europe if you just rolled up there and asked!

My bedroom on my first night in Cameroon.

The road on the morning after. I actually got stuck in this. That was a literally a sticky situation.

Camping wild and alone in Cameroon. I've found complete peace with doing this.

A mountain local. The people of the mountains in Cameroon reminded me a lot of the people of the Himalaya.


Riding at 2500 km above sea level... literally through a cloud!

Monday, 4 August 2014


I'm leaving this church tomorrow. It's very nice of them to have let me stay but I'm fucking sick of these bastard god children and their constant fucking noise. There's like three schools here and all day every day, singing, banging, screaming, drumming, more screaming, banging and shouting and screaming. No one will leave me alone... I can't even piss in peace. And just to make a point.... praying to stop mosquitoes to stop biting your child is going to do nothing... buy a fucking net and some cream. JESUS!
Here's the map I've been using to date... a map that is now finished! So that's one map down and one more to do. I've drawn a line of every road that I've travelled on through West Africa. It's like a black river of memory.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


I'm setting off for the Congo now. I decided this morning that I'd like to be in Zambia by the time my year anniversary on the road comes around. That gives me about five weeks... to get through what literally are the worse roads in the world through both Republic of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo. If I have no major issues with the bike and ride almost every day it should be doable. I don't feel too great about hanging around in DRC much. Once I get to Zambia I'll be on the final stages of Africa - according to the map anyway! I should be in Brazzaville within a week. I just hope the rains hold off!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


The nine day ride from Yaounde to Brazzaville is over. Seriously, I think I could write a book solely on this last stretch of the journey. I had a very amusing confrontation (on my part) with a very drunken customs man (very annoying on his part) on the Cameroonian border. It's a long story but I thoroughly enjoyed annoying the living hell out of him. He deserved it, he was an absolute oaf... My tactic worked well and I won in the end. Part of my exhaust blew out in the Northern section of the Congo also. The North of the Congo is the most underdeveloped region I've ever been to... even the road I took through the Sahara had better infrastructure. There's more people but there is a dire lack of anything resembling modern living; running water, electricity etc. It made for a good few days though as I stayed in a Pygmy village that was hacked into the jungle as we galvanised bits of metal onto the exhaust to seal it up using a white hot machete that was heated in a mud hut underneath a cauldron of food. This was an amazing experience... and the rain water of the jungle tastes great! The Congolese are wonderful people also, generous, kind, respectful and friendly. And above all... no more hissing! The road has been long and hard though and I'm feeling quite exhausted. I've found a place to stay in Brazzaville for free where I'll rest up for a bit before I take to the Congo's larger counterpart. It's nice to be in a place with running water!

Friday, 15 August 2014


The photo's of Cameroon are up in the gallery...I forgot to mention in my last post... I crossed the equator getting here! I think it was four days ago now. That's from Northern Europe to the Southern Hemisphere! This makes me very happy! As for Brazzaville; I think this is the cleanest, most modern looking African capital I've been to so far. Well, this part of the city I'm in anyway. And the people are great. I'm spending days here until my forgery extended moto insurance runs out (17th), getting the bike ready for DRC. Done the wheels today; checked bearings, greased things up and changed a spoke... that's the third one so far! The moto market area opens tomorrow so I'll go there and get spares and some more tools for most eventualities. This full chain and sprocket set that I bought in Nigeria for £5 has got me here fine and still looks in great condition... but because of the price and where it came from it doesn't hold my full trust... and I really don't want to be stranded in DRC!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Venturing into DRC...

Well the time has come. I'll be entering the great obstacle of the journey tomorrow - The Democratic Republic of the Congo. I've been here at Hippocamp in Brazzaville for four days, hoping that some other overlanders would turn up, but alas, no. It looks like I'll be doing it on my own. This is definitely going to change the story! If anything I think that I'm going to be the first person to attempt to cross this country on a c90!
 I've drawn a line of my planned route through the country below. I've been doing a lot of research over the past months and it seems like the best way. I've got the bike all up and ready; brand new air filter, new oil, parts greased up, stocked up on spares and food. If all else fails and it is really that bad I could always hitch a ride to Lubumbashi on a truck.

To be honest, I am scared. But we'll see... I might enjot it! Better to get in there and find out rather than to sit around mulling over all the possibilities on my own. I'd like to get to Zambia in three weeks from now. I don't know if that's feasible but I'll try. I doubt very much that I'm going to have a lot of access to the internet either, but I'll send word out when I can. Bon chance!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The premature end to Africa.

