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Old 01-12-2012, 03:21 PM   #76
Harti OP
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Laugh Take The Wrong Way Home

Mongolia on my own and the Russian Altai



Now, since Uwe is gone, I fell into a solid depression. As long as I had to organize stuff or was needed by someone, I functioned very good. But now I realized what Uwe took with him. He was the navigator amongst us, because I am not really computer savvy, so waypoints and GPS were his territory. To sip a last beer at our little camp at night and to share the good and the not so good moments of the day also meant a lot to me. Gone too. And the support and encouragement when something fell apart on the bike...



And knowing that the piste got heavier with every mile I rode west and not knowing what to do in case of a break down freaked me almost out. Okay I had my SPOT tracker, but it's a lousy replacement for a buddy...


that's also why I came...


I waited for a truck to see how high the water level was...

So somewhere between excitement and stupidity I departed from Khvod and took it really slow. It took a while to get rid of the lump of clay in my stomach. After a couple of hours I managed to enjoy the landscape again. The colors of the green hills with the higher mountains in the background were the actual reason to come here. Maybe I should come again...



In the middle of nowhere I met this group of kids playing with an eagle. Tell a ten year old in Germany or in the U.S. to play with an eagle ...






they visited us in our camp while we visited them in their country...

I made it safe and sound to Oelgii, the last major town in Mongolia on my way to Russia again. With Uwe's inheritance, the waypoints of gas stations and hotels, I found my hostel in no time.



I met Boyusha, a young Mongolian, who was not so aggressively friendly eager to snatch an invitation for a beer or the kind that takes a free ride on my bike for granted. We was an environment engineer and had an assignment in town for a few days.




"I can't get noho desinfectiohon..." would be totally wrong...
Next day I left town before 10. I wanted to cross the Mongolian/Russian border with as little delay as possible, because my next friend Heli was waiting in Almaty, Kazakhstan.


the locals know the way...


Paul

I considered it a lucky day, because i ran into Paul from Bonn in Germany and Siggi from Innsbruck in Austria. We decided to team up for some days, because we had the same destination: the Pamirs.





The first night we spent in a hut together and while I played guitar, the boys prepared dinner. Paul even found 2 bottles of beer at a magazin (store).




Shashlik seems to be the national dish...

It feels pretty good to ride on asphalt again.



Today our plan was to cross into Kazakhstan through the Altai at an eastern checkpoint. That was the plan. We got awarded with some great views and some nice and easy offroading...


this border is closed for us...

As we reached the border we were advised, that we had to leave immediately, because we had no special permit and this was the local checkpoint only...




note the very precise meter...



So we took the main road to Barnaul. Nothing spectacular.


the most expensive accommodation ever...

Spectacular was indeed our stay some 100 km's before Barnaul. For the first time our budget underwent a serious stress test. 200 Euro per person per night. Uff. But the shower was great.



Next day we set 3 new priorities: 1. don't get a ticket for speeding. There are zillions on speed traps out there, all made in Germany. 2. keep a low profile and don't get asked for your insurance, because I had none... and 3. border crossing into Kazakhstan. Sounded doable...





Goal no. 1 check. I as the leader of our little gang obeyed traffic laws strictly. And I appreciated the little hints of oncoming drivers with flashing their lights...




Paul managed to take a nap on his bike while waiting for the border to let us pass...

Goal no. 2 check. My paranoia about the insurance was completely unnecessary. Nobody was interested in any paperwork, probably because they are useless in case of accident...


5 minutes before midnight. Get ready guys...

Goal no. 3 ... big mistake. I'm a complete idiot. I didn't realize that my visa wasn't valid until the next day. Shit. Well we all waited at the barrier until midnight, crossed over and found a place to set up our tents not even 5 km's into Kazakhstan. Thanx Siggi and Paul...

Harti
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:48 PM   #77
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So, Harti - This is the second time I've seen a guitar in one of your pictures. Are you hiding a guitar somewhere in your luggage stack, or are you just lucky enough to borrow one from time to time? And as an always-curious musician, I have to ask what kind of guitar that is in the picture above?

