2 Ride the World - the epic journey continues 2RTW

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by simon thomas, Aug 26, 2006.

  1. 950sm07

    950sm07 n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7
    Hi Simon,
    I totally agree you can't protect everything all the time, it's tiring and takes away the joy even if you just think about it...

    I just want you to keep going and share your adventure with us! :-)
  2. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    Thanks for that...appreciate it!

    Simon
  3. lisa thomas

    lisa thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    152
    Location:
    10 years on the road and still going..back in USA!
    WOW - we can't get over just how many of you have been looking at our thread .....we are SO glad that its being enjoyed.
    we will try to keep adding to it whilst we have good internet access.

    there have been severe thunderstorms here in Pokhara Nepal and so the electricity is on and off. We head off into the hills in the next couple of days but over the last few days the roads have turned to muddy coffee.

    thanks for your support and comments - on the road away from family and friends it means a lot to us!

    cheers
    Lisa
  4. kingrj

    kingrj Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    591
    Location:
    Hattiesburg, Mississippi

    I placed an "order" yesterday..God speed! I want to buy your hard bound glossy paged book when you publish it too! There are so many of us that live vicariously through your adventures..Intoxicating!

    R J King
  5. timk519

    timk519 Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,591
    Location:
    Kitchener Ontario, Canada
    Absolutely spectacular! Thanks for posting! :clap
  6. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    23-10-2009

    Friday – and we pop around to the Turkmenistan embassy here in Dushanbe. We knew what they were going to say – come back when you are able to show us visas for both Uzbekistan (which we’ve got) and the Iranian visa…got to go and get!

    So now we head off to the embassy of Iran. We had already been given our authorization number after applying for our LOI (letter of invitation) via David at StanTours. He had told us it would take around 3 weeks to get and it was! When you apply for your LOI for Iran you have to specify all of the places you will visit and the hotels you will be staying in……of course it’s easy to provide this as they do not (at the moment) require booking confirmations etc……just make sure that the hotels that you note down do exist in the cities/towns that you list! You also have to specify where – once you have the authorization number – you would like to collect your visa. I (Lisa) had chosen Dushanbe as I had heard good reports on visa collection there and it was on our way. I had got a bit concerned about the weather and wondered what would have happened had we not been able to cross the mountains due to snow etc….luckily we didn’t have to make any alterations/special requests etc for change of venue!

    Luckily there were not too many people queuing at the Iranian embassy and after we showed our passports and confirmation number, the guy at the desk confirmed that our application/confirmation was there – phew – we were relieved as you never know!

    Unfortunately the guy at the desk didn’t have much English and we had hardly any Russian, no Tajik and no Persian!! They were so helpful and went and got another guy who took us over the road to another office where an agency was based in order to help us complete the application form. This form had to be completed in Persian, so we needed their services. We wondered how much this was going to set us back!

    What a very fast service – and all forms were done and passport copies and photos stuck on for less than 5 quid. NOTE: females must make sure that they provide a photo whilst wearing a hejab – i.e. your head, hair, ears, neck, must be covered. Have a look at the photo that I gave, for which they were very pleased – smiling broadly and saying – ‘oh you look traditionally Muslim, very good, very good’. Back over the road with all forms completed and photos attached we hand them over and told that we could have them this afternoon after we have been to the bank to pay!! We thought that we would be told to return on another day! The bank was easy to find and the one and only Iranian bank in Dushanbe. Back to the embassy and our passports with visas were handed back to us. This had taken a total of 1 ½ hours!!! The consulate said ‘this is the fastest visa I have ever been involved in issuing!’ Maybe everyone was willing to help as we had taken time to chat to everyone, those in the offices and in the queue….had a laugh….etc. Simon had been open and friendly and undemanding…and I had taken a backwards step, involved in the conversations but making sure that I didn’t instigate too much.

    We left a bit shell-shocked and so very very pleased. We had heard such horror stories about the Iranian visa….and ours was so quick and easy!

    Now it was afternoon and too late for us to return to the Turkmenistan embassy to commence our visa application there so we have to wait for them to re-open on Thursday next week as they are celebrating Independence and are on holiday…typical!

    So then we also used this time to try and locate the Pakistani embassy…and of course…it had moved! So – after going around and around and asking for directions and being told the old location time and time again we eventually found it.

    No one could help us today however as the consul was away..we were told to come back tomorrow.

