A solo trip to Mongolia on a 125cc

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

  1. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    Thanks @liv2day and everyone. If there is something good about this situation is that I finally got to sit in front of the computer and do this report. It is hard to tell when this will be over but hey, at least its productive and a good place to put the memories to remember the trip and people met before it fades out.
    #81
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  2. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    I was having a blast in Serbia. I had to admit I was a bit intimidated when I first crossed the border but after meeting all these wonderful people, I felt only comfortable and safe. The levels of hospitality shocked me, nothing I could compare back to my home country. Maybe only to tales of my father and grandfather of how people were during the Spanish civil post-war. I started to ask myself then, what is the breakeven point of a culture to turn from collectivism to individualism and its association with its economy. This, I would keep asking myself during my whole trip.
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    Today the road would take me to the south of Serbia, lake Vlasina, the last point on my map from Milan’s list of destinations. At this point, I was not sure whether to proceed through North Macedonia or just cross into Bulgary the next day. I would make my mind on the go. Bojan was incredibly hospitable and as I was waking up, he started preparing breakfast. You could tell he was used to bikers and cyclists staying at his guest house. The place in Booking had a top score for a reason. After talking a bit more with him asking for some places to visit on the way, he recommended to visit Nis which was a city on the way with a cool Fortress. IMG_20190725_122214.jpg

    I stopped in the first village, Zajecar, where I saw a big hill with a nice forest. I was not on a rush and the distance set to cover today made allowances to stop on the way. So, I went to the forest following a dirt track to see the village from there. Many people there were enjoying the day outdoors. This would have been a great place to camp. I had some food on me, so I prepared something light to eat while enjoying the views. I then went for a ride around the forest, but the track was getting technical for this bike, so I came back and continued going towards Nis. I didn’t realize until now, but I noticed when I stopped that the security chain link piece of metal was missing. This chain I had to cut before leaving for the trip as the chain was too long for the small sprocket, I was carrying with me. My reasoning was that I have tightened the link perhaps a bit more than normal and that the security bit was a bit lose making it jump with the centrifugal force. So, I stopped in a couple places on the way that seemed to have motorcycles around, but they didn’t have a replacement for this chain. I figured that if I had made it this far, it should be ok to continue plus I had a chain breaker with me as well and extra links just in case. IMG_20190725_124537.jpg

    In Nis I went to the main square to have some lunch. I learned the hard way that most of cafeterias in Serbia only serve you coffee or drinks but not food, or maybe they did but with my understandment of the language I struggled to explain and understand back. While having lunch I received an email from a local sponsor sending me some sticker designs to put on the bike and now I had to find a place to print them after lunch. I failed three times but on the fourth I found a copy shop that did stickers. Maja, the owner spoke English and she not only helped me do the stickers but also found me a mechanic in town to solve the chain problem. Instead of telling me where the place was, she told me to wait.

    Within 7 minutes, the mechanic was there, and he told me to follow him back to his place. I thanked Maja and left the copy shop following my new friend. I couldn’t believe it; he came to look for me with his car so I could follow him back without getting lost leaving his business unattended. We couldn’t understand each other well but he showed me around. He appeared to have been doing some motorsports in his early days from the picture he had on the wall. I tried to show him what the problem was, and he quickly got it. While finding a spare pin his son Peter came back from work and he saw us dealing with the problem. He spoke good English and told me to come upstairs where the family lived for a drink. We chatted for a bit and explained them I was on my way to Mongolia with the motorcycle. This family was again hospitable beyond imagination, they even offered me to stay for the night! I explained I was headed to Vlasina lake to camp there for the night as I had to get going for the next countries up ahead. When I tried to pay Peter’s father, they just wouldn’t take it. I really insisted by even leaving the cash on the table, but they would put it back in my pocket. It was incredible, what could I do but say thanks? IMG_20190725_164208.jpg

    Peter then came with me to the exit of town and signal me the road to Vlasina. While going down the hill of where they lived, I fell from the bike due to a very polished tarmac. I was lucky Peter was around to help me lift it back up as I was very bad positioned in the middle of the hill. We said goodbye at the road intersection leaving to the lake. I did not have time to check the city’s attractions like the Fort or a Skull tower from the Ottoman period, but I honestly did not mind. In about two hours I have had a great experience I would always remember the city for. The bike nor me suffered any damage but I remained vigilant the rest of the way. While heading from the lake I forgot to pay attention to the remaining fuel left. I remembered only when I saw a petrol station that was closed. I was in trouble; I was about to reach 400 km and enter reserve in no time. Far from worrying I kept advancing trusting the reserve autonomy would get me somewhere to fill it up tomorrow but the more I kept advancing the more distance it was between villages. IMG_20190725_183450.jpg

