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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 7days1shower, May 21, 2019.
the festivities of countries are worth staying for. great report, thanks
Really enjoying this, thanks.
The ride back down from Yamchun was so steep (and rocky) that I thought I was going to go over my handlebars.
Another short 50km to Ishkashim today and the road surface was improving so I was determined to do some sightseeing!
But first, I had a chance to make up for another lost opportunity. Going up a small pass there was a deep sandy section. I started slowly making my way through it as usual but then realised the bike was stuck.
I had missed out (made a smart decision not to) on taking a photo of the bike standing upright in gravel day before yesterday and it had been bugging me!
I stood up off the bike; it was still standing
Ok, here we go, lets get off and get this photo… noooooo…..and over the bike goes on top of me
Luckily it was a very soft landing into the sand with no harm done but I should probably give up on the idea of this photo
Bikers from Slovakia
Check out the Rossi plates on the Ducati
I stopped off at a small museum run by a talented musician who gave me a history lesson in Russian of the Pamir and Wakhan; his family lineage could be traced back to the area over a thousand years!
Inside a traditional Pamiri home
The number of rooms, pillars and everything has a certain significance
Right opposite the museum was another fort too; Khaka Ata Fort. This region was very sought after due to how fertile it is so the people defended it well. It was also a major thoroughfare along the original Silk Road
The front garden of the museum with Khaka Ata Fort walls visible on the opposite cliff
Inside the fort
At the front of the fort. Not much seems visible besides the outer walls
An easy day with interesting people and experiences. The early difficulties of getting into the Wakhan are definitely paying off.
Ishkashim was the first place in Tajikistan that felt like a town of sorts with paved roads and even traffic lights
So it made sense that the road was improving allowing me to cover 100km to the next city of Khorog; the furthest point I’d be going west on the Pamir
I had originally planned to go to Uzbekistan but dialled that back to Dushanbe in the interest of not rushing through the Pamir where it would be once in a lifetime that I’d be there on a bike
After hearing horror stories about the road and traffic conditions from Khorog to Dushanbe, I decided to simply turn around at Khorog and take the main M41 Pamir Highway back to Murghab then Osh (should be better road than Wakhan) to rest and wait for my China crossing
The road along the river was still a bit rough but as asphalt started appearing just outside Khorog I couldn’t resist opening the throttle up a little and hitting sixth gear for the first time in ages
A Russian biker we met along the way taking a video of the Gixxer
And who’s that in the back?
Afghanistan was so close I could hear the children in the school
Freshly made samsa for lunch
At a checkpoint along the Wakhan with girls selling fresh apples
There are a few of these checkpoints where you need to show your visa with a special GBAO permit for the region and they record your passport details
A sandy soccer field for Tajik v. Afghan games?
A brightly lit mansion on the Afghan side
Khorog was a nice place to recharge with a change of food at an Indian restaurant
I may have gotten a bit too adventurous and ate at a blatant Maccas rip off; Mac Doland which was worse than going hungry and had left me feeling a bit ill
There was also a KFC (Khorog Fried Chicken) that I had planned to try but best to give that a miss I think
Mac Doland's! Hilarious! Even had a Big Mac (Бигмак)
This is one from the best and awesome ride report,that I am readed in this forum! Wrong bike at right places...How can they thinking that..? There is no wrong bike,when someone realy want go somewhere!
Maybe it was the Indian food or the knock-off McDonalds but I wasn’t feeling too crash hot when it came time to leave Khorog. I contemplated staying another night but I had already been there 3 nights and needed to get a move on to try and get a good crossing back on Kyzyl Art Pass (the muddy one) as it was getting colder by the day
After visiting a pharmacy in the morning to help with the nausea, we finally hit the road at 11am onto the Pamir Highway back towards Alichur
Unfortunately I don’t have many photos from this day as I was just trying to concentrate on getting the 215km done while not feeling great at all.
Another reason was that it was not all that special! I was so glad I’d done the Wakhan because doing just the Pamir would’ve been very boring.
