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Old 11-15-2013, 08:09 AM   #496
Abraxas
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welcome back to the net, I was missing you.

Thanks for this new dose of adventures, keep it coming please.

Ana, cograts for these 10.000 km full of memories.
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Old 12-01-2013, 06:30 AM   #497
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Okay, after a week or two of catching up on your incredible RR I can comment :)
Thank you for taking us along on your ride. For taking the time to report, show us the sights and actually learn something about the places you visit

One thing that I did notice, or maybe it's just me, but the images of your 2up-on-the-Tenere ride were a lot more artistic. Was it the incredible 24mm f/1.4 that made the pics pop?

I'm a little sad that you put the Tenere out on the pasture. But it's the trip and not the horse that counts, so keep it up. All the best, have fun and keep taking us along!
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Old 12-06-2013, 07:47 PM   #498
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The Last Duck Kebap In Bishkek

Quote:
Originally Posted by IVAN38 View Post
10 000 km carried of hands...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraxas View Post
cograts for these 10.000 km full of memories.
Big thanks for the thumb up, we're both happy to see this seemingly crazy idea come to fruition and can only hope that it will keep on giving. Sure, even 10000K don't make a rider, but Ana is living proof of how someone can go from zero experience and interest, to riding one of the most astonishing trails on the planet with a new heart (one that cares about motorbikes that is :) Now clearly after this crash-course in adventure touring she will have to work harder.

On to our ride report….

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In Bishkek we will be hosted by Berker, originar from Ankara and currently teaching Journalism and New Media to the Kyrgyz. Before ringing his doorbell we take a breather in Balikci, a small town on the banks of Isik-kul lake. A quick lunch in a local shack is in order. We also shop for some local delicacies to later sample with our Turkish host: we pick some smoked fish and kurut, a cheese made from dehydrated mare’s yoghurt.









We will not enter the Kyrgyz capital before switching to road tires; while we are dealing with this, the mechanics in the shop grab some cooling kvas for us. A welcome treat.

Berker is waiting for us and he helps us carry our luggage into his apartment.



Bishkek is strangely familiar: the grim apartment blocks with shiny jeeps parked outside, the asphalt that crumbles like short pastry, the watermelons piled at street corners, the kitschy hair saloons, the ladies sporting chopped bobs, patterned leggings and excessively plucked eyebrows, the smell of pee in the elevator, the whole-int-the-wall where an old timer is patching up shoes for a living… it’s disturbingly funny how this resembles home.







Berker is nothing short of amazing. We are stuck in Bishkek with some administrative business to sort out, and we are lucky to have this awesome host who cooks for us, pampers us and when nobody is in the mood for doing dishes, knows the best place to eat an outstanding duck kebap.









Berker uses his connections to locate a dude who can help me fabricate a new plate for my side stand. No more welding this time, problem solved!



In the meantime we learn that our cyclist friends are in town as well, so we feel we must share with them the secret of duck kebap. Soon we are all hooked on the sweet fatty delicious thing!





More user-friendly than Dushanbe, Bishkek feels also somehow … smaller. The socialist architecture is less monumental after being adorned with Chinese neon. There are many parks and pedestrian areas, and they all teem with people even during daytime. The locals seem to enjoy consuming everything that is being thrown at them, be it from the West, or from the East, and by night the Ala-too square is resurrected to a Kyrgyz version of Djema el-Fna.



Instead of sheep brains we find magenta cotton candy, and in the place of snake charmers we see small business ventures renting out rollerblades and tandem bikes to the enthusiastic, while huge subwoofers are blasting nondescript music. And in the middle of this tumultuous spectacle, instead of the minarets of a Moroccan mosque, a monument celebrating the Tulip Revolution .















Next to the statue and just as contrasting to the general vibe of the square, teenage soldiers perform a ritual inherited from soviet times.





The change of guards takes place hourly, from sunrise till sunset.









