Page 2 of Mat and Trace Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Lalibela November 8th 2013

What a change! Women in public. Guys and girls holding hands. Beer! The roads also changed almost immediately, twisting up in to the Ethiopian Highlands. The temperature was cooler too, which was a welcome relief after our time in Libya, Egypt, and Sudan. We stayed in Gondar on our first night in Ethiopia. Like many places in the area it was well over 2000m above sea-level. The following day Jaap was under the weather, so I headed north for an explore in the Simien Mountains. After 100km the map said to turn right if I wanted to reached the Simien National Park. But the road was just a rutted dirt path, and I wasn't convinced. However I tried it, and it improved to a rocky dirt road. I was stopped at the gates of the park, ... read more
The National Park guard that accompanied me on the bike.
So cool

Africa » Sudan » North » Wadi Halfa October 30th 2013

Our ferry from Egypt chugged in to Wadi Halfa in Sudan just before lunch. Wadi Halfa is a dusty hot border town, with not a whole lot going down. Apparently we stayed in the room that Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman used during their Long Way Down trip. The bikes hadn't arrived so we headed into town to kill a little time. A large group of young guys in green khaki came striding past us a one stage, then a few minutes later one guy in police uniform came sprinting past us, with the group in hot pursuit. They caught him, gave him a bit of a beating, and then took him away. We found out later that the police guy had arrested one of the army guys for drinking, and this had obviously backfired on ... read more
Jaap stuck at the hotel in Wadi Halfa
Meeting the mad cyclists in the Nubian Desert
Arriving at the port in Wadi Halfa

Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Aswan October 23rd 2013

After the week-long emotional high of Libya, we were soon brought back to earth by the worst place on earth: the Egyptian border offices at Salloum. Suspicion, arrogance, repeated searches, requests for "tips", and endless bureaucracy was the theme of the day. We were ushered into the dark, grime-smeared corridors of a rotting building to get our passports stamped. Shifty characters loitered about, eyeing us up with what seemed to be a mixture of curiosity and resentment. Finally we were issued through to a dark room with a large desk where three uniformed guys sat. We were introduced to "The General" who with incongruous politeness informed us that we would need to purchase our visa on exit from the country and then waved us away. I had organised a fixer to travel from Cairo to sort ... read more
Near Tahrir Square

Africa » Libya » Benghazi October 9th 2013

As we approached Misrata there were burned out hulks of tanks, and the buildings were regularly pockmarked with bullet-holes, or burst open by shells, rockets, or bombs. The war that had ended two years ago felt close. It felt real. But it was this backdrop of armed revolution, the resulting lack of governmental structure or services, and and the instability of the country that served to highlight the generosity and enthusiasm of the people we were meeting. In Misrata we met Moftah, a friend of one of the Tripoli guys, and spent the evening with him and his uncle. Misrata was were the bulk of the fighting had taken place during the war, and we gained a first-hand account of what it had been like. The people of Misrata had decided to resist Gadaffi, which resulted ... read more
Tank.  KTM.  Good.
Smells like a revolution
Tank in the back yard

Africa » Libya » Tripoli October 2nd 2013

"You want adventure? Libya is the real one" advised our fixer Masoud with a big smile. He was helping us complete the various formalities at the border, while at the same time giving us our first insight into life in post-revolution Libya. The clear message that came across was that there was real excitement about the potential that a Gaddafi-free Libya held for the people, but also frustration at how slow progress was. As a far as safety was concerned, he felt that the main issues were between Libyans (different provinces / militias), and as tourists we would be welcomed. And welcomed we were. At the outskirts of Tripoli we were met by half a dozen guys on Harley Davidsons, and escorted into town as the sun set. It was the start of a week of ... read more
Libya is as good a place as any for my first ride on a Harley
The balcony above the bikes is where Gadaffi used to make speeches

Africa » Tunisia » Sousse » Port El Kantaoui October 1st 2013

We rolled off the ferry in another continent. The ride from the northern-most part of Africa to the most southern stretched out ahead of us, a blank canvas of potential. Jaap and Fre were stamped through the border in about 2 minutes each. It took me 3 hours. For some reason as a New Zealander I needed a visa. A mysterious and protracted immigration process culminated in me being presented with a full page visa, complete with a photo of me in green. The Indelible Hulk. Morsi had invited us to his family home in Sousse, so we headed south, and were treated to half a dozen incredible dishes cooked by his mum. Their hospitality blew us away. Morsi, you're a good dude. We went for a beer after dinner, and checked out a crazy hotel ... read more
Me, Morsi, Jaap, and Fre.
Djerba camp
Star Wars country

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur September 28th 2013

The trip has started. On the 23rd September I left home on a KTM 990 and will any luck with end up in Cape Town. 20,000km and three months. The plan is to head down via the east of Africa: catching a ferry from Genoa to Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, and finally South Africa. A Facebook page with regular updates is here. The idea for the trip was a bit last minute. Two months ago a Dutch guy Jaap, who Jeremy has ridden with in Laos, suggested that he might want to join him on a trip through Africa. Due to work Jeremy wasn't able to, but over a few beers he hatched a plan with Trace for me do it. Initially it seemed unreasonable to me - three months away ... read more
French Alps
French Alps

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Ha Giang July 10th 2009

Mat: I didn't get around to writing about my trip to North Vietnam last July, but thought I would add something here. Better late than never? Trace and I were heading from Scotland to Sydney for a equitation science conference (ISES), then to NZ for 10 days to catch up with everyone after being away for a couple of years. I managed to get a stop-over in Bangkok for an extra £10. Dad had planned a holiday in Vietnam for around the same time, so I suggested that I take him on a ride to an area I had heard about but not visited in northern Vietnam. It was a really special time spending a solid couple of weeks together - something that you just don't do as 32 and 65 year olds. Cao Bang and ... read more
East of Ta Phin

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris February 9th 2009

I had a semi-cunning plan. Surprise Trace by taking her to Paris for our anniversary. Well the surprise was a good idea in theory until I mentioned something about taking anniversary photos in Paris about a month before the weekend. At least we had a few minutes of side-aching laughter at my Homer-like ineptitude. Doh. In the end we had a really really good weekend. After a bit of sleep in on Saturday morning we wandered off to the Louvre, which is simply massive. We struck a nice balance of seeing interesting stuff, but not over-doing it. On leaving the Louvre we emerged from the glass pyramid into swirling snowflakes. This continued for much of the day, but this was kind of cool, and the temperature was not any different to that at home. After the ... read more
Oh yes
Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomphe

Europe » Ireland February 3rd 2009

Mat: Jeremy was back from a stint working in Angola, and was heading to Ireland to catch up with his brother Nick, and sister Cynthia. This seemed like a good opportunity to catch up with Jeremy after not seeing him for a year, and also to see a bit of Ireland. We had four days there, but got quite sidetracked initially by the Guinness. First it was a 12 hour session at his brother's local in Loughrea. Then after heading down to Limerick to meet a second new niece, we had a remarkably big Sunday night with John, Jeremy's brother-in-law. The Irish seem reluctant to let a recession get in the way of a good Sunday night out. However, after two hangovers too many, and in an effort to actually see something other than the inside ... read more
Poulnabrone portal tomb
Roundstone harbour
Aran Island cattle trough - there is enough rain that this is enough catchment for the trough

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