I guess the scenery was alright
Fine, I’ll ride
The road was mostly damaged asphalt with about 40km of rough, rocky stuff at a pass closer to Alichur
A meeting with Croatian bikers on the rough pass
They had not gone into Wakhan as they’d been told their bikes were too big
I think they could have done it
The worries started on that pass as the sun was starting to set and it was getting dark and cold. This wasn’t exactly a place we could camp on either with its flat, windy plains
We pushed on into the evening, determined to make it to the homestay for the night
As it got darker, the road became much more dangerous as I was very aware that on this same section while heading towards Wakhan I had seen holes in the middle of the road the drop metres down.
The only time we stopped that evening
At the Wakhan turn off for a hi-5; we’d done it! A Gixxer and Monkey through the Wakhan and back
But, a proper celebration to mark the completion should only happen in Osh
As the kilometres ticked away with 10, 9, 8 remaining, the temptation was there to go faster but I had to resist as the asphalt was still badly damaged and my headlights were pretty useless
Finally, we got to the guesthouse we had stayed at the previous time in Alichur; it was cold and windy and I was hungry. They were full!
Thankfully, the owner was able to check with 2 other tourists that were staying in a 6 bed dorm and they were happy with us taking the spare beds
It had been a rough day but we’d done Khorog to Alichur in one day where Alichur to Khorog (through Wakhan) had taken us 5!
I had been nervous before riding through Mongolia
A little hesitant before riding through the Wakhan Valley
But I was truly scared when a 3km descent down Kyzyl Art Pass lay ahead of me in no-mans land between the Kyrgyz and Tajik borders
A couple of days ago I was hesitating to carry on due to my health, this time, it was snow.
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, the Kyzyl Art Pass which lies in no-mans land between the Kyrgyz and Tajik borders is especially steep on the Kyrgyz side and composed of a red dirt that turns to mud at even the slightest hint of moisture.
I thought my weather checks had been going well and our crossing would be 2 days after snowfall on the pass.
It wasn’t until a cyclist who had come from that direction mentioned that he had ridden through snow that I managed to check the forecast again (over barely any internet) for the day of the crossing; it had been snowing 2 days prior consistently!
The rest of the week showed clear but weather in the mountains is constantly changing; what f it kept snowing?
The risk with snow is not the snow itself but when it starts to melt and turns into water.
I didn’t take this lightly as I had seen first hand how steep the pass was and also the remnants of deep, muddy ruts from vehicles that hadn’t been as fortunate with the weather.
More than just a fear of mud though, maybe it was compounded because I had come up the pass weeks prior and knew exactly what it was like or perhaps even the fear that I was so close to finishing this part of the trip and didn't want to stuff it up!
After much deliberation, I set off. The strategy was to try and head off early in the morning (not so early that it was super cold but early enough that temperatures would still be below zero so the snow wouldn’t have melted yet)
Heading off from Homestay Sadat in Karakul for the 2nd and final time
It was cold! Super cold. I was thankful for my heated grips but for some reason was only wearing half the layers I was carrying. I felt bad for Yosuke though as he only had one heated grip working
As we made our way up the Tajik side of the pass over the corrugated road, I also felt sorry for the cyclists; those silly, silly cyclists, what the hell were they thinking doing this crazy stuff?!
As we rode on, I was consciously watching every small river we passed being frozen solid; a good sign! But I could also see a clear blue sky above and slowly the water was starting to flow.
The Tajik side of the border was very easy and then it came, the dreaded red stuff.
Exiting the Tajik border post
My riding buddy for the past two months; Yosuke on his Honda Monkey
The snow had already started melting and there were some streams flowing across the path but they were light.
My hands were in pain from the cold but I couldn’t wrap them around the heated grips as they were poised on the clutch and front brake slowly crawling my way down the steep hill trying to make sure I kept the front wheel straight through any mud
And we made it! It was a slow crawl but we made it. For sure if we had come any later the snow melts would have made much more of a mess.
Red mud flung over the bike as a little caution of what could have been
No more red mud!
