10-07-2013, 03:10 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
It was late morning by the time I left Jizev and by the time I collected my bike it was already early afternoon. A very hot afternoon. As I rode the 25km down to Roushan traffic was light with just a couple shared taxis on the road. I pass through one small village and the thing that hits me is thereís absolutely no one here. I carry on down a couple of kmís and round a bend to find all the villagers, Thereís a large pond that they are all running and diving off rocks into, wellÖ all the males are, the women are on the road washing their rugs.The women washing suggest I should go have a swim, so yeah why not. I roll over and lean the Ural against a boulder and join in to cool down.
Continuing on, the road improves to a point that I can finally use all 4 gears. Plenty of corrugations and pot holes though with some catching me out, bottoming out both the front and rear and jarring my back and loosening fillings in the process. As I press on I feel that something isnít quite right, the rear seems to bottom out over the slightest undulation in the road, I glance back and the rear end looks like its not sitting quite straight either, With my 20l canister on the side obscuring my view of the shock Its killing me to know what has happened so I pull over and unfasten the canister, The right rear shock has completely destroyed itself, in fact its in 2 pieces. Iíve never done that before! So I give myself a pat on the back. From then on I button off the throttle and try to transfer most of my body weight off the rear for the remainder of the journey to Roushan.
Everyone knows someone whoís had an Ural it seems. At my guest house in Roushan the following morning the boy calls a friend who knows something so we walk into town to meet him. We continue to walk on but another friend pulls over in a boy racer themed Lada. (Iím not so sure how much down force that wing on the back will produce though!) We pile in and head 5 kmís out of town then walk up an overgrown path where at the top of, an Ural is slowly dying in the overgrown grass. We pilfer the original rear shocks which are of a heavier duty than the non stock ones that I had. The Uralís rear brake was almost non-existent too, I had suspected from all the river & stream crossings water had gotten into the rear diff and blown the seals protecting the brake shoes, As there was some oil leakage in and around the drum. I struck a deal - 20$ for the pair of shocks and another 20$ for the complete final drive.
Shopping for new parts.
We walk back into town carrying the parts in hand and once back at the guest house I go about fitting them. The shocks come off and the ďnewĒ ones are on in no time, next the rear wheel comes off with an oily watery sludge sitting in with the shoes. I give them a quick wash under the tap and then sit them in some petrol to soak along with cleaning and scouring out the drum. After removing the swing arm bolts that hold the final drive unit in and with a few light taps with a block of wood the rear end drops out. I clean up its replacement splines with steel wool and lightly oil them before refitting. All bolted up I then drain it and fill with new heavy gear oil. Even working in the shade Iím sweating like crazy as it turns out to be Tajikistanís hottest day this summer with the temperature in the mid 40ís. The audience of friends now looking over my shoulder making me feel the pressure to get things done quickly so we can all finally have lunch doesn't help either. It takes me a few tries to get the rear brakes set up and once I do I finally slide the axle through and tighten up the retaining bolts. Up on blocks I fire the Ural up and run through into 2nd gear, The new driveshaft is straighter than the last, thereís no noise from the rear and the brake works fine. Time to clean up and have lunch before setting out for Khorog.
The road to Khorog was pretty uneventful I donít even think the road has improved in a year despite road works along the way. About 10kms before coming into Khorog a black land cruiser speeds up along side me blasting its horn and yelling something indecipherable at me... I Just shrug my shoulders and assume heís complimenting the Ural as almost every car here on the road honks or yells something in favour of the bike.
Its good to be back in Khorog, I enjoy this place, I ride up to Pamir Lodge, here I had stayed 13 months prior and after a catch up with the family owners they give me my same room as last year. Itís Sunday so I catch up on chores and take the bike for a power wash. I try to get everything in order before Monday morning at the Afghan embassy. Back at the lodge a cycle tourer is impressed with my bike and asks me about my travels, he then points out if itís a problem without a number plate, what! I glance back and then relive that moment when Iím being honked and yelled at just out of town. Arghh I should have stopped! I ride out there with the late afternoon sun blazing, I ride for a couple hours up and down the road, asking passer bys and even border police foot patrols if they have seen my plate. The search is fruitless and I know this is going to be a problem when I cross the next border.
9am the embassy opens just down from Pamir lodge, Iíve brought all my paperwork, passport photo and USD for the visa and rupost. The rupost is for travel in Afghanistan with a vehicle, giving you permission to enter and exit with it. After the initial shock of the now 100$ visa price (last year being 51$) the consulate staff inform me that they donít issue ruposts to tourists anymore with no reason given. I tried to question them for the reason why, as I couldnít just take ďbecauseĒ for an answer. I went ahead to get the visa with out the rupost in which was done in 5 minutes. Applying for the afghan visa in Khorog has to be the easiest place in the world I think, the 100$ cash you give directly to the embassy staff surely has something to do with that. I walk back to the Lodge feeling a little down about how my plans have been instantly crushed.
The cycle tourers back at the lodge feel my pain and suggest I see the tourist information office. I walk back down and talk to the young girls operating the office and they say it seems to be a bit weird for the Afghans to stop issuing the rupost. After a lengthy call to the embassy with the conversation going back and forth it ends and she then relays to me whatís happened. It turns out some tourists crossed the border a few weeks prior with a truck and had to pay a bribe at the border and then made a complaint to the embassy. So the embassy officials didnít want any other tourists having to pay the corrupt border police. I then put on a bit of a drama about how it was my dream to take my motorcycle to the Wakhan (well it kinda was I guess) and that I have come all the way around the world to be here and whatever happens at the border happens at the border. So the staff at the embassy finally give in and say I can come the next morning for the rupost.
The next morning I arrive all happy and confident about getting my paperwork, I fill out another form with the bikes particulars; I make a copy of the bikeís passport and handover another photo for the application. She then asks me for a doverenost, (change of ownership form) Then my heart sunk again. having had one last year but never being asked for it at the borders, this summer I never went through the trouble in Bishkek for getting one. She then made some jokes about how I could have stolen this bike etc etc and that she would not be giving me a rupost. I sulked off to the chaikhana (tea house) beside the river to have a few beers and to rethink my strategy, Just as I was downing some icy cold Baltika, I suddenly remembered that I have a doverenost from a previous owner in my document holder so chugging the rest of my beer back and hastily paying the bill I marched back up the hill to the lodge, knowing tomorrow I will have my rupost.
Original Soviet Passport.
I won't say too much, But just so you know thereís a few internet cafes in Khorog but only one with Photoshop and the students there know how to use it.
The next morning I arrive at the embassy 5 minutes early for day number 3. A share taxi stops on the other side of the road and the embassy girl gets out and crosses giving me a look of ďI thought I got rid of you yesterdayĒ I simply hold out a copy of the doverenost, with my name on it without saying a word. She takes it and gives it a once over, she then looks up at me looking impressed and says OK and enters the consulate.
10minutes later I pay and have all the documentation now needed to enter the Wakhan.
Generally I have found the harder something is to accomplish, the richer the reward is for when you do finally succeed.