I'm loving this adventure. Keep up the great posts.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:20 PM   #78
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Hi tshelfer,

many of us carry an iPod for entertainment. I can't live without a guitar. And there is no secret place on the bike, I just strap it across the rear next to the waterproof sack and the captain's chair in a soft bag. Wrapped in a huge garbage bag when it rains. It's a Taylor 710, one of the nicest guitars ever made. Expensive, but worth every penny...

Harti
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:33 PM   #79
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Subscribed!!!

thanks for sharing your RR! Please keep it coming sir and thanks for sharinig your RR in case I for get.

Thanks
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:48 AM   #80
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Well, here she is:



I've strapped her with bungee cords, so in case I drop the bike she can slide to either side...
I am no master musician, but I'm quite good and I know what I'm doing on that guitar. Sometimes it breaks the ice between me and locals and music is a universal language anyway. I picked up some "Kalinka" tunes, they came in very handy, and once I made the entire customs entourage to sing along...

Harti
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:40 AM   #81
tshelfer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harti View Post
Hi tshelfer,

many of us carry an iPod for entertainment. I can't live without a guitar. And there is no secret place on the bike, I just strap it across the rear next to the waterproof sack and the captain's chair in a soft bag. Wrapped in a huge garbage bag when it rains. It's a Taylor 710, one of the nicest guitars ever made. Expensive, but worth every penny...

Harti
Ah, I thought it looked like a Taylor, but couldn't see well enough. You have good taste both in your bikes and in your instruments. I've owned several Taylors including a 710. Thanks.
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:34 AM   #82
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Hi tshelfer,

here is another "proof". I hope you recognize the typical shape of the Taylor...



Harti
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:51 AM   #83
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Nice grain in the wood. If you don't mind, I'd like to forward your picture to Taylor's website. They're very nice folks, and they love to see pictures of their guitars traveling around the world.
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Old 01-14-2012, 01:25 AM   #84
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Thanks for sharing your adventures Harti. I am especially jeleous of your adventures with your wife Martina. I wish I could share a trip with my wife, too bad she doesn't really care for motorcycles. Your trip through the United States was fascinating, especially the parts from New Mexico westward. Sorry to read about Uwe's crash, glad it wasn't worse.

Keep up the great posts. I am very interested to find out what happens next on your adventure.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:22 AM   #85
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Kazakhstan







I was in a hurry. I had a rendez vous with Heli, a friend from Germany. We wanted to meet up in Almaty tomorrow. Our goal was to get 650 km's today but we didn't put into consideration, that the roads here were extremely bad. Plenty of potholes, a lot of traffic, sand patches and mud slowed us down dramatically. And the lack of gas stations took care of the rest. We really had to search for fuel pumps, they were hidden in villages and all in bad shape. Right now I tore the hose off the nozzle and spilled a few gallons over my bike, because you can stop these pumps only from inside the little cabin by the operator...





No restaurants either. Kazakhstan is not well prepared for tourism... On the other side: the northern half of the country is boring, flat and you really don't wanna hang out there for some extra long time... Most interestingly we found an ATM machine...









On that shitty road I smoked up one shock. And the oil dripped straight on one of the break discs... The break power tended towards zero... So that needed to be fixed before we continue to the Pamirs.




it works like this: behind the mirror is the water tank. When water is needed, you simply push the little pin in the faucet aside...


Suburbia of Almaty

In Almaty the second third to my trip comes to an end. Siberia, this enormous land mass is still hard to grasp. Barely inhabited, it seems to be boring, but there has to be something that makes a trip worthwhile... I didn't found the Siberian tiger, no bears, no lynx, not even deer... When I hear Siberia I think of Gulag and I also came to correct that image...



The engine problems occurred more often now.

So in Almaty we scheduled a major break for maintenance.



Close to Almaty I, for the first time in my travel history, ran into a speed trap. But the cops were nice today. We payed nothing.