    24 to 28-10-2009

    Lisa writes:

    We spent most of the next few days sitting in SegaFredo – a very nice but expensive coffee shop here in Dushanbe. However, they have Wi-Fi and don’t seem to mind if you sit for quite a few hours on the trot with just one cup of coffee! So this is where we made our base. During this time I managed to do a little research (whilst Simon gave me the laptop for a few mins here and there!) and found an online store service called Lulu……was this what we have been looking for all these months? Will this solve our shop problems?

    [​IMG]
    The manager of Segafredos asked us to park the bikes inside the cafe

    After looking into what they provide – we have decided that it’s as good as it will get – and are now working on opening up an online store before Xmas!

    We are in desperate need of cash. This has been a very expensive time. Central Asia is costly due to not only the visas – so far I have organized 7 – usually at $80+ each per visa….but gas is not cheap and neither have the hotels/guesthouses etc. A lot of the time you are expected to register – so a hotel (usually very basic) is needed and of course costly – especially in Russia and Kazakhstan. Food hasn’t been that cheap either – especially if you don’t want the same borsht or mutton plov every single day.

    So – when I found out that the remainder of the cash in our bank account was down to 200 quid I panicked at bit. This was it. The costs of the last few months – the shipping – gas etc..had all eaten into the reserves we had built up in the USA? There is no more. How the hell do we go on? We have tried to be so careful since leaving the USA. It gets quite tiring everyday to worry about finances, how to pay for this, how to get tires, can we get a full tank of gas, what is the cheapest thing in the supermarket to buy so I can cook something edible..? and so on. I have no more answers. I can no longer magic money from somewhere – anywhere.

    I went to sit outside- I don’t normally panic – but this hit home I had to think and just ponder what we do..and how. Go home? We have no home to go to. Parents will of course take us in – but for how long could we rely on that – it’s not fair to them….and I am just a few years away from 50…! Go back home and live with parents…..for just a short while yes..but…..
    We knew that this time would come and to tell the truth I am just so amazed that it’s been this long. But the daunting prospect of ‘home’ - well – it’s no longer home….with no job, house, savings…is just too awful.

    We are surprised that by now after having ‘proven’ ourselves that most companies are still not interested in any kind of sponsorship, large or small…most usually small! LOL. Touratech have become a major support as well as a few other companies- most in the USA…..all listed – go have a look at the sponsor’s page!! But not one in our home country..now that is disappointing…it’s not from want of contact either! We don’t feel we deserve their support just because of being on the road for so long….but we feel we can EARN it. We have a lot to offer companies….and we always fulfill our promises. That’s one of the most important things about sponsorship – always fulfill what you promise!

    What will happen now?

    Get a job I hear you say! Go and work in a bar..etc etc..
    Well- there are certain requirements for applying for a GWRecord. You cannot remain in one place for more than 2 months at a time- unless its hospital or something as equally as unavoidable etc…. and to work in a bar means usually a town or city. Can't camp. So you pay out more for staying somewhere. Etc. etc. and then there are visas. Most only last one month or sometimes 3. And don’t allow you to work. If you get caught working then you are deported. The bike? Well…you would have to sort that at a later stage because they wouldn’t wait for you to figure that out…..
    And so on….excuses..no- reasons..yes.

    So - In order to get just a little cash in so we can hope to get a little further we need an online shop to sell something! It’s about the right time for a calendar- ready for Xmas gifts!

    [​IMG]
    We spent hour upon hour here.

    And so all of our time was spent selecting, getting the photos then ready for print, choosing layout, proofing, designing the shop front layout. Uploading (this took forever as the internet connection is just so slow here most of the time!) Once up – then we had to advertise it.

    This meant going on all the forums and uploading more info to the threads and photos etc and so on. It’s really difficult to explain just how long this takes on a really crappy internet connection. Thank God the managers at the coffee shop let us stay behind most nights after they were closed as the internet connection improved at around 11 pm!

    So now we have a 2010 calendar up and for sale…….let’s see how this goes. It won’t fund the rest of the trip – but it might help for a month….or two.

    Another quick trip back to the Pakistani embassy ….told “oh – no one is here to help you today”..! after we mentioned that we were told to come back today we were ushered into a room and given a ‘consultation’ of some sorts (being asked our address, citizenship was all that took place) and then told that our case would be discussed….we weren’t sure of what our case was…and they didn’t really know of ‘our case’…but this was not one of the times to mention this. I had a very hard time understanding what they man was saying……he had such a strong Pakistani accent. We have been hearing of bad things re Pakistani visas at the moment due to all of the problems there currently. We really had thought that Iran would be the ‘problem’ country from which to receive a visa!

