One girl, one XT250, many kilometers from Australia to The Netherlands, Chick on the Chook Chaser

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chick on the Chook, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. 24moskito

    24moskito Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    Fuckit - Phuket - Thailand
    stunning landscapes, would love to camp on that lake... Glad to hear you are OK
    nice travel report, enjoyed it much...just having a battery problem by myself on my steed600 grrrr...so messed up this old bikes even taking the battery out for charging it :D ...
    :
    looking forward to the next adventure Report Chantal,
    safe rides
    Hi from Phuket
    Moskito

    btw, whats that green bike on the picture? looks like my small Kawasaki KLX125 :D :D
  2. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Thanks so much for all your responses! It amazes me everytime how many people follow my adventures!
    To answer some of your questions:
    Peter, Leonie and me met first in Malaysia and later crossed Myanmar together. Great people, great adventurers! Happy to hear they had a good place to stay in the US :)
    The green bike is Max's Kawasaki KLX250. You were pretty close ;)

    I will try to keep posting as much as possible in the coming weeks/month or so. However, the call of Kyrgyzstan's wild nature is strong and I'm not sure the internet out there will be too....

    August 6, 2016

    There is nothing like the view of a glacier for your morning walk. Wow! And this massive waterfall of ice was right in front of us, right beneath us, stretching out, up the mountains for many kilometres. We walked to a different viewpoint to admire mother nature from all possible angles. From here we also discovered an apricot orchard. Big baskets held fresh apricots, laid out to dry in the sun. When we went to have a closer look we were invited to walk through the trees. Then one of the boys climbed up and started shaking the branches. A rain of perfectly yellow and pink apricots came down. They were washed in one of the mountain streams and we were served several kilos of the juiciest fruits. I can honestly say no apricot will ever top this taste. The local boys just kept bringing us more, what a breakfast! Our bellies filled we made our way back to the bikes. We geared up and rode to Karimabad where we visited the famous Baltit fort. Built some 800 years ago it was home to the royal family of the Hunza valley until the mid-1900. An impressive piece of architecture which only sparked our curiosity about this beautiful region more. After this historical delight we rode further north to Borith lake. A small lake, between massive mountains, with a stretch of perfectly green grass next to it, every campers dream. We found some flat spots for the tents and while we were pitching our nylon homes two village boys came up to us. In their hands a hat filled to the brim with juicy apricots. The boys only left after we ate all the apricots. Apricots for breakfast and apricots for dinner, not a bad day. We dedicated the rest of the night to star gazing and enjoying the tea transported in my panniers all the way from Nepal.

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    August 7 2016

    When I opened the tent the next morning the view was simply amazing. Bike to the left, lake to the right, mountains all around and the sun just appearing through the clouds. These are the moments you travel for. We took it slow today, brewed some more tea and simply enjoyed the stunning surroundings. When we were ready to leave, Mike’s bike had no intention of starting, for no particular reason. After pushing it a few times we heard the reassuring noises of the engine. There were only about 50km to travel to the border town of Sost, but bike failure was not an option with the china crossing scheduled for tomorrow. We decided to skip the planned detour and head straight to our destination. On the way the scenery was again amazing, so photo stops were an absolute must. We reached Sost mid afternoon. Our attempt to get the bike paperwork organised today failed, it was Sunday and apparently customs doesn’t work during the weekends. So instead we stacked up on supplies for tomorrow. And then we waited for Carl, the fourth member of our China group. There was no internet in this region, so the last time we heard from him was 4 days ago. He was on a seriously tight schedule to make it to the Chinese border on time back then. With the hours ticking away we got slightly more nervous. Would he make it? We put on a bet, with Asher claiming Carl would only show up the next morning. The problem was that we could only cross into China with a complete group. One member missing? Too bad, no one get’s to go. Our nerves were tested until sundown, when we heard the rumbling sounds of a 650CC engine. Relieve was soon replaced with excitement for the upcoming adventure. There we were, complete, 4 bikes, 2 New Zealanders, an Australian and a Dutchie. Ready to cross into the next country.

