This is part of the fifth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Turkey
6/5/99 Woke to rain which lasted through the Georgian border crossing, with a $US 3.00 per person and $US 10.00 per motorcycle for computer charge. The cost to enter the details into a computer record. Instantly things changed, bumpy roads of Turkey became twice as bad and with potholes, the almost 9 years of ex-Russian independence left empty derelict hotels along the Black Sea coast, and large statues in paddocks, subsistence living, with pigs grazing the streets, with milk cows and small orchards and vegetable gardens around each house and hundreds of small roadside stalls and kiosks appeared. The rain continued throughout the day and rounding a corner in a town the front wheel disappeared into a puddle, that appeared the same as hundreds earlier only this time the handle bars almost dropped out of my hands only to jar the wrists as it leapt out of the hole as the rear wheel entered. About five km later the drive belt snapped, a result of the pothole where most of the strands of kevlar had been broken. We pushed the motorcycle into a service station and proceeded to install the temporary drive belt fashioned from two previously broken belts (supplied by our local dealer) and joined in a V wedge over 16 teeth with bolts drilled through the teeth, it took two hours to install and was dark when we had finished and still raining. The service station owner offered his office floor to sleep on where we pondered our predicament of travelling Russia on a temporary makeshift belt.
7/5/99 A phone call to our home dealer in Townsville at 5 am this morning and again at 10 am confirmed a new belt, sprocket and gaskets were being air freighted to Tblisi today, expect a weeks arrival time. Still raining, donning all wet gear and 8 degrees we rode 230 km to Tblisi stopping to warm up and check the temporary belt half way. With an unsettled dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan we needed to use our second Australian passport (obtained originally to avoid Israeli entry stamp problems) to get an Armenian visa which was issued within 30 minutes ($US 35.00) for a transit visa despite the only legitimate entry/exit point being through Georgia.
8/5/99 Still raining but with an afternoon break we could walk the contrasts of the city. Old churches being renovated while old houses are collapsing, old people selling sunflower seeds on the sidewalk while Baskin & Robbins lavishly opens a new shop with an outdoor theatre show, an old lady eats lunch from a plastic bag beneath a concrete cancer ridden bridge her only refuge from the rain. We had been invited to dinner with an Armenian family last night who treated us to Georgian food and invited us back for Armenian food tonight. Just people we met outside our hotel whose grandparents had been forced to flee Armenian Turkey in 1920, settled in Georgia to be taken over by the USSR and when a Georgian nation was declared in 1991 suffered harassment for being Armenians in Georgia, despite the family having lived in the same house since 1920. Despite living in the centre of the capital the electricity went off three times during dinner, gas is intermittent in winter and they went without water for a week a couple of months ago. It is worse in the suburbs or in the country areas.
9/5/99 The alarm on my motorcycle had activated about
midnight and this morning we saw why. Charlie's bike security cable had
been cut and his motorcycle pushed off its stand, his left pannier had been
forced and the contents gone, including clothes, address book and diary.
Our bike cover was cut and torn in two places and one rear pannier opened
but nothing missing as the alarm probably was activated. Both motorcycles
had been D-shackled (locked) together else Charlie's wouldn't have been
there this morning. There was concern with the hotel and some officials who
were passing but the general feel was this is Georgia today, this would not
have happened 10 years ago under USSR rule. Still raining we headed out towards
Armenia when Charlie came down
avoiding a hole in the road eroded by a burst drain. The crash bars pushed
back and minor cosmetic damage to the motorcycle but Charlie had wrenched
his knee, and corked his thigh and was dazed from his helmet hitting the
Move with us to Armenia
or go to our next visit to Georgia
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