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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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  #1  
Old 28 Jun 2006
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Europe to China roads? etc

I'm currenlty looking into the feasibility of a Europe to China trip through Check. Poland, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. I,m curious as to what type of roads I might encounter on such a trip tarmac, gravel, trails etc. What would the majority of my travels be on if I choose the fastest easiest root? Also might it be possible to do such a trip in 8 weeks? From what I understand from searching this board China might pose the most difficult problem in terms of entering and that the other countries should be no problem - is this the case? If anyone has any other info, comments, suggestions to pass my way I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 29 Jun 2006
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Hi

I flew back from UB a week wednesday ago. Our route included Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia.

We were on beautiful tarmac as far as the Hungary/Romania border. Here it started to deteriorate. Still pleanty of tarmac though, just lots off holes to weave around, but even some of Romania had good tarmac. Russian roads were pretty good, as were the Kazak roads as far as Aqtobe. Here they went down hill pretty drastically, but you could still get through them ok with road tryes as long as it stayed dry. As soon as it rained they got pretty slippy and very sticky. We were all on knobblies and i would recommend it here but not entirely neccessary. At the moment they are investing heavily on the roads infrastructure and some parts are made, but some arn't. Where there not finished there are dust tracks alongside the main highway, where they havn't been started they are pretty damn poor (avg speed 20-30mph).

After Astana they were good again and continued to be so into Russia, though not exactly snooker table smooth.

As soon as you reach the Russia/Mongol border they disappear. Here i would definitely recommend off road tyres. You could get by with road tyres, and some German guys we met were doing so, but its alot more fun with knobblies

The only tarmac we saw in Mongolia was in the major towns and the last 300km or so leading into UB from the West.

I would recommend you leave with a new set of road tyres and have a spare set of knobblies with you or shipped out there. There are plenty of tyre fitters in Russia who can fit them before the border into Mongolia, but dont leave it too late. Biysk would be as far as i would go, after this things get a little remote.

We left England on 18th April and we made UB on about the 18th June, and we wern't exactly tanking along. Many days were spent in Kazakhstan courtesy of our hosts (other biker groups who picked us up when we entered there towns) so 8 weeks is easily dooable, depends on how fast you plan on getting there. 3 of those weeks were spent in Mongolia, and good fun it was too. I have an email address of a guy who (apparently) can help you get into China, though i dont know how definate he is but he may help, if you want that let me know. If you want to see some pics of Mongolia, Kazakhtan roads etc i am more than happy to oblige. Just drop me a line.

Good luck and if you have any more questions feel free to ask.

Knobbly
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  #3  
Old 29 Jun 2006
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Currently doing a similar trip

We are currently in Russia, having left London on 1 June 2006. We've travelled via Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and intend to dip in to Kazakhstan, then back to Russia, Mongolia and on to Vladivostok by end August.

You can see details of our trip on our website www.kenandtoni.com. While we haven't yet made full comment on bike travel info, we are intending to try to put some more technical info up some time - still working on it. i.e. things like roads, tyres, mechanics, fuel, etc.

Knobbly's response is pretty much our own experience, to date, and from what we've heard from other travellers we expect to really only need knobblies in Mongolia and eastwards from there.

Good luck getting in to China. We had no luck and we're returning to live in Hong Kong! Hopefully, things will change soon...

Toni
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  #4  
Old 29 Jun 2006
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Mongolia roads

Try this site, they photographed the roads every 10 km.

http://www.xor.org.uk/silkroute/sibe...goliaroute.htm

Pretty interesting

Jack
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Jack & Janet
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  #5  
Old 29 Jun 2006
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Ahhhh those pics take me back a few weeks. I can almost feel the wind in my face, the grit and grissle in my teeth and the dirt under my nails.

They are a very accurate description and pics of the roads in UB, you wont get any worse than these anywhere. Mind the washboard, its hell, we found the best thing to do is cruise at about 80kph over them, dont feel a thing then.

I have a pretty good map of Mongolia here if you want a copy, as i doubt you will find one anywhere else. That site was pretty good, but not sure if you will be able to get a map before you go, you wont find a map out there. Every town we got too before UB had no maps. One Kazak guy in Olgiy said he was going to start shipping them in but doubt it would happen. So get a half decent one before you go.