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    August 8, 2016

    At 9 AM sharp we were the first ones to be let into the customs building. Like everything in Pakistan, our paperwork was handled fast, correct and with a smile. The hospitality of the Pakistani is something we would soon long for. At immigration things were handled with a similar speedy attitude and instead of going through all our belongings we were asked if we had any drugs. “No, no drugs sir” “OK, you may go”. Hahah I’m not sure it was the beards on the faces of the 3 guys or my blond hair and blue eyes, but we must have looked pretty trustworthy. At 10AM we were on the road, meandering along with the river on the last 80 kilometers up to Kunjerab pass, the border with China. There is roughly 200km between the last town in Pakistan and the first one in China. A stretch of no man’s land serving as a barrier between the two countries. Pretty soon after we left Sost it started raining. Climbing up the 4693 meters of elevation of the pass with wet gloves was far from comfortable. When we reached the top they needed to check our papers. While opening zippers and cases in search of the documents small pieces of white material spiralled down from the sky. It was snowing, it was actually snowing!!! After the OK from the Pakistani side we rode through the gate into China. Not far past the gate was a building where we had to get our luggage and passports checked, this wasn’t customs or immigration, they were another 120km away. However Chinese men at borders take their jobs serious. Everything had to come of the bikes and go through an x-ray machine. Even our boots were checked. We had to wear some Chinese flipflops, the guys received a plane blue pair, while I was in a pair of red and pink ones with a little heel…. They went through our bags, checked our tools and tents and questioned us thoroughly, for as far as that is possible speaking 20 words of English. With our boots back on we had to get the bikes checked. This also took at least an hour, but then we were given the ok to gear up again. Just as we were about to ride off a guy jumps in front of us. “You wait” “Just wait a minute” We tried to figure out why we were waiting this time. We had strict instructions from the travel agency to meet our guide in the next town within 2 hours from now. This was all taking a lot of time, for no apparent reason. The “wait a minute” turned into half an hour before we were released, again with no apparent reason or explanation.

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    Luckily the rain had cleared and we could enjoy the ride through the still stunning mountains. Mike was ahead, as his bike is faster, with Carl, Asher and me about a minute behind him. Then I spot a van parked on the side of the road, some people standing around and a lot of plastic spread over the road. Ow shit…. For a second I wonder where Mike is, before I’m relieved to see him appear from behind the van. He is walking and looking fine. Then my attention is drawn to a donkey lying on the road, and a woman kneeling next to it. When Mike tells the story we can’t believe him. He hit the donkey, which appeared out of nowhere in front of his bike. He hit the donkey and didn’t even come off his bike! The owner of the donkey appears on the scene. There are some policemen and the Pakistani driver from the van serves as a translator, since none of the Chinese speak any English. It was like a scene from an overlanding book, the mountains, the little houses next to the road, the woman in traditional clothing, the donkey slowly dying next to the road, some official looking (yet kind of useless) Chinese policemen, a Pakistani guy dressed in his traditional clothing and 4 westerners with big bikes. In the end the problem is solved in a very western capitalist way, with a stack of slick green US dollars and a lot of photos taken by the police to document the incident. Miraculously Mike’s bike is still in working order. We collect the head light and scattered pieces of faring from the road and start packing and reorganising to make it to Tashikuer. We are ordered to stay with the van, as a policeman is travelling with us and keeping our passports. The driver of the van, also obviously delayed by the incident puts his foot down properly. The 650’s can keep up but, although my bike is flat out, my 250CC’s are struggling to keep up at this 4000 meter altitude. When we make it to the city a new dilemma arises. Because we are so late customs is already closed, all the government offices function on Beijing time (a three hour time difference with Pakistan). We can just abouts get our passports stamped and luggage checked (yes again!!). The guide brings us the good news, we will have to park our bikes somewhere, and take a taxi to the hotel. Now this wouldn’t be too bad, but the guide takes over an hour to actually get a taxi, while we are standing on the side of the main road, wondering where the guy went. At this point in time we are joking about pitching a tent on the road site and roasting some rodents over an open fire for dinner. If only we had taken a leg of the donkey…. Anyways, the guide reappeared before we could do more damage, we parked the bikes, went to the hotel and went for dinner. You know, sometimes reality beats fiction on many levels. This was one of those days. What a day!!

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  3. LuigiTheCracker

    LuigiTheCracker Adventurer

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    Wow, what a day is right.

    Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
  4. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
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    The Netherlands
  5. juno

    juno Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
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    Jupiter
    Wow!

