Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Update In Over One Year!

So far this trip has been rolling off and on since May 2008. I have passed and had extended stays in many countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy, France, and now England. Along the way I took some side roads sans scooter, most importantly one with my dear younger brother through Turkey, Georgia and Armenia. For a child's illustration verses Marco Polo (scooter journey yellow line):

A real map should be drawn up later..

Now after a wonderful two month overstay in Turkey I was faced with the start of the European winter. Riding in the rain and snow covered passes is not so enjoyable as would be imagined when added to the wind chill of riding a 'motorbike'. I guess that is one advantage of riding such a small are never going to be moving very fast! At least it wasn't as bad as riding Iran Kurdistan where i resorted to drafting trucks to stay warm.

So time to open the diary and  photo memory cards and start transcribing some of the past stories.....if i have time between trying to set up life here in London and saving for future travels! Oh, if anyone knows of any jobs over here feel free to let me know =)

Time to upload some photos. (photo in Bosnia)


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Outa (central) Asia

Hey kids,
Well I've spent over a week in Mashad(NW Iran) and don't have a whole lot to show for it. But that is a good thing as I have been trying to relax and remove chaos from my mind.
After dealing with central asian bureaucracy and cluttering into town on a half broken down scoot, which couldn't even pull out of third gear, I battled the crazy night traffic of Iran's second largest city to arrive right dazzled at my well hidden home stay. There I could think about what I had just done.
Since the last post I had some time to kill while I waited for my Iranian visa to be processed so I took the train to famous Samarkand south of Tashkent in Uzbekistan. This would allow me to save time by not having to stop when I came back through on my bike. This was the first time in my trip I had taken public transport and it proved to give a much different experience. Though less stressful than tackling the map on two wheels I felt some what detached from my environment and then all of a sudden I was at my guesthouse in the middle of another city. No cranky farmers along the way, no strangers to ask for directions, no broken down locals to stop and talk to, no petrol station attendants to make chit chat and no feeling of experiencing one place morph into another. It felt much less gratifying this way and I felt more like tourist than before. Maybe this is all in hind sight but it added to the disappointment I had with the place. It wasn't all bad, unfortunately! Coming around the corner and first seeing the Registran was freakin' amazing.
It is prolly my own fault for not doing enough reading but I wasn't expecting the place to be so touristy and everything to be overly clean and restored. It certainly took a lot of the mystery and historic feel out of it. I don't think the bus loads of old french tourists helped or that these old Muslim buildings were no longer used other than to flog off nick knacks to visitors. I think that's why I liked the mausoleums as even though they had been restored Muslims still went there to pay their respects and there was no one to sell me painted paper maiche boxes(though i must say these were pretty good value once you bargained them into the ground!). ..
note: it was at this point i was distracted buy Bike Snob NYC blog, If you haven't checked it out, I recommend you do. to paraphrase BS, like Cyclocross News it's a lot less pretentious than the New Yorker!

TBC.....Adventures in Samarkand, Bukhara, back to Tashkent, back to Samarkand, back to Bukhara, Escaping Uzbekistan, transiting and escaping Turkmenistan.....Oh then there is Iran...What happened to China or Cambodia for that matter!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spend Time

OK, this is bollocks cos I haven't been writing when I said i would! And now I leave on the train in the morning to Samarkand. I have spent something like 10 days in Tashkent sorting visas for Iran and Turkmenistan. I have finally got the Iran one on the go which will take yet another 5 working days to be processed. So after going to Samarkand and Bukhara(prolly) I will return to Tashkent to pick it up and then get the finishing touches on the Turkmen one before getting out of the country before my visa expires. I may not have the time to make it up to the Aral Sea but we'll see.

