The road to Mongolia... on two wee bikes!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by maria41, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    409
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    Day 20 – 11th of May – 0 miles (Russia, Astrakhan)


    We had a day rest as our visa with Kazakhstan did not start until the 12th of May. So instead we visited the town and the Kremlin.


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    While in Astrakhan, we bought some tooth paste in a minimarket. Or so we thought.

    Look, we found the display with soap, shampoo, tooth brushes and some tubes. You may think, it must be, surely, toothpaste, next to tooth brushes!? :norton

    In the evening, I went to brush my teeth, poured the paste onto my brush. It did not feel right.

    No smell, very strange sticky thick texture… I hesitated and put some on my fingers... :hmmmmm The cream was so sticky and greasy I could not get it off even with soap.

    I typed the name of the box into google translate but could not get a translation, only some gibberish in roman characters. However, some of those roman characters showed something like "spermixyzxzx...... " :scratch Ewwwww!!!!! Did we buy spermicide by error?!!!


    The tube went straight to the bin!
    #21
  2. SNOMED

    SNOMED Adv'rized

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    Great RR and pictures!!! Thank you! Can't wait for more :dukegirl
    Greetings from .se
    #22
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  3. JoeBiker25

    JoeBiker25 Been here awhile

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    Superb narrative and pics! ride safe and enjoy:photog
    #23
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  4. LC4Dakar

    LC4Dakar Been here awhile Super Supporter

    Joined:
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    SF Bay Area and Las Cruces, NM
    Looks like a Kazakhstan highway :lol3

    #24
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  5. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    Day 21- 12th of May – 243 miles (Kazakhstan, Atyrau)


    We tried to leave town early, but with the usual run around town to find the correct road, we were out of town around 10 only.

    Eventually we found the metal bridge to the border.


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    The crossing was uncomplicated as Kazakhstan is part of some custom union with Russia (and Belarus) so no paper work with customs and we were out of Russia and into Kazakhstan in a bit more than an hour, including time to change some Roubles into Tenge, and also to buy some insurance for the bikes.

    We took bike insurance for 2 months, as we would cross Kazkahstan again, on the east side.

    Our guide book was adamant that the police was very corrupt and would try to get bribes out of us.

    Few weeks before leaving the UK, we went out with a young colleague of Alistair to exchange infos. He had done the Mongol Rally the previous year. He spent less than 24 hours in Kazakhstan as they kept being stopped by the police for “fines”.

    In fact, most Cops ignored us. Few were curious and started to overtake us and drive next to us for a while, to have a good look! Maybe when they saw our dusty old bikes and battered saddlebags caked in mud, they thought "nah ! Look at the state of them…. they don't have any money!"

    In Kazakhstan, the scenery changed little by little into desert. We saw our first Asian camels (with 2 humps!).


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    Kazakh people were very curious of the bikes. At a fuel pump, as we were to leave, one local turned up in a very old battered unidentified Russian bike with side car. We got talking and he asked us where the kick start was. We said it was electric and I demonstrated that by starting my bike. Next thing I know the guy sits on it..... And go for a ride with it! Not far but I was worried for a while!


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    The road in Kazakhstan was a nightmare, in such bad condition there were potholes everywhere, it was hard to avoid all of them and the bikes got quite a battering! Some sections were unsurfaced but not better!


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    After all afternoon of this, we arrived very late as we lost another hour to time travel! Minus 4 hours to London time! We got to Atyrau, around 7:30 pm... If you work in oil and Gas, you may have business to do in Atyrau, otherwise, the town is in the middle of the desert...


    We found a hotel in a square, with safe parking for the bikes.

    We discovered one of the great Russian and former Russian republics traditions:m aintenance work! Bear with me!

    “Do you have hot water?”
    “Yes”
    “Does it work?”
    “No!”

    Me looking puzzled….

    “Maintenance work, there is no hot water in town!”

    Most towns have collective hot water (and heating I think!) and the maintenance work is done during the summer.

    Another series of questions you must become fluent in asking:

    “Do you have wifi?”

    “Yes!”

    “Does it work?”

    “Yes!”