    Outstanding pictures and reporting! That is going to be one heck of a book!
    The altitudes you are riding at are incredible. You may set a record for most acerage miles above 3000 meters!
    Glad to see you made it to China as I rarely hear of moto travelers there.
    Thanks for the positive posts about the people in pakistan. Every pakistani I meet in the US is very gracious, so it is good to hear positive reviews of the country.
    Drew Peacock likes this.
  6. freepete

    freepete Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2016
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    Taree NSW Australia
    Hi Chantel, Still following your fascinating ride. enjoying every post. i've managed to get as far as Bali without too many hiccups. You are a definite inspiration. Thank you. Pete
  7. Dirty3

    Dirty3 Just add sauce

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2011
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    230
    Location:
    Melbourne SE Burbs
    Awesome scenery and excellent report.
  8. hyrumfoink

    hyrumfoink real gone~

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
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    36
    Location:
    land of the big silence....south utah
    oh fun!.....really enjoying your travel tales. i'll have to go back and catch up from the beginning....thank you! .....chris
  9. Orgnoi1

    Orgnoi1 Uber-Noob

    Joined:
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    Upstate NY
    Been following via Facebook... but gotta tag in here too... =)
  10. * SHAG *

    * SHAG * Unstable

    Joined:
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    5,268
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    Bradford, Pa
    Wow This just keeps getting better :ricky
  11. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Thank you all so much for your replies! They make me smile from ear to ear and definitely motivate me to keep writing! So her we are, another week of travel tales :)

    August 9, 2016

    The luxury of a good bed and a hot shower in the morning were well appreciated after yesterday’s events. We met again at breakfast where we were confronted with a large number of questionable dishes. I went for the rather safe option of noodles and vegetables, avoiding the boiled eggs in fear of them containing a foetus. Our guide showed up almost 20 minutes late to pick up the bikes and go to customs. Once arrived there, Mike saw his chance to start piecing together his bike. However, as soon as he had all the salvaged bits of fairing spread on the pavement we were kicked out of the compound. It was their lunch break. It seemed like neither a headlight nor indicators were required to send him onto the road, so we decided to set course for a petrol station. There arrived we were in for a surprise. For unknown reasons bikes are not allowed at petrol stations. You have to park some 50 meters from the pump and fill up your tank with an oversized teapot. Now for my 9.6 liter tank that would only require two tea runs. But to fill up the Mike’s 40 liter tank we’d be walking back and forth until high tea time… After much negation we luckily managed to be let in and fuelled up. We set off to a beautiful lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The locals, trying to make a dime of off the tourists, were showcasing their camels and horses. After lunch we went on to Kashgar. The guide nearly left without supplying as much as the name of the hotel we were going… Wait a minute! With a few more directions we decided to split up. Mike went ahead to maybe fix his bike, Asher, Carl and me decided to take our time. As I started my bike, it made some weird noises, then the oil light came on and the bike turned off. Shit! Luckily I had some left over oil in my pannier and the issue was solved soon enough. Almost half of the 200km to Kashgar were torn up by road works. Bad gravel and clouds of dust slowed us down significantly. But the views were still incredible. “It’s like we’re in some post apocalyptic landscape” was Carl’s remark.

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    Not long after that there was a large group of camels on the road. Just after all the roadworks we came to a petrol station were we did have to use the kettles to fill our tanks. They still couldn’t tell us why it wasn’t allowed to drive in. However the two baseball bats behind the gatekeeper were ample encouragement not to argue with him. Back on the road we relaxed with the idea we had only 80km of highway left and 2 hours before sunset. But soon the highway displayed more and more 60km/h signs, and even more alarming, a staggering amount of speed cameras! This in itself wouldn’t have been an issue if it wasn’t for the enormous black cloud developing just to our right. I accepted our faith, we were gonna get wet. The wind picked up, we were angling the bikes into the gusts hitting from the side. With the wind came something else too. Sand. We were in a sand storm! Visibility decreased and with that the speed of the traffic. Not much later the rain came, mixing with what was already in the air: it was raining mud. Darkness was setting in while the rain became heavier. I was in front, behind me I could see the two headlights from Carl and Asher. I stopped to check the map and check in with the guys. About 40km to go, let’s just keep going. By now it was raining all sorts of domesticated animals and visibility was poorer than poor. The best I could do was to keep a safe distance from the two red dots marking the car ahead of us. I was in constant fear of losing the other two. We had only one phone with a working navigation between the three of us… Sometimes when I looked in the mirror, I saw rain and a blur of lights. Sometimes the cars’ headlights revealed the reassuring silhouettes of two bikes. We crawled along with the rest of the traffic into the outskirts of the city. We checked the map, rode, found a dry place to stop, checked it again, rode again. The road we were planning to take didn’t seem to exist… Change plans, take a different route. Finally we made it into the city.

