Mongolia or Bust: A round-the-world motorcycle misadventure

‘The most important thing is passion for the bike’ – Valentino Rossi
Anthony Hopkins was once quoted as saying ‘I don’t like nepotism’ well unfortunately us at Newman Towers are not multi gabillionnaire’s and can’t afford principles, so I’m taking this opportunity to plug my husband’s utterly brilliant first book about the time he packed in his job, I moved back home with my parents, and he went round the world on his motorbike for 4 months with his friend in 2009.



Here’s what the blurb says:

David Newman is a former computer programmer who decides to leave behind his career, home and family to take on an epic motorcycle travel adventure. Arriving at the end of his twenties still working in the north east of England he gambles on finding a new perspective from the seat of a bike. Expecting the experience of a lifetime, with route planned he sets off into the unknown with a fellow rider. Everything doesn’t go to plan for David though, the problems come right from the start of his journey and get bigger from there. Mechanical disasters, corrupt officials and armed bandits all threaten to derail the journey, but even greater threats to the adventure are still to come.
Follow the progress as the unlikely adventure unfolds across Europe, Central Asia, China and the USA. ‘Mongolia or Bust’ is a warts and all account of one man’s adventure motorcycle experience, minus the TV glamour and sponsorship money!
Being married to a published author has it’s perks, (secondary bragging rights for one, he’s far too modest to even mention to anyone he’s written a book, I on the other hand have no such modesty or discretion) but mainly I get chance to ask him anything I want about and he can’t really say no! So here’s an interview I did with my own husband (which is weirder than you might imagine!)
How did the trip come about?
I’m not sure really. I’m always liked to travel and when you’re into bikes riding all day for months on end sounds like the best thing ever. I’m a bit of a dreamer and it doesn’t take much to tempt me away from an office job.
How did you plan your route?
Mongolia was always going to be a highlight, so it was a case of making an interesting route to get there and a vague plan after. I wanted to take in as many new countries as possible on the trip.
Which country was the biggest surprise?
Maybe Kyrgyzstan, its a really stunning country.
Where would you have liked to have gone but didn’t/couldn’t?
Everywhere else! I can think of no greater luxury than having the time and money to travel indefinitely.
Which country gave you the biggest ‘oh shit’ moment?
Well, right on the Afghanistan border feels like a long way from home when things start to go wrong and the locals and their massive machine guns are far from friendly.
How did you overcome the language barriers?
With a lot of hand waving and gesturing. Making yourself understood definitely gets a lot harder when the local language isn’t even based on the same alphabet as yours. A lot of the time success is more about how willing the other person is to help. Some people will just stand and stare at the crazy Westerners, better to try someone else in that case. Most people are incredibly helpful though.
Who was the most interesting person you met?
Staying with Igor the crazy Kazakh who put us up for a few nights was pretty interesting. Still slightly surprised to get away in one piece.
Amidst all the drama how did you relax while you were away?
Drank, a lot. Other than that at night my little tent was something of a private sanctuary, I would listen to music play-lists Helen put together for me until I went to sleep
What music reminds you most of the trip?
Weirdly its I Hope You Dance by Leanne Womack. It might sound cheesy, and is usually used as graduation songs or people going off to university for the first time but the lyrics about overcoming your fears and grabbing hold of everything life has to offer seems to fit my mantra of the trip.
What inspired you to keep on going on the tough days?
Sometimes there was no choice! You’re so far from home, you’re so far from anywhere, there’s no other option than but keep on. You’ve just got to look around and appreciate how privileged you are to be able to do something like that. Most of the world’s population don’t have the opportunity.
Made it to Mongolia in the end!

Made it to Mongolia in the end!

If you did it again, what would you do differently?
Loads of things! It’s a difficult question to pick one thing, it would probably depend if I was advising someone else, doing it again in 2009 or doing it now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if I did the trip again it wouldn’t be my story anymore. It’s all the things that went so horribly wrong that make it unique to me.
Will there be another adventure?
Right now I’m having adventures of a different kind, I’ve discovered that extreme endurance running allows to to go through a range of emotions that might take weeks on the road. I’ve never rule out another travel or overland adventure though!
How did the trip change you?
Well I got a wife out of it so you don’t get much more life changing than that!
What advice would you give to something thinking of doing a similar trip?
There’s lots of detailed advice in the book, and its good to do plenty of research and gather advice. But in the end if the idea of overlanding has become something you can’t ignore then you’ll just have to accept you’ll learn as you go and set a date to set off. Sooner is better, the world is changing and not usually for the good as far as overlanding goes.
Any regrets?
These days I think of everything that might be seen as a regret as just a lesson learned. I lived to write the book so its all good!
If you’re interested in reading more about Dave’s adventure you can buy is book on kindle or hard copy from Amazon here

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