    I finally arrived at the lake and started to look for a place to set up the tent. The place and landscape on the way was amazing and there were many good spots with some locals around. I finally decided to take a cross path and ended up running into a big Serbian family. I asked if it was ok to set up the tent next to theirs and they were ok with it. As if I haven’t experience enough Serbian hospitality within this trip, today was not going to be any different. I took advantage of the great temperature and went for a swim in the lake and wash some clothes.
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    When I came back, the family invited me to have dinner with all of them: Zlatoko, Goca, Veljko, Vros, Igniat, Aca, George, Zlatana, Dubrava, Magadalena. Veljko was the only one speaking English from there. They told me they were not used to see Spanish tourists in Serbia, that for them it was great to share some time with me. The pleasure was mine, I couldn’t be luckier. This family came to the lake every year for a summer break and stayed there for a few days and had everything well setup, big tents, toilet, water supply, etc. They made an amazing barbecue and I got to taste their homemade liqueur and local wine. What a great way to finish the day.
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    Attached Files:

    #82
  3. Franque

    Franque Been here awhile

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    I'm really enjoying your pictures from Serbia! I have a friend from Serbia, and he introduced me to Rakija. What did you think of it? I'm fairly certain it'll put hair on your chest.
    #83
  4. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    Yeah, that was the name of the drink they give me! I didn't remember the name, they gave me a small bottle to carry with me so yeah I was quite familiar with it lol. I liked it, good as an after digestive.
    #84
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  5. johnnybgood8

    johnnybgood8 Been here awhile

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    As someone from Serbia, its really nice to hear you had a blast here. Majority of the Serbian people are really kind and show hospitality to strangers, from my experience, even more than to domestic people. Especially in the motorcycle community.
    #85
  6. Motón

    Motón n00b

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    Spain (Cáceres)
    Great trip. You are showing that you don't need a 1200 motorcycle to go out on a tour of the world.
    #86
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  7. OierXT

    OierXT Freedom-searcher...

    Joined:
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    Really enjoying this RR so far guerreronegro!

    I rode into the Balkans in my trip to Kurdistan back in 2015. I went with my trusty 2004 Suzuki VStrom 650, and I trully enjoyed the trip. I have great memories from the Balkans and, specially, their people. I started a Ride Report (https://advrider.com/f/threads/inte...basque-country-to-kurdistan-and-back.1052305/) , never ended it... Too lazy, sorry... But your style and writting is wonderful, congratulations.

    By the way, I see that you are spanish, aren't you? In one of your pictures we can see that you have some sort of Ecuatorian documents, may be half Ecuador half spanish?

    So we are neighbours, as I am from the Basque Country.

    Thank you very much for this RR, waiting for more!
    #87
  8. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thoroughly enjoyed your latest update @guerreronegro, reading about the hospitality you were shown in Serbia is truly inspiring. Seriously glad you didn't throw the chain on your bike with the clip missing; so cool that the folks in Nis were so accommodating and helpful - what a great memory to travel with. And then to camp next to that family on the lake and be invited to dine with them and hang out, just amazing.