    29-10-2009


    Requested Turkemnistan visa. Went back for the 3rd time to the Pakistani embassy….were told that they only issue visas to residents of Tajikistan and others who are working here. So – why were we not told this on the other days…it would have saved us a lot of time and energy!!

    [​IMG]

    30-10 to 02-11-2009

    OK – so I have had it here! (Adventurers Inn) These people say one thing to us and another to each other! We have just been kicked out of the office by the young girl saying – I am going now (quite literally – now!) not... ‘oh in 5 mins I need to go’…just – I am going now – you need to leave now!

    OK….so Simon says but we were told we could use the office..as the Wi-Fi is not working and we need to plug directly in with the cable….? ‘NO’, she says…..you have to leave now. Ok so it’s not worth arguing……..but she is still insistent….now go now! As I try to explain to her…….I have to close down all of the applications I am using on the pc here in the office…and Simon needs to ensure that he is logged out of all the internet application properly too…Now she goes now! If she doesn’t shut up I will bop her one!!

    Simon can see I am getting really annoyed…..as I try to explain that I understand we have to go…..but……I need only 3 mins (??) to close things……’ cant wait’.she says..’now now’….
    Ggggrrrrrrrrr

    So – we are kicked out without much ceremony and head off to the café – at least we are welcome there even if we don’t buy anything to eat and make a cup of coffee last 6 hours!

    Eventually managed to get the calendar for 2010 up and online! This is a huge job! We are so pleased with it – now all we need to do is to sell some……

    After doing what we could there we finish the day with a visit to a supermarket….whilst struggling with deciding what to cook…..pasta dish or rice dish…we meet this very excited guy who asks if the 1100 outside is ours……I’d left my bike at the ‘guesthouse’. It turns out that he has his 1150 ADV here. Doesn’t get to ride it much. Simon and he talk whilst I decided on food for the evening. It turns out that he has a problem with his bike and Simon, being the techie that he’s turned into (!), asks if Arne (he’s Danish) would like him to look at it? They organize for the bike to be brought along to the guesthouse tomorrow evening.

    03-11-2009

    Work all day. The girl has apologized for yesterday’s misunderstanding’s and we will be able to work all day in the office…….:-)
    I go to have a shower… no hot water. I Mention it to ‘the’ lady (girl has left – now it’s the cook/ a older one who's in charge now) and she shrugs and trundles off to …do something about it? I ask her if there will be hot water later...she says yes. But it has to heat up. Good. I think they just turned it off cos we are the only guest here!

    Much later after she has gone and the boy is now here for evening and night duty…..I try the water again. Freezing cold. Mention it to him. He calls the older lady…and then tells me that she didn’t know! Errr…yes she did…..No, he says…this is the first she knows about it………SIGH – No point in arguing……..So no hot water, no shower! What are we paying for?? No hot water, using our own tent, no wi-fi, and the kitchen locked most of the time…….and a fridge in the guesthouse that keeps on being unplugged. WTF?!

    Later on Simon goes out to meet Arne and bring him back here to the guesthouse. Simon is all smiles and excitedly tells me that Arne has a house which he has offered to us as he is out of town for the next couple of weeks.

    Oh GOODDY!! A House! A hot shower! They get to work on Arnes bike, don’t solve anything, but we all have vodkas ?
    We can move in tomorrow!

    04-11-2009

    Today was the day…..:-) we are moving. Took our time sorting things out. I really wanted to make sure the tent was clean inside and out. It had got really really dusty and dirty from the rain and trees here that were dripping with the muck of the backstreets. When it had rained this shit had just gone straight onto the bikes and tent.

    It was a relief to be going. Initially, when Ruslan (owner) was here things were ok. He's a nice guy but at the moment he’s away…visiting the UK. The staff, we have found since being here, are quite sulky..in an adult way not a 5 yr old kid way…..we have been made to feel like we are a nuisance, in the way…not made to feel very welcome and generally treated like idiots. Maybe that’s the type of person who is usually here…but that’s not us- and being talked down to by some 20 something year old office girl is not something I can keep my mouth shut over. Maybe they are good with the tour groups etc who have pre-bookings and therefore pay out lots of dosh upfront…but with independent travelers we think they have a lot to learn.
    Glad to be going.

    So – once all loaded we made off and had a couple of turns to take and we arrived at Arnes hous ?
    Ooohhhh – so excited! 3 stories high. Nice kitchen, double bed, office….etc….now we can recharge our batteries and finish the work we had set ourselves to do.
    However, priorities – food and then movie in bed!