The young soldiers execute their impeccable ballet, but from up close one can see how humble their budget must be.



At 10 p.m. the music stops, the fountains dry out and people start their journey back from fantasy to their matchbox apartments.







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Old 12-06-2013, 08:53 PM   #499
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The trail is soon to end. As the valley becomes wider, I can smell the tarmac. But I am not bitter, we’ll soon be in Mongolia, we’ll have plenty of trails to ride. It just happens that we mark Ana’s first 10.000 km on tar.





just read a few pages and i was amazed. need to go to page 1.


you have a remarkably special talent to share your experience. traveling in the harsh, unfamiliar and remote areas are not for everyone. you guys persevere and able to cope up with the people and surrounding...

i see both of you as a young couple however your adventure made you to a matured, appreciative and compassionate human beings.

big thanks for taking us along.
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Old 12-07-2013, 04:32 AM   #500
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Keep up the writing, splendid report and i enjoy it very much

Greetings

Toine
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:24 AM   #501
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirBikeALot View Post
One thing that I did notice, or maybe it's just me, but the images of your 2up-on-the-Tenere ride were a lot more artistic. Was it the incredible 24mm f/1.4 that made the pics pop?

I'm a little sad that you put the Tenere out on the pasture. But it's the trip and not the horse that counts, so keep it up. All the best, have fun and keep taking us along!
Thanks for saying that SirBikeALot, even if it touches two sensitive subjects for our hearts. We've received this question from others also, so I'll try to answer as detailed as possible.
First of all there's no doubt about it that Africa is the most photogenic place on earth, unless you are a professional photographer on assignment and you spend countless hours on post processing your photos from wherever. In which case I guess any pic from any place can be turned into something amazing.
Then there is the difference in the pace between those two parts of our adventure. In Africa we covered 55000km in about 14 months, much slower than in Central Asia where we crossed in less than 4 months of riding about 25k in my case and 20k for Ana (stay tuned to see why ;) this difference in mileage). So faster pace means less time for photo stops. The fact that we carried a GoPro H2 (borrowed) which is so easy and convenient to use, made us go for it instead of our DSLR in many cases. As it showed, that came at a price - lower quality, less original shots, perhaps some repetitive frames. One cannot compare the quality from a point & shoot camera (not to mention an action camera) to a DSLR with prime lens and particularly with the 24mm which is one of the best lenses on the market. Also a digital camera lets you check the shot on the spot, while with an action camera you take as many shots as you can, hoping that later there will be some useful material among the useless bits.
Then it was the different mental set-up. The fact that Ana left with only 600km of vehicle-driving and traffic experience (no car driving experience either) was an emotional roller-coaster for both of us. For me it was very difficult to see her close to reaching her limits in some cases and many times all I could picture was the potential disaster scenario. It was hard to remember that those moments could have made for an awesome photo-op. So when I had the time to relax, I was simply trying to enjoy it at the fullest, and to enjoy as much as I could under the circumstances the amazing machine I was riding (my KTM). For Ana, besides the riding - which was consuming indeed, the idea of stoping when she could barely touch the ground with her tip-toes was not very appealing, so she did it only when she really had to. For both of us it happened that we would remember hours later that we carried a camera to record our experience. To add to all the above, we rode for two months out of the four without a laptop (our original laptop died in Kyrgyzstan on some washboards) so the photo editing was frugal, or non-existent. Compared to Africa there were more difficult moments to cope with, personally speaking, even if the route in itself was not as challenging as the African ones. Also I must point out that the African have this amazing grace of carrying their tough destiny with a smile, they can lift your spirit with a word or a song, or even a hot plate of boiled beans. The former communist countries carry the stigma or a frustrating past and a questionable future and the nomadic cultures of Asia are wild people who communicate little about themselves. The human factor was decisive about our African journey, one that made that part of our life so life-changing, and we are happy that our photos shared that feeling a bit.
It was really difficult to sell the Tenere that "conquered" Africa, one decision that I did not make lightly, but as we are on a tight budget it was impossible not to. I'm glad that I changed to the 690 though, as riding wise there's no comparison between the two. I may have retired a dream, but I've achieved another.