    Already looking for the next update. And I really need to get out and ride again...lol.
    #88
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  9. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    @OierXT yeah I have dual citizenship and for this trip, I brought the two passports to save myself the visas of the Russian Federation and Turkey. More useful for Russia since the double-entry visa for this country was a bit expensive as far as I was told. Too bad you didn't finish your ride report. It's always interesting to read stories from the Kurdish regions. I have some friends in Spain from the regions of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in Iraq, I would really like to make these a next destination.
    #89
  10. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    When I woke up in the morning I went for a walk around the lake one last time. I found these three friends still catching some sleep.
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    Sleeping in the tent was getting more comfortable with the days.
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    The dinner last day was amazing, very copious with many different kinds of meat and alcohol. I was just sad that I had to leave Serbia that day after meeting these wonderful people. Veljko’s father gave me a wristband with a cross as an amulet for the rest of the trip. They also gave me a bit of their home-made apple-flavoured Rakia in a small bottle. I would put that to good use throughout the trip. I still remember Veljko’s father looking at me very serious asking me why didn’t I take another one. I told Veljko to tell him I was really grateful, but I didn’t want to risk carrying another bottle as it could maybe break and I would feel really bad about wasting it. They also gave me some hot coffee upon departure. The last thing we did was to take a group picture next to the lake and exchange our contacts with Veljko so to be in touch. Saying goodbye was turning out to be more difficult each day that passed. Sleeping every day in a different place and meeting so many amazing people was the hardest thing to distance from in this trip.
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    The first order of the day was to find fuel ASAP. It didn’t take long until the motorcycle stalled, and I had to plug in the reserve. Now I knew for a fact that I had a bit more than 430 Km on a deposit with average fuel and road tyres. I passed one village and asked some people, they signalled it on my map. I followed the road going down the mountain, so I saved some fuel with a less engine load. Then I found a bigger village and my worries disappeared. The petrol station was just 3 km more in the distance and I had covered 30km. I should be able to make it. This village though, had a nice restaurant with many locals around and breakfast was first on the list. I had the last taste of Serbian gastronomy and carried on.
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    Now in the gas station I found out that fuel scarcity was a problem in the area as this Lada here showed. The thing was loaded with 5 litre water bottles filled of fuel. In Spain this would never happen. I have tried many times to fill my enduro bike at home when not having a CE approved container around and they will always deny me service. From there to the Bulgaria border was like a 10-minute ride and crossing it was fast, without complications nor traffic. I could have gone through Sofia and got to see the city but that would have put me behind on the schedule I had sketched in my head. So I planned to cross Bulgaria and make it to the Mediterranean coast in Greece for the afternoon.

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    While in Bulgaria I took route one passing through a canyon offering many activities like kayaking. A nice place to have gone by with a bit more time. I stopped next to a river to have a break, and eat some food left. A friend of mine had given me some pollen and I started to eat it every day as a supplement as well. When route one ended, I took the motorway which seemed as if it was brand new with three lanes and a speed limit of 140 kph. Good thing the Varadero couldn’t pass 100 kph because there were many radars at 90 or 70 kph without previous notice. Crossing into Greece was weird, there was still a physical border in place making every vehicle stop. It didn’t take long to cross and I was soon back on a road stopping quickly after to refuel. In the process the girl in the petrol station gave me for free two water bottles, I was not sure if this was a Greek custom but she insisted to me to keep them pointing with her finger at the sun.
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    I had second thoughts of visiting Sofia due to the monotonous day I was experiencing today, but then I though of how many things I visited while in Serbia and told to myself to take it easy for the rest of the day. I found in iOverlander a sweet spot to camp very close to the sea and I headed directly there. The place was very nice without tourist massification. As I arrived, I pitched the tent and went straight to the beach to refresh myself with the few minutes left of sunlight. There was a restaurant with views to the sea so after the swim I headed there and ordered some trout. This day was not as exciting as others but gave me enough time to catch up with the diaries, something very difficult to do while in company. I planned also the itinerary for tomorrow and found out the other bikers where also planning on making it to Istanbul tomorrow. We created a whatsapp group and decided to meet tomorrow for dinner in Istambul’s old town to catch up on how was it going so far.
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    Attached Files:

    #90
  11. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    All of your interactions with people serve to remind that people are lovely, generally speaking. In today's world of politics on fac3b00k and everywhere else, it is easy to forget this simple fact of life. When one can get out and get away from the online "feed", and get face to face with people- it's a whole new world.

