Adventures between a Cliff and a Wet Place. Brighty in Central Asia and Mongolia
This summer I took a little trip from Almaty in Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and back, then continuing via the Altai region of Russia to Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia.
Since my RTW trip around the turn of the Millennium, only having undertaken short bike rides here and there (some described at Since 2002 TBSdotCom ) this 7 week trip was longer in distance, harder in terrain and in many ways more adventurous and definitely more eventful than most.
And yes there was a cliff in Kyrgyzstan and a particular wet area in Mongolia involved.
Below are some pictures to give you a taste of what I saw and did. More to come…
A bit of audience participation: of this motley crew can you spot the bent copper (a.k.a Corrupt policeman for non-UK-English speakers)? Clue: He’s wearing a hat and it ain’t blue. The picture is also significant because the Robin-van-Persie-look-alike between the 2 be-hatted gents is called Maarten. Maarten is singularly responsible for getting me out of deep sh!t in my “cliff incident” (More of that later). I owe you big time, buddy!
Horses going for a swim.
Local men, dressed to impress.
Young local women, dressed to impress.
Horse murderball(!?) (American Football on horses with a headless male goat as a “ball”)!
Get the kids into biking early.
Horse against machine. Horse wins.
Pamir Highway after being thrown out of Tajikistan because the authorities were in the process starting a shooting war with their own population and didn’t want witnesses.
Smiling girl while I try to take picture of an eagle
Admiring some exceptional views
The whole of Mongolia is one big wild-campsite
Lean on me
A happy Mongolia drunk. A rare occurance. Most drunks (who also seem to love engaging foreign motorcyclists in conversations…) in central Asia/ Russia/ Mongolia were a lot less happy and showed it…
Ernie joins the trip :cool4:
More coming soon!
Beautiful pictures Chris. Makes my feeling to go there even stronger.
I have contact with people on facebook who also have the wish to go east... hope it doesn't stay with just plans.
Peter and Zineb.
Great shots, looks like a riders paradise...
Looking forward to more..
Hi Peter and Steve
Yeh, it was a great trip!
Instalment 1: It’s as far from me to you as it is from you to me.
I tagged along with a group of Dutch guys and a couple of Brits sharing a container to get my bike to Central Asia. This saved the ball (and ar$e) ache of riding across 1000s of miles of nothing to get to where the fun starts. I never was an iron butt rider type who likes enduring miles for the sake of it. The older I get, the more I seem to like smelling the flowers.
In contrast to the worrying that took place in the run up to, and during the shipping of the container from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Almaty in Kazakhstan everything actually went really smoothly. I had ridden my bike from the UK to Ad’s, the organiser of the container shipping from the Dutch biker’s site AllRoadManiacs - Forumindex , in Holland and he was kind enough to crate it and transport it to the Dutch shipping company warehouse (Company | Mainport Rotterdam ) for me. The Agent in Almaty ( www.moryldi.com ) was very efficient too and there were no “hidden extras” in terms of costs upon arrival.
Almaty seemed like a fun city with lots rich people (it has one of only 2 Bentley car dealerships in the entire ex-Soviet Union (there other is in Moscow). The people seemed pleasant enough, but not speaking a word of Kazakh or Russian wasn’t good. The girls are pretty too, but I was too jetlagged to be in the mood to take many pictures of Floraova and Faunaova.
Here’s a few pics:
Just like it says on the tin. The second heaviest pallet in the container. In my (meagre) defence all my riding gear, camping stuff etc as well as a spare tyre were in the box too. The weight is inclusive of the pallet itself.
Despite the bike being freshly spray painted matt black (Halfords own brand), this is the shiniest the bike has ever been (or ever will be). Started first push of the button.
The war memorial to the dead from the Great Patriotic War in Almaty was very impressive. It’s also a popular locations for wedding photos.
Many Kazakhs died in 1941. Locals say that it was only the arrival of the Kazakh army divisions at the siege of Moscow that persuaded the Germans to p!ss off back where they came from.
Melons anyone? (Illegal?) street sellers outside the hotel.
Do apricots give you the sh!ts or constipation?
Bent coppers are the scum of the earth,the world over. In my less than empirical study of police corruption, 100% of Kazakhstan police are corrupt. I didn’t once get stopped by any coppers in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan nor Russia. The fat pig in the picture was trying to pull a cunning stunt to extract money for alleged speeding, but he got no money from any of us.
After riding in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for 2 weeks I returned to Almaty and then continued towards Semey and Russia. Riding through a town that was so unforgettable (I recall it had lots of casinos) I got pulled over by another fat cnutstable. The “dialog” went something like this:
Copper: Random bollox probably along the likes of give me money, you were speeding.
Brighty: What? Do you speak English?
Copper: more bollox, straf straf.
Copper: more bollocks, dollar dollar
(Other copper sitting in crap looking police car 10 yards away waves me over to him.)
Brighty waves to other copper to come to him, saying: It’s as far from me to you as it is from you to me. And you need the exercise you fat pig.
Copper: more bollox, euro, euro
Brighty: niet. Excuse me, what’s that number on your badge. B151. I’m just going to give my friend the chief of police in Almaty a call (Brighty gets his phone out and pretends to call: He couldn’t, the phone battery was flat).
