Hey Nathan, what you up to today? Well Mathew, tonight I’m going to be Ewan McGregor by telling you all about my trip from Sydney to London on a little old motorbike-thing called Dorothy.
Tell us more… Well, I was in Australia chasing a girl I met at speed-dating when my visa was about to run out. I had two options. I could either use the return ticket I already had and fly home to England. Or I could take the 105cc postie bike I’d bought off eBay and see if I could ride home instead.
Have you always been a biker? My parents got me into them as a kid, but I gave it all up after I skied into a tree. The first bike I’d had in 10 years was Dorothy. But the riding was the easy part on this trip. It’s the paperwork, visas and border guards that give you the biggest hassle.
Any favourite countries? East Timor and Pakistan. Both criminally treated by the press but home to the friendliest people anywhere I went. East Timor’s easy to get to from Australia too. From Darwin it’s a couple of hundred dollars on the plane.
How were you treated by local people? Brilliantly. I got a bit of hostility in the northern regions of Pakistan and at the south-eastern tip of Indonesia, but the rest no hassle at all. It was the biggest buzz of the trip for me. Just to have a complete stranger invite me in for tea and comb my hair while I drank it.
Did you have any accidents? A few, mostly minor. Often in my pants in India. I did have a good one in Indonesia though. I was overtaking a bus with another one coming the other way. I thought I’d have room but didn’t. I got squashed from both sides and ping-ponged between them both. I was lucky that day.
Would you do it all again? In a heartbeat. It wasn’t really the places I went but the people, be they locals or backpackers.
Any fond memories from the Oz leg? The sunrise. To have the sun chase you across the Outback as it comes up from behind is still the best moment of the entire trip.
What’s your favourite Aussie place? Again, definitely the Outback. There’s a magic out there unlike anything else in Australia. Go and do the coast by all means, but whatever you do don’t forget that not too far inland is a place like nowhere else on Earth.
Any tips for like-minded madmen? Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s stupid. I had shit clothes, a shit bike, no time to plan it, fuck all money, but I just set off. And I made it. All you need is enthusiasm and conviction. But if you die trying don’t blame me.
Anything else? Yeah, motorbikes are the only way to see the world. Scrap cars, scrap buses, scrap planes. Get yourself to Thailand, buy a shit scooter and really get a feel for the place cruising around on that. If it blows up at the other end, even better.
What are you up to next? I’ve very fortunately been given the opportunity to write a book about the trip. It comes out next November. Before then I plan to ride Dorothy from Alaska to Argentina. I’m taking the old girl around the world!