El Tatio is about 80km from San Pedro De Atacama. it took us about 4-5 hours to travel that 80km. We go there to watch the world 3rd largest Geyser field. Advisable to reach there on the day before and stay in the refugee. very nice place to stay. homely. we paid 2500cpl to sleep in the hall. you will not want to camp outside. it could go down to -9degree celcius in the night. if u join a tour from san pedro de atacama, you have to wake up at 3am to catch the morning splash. we reach the refugee at 5pm. good thing is that there are no tourist.we could go around freely, enjoy the privacy, use the natural hot pool alone. quickie is good.
height of el tatio is about 4320m avove sea level. as we go higher, air inside any tube will expand. so decrease your tire bressure before accending.
We are in Iquique now. Parted with the swiss team. Both Andreas and Saskia are secondary school teacher back in their country. they are about 2-3 years younger than me. their XRV750 is the same age as Hope Too but it is only 15000km when they bought it. ENVY! it was the first time that we traveled with another couple for such a long time, more than 20 days. we really had fun together. Traveling with Andreas is so fun. i called him 'boss'. i would go where he go, do what he do, eat what he eat. no need to think so much. we skiped swizeland when we were in europe but now i know much things about their country.
he taught me how to sing the swiss song. i taught him about singlish, singapore-bangadesh-english, like:
NO TALKING ALIBABA.
TALKING VERY CLEAVER, WORKING NO CLEAVER.
that was fun.
i always woke up later than them so they always prepare breakfast for us. sometimes they would want us to eat our own food, like curry chicken for dinner, rice porridge for breakfast. they know that we miss home food.
we are close enough to fart infront of each other and laugh about the fart... i mean Andreas and me.
hard to say goodbye. they gave us something that i had always wanted:
a travel BBQ set.
will not forget the moments together.
1) Hope Too had a twisted neck. the steering wheel bearing is damaged. it would be a big project to change it. i need proper tools with good mechnic around. i have the spares with me, thanks to M-technik, advised me to bring the small but important spares.
2) Sam submited the Panama visa application in Feb 8. we tried calling back since last week. we get answers from them like:
a) today is 7 march, tomorrow will be 8 march, that will be exectly one month for the application. call tomorrow.
then i call the day after, they reply:
b) this week is Carnival in panama. they are not working. call on monday.
weekend passed. i dont call on monday but tuesday. they said:
c) i don't know. maybe this week, maybe next week. call again.
then today i call at 9am:
d) call me back at noon.
then at noon i call:
e) u call back half hr later, person in charge is not in.
then i called half hr later:
f) call 20mins later.
then i called 1 and half hr later
g) call half hr later
then half hr, my internet (skype) dont work. i dont have a mobile phone. i guess they had went home by now. so tomorrow i had to call again.
but tomorrow i had an appointment with the BMW mechnic to do up Hope Too... pray hard it will not be the BMW price for repairing.
3) the parcel sent from singapore is 1850km south of where we are now, valporiso. the parcel consist of a new chain kit and some important parts. i dont want to ride back. will check out the bus fare tomorrow. we have to consider. staying in Iquique is half the price of staying in Valporiso. so we will wait for the reply from panama embassy in santiago then we can go back.
4) Canada visa for Sam. Canada visa application before 1st April2009 takes about 15 days to process. after that it takes 30days to process. so before 1st april 2009 we might be in Peru, Lima, the big and polluted city that no biker would want to visit. are we going to stay there for 15 days? in such a city its hard to find a cheap place to stay for us and Hope Too.
5)we want to reach north tip of alaska in 21st June 2009 where it is the longest day of the year. it will not be so cold around this date. next is 19 july there is a arboriculture confrence near new york, 3 days. 1st september is our flight to australia from LA. i had to arrange shipping for Hope Too at LA 2-3 weeks before we depart. how to meet this timing???
6) the darien gap:
between Panama and Columbia there are no road link. either take a boat or plane. now Sam still waiting for Panama visa. do u think its worth to wait for the panama visa? it may not be approved after all the waiting. the options we have:
a) if she does not have the panama visa, she had to fly to costa rica and wait for me for 2-3 weeks. while i will ride to the port, take a small sailing boat with hope too to panama and ride to costa rica to meet Sam.
b) Sam, Hope Too and me will take a big ship from Columbia to costa rica together, skipping panama.
the problem is i have to CRATE THE BIKE (which is very troublesome), pay the shipping US$350. (andreas enquired from the same company about shipping from columbia to europe, which the route is longer than mine but it only cost US$300!) pay $440euros, thats S$880 per person for the 5 days boat. there are many many hidden cost for port clearance and port fees not indicated.7) hope too front tire needs to be changed before getting to the next tire store in equedor.
please friend: looking at my awesome photos, you may think its so nice to travel but there are so many logistic problems to be solved.
what should we do?