June 17, 2009 GMT
Kazakh Desert Days

It was a hectic five days
Five days without running water let alone electricity and internet and here is why...
I collected my Kazakh visa in Baku, Azerbaijan then made a dash for the ferry and my luck was in - straight onto it - the only other European had been waiting eight days...
It was a basic service on the boat - I never did manage to find the shower, but luckily it was only a 24 hour journey (sometimes it stretches to four days) I arrived in Kazakhstan it was 11pm at night we docked, we cleared immigration at 2.00am to then be told that Customs was closed until 8.00am - so I set up my tent in the carpark outside the Customs building- one way of being first in the queue.
Unfortunately the 8.00am start time was optimistic to say the least and it was gone 10.00am by the time anyone was even available to look in our direction, in fact it was 1.00pm in the afternoon before we were allowed to leave the customs compound- my solo travel had now grown to include Leon- an Austrian night club manager driving a VW 4-wheel drive van and Vasily from Moscow driving a big Audi 4 wheel drive something, he had Russian Mafia stamped all over him and we couldn't shake him off, he seemd to feel that we were his pet westerners and that he needed to look after us.

I had the huge expanse of the Kazakh and Kyzylkum Desert stretching away into the distance and had decided on safety in numbers and suggested to Leon that we team up for the desert route - he was happy to as he has little desert experience and so in return for carrying my panniers in his van I rode as his outrider and Vasily well, he insisted on accompanying us but would race on ahead to each roadhouse stop and wait there drinking vodka and beer until we arrived and then would announce "go, go" and charge off once more.

the desert - camels, scorpions, snakes and kamikaze gerbils which insisted ion racing across the road almost under my wheels.

It was a hard, hot, dusty ride but not as bad as I had thought- like the better parts of the route north of Isiolo in Kenya. We lost Vasiliy the first night, he had gone on ahead, so after that is was just me and the van carrying the cold beer - oh yes, I made sure I didn't lose sight of that and when a shower was produced on the second night I was in heaven, I can see now after 12 years of bike travel why people have support vehicles, and have I mentioned the chocolate m&m's in the fridge as well?
As always camping out in the desert is a delight- the starry skies and the peacefulness.

Posted by tiffanycoates at June 17, 2009 06:25 AM GMT

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