(Doesn’t include some long domestic and hellish stuff, like the 15 to 17 hour people-as-sardines ferry from Kupang to Larantuka)
- Panama City to Cartagena by air. Hilarious test of us gringos as they make you ride a steep 8″ by 8″ beam (all warehouse staff gathered and smirkingly watching) from the dock to the road. Totally fuck-upable, but Lucinda said “screw you Latins” and we aced it.
- Buenos Aires to Aukland. Hilarious because there was no draining the tank, disconnecting the battery etc, or even crating the bike, you just rode in and they strapped it to a palette. Then moved it through an explosive/drugs detector, then shipped it by their own Argentine LAN Airlines without any fuss. They have an amazing disregard for safety, cool if you’re shipping a bike, technically ‘dangerous goods’.
- Aukland to Perth. Epic, the well known need for the bike to be completely spotless. The bike must be clean AS NEW. If they white-glove it and there’s any dirt, they return it to sender. Rightly paranoid of plant seeds on tires, or anything that could repeat the imported biological problems they’ve had in the past. So, buy the cleaning supplies and work for a day. Plus 3 days getting the bike approved, including a road test, insured and licensed.
- Darwin Australia to Dili, East Timor, by ship. But Dili isn’t good at incoming freight and the freighter can sit in the harbour for a week to a month. The bike was 17 days in the harbour, plus a couple of days across. The flight was maybe 40 minutes.
- Medan, Indonesia to Georgetown, Malaysia. The ‘onion boat’ is the classic and best-loved bike trip maybe in the world. It’s a small boat that reliably sails across the straight from Sumatra to Malaysia with tons of vegetables and your bike. They have the procedure and documentation down painlessly because they like the $400, everyone has fun. But it’s difficult finding them in the chaotic port of Medan, a test. The flight was about 30 minutes.
- Bangkok to Vancouver. Piece of cake. This was the easiest and most economic trip of them all, maybe tied with Buenos Aires to Aukland, but the reception was even easier. The Canadian Customs official didn’t even want to look at the bike. We just broke open the crate and rode off.
- Vancouver to Yangon. A couple of big scares, but the people at the far end are all trying to defuse stuff as it happens. It’s a little complicated as the bike can’t be on the road anywhere in Yangon so we’re shipping it further to a friendly police station out of town. Not dialed.
(All the above excludes the paperwork (and hassle of cash payments) that you get used to, very similar every time)