2 Ride the World - the epic journey continues 2RTW

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

  1. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    15-11-2009

    ..can't write much, hands are too cold!

    Got a good and early start and walked past the Registan and headed for the market, bought Lisa a Pashmina scarf for $8 before heading into the market itself.

    Walked around market bought some pomegranates and then bought two more silk scarves from a shop on the posh street. Very out of keeping with the rest of Samarkand.


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    Headed back to room so cold, downloaded photos and then ate with the Germans at 5:30pm and then headed to room as so cold.
    Went back out to photograph the Guri Amir mausoleum – wow.

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    *******************


    We're both down this evening we’re both feeling low and so very tired. Been back on the road 5-months and we’re questioning if it’s what we want to do?

    16-11-2009

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    The warmth we’d enjoyed over breakfast with Daniel and his family in the main room of the B&B, was now draining from our bodies in the sub zero temperatures of the morning. We’d ridden the short 3 km east out of town fuelled up the bike and handed over a large sum of cash 93,000 som. I was on fumes and had squeezed into the big GS 39.8 liters. Past the Registan for one last time we turned right at the lights and dropped straight onto the M37 which would take us all the way to Bukhara.

    Good tar mix with, broken patchwork concrete slabs made for a relatively easy ride, although our hands were lumps of ice after the first 10 minutes.

    Note of the day: For the first time in Uzbekistan we past a police check point and didn’t get waived over, frustrating as it is I was actually a bit sad to have broken our 100% pull over ration. Even the second check point just waived us through until on the outskirts of Bukhara we were finally directed to halt and produce our documents.

    Bukhara is a labyrinth of streets and alley ways so pulled up at the side of the road we waived down a taxi gave him the details of Sasha & son B&B and followed him through the backstreet of what resembled a medina in Morocco. Dirt/clay street, pot holes and open drains thrown in for good measure.

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    With 2,000 som paid we headed inside and were instantly transported to some exotic and luxurious place. Daniel had said it was nice but we hadn’t expected it to be this plush and well appointed. Inside room number 3 we stowed our bags in the corner and just stared in disbelief at the intricate decorations hand painted onto every surface. The tall wooden beams of the rood struts painted a muted moss green and the decorated in gold paint. Delicate silk covers each window on the inside whilst heavy ancient looking blinds cover them from the outside.

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    Flowers and vases all hand painted cover every surface of the inside of the room and…it’s warm. Two large modern radiators heat the space and we felt the room embrace us as soon as we entered. Tonight is the first time in a while we’ll sleep naked. It’ll be great to get out of the thermal gear.

    Dinner was courtesy of a small grill just across the road. Two great fresh salads, two shashlyk (one lamb and one beef) and two beers set us back $5 each.

    To be warm feels sooooo gooood!!!

    17 to 18-11-2009

    Spent the last few days playing tourist, catching up on sleep and sorting out the thousands of photos we've taken.
  2. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    19-11-2009

    Our time in Uzbekistan has gone but all too quickly and if truth be told we’d love to stay for longer but with our Turkmen visa dates fixed in stone and only being a 5-day transit we have no choice but to leave. We were both anxious about the border crossing into Turkmenistan.

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    We tucked into the breakfast and coffee served up in the food room at Sasha and Sons and on the bikes with the help of the GPS found our way out of the labyrinth that is old Bukhara. We’d paid a taxi 6,000 to help us out of town whilst at the same time finding us some good fuel. We needed to top up the crap we’re using right now with some 91 octane.

    South of town we followed a beaten up orange Lada and rode on patchy tar out of the suburbs and into farm land. Swaths of tall marshy yellow grass to our left are pushed by the biting cold wind, their movement rhythmical, swaying back and forth like waves in the sea. The steel grey sky does little to remove the anxiety we feel as we ride closer to the border. A large hand painted sign in white wash on a wall simply reads ‘Turkmenistan’ and a large arrow directs us left at a junction. The border is a mile ahead but to our right the long low hillside is covered in heads tones and mausoleums. Thousand of plaques and now decrepit brick structures stretch as far as we can see. As if on cue from a movie director a shaft of orange sunlight bursts through the clouds and lights a small part of the cemetery. We can see 20 or so people attending a grave, heads bowed and some holding hands. We momentarily forget just how cold we are.

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    At the border we easily checked out of Uzbekistan and nervously inched towards the Turkmen side. The Uzbek customs control guard didn’t want to be bothered with searching us and so just asked us to point out what we had were (that was a relief!) and after double-checking how much cash we still had on us we were able to leave. (note: never never get your money out to actually show them how much you have on entry or exit!)

