Russia, Mongolia, Stans & Beyond - On a GSXR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 7days1shower, May 21, 2019.

  1. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    - ESCORTED OUT OF ALMATY –

    It was finally time to leave Almaty after a weeks stay. Although this was my longest stay in one place yet, it allowed me to get some work done on the bike such as replacing the front tyre and fixing the tail plastic as well as purchasing new heated grips, disc lock alarm and balaclava.

    I also got the chance to explore Almaty on my own up to the Big Lake as well as with the local bikers around town at night which as always, was awesome.

    As I told the local bikers my plan to head out of Almaty and towards the border via Charyn Canyon, they said they’d join me!

    After setting out from Almaty, as soon as we hit the highway the locals were off at 150kmh. While I did 100kmh and would rock up to each rest stop 10 minutes late, Yosuke would then show up on the Monkey another 10 minutes after that!

    Heading off from the hotel

    [​IMG]

    The presence of police didn’t seem to affect the speeds these guys traveled at

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Highway stop

    Mainly so I could catch up

    [​IMG]

    Since we were progressing a little slower than they would have liked, I decided to ruin things even more and stop in a small Sunday market for some lunch; shashlik!

    [​IMG]

    The little Sunday market in a small town where shops were actually old containers

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When we eventually got to the canyon, Kazakhstans version of the Grand Canyon as they like to think of it, the bikers were kind enough to pay our entry without me even realising!

    And of course, then began the photos; not just of the view or the bikes but it seems the girls had brought changes of outfits so as not to pass up a great Instagram opportunity!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  2. Lukeb

    Lukeb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    226
    Location:
    Scarborough Qld
    Awesome read ....ride safe and have fun ..sounds like you are though..
  3. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Sorry! I've spent the last few weeks through remote areas of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and between the tough roads (or lack of), poor health and lack of Internet, the updates are far behind

    Time to try and catch up!!
    gpfan likes this.
  4. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    (Catch up; Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan)

    - A NIGHT IN THE CANYON –

    After parting ways with the other bikers, it was time to find a place to camp for the night.

    Unfortunately, due to previous incidents of bikes riding down into the canyon and getting stuck (Ewan and Charley of Long Way Round fame being one of them), it was prohibited to really get much further than the entrance.

    Even so, we found a spot overlooking the Valley of Castles and set up for the evening.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After a nice dinner, I tucked in for the night but was curious about how bright it seemed outside despite being almost 10pm.

    It was a full moon!

    Unfortunately, I was not carrying my DLSR and unlike my Android phone which I lost in Russia, the iPhone didn’t have any ability to try some long exposure shots.

    But seeing the night sky and 2 shooting stars in the middle of the vast canyons is something I won’t soon forget

    The following morning, it was onwards to the small border with Kyrgyzstan.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The majority of the road to the border wasn’t bad at all with only the last 10km being a bit of an unpaved mess. Met a Russian biker coming the other way who as usual was surprised with our choice of bikes to head into the Pamirs with

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The border crossing for both sides together took less than half an hour! Best one yet

    Unfortunately, that’s where the easy morning ended.

    Right after the border the road all but disappeared and turned into rock and heavily damaged asphalt.

    [​IMG]

    Some Russian bikers coming the other way had said it was like this the whole 150km to the next town of Karakol. I was hoping and praying that they were somehow wrong and my research on iOverlander stating it was only poor for 40km was correct

    [​IMG]

    As always, my research trumped listening to others and within 37km we were back on good roads towards Karakol.

    [​IMG]

    It seemed that luck was again on my side as the roads were quite wet suggesting we’d just missed a big downpour.

    Pulling into Karakol, I found a nice little homestay which was very homely (as the name may suggest I guess)

    [​IMG]

    When I asked them about dinner, they suggested a stolovaya around the corner (a type of eatery typically found in Russia where there is a canteen with various dishes and you select which ones to add to your plate to make a meal)

    However when I got into this place it was the complete opposite to what I was expecting! There were about 6 different small outlets with foods ranging from traditional to western and a setup where you sit down in comfy booths with 6 different menus and the waitress will let you pick and choose what you want and bring it all back from the various places.