As winter progresses we are trying to post the continuation of the RR, which had a twist right when we were reaching a milestone. Stay tuned and thanks for following.
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:10 PM   #502
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Originally Posted by mrwwwhite View Post
Thanks for saying that SirBikeALot, even if it touches two sensitive subjects for our hearts.
ouch ... I managed to really put my foot in it.
Thanks for the explanation. Makes sense, and it amazes me to think Ana is riding all that without being able to touch the ground properly! Kudos!
Despite the "crappy" gear your pictures are stunning and show you have both the passion and the knowledge.
Keep it up, take care! Greetings from Austria
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:09 AM   #503
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Love the updates and can not wait to see where you will take us next!
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Old 12-12-2013, 03:52 AM   #504
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirBikeALot View Post
ouch ... I managed to really put my foot in it.
Thanks for the explanation. Makes sense, and it amazes me to think Ana is riding all that without being able to touch the ground properly! Kudos!
Despite the "crappy" gear your pictures are stunning and show you have both the passion and the knowledge.
Keep it up, take care! Greetings from Austria


thanks for stirring our memories and feelings about the African leg of our travels, as everything we do now and everything we dream to do for the future seems to reflect back on that experience that has become sort of a turning point for us. part of this may be that when we left for Africa we had just been through the most difficult moment of our life (John's accident). so I guess we were very vulnerable and open, permeable to what Africa could offer. but also Africa is arguably the place that can shape you as a person. one can just travel it, or live it. well, it's hard not to be disappointed by other travels after crossing the Congo in the rainy season or after living with the Himbas, or after living in a jungle ward in Nigeria and stuff like that. we did fell for Central Asia nevertheless - I am also aware, like John and like some who follow our RRs, that the pics from Asia do not showcase it to the best. the Wakhan itself is such an astonishing ride and such a rewarding cultural experience that I pledged to do it again, surely I'll enjoy it more on improved riding skills. my newbie "situation" put such a tremendous pressure on John - who was my guide, teacher and water boarder. I warned his from the start that he may not fully enjoy the ride (and his bike) because I would be on the trip. I also knew I may not fully enjoy the ride as I'd be consumed by the learning process, the mental and physical exhaustion. there were countless times when I realised we were riding past an amazing photo opportunity but we just could not stop to enjoy it, focusing on riding the ride. as you will read on, when we hit Mongolia I felt I was finally able to engage less neurone in the riding, and more in the taking in the surroundings. (fact is, in Mongolia there is less local folk and less cuisine and less stuff to take in, one really has to dig for it :)) but luckily it's such a rewarding endeavour)
regarding my bike, the photo above shows how I sit on it (had I had less rigid boots it would have been better) btw, I love my bike :)

Ana
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Old 12-13-2013, 12:56 AM   #505
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Hello guys

nice pictures, nice adventure. The Pamir is amazing. I hope that soon I will go riding there.

Multa batfa si drumuri senine !

Bob

bob66 screwed with this post 12-13-2013 at 04:45 AM
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Old 12-20-2013, 10:51 PM   #506
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The Power of Facebook

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Hello guys

nice pictures, nice adventure. The Pamir is amazing. I hope that soon I will go riding there.

Multa batfa si drumuri senine !

Bob
Multumim Bob, certainly the Pamir is a must-ride, perhaps we'll ride it again together?!?

On to Kyrgzstan now…:


I mentioned we have to deal with some administrative issue: we need a second visa for Kazakhstan, and Bishkek is supposed to be the best place to get an easy stamp in. So no wonder we are appalled to find this note taped to the door of the Embassy (3 days earlier than the date advised).