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    After kilometres of unlit, two lane roads it was like arriving on the Strip in Las Vegas. There was traffic everywhere and the buildings were lit up in the most extravagant colour schemes. Asher pulled out his phone while waiting 120 seconds for a traffic light (yes two whole minutes were counted down on the light). But as he opens the map the screen flickers and dies. As the phone’s life was now taken by this post apocalyptic storm we had no option but ask around. Our extremely limited knowledge of the Chinese language was balanced by a similarly limited knowledge of Englished from the locals. Finally we found some students who explained that the People’s Square was about a kilometre ahead. When asked how to recognise it one of the boys stood up straight, plastered a sturdy look on his face and raised his right hand. It only took me a split second to interpret his attempt at international charades. Mao, there is a statue of Mao on the People’s square! Of course there is! We jumped back on the bikes and merged into traffic again. And, low and behold, there it was. A massive square, many fancy building and a big big statue of Mao. We borrowed a phone to call the guide. He could shows us which one of these colourfully lit buildings was our hotel. Mike was waiting for us in front of the hotel. As we parked the bikes he pulled 3 beers out of his pocket, handed them around and asked: “Where the fuck have you guys been!?!”

    August 10, 2016

    After a well-deserved sleep in we were up for a treat at breakfast. A massive buffet of all sorts of dishes, even with English descriptions! We decided to take it slow today. In the afternoon we strolled around the city. An interesting mix of modern Chinese and old central Asian style buildings and houses. This part of the city was clearly set up for tourists with many souvenir shops and some cool looking little bakeries. I visited the mosque and spend quite some time people watching at the square in front of it. It was a perfect non-eventful day to balance out the craziness of the last two.

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    August 11, 2016

    Another day of relaxing and exploring Kashgar. We found a nice looking bakery/coffee place. Keen to test out the Chinese coffee we went in. After a window full of chic cakes we were surprised to see it was more of a fast food joint then a café. Least discouraged by this interesting combination most of us went for a coffee and a burger. Surprisingly, when the first burgers were finished they brought another round. Since we had already payed we accepted with a smile and didn’t think too much of it. However 5 minutes later, while still in the process of deciding who would eat the second round of burgers, the waitress brought another two! None of the parties involved spoke each other’s language, trying to figure out why these burgers just kept coming was pointless. We decided to simply eat them instead. It must be a Chinese thing that you get two burger with a coffee… After the rain of burgers Carl and I went for a stroll through the old city. By now it was dark. There was quite some hustle and bustle on the streets, children running around and people gathering at the busy food market. The whole atmosphere, aided by the interesting architecture, felt more like the 1001 night fairy tale then a city in China.

    August 12, 2006

    Our last day in China. We had to leave early Beijing time, meaning stupidly early for people relying on their biological clock. With a mere 30 minutes delay, and a grumpy guide because of this, we left the hotel. Once arrived at immigration and customs it was time to perform our favourite routine of carrying all the bags in. Once inside we had to wait, of course without any explanation, for over an hour. Then the passports were stamped and we could head into another stretch of no man’s land before reaching the actual border. Once past this iron gate everything changed. First up, immigration and customs of Kyrgyzstan. A few friendly handshakes and a couple of words of English at immigration and the passports were stamped. Then we found customs, waited maybe 30 minutes for the paperwork of all 4 bikes and just like that we were free to go. The first thing we noticed was a massive blue lake and fields surrounded by mountains. In the first hour we passed maximum 5 cars and the scenery was simply stunning. The plan was to camp in Tash Rabat, close to the caravanserai, a 500 year old sild road remnant motel. But our first priority was lunch. It was about 3 pm and we hadn’t seen anything edible after breakfast. When we passed a yurt camp we stopped to see what they could offer. When we asked about food the lady ran back inside and appeared with a chefs’ hat. While she prepared the most wonderful lunch, we were shown around the camp. The yurts looked so cosy, the surroundings were out of a picture book and there was even a sauna! We simply had to stay. We climbed up one of the hills and looked over the empty, clean, green nature, while drinking water straight from the river. What a contrast with everywhere we’d been for the last 6 months! Dinner was again amazing and with full stomachs we headed for the sauna. The humid heat was countered by a dip in the icy river. Back into the sauna, to the river, the sauna, river. What a luxury! Exhausted we got to our yurt where a warm stove and thick fluffy sleeping bags welcomed us.

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  12. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
  13. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    More news from Kyrgyzstan!

