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Old 07-17-2012, 01:42 AM   #16
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Update....1

Note....for some reason my keyboard is playing up and transposing y and z. I have tried to catch all instances but if you see something out of place....sorrz !

On Sundaz, Ad, Jan, Martin and mzself went for another walk around Almaty, including a visit to Kok Tobe. This is a hill to the south of the city where there is a small amusement area and the Almaty telecom tower. See photos below.

Green Bazaar with mountains to the south from Ad and Martins hotel balcony on Sunday morning....




Yenkov's Cathedral, we think Russian Orthodox, in Panfilov Park


View over Almaty from the cable station on Kok Tobe. The bottom cable station is just above Hotel Kayakhstan, see later photo. We didn't find it so took taxi to near top then had a verz hot uphill walk to do the rest. I verz much advise using the cable. btw, Lonelz planet gives the price as 300 tenge each way....well now its 1000 tenge each way, or about 5.5 Euros.



Me and the Beetles statue that was placed on Kok Tobe in 2007. The 'installation' is by Eduard Kazaryan



This is the Kayakhstan Hotel with the Guns and Roses Pub below. If you walk (uphill all the way) to this hotel, continue on uphill and there is the cable station. I have a waypoint but not at this moment, will post later.


Just near this is what I believe to be the Childrens Republican Palace


Last photo for this post is another shot of the Green Bazaar, but taken illegally inside the food hall. One of the later group got arrested for taking a similar photo. I think he got away without paying any fine. There were 2 police with him in the room, as soon as 1 left, the remaining one, opened a draw and invited him to put some money inside. Plazing dumb worked I think.


Ok, just 1 more. The actual war memorial in Panfilov Park


While we were out, the bulk of the allroadmaniac group arrived at the hotel. The 2 Brits, Chris and Nick, came out with us for shashlik and a few beers on the Sunday evening but we didn't see the others till Monday. See next post.

btw, for those bemoaning the lack of femail's in the photos so far, I will try to address this dereliction of duty soon.. There are some really beautiful ladies here and, like most of eastern Europe and Asia, are always smartly dressed.

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Old 07-17-2012, 02:33 AM   #17
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Update....2 (16/07/12)

We were supposed to be collected at 1100 this morning to go to the bonded warehouse to get our bikes. This bacame 1230 and finally 1415 before we went anywhere.



Once at the depot, our paperwork from the airport (was done by Yerzhan before we left airside) was collected and we had to wait to be given permission to enter the bonded side. This finally happened after 1600. The container was still sealed, good so far, and was unsealed in our presence.





It didn´t take long for the unloading to get underway....


2 workers then started to open the crates. At this time, we were told to keep back as it was their job. Later on, however, when they realised that the bikes were not ready to go (wheels out etc) they started to panic as the warehouse closed at 6!


This is Andries with his KTM......it actually started :-)


Finally, by box came out....last!


We than had a mad rush to get the bikes back on their feet, batteries connected, screens replaced etc etc....the usual stuff after shipping. It was really hot and there was not one of us who was not filthy and soaked in sweat.

My bike, almost done. Started first time


Group shot of the yard just before we had to wheel them all out of the bonded side as it was 1800....The guy in Red is Nick, a school teacher from Devon.




There was a group shot taken before we left....by Yerzhan. I hope to get a copy from him and will post when I can. Everyone else was just too tired and desperate to get on their way....me included.

After a couple of miss understandings between me and my satnav......and hitting rush hour traffic, I arrived in the Ainabulak 1 micro district where the Sarayshik hotel is located. Well, what a find.....through booking.com. This is like a mini leasure resort with swimming pool and outdoor restaurant, with its own parking AND many of the staff speak reasonable English. Its about €54 per night including breakfast, use of the facilities and interet (slow). Its not the cheapest available in Almaty, but is is not even close to the price of many hotels. Oh, I forgot the most important thing for me.....secure parking AND Aircon in my room. Happy chap

Reception followed by pool area. Latter photo taken from a lovely seated area where internet is available.