    I decided to treat myself to two burgers, fries and a caramel milkshake. However as my hunger was slowly satiated the weariness took over and I probably could have fallen asleep right there in the booth.

    [​IMG]

    Time to rest up to continue on through Kyrgyzstan and see what it has to offer
  5. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Waking up in Karakol, I realised had probably the best sleep I’ve had in a long time; didn’t wake up once for 9 hours straight!

    After some quick morning maintenance, I set off towards the nearby Issyk-Kul Lake which I was hoping to get to the other side of today.

    A bit of help with maintenance

    [​IMG]

    And some security too

    [​IMG]

    One thing on my mind was Kyrgyz police. So, just like Kazakhstan, I was doing my best to observe speed limits which can be tough given poor signposting.

    A biker back in Kazakhstan had told me that she had just blown past any attempts by police to pull her over; not sure if I was quite ready to employ the same technique.

    But then came the moment of truth.

    A police car had passed when I was pulled over for some water so once I was back on the road I should have known there may be a chance they’d be up ahead.

    But being pre-occupied with dodging potholes, I didn’t see them till it was right in front of me with the police waving the baton to pull over.

    Flight or fight … I knew I was under the limit and the police car was parked with its bonnet up and the other cop chilling in the passenger seat; they didn’t seem too keen on this so I gassed it.

    Kept checking my mirrors for the next 10 minutes but no harm done. They were probably just looking for an easy pay day

    As I got closer to the lake shore, it was very cool to see bright blue skies and blue water on one side while the other side was grey skies and tall, snowy mountains.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Coffee break by the lake

    [​IMG]

    An abandonded yurt camp alongside the lake with some beautiful murals all around

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Even on the opposing cliff side

    [​IMG]

    I was also noticing a lot more cyclists on the road; perhaps a popular country to travel overland by bicycle

    The stay in Balykchk was fairly uneventful. Just another hotel, lagman (traditional noodle dish) for dinner and rest.

    A traditional Australian meal in the depths of Kyrgyzstan; a servo sausage roll

    [​IMG]

    Onwards to Bishkek, the capital, the following morning

    What was really disappointing was the road was a beautifully surfaced dual carriageway but limited to 60kmh!

    While it was tempting to open it up a little, there were numerous warnings on iOverlander about police with speed traps set up throughout the canyons.

    And sure enough, there they were. However, despite my best efforts, I still got pulled over.

    I was doing around 55kmh in a 60kmh zone but the policeman was trying to tell me it was a 40kmh zone due to construction.

    [​IMG]

    After a couple of times of me challenging him to show me anywhere it said 40, he lost interest and told me to go, only to then pull over the next foreign plated car passing by. So again, seems like more of a money grab exercise.

    Getting into Bishkek was yet another big city but I was able to take some comfort for the next 3 days in a mammoth airBNB that was costing me less than a guesthouse once again.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was also a good opportunity to stock up on some essentials as well as nab myself a new jumper to add to my layering and hopefully be enough to combat the cold in the upcoming mountain passes.

    When walking around, I heard the unmistakable sound of a GSXR so ran across the road to check it out.

    Max, originally from Russia but now living in Bishkek with his 2008 GSXR600

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Main square in Bishkek; lots of parks in this city to explore

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Changing of the guard at the flag in the centre

    [​IMG]
  6. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Bishkek to Osh via Lake Toktogul & Naryn River

    The ride from Bishkek to Osh was fairly long at 600km but oh so scenic!

    The initial plan to get it done in 2 days went out the door as I started stopping frequently for photos but also passing through small towns meant constant traffic (and of course police watching the speeds)

    The route took us along Lake Toktogul which was a bright blue and the Naryn River which was an almost unnatural emerald green.