But the road does fall away sometimes
A lot more snow than when we came by here a couple of weeks ago
Crossed back into Kyrgyzstan!
Back on tarmac just outside Sary Tash
A hero shot of the hero bike
We did it!!!
From there on, it was easy sailing onwards to Sary Tash and then a paved 200km to Osh.
The winding road back to Osh (my 2nd time doing it and I'll do it once more to return to Sary Tash for my China crossing)
There's a little truck somewhere behind all that hay
Our last biscuit lunch together on the road
A celebratory pizza party back in Osh
Washing the Pamir off the bike
Farewell dinner for Yosuke who has returned to Japan and will come back to his bike in Osh in February
And in Osh, nothing! I was getting into Osh with about 9 days till I had to head back to Sary Tash for my China crossing but it was just what I need to unwind and regroup; sort out any small issues on the bike, eat good food and watch things on Netflix I’ve seen a million times before!
This RR rocks. You rock. Keep it up Gixxer Man. I spent years touring on a '91 Gixxer 1100.
What an amazing report!!! I've toured on a sportbike But waaaaay tamer than your trip. Major props to both of you guys. Great that everywhere you went that you were greeted by friendly people. Always an exciting benefit when you travel.
Awesome stuff!! thanks for sharing
Just goes to show what can be done with a bit of grit and determination
looking forward to the next update mate. Dont leave us hanging too long.
Sorry for the lack of updates, I was behind the great firewall of China while crossing from Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan!
I would like to be chronological and write about my China crossing however the first full day of riding in Pakistan was just too good not to share! (I will get the China crossing stuff up as soon as possible)
After spending the night in border town of Sost the first item on the agenda was some maintenance on the bike.
Liaqat from Asia Star guest house who helped me work on the bike and get the luggage strap fixed
A dirt cheap room at 1000PKR especially when the first government run motel wanted 4000
Also helpful that he used to be a chef as he made me an amazing chicken karahi for dinner
On my first day in China I realised that my low beam headlight was blown! This normally wouldn’t be a problem as I never ride at night however this also happened to be the first time I HAD to ride in the night till 2am due to numerous and prolonged police checks.
Ok, not a problem, going forward I don’t usually ride in the night anyway right? Not quite, in the 80km stretch from the Khunjerab Pass border till Sost there was a small tunnel which made me realise that riding in pitch darkness with only highbeams was not ideal AND that there was a 10km tunnel coming up on the next stretch!
At least I had a spare bulb which I’d had the foresight to carry. Unfortunately, carrying it in soft luggage all this way left it looking a little worse for wear
I was scared to try and bend it back lest it break so mounted it as is, but of course, then it doesn’t light up the road quite right. So I took it out and tried to bend it back and to my relief it was just unseated, not actually bent! Unfortunately I touched the glass which I know you’re not supposed to do so hopefully that doesn’t cause any issues
I’d also been a bit lazy about changing the headlight sooner as while its normally quite an easy job to remove one bolt to the dash and replace, it was more complicated now due to an additional metal brace I’d added from the main frame to the front fairing stay which utilised the same mounting.
Next up, whilst getting my tools out of the tail I realised that one of my Kriega straps had frayed so badly it was hanging on by a thread. I didn’t have a spare of these but I was in Asia where a fix meant walking down the street and getting it patched up with some leather free of charge!
From there, it was time to get onto the road for my first full day on the Karakorum Highway (KKH) and man was it beautiful.
My first time seeing the colorful Pakistani trucks
I’d been thinking what’s the big deal, I’ve been seeing mountains in various countries but the sheer size of what surrounded me was mind blowing.
First view of the famous Passu Cones
And the view ahead was just as impressive
It was nice to just take my time on the road without any worry of police checks like in China or even time as I was only covering about 50km
The hotel owner had suggested I stay in Hussaini near the suspension bridge and do some long walks however after even the 10 min walk to the bridge from where I parked the bike I realised my fitness is absolute rubbish and continued on into the Hunza Valley to stay in the capital of Karimabad.
