Trip through Turkey, Iran, Stans, Russia, Mongolia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by eustachius, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    Road conditions vary. In some countries it's like Europe. In other parts progress is much slower. 250 km/day - as an average, no problem at all, unless you have much rain in Mongolia or mud-slides somewhere in the mountains of Tadjikistan or Kyrgyztan. Of course, you never know about borders. My average distance was about 200 km/day or a bit more and I never had the impression that I had to hurry.
    #41
  2. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    Thank you for this information. All along Iran I had admired the beauty of these inscriptions without having the slightest idea of their meaning.
    Unfortunately I didn't and still don't speak a single word of Farsi, but people were always eager to help.
    #42
  3. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    I set my alarm to be up early - is this a vacation?
    I couldn't have breakfast in the hotel so I stopped at a café around the corner. There were buses loaded with people going to work, it seemed. I felt very privileged.
    I went south-east and for the first 30 or 40 kilometres the road was perfect. But then it got really bad. Broken asphalt, dust, detours, potholes and it was getting very hot again. My helmet seemed to be 2 sizes smaller. I had a headache, even with sunglasses it was too bright for my eyes. I stopped to take an Aspirin, it was the first on this trip.

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    From Ashgabat I went to Mary where I stayed in a hotel/motel for 30$. I had planned to camp out, but after 350 or 400 kilometres in the blazing sun and the dust I felt like a shower, air condition and - you guess it - cold beer. I got it all. I spent the evening with a German couple who had a local guide. They had visited the ruins of Merv during the day and were still recovering from the heat. I knew I didn't want to stumble over ruins in my black motorcycle gear.
    I left early the next morning and was heading towards Turkmenabat. Another day on bad roads, semi-desert, heat, tea at truckstops, trains in the distance. This is not a place where you want to have a flat tire or other mechanical problems. It was Sunday and it was market day in Turkmenabat. Lots of people, lots of traffic. Where did they all come from?

    My impressions of the country: There is Ashgabat and there is the rest of the country. Fuel is extremely cheap (but you have to pay a road tax at the border) and so is food at the truckstops. People are friendly, but it's not like Iran or Turkey. It takes some time. At first contact, there seems to be a certain distrust of the foreigner. At times I felt as if I was being watched. Maybe just my paranoia!

    There is gas and oil and tourism doesn't seem to be on the agenda.
    #43
  4. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    I left Turkmenistan at the border post of Farab. It was hot when I got there. I had to take off all my luggage and put it on a conveyor belt. It was x-rayed. I pushed the bike to the other side of the building to load up all my gear. Then another official told me that they wanted to search my luggage again. I had to take it off and it was inspected in a seperate room. I was pissed.
    The Uzbek border took about 3 hours. Unfortunately there was a group of German tourists in front of me. They were with a Russian tourguide who was very helpful. I would meet her again in Bukhara.
    I don't remember if I bought insurance for the bike, but I had to declare in detail how much money(which currencies) I had on me. And customs officials also tried to explain to me that I couldn't leave the country at the border post I had planned (Pendzhikent). At the time, it didn't make sense to me and I didn't worry.
    When I arrived in Bukhara it was dark. Normally I try to avoid this, but after the border I felt too tired to continue and I took a longer nap under a tree, along a canal.
    I found myself a nice place to stay in Bukhara, the bike was parked in the courtyard, the room was on the ground floor, it was 20$ with breakfast, air condition, private bathroom and shower. And there were other tourists, which I like especially when I am travelling alone.

    I will upload pictures as soon as photobucket works again on my computer.
    #44
  5. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    Pics from Bukhara and on to the Tadjik border.

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    I had planned to go to Samarkand from Bukhara, and on to Dushanbe, but the border post at Pendzhikent was closed for reasons unknown to me and people I asked. There were rumours that the border between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan could be closed altogether. So after three relaxing days in Bukhara, I go south-east and get into Tajikistan at Tursunzade. The border crossing takes me about 4 hours. I see that the truck drivers hand over small gifts to the customs officials to speed up things.

    I am excited. I am in Tajikistan and looking forward to the mountains and the Pamir Highway.
    #45
  6. levain

    levain STILL Jim Williams

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    :clap:clap:clap
    #46
  7. Dr LC8

    Dr LC8 ...soon or later

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    Manchester...but from Rome!
    Please keep sending!