    There, you may be filled with a false sense of security…. But there is another question you must ask:

    “Does it work in the rooms? “


    The big hint would be a random customer sitting in the usual lone tiny sofa near reception, glued to his mobile or tablet….
    #25
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  6. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    Day 22 – 13th of May – 286 miles (Kazakhstan, Beyneu)


    We left Atyrau after the usual run all over town to find the correct road. We had installed (well GPS work is Alistair’s job!) the Open Source Map but the result was very inaccurate. It took us until Osh, wth the help of Steffen, to find out that the file had to be placed in a special folder in the memory card for Garmin to read it correctly! Doh!


    I personally have no interest in GPS, for travelling maps are essential, paper maps. All my trips start with maps and I work from there.


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    However GPS is extremely useful in towns!


    The road out of Atyrau was in better condition but the wind was so violent, it was like my helmet was trying to get through my skull. It was incredibly hard riding.


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    Although originally, we wanted to make it to Beyneu, we felt it was too far to ride in those conditions. There were a couple of villages showing on my map. We passed one, and a second... Nothing there for us to spend the night... just few buildings… We continued. Camping with this wind was out of the question, the tent would never keep up.


    Eventually around 8 pm we got to Beyneu! We found the only hotel in town, wildly overpriced, but we had no choice. Our room had no bathroom, so we had to use the communal showers and toilets.


    I usually have no problem with that, except that the toilets were the ceramic hole on the ground variety! I hate them, they are unhygienic. As you crouch to pee (for women!) the urine rebound off the ceramic surface and gets all over your shoes and legs... Great if you wear shorts and flip-flops! Back to the shower then! Hurgh! I really don’t know how the locals manage!



    Very late that evening, a motorcycle group tour (4 bikes and a 4 x 4 support vehicle) turned up, they were from Moldavia.


    Very rare local bike:
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    #26
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  7. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    Day 23 - 14th of May – 162 miles (Uzbekistan, on the road)


    In the morning, as we packed our bikes, we met the Moldovans, they were very friendly although they did not speak much English.

    They were on giant 1200GS and those sort of bikes, with so much luggage on them I really don't know what they carried. They also had a 4x4 support vehicle, with a guide and fixer!

    We have met many bikers on the road since Turkey, on big bikes with all the shiny panniers etc....
    Most looking down on us with our little bikes! I was finding that irritating. Was I less of a biker and traveller because we were on small bikes? I would go further on my little 125 than they would ever on their fully Touratech-kitted giant bikes, for the majority!

    The Moldovans were going the same way than us. So we left them there, sure to meet them at the border. We went to buy fuel and fill our fuel bladder too, as we knew the next town in Uzbekistan would be about 300 miles. We then bought 3 bottles of water and some food, as the Uzbek border crossing is notoriously slow! Little did we know!


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    We then got on our way. The wind was still very violent! 30 km before the border, while we were getting more fuel, we saw the Moldovans ride through. The road to the border was awful and then turned to dirt, sand and gravel! We finally got to the border. Our Moldavian friends saw us and waved us through. We skipped the queue of cars and parked next to their bikes, by the entrance to the border compound.

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    Now, one thing you must know about those borders control, and that work pretty much the same all around central Asia, there is a queue, and you have to get into the compound to start the process. Getting inside is therefore very important. Once the load of people in the compound is processed, they let in more vehicles... We were fast tracked and allowed into the compound when the gates opened again!


    Then, being processed out of Kazakhstan was fairly straightforward and with help from the Moldavians, who took us under their wings, we were processed ahead of the queue with them, for passport control! Even like that it took an hour!

    Then we rode the short distance to the Uzbek border!

    I will spare you the details, only that thanks to our new friends and their guide/fixer, we got through in about 3 or 4 hours, jumping queues and being told by them what to do as it is impossible to guess and no one to help!

    Some locals get stuck there for several days! We met few days later some germans, on camper vans, in a guided tour with guide and fixer, they spent 8h there! So we were lucky!


    Once into Uzbekistan, our friends left. As we got out, after changing some cash, we passed a small hut, and saw our Moldovan friends again waving at us! We did a U-turn and found out that the hut was selling insurance! We got some for 2 weeks, for our bikes.