Copper then wanders off to pester another car driver.
Brighty rides off.
Conveniently English wasn’t taught when plod uno y dos were at skool…. :helpsmilie:
Many hours later and after dark (I rode 750km that day: what was that about not doing iron butts… I had had enough of crap Kazakh roads that just go on for ever and needed to leave the country) on the way into Semeh, I see a Star-Wars-like light sabre waving at me (all the plod have these sticks and at night they do Ewan McG impressions). This time the following thought process went through my head: There’s no benefit from me stopping to engage this plod in intellectual chit chat, so I’ll just ride by without stopping.
Nobody drove after me, nobody shot me.
Nice report Chris, love your style when dealing with the ol' bill:thumbup1:
Look forward to reading more at some point, did you get the output shaft/sprocket sorted?
A few more pics…
All are in Kyrgyzstan
A slight mishap befell the bike at the Kaz/Kyrg border. The thing just fell over. Side stand snapped… Found this helpful chap who repaired and made it better than new:
Not a Borat Man-kini, but the same shade of green…
Kids who seem happy to see you and no intention of begging. There were loads more like these.
Meeting the locals
Permit to pass. Next stop the cliff…
Great pictures....great adventures chris... Wish to meet you again somewhere in thi planet !!!
The cliff awaits…
A few action clips heading up a river north of Issykul, just south of the Kazakh border.
Jan crossing a river
With a little help
“What the fcuk happened there!” The terrain had been a lot harder previously. This bit was easy… there are 2 possible explanations: 1. Rider error. I’m not the type to blame others or the machinery. It could well have been totally my fault that I rode off the edge of the cliff. However, I wasn’t riding like a tosser, and can’t explain the train of events, so… I have no idea.
Or 2. Blame the machine… (A few hundred miles later one of the CDI units on the bike expired. It’s a common fault, particularly on early Transalps, usually starting with an intermittent fault… I then replaced the CDI with a spare I was carrying). 1/2 hour before riding off the cliff the bike was riding like a dog. It was only about 3000m above sea level, but I took the air filter off. The bike seemed to run better. So possible explanation could be the bike was running on 1/2 power, then suddenly the second cylinder kicks in and as I was slightly misaligned to the track, I was launched off the edge. Or not. See Point number 1 = Rider error.
I leave you to decide. I have my views, but to a certain extent, who cares. I’m very lucky I wasn’t killed.
The mx boot in the foreground ads a sense of perspective. The luggage has already been removed.
Maarten (he’s pictured in the first pic of this RR) stays with me while my soon to become ex riding “buddies” leg it to somewhere more comfortable for the night. He fetches water from the river in the far distance and then convinces me we can recover the bike. My dark mood, influenced by the comments from the missing 3, said it wasn’t possible. Or maybe it was that I had tried getting the bike back up the hill, but without everybody’s help nothing was going to happen. I forget the exact train of events.
Maarten suggested we drag the bike down the landslide and then try to wheel /push / ride it horizontally to a point on the track below and to the right of where the photos were taken (across two huge landslides). This is what happened. The bike had been upside down for about 3 hours with petrol p!ssing everywhere before we tried to move it. When it was on its wheels again it started first push of the button! Aren’t Hondas great! I say “we” toiled for about 5 hours to move the bike a few hundred meters, but it was Maarten toiling and encouraging me not to give up. I did my bit, as much as I was physically able to. At night fall we gave up about 150 meters from our goal of the track. I cooked the food.
The following morning the other 3 reappeared (2 to collect their stuff) and Jan also helped manhandle the bike the remaining distance across the second landslide.
Maarten ended up in a really bad way, vomiting from exertion/sleep deprivation. As we lost altitude he seemed to recover a bit. I felt really bad about this. He knows how grateful I was for his help. As I didn’t kill or injure myself in the crash I would have survived: That is, walk out without a bike or any possessions, just the clothes I was standing in. He is solely to be credited that my bike trip continued.
One careful (lady) owner. Never been abused or off road. Mint condition. Viewing recommended. Lots of interest. Won’t be available for long.:cool4:
Look out for each other....
Looks like the bike survived, you got some halfords black left at home?
Cant believe those other dudes left you there, respect to RVP for staying and helping you.......:clap:
I thought that was the golden rule....look out for each other..:funmeterno:
Looking forward to more...
Glad that nothing happends to you!
This is my next trip!!:clap::mchappy:
With Mates like that who needs enemy's
Glad you were able to recover,will follow your travels with interest.Noel
I've stuck a few stickers on the bike since, to hide the scratches a bit.:innocent:
Your and my ethics seem to be very similar. Not everybody shares them however. Putting it briefly and politely, you could say I was was disappointed, but not entirely surprised by what happened. However, what goes around comes around.
RVP was indeed a star.
You back in Thailand at Crimbo? I'm taking a little jolly across eastern Europe at the mo. It's bloody cold! It shouldn't have been a surprise. Winter is on its way.:freezing: I hope my heated jacket carries on working!
I'm leaving the bike in Great Uncle Bulgaria and will return to it to try to catch some winter sun in Greece and Turkey this Christmas/New Year.
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