    August 13, 2016

    Breakfast was another feast and we reached the unanimous vote to stay another night. Today we visited the caravanserai. It’s an impressive, 500 year old, former hotel. People stayed here on their travels along the silk road. The walls were thick and the roof covered in grass, presumably to keep out the cold. After being a culturally aware tourist we did what we do best. Ride bikes. We took the machines up the hill to enjoy a magnificent view over the valley. A mere week ago we were in the hustle and bustle, dust and dirt of South Asia, now we are in one of the quietest, most serene valleys. What a difference, and what a much needed change. Later we went for a little walk, relaxed some more and enjoyed another splendid meal. The food here is much more Western, they use potatoes, there is bread, cheese, jam, salami… All these things you forget are part of your normal-life diet. It is just such a joy! At night we go for another sauna session. We decide to up the decadence a bit more by drinking some local cognac while sweating away. These are the memories to look back on for years to come. I feel so lucky to have the chance to do a trip like this!

    August 14, 2016

    It’s time to go to Bishkek. If we reach Bishkek today, Sunday night, then we can hit the visa marathon tomorrow. A last amazing breakfast, pack and hit the road. The first petrol station is still far away. We didn’t see any since the border and both Carl and I are running on empty. After riding with the fuel light on for 60km, a new record, we manage to fill up. This time no boom gates, no arguments about entering the petrol station. Just roll in, fill up, pay and go. Life is so easy in Kyrgyzstan! As we get closer to the capital the roads get bigger and busier. The riding is less enjoyable here. Or maybe I should say, we got horribly spoiled lately ;) We found a hostel in Bishkek and checked in. Got to know some of the other travellers and later went on a quest for dinner. An early night should be the best preparation for our visa quest in the morning.

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    Bishkek August 15 to 23

    To be in a city mainly means to organise things. But there is also the luxury of internet to plan and look things up and the further luxury of choice of foods from all over the world, there are supermarkets and cafes. Oh, all the creature comforts! Mike and Asher were well prepared and managed to get all their required visas in one week. I was reasonably prepared, managed to get the visa for Tajikistan on Monday, for Iran on Wednesday and started the Letter of Invitation process for Uzbekistan. During all our googling on what to do in Central Asia Carl stumbled upon the existence of The Nomad Games. This, horse riding, girl-chasing, wrestling, goat-polo equivalent of the Olympics was to be held in Kyrgyzstan at the start of September. This was such a unique thing, and we are here now anyways. Both Carl and I decided to stay in Kyrgyzstan long enough to go pay our tribute to the nomadic athletes.

    In Bishkek we all did some well needed bike repairs and sourced some spares. I didn’t use my rear brake for the last 500km since the pads had worn to the metal… Oops, yes again. Only this time it wasn’t because I didn’t check the pads. They wore unevenly, showing enough “meat” where you can check them from the back of the bike, however scraping the disk more forward… Asher and me went on a treasure hunt around town. The bible (horizonsunlimited.com) put us on the right track to find replacement parts. The first guy didn’t have anything, but he referred us to a second man. He had a wide assortment of brake pads, even the right ones. He then referred us to a third man, to get some more intricate mechanics checked, and to get oil filters.

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    The one thing that wasn’t really available were tyres. There were some Russian made off-road tyres and some suspiciously looking Chinese ones… But when the guy selling them, a central Asian mechanic, explains in half Russian that they are crap, I’ll take his word for it. Furthermore in the mechanics department Mike found a new fender, superglued and duct-taped his headlight (there were still some donkey hairs on it!) back on and zip-tied some new indicators to his bike. Asher and I accepted a new challenge in finding a welder. My rack needed some touch ups, Asher’s tank was jumping up and down (he was holding it in place with his knees for many kilometres now) since the bracket snapped in two. Once all visa and bike issues we taken care of it was time to celebrate Asher’s birthday. We were determined to make it a memorable one. The availability of cheap vodka inspired some good old drinking games and afterwards we explored Bishkek’s night life. Guided by the advice of some Americans working in Bishkek we found a good bar and danced the night away. The result the next day: hangovers, a lost phone, and many, many stories. Memorable birthday: check.

    After two days of hangover recovery Asher and Mike hit the road again. Carl and I stayed another two days to fix up and organise some more paperwork and catch up (virtually) with family and friends. We spend quite a bit of time at a particularly nice coffee place. The place just made us feel like home a bit and by the end the staff actually knew our names. But after 9 days in the city, for me, it was time to get out and explore Kyrgyzstan’s natural beauty.

