Dan and Claire on Sabbatical!!

Welcome to our blog, we hope you enjoy following our adventures!
We split our sabbatical in 2 parts:
Part 1 was from March to June 2010 touring around in our campervan in France and Spain.
Part 2 started on the 7th of July when we left Scotland to cycle through Europe and the Middle East to Africa in the remaining 6 months (back for Xmas).
Have a look at the route below and we'll try to post pics as much as we can!


Cycle Route to Africa

16 Dec 2010

The Sudan and the Chinese Road

Dan: Always good to start a day with a poop...but 15 before 11am is a little excessive even by my standards! But the drugs and the I.V. drips seemed to get me sorted and we were on our way...via train to Aswan. I know it's cheating, but 200km in one day when you can barely walk didn't seem like a good plan.
Claire: The train was SO lekker!!!
Dan: Weird, but nice. Westerns aren't meant to travel via normal trains in Egypt...only meant to go on luxury night trains. After a bit of hassle (you can't buy a ticket for 2nd class trains so you just need to get on the train and then buy the ticket when the guy comes) we were off and arrived in Aswan 3 hours later.
Claire: Ferry tickets......sleeping and cycling the last 25 km to the ferry the next morning
Dan: New skinnier improved Dan seemed to do well on the hills to the ferry station :o)
Claire: What an experience this ferry! It's the only border crossing into Sudan and there is only one ferry per week, so everybody gets squeezed onto this little boat. Probably 1500 people on the boat with capacity for only 500 :-) The administrative dance you need to do before you get to the ferry was hilarious. We sort of gave up on understanding what everything was for and just followed the endless stream of people from one check point to the next. Passport checks, scanning the bags and bikes, getting weighed, paying something for the bikes, paying somewhere else for we don't know what but you get a stamp, taking the paper with the stamp to a different desk where you get another sticker, passport check again etc. Our bikes were about the smallest luggage items; we were in between people with fridges on their neck, huge bags of grains and food, televisions, food processors, an old wooden music installation and all sorts of funny things were being shuffed onto the boat. We had to go through the sitting area and the cafeteria with our bikes to find a nice place on the top deck under the life rafts in the shade. We met an Irish couple, Rafael and Emily, who are travelling through Africa. They're working on organic farms and maybe one day will set up their own farm. We spent most of the afternoon and evening sharing stories about both our travels. After a few hours we took off and soon we were lying on the deck in our sleeping bags watching the amazing sky full of stars. Very romantic!
Dan: I thought it was slightly too cold and some of the people talked a little too loud after 9pm...not really cricket.
Claire: Oh shut up
Dan: So we were off! After some faffing at the customs etc we were on the road again heading out into the desert. The days were long and the scenery was just amazing, golden sands and rugged mountains...not at all what we expected. We cycled for 2 days without seeing a village or bearly a soul! Real middle of no where...this is the sort of cycling that we've grown to love. After another couple of days we reached Dongola, the first big town and over 400km from our drop-off point in Wadi Halfa.
Claire: For most of the days we had a proper tail wind (finally) and the road was just finished. The chinese have recently surfaced the whole road from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum, which meant that there was new tarmac all the way. And with not much traffic and the tail wind it was zooming!! It made us think of Tibet a bit, because when we were cycling there in 2007 they were building new roads as well.
We were trying to enjoy the cycling as much as we could, knowing that there were only a few days on the bikes left. Strange to think of going home and how much has happened the past few months. Every morning we wake up in the cold morning air and feel so content. With what we choose to do, taking time for each other and the world, with how the hospitality has overwhelmed us, with a sense of achievement for the 9000 km and most of all with the freedom feeling it has given us. And next to feeling a bit sad that it is almost over we look forward to being home and having a shower and a bed and seeing our family and friends.
Dan: I thought it was ok to be honest :o) Nae it was totally amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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