    First view of Lake Toktogul

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A mirror for the sky

    [​IMG]

    Lunch break by the lake (police not part of the plan)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Naryn River

    Just when I thought the view couldn’t get any better than the lake

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On the way out of Bishkek, I was somewhat aware of there being a long and narrow tunnel on the way but it wasn’t until a local biker told us that the tunnel would be closed from 2pm till 5pm that there was a sense of urgency. Turns out that the tunnel is so narrow that traffic flow is controlled as large trucks cannot pass through in both directions at the same time

    [​IMG]

    As I started climbing the pass I noticed that the warning light was intermittently coming on at low revs….but every time I tried to take a second glance it would be gone

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    By the time I got to the top of the pass, and the start of the tunnel, it was 145pm; just in time. But right then, the bike completely cut out.
    Every time it started up again it would cut out instantly.

    With time running out, I started it up, kept the revs high and made my way into the tunnel.

    It was narrow! And the lack of lights meant I was travelling in near darkness with my little headlight being rendered useless by the haze of diesel smoke from trucks all around me.

    But after a stifling 10 minutes, I got out at the other and pulled over for the bike to shut down again.

    The only thing I could think of was that the perhaps my idle was too low so I tried bumping that up and voila, it runs!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Ah, such a nice view

    Let’s stop for a photo

    Hmm, bikes standing a bit upright but should be ok

    It seems a bit windy though...

    [​IMG]

    DAMNIT

    [​IMG]

    Continued along the other side of the pass without incident but after a long day decided that Osh wasn’t possible today so called it a day about 50km short; of all places, at a spa resort!

    But the room was cheap enough and it was a place to rest!

    [​IMG]

    A Mongol Rally car en route from UK

    [​IMG]

    Staying in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt

    [​IMG]

    An amazing spread for dinner

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The homestay hosts

    [​IMG]

    Never alone for long even during a quick road side break for water

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These kids came running up from the river they were swimming in just to say hi!

    [​IMG]

    The following days ride to Osh was fairly uneventful but I did take a little detour to stop in the town of Uzgen which had a minaret and mausoleum from the 11th century; the Silk Road days!

    The Uzgen Minaret

    [​IMG]

    Uzgen Mausoleum

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Getting into Osh it seemed like the forecast ahead was looking favourable for a clear route through the Pamir Highway across Tajikistan!

    Another Mongol Rally car in Osh

    [​IMG]
  7. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    - THE PAMIR HIGHWAY –

    Osh is often regarded as a start/end point of the Pamir Highway.

    From what I’ve noticed, there are 2 kinds of travellers in Central Asia; those who have finished the Pamir Highway or those who are going to the Pamir Highway.

    It’s an infamous piece of road that stretches between Osh, Kyrgyzstan and Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

    Along the way a popular detour is the tough yet beautiful Wakhan Corridor which follows the Panj River with Afghanistan on the other side or the even more challenging Bartang Valley

    Now that I had finished crossing the vast expanse of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan it was time to get myself and my bike ready for the Pamir so Osh was the best place to not only get a couple of days rest but also tend to the bike as it was about 6000km since my last oil change in Mongolia and this time I wanted to do the filter too.

    Some much needed R&R in Osh

    [​IMG]

    The shop in Osh charged through the roof but I was able to pay $10 for half a days use of a shed in their backyard to work on the bike myself.

    [​IMG]

    As I started pulling the bike apart however, I found a major issue. On both sides of the bike I have additional bracing rods going from pillion footpeg to rider footpeg which support the subframe and also act as bottle carriers. One of these was now hanging on for dear life due to missing bolts! No doubt rattled off from vibrations of the last 10,000km+ roads

    A bit of duct tape to patch up the plastics from the last tip over

    [​IMG]

    But as always, issues pop up at the most opportune times! Already in a workshop, it wasn’t too difficult to source some new bolts and after a liberal application of LocTite get it all fixed up again (was hard to use it sparingly as it turns out that carrying a compressed bottle for months on end in luggage gets a bit messy)

    Onto the planned oil and filter change along with cleaning the air filter and the bike was set for the first leg toward the Pamirs

    A big old beast of a Unimog back at the hostel; these guys could go anywhere they wanted!