    ON the Turkmen side our passports were quickly scanned by the young looking guards in their tired hand me down uniforms.

    Past them we ride on another 50 feet, large slabs of cracked and now tilted concrete make up the road and the compound looks bizarrely familiar. And then it hits me, it’s a disused fuel station. A few low wooden shacks that once held tools acts as the vehicle inspection area and the larger squat tin building that sits under the heavy looking lofty roof was once the cashier’s room.

    An outstretched arm from a Kalashnikov-toting guard points us towards the small dirty shack to our left. Old glass had been set in the wooden frames with concrete and layers of what was once paint peels off the decaying chip board walls. Inside we again handed over our passports and with a round faced official in civvies we started to complete the process of fee calculation. Like so many before him his set about his task with all the deliberation and concentration of a president signing a peace accord. It’s fucking painful to watch as he checks our documents and then fills in the necessary information, his hands leading his eyes from section to slow section and all the while we’re thinking, “shit and this is just the first, he’s got Lisa’s bike to do yet, we’re going to be here for hours”.

    Fuel in Turkmen is dirt cheap, heavily subsidized by the government, but at the end of the first slowly completed process we were issued very clear and official documents which listed the fees in Turkmen and English. Here’s what we paid as listed on the vehicle entry permit:

    Vehicle disinfection - $1
    Entry and transit passage - $15
    Compensation of fuel coast - $24
    3rd party liability insurance - $15
    Processing documents - $5

    Total - $60


    An additional $2 was paid for processing

    Over at the passport control we handed over our passports and were directed to the small kiosk which acts as a bank. At the kiosk we paid the $60 for the vehicle plus the $2 fee and then $10 per person for entry plus another $2 bank fee total paid $74 per person

    OK, expensive when you consider that these fees are on top of the monies we’ve already paid for the visa’s but still a lot less than we heard and expected.

    Walking back to the bikes a few shouts from guards directed us to the low grey metal container that now housed ‘vehicle customs’. Inside we shook the warm hands of the official and set about repeating all the information we’d just gone over with the vehicle permit issue official. At least the small welded furnace was making us warmer.

    We thought we were done and so donned our helmets and gloves, preparing to mount the bikes a long loud “yo” caught our attention and the waiving arm of the soldier half leaning out of the only building we hadn’t entered corrected that misunderstanding. Another customs division, well, I say division, 3 bored and tired looking guards in a blank white washed room with a poster of the president hanging from a wall. The bright guilt frame so out of place in this drab environment.

    We’ve learnt that age is an important social factor in Central Asia, especially when it comes to the age of you wife. Flicking through our passports and noting our respective birth dates, the guard pointed at Lisa speaking to me and said in English “shister, shister”. “Nyet, nyet” I replied “id already explained twice pointing at my wedding ring that Lisa was my wife. “Nyet Jheena, wife” I continued. The guard looked incredulous. He and his colleague then counted out the year’s difference between our birth dates on their fingers and then looked back at me for further confirmation of what I was saying. Men here simply don’t marry older women. Why would you. You must have a young wife to look after you and bear you many children. I’d been told weeks earlier in Kazakhstan. “Here to marry an old woman (he’d meant ‘older’ women) is impossible.
    Lisa catching the looks on their faces – smiled and said ‘yes, I’m 7 years – ‘sem’ – older’. They looked at us both incredulously.

    We were through by midday and headed south.

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    Patchy and rutted tar warped and battered by weather and heavy trucks lasted for 30 miles and then .bliss. Unbelievably wide smooth and new tar was to keep us company for the next 200 miles. We really couldn’t believe it. The poor condition of the road that had left the border was what we had expected for the entire trip across the Karakum desert.

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    As dusk set in we took a small sandy track that would lead us 4 miles out to the Darvaza gas craters, after riding a mile and finding the sand getting thicker and deeper and the light fading fast, we called it a day. Riding in thick sand in the pitch black just sounded daft. We were tired and experienced enough to know better and so finding a clearer area off the track we pitched the tent and slept fitfully, the heavy trucks bumping close by went on through the night.

