A solo trip to Mongolia on a 125cc

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by guerreronegro, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,605
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Catching up on your report @guerreronegro; must have missed one of the alerts and didn't realize you'd responded about the ticket situation. Great that you were able to get out of it and didn't have to pay anything to the cops; though your experience in that city leaves much to be desired, huh.

    Realize this was awhile ago, but dang - that camp spot along the river is fantastic! Sounds like it was stupid cold and I imagine that detracted from such a idyllic spot, but a great find nonetheless.

    Going to catch up on your latest update, appreciate you keeping this going man! Between the covid lock down and idiocy taking place in our government, I need as many ride reports to follow as possible :lol2 :lol2 :lol2
    guerreronegro likes this.
  2. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,605
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Damn @guerreronegro - what's with leaving us hanging like this :lol3 :lol3 :lol3.

    The pollution going through the tunnels must seriously suck; are they just filled with auto exhaust? And my guess is there's nothing like the EPA telling them to cut emissions (though in the grand scheme of things I doubt they come anywhere near what we emit).

    Look forward to reading about what transpired in Bishkek :eek7 :eek7 :eek7
    guerreronegro likes this.
  3. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    My understanding of things is that all vehicles that come to the end of their life because they failed their smog tests or MOT in their home country, they end up in Central Asia where all that matters is reliability over environmental concerns. And even when that does not apply, in relatively newer imports like Japanese RHD cars, I think their culture comes to the extent in which they eliminate the catalytic converter and EGR systems so as to "gain" back that extra power and improve reliability in the long run. Sometimes just by standing a few meters behind a car will let you smell from oil to all kinds of harmful particles. When I remember Kyrgyzstan the first thing that comes to my head is sadly this. Bishkek and Kazakhstan are coming in a few days, there is couple funny stories I need to retrieve from the diaries from what happened later in that day.
    klaviator, OierXT, jowul and 8 others like this.
  4. ekoradesna

    ekoradesna n00b

    Joined:
    May 1, 2018
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Indonesia
    Following. Nicely prepped mate!
    guerreronegro likes this.
  5. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Kyrgyzstan is a top country for riders. Sadly I just had bad luck while visiting it and ended up burnt out. Even while going through the rural areas, my lungs and eyes were intoxicated. That, and the inability to communicate with anyone I met along the way had done it for me. I made up my mind and decided to keep going all the way to Almaty if possible, in Kazakhstan. Even if I would have had a good time, I was not doing that good in terms of time and this being day 38 left me with little contingency plans if I had to go back riding from Mongolia. At this time I was still confident in grabbing the Trans Siberian train to Moscow and ride from there as they had explained me in the emails with the cargo companies. This in theory would make me save a week of travel time but little did I know things work a bit different in mother Russia.

    So, going down that mountain pass after the tunnel felt great. Amazing views and a break from pollution as I was left alone while going down. In less than one hour I was in Bishkek surroundings and what another nightmare this was. All the roads were unpaved, with work in progress putting down the asphalt in a beaten up gravel road. There was heavy traffic, and I was once again immersed in a permanent cloud of dust and pollution from cars which I cannot describe how disgusting it was. I started to feel water coming from my nose as it was working hard to filter all the elements from coming in the lungs. Anyways, I did not dare to stop, I just wanted to finish Kyrgyzstan and the border was less than 30 minutes away.

    The road eventually came back to a paved smooth surface, and as I gained more speed, while incorporating in two-lane motorway, I saw another one of those police patrols pointing at me with the gun radar and making me gestures in the distance to stop. There was a bit more traffic next to me in the parallel lanes, so I analysed the situation almost in slow motion. My GPS indicated less than 2 km to reach the border with Kazakhstan and this police patrol didn’t seem to be in the mood to chase nobody in their patrol vehicle. Since it was a bit easy to confuse who was he aiming for while doing the gestures I decided not to stop and continue riding all the way to the border. I saw him in my mirror signalling more and more as I passed him, he was definitely aiming for me but since the last incident I knew this would have ended up in trouble had I stopped. i do not feel proud of this action but I knew if I had stopped he would be giving me the same non-sense as the last time over a speed limit that i might have surpassed barely. He never chased me back, and I was in the border in no time. This one was quick to cross with almost no cars. The Kazakhstanis made me sign a bunch of documents for the temporary import of the motorcycle but compared to some horror stories I heard this was a piece of cake. I just hoped not to have any problems when exiting the country.