    That said, I am grateful for this bit of my "online feed"!
    #91
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  12. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    Day 13 started at 7:30 AM. I wanted to avoid queues at the border, so I packed everything fast and headed to the road. This was the first serious border I would be crossing, and I didn’t have any experience crossing borders on a motorcycle. I was a bit nervous, with all the paperwork ready. Riding through the rest of Greece following the Mediterranean coast was quite enjoyable early in the morning bordering the sea and feeling the breeze. Arriving at the border I could see that it was not as bad as other ralliers had told me. A guy on a pickup told me to skip the queue. Great advice, I skipped an easily one-hour queue by zigzagging through all of the cars. It was really hot and with the stopped traffic you could feel all of their ACs working at full speed.
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    I didn’t know whether skipping the queue was ok or not while on a motorcycle. I had read other riders did that as well but when you see a big queue it feels kind of intimidating to skip it. Anyways at the very end of it a Turk didn’t like it and started shouting at me. He was with his family in a white SUV Mercedes with German plates. I tried to apologize, and, in the end, he gave up. I was the only bike in the queue and the guards told him to stay behind giving me preference. I felt bad for they guy, not so much for the way he addressed me. I entered the country with my Ecuadorian passport that had a free visa to Turkey saving 20 EUR in the process. I also handed them the International Driving Permit, the green card as a proof of insurance and the registration. As a curiosity, the green card from Spanish insurances are valid for Turkey and Azerbaijan so no more money to spend in this. Surprisingly I crossed the border in about 20 minutes, so it was not too bad. The guy in the Mercedes came by later as I was filling more paperwork in a post ahead, apologizing for the previous situation and we shake hands, so everything was good. He spoke some German and what I understood from him is that he lived in Germany and came back home for summer vacation. We wished each other good luck and I carried on. First thing that impacted me as I moved on was seeing a full loaded truck going on the opposite direction in the motorway. I stopped in a petrol station to fill up as I saw a nice rest area with many people in it. Horsed-powered rickshaws were starting to be part of the landscape and while filling up the deposit I saw this hilarious vehicle consisting just of the chassis and what looked to me like an industrial engine.
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    While in the restaurant, the guy in charge instead of showing me the menu invites me to come to the kitchen with him to point what I wanted, cultural differences, I guess. Or maybe he just wanted to save himself the effort of communicating with me. Something I was told by many friends on the way is that due to my darker skin it feels as if I could be one of them. Here obviously didn’t work but I did notice it helped somehow on the way. IMG_20190727_125801.jpg

    On the way to Istanbul I kept on the road next to the coastline which take a bit longer but had greater views. Some sections were really confusing, I was not sure whether if I could proceed or not through the main motorways as they have this telematic system implemented with no toll barriers. Then again, I was in a motorcycle and sometimes if there is an exception it is likely to be applied to a bike. Speed limits were also bizarre. For same reason the limit was established at 82 kmh for some sections and then it was 90 kmh. I was told by a Turkish friend that they have a 10% allowance and some areas really enforce not going over 90 kmh, so 82+10%=90.2 . download (1).jpg

    Funny. Also Turkey was plagued with fake police cars made out of plastic in real size. First time I saw one of these, they would continue to be seen all around central Asia.
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    Once in Istanbul I could confirm what everybody had told me about Istambul’s traffic. It is incredibly frustrating. The clearance from vehicle to vehicle was less than a foot so it took me ages to transit around the city. I started to embrace the chaotic and aggressive driving style and managed to filter some of it. I went to a couple of places marked on maps.me for a quick visit but given the circumstances on how crowded everything was, I didn’t feel safe leaving the bike in a public space. I headed then straight to a hostel I had booked on the Asian part of the city. It was not the best location, but I didn’t book anything in advance and everything was taken for that day.

    I got to cross the tunnel under the sea, and I saw as I was entering a sign that didn’t allow motorcycles to go in. It was too late, there was so much traffic. Turning around would have been a suicide. It took me about two hours to cross the city so arriving at the hostel felt like a relief. I had to buy a SIM card as I was staying for a few days, so I went to a Vodafone store after checking in. I checked on the English riders but they seemed to haven’t arrived yet to the city so I headed back.

    When I came back to the hostel room, I saw the most comical scene of this trip. A guy from Tunisia doing a massive coke line on the crystal table in the room. As I was walking in, he sniffed it as if it was the most normal thing in the world for him and then he said hi to me shaking hands and all as if nothing had happened. I felt the guy didn’t mean any bad as all his actions were genuinely natural, he was just taking care of his habit. I left him there, minding his own business and took a quick shower to go see some tourist attractions of this part of town. I met also Vincent in the lobby, a Swedish bag packer. He seemed cool and after talking a few of his travels we went to the old part of town for some Turkish food. Then I received a response from the rest of the riders and we agreed on meeting at the other side of the bridge (for me). So after this Vincent and me came back and I rode the bike off to the place going again under the tunnel after seeing many bikes doing the same thing.
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    The restaurant had great views and there was no traffic anymore so riding through central Istanbul was quite enjoyable now. Parked the bike and went on to meet Holly and @WhichWayRound. Simon would make it a few minutes after. Alcohol was still allowed in this part of the country, so I went for a beer. We talked about how our trip was so far. They seemed to have had a great time in Romania doing the Transfagarasan where they were able to see many bears on the road. We also learned that the other rider Bogdan in the Ural had some complications in Hungary and that he might not be able to continue. After a great dinner, we said goodbye and I headed back to the hostel. This time the police stopped me but finally allowed me to go in the tunnel when I told them the hostel was right after exiting.
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    Vincent was up for the last drink, so as I arrived we headed back to our old part of town to have a couple more beers. He studied also International Relations and I were always keen to hear his impressions on the countries he traveled so far. The night was over, and I was headed tomorrow to Ankara so we retired back to the hostel for good this time.