    20-11-2009


    Lisa was really disappointed not to have reached the craters yesterday but we had a decision to make. Do we take the whole day to ride and then wait for night to come before we can fully appreciated the gas craters…..a whole day out of our very precious transit visa…or do we just say…we must get on and get to Ashgabat? We had to weigh up what could happen in the thick sand and taking out a full day and our limitations of time. We decided to be practical and get back on the road. Lisa was very disappointed but agreed. With only 4 days available to us in Turkmenistan we had to be sensible and we still have some research and ‘cultural’ preparations to do prior to getting into Iran.
  3. Messiah

    Messiah AdvenTurc

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    Istanbul, Turkiye
    Great idea and trip...
    Lovely and professional tasted pics...
    Perfect bikes...
  4. kaia

    kaia team F5 ⌘R

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,394
    Location:
    silicon valley, ca
    over a year ago, as i was "getting into" the adventure community, i found your site linked from somewhere (probably from one of your earlier ride reports.) i remember getting lost in your adventures for almost a week, getting distracted from the story somewhere about the time that simon hurt his head in the amazon (? did i remember that right?)...

    and then recently, when you were in the US doing presentations at BMW dealerships, i missed out seeing the presentation meeting you two by two days... i found out about it just after it happened. :cry

    i'm very glad to hear that you're still on the road, enjoying the nomadic life of the motorcycle adventurer. congrats to you both for persevering! remember that even though it may be tough here and there... you're living the life that many people (especially on this forum) can only dream of... we're living our dream vicariously though your beautiful pictures and wonderful stories. hopefully a purchase of a calendar will help you on the way; i needed a calendar (or two) for this year anyways...

    best of luck to you, and ride safe!
  5. StevenF

    StevenF Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    44
    Location:
    Kilmarnock - East Ayrshire, Scotland
    I'm about half way through page 2, at the rate I'm reading I don't think I'll every finish! Your journey so far has been an absolute pleasure to read, with fabulous pictures to back it up. I will keep reading and hopefully (eventually) catch up with where you are currently. Enjoy and ride safe.

    - Oh quick question about the cameras - are you using any filters? The reason I ask is the sky is always captured perfectly, never over exposed, foreground never under exposed, always perfect :clap
  6. dbmuller311

    dbmuller311 EasyRider

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Blue Ridge Mountains of Viginia
    :norton This response is a thing of beauty... Safe travels. I'm envious of your ambition and willingness to follow through with your dreams.
  7. Dickyb

    Dickyb Bewildered Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,044
    Location:
    Kas-Antalya,Turkey
    Hi Simon and Lisa,

    Are you guys coming to Turkey or have you already been? Great read, fab photies. Thanks very much.

    Cheers,

    Dickyb
  8. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Dirt Farmer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,660
    Location:
    Eastern Washington State
    Just got caught up with the RR, brilliant!! Pics are incredible and the writing is spot on. Keep on posting!:clap
  9. Bryn1203

    Bryn1203 Dances with spaniels

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,831
    Location:
    Denial - UK
    Amazing - fantastic - inspirational

    Love the pictures & writing and the youtube vid. is cool. :clap is there an up-dated fella anywhere

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/qLP3AUMt8qo&hl=en_GB&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/qLP3AUMt8qo&hl=en_GB&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>
  10. froden

    froden Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    72
    Location:
    Norway
    Marvellous RR.. unbelievable photos!
  11. shreddr

    shreddr No try, do or not do

    Joined:
    May 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    161
    Location:
    Exit 19, NJ :)
    This is the most incredible ride thread I have ever read, thanks for sharing! Safe travels Simon and Lisa!
  12. lisa thomas

    lisa thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    10 years on the road and still going..back in USA!
    well...we have been 'off-line' for a few days - been up and camping in the foothills of the Annapurna Himalayas where there have been some fantastic storms!
    now we are having a few days in Pokhara to catch up with internet and I've been reading all of your comments. Wow - thanks for all the kind words! and we are just so pleased that you are enjoying reading this thread and as you have been enjoying it you may be interested in the others we have recently put up and may have missed - they also have great photos :1drink - have a look at them

    Riding into the sky at 16,500 feet.....Altiplano, Bolivia :
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=161983&highlight=simon+lisa+thomas

    Mongolian Madness and the Gobi Desert :
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=510943&highlight=mongolian+madness+gobi

    we are now working on some video footage. so keep watching the thread!

    thanks guys and to those of you who have contacted us and personally donated. This was not expected and is a wonderful surprise and needless to say so very much appreciated.
    in a few years we will be back to say 'thank-you' in person!!

    cheers
  13. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    As Lisa said thank you for all the words of encouragement, at times it really helps and it means a lot to us.

    Bryn1203...we're working on the update to the route video now. I lost Adobe after affects and had to download it and re-install in order to make the red line animated. I'll post it asap.