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    August 24, 2016

    One last visit to the café, a big brunch to fill the stomach and off I went. First destination, Toktogul Lake. On the way out I stopped by at Ramyc’s garage, who supplied the brake pads. He asked about my itinerary in Kyrgyzstan. When I told him about visiting The Nomad Games he enthusiastically exclaimed he was going there too. So we planned to meet up again in about 10 days. I made it out of the city and into the mountains, the scenery was stunning, the roads almost empty. All the hassle of going through China is so worth it when this country is on the other side! The road spiralled up to a pass from where the view was fabulous. Then, to go down on the other side. All traffic had to merge into a tunnel. The black diesel fumes from the trucks were a particularly unpleasant experience inside this poorly ventilated hole (later I heard many people suffocated and died there a few years back when a traffic jam occurred in the middle of the tunnel…). Happy to be back in fresh air I continued the journey. Coming down from the mountain there were endless plains, with a straight road reaching as far as the horizon. After about an hour of that, the road sloped down and I descended along a clear blue river. There were many roadside stands selling honey and raspberries. I picked up a kilo of the pink delicacies for less than 2 dollars! At the lake, instead of going into the main village I took a small side road. On the map it showed some off shoots, reaching all the way to the lake. The first two were actually driveways to a house but the third one was a hit. I found a flat spot in the hilly terrain, it came with a magnificent view of the lake and the closest house was about 500 meter away. Perfect! I pitched my tent and, under the star lit sky, indulged in a meal of raspberries, cheese, peanuts and raisins.

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  14. dagsvstheworld

    dagsvstheworld Follow your dreams-everything else is bullshit

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
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    126
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    RTW
    wow! some incredible photos and adventures! I can't wait to visit these places!! Keep it up!!
    dags
  15. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
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    The Netherlands
    More fun in Kyrgyzstan!

    August 25, 2016

    The lake, the view, the peace and quiet, the comfortable temperature and the free accommodation... It was an easy decision to stay another night. I fixed the tarp between the tent and the bike to create some shade. And spend the rest of the day reading, writing, fixing my pants and jacket and simply enjoying life. By the end of the day I ran out of food and rode down to a tent by the lake’s beach. People passing had been pointing there all day, I assumed there must by some food to get. Unfortunately that assumption was entirely wrong. At the beach people were swimming and some also camped there. The tent functioned as a dressing room/ shade creator. Riding the 30km to the village didn’t seem appealing so I decided to boil up some pasta. However as I pulled out the cooker the wind picked up dramatically. So much that I feared for the tent. The idea of lighting a stove with this wind in the middle of a field of high, dry grass was literally playing with fire. A night of fasting seemed a better idea! But just as I came to terms with an empty stomach two big cars stopped by my tent. The people were from Kazakhstan, they were curious about my travels. I told them the story and afterwards they invited me to go with them. I kindly refused, savouring my alone time at the lake. But they insisted on helping me in some way so they went through the car and collected a bag full of food. Watching the sunset I had a crispy noodle & canned fish dinner, followed by a snickers for desert. Not bad at all!

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    August 26, 2016

    From Tokto Kul to Son Kul, from one lake to the next one. The tent was packed, the bike loaded and off I went. Most of the road was back the same way I came two days ago. It didn’t bother me at all, the views were still amazing. What did bother me was the police. They pulled pretty much everyone over. I was totally unaware of doing anything wrong… But they claimed that this road was maximum 60km per hour. I was doing 75. I tried playing the dumb foreigner, they tried playing the, I don’t know any English. They showed some radar footage, I believed that I was doing 75, but there had been no sign indicating the maximum speed was 60. Then it dawned on me they didn’t even ask my license, clearly all they wanted was a bribe! This explained two things. One: drivers getting out of their car, walking to the police car, handing something over and walking away again. And two: the beer bellies of the cops I was dealing with. When they didn’t let me go I handed over some cash and of course then all was good. Continuing, I watched out for cars parked suspiciously in the middle of nowhere and had to brakes two more times that day. Corruption is a lucrative business for the Kyrg police! About halfway the highway I was on went to gravel. About there I met a group of off road riders from Kyrgyzstan. They were also on their way to Son Kul and convinced me to go with them. As a group we rode the following 150km. Towards the end it was getting dark. I was convinced I was the last in line and opened the throttle as much as possible, but couldn’t resist stopping for pictures every now and then. Then, oddly, the guy leading the group before, was riding next to me. He explained (in sign language) that he would go ahead and wait at the turn to the yurt camp. It was really getting dark, as we climbed up to the 3500 meter altitude the lake is situated at. With the high beam on I raced over the relatively good gravel. I told myself this was great practice if I ever wanted to do the Baja 1000, all the while making a mental note not to ride that rally with a loaded bike. Ahead of me a light blinked, the guy signalling this is where we are staying. I parked the bike and put on some warm clothes. He explained I, with my Baja efforts, was actually the first to arrive. All the other guys were behind me. A little proud, but mainly concerned about the well-being of the others, I found a stove to heat up my hands. After a few hours there was still no sign of them, we decided to have dinner while keeping an ear out. We went to bed and shortly after midnight, already asleep, I distinguished the sound of a bike. I sat up in bed as the second bike passed. But by the time I reached for the flashlight the sounds were gone.