    [​IMG]

    A traditional samsa in Osh

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A not so traditional pizza

    [​IMG]

    The first days ride itself was quite an easy one from Osh to Sary Tash, covering around 200km. The road was quite winding going from the tame 1000m elevation in Osh to a more respectable 3000m in Sary Tash.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While the scenery was beautiful it wasn’t dissimilar to what I’d seen coming via Naryn Lake so I didn’t stop much.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Just outside Sary Tash

    [​IMG]

    Parked up in the homestay in Sary Tash; this kid loved the bike so much he couldn't stop hugging and kissing it

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Could feel the cold at this altitude as temps dropped quite suddenly once the sun started setting

    [​IMG]

    Inside my room at the homestay

    [​IMG]

    A slightly different samsa for dinner

    [​IMG]

    Rise and shine

    [​IMG]

    So I’d started climbing now (and taking altitude sickness pills just in case) but I think the toughest is yet to come with the next section being the first tougher, unpaved pass and across the border into Tajikistan

    [​IMG]
  8. crowe2815

    crowe2815 kenoath

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2011
    Oddometer:
    520
    Location:
    andamooka South Australia
    :clap:clap:clapOutfuckingstanding:clap:clap:clap
  9. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,792
    Location:
    Gardnerville NV
    Good stuff
  10. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    100
    Location:
    Durham, England
    That's one hell of a trip, thanks for sharing. Totally enjoyed reading it so far.

    Andy
  11. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    - PAMIRS – THE DODGY TAJIK BORDER –

    The first challenge in Sary Tash was getting the bike started. Despite getting it going after the tunnel yesterday, it once again would start but then die. I bumped up the idle and that seemed to get it going. Still not sure if it’s the colder temperatures or altitudes doing this but once its warmed up, I got the idle back down and everything was sweet

    Todays journey was only about 95km but it would have another obstacle; the Kyzyl Art Pass. Kyzyl Art Pass is a roughly 25km stretch that lies in no-mans land between the Kyrgyz border and the Tajik border (located just after the peak of the pass)

    Leaving Sary Tash with the Pamirs on the horizon

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While the pass had a fairly tame elevation of 4200m, the concern was the surface. From all accounts, if there is any sign of moisture at all, rain, snow, anything, the pass turns into a mudpool and becomes near impassable

    Given that the GPS showed it was 45km to the border I started getting a little worried when 30km in, it looked like the road was still fairly flat.

    Passing the Kyrgyz border was fairly quick, just had to hand in the customs declaration form for the bike that I had gotten made up for the second time at the Mongolian/Russian border (1st time was when entering Vladivostok)

    First photo in no-mans land after crossing the Kyrgyz border

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As I continued plodding along into no-mans land and although the road surface got much worse, the incline was still barely there

    Then finally, there it was in front of us, Kyzyl Art Pass. Forget needing an incline gradient sign, we could see in front of us that the climb to the peak shot straight up.

    [​IMG]

    After a couple of obligatory photos by the sign before beginning the ascent.

    The road was covered not in usual dirt and rocks but a red dirt which was dry yet deformed with ruts from all the vehicles that must have gotten bogged whenever it was wet. It was very easy to see how this surface could become a veritable mudpool if wet and why people say to simply stay away from it in rain!

    But finally, after completing the whole climb in 1st gear, I was at the top next to the goat statue which I had seen in so many peoples photos over the years. I was truly overjoyed to finally be there even if it was a little hard to breathe at the high altitude.

    [​IMG]

    A look back at the red dirt climb just waiting to become a muddy mess

    [​IMG]

    Another couple of kilometres on and it was the Tajik border!

    But just like I had done my research to ensure dry conditions for the pass, I was also aware of the scams they try to run at the Tajik border

    While the first office is very friendly and processes your documents along with an official $10USD fee for road tax, it’s what comes after that is a little shady.

    While my documents were being processed, I was talking with a soldier, Farroukh, in passable English about how he was originally from Dushanbe but posted here for one year. He also enjoyed the Fast and Furious movies. However, once my documents were ready, he suddenly lost all his English and started gesturing for me to go to a second hut up on a hill.

    But I knew better.

    This second hut is where they try to demand fees for cleaning, veterinary tax, disinfection or whatever else they may make up. From other travellers reports, refusal is often met with abuse and anger.