    Dickyb...yes, but give us a couple of years. We've not visited yet but are looking forward to it.

    dbmuller311...we try to keep it simple and honest. :D

    StevenF...yes we use a couple of filters. A graduated neutral density filter and a circa polarizer and on many of the images here, I've using both simultaneously.

    If we really screw up an image then i can normally correct using a graduated filter in photo-shop. We try to avoid this though as photo-shop just eats your time. Lisa has just said..."all her shots are perfect first time"....:lol3 :rofl

    kaia...yep...you read to the part where i broke my neck in the Amazon. If anyone's interested here's the video. I spoke to the camera when I thought I might not make it out. At the time i did not know how bad the damage was or how lucky i was to be. it was another 3-weeks of sheer misery (riding) before reaching a hospital

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/MnEbkhBs6qo&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/MnEbkhBs6qo&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

    OK, I'll get the next post up tonight (our time...Nepal). now i need a beer after being told it's going to cost us $200 to get our tires out of customs in Kathmandu...tossers!

    Cheers for now
    Simon
  14. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    65,728
    Tossers indeed... don't forget, to them you're just a walking ATM! :lol3

    Thanks for the continued detailed updates! :thumb

    :lurk
  15. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    Thanks Gadget Boy.

    We've had regular and extended power cuts here and so no internet, although we should have power again tomorrow so I'll put up the next post RR then. Thanks for being patient.

    All the best
    Simon
  16. hilslamer

    hilslamer 2XRedheadedstepchild

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
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    1,790
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    Chch, EnZed
    +1:clap
  17. robbymilo

    robbymilo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    193
    Location:
    Indonesia
    Thank u Simon,

    Hope the best for your journey. i always wait for your update Bro..
    safe ride n joy the ride..

    RobbyMilo
    Indonesia

    ps: mail me if u have plan to ride at Indonesia, my meccaride still 1 year to go (waiting the next hajj session and i'm still building my stamina n my motorcycle hehe)
  18. lisa thomas

    lisa thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    10 years on the road and still going..back in USA!
    hi RobbyMilo
    just to let you know we will be heading your way by the end of this year..! hope to catch up with you and have a few beers :D
    simon is ready to upload new stuff now! so I'd better let him get to it and stop hogging the internet connection....

    cheers
  19. Dickyb

    Dickyb Bewildered Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,044
    Location:
    Kas-Antalya,Turkey
    Dickyb...yes, but give us a couple of years. We've not visited yet but are looking forward to it.

    Well if you make it to Kas on the Turkish Med you'll have a place to rest your heads and soak up the scenery.

    Cheers,

    Dickyb

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=374143
  20. simon thomas

    simon thomas www.2ridetheworld.com

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    ...on the road to everywhere
    21-11-2009

    Lisa writes:

    A good day playing tourist in Ashgabat. After a bit of breakfast we headed into the the Tolkuchka bazaar- a almost legendary market and the largest in Central Asia!

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    After 10 minutes we knew we were in trouble, its more like a city than a market, you can quite literally buy everything and anything here from Jewelery to camels.

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    We were looking for something for me to wear for when we enter Iran. I am concerned about my dress ‘code’ for when I am on the bike.

    After meandering, which is a polite way of saying ‘getting lost’ for 3-hours we didn’t manage to find an Hejab but did find a dress that would go over my motorbike trousers! It looks awful but it'll conform to the strict Iranian dress code.

    By 2:00pm we’d arrived back at the hotel and then walked into the center of Ashgabat, to our surprise we even managed to get permission to take some photos.

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    Walked past the Kopet Dag stadium, down Magtymglu sayoli street and then towards the Arch of Neutrality which has a huge 12m golden high statue of Niyazov on it that follows the sun! Off to the right the Earthquake memorial with a huge bronze bull and child which is a baby Niyazov! Kinda creepy commisioning a statue of yourself being held aloft by your dying mother as the world around you sucks everyone in and to their deaths.

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    We then went up the arch for around 40 cents and were able to take all of the photos that we were denied on the ground. I took a panoramic view of Ashgabat’s Independence square, the Golden Palace of Turkmenbasi, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Fairness(!?), Ministry of Defense and the Ruhyyet Palace… all a big ‘no,no’ to take photos of! But everyone was doing it from the view platform. All in all quite an unusual day. Ashgabat is a very different place to the rest of the country.

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    22-11-2009

    Spent the day being ill. We’ve both got food poisoning again!!! We had food poisoning more times in Central Asia than on the rest of the trip put together. We’ll head across the border tomorrow. Our transit visa’s last day is tomorrow – so we have to leave even if we are still feeling unwell.

    Off now to the loo..again to throw up!