    05-11-2009


    Oh this is just wonderful!! A bed – a lie in – a cup of Tea in bed ? a hot shower….being able to walk to the bathroom absolutely starkers!! Wow – wow –wow! Just occasionally we need this.

    We just sat and worked and used the washing machine and aired things and then I was in my element in the kitchen again.
    Great!

    OK, so today is the day we are picking up our Turkmenistan visa. So off we trot to the embassy which now, due to our move, is quite literally just around the corner within a stones throw! Not many people in the queue and within 45 mins we are inside being told where to hand over our dosh of $85 per visa. A little more than we had been told but not way over. As we have learnt, always expect it to be a bit more than you are told – especially as we had to request an ‘Express’ service. We asked the guy to place our visas on certain page numbers as we are running very very low on space. I think I have just enough for a Pakistani one and an Indian one – both of which we have been told require a double page each. Simon will have issues but there is nothing we can do about it just yet. Come to that hurdle later. The guy was quite happy to do as we asked and put the visas where we needed them. A quick run down to the bank- not the easiest place to find and $170 lighter we made it back at 4:30 to collect them.

    In between our visits to the Turkmenistan embassy we also tried to locate the Pakistani embassy – of course after going around and around.

    06 to 10-11-2009

    OK – so we are still here in Dushanbe. We now have a wonderfully sunny day – not hot – but good enough to continue with the scrubbing of things like Thermarests etc cos at least I now they will dry today ? Also it’s a good day to get my pannier frame welded. It’s broken in a really strange place and it’s not due to a drop or anything cos there’s not been any for a while……true!
    Tonight we are making dinner for Matt from the British embassy and his fiancé.

    11-11-2009

    Today was a tying up ends day. Everything washed – put away – repaired …and eaten! We had the left overs from last nights meal…always seems to taste better a day afterwards….did as much as we could on the laptop
  7. timk519

    timk519 Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,591
    Location:
    Kitchener Ontario, Canada
    :clap

    Loving the updates!
  8. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    12-11-2009

    …a longer day than we’d hoped for.

    The alarm had bleeped and 5:30 and by 8:00am we were heading back down Rudaki street for the last time. Opposite the main palace Lisa had turned right onto the M41 where she’d pick up some cash at the corner ATM. I’d headed further on to pay one last visit to our second home in Dushanbe, Segafredos café, where I’d arranged to meet Shirin and hand over Arnes key’s for the house.

    Shirin’s dark thick hair and warm smile was a nice start to the day I told myself as I handed her the keys.

    My brain wasn’t functioning I told Lisa as I tried to figure out if we had enough cash for fuel. Finally the light bulb came on and I realized we could easily fill up without one of us having to go back to the ATM. The fuel was 3 sominee 70c for one liter and my brain, now only firing on half a cell had panicked when I’d miss placed the decimal point and calculated that 10 liters would be 307 sominee.

    As we headed out of Dushanbe we both felt a little sad, the town had made an impression on us even though we’d seen very little of it. Arnes house at the end of our stay was just a huge bonus we hadn’t seen coming and the time we’d spent there had given us a glimpse of normality; a fresh pot of cafetiere coffee in the morning, walking butt naked to the bathroom in the middle of the night without worrying about bumping into a back packer in the hallway. Internet on demand and hot water at the turn of a tap.

    To our left and into the distance the tall jagged snow capped peaks of the Zerafshan and Hissar mountain ranges could easily be seen. The fresh dusting of white powder making them seemingly glisten a little more than they had. The light morning haze has lifted and everything seemed sharp and in focus this morning. Sweeping bends came and went and a short 36 miles later we were pulling up past a set of red and white barriers and completed our last police check point in Tajikistan.

    Outside we laughed and joked with the 20 or so money changers that were shoulder barging each other for our business. We agreed with one of them to change 100 Tajik sominee for 35,000 Uzbek Som. We left with a ‘wad’ of bills; I rubbed them over my face to the loud laughs of the throng who probably thought I was a bit strange.

    Inside the small but modern looking passport hall we went through the usual exit formalities and finally passed the last set of gates. On the down slope toward the Uzbek border, half a dozen long cross continental trucks were lined up on the right, we had enough room to by-pass them and line jump. Down at the front the bolshy border guards were ordering us to stop. For fuck sake, what do you think we’re going to do…not stop. Lisa was having problems getting enough ground clearance to put down her kick stand and all the while the guard was getting stroppier thinking his barked orders for us to follow him were being ignored. “Keep you knickers on” Lisa said giving the guard a dead pan stare. He’d found delight in hitting her helmet and body armor but went too far when he leaned over and starting patting her chest. “Oi that’s me, there’s no padding there…fuck off, yes I’m a women and you don’t do that” Lisa's tone was that of a parent talking to a misbehaving child. The guard may not have understood the words but the tone he understood only too well…and he backed off.