Walking down to the Hussaini Hanging Bridge
This is as close as I got
It’s not a big deal to ride 15000km to get here but I’m still scared of heights ♂️
On the way back I stopped for a drink in the yard of a local villager selling produce from their garden
This is chumoos, a traditional apricot juice
The gardens reminded me of my time in the Wakhan which kind of makes sense as geographically I’m quite close to the Wakhan in Tajikistan and Afghanistan; just on the other side of the Pamirs
Formed in 2010 by a huge landslide that destroyed a section of the KKH
Till two years ago the only way to cross it was by boat
The Chinese have now built a long tunnel which has essentially realigned the KKH
This is why I needed a headlight
I got into Karimabad in the late afternoon and after a wrong turn ended up at a great place called Haider Inn where I’m paying $9 for a single room with an amazing hot shower beaten only by the view over the valley and the Rakaposhi mountain.
The view from my room in Karimabad
Sunset over the Hunza Valley with Rakaposhi in the back
Looking back up towards Karimabad
I’ll stay here another night at least to go visit a UNESCO listed fort tomorrow and the local bazaar. I’ll also need to give some thought to the next week though as it looks like there is a few days of sustained rain and snow that I’d ideally like to avoid.
This weekend I rode a GSXR 1000 for about a half hour. Great bike, but sufficiently uncomfortable for my diminutive old frame that I was happy to get off after about a half hour. You're riding one all over Asia. Respect.
The day off in Karimabad was well spent mainly between visiting the old Baltit Fort sitting atop the city and also just relaxing with beautiful valley views
The steep alleys in Karimabad up to Baltit Fort
View from the top of Baltit Fort
I set off early (by my standards) from Karimabad as it was a 200km trip down the KKH to the next accommodation; a place by the highway just next to a petrol station.
There was a town nearby called Chilas but I was advised to take Babusar Pass for which the turnoff was just before Chilas. So why go further to the town if I didn’t need to
The ride itself was quite nice with a few points of interest well signposted that made for some nice sightseeing.
The sacred Hunza Rocks that I had accidentally ridden past the previous day that I came back to see
They contain graffiti from the days of the Old Silk Road
I travel the new Silk Road with the Old Silk Road carved high in the hillside above me (can you spot it?)
How tough it must have been
I was starting to get a little hungry too but passing through small towns couldn’t quite decide on a café that looked good enough to not blow my stomach to bits.
As I was passing through one small town, I saw many small trucks selling bananas. I stopped to ask how much for one and the guy was a little lost for words after I clarified I just wanted one banana, not one dozen. So, he gave me two free bananas; free lunch!
Ok I'll look to my right
But then suddenly the road completely disappeared! I had been told that the road gets a little worse before Chilas but the KKH went from being a buttery smooth road to the usual rocks and sand that I’ve gotten used to slowly crawling over
As I got to the petrol station that I needed to fill up before he turn off to Babusar Pass, the hotels that I had thought would be there, weren’t; it was literally a bunch of small shops along the main road and nothing else
Onwards to Chilas it is I guess
When I got to the turn off, there was a large police checkpoint who wanted to know why I was going to Chilas. I told them I just needed a place to sleep for the night and asked if there was any other alternatives around. There wasn’t.
They told me to check back in with them on my way out the next morning.
As I got into Chilas, it seemed like a quiet little town and I turned into the first guesthouse on the left and got a decent enough room down from 2500PKR to 2000PKR. It had air conditioning but sadly no hot shower.
Normally I never watch TV but for some reason I turned the TV on and across all channels was the breaking news of the Pakistani Prime Ministers return from a speech at the UN General Assembly about the changes India had recently made in the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Although I’m an Australian citizen, my background is Indian and through all my years of travelling to the corners of the world, for the first time, I felt uneasy about where I was. It doesn’t take long for people to figure out my Indian heritage, a question I’d already been asked many times since entering the country (and slightly made more confusing by having an Islamic first name despite not being so)
I ordered some daal and rice from the kitchen in the hotel and the guy was kind enough to make it for me and bring it to my room. As I ate, I was craving a can of Sprite but I just felt uneasy going out into the town at night. The guy from the kitchen sent out for one but couldn’t find one.