    Few miles later, at a police check point, we were asked for our insurance documents!


    The road was its usual awful surface with millions of potholes and sections of dirt. It was incredibly hot and windy, by then we had been all day at the border, so we were very tired and hungry! The next "town" was a good 200 miles away, too far to make it by then. We carried on as there was no point setting up camp early, it was way too hot to stay under the tent, and also we had too little water left! That was true desert, straight road for 200 miles with nothing but sand and intense heat. We were drenched in sweat in our motorcycle gear with no hope of a shower!

    There was a tiny spot in my map were we hoped to find a shop and hopefully drinking water. So we rode well into the evening. Just before the road turning to the spot on my map, which was only a few houses, we came across a police check point. They were not interested in our documents, only to take our picture! I think they were quite impressed to see a woman riding her own bike!

    I asked them if we could find accommodation and water in the village, but they told us no!

    However, they told us that 5 km down the road, there was a teahouse that was also a hotel, and we could find food and water! I could have kissed them! We got there by 8 pm and we saw the bikes of the Moldovans!


    We got a room with a shower and dodgy plumbing but to us it was paradise, with food, water, and a shower!
    #27
  8. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    409
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    London
    Day 24 – 15th of May – 202 miles (Uzbekistan, somewhere near Nukus)


    We packed up early and were getting ready to leave.

    Our moldovian friends left before us, they were heading toward the Aral sea.

    As we were waiting to pay, we got talking with 2 americans having breakfast there. They did not look like tourists, 2 middle aged men, wearing work trousers and shirts....

    We were surprised to find foreigners there, in the middle of the desert, unless they just crossed the border! They were actually from the US embassy, checking on some local project the US government was funding.

    They told us fuel was hard to find in Uzbekistan. So we asked the owner of the tchaihana if we could buy some from him. He said the fuel he had was very bad quality so he refused, saying we could buy some in Qonghirat, the major settlement, about 100 miles away. As we had some fuel on our fuel bladder, we continued.

    About 45 miles before Qonghirat we passed some industrial site. We spotted a Tchaihana, it was advertised from the road with a big sign, with icons for food, drinks, showers, and most important, fuel.

    We went inside, got some drinks and asked about fuel. We could not see any fuel pump around! The girl working there told us we could buy some in Qonghirat. We were already on reserve.... We would not make it there. We made it clear. After a while, we were asked how much we needed, we said 20 litres.

    We waited a bit more. Then a lad made us sign to follow him. We got the bikes near the gate of a secured enclosure and once this was opened, we walked inside. Then the lad went off...and came back with 4 water bottles of 5 litres each, full of fuel! Success! We had enough to make it even to Nukus, a proper town!

    We arrived in Nukus early afternoon, and started looking for a fuel station. All were closed! Only those selling propane and methane had gas! We spent a good two hours going around. We spotted a fuel pump with massive queue of cars. After enquiring, it was for diesel. People were even sleeping in their car! We asked for "benzin" but no luck.... We got surrounded by the curious guys.... Then some discussions between them... And we were asked how much we wanted. We chanced 10 litres, and within moments, two bottles of the now usual water bottles, full of petrol, appeared!


    Locals so far had been very friendly. See how they all want to be in the picture!

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    After that we stopped for a quick lunch and the best Plov of the entire trip! Then it was 3pm. We wanted to make it to Khiva that day. It was still about 120 miles away, but doable. So we hit the road in the desert, once again!


    Few miles from Nukus, we passed a police checkpoint. They ignored us. Then got up to speed, overtaking few trucks on the way... Then Alistair's bike disappeared in my mirrors.... I stopped, spotted him on the side of the road, did a U-turn....


    Nasty puncture, his wheel went flat suddenly and very fast! Lucky he did not crash.


    It was only once we removed the wheel that we found out what had happened. It was the only wheel we did not replace the inner tube for new heavy duty one, because the previous bike’s owner had done it. Except that the inner tube was some cheap Chinese crap! The seam had split. It was quite a big cut.