While doin this update, I heard from another Dutch Rider who didn´t arrive with the group, he rode here via Finland and Russia. He had problems with his police registration as he was over the 5 days allowed. He has been fined 20.000 tenge.....about €105-110. He won´t get his passport till today so had to stay another night in Almaty.

He joined me for dinner last night and has checked out of his hotel (Reunion) and is staying here tonight. I feel a few beers about to be poured

Later.....

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Old 07-17-2012, 06:33 AM   #18
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Old 07-19-2012, 11:18 PM   #19
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17 July Almaty to Shonzhy

At last...the riding starts.

Filled my hydration pack and bought a few snacks for the day and set off about 10:00. The plan for the day was to ride to a small town called Shonzhy (on my map though the sat nav has it as a different spelling) via the Turgen gorge, Assy plateau and Charyn Canyon.

It wasn´t too difficult getting out of Almaty from the hotel and I was on tarmac all the way, through Issyk and into the Gorge. As I entered the gorge itself, there was an army (wearing combats) checkpoint to charge me 461 Tenge (361 + 80) for the privilege. That's about €2 and a bit.

The tarmac continued for a few kms through the steep sided valley, along a river most of the way. The tarmac stopped at a turning place and a rough track continued on and began to rise sharply climbing to the plateau. My first minor off of the day was on this section....no real problem and was very low speed.

I took a slight detour at the top to visit the Assy Observatory sited at around 2600 meters. See below.




The place was completely deserted. It actually looked as it did in many other pictures I had seen on Paramio so I am wondering if it was actually an abandoned project?

This is looking the other way, across the plateau in the direction I was intending to travel.


After descending a couple hundred meters again, the track continued across some grass land and alternated between good and bad sections. I passed a few 4x4´s and a truck driven by Kazakhs coming in the other direction. There were numerous Kazakh camps (summer?) tending to grazing cattle.

I rode through a few minor water crossings, but eventually came to the point that I had to cross a wide river, though split into several streams for the most part. One section, however, looked a little fast so I walked the bike across with the engine running and in gear. Half way across, in the deepest part, I lost footing and the bike went over on its right side (exhaust on the left). Much of the airbox was covered in water but the engine kept running, with me desperately trying to reach the kill switch under water. I managed it eventually....must have been lying there for 10 seconds though and not before before burning myself on the exhaust.

Photo is 2 days later


Anyway, got the bike up....took a breather and while changing sides to start pushing it out, dropped it again, this time with me sitting down in the river too.

So, got it up for a second time, finally managed to change sides and then took some time pushing it over some largish stones and out onto dry land.

btw, I was being watched by 3 Kazakhs on a hillside not far away while this was going on, none moved to help.
btbtw, I can vouch for the Wolfman panniers keeping water out.....all remained dry including the one that was completely submerged.

The bike started BMW

No photos unfortunately....was rather busy at the time and I forgot. Eventually got going again, this time to a much tougher track.

The picture below shows the bike on what must be a 30-35 degree uphill section. I came off 5 times trying to get up this part. If I had a heavier bike, I simply would not have made it. The picture does not really do it justice and the bike is in gear, the only thing keeping it there.


Not too long after this section, there was my first glimpse of the reservoir that marked the end of this section of the trail.


Still need to be very careful as the track was washed out in many places with deep and wide holes. The next photo doesn´t really do the hole justice.....would have been a new front end if I´d gone into that at any speed.


The down hill starts in ernest...though there were still plenty of surprises in store.....


Finally arrived at the bridge over the river out of the reservoir at 18:30, must later than I had hoped.


The track from here was gravel and sand, reasonably quick, for about 4 kms back to a tarmac b road leading to the main road to the Charyn Canyon turn.

I had to make a decision. Did I go to the Canyon today and camp or try and find some lodgings? Opting for the former, I set off on the 50 ish kms to the canyon turn off then a further 10kms to the canyon itself. The sun was getting ready to set by this time.