Let me know if you want a copy

regards

Knobbly
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  #6  
Old 29 Jun 2006
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Thanks

Hey guys - I love this site, those pics of Mongolia are quickly turning an idea into a plan for action. Knobby - if you have additional pics, maybe some of KZ I'd be interested in seeing them along with the map. Ken and Toni - please leave a trail of breadcrumbs and if all goes as hoped I may be right behind you. I mean that figuratively as I don't intend on going till next summer but I'll be watching for updates on your site. As a Canuk I first need to look into shipping a bike to Europe and figuring out all the insurance and carnet stuff - did you guys/gal need a carnet? What about fuel in KZ and Mongolia? any other info on insurance, border crossings carnets etc would be greatly appreciated as I figure out a way to make things happen.

Thanks
Christopher

Last edited by CTB; 4 Jul 2006 at 15:35.
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  #7  
Old 2 Jul 2006
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CTB - you can, but should NOT post your email address in a posting. Unless you really LIKE getting spam...

I'd recommend NOT putting your email address in a posting. If someone needs to email you they can click on your name and Send email to send you an email. That's MUCH better than posting it in the actual message.

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  #8  
Old 2 Jul 2006
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Hi again CTB

We didn't need a carnet. Well, we did as we planned to reach Oz, but as we turned back in Mongolia it was unused, waiting in my office to be sent away for the deposit.

China i don't know about, but i doubt it.

Fual was fine in Mongolia, every town we got to even the smallest village usually has at least one fuel stop. low octane but the bike ran fine on it.

Kazakhstan we had a little problem where we found ourselves 200kms from the nearest fuel station when on reserve, but a stop in a local village soon had us paying for some fuel from a locals car.
My advice would be to carry 10 litres spare when going long distances, you dont have to use it, but its alweays there if needed.

Border crossings weren't a real problem, Russia is pretty good, 4 and a half hours was our longest, but no real problems. Insurance is normally given if you like it or not, but for $10 for a month or so its no hardship. If a border official takes you into a little hut and askes for money, play dumb, they will kick you out after 20 mins or so in frustration. But nothing to worry about. Have a few dollars in small amounts for the odd policeman, they mostly have radar guns, ask to see the reading if they say you were speeding, if they dont have one, tell them your not paying. We did, worked a treat.

I shall send some pics to your email of Kazakhstan and Mongolia. I would recommend the Altay route, absolutley stunning, and good riding if the weathers right.

If you need anything else, just let me know.

Knobbly
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  #9  
Old 4 Jul 2006
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spam robots

Thanks Grant for the info on Spam robots -
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  #10  
Old 14 Jul 2006
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thinking way ahead

Is trying to ship a bike out of Ulaanbaatar overseas (to Canada) advisable or would I be better of continuing the journey to Vladivostok - shipping to Japan and making arrangements from there to get a bike back to Canada?

At the moment I'm considering shipping to Germany and riding from there but I have to figure out how to get the bike home after the trip.

Is getting from Vladivostok to Japan difficult?

Thanks
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  #11  
Old 15 Jul 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTB
Is trying to ship a bike out of Ulaanbaatar overseas (to Canada) advisable or would I be better of continuing the journey to Vladivostok - shipping to Japan and making arrangements from there to get a bike back to Canada?

At the moment I'm considering shipping to Germany and riding from there but I have to figure out how to get the bike home after the trip.

Is getting from Vladivostok to Japan difficult?

Thanks
CTB: You have two options for shipping your bike from Ulaanbaatar to Canada. The first is surface, via rail to China and then by ship. Probably not too expensive, but very slow (months).

The second would be by air. Korean Air, which is the largest air cargo shipper in the world, flies non-stop from Ulaanbaatar to Seoul. Korean Air flies to Vancouver and Toronto from Seoul. This would be very expensive, but I think safer (air shipments are easier to track) and of course much faster. If you choose this option, make sure you do your advance work with Korean Air so everything is arranged and ready for you, since their office in Mongolia is small and does not handle anything complicated. You may have to partially dissasemble the bike (fold down handlebars, remove panniers, etc.) and you may also have to pay a surcharge for it as "dangerous goods," even if you completely empty the gas tank.

Scott
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