I shrugged it off and went to sleep.
The following morning, I had a quick breakfast and hit the road. Just outside the town there was a sign for some ancient rock carvings.
I pulled over to look at them and as I was walking around trying to find them a Pakistani guide who was leading a Japanese woman explained to me that a lot of the carvings had been destroyed or painted over as the people of the village still lived by Taliban ideologies.
Suddenly it all started to fall into place.
iOverlander only mentioned two hotels in town (which I saw after Id already checked into the guesthouse) and both had comments that these were the only ones deemed safe by the army.
Since I’d arrived last night all the men Id seen had been dressed in a very conservative manner unlike the more relaxed culture further north. Women were nowhere to be seen and in general the town had a vibe to it that I didn’t feel safe going out even for a can of Sprite.
And there it as in front of me now, ancient rock carvings painted over with an ubiquitous black flag. It was time to get the hell out of here.
It was only when I met another rider, Marko (with whom I’d had contact on social media and knew he was coming the other way), that I started learning more like the fact that Chilas was one of the last places the Taliban had “officially” been pushed out of.
And then when I next got Internet and met a Malaysian rider, I found out that there had been multiple murders of tourists and less conservative Muslims in the town and the hills surrounding it.
The Malaysian rider coming the other way had also been advised by police to stay away from Chilas.
Of all the nights I could pick to stay in a Taliban town it had to be the night where Pakistani patriotism was running high against its mortal enemy; my place of birth…
Pakistan is a beautiful country and I’ve experienced great hospitality from the people I’ve met but I just need to keep moving through which saddens me
It'll likely shorten the lifetime of the bulb (residue left from your fingerprints means that the area where you touched the glass heats up more, meaning the filament below those spots will burn up much quicker).
You cannot get already burned off filament back, but you can at least stop the increased wear by letting the bulb cool off entirely (duh), removing it and then very gently wiping it down using a rag and an evaporating degreasing agent, like brake cleaner. Wait approx. 15-30 minutes (the colder the longer) before refitting the bulb, to allow the cleaner to evaporate. (You want the cleaner to evaporate into the atmosphere, not into your lampmask )
From being worried and apprehensive to a great day!
As I mentioned in my last update, it was only on my way out of Chilas that I started finding out more about the rough situation in the area, so it was good to get back on the road even if feeling a bit anxious.
The road itself was still fairly scenic through the valleys although there were still some broken sections.
A truck that doubles as public transport
Colourful houses in the valley behind Babusar Pass
The steep and winding switchbacks leading up Babusar Pass
The other side of Babusar Pass
I had been told about a bus crash a few days before and here were the remains
On my way so far, I had seen plenty of small bikes mostly belonging to the local villagers however there were a couple of local bikes I had seen with simple camping gear on the back and given a wave to what I expect were Pakistani guys exploring beautiful parts of their own country
However when I saw a group of about 10 bikes parked up together I felt compelled to stop and I’m glad I did.
As I started talking to them, one guy looked familiar so I asked him his name; Moin. Yep, I knew him, Moin Khan!
Many years ago I remember reading his ride report on ADVRider as he had ridden his CBR (another sportbike) from America to Pakistan and on the way had gotten into a fairly big accident in Romania!
He was leading a group of tourists up north and was kind enough to give me some information on road conditions and some water too (helpful since I was actually low on water and one of my two energy drink cans had managed to remain intact but puncture somewhere and leak all 250ml into the tank bag)
I was very excited to meet and talk to a fellow sportbike tourer but of course we both had to keep moving in our respective directions.
Unfortunately I also found out from him that my Saudi friend, Omar, with the GS310 that had battery issues in China had now had an engine failure and had been loaded up on a truck to Islamabad.
Farmers working their stepped fields
With Marko headed from NZ to Croatia
For the day I had planned to stay in Naran, a hill station that seemed popular with locals and an abundance of hotels.