Then disaster....... just as I was riding along the track to the canyon, my hydration pack went dry. Hoping that there was someone still there, I continued on. Nope, completely deserted. I had no choice, I snapped a few quick photos and continued along the track towards Shonzhy in the north.


The sun had set and I had about 20kms to do in what remained of the light. Giving it some gas, I had a crazy and dangerous ride in fading light hoping to get to tarmac before the light went completely. Made it, but only just.

Arrived in Shonzhy about 22:00, parched. Got to the first store and downed a bottle of water and only then realised I had not needed the bathroom all day......hmmm, this was not good!

Eventually found a small hotel.....I use the term very loosly. A group of young kazak truckers were also there, piled in 6 to a room. I got my own room with a matress that put steel to shame for hardness. The owner, and the trckers, were good, one had a few words of english.

The owner and I managed to get my bike inside as it was the only secure place that it could go.


A few minor repairs were necessary, like putting my hand guards back into position following the off´s. This is my remodeled brake lever....still functioning as it should so not touched.


Finally got to bed after treating my burns from earlier in the day. During night woke up with severe pain/cramp in my left leg. Got up to walk it off and went very light headed. Sat on the floor and next thing I remember is waking up flat out. Pain had subsided. Thinking it was dehydration still, I drank plenty more water and went back to sleep. Felt fine in the morning....except every part of my body hurting and totally stiff. It appears I had over done it.

to be continued......

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Old 07-19-2012, 11:33 PM   #20
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Ooops

Just took another look at that photo of my brake lever. Looks like I may have more of a problem than I thought. WIll go check it out. Hope its repairable as this is the only lever that I don´t have a spare for
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:23 AM   #21
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Awesome mate, very nice pics

....I like your bike


Hope you`ll get that brake lever sorted out

cheers
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Old 07-20-2012, 09:01 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infra80 View Post
Awesome mate, very nice pics

....I like your bike


Hope you`ll get that brake lever sorted out

cheers
Me Too

According to Walter, I need an Argon Welder to repair this. Now I just got to find one.

Glad you like the photos....will post more when I can but am doing these updates over GPRS as wifi is not big out of the major cities.
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Old 07-20-2012, 09:35 AM   #23
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18th July Shonzhy to Taldyorgan

No off-road today....with brake lever like that and the events of yesterday, decided to get to a largish town/city on my route, cutting out the off-road part.

Left the hotel, filled up with gas on the outskirts of the town and started towards Koktal as this had a mosque that I wanted to see and I needed to go this way to get to Taldykorgan anyway.


The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. Thought I had got a bit of trouble when a car kept over taking me and then slowing down.....but it turned off eventually.

Stopped to refuel me, not the bike, at a modern gas station just outside Saryozek and met up with an Almaty biker and girlfriend on their way to the Kazakh Altai for a long weekend.

Here we are.....after exchanging contact details in case I needed anything.


I tried to keep up with them for a short time but they were traveling faster than I wanted to on offroad boots.

Arrived in Taldykorgan just as my fuel light went on. After a quick calculation, I was surprised at the difference in mileage that the bike did with 92 octane fuel (allegedly) compared to 96 that I got in Almaty.

Found the hotel I had picked up from GE but it looked way too grand and expensive. However, It was cheaper than the one in Almaty....but no WiFi, which was strange. Was also right next to the center of town.

Found a good shashlik place later with 1 girls who spoke passable English>Lat 45.019764 Long 78.37924


A few photos of the center. In the first one, the building on the left appears to be some sort of night club, judging by the music blasting out of there in the evening.








That's pretty much it for now. I am taking a day out here tomorrow and will continue riding on 21st, heading for Ayagoz and then Semmipalatinsk.

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Old 07-20-2012, 09:44 AM   #24
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Bit of excitement

Fire alarm went off in the hotel just as I finished posting that. Turned out to be a false alarm though couldn;t undrstand any announcement.