    Meanwhile a car with 2 local men had stopped and taken charge of the operation, ignoring our protests that we could deal with it! The tube was remove, patched and wheel put back in place! Then they left in a rush! People so far on our trip had been very friendly and helpful, as you can see! Once we got the wheel fully inflated, we could hear the air coming off slowly. The glue did not set! It was way too hot maybe? We had to turn back and try to make it to Nukus. We did not have spare tubes. That was part of our “travel light” approach. Maybe it was a mistake, but to be fair, we NEVER had a puncture on this trip. And a puncture is usually easy to fix, but not a big split like that. However next trip we will have one spare tube.


    We rode, stopped, inflated the tyre, carried on and repeated few times. About 500m from the police check point, the patch gave up and we pushed the bike into the police compound. I explained best i could in Russian, what the problem was. No one since Georgia spoke any English! Russian seems to be “lingua franca” in central Asia.


    We were told to wait and something about a taxi. We waited for some time. Then the officer made us sign and showed a car. It was not a taxi, it was just some poor unlucky passer-by, ordered to take me to town to find an inner tube!


    I got on the car and we rode to Nukus, went all around town and finally found a very sturdy thick russian inner tube, possibly the only one in town, as there are no motorbikes around! The tube was ok, the diameter (19 inches) was correct, but 4 inches wide instead of 3! It would have to do. We then went back to the car. On the way to the police check point, the guy stopped his car and said something about a friend would take me to the police checkpoint. Then he tried to stop a passing car, which had at least 6 people in it! Then few trucks... Eventually he gave up and got me there. He wanted 20,000 Soms, but we only had 15,000 left... I gave an additional 100 rouble note!


    Meanwhile, while Alistair waited for me, he was trying to get the bike onto some stones (we don't have centre stand) in order to remove the wheel again. Then, who passed by the police checkpoint, with one dropping his giant overloaded 1200cc mammoth bike? Our Moldavian friends!


    Alistair went to check if they had a spare inner tube in their support vehicle. They had none, as their bikes are all tubeless! However they all stopped and took charge of the operation, lifting the bike, securing it over some stones and removing the wheel, putting a new patch, and saying the patch had to remain under the bike's weight for a good 30 minutes for the glue to set. They just left as I arrived!


    Once again, the glue did not set; we had to use the Russian tube. The inner tube was a bit too wide for the wheel and the valve was too thick to get through the hole of the wheel, so we cut some of the rubber with a knife. That botched job seemed to work and we eventually got the bike together and ready to go. A far as I know the Russian inner tube is still going strong on the XR!


    By then it was 8pm and we had been under the sun for 5 hours. From the car, earlier, I had spotted a hotel, in the middle of nowhere, with lots of campervans on one side. It was just few miles from the police checkpoint and few miles out of town. We rode there. From the gate the place looked deserted..... But I was sure I saw campervans... There must be some tourists around....we rode round and found a back gate. From there we could see about 10 campervans with Dutch and German plates, and people sitting outside their truck having dinner! We rang and waited for a while... finally a local came in and let us in the compound.

    We got in and got a room. The place was bizarre, totally deserted apart from the campervans outside.

    It was one of those soviet places that would have been for important officials, once upon a time, very grand but now fairly shabby!


    We went down to see the camper vans and we had a quick chat with a Dutch couple ... They had spent 8 hours at the border, with a guide! They were on their way to China on an organised tour with guides etc!
    #28
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  9. sophijo

    sophijo Been here awhile

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    I'm in!
    #29
  10. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    Day 25 - 16 of May – 121 miles(Uzbekistan Khiva)


    We left before 8am as no breakfast was provided, making the most of the cool temperature.


    By midmorning we needed more fuel. As we passed through a closed fuel pump, near a small village, we stopped to ask if someone could sell us some fuel. An old man told me to go to the house with a tractor parked outside.

    We found the house and went in, I found someone, but he had no fuel. He told me to go to another house, but I could not understand his instructions. He got on his car and took us there, calling someone on the phone. We managed to get some fuel there! One guy called his daughter who spoke some English and she asked lots of questions! It seems people were quite curious about us!


    Then, by lunchtime, got to Khiva! At last! And it was well worth it!


