Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sight seeing in Sinop

So we did the tourist thing today with some excellent local guides. Met  Atila,and Kadir,Gultekin, Merem and Engin - the Sinop Hun Motos Bikers -for chai  then  made a birthday video for Gordon (my husband) and ate the cake Kadir had bought for him.

Then rode to a Fjord on the Black Sea. Spectacular location and apparently a hiding place for Ottoman ships in WW1 when they got chased by the Russians. They  nipped in there and when the Russians went looking for them, together with Germans, they ambushed them and sorted the Russians out.

Also watched dolphins feeding near to the coast. Apparently there are lots in the Black Sea but this lot were a bit shy today and only just broke the surface of the water rather than jumped out, which was hard to capture on camera. ( Look at the black thing and imagine a fishy looking mammal and you'll get the picture)

 More Chai then at a tea house on the Black Sea coast, and a good old chat. Gultekin ( a policeman) wanted to know about the police in London, then suddenly produced his gun for inspection. Don't know anything about firearms, but this one was quite nice, as far as guns go.

Also went to Sinop Police Station and had tea with the chief of police. A bit bizarre but nice man and he gave us cologne and chocolate so he was well Ok by us.

Rounded an excellent day off with dinner in Sinop by the sea. Lovely little fishing town with waterside cafes and people playing backgammon.

Also had word that the new part for my broken scooter is on way from Istanbul and should be here in the morning. We should be on our way by noon.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Heading for Espiye again today

Third time lucky we hope. It is still about 700 kms to the Georgia border but we reckon to crack it with two days riding. Little bikes are slow., particularly when they keep breaking down. But the challenge of riding unreliable Chinese bikes is the point of this whole trip, so that's ok although it is annoying when the same problem keeps arising.

This apartment is on the 6th floor of a block which is on a hill overlooking the Black Sea. Great views of the whole peninsula and coastline again.

Had breakfast with the family then had a quick photo tour on the back of the mechanics' bikes before saying goodbye and starting out for Samsun.

But then it started to rain. Really poured so we had to wait a while but eventually it gave up and off we went, with the mechanics leading us out of town.

Had a good ride along the coast with me being very respectful of my bike and riding it gently, and that seemed to work. Well; for about 30 miles. Then she started rattling and smoking again, and on inspection, the same old oil problem was happening yet again, so back to Sinop we went. It also began raining again and the roads were soon awash with orange mud, cascading off the banks and down the streets.

Looked like big water mains had burst but nobody seemed bothered so it is obviously what happens here regularly.

We were soaked by the time we got back to the shop and very fed up. It looks like the head is the problem not the head gasket. The oil seals were in tatters yet again so there is clearly a pressure problem somewhere. It looks like the rattling exhaust has something to do with it too. That seal has never been tight and rattles constantly although the nuts are tight. When they took it apart and looked further, they said that this was the source of the problem.I was ready for a new engine but they didn't have one, so they reckoned the best bet was to replace the whole head, which is what we're doing. Parts and supply is a bit of a problem in Turkey and you forget that, coming from London where you can get anything almost instantly, albeit at a price.

So the cylinder head was sent off to Istanbul on the bus to be machined but if that can't be done, a new one will be sent back. Atilla reckons that it is a simple job to refit so if that all works, we should be on the road again by Friday morning. No Espiye today then.

So we dried out at the shop, played PlayStation, and generally chilled out. It was quite nice actually but we decided on a hotel for tonight despite the family's offer to host us again as we have stuff to do, routes to replan and clothes to wash.

Had dinner with Atilla and Kadir though then tea with their mates which was fun. All with a bit of a Google translate, dictionary, English/ German babble but it worked. Tomorrow they are taking us on a tour around Sinop so that will be fun.

So what could go wrong today?

The engine it would seem. Again. Got up early - yes early - and set off as planned. Met a group of local school kids as we packed up who wanted to know all about us - nice kids. Gave them some pens and stuff.

It was a lovely day, empty roads,with  interesting places en route and we called into a petrol station for fuel. The man there was lovely and our arrival clearly made a difference to him and his chickens,

so he made us tea, which we accepted.

 No sooner had we done so, than several old men appeared from nowhere and sat down with us, chatting away in Turkish and passing the time of day. So we spent an hour there with them, having a great conversation that nobody understood but everybody enjoyed.

We got back on the road after about an hour, rode another 60 kms or so, then my bike gave up the ghost again. Right on top of a mountain, with oil spewing forth just as before.