    At the other side of the border I felt determined in buying a SIM card as I would be staying here easily for another 4 or 5 days. This was not an easy task. I didn’t have local currency and all the banks in the closest town denied all my credit cards. There was no foreign exchange around and neither a Beeline SIM provider. The other companies they did not want to issue me one for some reason. While attempting to look for all of this, I got in trouble with a kid who was following me constantly asking for money. This in the end was a border town. I tried to be as diplomatic as possible and told him politely to go away. He eventually gave up. Leaving the motorcycle out in the street while trying to attempt all of these tasks made me feel really uncomfortable as you never know whether the people working in the border trying to fool tourists will be taking redistribution of welfare in their own hands. So, I run out of patience and carried on to the next village where I found a foreign exchange. I exchanged 40 euros for the time being. Having that sorted I now needed to look for a restaurant which was becoming more and more challenging in the last few days.

    I kept remembering the lonely planet guide recommendation on central Asian gastronomy and how not to expect anything from it. The place I found next was an example of this quote. I was happy at least to have established communication back with the locals in terms of Translator and gestures. After the episode in Kyrgyzstan I was feeling not assertive enough in the strategy I was using to communicate with locals. At least I got to eat a piece of meat with some potato and onion. I could taste the oil used to cook it, not a pleasant experience but hey, at least it was food. The roads were high-end at this point. I got to reflect on how every time I enter any Stan, at the very beginning of it the roads are brand new, and then they progressively turn to gravel only to then disappear or show the remains of what once was a paved road. Its like they try to impress you at the border with the best roads currently available only to later show the true reality of things.

    After riding for another couple hours I got to enter Almaty. Here I would not have minded staying one night. The city felt vibrant and much more developed to what I have seen so far; but what do you know, there was a lake a few miles out of the city and the weather was just perfect to camp. I decided to go for that instead and avoid once again the tumultuous city life. I passed Almaty and then got back on the motorway leading to Kapchagay. On my way a local kept making me gestures from his car, I did not really know what he was trying to say to me, so he stopped on the shoulder of the motorway and I did the same. He just wanted to tell me the presence of a radar camera ahead. The guy had literally all of his teeth in gold and lots of scars in his face, he looked like a real gangster to me, but he turned out to be super friendly and in the end we said goodbye with a fraternal hug. He pointed me in the paper map I carried a cool place to camp, so I head there and what I place this was. There was one more overlander vehicle in the distance, so I choose my space and set up the tent. The weather was still perfect, so I even went for a swim which after all these days it was much appreciated.
    IMG_20190820_200802.jpg
    I finished the day changing the oil with the two liters I had bought back in Kirghizstan and cooking some more pasta. It was truly a night to enjoy with an open sky where all the stars could be easily identified.
    IMG_20190820_200902.jpg

    Attached Files:

    klaviator, OierXT, jowul and 24 others like this.
  6. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,330
    Location:
    Out There Somewhere
    NICE! Glad things got a bit better for you after all you endured over the past days.
    guerreronegro likes this.
  7. Speedmaster58

    Speedmaster58 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Myddfai,Llandovery. Wales
    don't feel bad about not stopping for the the police, I ended up doing the same in Eastern Russia after getting fleeced for crossing a white line to get into fuel station. So the next one that waived his light stick at me to stop, I carried on and thought like you, if he wants to chase me I will plead dumb:-):-)
    td63 likes this.
  8. lfierro

    lfierro n00b Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2020
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Toronto
    Tienes una lista de las cosas que llevastes en tu viaje ?
    LS650 likes this.
  9. lfierro

    lfierro n00b Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2020
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Toronto
    ???
  10. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Don't have a list as such but everything I brought with me can be found in the first page in the pictures attached
  11. Yukonrider1

    Yukonrider1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Marquette
    I too stopped stopping for the policed, did it 2 or 3 times, none of them ever gave chase.
    guerreronegro likes this.
  12. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    This was one of the best nights camping out, the weather was just perfect before going to bed and also when waking up in the morning. Feeling recharged I went ahead with the plan of the day. The GPS indicated an estimate of 7 hours to cover 400 km which sounded a bit unrealistic considering the road conditions for the past day were excellent. I was once again wrong. Kazakhstan’s famous quality of roads was about to begin, this proved once again my theory of investing hard in infrastructure just at the beginning of the border crossing to have sort of a façade to the tourist. Maybe I was wrong, and it was also because this lead to Almaty which is the second most important city in the country after Nur Sultan. But this same pattern was repeated in all of the Stans with no exception.
    upload_2020-11-29_13-48-53.png
    My plan thinking in terms of distance was to border all of the eastern side of Kazakhstan, heading towards Taldykorgan first, then Ayagoz, Qalbatau and finally Semey. I didn’t study this part of the map as exhaustively as the previous destinations and I was kind of lost on which was the best itinerary. I kind of wanted to cross the Altay mountains without having to go all the way up to Semey but rather going to the northeast part of Kazakhstan via a secondary road in Arshaty that crossed directly into Russia. This I learnt later it was a border cross only for people of Kazakhstan and Russia as this forum threat explains. They did not have the infrastructure to attend tourists apparently so I discarded this option. Checking the Caravanistan entry about border crossings to Russia it seemed that the best route was to cross in Shemonaikha bypassing Semey.

