Going Walkabout on an 800xc through Russia & Central Asia...and maybe beyond...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by GuiltyParty, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. Spaggy

    Spaggy Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,151
    Location:
    Western Canada
    We get a similar thing here in Canada. I've heard people blaming it on flaring gas wells. It's actually pollen from the trees.

    Have a great trip, I'll be following along.
    #81
  2. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    465
    Location:
    The Dandenong Ranges, Vic
    Great post!

    :thumb

    Enjoying reading along.

    Cheers,

    JM.
    #82
  3. MadMax

    MadMax Marveling...

    Joined:
    May 16, 2002
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    433
    Location:
    GolantoDE
    Thanks for sharing your trip. Mazel Tov!
    #83
  4. AtlasExp

    AtlasExp beer me

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Oddometer:
    468
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Very nice pics, trip, story and you guys rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :clap:clap:clap
    #84
  5. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    318
    Location:
    London
    Someone had recommended we stop by Bursa to see a green mosque but as we were climbing a hill in a little traffic in the heat the bike stalled it's second time this trip. Embarrased, I had to get off and push it to the side of the road to cool down before it would start again. Each time it's happening it's as I go to release the clutch so I figure it must be related somehow but don't know what.

    Pissed off at the bike, the traffic and heat we skipped the mosque and got out on some open roads heading for Kapadokia (Cappadocia) in central Turkey as it was on our way...sort of. It was an opportunity to get away from the coast because as we've come to learn the coast normally means lots of people, lots of traffic and dirty. The ride was pretty uneventful but the scenery was nice.

    More clouds coming our way

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    The Turks have gone beyond being friendly. At one point a guy gave us directions to a bank and we obviously missed the turn cos we couldn't find it so 500 metres down the road as we turned around we saw the same guy getting out of his car yelling at us to turn around and for us to follow him. Feeling like naughty kids for upsetting him he lead us to the bank.

    Opportunists

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    As we travelled south east the rain travelled south west and we were constantly crossing paths with the storm front. With big wide open plains we could see the rain moving towards us so at times we would gas it to beat it or just shrugged it off and cop it sweet. This was one of those moments we could see the rain in the distance but not wanting to sit around and wait for it to pass we dove headfirst towards it. 25 metres before we entered the 'wall of water' we stopped - we could physically see where the rain began. We knew this was going to be horrible - hailstones, side winds, drops of water that felt like hail stones the whole thing...then we passed out the other side of it into sunshine. It's these sort of moments that I love being on the bike, seeing and feeling the elements and being completely at mother natures mercy.

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    We stopped for our second chai (tea) and the locals refused payment.

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    This guy invited us in for our third chai. One of the big faux pas is to talk about politics when you first meet someone - bit difficult when the guy is a political refugee that used to live in Oz. Really nice guy thats starting a walnut business.

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    On the way to Kapadokia we passed some really interesting rock formations near Gulsehir where people have carved stuff into the sandy rocks.

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    We camped the night amongst the formations.

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    Possibly the best breakfast ever - baby food that are biscuits that turn to mush, cheerios and a cuppa

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    The trip to Cappadocia goes through some amazing scenery

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    And finally Cappadocia, where there are more formations but people actually lived in these dug out caves

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    We went down a trail looking for more of these foundations

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    Until the trail became a walking trail but that didn't men it couldn't be done...until the steps started. As we tried to turn around the bike sunk into the wet sand. A tourist happened by and offered to lift it out.

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    With the bike out and my dignity in tatters we headed back for the main road to take in more great views.

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    The landscape was so varied, lush green mountains, crazy rock formations, desert, red sandy clay - a bit of everything.

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    We climbed to the top of the mountains then turned the bike off and coasted for the next 40k's as the road twisted through the valley

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    Mosques in beautiful locations

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    Moooooo

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    Back on the coast of the Black Sea we found a nice spot in the forest out of the way to set up camp. We've learned now not to set up the tent until close to dark and do all our other things in the meantime. Right on dark two Turkish blokes turned up and right next to where we wanted to set up they sat down and starting doing shots of Raki (a clear alcohol). We joined them thinking without light they would move on but they stayed until the fire flies starting dancing around us. By then the bottle of raki had finished and they're actions became unpredictable so we left and found a hotel instead. They were nice though and one of the guys gave me his prayer beads which to me is a pretty big deal.

    Turkey absolutely ripped our budget to pieces by £300. We budgeted £30 a day which is pretty unrealistic anyway. Cost of fuel is £1.62 p/l

    We entered Georgia mid-day and Patty got hassled a little at the border cos she looks Indian (she's Fijian Indian) - apparently the indians are taking the jobs in Georgia.