Since I had no SIM card, I had noted down a few hotels with good reviews and amenities such as having a generator running due to unreliable electricity.
The first place I pulled into was Manila Huts where I managed to get a great room for 2000PKR where their usual peak season rate was 14000PKR!
But besides it being a great room with safe parking, the people were the kindest I had met so far and not only eased my mind of the concerns of the past day but filled by heart with joy from their kindness
I was told to get freshened up and then join the staff in the garden for a homemade lunch of daal and roti after which they used the chairs to set up a makeshift boundary in the garden for a game of cricket.
Later that night as I was about to walk down for dinner a big BMW was pulling into the hotel in the rain; a Malaysian rider headed up towards China
We went down to a restaurant where my excitement for Pakistani led to some over indulgement despite being very aware of the hot chilli laced throughout.
Unfortunately this floored me for the next day and even though I was half packed and ready to leave the following morning, my stomach just hurt too much.
3 nights in Naran was unplanned but it was a beautiful place with beautiful people.
Islamabad is only 250km away but I think it would be a very big day so the plan is to break it up in Abbottabad.
Its been a good break lazing with Netflix (and another dinner with the staff where I had some delicious chapli kebab despite it being a touch spicy again) but time to get moving again.
When it came time to leave Naran for Islamabad, I felt like I’d shot myself in the foot for having taken an extra day on account of my stomach.
The forecast now showed thunderstorms throughout the afternoon along my route. However staying in Naran further was out of the question as the following days were snowfall!
Obligatory photo of hotel staff with the bike
Luck was on my side as always and I managed to miss the rain except for the last hour coming into Abbottabad. Incidentally, this was also my first taste of traffic in cities, something which I’m getting pretty worried about as I get closer to India
Looking down onto Abbotabad
Although there was not a whole lot to do in Abbottabad, I decided to stay here an extra day as there was rain forecast the following day also, a day where I intended to take a scenic mountain route to Islamabad instead of the main road through many small towns.
Unfortunately it seems that my chain is once again playing up with tight spots after having replaced it in Barnaul, Russia due to the same problem. After speaking with some people it could be that my sprockets are in poor condition since the first chain and this has caused the new one to go bad too.
I’d been procrastinating checking my front sprocket (thought it was hard to get the cover off but took 5 minutes), but when I got it off, I pulled out a ton of build up from mud, road grime and chain lube.
Although my ride will end in India, I figured I may as well replace chain and sprockets as I found some in New Delhi. Better than causing any further damage or a possible failure.
The road to Islamabad was quite good with winding roads through the mountains before a final descent down into the capital. The decision to wait a day paid off as it would’ve been annoying in a thunderstorm and my stomach still wasn’t letting me thoroughly enjoy my ride.
Hopefully a few days in Islamabad will get my health back on track and get stuck into some Pakistani food
Great RR mate. keep it coming.
I’m in Lahore now but I’ve been having too much fun the past week or so and gotten lazy with updates!
I ended up staying 5 nights in Islamabad (4 planned, 1 unplanned but more on that later) mainly because it was the first place I had friends to meet!
I had met Hamza in Sydney at the gym and even though the carpark was completely empty, I’d always park my WRX next to his Skyline (Car guy things)
Hamza has 2 heavily modified Evos in Islamabad and through him I met a group of other great guys and got to take part in one of my favourite activities; eating with friends!
We wouldn’t head out till around 11pm and then stay out till 2am or 3am taking in some of Pakistans best food!
As difficult as it can be many days, I’m going to miss life on the road. However more importantly, I’m going to miss the great people I’ve met and the amazing hospitality I’ve been shown
My first dinner of kebabs in Islamabad
Out for a late night drive in the Evo 6 after dinner; just like home
Hamzas other Evo, a 9
Fahads AE92 with a 3SGE swap and lots of very rare JDM bits like a digital dash as well as bits from the Holden Nova!
Heading to a drift meet
Dinner at 3am