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    We found a nice little guest house in front of the walls of the ancient city, near the main gate.

    That evening, we asked Dilshad, the hotel owner, where we could buy some fuel. He told us he would take us there the next day. As he spoke very good English we also asked him where we could find inner tubes for our bikes. He explained about a market, but he then told us he would take us there as well, as we would not find it on our own!

    In the evening celebrated with a nice meal in the old town! We even found beer! :clap

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    #30
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  11. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    409
    Location:
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    Day 26 - 17th of May – 0 miles (Uzbekistan – Khiva)

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    At 9am, Dilshard took us in his chevrolet, to a bazar/ market where we found a russian inner tube, similar to the one I got from Nukus. That would do as spare! We also bought a 5 litre container for extra fuel.

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    On the way back, we stopped for Dilshad to get some flowers. It was the end of 4th grade of his 9 year old daughter, an important date for school kids in Uzbekistan! We then went to the school to give it to his daughter, so she would give to her teacher. Everyone in and out of school was very elegantly dressed!


    Women and children in Uzbekistan seem to be very well dressed and taking great care of their appearance, something we noticed also in Russia and Georgia! Men tend to be a bit scruffier!


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    Later on, Dilshad took us to his fuel provider! We stopped near a house and an old woman sold us fuel out of the usual 5 litres bottle waters! We had enough to fill the tanks, fill our 8 litre fuel bladder and also the extra container.

    Alistair then spent some time working on the bikes doing maintenance. We also went back for another walk around the old town.
    #31
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  12. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    Day 27 – 18th of May – 296 miles (Uzbekistan – Bukkhara)


    We left Khiva relatively early, trying to make the most of the cooler temperature of the early
    morning. Soon we would roast! We thanked Dilshad again; he had been very kind and helpful with us.

    We went back through Urgench to pick up the road to Bukhara. We saw our first fuel pump selling “benzin”, and it seemed open! Maybe things would get better?

    After that we crossed the desert again, long stretch of straight road in intense heat, with no distraction. Sometimes the road was good, sometimes it was very bad.

    Mid-afternoon we overtook a cyclist alone. We stopped to check if he was ok and had enough water.

    Stephen was from Dublin and riding to Beijin. His website was dublin2beijin.com. During the hottest part of the day he would sleep under the road in one of those large drain tubes, to stay away from the sun.

    We then continued, and about 80 miles from Bukhara we came across a fuel pump saying it had benzin (fuel)! In the middle of the desert!


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    The place was dead. I knocked on the cashier's window... Nothing. Then a couple of Uzbek cars stopped and started with their horns, making a massive racket! Eventually a sleepy guy appeared behind the till window! We got 6 litres of fuel, that was all we could buy as we did not have enough soms, the local currency! At least we had enough fuel to get to Bukhara though!


    By 5pm we arrived and found a nice guesthouse to stay. We changed 50 dollars from the lady running the place and got a brick of notes in change.

    That is the brick of money that you get for your 50 dollars:

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    Bukkhara's main square:
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    #32
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  13. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    Day 28 - 19th May – 0 miles (Uzbekistan – Bukkhara)

    After breakfast, near 10 am, we asked the matron who ran our guesthouse, first to change us USD50 and for our passports. We needed them to go to a bank. We also asked this formidable looking but nice lady where we could find a bank or change more money.

    We had not seen any ATM so far. ATM machines in Uzbekistan are for USD only. Money would be a constant hassle in Uzbek: finding an ATM, changing dollars, getting dollars...


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    She told us about Capital bank, off the square. We went all around but could not find it! So we went to the Asia Hotel, a large 4 star hotel, which, according to Lonely Planet (LP) was able to give USD cash advances on visa cards. The receptionist pointed us to a little office and we waited for the employees to turn up! When they arrived, they could do nothing for us, as they had no money!

    As we crossed the reception hall, the receptionist asked us if it was fine, and we explained that the hotel's bank had no money! Interesting bank!


    The receptionist told us about Capital Bank, and the security guard pointed across the square, from where we came. So we crossed the square again, and after asking a shop keeper, he took us round the corner of his shop, pointing at a door. The door was covered in stickers in Uzbek, but no sign it was a bank!