    Our passports were processed easily and quickly and customs was the same. We kept waiting for the time to hand over the $10 each we’d been told about by the money changers’ on the Tajik side but it never came. We hadn’t paid a thing.

    On the bikes we were now surrounded by 7 vehicle inspection guards, each asking question about the bikes until they were satisfied with the answers and then came the order. There was no specific word but 3 grown men each revving an imaginary bike and lifting their arms into the air with child like grins made it obvious what they wanted. “Dah, Dah”? I asked “Is it OK. For here, for here..yes”? There was a bizarre look of excited anticipation in their faces and so not wanting to disappoint I pulled a quick u-turn, road back around 30 feet, road towards the official border and then wacked on the gas and hoisted the front wheel skyward as A gaggle of border guards whooped and whistled. The most bizarre part of this is that Lisa’s been reading aloud over the last few nights, Ewan and Charlie’s ‘Long Way Round’ book, in Which Charlie describes the exact same request being made of him as they crossed into Russia. Brilliant!!!

    "Welcome to Uzbekistan country 64".


    Pulling up to the vehicle inspection area on the Uzbek side we were halted in a very formal fashion and off the bikes we began the lengthy process of clearing the bikes. Five hours later and we were still there!

    Passport and the other usual nonsense was pretty straight forward but in all of our travels this was to be both the politesse and the most thorough search we’d had carried out out. The guard went through everything. Every bag, every canister and then looked concerned over finding Lisa’s stashes of medications. If that hadn’t been bad enough they really were in for a surprise when going through every one of Lisa small plastic film canisters, in which she keeps her spices for cooking, they popped open a lid to find simple corn flour. There’s just one problem…it’s a sticky very fine white substance. Yeah we had some explaining to do. Well think about it.-what the hell is Russian for corn flour and how do you mime the words “it’s for thickening soups and stew”. It took us a while until finally I suggested that the guard taste it. That seemed to do the trick.

    When all sorted and done we were given the OK to move on, but there was just one more thing. They wanted a wheelie. Lisa looked like she was going to burst out laughing. I’m crap at wheelies, I just don’t practice them, well, you don’t generally with ½ a ton of laden bike but what the hell, and so like before I u-turned brought the bike up to around 15mph, rolled off the gas then back on and like before the front wheel lifted upwards and everyone was happy. Good, now we can get going, I’m bloody freezing.

    We’d hoped to get to Samarkand today but that was another 250 miles away and it was now late afternoon.

    [​IMG]

    Heading out of one of the small towns I’d been waived over by a traffic cop who’d fumbled with the buttons of a speed gun whist doing his best to assure me I was going 93 km per hour in a 70 zone. (Lisa later told me that she had seen him but pretended she hadn’t and just ridden on!) “Protocol Protocol’ he barked. This sounded just like our first run in with police in Russia. He was demanding I pay $50 for an instant fine. He’d not even been holding the gun when I’d passed him. With that I told him I was a policeman in the UK and had been for 12-years and that we were brothers. Besides I continued “ I have GPS” tapping the gps screen firmly. “I have evidence of my accurate speed” I exclaimed. Daft thing is I said all this in English with a bad Russian accent like he was going to understand me better. With that I flicked through the menu of the GPS, found the calculator feature and punched in the numbers 6 and 3. I then proudly showed my antagonist that my GPS told me I was only doing 63 when I passed him. There was no disputing it, the number 63 were there big and bold on the screen. He was suitably impressed and agreed that I didn’t need to pay the $50.

    Pulling away and trying to catch up with Lisa I couldn’t believe that that had worked. I doubt he’d ever seen a GPS before. Another trick in the arsenal of “how to get out of shitty situations”

    Lisa writes:

    It was dark and getting scary by the time we pulled off the road and into a small motel. We been stopped at every single police check point, all good hearted and all very pleasant but it had cost us and in the dark we were now freezing. The room was shabby but carrying on would have been dangerous.
    There was not a lot around the hotel and so after some small talk with the guy at reception )in Russian of course and sign language) he decided that he would take Simon to a shop where we could buy some food and then use the hotel kitchen. The guy only really wanted a ride on Simon’s bike! He later took Simon into the kitchen and they cooked eggs which we had with bread and vodka! Taking the vodka into our room which was so cold that I got my sleeping bag out and slept in that.