    Nic
    #47
  8. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

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    A little late to the party but Im here! Great report and as a fellow Honda Transalp owner Im loving the pics of the Tranny:clap
    #48
  9. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    I went to Dushanbe where I got myself some fresh dollars from the Orienbank. The ATMs in town would refuse my Mastercard. Stayed two nights at the Hotel Vakhsh, 25$/night. Transalp safely parked behind the hotel. During the night powerful cars racing up and down the main avenue, leisure activity of the classe aisée. The police were watching.
    I was ready for the mountains and went north-east on a newly paved road for 20 kilometres, then broken asphalt and potholes - as usual. After 140 kms I turned right onto the M41 and the road and the surrounding landscape became spectacular. I spent a night in Tavildara and two nights in Kalaikhum, which is situated on the Pyanj River (I'm not sure about the spelling), the border to Afghanistan. From there I carried on to Khorog, always on the M41. You can't get lost on this route. From Khorog I was headed for Ishkahim and Layangar, along the Vakhan Valley, the spectacular peaks of the Hindu Kush to the south.
    North of the Kargush Pass I hit the Pamir Highway again.
    I hope my pictures will show some of the beauty of this region. It was one of the highlights of my trip.

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    I met a lot of friendly people along this road. Across Pyanj river, Afghanistan, people on mules and sometimes mopeds.


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    Looking south towards the Hindu Kush.

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    It's hard and rocky 'piste', but not difficult when dry.

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    Before the Kargush Pass.

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    On the Pamir Highway again.

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    I got some fuel here before I continued on to Murgab. The Transalp never showed any signs that it couldn't deal with the low octane.

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    This was my B&B in Murgab. Basic, but great hospitality.

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    You guess it!

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    The bazaar of Murgab.

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    On the way to the Akbaytal Pass. Together, with my tools and his dexterity we fixed the problem. His chain had got too long. We took out one link.

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    This was the highest I would get on the trip. Quite a moment. I had a Snickers to celebrate.

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    I can't get enough of those fast tracks. It's like a drug.

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    Along the Chinese border fence.

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    Karakul Lake. I decided to stay at a homestay. It was cold, but sunny and dry.

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    The owner of the homestay. His wife cooked me a nice meal - Chinese noodles and yaak, and eggs and plenty of green tea.

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    Border to Kyrgyztan.

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    A common picture of ride reports of the area.
    #49
  10. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

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    Simply fantastic journey, report and pics so far, eustachius. Really enjoying it.
    #50
  11. BIF

    BIF Adventurer

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    Amazing.....:clap:clap:clap
    #51
  12. Ruan

    Ruan Adventurer to be

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    Awesome...:lurk
    #52
  13. eltonw

    eltonw n00b

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    In all the pictures there is one bike and rider but truth is that every person in the world that does adventure riding is right there with you...thank you for sharing and most of all thank you for the embracing the spirit of adventure and the unknown for those of us that may not get the chance to do a trip like this..

    Tifua
    #53
  14. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    Grateful thanks to all of you for following my report and for your positive replies. If some of my pictures can be an inspiration to some of you, I will be very glad. While writing this report I relive this trip to some extent.

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    This was my first encounter between the Tajik and Kyrgyz border.
    #54
  15. Blacknblue

    Blacknblue "I'm outa' here."

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    Wow. I love the way I get the feel for the people in real life situations.
    The subjects you chose were as incredible as the scenery. Thanks!
    #55
  16. tomithy

    tomithy n00b

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    Most excellent. Many thanks for sharing :)
    #56
  17. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Fascinating ride, report and pics!! And it's easily missed, so I'm going to sticky it for a while to give others a chance to enjoy it too. Thanks for taking us along and sharing all those pics :thumb
    #57
  18. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    The Kyzyl-Art Pass is the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyztan. The Tajik border post is on the southern slope. When I was there two years ago, it was just some shacks and containers, but by now, modern buildings should accomodate the customs. A lot of construction work was going on then.
    The official wanted to see the receipt for my immigration document. I had paid 20$ on entering Tajikistan, but nobody gave me a receipt, I was sure about that. We were discussing the matter in a friendly way, he offered me some tea and cigarettes and in the end I paid a 15$ 'fine', without getting a receipt, of course.
    Some 100 metres further on there was the luggage check. A lazy sniffer dog smelled my bags. Tajikistan is an important transit country for drugs from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe.
    I went over the pass and then, some 15 or 20 kms north, it's the Kyrgyz border post. Customs officials were very friendly and they seemed to know what they were doing. Everything looked professional. I really don't remember about insurance for the Transalp, maybe yes.
    I went on to Sary Tash. I left the snow-peaked mountains behind.