    First impressions of Georgia were that cows are taking over - they're everywhere! It's not a like a cow on the road is a shock but they are literally everywhere.

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    Second impression was the locals are really friendly and offered all sorts of advice.

    Third impression is they're all bloody mental drivers. At one point on a two lane road we saw a bus overtaking a truck and another 4wd overtaking both the truck and the bus on the shoulder in the gravel with a truck coming the other direction. :eek1 We've shat our pants on more than one occasion as buses scream past us then slam on their brakes to get in the two metres of space between us and the car in front.

    One of the few lucky insects to survive the wrath of the tiger

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    A spot by the Black Sea to camp and chill out.

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    Triumph vodka

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    NAFS

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    We bribed some dogs with milk to guard us for the night

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    An old USSR plant

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    Shishlek. If you're on holidays it's also a rule you grow some type of questionable facial hair. Through South America it was a filthy looking mo-hawk and now it's a porn star mo...Patty loves it. :wink:

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    We're now in Tbilisi so I can prepare and sit these exams. I've taken the covers off the text books and torn out all the extra pages to try reduce weight but they're still 5kg.

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    I've got itchy feet and just want to get back on the road!
    #85
  6. WIBO

    WIBO Will it buff out?

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,864
    Location:
    64800French Pyrénées
    Good update young man...

    Safe onward travels....

    :D
    #86
  7. TOTim

    TOTim Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    238
    Location:
    Toronto On
    It's got vodka right in the name so you know it's good.
    #87
  8. New-Rider

    New-Rider n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2013
    Oddometer:
    6
    Location:
    London United Kingdom
    You will do great today .... :) :rilla
    :crash hehehe
    #88
  9. Willwilkins

    Willwilkins Dr. Topbox

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    617
    Location:
    Was Oz, now London
    Great RR, thanks for posting. You going to keep going east and ride home?:evil
    #89
  10. Scubalong

    Scubalong Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    Oddometer:
    993
    Location:
    So Cal
    Thanks for sharing your RR
    Very funny and entertain:clap
    Safe travel and tell Patty she is a trooper:wink:
    #90
  11. RoninMoto

    RoninMoto Wanderer

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,719
    Location:
    In the mountains?
    Looks like you guys had a way better time in turkey then i did :clap
    Glad you didn't get snowed on 5 days in a row.

    If you haven't left Georgia yet, make sure you eat Khinkoli. Its amazing.
    #91
  12. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    318
    Location:
    London
    That makes perfect sense, our hay fever was going nuts

    I would love to but instead we'll ship the bike from Vladivostok to maybe Darwin so I can ride to Sydney from there. While the bikes getting shipped I'll catch the trans-Siberian to Moscow to meet Patty (she's going to the UK while I do BAM and Road of Bones) and we'll backpack the northern parts of Europe. Do Oktoberfest and the like.

    Glad you like it :D
    Trust me, she reminds me everyday of how much of a trooper she is for making her camp in the hills without a shower and electricty for her hair dryer and straightener. And just to reinforce that she's already started planning the next 5 holidays - minimum 4 star hotel, pedicures, manicures, massages etc etc - I have a lot of making up to do :eek1
    #92
  13. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    318
    Location:
    London
    While I did the exams Patty strolled the streets with our new friends from the hostel

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    A little self-indulgence

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    With exams over it was beer o'clock

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    or vodka for some

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    With exams out of the way it was time to get back on the road and head for Baku, Azerbaijan to catch a ferry to Aktau, Kazakhstan. We'd been given a heads up that the police in Azerbaijan were dodgy and had a zero-tolerance approach to speeding fines and increased the cost of fines. One fellow inmate (RoninMoto) racked up something like a whopping $600 in speeding fines. A couple of guys in the Mongol Rally were also given a rough time so we decided to enter the country in the north east close to the Russian border rather than east of Tbilisi where most people would go.

    Russia, straight ahead over those mountains

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    We'd already formed some preconceptions about the country because of the dodgy police and tedious visa process but when a few guys came to us and said "Welcome to Azerbiajan" we decided then we couldn't let our preconceptions ruin our time in the country.

    The border entry was a pretty standard affair and took two hours. We didn't have insurance so the border guy said he can give it to us for USD50 but we weren't carrying US notes - we thought that could be an invite for people to increase their prices and try jib us for bribes - so we offered Georgian Lari instead and he took 25, the equivalent of USD15. Go figure.

    We couldn't see any speed signs but plenty of cops so we rode along at 50km/h when really it should have been 80+...this was going to be a looooong trip.

    Away from the border and running parallel with the Russian border we found some gravel and firguring there is no chance the police would be out here with the radar we twisted the throttle to gain some ground.