What now? This was fixed yesterday. Not happy, even after some roadside coffee.

So good old  Mehmet phoned a friend in Sinop and an hour later, two blokes arrived, put our bikes in their pickup and drove us 40kms to Sinop, the most northerly point in Turkey, on the Black Sea.

And what a nice place it is. A  long skinny peninsula with sea on three sides and tremendous views of the north Turkish coastline.

One of the blokes turned out to be Kadir, the younger brother of the motorbike shop owner  Atilla. (Its called Hun motorcycles - how cool is that?) We spent all afternoon with them pulling the bike to bits and then stayed over at their family apartment. What a nice family they are and they made us so welcome, fed us, and generally looked after us.

 Two small nieces were there too, trying to teach us a bit of Turkish which we couldn't grasp and which they found hilarious.

Its just this sort of thing that makes trips - the problems and set backs that turn into opportunities to meet people and go places that would otherwise have been missed.What could possibly be in store for tomorrow?

Monday, 28 May 2012

Another bonkers day today

This trip gets madder and madder. The non English speaking nice artist man came and collected us again this morning and we did another diesel spewing bus following session to some back street garage somewhere in Kastamonu, but the mechanic wasn't there.
 So we went to the main Yamaha dealer in town where to our surprise, the lovely men there were only too pleased to help us out and sort two manky and by now exceptionally filthy Chinese scooters.

They very quickly established that the main head gasket was at fault and that the exhaust was loose and  full of black oil - hence the mega smoking and loud banging. The cereal packet paper gaskets caught fire when I was riding it this morning too, so that didn't help on the smoke front.

So they changed all of that, replaced the seals, bought us tea, chatted to us about bikes, London, practised their English on us, introduced us to their families, produced some puppies ( called Lucky and Arsey) to amuse us, and then proceeded to go through both bikes looking for anything that needed doing, and doing it.

They fixed the brakes, sorted the chains, changed the oil, tidied up all the wiring for the 12 v sockets etc, test rode them and decided that the clutch plates were wearing so replaced the whole unit for us.

And all the time they kept giving us tea, and then lunch.
We spent about 4 hours with them and they were great, and the bill when it came was just £130.00 - £15.00 of which was the entire labour charge. Lovely people, and really cool. Thanks chaps!

So it looks like we'll be underway again tomorrow. We decided to stay here another night which was a good call as its  tipped it down all afternoon - big fat horrible rain which would have drenched us and we'd have had to find another place to stay anyway, so we decided it was best to stay put and set off early in the morning.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Well, it's all went tits up today.............

..............but it started with so much promise.
Up at 0600 and on the road early, made up the miles we didn't do last night and were well on course when we stopped for an early lunch at 11.30. Nice up until then, and the roads were empty, but then  it rained again, followed by thunder and lightening, so we let it pass and chatted to the garage people and drank tea with them before getting back on the road.

Several hours later, and still on course for Samsun, we pulled into a petrol station and noticed that  my bike was dripping oil - badly.

We tightened up everything we could think of but it continued. We were inspected by every other person who came into the garage, and they all ooohed and ahhhed at the dripping bike, but nobody could help. So we sent a few hopeful texts to mates who might have an idea but couldn't get hold of anybody, so we rang Mehmet in Istanbul, who told us to stick some more oil in then get to the next town (Kastamonu, 60kms distant) where he would get somebody to help us.

But then it all went really wrong. The bike lost compression and could only limp forward, oil was dripping out of the exhaust pipe and clouds of white smoke  belched forth with every revolution of the wheel. We had to stop every 20 kms to tip more in, and it took ages but we got there eventually and found Mehmet's friend Ihsan, who turned out to be a non bike riding, non English, French or German speaking  artist, and a very nice man.

We had tea with him, then followed him to a teaching college halls of residence where he found us cheap accommodation for the night. The only problem was that he was on the bus which we had to follow on bikes - one by now smoking, stuttering and banging very badly - and   had to stop at every bus stop on way, and got stared at by the whole town who must have wondered what on earth was going on.

But good old Mehmet had already found us a mechanic for the morning and Ihsan will take us to him by the same bike/bus malarky. Hopefully it will be something simple and easy to fix but this has seriously delayed our progress across Turkey  and we're not sure how to make the time up to get to the Russian border in time, which is a bit of a bugger.  Oh and I broke my new camera this morning - but think I've managed to fix it ok.