Navigating in Almaty was crazy. Darkness, not knowing the city, everyone being a rally driver around us, wasn't helpful. It was almost a miracle, that I found the hotel, where Heli waited for me, immediately.



Everyone, meet Heli. He is a friend of mine from Germany and we go back a long time. We emptied a few bottles of beer and exchanged some stories...



Next day we went to see BMW for the necessary repairs. They weren't very supportive. They told us, that we had to schedule an appointment at least 2 months ahead. Are they kidding? One of the mechanics was also a biker and he showed us to a workshop at the other side of the town to someone, who builds up racing bikes... he was exactly the kind of guy, we wanted to see...







Next day Heli and I went to the airport to see, if we can get his bike released from customs... If you don't understand a word what's being spoken, you have a hard time. What we understood was: come back tomorrow. Will do...





Almaty is a vibrant city with a western flair. Young people make music in the streets or dance, older people (like us) watch them while sipping a beer and eating a kebab from the terrace of the open air pub next door... You can even get international news papers.

Tomorrow we will be leaving for Kyrgyzstan.

Harti
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:47 PM   #86
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:15 AM   #87
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great stroy!

I love the fact that you took your guitar along
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:36 AM   #88
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home, from DC to Berlin

Well, a guitar and a captain's chair and a coffee maker make all the difference when it comes to camping in remote areas.

Look for yourself:



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Old 01-17-2012, 05:24 AM   #89
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Just want to say thanks for the great ride report.
Can't wait for more,
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:06 AM   #90
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan




Vodka is cheaper than water...

We left Almaty, the city with some great German heritage. I didn't get to know Almaty by sightseeing but but maintaining my bike. Where the museums are, what palaces they have, what monuments... no clue. But I know, where the cargo area of the international airport is, also the BMW headquaters and the backyard mechanics. On top of that all access roads, supermarkets in the vicinity, the high pressure car wash and the local pub, where we celebrate at night our successes. That way you get to know the every days life much better, their characters, their worries and hopes and their talent to cope with the shortage of almost everything.




a mobile bakery


now that's a gang...

On our way out I had beaten the GPS again. I just followed my instincts and we got out of town in no time.







For the first time we had to deal with heat above our body temperature. Another burden I have to pay attention to at my age and it forced me to drink more often. No problem with my camel bak drinking system. The others had to stop all the time...











We looked for the "singing dune" in a national park which unfortunately we didn't find. When we asked people in a little village, we were greeted by handshake from every member of that village and their language was for the first time more similar to Turkish than Russian...





That night we enjoyed camping again with guitar music, cooking and vodka.



The desert of Kazakhstan forced us to rest more often. Temperatures were way beyond 100 degrees, humidity against zero, dust, sand and a strong head wind had beaten us up...


Heli survived his Kummis experiment...


Siggi didn't...

Siggi tried Kummis for the first time. It's mare milk, a very sour and very hostile to peoples stomach, who are not used to drink this local milk... He got sick and puked the soul out of himself.





In a ditch some locals processed a dead horse, that got hit by a car.





Heli's bike had serious battery problems. We had to push it all the time. Not funny in the heat...



And Siggi dropped his bike twice today as a result of a lack of concentration...







Our plan to cross into Kyrgyzstan was sabotaged by the fact, that the border was closed since 2 years. We could have avoided that detour if I had read Uwe's notes more careful. But I didn't and so we had to ride back the same road for 500 km's. But hey, it's holidays after all...









So we passed Almaty again and went from there straight to Bishkek. Siggi and Paul branched off to Lake Ysyk-Kol, while Heli and I tried to get the electric problems under control.


when we stop vodka is not far...


border Kazakhstan - Kyrgyzstan


nice to read some German once in a while...


grandpa always travels with the family...

The border formalities were a piece of cake. The entry into Switzerland from Germany couldn't have been easier...





In the hotel in Bishkek they allowed us to park our bikes in the lobby. Safe and sound.


a museum in Bishkek


note the cell phone...



Tomorrow we are going to meet up with Siggi and Paul again and then we will get ready for the Pamirs...

Harti

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