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    August 26, 2016

    My biker buddy left early in search of the others. As he loaded his gear onto his bike I noticed ice on my bike! Last night it was cold, but I didn’t realise how cold it got. If these Kyrg bikers hadn’t convinced me to come with them I would have slept in my tent, and, without a great sleeping bag, probably lost a few toes! I enjoyed the good breakfast at the yurt camp and the views of the lake. This place was so beautiful and comfortable and I had enough writing to catch up on, I was staying another night.

    August 27, 2017

    The night was again rather cold. It took until 10 AM to reach a comfortable temperature for riding. I geared up and enjoyed the gravel road and the amazing views of the lake. Today I was riding to lake number three. Issyk Kul Lake. It was an easy few hundred kilometre ride. After the gravel road I joined the tarmac highway and cruised along. Some unexpected camels near a small lake made a great photo stop. The road along the lake was beautiful. I could see the snow-capped mountains on the other side of the clear blue lake. When I stopped to drink some water a few local boys came running towards me. They were extremely curious about the bike. One decided I had to learn some Kyrgyz. He started pointing at things on the bike, bags, brakes, wheel etc, and naming them in Kyrgyz. I repeated this new language and also added the name in English. All of us were excited to learn some new words. A little further along the lake I found a beautiful little homestay. The people were so lovely and the room was clean, nice and cheap. I decided to stay a few nights to really start
    writing the upcoming book.

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    August 28- September 2, 2016

    The writing is coming along well. For the first time in my life though, I sometimes experience writers block. It’s interesting how one day the words just flow out of my fingers, and the next day I can’t string two sentences together… Anyways, the book will get there I’m sure J

    September 3, 2016

    Time to move to the other side of the lake. Today the World Nomad Games will start. It is the second time this event is organised. It aims to promote and preserve nomadic sports and culture. This is a pretty unique opportunity, so I’ve decided to go and have a look. It’s an easy but beautiful ride around the lake. Dark clouds are hanging over the surrounding mountains and there are impressive rainbows. Every once in a while a few drops reach the road, but it’s nothing to worry about. I reach the town where the games are held and find a nice place to stay by the lake. Tomorrow the fun will begin!

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  16. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Some of the scenery that I just can't keep from you...

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  17. Orgnoi1

    Orgnoi1 Uber-Noob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    137
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Awesome... simply amazing pics... (as always..)
  18. RageAgainstTheFence

    RageAgainstTheFence Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 15, 2015
    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    Beyond the Pale
    These threads do nothing for my career. Central Asia looks like an over landing paradise. Keep up the good work,
    Red_dog likes this.
  19. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    September 4 to September 8, 2016

    The World Nomad Games. Held on the shores of glistening lake Issyk Kul these are the Olympics for nomadic sports. Athletes from over 40 countries compete in all sorts of wrestling, horse racing, archery, wrestling on a horse, archery on a horse and the king of it all: Kok Boru (aka dead-goat-polo). Apart from the various sports events there are also many cultural performances. People walk around in their traditional clothing and there are yurts everywhere. It really is a special experience. To watch all this ethnic beauty I meet up with Carl again. Together we cruise from one venue to the other, while we meet travellers from many countries. This event is like a magnet to every tourist in Kyrgyzstan, and it is obvious why. It was four days of fun, excitement and cultural beauty!

    Check out more photos from this incredible event on the facebook page:

    https://www.facebook.com/1589082417983188/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1744867072404721