Hope they get the siren off, will be difficult to sleep if not.

Aaah, silence.
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:33 AM   #25
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Route to Barnaul - Siberia

No internet for a few days now so have not been able to make any updates.

I have been having a few problems with the transfer of fuel from the X-Tank into my main fuel tank. It has been a bit hit and miss for some reason. Been very lucky though, as when the fuel light has come on unexpectedly early, I have been coming top or just gone past a fuel station. Having to monitor it closely now.

Lunch stop an the way to Ayagoz


Self portrait....the scenery is like this (or flatter) mile after mile. Its interesting to experience and I´m not going to be fully in the steppe for a few days yet, but I sort of understand why this country is more of a pass through place rather than a destination. There simply isn´t that much to see and once you have seen 1 desert cemetary, the hundreds more like it cease to be of interest.


There were a lot of roadworks around Ayagoz and all traffic had to go off-road just to get into the town. Managed to find a place to stay right by the very large railway station. Later discovered that this is the main line down from Russia.



It looks (and is) a bit run down, but the room was good, and there was a cafe inside that sold everything I needed so it was a good find. btw, I´m waypointing all these places and will add them all into OSM at the end of my trip.

Outside the hotel was this old soviet steam train. Any enthusiasts able to identify it? By the looks of the sign it was either build or decommissioned in 1930.




After leaving in the morning, I bumped into a Yorkshireman on a GSA. He was/is riding UK to Magadan with the Australian tour company Compass Expeditions. The group had bypassed the town but he came through to buy some provisions. I later met up with the rest of the group and stayed for lunch.




The group was heading for Semmipalatinsk, ready to cross the border the following day. I wasn´t going to use that crossing point, but one near Ust-Kamenogorsk as Walter advised due to it being quieter, and I wanted to cross today.

Approaching the Town, I was stopped at a checkpoint and had to produce papers. This wasn´t police on the take, it was a genuine, check area. No problems and was on my way in 5 mins.

Once through Ust-Kamenogorsk, the road deteriorated until it became difficult to ride at any sort of speed. There is about a 40km section of road that is under repair (I hope). For anyone traveling to the border crossing near Shamanaikha, I suggest you try the road that runs through Pervomayskiy.

I was getting a little worried in case the border post closed. Got there about 6pm and was pleased to find that it was both open and there was only about 6 other vehicles waiting. To cut a long story short, crossing through the 2 borders took about 2 hrs.....the Kazakh one taking the longest.

On the Russian side, I forgot to change money or buy insurance. Perhaps there was somewhere to do that, but I didn't see anywhere....and as I said, I forgot anyway.

The road immediately after the border was a little rough for about 6kms then I hit tarmac and the road into Zmeinogorsk was not to bad......about 40kms. As it turned out, I passed the hotel I was to stay in on the approach to the town.....more later. With the help of a man who spoke some English, I found a cash-point to get some rubles and the first hotel I tried was just down the road from that. I don´t know if it was because I looked so rough or whether they genuinely were full (1 car in car park) but they said they had no rooms.

The same guy who helped my before pointed by back the way I had come to another hotel near the police post. When I got there, there was no one about. Looks like I was going to have to camp somewhere. After about 20 mins, someone showed up from the (closed) shop downstairs and called the owner out. They had a room so I was sorted for the night. What I hadn't realised that with crossing the border, I was a further 1 hour ahead so it was 10 already and no shops were open. Dried fruit and nuts for dinner then !

To find this hotel, as you approach the town, there is a gas station on the left immediately followed by a left bend in the road with a large (police) compound on the right. New looking. Just past that on the Left side is a smaller garage and the hotel is the next building to that garage. See photos below.



Looking south from the hotel, large police compound on the left.


The next day I pushed on on some very reasonable B roads to the A349 and Barnaul City. I had co-ordinates of Bikecity22 which is run by Viktor. Arrived there about 2pm and could see no sign of the workshop. There was a line of shops down an unpaved road but no bike shop. A man must have realised what I wanted and took me round the back of the shops (to the left side), along the back to an enclosed ramp up to a set of units above the line of shops. The workshop is to the left once up the ramp.

