Paperwork

Dealing with paperwork has always been a drag for me. But two months of dealing with various embassies & regulations has taken patience to a completely new level. (I'll spare you the details here – check out the blog/diary from the beginning of the round the world journey). Particularly if you're planning to travel through Central Asia, do yourself a favour and ask a visa-agency to do the visa-runs for you.

Visas:
Avoiding the Stans (Central Asia) would have made things much easier – but then again, I wanted to ride through the Silk Route & Pamir Mountains. Anyway... here's some visa information in a nutshell (from 2008, German citizenship but should be the same for most European citizens):

Uzbekistan 30 days Tourist Visa: £35; 2 weeks processing time in London; needed for getting the Turkmenistan transit via
Tajikistan 30 days Tourist Visa; €50 including GBAO permit; 1 week processing time in Berlin
Kyrgyzstan

30 days Tourist Visa (double entry, in case there's problems with China); €90, 1-2 weeks processing time in Berlin; TRIP UPDATE: What I thought was a double-entry visa, was in fact a single-entry. If there's a "X" on the number "2" in your visa, it doesn't mean the "2" is ticked - it means the "2" is crossed out! I only found this out when I was already in Kyrgyzstan.

Iran 30 days Tourist Visa; Letter of Invitation took 3 weeks. The consulate in Frankfurt has been nothing but a royal pain in the neck, changing and bending the rules just as badly as their collegues from the Turkmenistan Embassy. At the time of processing the visa (I had been waiting to get my passport back from them for 8 days), it was impossible to get through to the Frankfurt visa section (lines permanently engaged for 2 days!) - and the one time I did get through to them, they put the phone down on me after 1/2 second. I ended up getting the Frankfurt consul's mobile number from their Embassy in Berlin, and after another 2 days got my passport with the dreaded visa.
TRIP UPDATE
: I met fantastic people everywhere in Iran - they really take hospitality to a new, unprecedented level! Don't get discouraged by the Iranian visa section – this country is well worth the hazzle of getting the visa.
Turkmenistan 5-day Transit Visa; each Turkmenistan Embassy (London, Berlin, Brussels, Vienna) will tell you different rules. I applied in advance by e-mail, providing scans of all necessary documents to the Turkmenistan embassy in Vienna; before I pick up the visa in Vienna, I need a valid visa for the neighbouring countries (Uzbekistan & Iran) in my passport;
Trip-Update:
Although generally frienly, the embassy in Vienna has been messing me about big time. They changed their rules for Transit visa, saying they need a Letter Of Invitation now - something that's simply NOT possible, because there is no LOI for a 'Transit' type visa. Then they changed their rules again, and we proceeded as planned (without LOI). The worst thing about it: although I had already applied & been emailing them, there was no updates or communication from their side.
China The Chinese visa turned out to be the biggest nightmare of this trip - mainly because of China's new visa policies during the Olympic Games in 2008, and because I couldn't apply for the visa before departure (it would have expired within 3 months). Unseccessful application in Tehran, but finally got it in Tashkent; in order to take a motorcycle into China, one needs a guide - and after some not-so-good experience with another guide, I STRONGLY recommend the guys from Newland Travel in Kashgar. They rally know what they're doing and managed to get us through China on a VERY short notice, and overall have been very helpful. Unfortunately we had to put the bikes onto a truck from Tashkorgan to the border exit post - but at least we made it.
Pakistan I got this one in London. Because I'm German, it was a bit of an exercise in madness and took over a week to obtain (4 visits to the embassy, 3 meetings with the consul and (although pomised) non-existent telephone communication from their side). In case you're having difficulties obtaining this visa: When I entered Pakistan (coming from China), I asked at the Sost border crossing: They issue a 'visa on arrival' at the border without any problems! (at least for most European citizens).
India I applied for this in Islamabad / Pakistan. Processing time was 8 days. I requested a 3-month double-entry, but was given a single-entry only. (Other travellers applied for 6 months multiple entry and got it.... they either didn't like my name or face, or their process is just a bit random).
Note: The 'diplomatic enclave' in Islamabad has special security precausions, and might not be accessible by taxi. There's a shuttle bus going there though - easy enough to find out when you're there.
Nepal visa on arrival
Thailand 'Allowance to stay' on arrival. 30 days if you arrive by air, 14 days if you arrive from a land border. Visa runs to re-enter the country are easy to all neighbouring countries including Myanmar/Burma. (Myanmar/Burma apparently is possible with a motorcycle: you leave the motorcycle at the Thai customs, go to Burma, get the visa, come back and pick up the bike from customs)
Laos no visa needed
Cambodia Visa done in Vientiane/Laos, took 1/2 day
Malaysia no visa needed
Indonesia Visa done in Georgetown/Penang/Malaysia
East Timor no visa needed, BUT: at the border they asked for a proof of financial funds if I wanted a 30-day visa. Showing a credit card or bedit card was good enough for that.
Australia E-visa. I applied from within Indonesia, and got the confirmation e-mail within 2 days. Normal visas are 3 months, but there's a "Subclass 676" visa, which is valid for 6 months. It's a bit hard to find online, but it does exist.
South America no visas needed for any countries (this is for German cizitens)

 

Other Paperwork

I carry photocopies of all documents with me, mainly to deal with roadside police check points.
Trip-Update: Police has been very friendly, and I hardly had any problems with corruption. No bribes so far. Only in Kyrgyzstan, I heard other travellers being bribed to get their passport back from the police. One bigger problems was the border crossing from Laos into Cambodia – the full story (involving a drunken customs officer) is here.

Carnet de Passage   The carnet de passage is more or less a visa for vehicles. Certain countries require a carnet, to ensure you don't sell your bike in the country. For each of those countries, the carnet documents have to be stamped in & out at the border (upon entering & leaving the country).
Luckily, the German ADAC is very easy & friendly to deal with. I went to their head office in Munich and left a refundable deposit of €3000 for the bike, plus €100 processing fee. The whole process took less than 1 hour.
International Drivers Permit   to be obtained from the RAC
Insurance   A Green Insurance Card (from my regular bike insurance) will cover me around Europe; beyond Europe, insurance is usually available at country borders.
Trip-Update: In Thailand and Malaysia, I've heard rumours of police checking for insurance and road tax, yet at the border no-one bothers about telling you that this is mandatory (particularly in Malaysia).
Drivers License   sounds obvious to some people, not to others. I know people who don't have one of those & been cruising around in S-America for a good few years
Passport   plus photocopies stored on a secure internet site
Vaccinations Certificate    
Travel Insurance  

For travel insurance, it's crucial to check the small print. Some insurances don't cover motorcycle travelling for bikes over 125cc or long-distance trips where to motorcycle is the 'main means of transport'. Navigator Travel seem to offer a fair deal for UK residents.

Vehicle Registration    
   

 

 

 

Vaccinations

I already had most of the necessary vaccinations from my last trip to South America. For my trip through Europe, Centra Asia, South East Asia and Australia, this is what I got recommended by my nurse.
Must-haves: Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, Diphteria, Tuberculosis, Meningitis, Yellow Fever (certificate of vaccination required for Australia).
Optional: Tick-borne encephalitis, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies

Malaria: unfortunately there's no vaccine against malaria. Anti-malarial drugs only decrease the risk of getting malaria but are never 100% safe. So the best thing to do is: don't get bitten. For South East Asia I carried a mosquito net – especially in Indonesia and East Timor I was glad I had one.
For anti-malarial drugs, I will carry a combination of Malarone, Doxycycline and Proguanil (each for different countries/areas).

(The above list is what was recommended to me in 2008. Go and see your doctor or nurse to find out what's recommended for you!)