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    #92
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  13. OierXT

    OierXT Freedom-searcher...

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    109
    Location:
    The Basque Country
    What about dogs in Istanbul? And all around Turkey? I have some not-so-good memories of those savage dogs barking at me and almost hitting my motorcycle... At the end I used to kick them out while on the ride...
    #93
  14. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Very much enjoyed your latest updates @guerreronegro! I know this is a trip from the past, but it's crazy to read that you've traveled from Serbia through Bulgaria and Greece to arrive in Turkey in the couple of days I've not checked your thread :eekers :lol2 :lol2.

    The pictures have been great, but I really appreciate the commentary you've wrapped into your report. It's wonderful to read about your experiences with the locals you've encountered.

    And I really like @ricochetrider's post:
    Very well said and definitely something to remember with all the animosity in our current political environment.

    Looking forward to what comes next :thumb
    #94
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  15. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    Well, if you ask me I think Istanbul is more like cat territory. No matter where you put your eye there are always a few and apparently very well taken care after for being street cats. I didn't struggle with dogs until Mongolia but to be fair I am used to aggressive dogs jumping at motorcycles/cars from my village (cattle and hunting dogs). That being said I wouldn't like to be in the situation in which one of these dogs appeared by surprise making you deviate all of a sudden.


    I also think @ricochetrider quote kind of sums up the trip. It felt kind of a relief valve being surrounded in this kind of environment with so good face to face experiences. To the extent that coming back after almost three months to Europe feels quite shocking culturally speaking. Writing this report momentarily teleports me back to these realities now very distant from the comfort of my home, and some times a bit surreal to believe once you have readapted back to "reality". Not to say there is a lack of bad people out there, that would be being naive and not a realist. I have plenty of nasty stories that I was lucky not to experience but serve as a reminder to keep your feet on the ground all the time. I might share a couple of those in future posts. In my experience, however, and as many riders have noted down in their ride reports most of the people are wonderful.
    #95
  16. Visian

    Visian Look out! Supporter

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    :nod
    #96
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  17. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    I woke up early the next day, everybody in the room was asleep so I gathered everything on the bed and started to take bit by bit downstairs. The Varadero was outside parked so I could see it from the window room. I only had with me a disc brake lock. I told to myself if I was to visit a big city again, I should buy a better locking mechanism. As I was putting the saddlebags on the rear seat and making sure everything was ok, I found out again that the securing rear clip of the chain was not there. I stopped worrying about it, the first time I also didn´t know exactly when I had lost it and for all I know, I could have covered a few thousand miles without it. I checked the link was tightened enough and like most mornings lubed the chain and checked levels. It was also surprising to see the oil consumption was almost zero despite long sessions at 12K rpm.

    I wanted to make a night in Ankara and at the same time avoid main roads. I have had enough for the last couple of days and I wanted to experience a bit the rural areas of Turkey. Exiting Istanbul in the morning proved to be the way to go, traffic was not a problem like yesterday. I had to refuel on the way out and for the first time, I was given tea while performing the operation. This would be the common procedure from now onwards. The petrol station had a nice wooden table outside, so I enjoyed the tea with a snack from the shop. This also gave me time to think a bit more about my itinerary. I would deviate south crossing the Kartepe mountains and then continue navigation through some villages until finding the next main road leading to Ankara. I also decided to give another try to couch surfing and started to message some people looking for a positive answer to crush on someone’s sofa for the night.
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    The Kartepe mountain pass was a fun road with plenty of view spots and sharp turns. Going up as always meant being stuck in 2nd and 3rd gear but downhill was quite fun. The mountain was surrounded by a variety of oaks and chestnut trees, all very green. At the top, it was quite chilly despite not being at a particularly high elevation (around 4000 ft), quite a contrast due with the heat of that day exiting Istanbul. Going down the front brake started to feel different as if it was spongy. I stopped another time in a forest next to the road with a river to check it. I didn’t realize yet, but I overheated the brakes going down and due to the contrast of temperatures or perhaps the fact I didn’t let it cool down, the front disc was warped. Thinking I had a bubble in the system I opened the bleeder a bit to try to get it out. While performing the operation I put the last can of food I had on me next to the exhaust to heat it up a bit and had lunch. With the heat, it was easy to drink around 3 litres of water a day, so I took the chance and filled the camelback as well.
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    Fuel in Turkey started to get more expensive the more I headed east for some reason. Prices for food, on the other hand, dropped drastically in comparison with Istanbul. I stopped in a couple of villages to see the mosques. DSC02241.JPG DSC02253.JPG