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    As we opened the door, there was a minuscule office with two desks. One was behind a glass window. The tiny place place was full of locals. We got in and waited. After a long while of nothing hapenning, we left.

    The LP said we could get cash advances from the national bank of Uzbek. It was in the little map in the book. So Alistair decided to walk there (it was a bit of a distance).

    Over two hours later he came back. He found the bank, and met there with a Canadian couple who had ran out of cash and did not even had enough to pay their hotel! Unfortunately, they could not get cash advance from the Uzbek national bank! Apparently some machine was broken!

    Alistair told the Canadians, who were a bit desperate by then, about Capital Bank. So they all went there. By then the place was quite. Unfortunately the bank would not do cash advances on any sort of card! However, they said there was an ATM machine near a carpet shop.

    As you may guess, there are hundreds of carpets shops in town! Anyway, Alistair and the Canadians went around asking carpets shops about "bankomat" which stands for ATM, and they eventually found a machine giving USD!

    Alistair got some USD but the Canadians’ cards did not seem to work, until they asked for smaller amounts!

    I guess otherwise we would have lent some cash to those poor buggers until they manage to get cash in Samarkand or Tashkent! We could not have left them in such situation... Finding banks giving money, or ATM is like finding fuel in Uzbekistan... Very hard to find!


    We went back to the ATM machine an hour later, to try if I could get some more dollars with my card, but by then the machine was broken! That’s life in Uzbekistan!

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    #33
  14. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    Location:
    London
    Day 29 - 20th of May – 179 miles – Uzbekistan, Samarkand)

    Our map showed that the road from Bukhara to Samarkand was a motorway. Well it might be a motorway, but not as we know it! As a result it took us longer than expected to get there.

    Samarkand was a pleasant town, with lots of parks and fountains, and the temperature was cooler as well. What a relief after so many deserts! We found a nice guesthouse in what appeared to be the old town, behind the walls. They had an garage and large inside courtyard and they served a great breakfast, what else to ask for?

    The Registan:
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    Getting our maps on a table, in the guesthouse's patio, we looked at how to get into Tajikistan, our next country.

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    The border I had in mind, near Samarkand, was still closed. So the choice was either go north and use the main border crossing, a big detour north... Or ride south across more desert, and get through a minor crossing that seemed still be opened, according to the excellent Caravanistan website.

    To get there was a long 300 miles, but then Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan was only 70 km away!

    After discussion, we decided for the southern border, which would be less of a detour.

    On the bikes front, Alistair's bike was still burning a lot of oil, one of the fork seal was leaking a bit and he still had an oversized inner tube in his front wheel! So all in all, everything was perfect!

    My bike fared very well so far, but the frame supporting the panniers has snapped on one side, because of all the corrugation and vibrations. We would need to replace those before Mongolia as they were way too flimsy for the job. The signal lights at the back, which were already broken and taped in when we bought the bike, kept falling off as the panniers kept pushing in. We would have to see about those.

    I contacted a good motorcycle mechanic in Bishkek ( Capital of Kyrgystan) who was recommended to me by a fellow traveller. We should be able there to do some maintenance work and get a new pannier frame built.




    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    But now it was time to visit the town.
    #34
  15. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
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    London
    Day 30 - 21st May - 0 miles (Uzbekistan, Samarkand)

    We spent the day visiting tourist attractions.... Health wise we have been a bit sick with some food poisoning for the last few days... and it was still on going! :(

    It seems Uzbek food (grilled meat, salads, rice, potatoes....) was not going down too well. :trp


    [​IMG]

    Day 31 – 22d of May – about one mile? (Uzbekistan, Samarkand)


    Soon after breakfast we packed the bikes and got ready to ride off. We had decided to go to Denau, and get to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, the following day. Then... The best laid plans..... :muutt

    At a round about a car pushed in fast, heading for us at speed.

    Alistair swerved to avoid it, I was just behind him and piled on the brakes. I went down but at least the car avoided me and ran away.
    In a nanosecond there were a good dozen cops in uniforms or civil clothes around me! They dragged a passer-by who spoke a bit of english. I explained and told them I was fine. Well, sort of. When I told them I was ok, they lost interest and left.

