Friday, July 19, 2013

Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

June 3. Osh
I slept in and caught up on net stuff. Went to Muztoo to get a new front from them. I knew they had a 90/90 21 TKC 80 waiting for me. $120. I can't complain. For a long lasting tire, the TKC 80 front is decent. Plus my current front was just about shot. Muztoo rents Motos to people to ride Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They are great guys and they are very willing to help. If you want to do the Pamir Highway, you don't need 2 months. You only need 2 weeks. Fly to Osh, get some bikes. Ride the pamir highway. Fly home. Muztoo website.
GPS. 40.529 72.793

June 4. Osh to near Kazarman 307 km.
I was on the same road the I had already ridden twice befor until Jala-Abad. When I got close to Jala-Abad, for about 5 km there were trucks parked on the side of the road. I had heard rumors about protests blocking the road between Osh and Bishkek. I was hoping I would be able to avoid the protest but before I knew it, I was there. And there was no way around. So I went through like I owned the place. I rode past all the trucks, cars and people. I wend around the trucks blocking the road. I rode right through the group of people in a large circle listening to someone talking on stage. On the other side I stopped and snapped a few quick pics. A few people started asking if I was going to Bishkek but I said I was going into the mountains to Kazarman. They were skeptical but didn't cause me any trouble. I told them to fight the power and the shook my hand and I went on. Soon I was on some nice ADV roads again climbing through mud and rocks. Snow on the side of the roads. In the evening my bike started to chug and miss. A now familiar symptom. I was looking for a place to camp and the bike died. I guess thats where I camp. This is my 3rd time replacing the low voltage connection to the coil. I cook some noodles and go to bed. It rains some in the night.

Protest blocking the street. 


Good place to camp. 

June 5. Near Kazarman to Karakol. 552 km.
In the morning there is sun and threatening rain. I get to dry the tent most of the way before starting to ride again. The first town I find has a small shop. Breakfast is chocolate and canned fish while I hide under the shelter from rain. On and off all day it rains but it is beautiful. The roads are fast and fun. They don't get muddy, they just get "not dusty". By the evening I am riding along the south side Issyk Kul. It is quite strange. There are abandoned hotels along the lake. The north side is where all the drunk Russian tourists go. I get to Karakol and find a hotel with a locking gate. The Karakol Cafe is a great place for internet. The girl there is very nice and speaks amazing english. I asked her if the border on road A362 was open. It had previously not been open to foreigners for about 2 years. All the info on the internet I had seen said it was supposed to be open to non-locals but no one had tried yet. She called a friend of hers who was Kyrgyz border police. He said it would open on the 7th. Stay one more day in Karakol? Sure why not. That night I went out with a guy from UK and a girl from Massachusetts. She was vegetarian and it was funny to listen to her stories about traveling in central asia. Good luck not eating meat. Everything is cooked with meat, around meat, in meat product, processed with meat, or cooked in a pan that had 1 minute previously cooked meat. Maybe this is why the food is so good.

Some funny Kyrgyz kids

A grave yard. 

German biking couple. 


June 7. Karakol Kyrgyzstan to Almaty Kazakhstan. 336 km
Quick ride to the border on some nice roads. Beautiful views. I love going to border crossings that not many foreigners go to. Infact, there was basically no one there. Since this was the first day this border was open, I was the first American passport they had seen in years. Many of them ever. Leaving kyrg was quick and easy as expected. Kazakh took longer. Only because the customs guys couldn't figure out the computer program to "temp import" my moto. I knew I needed this paperwork for Russia. Russia, Kazakh and Belarus (I think? Maybe Ukraine) are in the same customs zone. While I waited they fed me soupe, bread and coffee. Free lunch is ok by me. Riding  was nothing special until I got 30 km from Almaty. Then you have to ride loud and aggressive or you will be a bug on a bumper. Almaty is like any other big city in central asia, way to many cars and shitty drivers. What makes Almaty different is the amount of money. So its not only shitty drivers in shitty cars, its shitty drivers in fast cars also. You have to constantly be looking in your mirrors because they don't respect motos or bicycles. "I have 500 hp SUV. Get the FOOK OUT MY WAY". I found my friend and we went to get some food and drinks.

June 8- 13. Almaty.
If you are in Almaty, you need to visit Yeldos at his restaurant "Eldoro". Its located on Puskin St. 42/44. GPS 43.260, 76.953
Great coffee, burger, and Pizza (as well as local food). But.. I hadn't had good pizza since Italy. He let me park my bike behind locked gate at his restaurant. He took me to many different moto shops to help me find oil, a tire and a spare Reg/Rec. He rides himself and loves to talk over tea and coffee. Definitely a good guy, especially if you need help.