    Then after clearing the mountains, the landscape started to turn progressively arid and the hills had a different tonality with red and green colours.

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    After a few miles, I passed a mine and then I stopped one more time in the last major city after hitting the main road

    I found a place to have the second proper meal of the day and this time I chose a kebab. People in the restaurant were friendly and told me a few places in the map to stop for a visit.
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    I am not too fun of kebabs back home but these ones were amazing, I could eat them every day no problem. While in the restaurant I had a response from Niyazi in Ankara saying I could stay at his place for the night. He was an aeronautic professor in one of the universities in the city and knew some Spanish so this would be also a good opportunity for him to practice the language.
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    Going back to the main road was not as entertaining as the rest of the day. I saw a concentration of choppers overtaking me on the motorway and then without realizing it I was already in Ankara. Niyazi welcomed me and we parked the bike inside the complex of apartments he lived in. He proposed to cook something for dinner from back home and since it was still early we went to the closest market in the neighbourhood before they closed to buy some ingredients to make a tortilla. The market was very traditional with all kinds of vegetables and fruits. I missed my chance of going to the famous Istanbul market so at least I got a bit of it here. Back at his place, I went on with the cooking. I was in contact with Simon, the other rider and he seemed to have taken another route but we most likely were going to meet again the next day in Cappadocia. Niyazi gave me some insights of what to do in Cappadocia and after dinner, he prepared some Turkish coffee. Not that I am a fan of coffee for dinner but since I was in Turkey, why not? Besides, I don’t think I had trouble sleeping at night after riding every day. He woke up the next day early so that was perfect for me, we agreed on the time and after a quick shower, I crashed on the couch.

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    #97
  18. terryna

    terryna Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2018
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Luxembourg
    Fantastic. Well done, that's great[​IMG]
    #98
    guerreronegro likes this.
  19. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,106
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Great update @guerreronegro, hope your front rotor wasn't warped too badly. Having experienced warped rotors on my track bike at high speeds, the lack of front braking power can be unnerving to say the least :lol2 :lol2.

    Pretty cool to have such a local experience in couch surfing too; what a fantastic way to get the local flavor of where you are.

    Look forward to what's next :D
    #99
    guerreronegro likes this.
  20. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2020
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Today the destination was the famous Cappadocia. Having seen this place in many documentaries I was looking quite forward for it. I had barely 350 Km, much less than yesterday, no more than 4 hours on paper. Because of Ankara being the capital of Turkey I thought I should be able to find a spare part for whatever bit was wrong in the front braking system. After saying goodbye to Niyazi, I headed towards the closest motorcycle workshop, a KTM Yamaha dealership. The guys there after having a look at it they discarded a bleeding problem and told me my best chance was at the Honda dealership on the other side of town to see if they had a rotor in stock. It wasn’t a big problem, but it was definitely something that bothered me as I could hear the grinding noise of the braking pad scratching the warped disc every revolution. So, I got to see a bit of Ankara as I headed towards the dealer. It was much easier to transit compared to Istanbul and with a lot of hills. I could see a small castle in the distance, Niyazi mentioned it but I didn’t bother too much about visiting it, I wanted to fix this problem and get moving towards Cappadocia.