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    The GPS kept wanting to take us to the main road but we knew that would only mean trouble so we stuck to the secondary roads until half-way across the country.

    Buffalo and cows

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    I don't know if the country is in drought or the Russians have built dams on their side of the border but every creek crossing for the length of the border that we rode was almost bone dry. Surely at this time of year there must be snow-melt?:huh

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    Eventually we could go no further on secondary roads and had to join the motorway. Yep, the motorway

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    Still no fines but plenty of police. The speed signs were set out in a way to trick you. It would be a 70 zone out in open country then some buildings would appear and at the end of it there would be another 70 sign, implying that where the buidings were the speed had dropped to who knows what. Whenever we saw this sure enough there were police at the other end handing out fines so we took the conservative approach and just stuck to 50km/h whenever there there were any (any) buildings on the side of the road.

    Our trip on the secondary roads meant we couldn't make Baku in one day so we stopped in a cheap hotel which had dead spiders and bits of the roof on the bed, a cats home and paper thin walls. We could hear the neighbours have really loud sex in the room next to us, but two minutes later it was over and we could hear him light a cigarette - the walls were really thin.

    Next day we pushed on for what should have taken an hour but instead took two and half hours of the most frustrating morning of riding I've ever done in my life. In the absence of any speed signs we were riding 50km/h with a stupidly strong, hot side wind that knocked the bike about and threatened to rip the helmet off our heads. We had to compensate for the wind by leaning the bike into it, so as trucks would roll past us at 80km/h they acted as a buffer against the wind and suddenly my compensation for the wind became over-compensation and almost had us veering into the side of the truck. It was scary. :eek1

    Not even this transmission tower could withstand the wind (kidding, it was under construction)

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    Against all odds we made it to Baku without any speeding fines and we now play the waiting game for a ferry to Aktau. Some have waited three weeks for it to come because military and petroleum cargo gets priority - military and petroleum, it's how the world goes round.

    RoninMoto describes the wait and tedious process that lies ahead - http://advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=21396791&postcount=1521. So far we're still in high spirits on Day 2
    #93
  14. RoninMoto

    RoninMoto Wanderer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,719
    Location:
    In the mountains?
    Good luck dude. Hope its easy for you.

    When you get on the ferry, make sure you still have some AZ Manat and plenty of drinking water. Water for the boat and customs in Aktau. Beer is 2 Manat for 1 liter. Meals are 2 or 3. Its cheaper then Baku. :deal

    Also, bring toilet paper. Maybe hand sanitizer.. the toilet is.. well umm amazing.
    #94
  15. dirt_bloke

    dirt_bloke Triumph Tiger. Because Resistance is Useless.

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,306
    Location:
    Wide Bay, Queensland, Australia
    I originally subscribed to the thread to see how the Tiger would perform, but your adventure is turning into such a great story I'm really enjoying coming along for the ride!

    The reason for the post, is ask from the other inmates how does one nominate an image for the first page/front cover/what ever they call all the amazingly cool images when you first open advrider?

    This is one uber cool image.

    Ride on!

    EDIT: worked out how to nominate the pic, you can stop writing to me now. As you were gentlefolk.

    Pete
    #95
  16. jtb

    jtb Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,329
    Location:
    Hawkesbury NSW Australia
    You know how to tell the story and you know how to take a good photo to support it! AWESOME!:clap:clap:clap

    I'm now subscribed:D
    #96
  17. The Exterminator

    The Exterminator n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2013
    Oddometer:
    4
    Hey Bro :D
    I have signed up to ADV rider to keep up with your travels.
    Its great to see that you are adding a lot on here, better than a blog, and more info than when you call!
    I've decided to snig your KLX 650 out of the shed and give it a service and overhall. It needs some love and maybe I can join you sometime when your back in OZ.
    Who knows, maybe you'll even consider paying your storage fee's with it :wink:

    Take care and travel safe.

    P.S Glad your keeping Patty safe. Oh, and now I know why your GPS Spot tracker said you were safe when in the middle of the Caspian Sea! :clap
    #97
  18. blacktiger

    blacktiger Tigers R great.

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,949
    Location:
    St.Leonards on Sea, England.
    Talking of which, is there a link to the tracking page?
    #98
  19. shaweetz

    shaweetz Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Oddometer:
    249
    Location:
    Ottawa, CDN
    This is great, keep it coming.

    Thanks.
    #99
  20. The Exterminator

    The Exterminator n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2013
    Oddometer:
    4
    Not that I'm aware of. It's just a link when he sends through when they reach camp etc. It would be good to see if he has a track log somewhere.