A few things since the previous post: After having my plugged face cleaned in Osh I took off to Bishkek to get cracking on visas which were bound to be a headache. After a day and a half on the road and over some freezing passes I crashed in a guesthouse in Bishkek.
Over the next week I filled for letters of invitation for Uzbekistan, Iran and applied for Kazakhstan visa. While waiting for these pointless pieces of paper I made for the country on my sturdy'ish stead.
Having spent a week in the hills touring Song Kol, Issy Kul, Ala kol and the mountains in Karakol I returned to the smoke via Barrana Tower. Back in Bishkek with a cold I was able to pick my visas up for Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan after a few days. Cub was running a bit rough so had to fix a broken shock, pull apart carburetor and do oil change among some other small things. After another day or so of rest it was time to hit up Kazakhstan.
At the border leaving Kyrgyzstan there was a huge cue of traffic not going anywhere. It was not the best idea going at 5 in the arvo. But no worries on the scoot as i just rode around all the cars and a barrier and gave a border control guy a light and got him to point me to passport control. A cue jump on the kazakh side and i was all clear after half hour! Rode off until night came down and I noticed my taillight was out so i slept by the road. I ended up getting a surprise visit by the military who had seen my light while i was reading. I guy in Camo with an assault rifle racing towards me in the dark wasn't what i was expecting but i showed my passport and it was all OK. Later i got picked up by some locals(they wouldnt have me sleeping outside) who took me back to there home where we ate and had rounds of cognac till 5am and some Afghani hash to put us to bed. Spent the next day with them, not sure if it was out of choice though, with a whole lot more vodka drinking!
Anyway, basics, spend 5 days in Kazakhstan meet great people and never had to stay in a hotel. I made it up to Turkistan to see an impressive mausoleum and on the way back down the cub broke down on the way to Otrar, a ruined city by Genghis Khan, so I had to turn back to nearest town and seek some help and then get a taxi, with my bike in the back, to Shymkent where I spent the night after unsuccessfully fixing the carburetor. After going to a different garage in the morning we managed to get it going well enough to get me to Tashkent(where there might actually be a bike shop) but when leaving town it seemed to come right. All really amazing people that helped me and they didn't want a penny (apart from taxi driver that wasn't helpful and charged a heap) for their efforts.
Before reaching Tashkent I spent a night in a border town just inside Uzbekistan where a nice shop owner put me up.
There are stories left out here but it is a quick rundown of the last while.

Until next time when I'm not such a lazy and tired bum.

Rhino Snot.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Kyrgyzstan now

Well, I arrived in Osh last night (Thursday) and went to the hospital first thing this morning. I had no problems at the border at Irkstam but was denied going over Torogart pass without visa (told in Kashgar i didnt need one as i had own transport). On wednesday the spot thing i had on my check had started to swell up and go hard which was like the the same thing as i had on my back. In the morning it was a bit worse which put me in a hurry to clear the border and get to doctor in Osh. Once i cleared the borders the road was REALLY bad and took me the rest of the day, till 7pm, to get to osh then find somewhere to sleep which took a lot longer than it should have when i got pointed in the completly wrong directions.
So, spend ages at hospital complex trying to find doctor which was a hassle when I cant speak russian. Ended up in a cue for ages then followed another patient over to the surgury building and meet up with a pleased looking doctor. Ended up on a bed and before i knew it the stainless steel implemants were out. First it felt like he was ripping the scab off or making an opening then i think he was using some forceps to squeeze the wound and fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck did it hurt. I was then presented with a small wad of puss and a bloodied piece of gauze much to the delight of the doctor. He then proceded to stick some other surgical tool inside and scoop out the hole ( i could be wrong about what was happening but it felt like that!). The hole was then cleaned and an antiseptic cloth stuffed in the cavity. No english was spoken and no forms filled and it all happened really fast so a bit of a stress. I handed over 400som ($15nz?) to the doc which was prolly a nice cash job for the day!
I took the rest of the afternoon pretty easy and will return tomorrow at 12 to get it redressed. Really annoyed that the same thing happened again and Im still not sure what it was from. maybe a mosquito or a spider??
If possible I will start heading up to Bishkek tomorrow arvo and can start the visa game.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Next stop

Hey just about to dash and try my luck of Torrorgart pass or if that doesnt work I will try the other border. First major stop will be Bishkek.
Oh a couple of photos from friday can be found here:
It was a long way down!
Hopefully be online in a few days.
lots a love from chinese turkistan.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rock the Kashgar

After two and half days on the road I reached Kashgar from Urumqi via desserts and a 4300m odd pass. Arrived at the qinghi hotel place at 8pm on Thursday. went to a tomb and around town yesterday and to shiptons arch (amazing, google it) today. Kashgar feels great not too many police and very un-chinese feeling as its mostly Muslim Uyghurs.
This should be expanded later

ciao partners.