    I hope we make it to Samarkand tomorrow.
  9. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    13-11-2009

    The light tapping on the door woke us at a little past 8:00am, neither of us had been woken by the watch alarms, which we’d set for 7:00am.

    The bikes felt good beneath us and the clear blue and sky and bright sun a contrast to the engulfing darkness in which we arrived last night, chilled to the bone. It felt wonderful to be on the road and ahead of us a day’s travel to Samarkand. 130 miles of biking in a new country, where every experience is all part of the learning curve.

    At the first police check point we picked up exactly where we’d dropped off yesterday and the gentle waving of the light red stick was our cue to pull up, smile like idiots and play nice. All the same questions came “vere are you going? Vere do you come from” the police man asked. “Skolka, skolka” came the next. Which by now we knew to mean ‘how much, cost your bike…skolka”. Over the years we’ve learnt top lie skillfully about this specific question. Answering truthfully, $20k for the bike and probably another $15k for all the modifications would be met with simple dissbelief. In countries where the average household monthly income is $20 per month (in the city, if they’re lucky), the figure of $35-40,000 is just unfathomable. You may as well explain that you’ve got Britney Spears naked and tied up in the boot (trunk) of your car and you’ll take a ‘fiver’ for her. They’d hear the words but they’d make no sense.

    Our stock answer now is that the bikes are worth $5,000. That figure is met with headshaking, a backward step with hands on hips and gasp, which serve as a ‘wow’.

    By late morning we’d swapped the arid desert landscape for mountains as we gassed the bikes easily passing even the newer cars on the road.

    At the top of a pass the police waived us over and we pulled to the side. I lifted my visor, took of my glove and earnestly smiled and exclaimed “Salam aleykum”. The police man placed his right hand over his hart and repeated the same back to me, shaking my hand. “Cold. Cold’ he blurted in Russian, with a genuine look of concern on his face. “A little I replied in English” With that he shouted something to his subordinates and 10 seconds later both Lisa and I were sat on our bikes being served piping hot tea in small delicate bowls. :CHI, Chi” our new friends repeated as looking for our approval. He took our enthusiastic sipping and nodding heads as thanks and turned to his colleagues with a triumphant look on his face and his chest slightly more plumped than before.

    With our tea downed we answered a few more question about the bikes and sped off waiving and honking our horns to our new friends. The next police stop played out like all the others. With Lisa parked up to my right busy talking with the ever so slightly narked officer, I leaned across and whispered “can you asked him for two sugars and some milk in mine”? Lisa’s small hiccup of laughter just confused the officer who was now demanding the “passport for motor…motor”. He means the V5 (vehicle registration doc. I told Lisa, who was still trying to hold back from giggling.

    As we approached the outskirts of Samarkand I pondered what I’d learned of Uzbekistan so far? One- they like motorbikes. Two- they like wheelies and three- they bloody love Daewoos, every other car that isn’t a Lada is a Daewoo, with the badges pulled off and replaced with a Merc emblem or a sun blind pinned across the back window proudly emblazoned with ‘Cadillac”.

    On the hillside ahead of us the Registan stood silhouetted by the Sun. The huge dome atop the tall tower suddenly casting me back to Casablanca in Morocco. After 30 minutes of wrong turns we hailed a taxi and followed it up to the main street we’d battled to find, with a few photos snatched at the ..Mausoleum we booked into the small B&B Antica and with the bikes parked up were soon sipping more tea, which we washed down the bread topped with homemade mulberry preserve. Wonderful.
    We had the option of dinner at the B&B for $4 each or dinner for $8 each at the 19th century traditional Samarkand house – still with the families but in a different part of the town about 10 mins away. We decided to go for the $8 each one as we had not eaten properly yesterday and had had nothing all day today until we the tea, bread and jam at 4pm!

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    The old house- 19th century- was really beautiful in a worn-out way. Set in a spacious courtyard, pomegranate and the small tomato-looking but orange fruit – the persimmon trees – peppered the yard. The history of the family was very interesting and this house is one of only 3 remaining buildings in Samarkand which still have intact examples of this incredibly intricate and ancient architecture - that survived the red army’s barrage in the 1920’s. The family was in such dire need for money last year that they were going to have to tear down the house as it was in such a bad state of repair and they couldn’t afford the repairs. It was then that a few local wealthy business men that heard about this and helped. This is also the reason they now do these dinners – all to help out. Food was great – and so was the company as we were with as we met up with a German family. The family now living in Tashkent and working with the German embassy.

