Voyage Journal

Frankfurt Airport: Air Traffic Fail

My next motorcycle trip is supposed to start today. This time I want to travel to Southeast Asia. But at the moment all wheels are standing still and I haven't even covered the first kilometer. Frankfurt Airport has been in the media several times in recent months because of its desolate ground handling. I've been lucky on my travels so far and haven't noticed anything. But today it hits me twice and three times. I'm flying to Bangkok via Taipei with China Airlines. At check-in in Frankfurt's Terminal 2, I didn't even have to wait five minutes and everything was taken care of.
The next hurdle was the federal police and the passport control to leave the country. It took me a while just to find the end of the change that meandered over a hundred meters from the automatic border control through the upper floor of the terminal.

But that went faster than I feared and after half an hour I was through.
The security check was much more lengthy. Just two scanners were planned for four international flights. The queue only ended in the terminal aisle. Again and again there were riots because people pushed ahead to get their plane. I waited patiently for an hour and was rewarded not only by the body scanner but also by two women in a separate booth. This time they wanted to know enough and let my hiking boots run through the X-ray machine again. My power bank was also up for debate and it was said that I might not be allowed to take it with me. With batteries with a capacity of more than 30,000 milliamps, each airline decides for itself whether to leave the power banks on board. China Airlines allowed it. Although I was at the airport three hours before departure, I didn't reach the departure gate until half an hour before departure.

I didn't have to rush though, because boarding didn't start until we were supposed to. When all the passengers were on board, the plane didn't move a meter for an hour and a half. The flight attendants donated water and apple juice. Nothing more happened. Finally, the announcement was heard that the plane was broken and we all had to get off again. We then sat back at the gate in the waiting area for more than four hours. At least there was half a ham and cheese sandwich and a can of coke on the house. I was back on board six hours after the actual departure.

The connecting flight in Taipei to Bangkok has long been unreachable and a whole day in the Thai capital, where I wanted to visit friends there, is wasted. I am also curious whether my luggage with my motorcycle equipment and helmet will fly to Bangkok on the same plane as me and whether we will meet there. Otherwise it will be stressful and I may have to spend even more time waiting.

I wanted to make this trip as flexible as possible and I didn't pre-book anything except for the first two nights in Bangkok. But I didn't expect that my flexibility would be largely exhausted right from the start. At least I used the time wisely to look for other exciting tour stations on the first section of my motorcycle trip through Thailand's west and transfer them to my offline map.

Moto Safari - Day 1- breakdown series

The night was short, because we had to get up at 4 a.m. to leave Kampala around 5 a.m. before the rush hour. Otherwise we wouldn't find out more as a group there, because the chaotic city traffic simply doesn't allow ten motorcycles to be kept together for a longer period of time. So we were all ready at just before five and could hardly wait for the start of the tour. But waiting is a core competence in Uganda that we had to demonstrate right from the start. The local guide, who lives only ten minutes away, had a flat tire on his motorcycle and first had to push it to the nearest gas station to mend the tyre. He arrived at half past five and we started. The traffic wasn't worth mentioning. But my two-wheeled vehicle does.

Moto Safari Uganda - "Winding Wheels" on "Top of the World"

The night was colder than I expected. Anyway, I still had to recover from a COVID-19 illness, which would have made this motorcycle trip almost impossible. So in the morning I was still croaking a lot. The evening concert of forest insects, on the other hand, had been enormous, but diminished as the night progressed, and towards morning it was quiet. After breakfast, some drove to Kibaale National Park to see the chimpanzees there. On the other hand, I wanted to do an off-road tour with a few others and climb a mountain called "Top of the World" with a magnificent view of the surrounding crater lakes. However, my 1150 GS, which I have been able to call my own since yesterday, no longer started. It didn't surprise me, because yesterday, according to the fuel gauge, I had rolled into the hut camp of the Rweteera Safari Park with the last drop of gas. The mechanic's assertion that the fuel gauge was wrong was not correct himself. Without further ado, I switched to a 650 GS belonging to a fellow passenger. A lighter vehicle was the better choice for the forthcoming hard-baked clay track. In fact, in some places the path was washed out by the water to form deep grooves. If you slide into one with a wheel, you have to be very lucky to get out of there without crashing first. Too much for the Colombian Alejandro, who was riding a heavy R 1150 with a boxer engine and his wife on the pillion. He fell on a fairly steep climb. The machine's cylinders were protected by artistically but uncompromisingly welded crash bars and Alejandro and Monica were also dressed in proper motorcycle clothing, so that the mishap had no consequences. The road was wonderfully dusty, so the morning of that second day was enough to make us all look like we'd driven up from South Africa without a single shower.

In the rain forest

Before I knew it, it just started. At eight o'clock we fired up the engines of our BMW machines and joined the Cali city traffic down the hill. After a few red lights, we had already tried our buddy system a few times and each of us knew how and when to wait for those left behind. The first part of our day's stage soon led up into the mountains and quite a bit of cornering began. That's why I didn't have that much opportunity to familiarize myself with the landscape, because I was fairly busy with the strange machine and the many very tight curves. But we quickly got used to each other.

A new travel buddy

This morning I had rice and beans with fried egg on top for breakfast. I enjoyed eating it because it's worth getting used to it as early as possible. The more I'll get upcountry the more often I won't have another choice than rice and beans with maybe fried egg on top. Yesterday I met Sean from London at the airport. He will be with me on that tour around Colombia and this morning at breakfast we had the opportunity to get to talk to each other for the first time. He turned out to be very nice, humerous and cultivated guy and we immediately hiked Downhill into downtown Cali together.

Without Words- Day 3 of "Inferno"-Circuit in Luneburg Heath

It's not always easy to assign a catchy title to a whole region and the places you visit on a motorcycle tour. I usually tend to choose an ironic umbrella term but the location I visited today, would not have allowed that. Because today I went to see the Bergen-belsen Holocaust Memorial Site. The historical place is easy to find, the staff of the exhibition center is very helpful and the entrance is free. Bergen-Belsen was not only a concentration camp but also a camp for sovjet prisoners of war. Tenthousands of them died ther due to the inhumane living conditions. I went to the Bergen-Belsen memorial site because I knew Anne Frank died there. Her diary was among the set books in school. Her for a teenage girl mature but at the same time spirited and dreamful view on herself, the people around her and on the surrounding conditions she lived in, movied me then and does to the day. The memorila stone for her and her sister at the camp site is one of many for those people who lost their lives in this camp. Her factual grave is most certainly among the  large mass graves, that a spread like burial mount on th historical camp site. Most of them contain the remains of a thousand human beings.