    I didn’t know to what extent the roads in Kazakhstan were bad. I had seen loads of bad roads in terms of poor maintenance with pot holes every now and then but what was about to see I would define it as a trap. Turkmenistan were so far the worst, but at least it was made clear from the very beginning I could not pass from a certain speed else I would be risking my integrity or the motorcycle’s. Kazakhstan on the other hand was counterintuitive. Maybe there were 2 consecutive minutes of good road that made me think this has gotten much better, it will not be all of a sudden rubbish. But this is exactly what happened and the reason why I kind of considered them the most dangerous ones in this trip. The deformations due to temperature contrasts in the pavement in the form of a wave destabilized the front end making quick fluctuations in steering, either to the right or left at high speed. With incoming traffic in a two lane road was just terrorrific. I had to stop once as I had a really close call that made me think for a couple of minutes on how I should approach this. These deformation waves could be either horizontal or vertical in direction. The vertical ones were like going in a rollercoaster and sometimes had pot holes in the middle. There was a point in which I was begging to go back to a dirt road and then suddenly my wish came true. Almost just as fast I changed my mind in favor of a paved road with deformations. These unpaved roads were part of the official road in the map but were truly the definition of a beaten path used regularly in normal traffic. Curiously enough, all vehicles were soviet rugged ones either old Ladas 2107, Nivas or modern UAZs either 4x4s or vans.

    With this road conditions I didn’t know what to do so I stopped a couple times to rethink the strategy. This road was a nightmare but if I dared to go into a secondary one or the ones that did not appeared unless you zoom in quite a lot I would enter unknown territory in the scale of bad paying a big toll in terms of time. For this I would need some intel by asking a local and the most sensible option for today was to keep advancing north. Such were the bad conditions of this roads that in one bump in the motorway I lost my top case as it just snapped off. I had to stop in the shoulder and recover all the valuables. I did not know what to do with it, one of the plastic structural bits at the rack base had broken and it would not pop in back again. Then I remembered I had one sling ratchet so I tied it transversally and tension it so it would go back in its place.
    IMG_20190822_134331.jpg
    Visian, klaviator, Jean-Luc and 21 others like this.
  13. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Glad to see I was not the only one. It feels counterintuitive sometimes. I was stopped three times in Russia but I was lucky and run into professional officers who just wanted to check the paperwork,
    Old Codger likes this.
  14. Mcahron

    Mcahron Feeling Fluffy, don't ruin it!

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2017
    Oddometer:
    259
    Location:
    Earth
    Nice RR!
    guerreronegro likes this.
  15. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,605
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Just caught up again @guerreronegro, sounds like one hell of an adventure through the stans thus far. Sucks that the road conditions were so bad that your top case popped off, but glad you were able to secure it and keep motoring without too much of a problem.

    Really nice shots of where you camped, being able to take a swim and get the road grime off is something that always helps me after a long day of riding. You mentioned that you changed the oil - curious as to what you did with the used oil? Did you put it back into the containers? I imagine it's a pain in the arse doing that on the trail like that.