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    In the dining room we sat on the floor at a low table our feet tucked underneath us and the first of 3 coursed was served. A mixture of traditional salads lay out on small china plates. The second a selection of handmade pumpkins parcels and plov to finish as the main course.
    The cold was getting the better of all of us and the tiny heater in the corner of the room was as much use ‘tit’s on a fish’. A nice idea but truly a fart in a tornado.

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    Later we lay in our room pulling our mountain hardware sleeping bags up tight around us and lying very still for fear of moving and cold air slipping past our necks and inside.

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    The room is nice but so cold. We’re both so cold at the moment it’s getting us down. Lisa can’t seem to warm up at all at the moment, she says she is feeling bone cold.
  10. doktor dare

    doktor dare Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Kraljevo, Serbia
    Absolutelly amasing!
  11. timk519

    timk519 Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,591
    Location:
    Kitchener Ontario, Canada
  12. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    14-11-2009

    The idea was nice…

    We jump out of bed at 5:00am and photograph the Registan as the sun came up. MY own snores (Simons!) woke me and a half squint glance at my watch told me it was 8:30am. “Shit”!

    The room’s antiquated heating system was fighting a losing battle against the plummeting temperature and in the cold room we threw on our clothes as quickly as we could. Past the two alleys than run from the courtyard and into the second building we easily found the main room and the pre-laid table waiting for the breakfast diners. Worn china pots with hot water, bread and an assortment of sweet cakes and fried local specialties adorned the table.

    A half hour later and wrapped in every layer of non-motorcycle gear we have, I’d slung the tri-pod over my back and the camera bag over my shoulder and we were heading for the main street and the world famous Registan. The description in the guidebooks is: and ensemble of majestic, tilting medressas. An overload of majolica, blue azure mosaics- vast spaces- one of the most awesome sights in Central Asia. The Registan translates as ‘the sandy place’ in Tajik and was once medieval Samarkand’s commercial centre. The medressas are some of the oldest preserved – everything else was destroyed by Ghengis Khan.

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    We first entered Ulugbek medressa (1420) amazingly it only took 3 years to build, opposite is the Sher Dor (Lion) medressa – this one depicts live animals ie the lions (this is not permitted by Islam) this took 17 years to build. .– in the middle is Tilla-Kari (gold-covered) medressa (1660) this is so intricately decorated with gold. – this was to show Samarkand’s wealth – if you have a look at the photos the ceiling is decorated so that it looks like it’s a dome inside – whereas its really flat!! Amazing and amazingly beautiful. We just couldn’t leave as it was such a beautiful place to be. Well worth traveling so far and so long…..we really hope that one day we will be able to come back.

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    BTW – we were offered a walk up to the top of the medressas for 20,000 som by the police guards on duty but that was taking the piss- we had heard that 2500 each was the max. Of course the price came down and down but really we had seen all that we wanted and needed to wander around in the courtyards and the square itself.

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    We decided to eat at the small restaurant Lyabi Gor which is right opposite the Registan. By now we were really cold – the day had been bitter but bright sunshine – we had a good selection of salads, bread, and one lamb and one beef shashlyk. For $11 we thought this was quite good. Warmed by the green tea we made our way back to the guesthouse and this evening the room was lovely and warm. The bathroom was absolutely freezing though!

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    With 456 photos downloaded from the cameras onto the external hard drive the time had flown and so we decided to make it an earlyish night.
  13. bighaasfly

    bighaasfly Something to shoot for

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    91
    Location:
    Prior Lake, MN
    Just ran across your report and shot away three hours of sleep. Great stuff! Thank you so much for sharing. :clap :clap :clap
  14. Johnny Dakar

    Johnny Dakar Fuckin' Smartass

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    14,860
    Location:
    Just 3 Short Miles North of Baja
    Fantastic composition on those shots!
  15. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,121
    Location:
    Schmocation
    Excellent fotos guys, but then I dont think we expect anything else from you both. :thumb :lurk

    The Daewoo thing ... its because there is a Daewoo factory in Uzbekistan ... in Andizhan, not far from Tashkent. And secondly, because they now have a car factory in the country, there are considerable import duties on importing a vehicle. So effectively, unless you are super loaded, (and not many Uzbeks are) and you want a new car, you buy a Daewoo.

