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Old 07-01-2013, 08:35 PM   #103
GuiltyParty OP
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: London
Oddometer: 318
Ferry and Western Kazakhstan

We called the lady who sells the boat tickets (Vika) at 11 expecting her to say ‘no ferry today, call back tomorrow’ but to our surprise she said to come meet her at the old ticket office in 20 minutes. Our hotel was only a short walk from the office so as we wandered down in the hot wind an army truck had blocked the road causing all sorts of mayhem with the traffic. Right outside the old port entrance the military had lined up tanks 25 deep and 4 wide on one side and tanks, ballistic missiles and all other sorts of toys as far as the eye could see on the other. We had to walk straight up the guts of it so we were surrounded by these tanks and military personnel. It was like that famous Tiananmen Square scene. It was uber cool but we couldn’t get any photos because of the brass walking around.

We sat and waited an hour and she didn’t show and I was kicking myself for not having a phone, thinking we’d missed our opportunity and would be stuck for another few days until another ferry arrived. Eventually after some back and forwards we got a hold of her and remarkably she had a ticket for us (about 200 pounds) – the catch was we had to be on it in twenty minutes…umm fuck! It took us that long to walk to the office and we still had to pack the bike and check out of the hotel. The other catch was the military weren’t allowing people to use the port entrance We thought we’d give it a shot anyway and just turn up with the bike and all the gear and hope that they were impressed enough to let us through. They didn’t, so in a mad dash I had to run through all these tanks in my gear dodging some senior looking military personnel, hoping they didn’t mistake me for a guy wanting to blow up their tanks and snipe me from the roof.

Puffing and panting and without any bullet wounds I made it to Vika’s office and managed to shriek out in my ‘the ferries going to leave us’ voice the military weren’t letting us through so she told me to jump in a taxi and take a back entrance. After an hour and a bit we managed to get through customs and on to the ferry.

The ferry crew didn’t have the tie-downs for a motorbike that you would find on other ferries. At first they wanted to sling the chain sitting under the bike over it.

This isn’t a petrol tanker buddy you’re not slinging that over it. We tied it down using my straps and cushioned it from scratching with a towel.

At last we could relax. We scored with the rooms – we had our own room without any smelly truck drivers and new facilities.

Even a sit-down toilet, a bit of luxury

Next morning I got out the GPS to see how far we had come, only to discover we were still sitting outside Baku The ship had stopped because of a storm ahead. So we waited

And waited….

And waited some more…

Starting to go a little crazy…

And waited some more, doing anything to stay amused.

The amount of rubbish that went overboard was astounding. Drink bottles, fat from the cooking vats, egg cartons you name it.

Five days later we pulled into Aktau.

Noah has again done a stellar job at describing the process and it doesn't need rehashing It’s a tedious process and took five hours. The first hour and a half is waiting for customs to check the boat and eat lunch.

How many stamps does one document need??

With entry permitted we high tailed it towards the Uzbek border through the oil and gas industrial landscape.

I hadn’t really thought of it but I was surprised at the number of camels.

“Right into the Danger Zone” – reminded me of Topgun. After doing nothing but dead straight roads for the past 100km’s they had to remind us the road still had some bends in it

We stopped in Shetpe for these Kazakh punks to wash the sea salt off the bike.

In the same town we drew bit of a crowd when we stopped to buy supplies and stock up on petrol (91 octane) for the 300km section between Shetpe and Beyneu which is supposed to be a slow section with no gas along the way. Since I dropped the front sprocket to 15 tooth I’m only getting a range of 300km (on 95 octane), so I carried an extra 5 litres just in case.

This lady was so nice and gave us a bottle of water.

We pulled off the highway to look for a spot to camp the night.

And found a spot behind this hill

We woke to the guttural call of camels.

The first part of the road between Shetpe and Bayneu is perfect new asphalt road

Shortly after that though the road works ended and became dirt. The first part of the road is clay and was a bit wet from a shower and the front was wandering a little. I was thanking my lucky stars we didn’t have any serious rain because I think it could get quite tough going otherwise.

Tyre in the desert

What are you guarding there little fella? Is there a TKC there somewhere?

Thanks Noah!

We’ve done 6000 miles on our TKC and it still has another couple of thousand before I change it over

There was only a couple of small settlements along the road but we stopped at one of them for brekkie and these kids served us a meal. I don’t know if the town had any petrol or not, didn’t check.

The road was absolute shit, chopped up by so many trucks and big pot holes everywhere. The sort of pot holes that make you cringe and worry about bent rims and blown suspension. The excel rims live to fight another day

We found some smooth road and stopped for a drink

It got so bad people no longer used the main road and instead used tracks in the desert either side of it.

Average speed 50km/h and we felt every single bump in that road because we weren’t standing up. We hated life. What should have been 300km worked out to be more like 350km once you factor in all the zig zagging and took the better part of a day to do.

There were sections of fesh fesh and we had to stop in the middle of it to let oncoming trucks pass us because the dust they kicked up made it impossible to see ahead. It was so thick it was dangerous because we couldn’t see any trucks coming towards us. As they passed we cut the engine until the dust settled. We handled it well though so the confidence started to soar. Patty’s a great pillion and just sits there and lets the bike and me do the work.

Every now and again we would wander back to the main road only to smack the rims on another pothole so we took our chances in the fesh fesh.

The confidence was soaring until we hit this dusty section in 4th gear and we were spat from the bike. We both got to our feet spitting dust but we were ok. To add injury to insult the road work crew came over in stitches of laughter and took some photos.

We rolled into Beyneu with the fuel light on and the bike was struggling for some fresh air. It wasn’t starting properly either without some throttle which is the well known stepper motor problem. We topped up using 85 octane and found an air compressor to blow the dust off the radiator fins, around the stepper motor area and the pre-filter. After that it ran fine again.

We cracked our laptop screen in the fall but it still works.

In the shower that night dust came from every orifice.
Triumph Tiger 800 xc
Walkabout in Russia and Central Asia
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