    So I just straight up refused to go anywhere, stating that all my documents were done so I should be allowed to pass. Farroukh did half-heartedly try a couple of times but finally opened the gates and I was into Tajikistan!!

    The pass on the other side was still unpaved but much better than the red dirt and in no time I was gazing upon the beautiful Karakol Lake alongside which I would be spending the night in a small homestay for my first night in Tajikistan.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A fence running alongside is no-mans land towards the Chinese border

    Someone left this gate carelessly open... should I?

    [​IMG]

    A downed bridge after the Tajik border that everyone said results in a water crossing that was extremely fast and deep after 2pm as the snow melts increase

    I was rushing to try and beat it only to find it bone dry

    Lucky!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Karakol Lake coming into view

    [​IMG]

    Homestay in the very small village of Karakol

    [​IMG]

    The town is nothing more than a few shacks

    [​IMG]

    Children of Karakol

    [​IMG]

    Homestay Sadat

    [​IMG]
  12. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    PAMIR – THE LAST BIT OF ASPHALT

    Leaving Sary Tash I had the same problem again of getting the bike started but as usual, bumping up the idle temporarily, got it going.

    Leaving Sary Tash

    [​IMG]

    Today I’d be taking on the highest pass along the Pamir Highway at 4600m, Ak Baital Pass. However it wasn’t as steep on either side as yesterday and didn’t have that terrible red mud.

    As I made my way up to the climb of the pass over the heavily corrugated road I had one of my moments where I wonder why the hell I am doing this to myself. Do I really want to subject myself to even more pain in doing the Wakhan Corridor?!

    I hate corrugations

    [​IMG]

    iOverlander said there was a caravanserai along the road (a roadside inn from the days of the Silk Road) but I couldn’t find it plus I was getting real fed up of the corrugations; maybe I’ll try harder on the way back

    On the approach to Ak Baital; climbing off in the distance

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    At the peak, met a Mongol Rally team who were far behind the rest of the pack but told me they were perhaps the most travelled having covered 13,000 miles so far!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Shortly after, I tried using my drone to do a follow-me video where the drone follows the rider but of course it didn’t work and I spent half an hour hoping and praying while walking round trying to find the drone after it ran out of battery and landed somewhere. I was knackered after just a bit of walking, how the hell are cyclists doing this?!

    Meeting a Ukrainian biker on the other side of the peak

    [​IMG]

    An abandoned village

    [​IMG]

    Getting into Murghab was a slight surprise as I thought it was going to be a city but turned out to be another village with just slightly more shacks.

    Went down to the bazaar made up of shipping containers and bought a SIM card with a 15GB plan only then to realise that Tajikistan has next to no mobile coverage through most of the country so I’d be lucky to even use 1GB.

    [​IMG]

    The town water pump with a lady shovelling coal in the back

    Such a tough life it must be, especially in winter

    [​IMG]

    Looking back at the way we came

    [​IMG]

    Getting back from the bazaar however I had a big surprise in meeting two Italian bikers with whom I had last crossed paths in Mongolia! They had a bit of a problem where they’d been counting on getting cash out in Murghab only to find that none of the ATMs worked. Now they only had $30USD between the two of them for all of Tajikistan!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Room with a view

    [​IMG]

    Maintenance time in Murghab before the Wakhan

    Note the bicycle in the back. So much easier to do your chain with the whole thing upside down!

    Also the first Aussie I’ve actually met in this whole trip! From the inner-West suburbs

    [​IMG]

    After a days rest in Murghab, filled up fuel and set off to Alichur 100km away. A very small town but right after Alichur is the turn off to the Wakhan Corridor so I would rather do that as a fresh day on its own as the first leg is about 130km.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Quite an uneventful but windy day made up of damaged asphalt with an average speed of 40kmh. Came across a Dutch biker on a big GS who had a Grossglockner sticker from Austria on his bike same as mine!

    [​IMG]

    The guesthouse is Alichur was nice and comfortable with electricity only provided by generators in the evening.

