Adventures between a Cliff and a Wet Place. Brighty in Central Asia and Mongolia
This summer I took a little trip from Almaty in Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and back, then continuing via the Altai region of Russia to Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia.
Since my RTW trip around the turn of the Millennium, only having undertaken short bike rides here and there (some described at http://www.thebrightstuff.com/since2002.htm ) this 7 week trip was longer in distance, harder in terrain and in many ways more adventurous and definitely more eventful than most.
And yes there was a cliff in Kyrgyzstan and a particular wet area in Mongolia involved.
Below are some pictures to give you a taste of what I saw and did. More to come…
A bit of audience participation: of this motley crew can you spot the bent copper (a.k.a Corrupt policeman for non-UK-English speakers)? Clue: He’s wearing a hat and it ain’t blue. The picture is also significant because the Robin-van-Persie-look-alike between the 2 be-hatted gents is called Maarten. Maarten is singularly responsible for getting me out of deep sh!t in my “cliff incident” (More of that later). I owe you big time, buddy!
Horses going for a swim.
Local men, dressed to impress.
Young local women, dressed to impress.
Horse murderball(!?) (American Football on horses with a headless goat as a “ball”)!
Get the kids into biking early.
Horse against machine. Horse wins.
Pamir Highway after being thrown out of Tajikistan because the authorities were in the process starting a shooting war with their own population and didn’t want witnesses.
Smiling girl while I try to take picture of an eagle
Admiring some exceptional views
The whole of Mongolia is one big wild-campsite
Lean on me
A happy Mongolia drunk. A rare occurance. Most drunks (who also seem to love engaging foreign motorcyclists in conversations…) in central Asia/ Russia/ Mongolia were a lot less happy and showed it…
Ernie joins the trip :1drink
More coming soon!
Great stuff Chris. Did you go as part of an organised group?
Nice photos Chris, I will be around sometime :1drink to pick your brains and get some inspiration, not that I need much, for a similar trip next year.
Thanks for taking the time to post your pictures :thumb
Looking forwards to more :D
Thanks for the kind words gents. Much appreciated.
Gazz: It was a solo trip, not an organised tour. It was even postively disorganised considering my usual Teutonic efficiency. I tagged along with a group of Dutchmen and a couple of Brits to share their container to Kazakhstan. I teamed up with people here and there for a day or 2 and rode 9 days from the western border of Mongolia to Ulaan Baatar, its capital, with a German chap, also on a Transalp.
FWIW, this summer's brand of choice for the Stans and Mongolia was Honda. My counting of Africa Twins went well into double figures and combined with a couple of Trannies like mine, Honda won the day easily. European brands and other Japs were down in the cheap seats.
Nice Transalp! That bike just looks fantastic in proper adventure setup (knobbies, engine guard, giant loop, etc). I'm looking into one of these myself. How are they offroad? I'm mostly interested in how it fares gnarly low-speed passages. Did you change the gear ratio for better low-speed control in first gear?
I'll discuss my bike more later, but briefly, it has a 30L African Queens tank, progressive fork springs and harder fork oil along with a rebuilt stiffer rear shock. It behaved surprisingly well on, in places, quite tricky terrain.
The mud, where there was mud, wasn't too muddy and the sand not too sandy (:evil) so I had no real riding issues (if you exclude self-inflicted ones). Having ridden pogos for a while might also have helped, or not. Can't say.
Transalps bounce real well :D and it's amazing what you can do with a 100% submarined bike if you know how :wink:.
I ran stock gearing, but you could easily make it more aggressive as I rode most places at 80kmh/50mph
Go Chris and TA gooo!
Great photos. How do you like the oversize fuel tank on the Transalp? How many liters and any leaks or issues with it?
Wish I was there!
It holds 30 litres. No issues or leaks. It's very sturdy. It has 2 fuel taps with on/off/res, a 2 into 1 fuel line into a vacuum fed fuel pump (I forget the brand, some Jap thing that they also ran on the mid 90s Yam xtz660) and a single line into the carbs.