    Once at Honda they told me I needed to wait 15 days for the part to arrive. I then realized this bike was not sold out of Europe and that it would be a miracle to find it elsewhere on the way. I looked online for the reference part number and the rotor was not shared with other models. Despite of that, I tried checking with a shop in Tbilisi, Georgia; where I was planning to change the oil and tires. They told me they had some scrap motorcycles and that they will try their best to find one. The problem was annoying because it felt as if the bike had the ABS on every time I had to use the front brakes. It would destabilize the front end making it difficult to turn and brake at the same time. I started to use the rear brakes hoping the front pads would not wear in excess prematurely. Worse came to worst I would have to send a disc from back home to a destination up ahead.

    Since yesterday I started to feel more like being really far away from home. After leaving Istanbul there are no traces of Christianity and that has a direct impact in the landscapes and the people. The roads started to deteriorate a bit during today and there were more animals like cows on dusty roads without fencing. I got my towel stuck between the two front windshields and lost it in one bump on a secondary road. I was able to retrieve it back by turning around, this road leading to Cappadocia did not have much traffic apparently. Being late July, it was getting hotter and hotter every day, so I had to ride without the jacket almost all day, something I was a bit reluctant in doing. I also started to buy water to carry with me at all times in addition to the 3 liters in the camelback. On the way, there was supposed to be a big lake but the dimensions didn't match the map's. IMG_20190729_112844.jpg

    I stopped again in a small village seeking food. Like other days I found a small restaurant where I soon became the protagonist. The small family that owned the place came to talk to me. We didn’t understand each other until they tried a bit of German. Never did I think I was going to put to practice my little notions of German in Turkey but it turns out there are many Turks that know the language from making their living in Germany. I manage to understand a bit about my nationality, how did I find the place and what did I want to eat. I tried to explain to them my German was not too good with a: Ich sprecht nicht so gut Deutsch aber ich verstehen du. And then the name of bread, salad and meat to what I said Ja, this is what they gave me.
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    The family gave me lots of food perhaps because I was a bit ignorant on how to proceed or also because they were very hospitable. First came a salad while waiting for some meat and bread. Since I finished the salad too fast, they gave me another one. I saw the bill and they charged me 22 liras, the equivalent of 3.5 EUR so I left a bigger bill on the table as I said goodbye.

    When I went out, there were many people observing the bike and talking to me but this time I didn’t understand anything. I told them Cappadocia, Spain, Mongolia while making gestures and smiling trying to guess what they were asking me if that was a question. I adopted this for most of the people on the way so to at least engage in communication with them when asked something. I would have loved to know the language to learn a bit more about this area of the world and what these people had to say. I remember again, what my friend told me about me looking like a local. Come to think about it, when the police stopped me in the Istanbul tunnel, they didn’t bother me too much and this was also true for other police stops and interaction with other locals. I always heard terrible stories about corruption in borders or cops asking for bribes. I was quite lucky in that respect. Some of the ralliers had already been fined as I was able to see in our WhatsApp group. When I started the bike, and a kid approached me and asked me to pull the throttle so I did. The kid then started to rev it all the way up reaching fuel cut. That seemed to make everyone around happy. Turks and also in Azerbaijan seemed to love this. I kept carrying on.

    I found out a camping place at the heart of Goreme. I rode the rest of the way in one go and arrived early. There were already some ralliers there so without losing too much time I pitched the tent, washed the clothes, and took a shower. The landscape around was filled with caves and mountains with beautiful shapes. I asked Dilek, the owner of the place for recommendations on where to go besides the ones Niyazi told me. He told me about some ruins and the main views points from which the hot balloons will depart early in the morning tomorrow. He was busy doing sump guards for many of the ralliers as people from other years recommended him for this job in the cars. I let him do his thing with the angle grinder and the welding machine, he seemed to be having a great time rather than taking it as a job.
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    The old town is filled with restaurants and you can tell it has gotten quite commercial through the years. But the rest as you go up is intact and it is truly stunning. I found out the caves Dilek was suggesting to me to go were clandestine churches forming part of cities buried underground. From what I was able to learn while writing this, it seems that Christians at some point were pursued and they decided to hide in these caves. Most of the caves are free to enter but they don’t really give you information about the thing. The rest of the day I kept roaming around through more caves of the national park and capturing the landscape in the camera. For being a transited place, I didn’t find it too crowded.
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    Back in the camp, I found Simon who had arrived late and was talking with some people in the camp. He was accommodated in a hotel nearby so after parking the bike we went together to have some dinner. We agreed on riding together a day after as he had a different itinerary for tomorrow. If he could he would catch me as I was planning to reach Erzincan.

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