    Look forward to what comes next, especially the foreshadowing of what's coming as you get to Russia.
  16. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    When I bought the oil in that Gazprom gas station I started to look for places in which I could safely dispose of it. I had seen many posts on the road in which they also advertsied oil and petrol (in bottles) for sale but I was not trusting to leave it there for safe disposal. I figured the best option was to give it to a local garage with decent infrastructure so they could dispose of it following the local regulations. Because I didn't stop much until almost the end of Kazakhstan I handed it there to a Russian garage owner.
    klaviator, AbeWhat and scudo like this.
  17. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Having solved the top case incident, it was time to put something in the stomach and most importantly, let the body rest. The trembling of the road was just insane. It was starting to resemble Turkmenistan’s roads in some sections. There were many transitions between horrible tarmac and even worse unpaved roads under construction. The windshield had cracked in one corner due to the vibrations and my phone holder was barely keeping up, almost all the rubber bits were gone by now. I cannot count how many times did I have to stop because the phone popped out of the holder. Good thing the cable was strong enough and prevented it to hit the road. Also the auxiliary lights had stopped working as the switch only powered them lightly, probably an electrical issue. Oh, and the saddle bags were losing stitches more and more. I wasn’t sure at that point they were going to be good for the rest of the trip. It was going to be one of those tough days.
    IMG_20190821_105016.jpg IMG_20190821_105117.jpg
    There was a family-owned restaurant on a side of the road, so I stopped as soon as I saw it. I was the only person there, but the kids came and sited next to me as I ate something. I didn’t even bother translating what I wanted, I just ordered by pointing at a picture they had of something I presumed was acceptable. As always when approached by locals they tried to speak to me, but I wasn’t understanding anything until I gave them the translator in my phone. Then, a whole new world of possibilities appeared in front of them. The classic questions started to appear once again, are you married, how old are you, where is your wife, how much is your motorcycle, etc. Interesting to see their side of the coin of life in general. As they were using the phone, I realized I still needed to buy a SIM card to have data on my phone. I was not planning to stay long in the country but Kazakhstan being as big, it was going to take me at least a few days to make it to Russia. Another curious thing is toilets. Most of them are a hole in the ground but this place had normal ones for which they charged 50 denges to use, something like 10 cents. Seemed fair.
    IMG_20190821_100913.jpg
    I checked back the map and tried to figure out how long was I going to be able to ride in these conditions for the day in order to find a place to crash. I tried asking the family to see if I could get an accurate estimate and they told me to aim for Kabanbay following the A350 road. This town had every service required including a couple hotels and looking at the map it was quite close if I compared it with the distance I managed to cover yesterday. I said goodbye and resumed my trip. I passed a few towns on my way that looked like the perfect communist stereotype with those greyish apartment blocks. These and the infinite steppe are what still comes to my head when I remember crossing the east of Kazakhstan. Nothing special. If I am ever to come back, I will likely visit another region. Some teams told me the police here was even worse than in Kirghizstan but luckily, I didn’t happen to run into any official.
    IMG_20190821_171519.jpg
    I don’t know if dangerous and boring go together, but this is how this route was getting. I was tired of closed calls with the irregular tarmac pushing me to the sides with upcoming traffic. Because I took whatever excuse to rest a bit from the trembling, I stopped in another town on the way to buy the SIM card. This convenience store was also run by another family and luckily the daughter spoke a bit of English and walked me through the process of getting the line, put some credit and activate it, everything with a digital machine resembling an ATM and in Kazakhstani or Russian. I didn’t understand a thing but was quite impressed at how many things you could do with that machine. She said it should be good for one week with unlimited internet for which I paid an equivalent of 5 USD. The thing is that as I found out earlier in Uzbekistan, the signal reception is excellent, I got full 4G but the speed just didn’t correspond to it, probably because the infrastructure covered many lines simultaneously. Anyways, having solved this and bought some snacks, I kept moving.
    IMG_20190822_134731.jpg
    The traffic was not so bad, I was alone in the road for most of the day. However, in the dusty sections I had to go behind some cars or trucks and consequently eat all the accumulated dust behind. I reminded to myself I should be cleaning the air filter whenever I had access to either water or compressed air. Another thing that I noticed is while crossing any town, the speed limit was always 20 KPH, no wonder why it was so easy to get fined with the radars. Eventually I made it to Kabanbay with some daylight even. I crossed the village to refuel with 80 octane fuel and found another convenience store in which I resupplied water. Then I rode 200 meters to the hotel Kabanbay and once again I was lucky to find good company, the people there were extremely friendly and also spoke English. Both dinner and breakfast were included in the price of the room and since I was the only guy there, we shared a table together. My back was destroyed from today’s riding. Most of the day had to be done standing up but the foot pegs in this bike were not designed to do this and the feet were also taking the toll. I was grateful to at least have some good company for the night and also to be able to communicate with family / friends back home sending their support.
    IMG_20190821_195659.jpg
    Speaking with the host, Mukamali, I was impacted to see he hold a degree in International Business and studied in both Astana and Almaty but decided to go back to his natal town to take care of the family business. We exchanged numbers and after dinner I was off to rest. I could see from the window the bike parked in the inner patio of the property which also gave me some tranquility for the night.
    klaviator, Jean-Luc, OierXT and 20 others like this.
  18. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    756
    Loving the report so far, really looking forward to more everyday!
    Old Codger and guerreronegro like this.
  19. DocRogers

    DocRogers Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    231
    Location:
    Maine
    Just found this thread, think I will ride along for a while.
    guerreronegro likes this.
  20. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    145
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Tried to unite the waypoints registered in my spot device but for some reason google my maps alghorithm will not do it right, maybe because it is still being under construction or something. I took motorway 350 or A3 down wouth instead of the one indicating in this track.

    Attached Files:

    klaviator, Jean-Luc, OierXT and 6 others like this.