    Alistair rode back to the hotel where we were staying, left his bike and came back for mine. I waited, sitting on a little wall, by the roundabout. I could not walk ... The bike had crushed my ankle and I had somehow damaged my right hand and wrist.

    It was unfortunate that it was the same ankle that had been injured in a previous accident, in Chile, during our one year trip round South America, back in 2008. :permazot

    Back then some idiot biker, in an organised tour, lost control of his massive Katoum on Carretera Austral, and wiped me out , destroying the full front end of my BMW at the same time! Long story there that I may explain one day in these forums, but not the place now!

    I took a taxi to do the few hundred metres back to the old town's gates and near the guesthouse. The driver refused any money from me!

    I can't even remember how I got to the guesthouse as the taxi left me at the gate of the old town... the guest house was just down the road from there. I think I was in shock a bit!?

    The hotel owner, with the help of his son Dilshad (a popular name in Uzbek!) as translator, examined my hand, wrist and my ankle. Dilshad said his father was a trauma specialist and that nothing appeared broken. ! Hmmm.... Next thing his dad said I needed to wrap my ankle and hand the next day on a mix of egg yolk and honey. Organic egg not factory. Hmm.... Local remedy?

    Nothing seemed broken but i was in a hell a lot of pain! I was ordered to stay in bed and rest.

    There was nothing else for me to do as I could not put any weigh on my left foot or do anything at all with my right hand. I was in agony.


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    #35
  16. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    409
    Location:
    London
    Days 32 to 35 – 23rd to 26th of May – 0 miles (Uzbekistan, Samarkand)


    Through the next few days my ankle improved slowly. By the 26th, I could limp and hop around. But my hand was still very bruised and very painful. I was slightly concerned.... Maybe I should have an x-ray. But then what? There was no way I would get a cast, abandon my bike and fly back home! So, a bit pointless...


    We still hoped to get on the road on the 28th! We were dead bored with a very temperamental internet...


    During those days I managed to get some news about the Pamirs. The situation in Tajikistan was getting worse and tourists were not allowed in the Pamir. It seemed also that the borders between Tajikistan and Kyrgystan were now all closed... So in a way, our wait in samarkand was not a bad thing as we observed how the situation evolved.

    Once again we would have to change our itinerary. We planned to ride to the Fergana valley, east region of Uzbekistan, and then get into Kyrgyzstan by the border near Osh.


    Osh is the end of the Pamir highway, on the Kyrgyz side. So we may ride a bit of it, up to the Tajik border and turn back. Unless the Pamir opened again!? We were still hopeful.


    Meanwhile i had been in contact with Gamal, a motorcycle mechanic in Bishkek, that was recommended to me by a biker friend. We were planning to stop few days in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyz, for few modifications. I needed a new frame for my luggage, as the one I had now was too flimsy and broken. I expected to be able to find a welder in Bishkek.


    As for the traditional Uzbek remedies for my swollen ankle and hand? The next day after my fall, the hotel owner came, with a maid and his son and the maid applied a mix of egg yolk and honey on my bruises. I was left wrapped with that for the day!

    The next morning I was told that I needed to put man's urine (!) ( women's urine is no good apparently!) on my bruises and wrap up with it!!!! I passed on the pleasure. Apparently boy's urine is even better! Thankfully they did not come to try and do this!


    Although I was quite nervous all day!


    [​IMG]


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    #36
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  17. OnTheWay

    OnTheWay Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1,302
    Location:
    Shenzhen, China
    Love your writing style and the photos, and the funny things you have met along the way are wonderful.
    Thanks for taking us on your trip!:clap
    #37
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  18. mceee

    mceee Welcome to the dark side!