Hello! First up, I think I need to make a sincere apology for not posting anything over the past weeks due to the amount of messages I've received asking if I'm okay... Thank you, I'm very touched :-) The truth is, I've had access to the internet for the past three weeks - there was an internet cafe around the corner of the family I was staying with in Kinshasa after the 'incident.' As some of you already know through my Facebook page; I am back in England! I've known of my imminent return for a long time, well, since the 'incident' and refused to let anyone know where I was or what I was doing for the pure sake of surprising everyone at home. When I poked my head around the living room door at my Mum's house when she was asleep on the sofa it's the first time I've ever seen anyone wake up and cry before... I shouldn't find it funny but I do a little bit. I managed to persuade my girlfriends landlord to let me into her flat before she got home from work and his in her bed. I just couldn't help myself! I've been very well looked after by a Congolese family for the past three weeks and I've been very comfortable... so apologies again to anyone who has been worrying... and I need to put out a true and heartfelt 'thank you' to Marcell and Filo for looking after. Things would have been very difficult if it wasn't for them... and it was an adventure in itself getting back home. SO, this 'incident.' As people who have been following my blog will know; I have been blessed a constant stream of good fortune, (Pah!) so as luck would have it, when I was crossing over the Congo river on a boat there was an accident... resulting in myself, my bike and all my gear falling into the water. My unending thanks go out to the three Congolese guys who jumped in straight after me without a second thought. Fortunately I had put my camera, laptop, spare money and passport in waterproof sacks, as standard, and we managed to get most of my luggage back onto the boat with the help of many hands.We had pinned the bike up against the side of the boat, and as I fell in the captain put the engine in reverse and did a very good job at stabilizing the boat. The fact of the matter remained though that we couldn't hold onto my bike with the current as well with the moving boat, aside from the fact that I was still wearing all my bike gear... and that the engine had filled up with water... so I told everyone to just let it go. And there it is... my c90 at the bottom of the Congo river. So that was the end of that! And no, to anyone who's thinking "why didn't you just buy another bike and ride it round?" We don't live in a simple world where you can do that; the paperwork was the most valuable thing for my bike and to cross borders - an Englishman on a Congolese bike would be a nightmare and I'm not sure if it would be even possible. It certainly wouldn't be possible to get it into the US or Canada or maybe even ship it to South America. As some of you may know from previous posts my aim was to get to Canada with my girlfriend, and as my bike sunk down into the depths that was the end of Africa for me and the end of trying to get to Canada that way.So is this the end of Liam and c90? NO! I'm obviously back home now and I am very happy, (who wouldn't be when they're sat in their girlfriends bed waiting for her to come home from work after been away for over a year?) Though I have a lot to sort out. I need a new bike for starters! If anyone who is reading this has a horde of c90's and wouldn't mind parting with one, or donating one (well, I may as well ask! :-D) then please get in touch. I don't care what condition it's in, as long as it has a solid frame. I'll do it up myself and put a new engine in. I'll set off on one as good as new this time round... hopefully it will be less painful!So the new route... Obviously Canada is the goal (and I will be setting off with my girlfriend now too) so the logical direction to head is to ride East. There's a lot to think about with weather timing, the Canadian working visa deadline and entry periods etc, but I have in mind to be setting off again sometime towards the end of this coming winter... well, a European winter is kinder than a Siberian one! I have a lot to do in between, find a job, get a new bike, persuade girlfriend that everything will be okay, AND to hopefully finish and self publish the book that I started to write in Kinshasa. Without the distraction of the internet I have been writing like a maniac and I'm around 63,000 words in so far. I'll be moving onto the back of my Dad's boat again in the meantime so they'l be no internet distraction so this goal might actually be achievable.So there we go. I tried, Africa! Personally, I feel very happy about everything. When I fell in the water I almost instantly made up my mind of what I was going to do. It came in a sort of flash and it didn't go against the grain of my soul in anyway.I have no regrets about what happened and what I've done. This journey wasn't about reaching a goal or getting to the end of a destination and raising my arms up in triumph. That's not why I left home. The trip was about discovery, learning and inspiration... And I've had my fill with the human side of Africa for now. I've had some brilliant experiences and I've discovered a lot (and also endured the idiosyncratic tendencies of the populous.) I am a little regretful that I didn't get to see the wild side of Africa in the East... but that will always be there for a later date. And with all the brick walls I hit on the journey I think I've reached the limit of them getting to me. I'm a happy boy. I tried my best and I'm content with Africa for now, I've had my fill...(Hell, at least I made it over a year this time instead of eleven days!) and I'm now very much looking forward to planning the next stage of the journey through Europe, the Stan's, Mongolia and Russia. This is exciting me much!There's still quite a few updates to come on the final parts of my African trip, and I'll still be updating on preparations for the next upcoming journey and of course, the book!  This isn't the end, it's just a brief period of intermittence. Thanks again for following me and I hope you've enjoyed reading my words and seeing my photography... and I hope you'll still be following me as I set off towards the rising sun and the silk road. The future's going to be good. So watch this space!   

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ride a moped into the heart of Africa. Face photo everyday.

A sideshow of a photo of my face that I took every day when I was away. Please see the Video tab.

Friday, 19 December 2014


Well three months late, I've just uploaded the photos from what I have from DRC. As usual they're in the photo gallery. It will be a while yet before some more go in there... But more will come eventually!

Well that was that finished, I'm writing this from 31/03/2017

As the trip ended very abruptly, I think it is best to acknowledge the previous months of the journey through the jungles, as I never got round to it at the time, and a lot of people I met during those months deserve some recognition. And, in my opinion, there are some very good photographs that should be seen. The rest of the details are enclosed in my 'who knows when'  to be released book...

Sleeping on the border of Republic of the Congo.

Heating up a machete on a log fire under a cooking pot...

To solder pieces of scrap metal on the my exhaust after it broke away from the engine.

The family let me stay with them whilst it was getting fixed. This was the best road-side repair I've ever done.

Sand dunes in between stretches of jungle. 

The state of an air filter I put in in Yaounde, Cameroon.

Gas lamps for lighting on the DRC border.

These roads finished the repair on the exhaust.

DRC children.

The Congo river.

Marcel... the wonderful man who took me in after my accident.

Breaking rocks for paint pigment, to be shipped to Kinshasa. 

Rastas with Obama bags and home-made palm wine.

Marcel's partner - Filo.

The bus to Kinshasa which broke down 11 times during the 100 or so mile journey to the capital.

The skinniest me, with an abscess burning out of my chest that I managed to acquire from somewhere in the jungle.

Caterpillar stew to put on the weight.

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