    [​IMG]

    I was starting to feel very nervous and anxious about the Wakhan Corridor

    On one hand, everyone says it is beautiful but on the other, my bike really isn’t suited for all this offroad stuff and besides being slow and difficult, it’s causing me pain as well…
  13. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    PAMIR – WAKHAN BEGINS

    This was the day I was equal parts dreading and looking forward to; turning into the Wakhan Corridor. A route along the Wakhan Valley that runs along the Panj River with Afghanistan on the other side.

    I was looking forward to seeing life in Tajikistan, and Afghanistan across the river, with the beautiful views in between however was not looking forward to the road.

    Nearly every blog I read had stories of people crashing, deep sand, gravel and so on.

    I had met people who had told me about not if they had fallen off but how many times they had fallen off.

    People hired cars to send their luggage ahead.

    Although I’d only done 100km since yesterday, I thought it prudent to top up fuel before heading off. Of course, from a traditional Tajik bucket system in a non-descript house

    [​IMG]

    As we pulled up to the little unmarked turn off 24km from Alichur, it was make or break; continue along the highway or turn off into the dirt. I turned off.

    [​IMG]

    Nearly right after turning in, there was light sand on the surface over corrugation which then turned into much deeper sand as we neared a small lake

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    From there it just got tougher with long stretches of a mix of sand and gravel around 20cm deep till we started clmbing up the very rocky and narrow Khargush Pass

    And as if climbing wasn’t hard enough, on the way down the other side of the pass, the front wheel rolling off rounded rocks nearly sent me off the edge of the cliff

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There weren’t too many other vehicles on the road; passed one Mongol Rally team who was waiting for their car to cool down a little and got passed by the big Unimog wed met in Osh except this time there was another Unimog with them!

    [​IMG]

    The Panj River comes into sight... and sound. The force of the flow was so strong you could hear it

    Also the first time I could distinguish Afghanistan as being right across the other side

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As the day rolled on, we were only averaging about 10kmh so finally around 5pm decided to call it a day having only made it halfway to Langar (most people complete the trip to Langar in a day) and found a camp spot which was perfect! Secluded from the windy, a soft sandy base and someone had already set up a little kitchen with rocks!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I’d been carrying a few tea bags since Almaty (nicked from a guesthouse)

    Just for such an occasion

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  14. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,115
    Location:
    SW. Idaho
    it is not a good idea to camp in a dry wash in the desert, rains can come from miles away.
  15. gremlyn

    gremlyn Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2017
    Oddometer:
    34
    This is without any doubt one of the best threads/reports on ADV rider. Keep it going! :super
  16. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2017
    Oddometer:
    882
    Location:
    Tamaki Makarau, Aotearoa
    Another definition of adventure riding is born...taking the wrong bike to all the right places and with only a couple of tea bags.
    :eek2
    Next you'll be telling us you dont have any peanut butter. I'm assuming one of those bags on the bike is full of vegemite.

    Seriously brilliant report. Well done and hope all goes well for the rest of the trip. Suzukis are amazing.
  17. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Back home I don't drink tea at all but it's nice to have a little treat after a tough day.

    What I didnt mention is that along with the tea I also had a Bounty bar

    So, hot noodles, tea and chocolate for dessert; it really felt luxurious. And then all there was to do was sit back in my chair (another luxury item) and listen to the river
    Smidty, gpfan and edgeoftheworld like this.
  18. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    It had been a cold night camping in the Wakhan but it was peaceful sleeping by the sound of the river.It was a slow start to the morning but some tea bags I had from Almaty were a little luxury. There was only 44km to cover today but it was going to be tough

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As we were about to set off, the Unimogs rolled up again, looks like they would be constant travel companions through the Wakhan

    The road got narrower but remained rocky as we climbed higher alongside the beautiful river

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There were a lot more bikers on the road today including one guy I had met at the workshop in Osh on an Africa Twin. Despite having a huge tank as well as 2 5 litre containers he had managed to run out of fuel the previous day. He hadn’t bothered to fill up at the last two places simply because he thought his bike would make it. But it seems degraded fuel quality in the Wakhan threw off his estimates. A perfect example of why I fill up every chance I get no matter how little it is

    [​IMG]

    Bit of an obnoxious guy too

    Just jumped on the Monkey and took it for a ride

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There were a lot of deep sections along the way and at one point the bike was bogged to a point it was standing on its own in the gravel. I contemplated getting off to get a photo but the wind was still swaying the bike side to side so thought I better not risk it just for a photo.