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    This is not the pik Lenina, but it's not very far.

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    I changed 100$ to Kyrgyz som in this 'shop' in Sary Tash, filled up and continued on to Osh. The mountains become very green, it's so different to the Pamirs, and there are lots of people herding their livestock.

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    Osh is a busy town that offers you many amenities. Fresh vegetables and draught beer is a scarcity in the Pamirs. I was enjoying this Greek salad in a relaxed beer-garden in the park along the Ak-Buura River. Next came 2 gigantic shashlik and another beer or two. I was feeling great, everything was running smooth and more mountain roads were lying ahead.

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    From Osh, where I stayed for 2 nights, I coninued to Jalal-Abad on a rather busy road. I was glad when I could leave the asphalt behind and go north-east to the Kaldama Pass. I was following a river, there were yurts and people who were offering me warm mare milk. Not my favourite drink.
    It was easy to find good places to camp out.

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    Looking back into the valley from where I had come.

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    I met those French bikers on their tandem with trailer. They were on their way from Peking to Bretagne, amazing. We spent some hours together in a yurt. Locals invited us to have tea and bread with them.

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    Between Kazarman (one of the very few places I was glad to leave behind) and Naryn I stopped in a little village to buy food and drinks. On a normal riding day I have breakfast and supper and little snacks between. And I drink lots of tea. This bottle of vodka was just for 'disinfection'.
    It's mostly women who run these little shops.

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    I was not sick after the vodka.

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    I had the same model of Benz and Volkswagen, many years back. They are very common in Kyrgyztan, especially the Audi 100, which is used as taxi.

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    Another means of transport, also very common.

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    On the way to the Song-Köl, pastures, cows, yurts, rivers, blue sky in the morning.

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    Always keep a watchful eye on the road.

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    I wanted to camp up at the Song-Köl, but it was too cold and very often during my stay in this country it started to rain in the afternoon. So I decided to get out of the wind and cold and I went down to Sary Bulak. I camped near a river, hidden away from the road.

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    The next day I went on to Kochkor and the Ysyk-Köl. I stayed on the southern shore.

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    Looking south.

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    Camp at the Ysyk-Köl. The water is fine, I go for a short swim and wash. I forgot to buy some beer for the evening, deep regret!

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    I share some cookies with the locals.

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    My Honda parked next to Valentin's side-car. Valentin runs the Yak-Tours in Karakul. He rents rooms in a typical wooden Russian house, with beautiful flowers in the garden. Karakul is a good place to relax and get prepared for some trekking in the mountains. I went up into the mountains with Valentin. There are hot springs right next to a freezing mountain river.

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    The old wooden church in Karakul.



    Courtyard of a family we visited on the way to the mountains.

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    Ice cream, yummy!

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    The rider was having a couple of drinks in the shop.

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    Valentin, a former moto-cross champion and a great afficionado of motos.

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    This is Valentin's right hand. I was sitting in the side-car. We were going up the mountains.

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    Minor problem quickly solved.

    I had planned to go from Karakul to San-Tash, cross the border to Kazakhstan there and continue to the Sharyn Canyon. Too bad this border was closed.
    I consequently had to go around the lake on the northern side to Cholpon-Ata, Balykchy and on to Bishkek. I wanted to avoid Bishkek, but things turned out nicely again because I met some travel companions on the road.

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    It's fertile land on the northern side of the lake, but farmers complain that they lack modern machines to exploit their farmland.

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    Some work, others medidate. There was a very relaxed atmosphere along this lake. The season had not yet begun, but there were signs of an expanding tourist industry. Almaty is just across the border.

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    Soon they will have mopeds and make a lot of noise to impress the girls.

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    New York.

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    These two gentlemen are Ruedi and Adrian. They were heading east to cross the Kazakh border at San Tash (the one that was closed) when I met them in Balykchy. They are Swiss on two BMWs GS1200 and had already been to India, Pakistan and China on this trip. They wanted to go to Mongolia so we decided to team up as long as we felt like it.

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    Ruedi waiting at the Kazakh border.
    #58
  19. eustachius

    eustachius Adventurer

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    Thank you, GB. Very kind of you. I hadn't expected so much positive feedback.
    #59
  20. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

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    yeah, boss.... whatta ride!.... i'm here 'til the end....
    #60