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    September 11, 2016

    In the morning I fixed up some things on the bike. The bolts from the rack started to destroy my panniers. So now on one side the rack is covered with some plywood, attached with zipties. On the other side the bolts have been covered with foam and a layer of my all-time favourite travel accessory: duct tape. Carl and I packed our bags, loaded it all onto the bikes and rode off. We stopped in town for lunch and a good coffee and then we really got the wheels going. The lake on our right hand, the mountains on the left. What else can you possibly want? At some point I could no longer see the red bike in my mirror, I waited but no one showed up… When I went back it appeared that one of the tie-downs got caught in Carl’s rear wheel. Oops! Nothing bad happened, he even stayed upright. However we spend a while loading all the gear and checking the bike. After that we completed our 170km of the day. We did some groceries and rode into Jedi-Oguz valley. The hills surrounding the valley are deep red, really beautiful! We climbed up a horribly rocky gravel road, but the view and the perfect camp spot we found at the top were well worth it. Smooth, levelled green grass with a red-mountain view. Carl put the tent up while I cooked the first proper dinner on the new petrol stove. Some shepherds walked past with their sheep, and later a few men on horses curiously looked at our bikes. It is like a scene from the Long Way Round. Unfortunately just when dinner is ready it starts to rain. We eat in the tent, nice and cosy. Not long after that we retreat into our sleeping bags for an early night.

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    September 12, 2016

    The morning starts with the joys of Nepali masala tea and the magnificent view of the surrounding red rocks. After breakfast we pack the bikes. Just when I’m about to leave an intriguingly looking four wheel drive campervan comes up the hill. A French couple gets out and we immediately start sharing travelling tips and stories. They have travelled many countries Carl and I are still going to, we have been to places the French are prospecting. Enriched with info my planned early start turns into a midday take off. After a long time of being on-and-off travel buddies Carl and I part ways from here on. Yes we will meet again, maybe next month, maybe next year or next decade. It’s the beauty of travelling, nothing lasts for ever, but there are always future possibilities. There are also still 400km and a tourist attraction between me and Bishkek. So I better get going. The road is great and the sun is glistening on the lake. The only stop I make is at Fairy tale canyon. A few kilometres of challenging sand path leads of the main road into this enchanting creation of nature. Red rocks in cathedral-like shapes contrast with the blue sky and the lake in the background. Wow, what a privilege to be here! I continue my way to the capital, leave the lake behind and commit to the less inspiring highway. Just before dark I pull up at the place to stay. At the Nomad Games I met an expat couple living in Bishkek. These avid couch surfers offered up their spare room. Can’t refuse that! When I bring my bags upstairs the apartment smells incredible. Great place to stay, great people and one of the best lasagnes I’ve ever had. A girl can wish for nothing more!

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    September 13, 2016

    Today I had an appointment at the Uzbek Embassy. In the morning I jump on the bike and push the start button. It makes all the right noises… But the engine doesn’t come to life. This isn’t good, not now! I have an idea what the issue is, but there is no time now to get the tools out. Instead of riding I half-run half-walk to the Uzbek embassy. There arrived the gate is closed and the building half demolished. What the F! It appears they moved not too long ago. The only thing left is a note in Russian with a map of the new location. My best friends at google, Translate, The Original, and Maps, finally tell me the Embassy moved to the other end of the city. Now it became a race, my appointment was right at this very moment, but 6 kilometers from here. I jumped in the first taxi on the corner, he had the radio volume turned up to 100 while listening to some Russian pop songs. I invited google to the party once again to explain where we are going. Half an hour later I enter the embassy waiting room. There is another Dutch guy and we start talking. Together we hand in our paperwork and make the payment for the visa at the bank. He and a friend drop me back in town. At Sierra café I meet up with Nini, who I met at the Nomad Games. We spend the day hunting around Bishkek for a good rain jacket. It was as if the weather gods could sense our mission, it rained the whole day. At night, when the rain finally cleared I had a good look at the bike. When I pull out the sparkplug it doesn’t look good. I clean it and like magic the bike starts. To celebrate this small mechanical victory Sandeep and Aurelia, my hosts, and Nini and I went to the pub. At this place you could order a 3 liter jar of beer. Bishkek is such a great place!

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    September 14, 2016

    In the morning I’m gearing up to go. The panniers are already on the bike but our breakfast conversation turns into a 4 hour discussion on how to make the world an even better place than it already is. The thing with travelling is… It’s good to go places, but it’s even more important to meet people, share views, share opinions and learn from each other. So, I stay the day. At night we go to a free classical concert, a cultural highlight. Then we check out some of Bishkek’s bars. It’s a quiet Wednesday night in most places, but who cares when you have the best company with you already!

    September 15, 2016

    This is the last day I’m spending in Bishkek. We make good use of having a kitchen. I write, catch up on emails and do some minor bike upgrades. Some more socialising and a good dinner conclude capital city life. I will miss Bishkek, I just started to get to know this place and its people.
  20. Romero

    Romero At Cinépolis or OXXO

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2016
    Oddometer:
    546
    Location:
    Morelia
    Awesome! In...great rr! Ride safe

    Rich