Love seeing RRs from this area.
Please keep posting some more
It’s as far from me to you as it is from you to me.
Instalment 1: It’s as far from me to you as it is from you to me.
I tagged along with a group of Dutch guys and a couple of Brits sharing a container to get my bike to Central Asia. This saved the ball (and ar$e) ache of riding across 1000s of miles of nothing to get to where the fun starts. I never was an iron butt rider type who likes enduring miles for the sake of it. The older I get, the more I seem to like smelling the flowers.
In contrast to the worrying that took place in the run up to, and during the shipping of the container from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Almaty in Kazakhstan everything actually went really smoothly. I had ridden my bike from the UK to Ad’s, the organiser of the container shipping from the Dutch biker’s site www.allroadmaniacs.nl , in Holland and he was kind enough to crate it and transport it to the Dutch shipping company warehouse (http://www.mainport-rotterdam.com/ ) for me. The Agent in Almaty ( www.moryldi.com ) was very efficient too and there were no “hidden extras” in terms of costs upon arrival.
Almaty seemed like a fun city with lots rich people (it has one of only 2 Bentley car dealerships in the entire ex-Soviet Union (there other is in Moscow). The people seemed pleasant enough, but not speaking a word of Kazakh or Russian wasn’t good. The girls are pretty too, but I was too jetlagged to be in the mood to take many pictures of Floraova and Faunaova.
Here’s a few pics:
Just like it says on the tin. The second heaviest pallet in the container. In my (meagre) defence all my riding gear, camping stuff etc as well as a spare tyre were in the box too. The weight is inclusive of the pallet itself.
Despite the bike being freshly spray painted matt black (Halfords own brand), this is the shiniest the bike has ever been (or ever will be). Started first push of the button.
The war memorial to the dead from the Great Patriotic War in Almaty was very impressive. It’s also a popular locations for wedding photos.
Many Kazakhs died in 1941. Locals say that it was only the arrival of the Kazakh army divisions at the siege of Moscow that persuaded the Germans to p!ss off back where they came from.
Melons anyone? (Illegal?) street sellers outside the hotel.
Do apricots give you the sh!ts or constipation?
Bent coppers are the scum of the earth,the world over. In my less than empirical study of police corruption, 100% of Kazakhstan police are corrupt. I didn’t once get stopped by any coppers in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan nor Russia. The fat pig in the picture was trying to pull a cunning stunt to extract money for alleged speeding, but he got no money from any of us.
After riding in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for 2 weeks I returned to Almaty and then continued towards Semey and Russia. Riding through a town that was so unforgettable (I recall it had lots of casinos) I got pulled over by another fat cnutstable. The “dialog” went something like this:
Copper: Random bollox probably along the likes of give me money, you were speeding.
Brighty: What? Do you speak English?
Copper: more bollox, straf straf.
Copper: more bollocks, dollar dollar
(Other copper sitting in crap looking police car 10 yards away waves me over to him.)
Brighty waves to other copper to come to him, saying: It’s as far from me to you as it is from you to me. And you need the exercise you fat pig.
Copper: more bollox, euro, euro
Brighty: niet. Excuse me, what’s that number on your badge. B151. I’m just going to give my friend the chief of police in Almaty a call (Brighty gets his phone out and pretends to call: He couldn’t, the phone battery was flat).
Copper then wanders off to pester another car driver.
Brighty rides off.
Conveniently English wasn’t taught when plod uno y dos were at skool…. :dic
Many hours later and after dark (I rode 750km that day: what was that about not doing iron butts… I had had enough of crap Kazakh roads that just go on for ever and needed to leave the country) on the way into Semeh, I see a Star-Wars-like light sabre waving at me (all the plod have these sticks and at night they do Ewan McG impressions). This time the following thought process went through my head: There’s no benefit from me stopping to engage this plod in intellectual chit chat, so I’ll just ride by without stopping.
Nobody drove after me, nobody shot me.
Look like a fantastic trip!!!:clap
Love the photos:clap
These horses in the lake in Kyrgyzstan... Awesome!
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