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2014
    Oddometer:
    264
    Location:
    SW Florida
    What a great RR, hope you heal up quick.
    #38
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  19. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    409
    Location:
    London
    Day 38 - 29th of May – 204 miles – (Uzbekistan – Tashkent)


    After a week in Samarkand, my right ankle and right hand had improved enough that I could get on the bike. For my right hand, I could use the "cruise control", a very useful piece of plastic that fits in the right handgrip and I can use the palm of my hand to control speed! Very useful given the circumstances... I was not able, otherwise, to ride, as I could not use my hand for anything at all, and I certainly could not use my front brake! The foot brake would have to do! :ace

    So, that day we got up early, as we wanted to make as much progress as possible.

    However, we were told that the president, or some family member of the president of Uzbekistan, was visiting town, and as such, the town was locked! No one could leave or enter the town, and all traffic was banned from all main roads! It would be most of the day!


    Hotel Emir was increasingly looking like Hotel California, “you can come anytime you like, but you can never leave”! Without the added bonus of wine (for those who know the song!)! :becca

    We sat around and chat in the courtyard, with other guests. A German couple was very pissed off as they had booked and pay for a hotel in advance, in another town!

    A policeman came to inspect the hotel and gave us all a good look. Maybe he was checking if there were any snipers among us??? :loco


    Then around 10 am, the hotel owner came to tell us that if we left within the next half hour and took the back roads, we may be able to leave town. We jumped at the chance. By then our only thought was to make it to the border with Kyrgyzstan as soon as possible!


    Using the awful back roads we made it out of town and into the " motorway". It was in a terrible condition! No chance our VIP visitor was driving into town as I originally thought! No VIP has EVER used that road, of that I am sure!


    We wanted to avoid Tashkent and its crazy traffic, but there was no way to find our way round the trails and tracks.

    Eventually, as we got closer to Tashkent, the weather turned terrible, very strong wind, massive clouds of sand, and then big a storm. We completely missed the ring road and ended up riding toward the town centre, not what we wanted at all!


    We finally stopped at a car park, drenched and cold, to try find where we were. A guy on a big 4x4 came to see us. We asked him about the nearest hotel. He told us to follow him and he took us to the local Asia Tashkent. Expensive hotel but by then we just wanted to get out of the storm and away from the insane traffic.

    (sorry no photos for that day!)
    #39
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  20. maria41

    maria41 www.franglais-riders.com

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    409
    Location:
    London
    Day 39 - 30th May – 70 miles (Uzbekistan – Angren)

    We wanted to leave town early, in order to avoid the insane traffic.... But it was raining very heavily. We decided to wait a bit.

    By midmorning, it was clear the heavy rain would last all day. We left regardless.


    I can honestly say that I did not think I could make it out of Tashkent in one piece.... :muuttThis is how crazy drivers are! They beat the Brazilian... (we lived in Brazil for a while!).

    I never thought anyone could drive more dangerously than the Brazilians, but the Uzbeks take dangerous driving to completely new dimension! :hair


    By mid afternoon, we were totally wet, very cold and could not continue. We got into Angren. We bought some fuel (we found a petrol station!!! And it had fuel!!!!). We asked there for the nearest hotel and got there.


    After checking our marital status we were allowed to have a double bedroom. They seemed obsessed about my marital status in the Fergana valley! :fpalm

    It is a very conservative Muslim region. And although I never travel with any jewellery and had left my wedding ring at home (nuisance with my gloves!) I had a small cheap band to use on occasions like these to show I was not living “in sin” with Alistair!!!


    The good news was that we were about 3 or 400km from the border with Kyrgyzstan. We thought we could make it to the border in one day, weather permitting. Little did we know! As I always say… the best laid plans… :hung


    In the bar / restaurant of the hotel, we heard talking Spanish. And the Russian menu was translated by hand into Spanish...


    What was going on? :hmmmmm


    Dying of curiosity, I went to speak to one of the Spanish talking guys. I am fluent in Spanish (I have Spanish blood although I am French - I know it's complicated!:hide)

    It happened that a Spanish company was helping building a road. The team were all Spanish engineers and electricians.

    For the last two days, they had been unable to work as the construction site had totally run out of diesel, no machinery could be used! :loco:loco:loco Crazy country! :loco:loco:loco

    So they spent their time in the hotel bar eating and drinking beer and wine! At least Uzbekistan is not a dry country!

    :happay
    #40