As we were leaving Atyrau, nick spotted what appeared to be an aircraft museum....or something. I actually think it was a display area attached to a military college of barracks of some sort as there appeared to be no way in. Still, we fired off a few photos before moving on.
The road via Qandyagash to Bayghanin was reasonable,. Its after this that it started to go pear shaped.
btw, before I go on, fuel available (main road) in Shubarqadyq, Bayghanin, Saghyz, and Dossor. There may be fuel in Magat but its off to the main road a few kms and a trucker told us not to bother as Dossor was only a few kms further.
The road deteriorated gradually to a bombing range. There were potholes shoulder height across 100% of the road in places and not one hole you can drive through (car/truck I´m thinking off, bikes OK), the holes are staggered. You may get down this road in a seriously high truck/military vehicle, but its only a ´may´. We were the only vehicles that stayed on the road and honestly, a 2 wheeled vehicle is, I´m sure, all that could. All other traffic used a sand road a few hundred meters to one side. Visible in some photos.
This really bad road continues for about 250kms, then is sections after. It really did not want to let us through
About 10kms from Dossor, the road took a detour and started to improve. After we had refueled, the last 100kms into Atyrau was quite good tarmac, which was lucky as it was completely dark by this time.
There are no photos of the really bad sections as we were too busy trying to stay on the bikes. We were so conscious of the time/daylight and the distance, that we rode too fast along much of this road and the bikes suffered. It turned out that I lost a sub-frame bolt at some point, my swing arms collided with the frame quite badly, possibly the same time that my rear sprocket collided with the inset in my X-Tank....and won. I was leaking fuel quite badly.
I didn't find out about this until we made a short stop about 50kms short of Dossor and a trucker pulled up to see if we needed help.
Fortunately, I managed to salvage enough fuel out of the x-tank and got it into my main tank that I got to Dossor ok. It was this trucker who gave us the good news about fuel and that there was only about 40kms to good tarmac.
It doesn't look it but that hole Nick is in is over a meter deep.
One upside to this route and being the only people on the road was that we were able to get up close to some of the wildlife. The baby camel in this photoy at first ran off the road with its father while the mother remained. However, it soon returned, without dad. We were about 3 metres away and these animals were not hobbled so probably wild.
There were some sort of post stuck in the ground every km or so and on each on we came across and eagle perched. Most flew off once we got within about 10 meters but one stayed till we got to about 3 meters before leaving. Did not manage to get any still images, but did get one this one on my helmet camera. I will try and post this later.
Anyway, as with everything, the bad road ended and we rolled into Atyrau around 11pm. I had a route to the Green Hotel. It turned out to be in rather a run down area of the town, similar, but not to big, as the Russian tenements in Novosibirsk.. There were large heating(?) pipes running on the surface of the streets and routed in square arches, over the streets.
The hotel itself, however, was really good. It was well air-conditioned, usual bar and food available, and the rooms were comfortable. We were charged about 8000 tenge per night. We decided to stop 2 nights and do some maintenance after the Road of Holes.
This was when I found out a sub-frame bolt had gone missing....I had a spare fortunately. We even managed to wash the bikes a little in some drainage water.....cleanish though.
I took a taxi into the town center on the following day but didn't stay long. Its really spread out and was like a blast furnace in the heat. I snapped a few photos and had some Kazakh fast food consisting of a Lamb burger thing with some fries and coke for 1000 tenge. Not bad at all!
Shopping center with fast food
Smart and expensive hotel nearby
Mosque next to that.
Later on that day, while preparing for the ride to Astrakhan, the Russian border crossing, and how to get our boots into the Caspian sea, we decided that what I wanted to do in Astrakhan was not the same as Nick. I wanted to stay a couple of days and take a good look around at the ´Kremlin´and the water front while Nick only wanted a quick look around at to move on. So, we agreed to ride together to the city and then part company, maybe to join again later in Auschwitz....one of my later stops on the route back to home.
To be continued....