When I couchsurf, I like to pay back the person I am staying with. At Shynr's house, I spend a few days waiting for parts so I had her make a "honey do list" before I got there. I fixed the toilet, bathroom lights, installed a dimmer switch, fixed a drawer and curtain rod. It was quite fun getting stuff I needed from the bazaar. Good place to practice Russian. We went to a few concert, sang karaoke, ate amazing food, and walked around the city a lot. I even cooked pad thai for her. Before I knew it a week had gone by and I was feeling the itch to get back on the road.

June 14. Almaty to Camping in the middle of nowhere Kazak. 372 km
While I was loading the bike to leave, I was approached by a man... "Noah? Hi I'm nightflyer from ADV, I've been following your trip for a while". This is the 2nd person who who has recognized me from ADV or my blog. The first was in Portland Oregon. Interesting and random. 

I was slow to get on the road in the morning and didn't leave until afternoon. It was hot and traffic leaving the city was horrible but soon it opened up into a long straight road going north. Soon I started to get tired and I stopped at a small cafe for a salad and some coffee. Back on the road. Around sun down I rode up into the mountains and found an amazing campsite. The view of the sunset was great. I ates some noodles and went to bed. Good to be back in the tent listening to the wind in the grass.

Weird mound in the fields. I don't know why. 

Proof that someone else was here?

About 500m above the valey and road below. 

June 15. Camp spot to Zhangiztobe. 587 km
The sunrise was just as good as the sunset. I love waking up with the sun and getting on the road early. It was still a little cold but soon it warmed up nicely. The roads through central Kazakhstan were not very interesting. Mostly grasslands with the occasional lake. In the afternoon I met 5 amazing people riding old.. I mean OLD bikes. 2 Ensfields, a Triumph and a BSA single. We chatted over some duck shashlik and coke. These guys were awesome. I feel like I was cheating. I We exchanged contact info and I headed north, they headed south. In the evening it started to rain some and I found a place to sleep. It was just a bed in a room. I thought there was a shower.. but no luck. Oh well.

Riding 2up on a 50 year old BSA 500 single? YOU GUYS RULE!

What I would give to find a sidecar like this on the side of the road in the US. 

June 16. Zhangiztobe into Semey
Construction and mud was what happened the last 50 km into Semey. I was not planning on staying long in Semey but some guys pulled up and said to follow them. They had a bike club. My luck. I had access to a garage to clean the bike and work on it. I did a valve check and installed a my "new breather 3-way" that I had bought in the bazaar in Almaty. We found that my rear rack was cracked and went to work welding it as well as making a brace to triangulate the rear rack so it would not bounce and crack again. The guys also took my mirror mount to an aluminum welder and I was told it would be ready in the morning. That evening I met many bikers and some very nice people. Great to practice my Russian. They keep apologizing for their English but its far superior usually. I got to ride a Ural custom for the first time. It was a bit of a joke but it was fun. 750 cc and basically no power. They did look kindof cool though. For dinner I tried horse for the first time. It was quite nice. Way better then the dog I ate in Kyrgyzstan. I slept on a guest bed in a new friends house.


A bit dirty.. but never went down. 

My new 3-way to replace the broken plastic junk that I had tried to epoxi once before. 

This guy would take us out of town. He said "If police try to pull us over, just keep going. I will stop so you don't have to deal with them" 

June 17. Semey

After a breakfast of leftover horse, I got to work on the Internet trying to find a schematic for a 2006 HD road king. One of the guys in the club had an HD that had been down and it would not start. I told them if I couldn't fix it, I could at least find the problem. I was not able to find a schematic for a 2006 but I found one for an 2004. It would have to work. We got to work on the HD right away and found a few problems and got them resolved. After a few hours we were able to fire her up. While putting the controls back together, one of the guys turned the screw to hard and broke the pot metal crap that the controls are made of. About half the work we did finding a short in the wiring went to waste because he would have to replace the controls anyway. Next I fixed a few outlets in the clubhouse and put my moto back together. Getting close to the evening I here a small thumper pull up and I go outside. I see a small Russian girl climbing off a Honda XR250 Baja. My heart skipped a beat when she said she was going north. "What speed do you ride?" she asked. "What ever speed you want". She smile. I tried to contain my excitement. For the next few hours we tore into her bike straightening the headlight rack that had bent when she went down on some gravel. We went back to one of the biker's house and made plans to leave in the morning for Russia. I could ride with her for the next few days. I was already thinking of ways to spend more time with Sveta. 

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