OK, so we left Almaty. Bike in a worse condition than before thanks to the very accomodating but fairly useless mechanics at My Town Moto. The road was very long and flat, you really feel like you're crossing the whole of the country not just nipping up one edge as we were. The scenery looks a little bit like this....
After a couple of nights of camping we arrived in Semy (famous for being close to the old Russian nuclear testing grounds), for what was to become one of the most unforgettable few days of the trip. We pulled up at a hotel just because we saw the sign, it looked pretty new, but not so huge or expensive.
When we got around to the entrance it looked closed. The lady cleaner looked pretty confused that we were there. We thought that if you arrive at a hotel its pretty obvious what you want! Shortly a 4X4 turned up, among those in it was Igor, the hotel owner. He said we could stay, and the hotel was indeed nice and new. We seemed to be the only guests, in fact we never actually got a key to lock our room for the whole of our stay.
Igor and friends got us very drunk on vodka and fed us with pizza.
The next day the hospitality continued, after recovering from our hangovers we were driven out to the riverside for a picnic. Complete with fire made with the help of local trees, an axe and a chainsaw!
The next surprise was when this boat appeared from a bag in the boot of the car, with its own outboard motor! I was allowed to go off by myself riding around on the river. It was good fun although the motor lacked power so against the strong current the boat struggled to make progress.
This one is just to prove that I got my feet wet!
Posted by David Newman at 06:05 AM
During the lengthy Russian border process we met another Dave, hence the third tent at our first camp in Russia.
Next day we headed into Barnaul, which gives you a taste of the Soviet architecture. All very large, brutal and impressive!
Well, most of it anyway!
I can recommend the Altai region of Russia, very beautiful countryside. Also its got plenty of opportunities for rafting and mountain biking etc.
We had some of the best camp sites of the whole trip, someone had conveniently left some pre chopped fire wood at this one! The next morning though it was on to Mongolia.
Posted by David Newman at 06:08 AM
Shortly after getting through the border into Mongolia we stopped for lunch and met these guys. They sat and watched us eat lunch with great interest. They were really keen on having their photo taken as well. One of them was riding the first of many bikes we'd come across in Mongolia. They are much more prevalent here than elsewhere since Europe.
The scenery starts straight away, everywhere starts to look like the Mongolia you've seen in the pictures!
This is our first view of a lake in Mongolia and we ended up camping with a very similar view.
Tyre change with a view also. Changing tyres out here you really hope you don't damage something or that the compressor fails!
We started to see lots of wildlife in Mongolia. Camels are all over the place, as are wild horses. The sheer number of birds of prey has to be seen to be believed. They eat the many squirrel like creatures that live in burrows and scurry off as you ride close.
Mongolia is really great for the people. Many are very enthusiastic and interested. If you're lucky you get a go on their motorbike!
Or even their horse. These guys were great and brought us homemade food and vodka to share!
The sunsets can be spectacular, and they're not the only thing to see at night. On clear nights the lack of light pollution means to stars are very bright.
These guys rode along with us for a while, and during a lunch stop they got into a bit of traditional mongolian wrestling! It looks exhausting and I wasn't all together upset that they didn't insist that we join in.
Of course there was the usual bike swap. Helmets are a novelty and usually prompt great amusement when they get tried on.
This is a good example of what the main road looks like on the northern route through Mongolia. It is OK in the dry but would be extremely difficult to pass on a motorbike if the weather turned wet.
Our first puncture, caused by a big nail. Amazing that we got this far without one. Especially as the "roads" are full of sharp rocks and potholes.
The main mode of transport out here is still grass powered.
It takes a lot more than money to be able to get high octane fuel!
The scenery keeps on changing and impressing in Mongolia.
...but eventually you arrive in Ulaan Baatar. At least we did!
This is the main government building in the main square of UB.
And a few of the statues also in the square
We've reached the end of the road for this portion of the trip. Hopefully I'll flesh the story out at a later date. Its OK though, its not all over yet.......
Posted by David Newman at 06:15 AM