Mongolia, will we ever get there?

Mike & Ben – Scottish adventure 2021

The last couple of years has turned the world upside down in more ways than one. With the COVID19 pandemic bringing the world to its knees and governments globally forcing their populations into mandatory lockdowns, closing borders and blocking all travel it became impossible to even think about adventure motorcycle trips overseas yet alone actually under take such a venture.

With the Russian government now completely destabilising the region with the war in Ukraine, Scandinavian countries applying for NATO membership and the threat of nuclear apocalypse things are only getting worse, not better.

As if it wasn’t bad enough already, the border conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan doesn’t look like it’ll end any time soon. The withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan resulted in the Taliban taking control of the Afghan/Tajik border making it impossible to ride along some of the most challenging and beautiful parts of the region.

Many governments have shown their true colour during the pandemic with some even becoming totalitarian and turning against the very people that put them in power. I was appalled at how the supposed liberal government in Canada treated people during the protests over unnecessary mandatory vaccinations. Whatever happened to freedom of choice?

The last two years have certainly impacted everyones lives one way or another.

Throughout the pandemic I’ve kept in touch with contacts in Russia and Mongolia and have received regular updates on travel restrictions and border closures. We’re now in April 2022 and the Mongolian borders are still closed to tourism, as are the Russian borders.

When I retired in October 2019 I was ready to go on my trip, all visas were sorted, ferry off this little island of ours was booked and I was kitted up ready to go. I’d been waiting for this moment for years and it was finally coming or so I thought.

I’m now beginning to wonder whether it will ever be possible to ride through central Asia and experience the open plains of Mongolia freely. It’s certainly not going to happen this year (2022) and as for next year, who knows!

Since the Mongolia trip is well and truly on the back burner until further notice I started looking at other options. South America has always fascinated me but, many of the borders are still closed and their death rates are still high, it’s going to be some time before this is viable again.

Australia has now opened it’s borders and so perhaps this is now my only option?

I’ve always wanted to ride across the outback and ride the coast road around Oz so perhaps this should now be my focus. Shipping coasts due the pandemic are ridiculously high so I’d need to consider selling the bike in the UK and buying a bike in Australia for the trip.

Fortunately my wife’s nephew lives in Australia and so we have a contact there to get information about purchasing and insuring a bike.

The shape of travel has certainly changed over the last two years and not for the better. I’m not convinced it will ever go back to how it used to be but, we must strive to find ways around government restrictions so that we can experience this beautiful planet to the full.

More soon …

Vaccinations!

So I entered into the dark world of vaccinations today and what a rabbit hole it is!

In January 2019 when I was at the Adventure Travel Show in London I met some lovely nurses from the Fleetstreet Clinic who told me exactly what vaccinations I needed.

The list consisted of the following vaccinations:

Diptheria
Tetanus
Polio
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE)
Rabies
Typhoid
Cholera

Seeing the nurse at my local GP surgery this morning I discovered that my Diptheria, Tetanus and Polio jabs are up to date so they aren’t required.

Hep A & B and Typhoid I could start today on the NHS, Typhoid being 1 single injection and the Hep A & B being 3 injections each spread over a number of weeks. 1st injections done, new appointments made for the next two set of injections.

So this now leaves the TBE and Rabies jabs. These are available on the NHS but at a cost which is fair enough however, unfortunately my GP surgery doesn’t have stock and won’t get them in time for my trip so I’ll have to get them done privately.

The nurse recommended a company called MASTA Travel Health so I gave them a call when I got home. After being in a queue for ages I got through to what sounded like an Indian call centre, this is where the fun started!

After a long drawn out conversation on the phone it was clear they were going to take me for every pound they could. The chap said I would have to pay for a wellness telephone interview, then if I pass this a face to face health check and if I pass this a one to one travel interview, all of which cost money. I explained I’d already been to my doctors surgery this morning and done all of this and that I just wanted to get the vaccinations but oh no, that wasn’t good enough, their experts are much better. Needless to say I put this conversation to bed swiftly and hung up.

After doing a little more research I found that Boots Pharmacy provide a vaccination service. A quick search on Google and I soon found my local Boots Store contact details. A quick call and conversation with the very helpful lady on the other end and I had an appointment for tomorrow to get both the TBE and Rabies injections started, fantastic!

So the cost for the TBE and Rabies series of jabs (Oh yes there are many!!) is £300.00. I’m guessing when compared to what our cousins over the pond would have to pay this is a very acceptable figure and one I have no issues with.

This just leaves the Cholera Vaccination. Apparently this one isn’t a jab (Hoorah!) but a powder that you mix with water and drink. I’ve yet to have this as the nurse at the GP surgery had to order it, but I’ll get my hands on it soon.

So if you are planning a trip to Central Asia then you need to allow a minimum of two months to get all your vaccinations sorted and will probably feel like a sieve at the end of it!

UPDATE 2021: On advice of the doctor I also got a Pneumonia vaccination, worth adding to your list!