    Why is there a Daewoo factory in Uzbekistan? Cause there are a large number of Koreans in Uzbekistan ... and the Korean government works very hard to ensure they are looked after, encouraging foreign investment where there are Koreans. There are direct fights from Tashkent to Seoul, there are a number of factories built and run by the big Korean conglomerate companies - including Uz-Daewoo, and Korean food is widespread in Tashkent too.

    When Uzbekistan goes seeking foreign investment, one of the first stops in Seoul.

    I met quite a few Koreans when I was in Tashkent and had some interesting conversations about why they stay, and why they don't take the chance to go to Korea. Since the fall of the Soviet Union the population of Koreans in Uzbekistan has roughly halved, but few have gone back to Korea. Most have gone to Russia or Kazakhstan, where the economic opportunities are considerably higher. Some have married and moved to Western Europe. Some, in the early days, married and moved to Korea. What I was told was that the culture there was too foreign ... most of the CIS Koreans speak only Russian. Few speak Korean. Culturally they are now quite different from Korean Koreans, and I was told there were many stories of spousal abuse towards Uzbek Korean girls who effectively were catalog brides for South Korean men. They dont have the Korean marriage tours so much in Tashkent now ... the local Korean girls have become very suspicious of visiting Korean men.

    Curiously in Uzbekistan locals are generally classed one of 3 ways. Uzbek, other Central Asian, or European. The ethnic Russians, Ukrainians and believe it or not, the Koreans, are classed as "Europeans" in Uzbek culture. This I found interesting ... it must be the only place where Koreans are considered "Europeans".
  16. bighaasfly

    bighaasfly Something to shoot for

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    91
    Location:
    Prior Lake, MN
    I've seen enough and have acutally been following you two on your website for a few months. Great stuff! :freaky I'd like to chip some coin in the hat, but don't really feel the need to buy anything and give a percentage to Lulu. I have a paypal account with some dollars in it. Can I just wire some money into your paypay account? :dunno
  17. robbymilo

    robbymilo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    193
    Location:
    Indonesia
    frankly the first thing i'm doing in this thread is seeing the picture... and i'm so speachless. and ur picture were encourage me much.. i've plan riding to mecca from indonesia/malaysia..

    but one big question on my head... GASOLINE.. in the middle of nowhere... how do find the pumpstation..

    big fans of your thread
    RobbyMilo
    robby.ikh@gmail.com
    WestSumatera-Indonesia
  18. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,232
    Location:
    Sugar Land, TX

    It's on their website

    simonthomas@2ridetheworld.com

    Ride Safe
  19. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    Hi there bighassfly (whar great web name) thanks so much for your kind words. Actually we do have a PayPal donation link on our site here it is: http://www.2ridetheworld.com/donation_page.htm

    You can also access it directly from our index page: http://www.2ridetheworld.com

    Any help we get is never expected but truly appreciated. Especially in today's tough economic climate when most people are struggling to make ends meet, let alone donate to help others live out their dreams. So, again what ever you decide thank you.

    robbymilo good luck with your ride to Mecca, let us know when you set off and put u your RR here on adv. About fuel. There are never any guarantees of fuel but Lisa is able to carry 39 litres on her f650 and I have a 41 litres tank with about 38 usable litres. That said, there have only been a few times when we've really needed the extra fuel capacity; The Sahara, Patagonia, The Amazon (Brazil) and Mongolia. If the road, track or path your riding has any recent signs of vehicle usage then there's probably fuel somewhere, it just may mean you have to go looking for it and more than likely it won't be in a fuel station as you and I know them. Often it will be in large plastic drums in someones home and will be poured into your bike 1 litre at a time from a dirty coke bottle, but that's all part of the experience.

    Fuel is more readily available than most would imagine but having camp gear so that if you get stuck 'out here' is always a good idea. A friend of our recently ran out of fuel on a main route in Mongolia, she was by the side of the track for 18-hours before a single vehicle pass and help out finding her fuel.

    Colebatch...bloody good to hear from you. Thanks for the insight in the Dwoo thing, That's another one of those "i wonder why" things I can cross of my 'daft things to ponder on' list :rofl :evil

    We also had a few interesting conversations with Koreans in Uzbek, most were fascinating to talk with and mirror a few of the thoughts you'd listed on your post. We'd love to have spent longer in Uzbek but had to push on because of the limitations of our Turkmen transit visa.

    OK, I'll get teh next post prepped.

    Simon
  20. Groovydaddy

    Groovydaddy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    57
    Good Stuff! :D