    There were beautiful views of the mountain ranges on the horizon as we continued climbing higher and the landscape started getting more lush as well

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Everytime I was on one surface I would wish it was another and then when another would come then I would wish for another.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As we were nearing Langar, we ran into Unimog guys again, this time they invited us for tea and biscuits. Finally! But it was nice as we were getting hungry and didn’t have a lot of food on us

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The descent down to Langar was tough. I knew it was going to be steep but each hairpins were deep sand which had me white knuckle grip and some how crawling through each corner praying I didn’t topple over the side of the cliff (a fear I had all day and was happy I was doing the Wakhan headed west rather than east which would have me riding on the cliffside)

    That’s me far off the distance crawling down sandy switchbacks

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When I finally got to the homestay (mehmankhana; a word I recognised from Hindi as it seems the Farsi spoken here is starting to have similarities to other languages I know) in Langar, I was so glad to have made it through this section which is supposed to be the hardest. It took us two days whereas it takes most people a day but at least I got it done without any falls or mechanical issues!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Really hoping the next sections are better as people are saying.

    Mongolia prepared me well but this was definitely tougher. Glad it is behind me but also glad I gave it a shot.
  19. edgeoftheworld

    edgeoftheworld Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2017
    Oddometer:
    328
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Amazing stuff. Definitely one of the best Ride Reports I've read!
    bobthekelpy and mikegc like this.
  20. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    PAMIR – MY FAVOURITE DAY

    The reports about the road onwards from Langar were a little mixed. Some said that the hardest part was behind us but a particularly loud cyclist at the homestay insisted that there was some seriously tough road ahead

    Leaving Langar

    [​IMG]

    Finding out for myself would have to wait a little though as we didn’t get even 2km from Langar to the next village of Hisor and I saw a big festival taking place in a compound by the road.

    I stopped to peer over the wall but the people insisted I come inside, so, I did. It was a vibrant festival full of traditional music, dance and singing. I felt so lucky to be able to see it

    [​IMG]

    Back on the road, the surface was fairly rocky but much better than yesterday!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A quick stop for fuel in Vrang (by bucket of course)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We also made a decision to only cover about 50km today as there were some nice homestays at Yamchun to split up the journey to Ishkashim

    On the way, I tried to visit a museum in an effort to take in more than just whatever I see from the bike but failed at actually finding where it was.

    Above the homestay there was also a Silk Road fort but the 1km climb to the homestay was so ridiculously steep that I ditched all plans of climbing another 7km to the fort.

    However, the climb was worth the homestay with a wonderful man named Akim who had been a professor in Russia. He lived there in a traditional Pamiri home with his wife, daughter and grandson.

    It reminded me of my grandparents home while wandering around Akims vast fruit and vegetable garden, apricots drying on the roof, overlooking the fertile Wakhan Valley with Afghanistan in sight.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Akim with his wonderful garden (this is only a small part of it!)

    [​IMG]

    Akims wife at a tandoor (traditional oven)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I was able to have some great conversations with Akim in my broken Russian while we sat in his family room watching the evening news (Afghani); there had been bombings in Kabul

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A place to sleep in the Pamirs

    [​IMG]

    It was so surreal to think that this country we always hear about in trouble was literally across the road seeming as peaceful as can be.

    In conversation it came up that I worked in IT and Akim asked if I could fix their computer which was having some issues. Not really knowing what to say, I agreed, only to be brought out a printer.

    Turns out their computer problem was actually a copier that wasn’t working (required to copy passports of guests staying with them as per government regulations)

    At first I was a little perplexed and didn’t want to sound too stupid but then I was sure…there was no toner cartridge at all!

    [​IMG]

    A great days ride, a colourful festival, good weather and a lovely family. Today was my favourite day.