Over the weekend we meet with other backpackers who are also stuck in Bishkek with no visa. We ponder our options. They are not great: we could park our bikes with Sambor and leave Mongolia for another time; we could ride back via Pamir Highway into Uzbekistan and Russia; we could select one of us to fly to Dushanbe with all the passports; or we could risk rolling into Kazakhstan on the Kyrgyz visa and simply try to negotiate our way further in Almaty. We have excluded straight from the bat selling or shipping the bikes by plane. Combing the Internet I learn about a Kazakh Consulate that should be open in Osh since about a year ago. So we decide Ana should fly in to investigate. While she is watching from above the panorama of the mountains we have crossed on bikes, I fiddle with Facebook. Would you believe what I find? The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan has a fan page! So I post a message, asking directions and phone number of the Consulate in Osh.





Meanwhile in Osh, Ana decides to avoid the taxi drivers and follows a man who is walking confidently out of the airport and into a mini-van. The price for the ride into town proves to be a fraction than the taxi fare, and the confident man proves to be a serendipitous encounter. After working for 5 years in Kabul, Art has resettled to Almaty, from where he has arrived for a brief family visit. He not only knows where the Consulate is, but he happens to know the consul. He offers to take Ana to the office, and while riding to town he calls the Consulate for advice. But the news is bad: the Consulate sheds some light on the mysterious Embassy closure. It’s the annual bureaucratic holiday, and it can take anywhere from two to three weeks before they will resume operations. No visa processing, except for diplomatic emergencies. Jokingly, Art suggests Ana should try a millennia old trick: tobogganing down the sacred Sulaiman-Too. For generations people have come to this mountain hoovering above Osh, to ask for a miracle.





From up, the city reveals its dirty secrets. Art recounts for Ana the emotional stories of the civil clashes aftermath. I can only imagine how that must feel. Though I often look for one among the generation of our fathers, I wonder if there can really be a cure for hate. Part of it is the communism, which changed this place already and could do it again. But this city has an even heavier heritage. The War. When you hear the number you think, impossible. A few dozens dead goes the official count, more than 2000 claim independent sources (with 100000 displaced, most fleeing to Russia for good). Osh is full of ghosts of the walking wounded, and most of the wounds aren’t even visible to the naked eye.

But there’s nothing here to help with your problem, says Art, you should go back to Bishkek.



Meanwhile I keep my Facebook on. And hours later a new reply pops on the screen: the Kazakh Ministry has consulted with the Embassy in Bishkek and they decided to make an exception for our “team”. I am in awe. They will accept our application if we can provide a relevant supporting document from the Romanian diplomatic mission. It’s great news; naturally we’ll toast it with one last duck kebap.

The next day I launch my operation, calling Astana and emailing back and forth; with the precious note in hand, we are well received by the same man who has slapped the door in our face almost a week ago.

Two days later we have our visas. We are thankful to all who helped so much, and to Berker, who made all the commotion easier to bear. The green pastures an the rocky rails of Kyrgyzstan demand a re-ride one day. As for now, we are readying for a flash drive across Kazakhstan and Russia, before anther visa, the one for Mongolia, would expire. Ahead of us, you guessed it, rain.

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Old 12-21-2013, 07:16 AM   #507
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Great News about the Visas

Still Loving this RR.

YK
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:54 PM   #508
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Still Loving this RR.



YK

Cheers, YK!
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Old 12-23-2013, 12:04 AM   #509
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did you hibernate your blogs ?
anyway that's okay, i found your tirp update here
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Old 12-23-2013, 01:06 AM   #510
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[Q UOTE=terpaksangaskus;23049028]did you hibernate your blogs ?

anyway that's okay, i found your tirp update here [/QUOTE]

Nope. Actually the story is a bit more up to date on our blog but because for this trip we changed the format of the website from tumblr to Wordpress is not as straight forward to post on the forums (it involves manually inserting the pics in the text). Glad you found our story here and hope you enjoy it.

Cheers,
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