Everyone there was very helpful. There was an aluminum welder a little further along the units that fixed my break lever. One of the bikers went out and found me an H9 bulb for my headlights, and I did some much needed maintenance on the bike.

In the photos, Viktor is the one in a cast having had a bike accident. The younger biker took me to a hotel in the centre and found me a secure place (guarded) to park my bike. He then took me to the Barnaul Biker Bar, home to a largish biker group. They were all very friendly and I spent a very beery evening there, getting back to the hotel around 2am. Will be going again this evening, only not so much beer as I will be traveling back to Kazakhstan tomorrow, via a different route. I have done 1 border, now I am going to try the busy one on the A349 south of Rubtsovsk, just for comparison.



Scottoiler Russian style. This is the Africa Twin of Aliaksei, from Vladivostok. He has been traveling for a month through Mongolia.


The guy who helped me find a hotel and the Biker bar....


Before and after shots of the brake lever




Erik'shard-part.....slightly bent !


Andre and Larissa, who speaks very good English. The bar staff work 24hr shifts..... midday to midday.


Leanna (with her boyfriend Dennis) holding the Barnaul biker festival poster which I had unfortunately missed. However, it was the only 2 days rain that Barnaul has seen for a month! There is another bike festival in Novosibirsk in early August, and there is something going on in Irkutsk this coming weekend. The website for the bar is: www.motoclub.su



I will get some outside shots of the biker bar this evening as its quite interesting, and post them later of next time.

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Old 07-26-2012, 07:39 AM   #26
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Update 26th July

Just a quick update on progress then a load of photos.

Started back to Kazakhstan (Semmipalatinsk) but nearly ran out of fuel. It appears that my main tank is not being topped up by my X-tank. Tried everything to correct but with such a limited range, I decided to turn round and go visit Viktor again and see what he could do.

Got to his place around 3pm and by 5 was back on the road again. Not sure if it was fixed, and so sick of the road south to Semmipalatinsk so decided to head for Novosibirsk. I drove a total of 560kms that day to progress only about 220kms. Hard day.

As I entered the city, I saw a local biker by the side of the road and stopped to ask directions. To cut a long story short, I ended up being invited back to his home for the night. This turned out to be a soviet style tenement block. Really small, locks after locks to get in, and an orphanage right in the middle. It was a real experience. It turns out that Viktor used to be a speedway rider and had spend many years in Germany. His English was not good, but sufficient for us to communicate. I had the privilege of seeing many really old family photos from Siberia where his father was a mid level policeman during the war.

Barnaul Biker Bar shots....front with summer bar behind the bike.


Stables for club members and regulars


Entrance to the inside (winter) bar


Inside bar....1 of the rooms


Every time you go in, there is something else to notice


Alexsei, from Vladivostok, and his bike...



Other shots of Barnaul, including the war memorial opposite my hotel,








Viktor outside his tenement




The Tenement at night from Viktors apartment


And the Orphanage....



I left Viktors around 9am and rode 600kms of some of the most mind numbing roads I have ever been on, to Omsk. There is a smoke haze over the whole area, Novosibirsk to Omsk, due to the forest fires 300kms to the north around Tomsk.

These next shots are from Omsk. Looks like a really good place and I´d must come back sometime for a longer visit. As it is, I am moving on to Petrapavlosk (Kazakhstan) tomorrow.




The tower block is the ´Tourist´hotel. Right on the river front.


Bridge over the Irtysh River in Omsk.




As I said, back into Kazakhstan tomorrow.

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Old 07-29-2012, 07:05 AM   #27
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Petropavlovsk

The border croossing between Omsk and Petropavlovsk was very straight forward and appears to be a quiet crossing point. As usual, it took about 2 hours start to finish.

The route itself was standard Russian Steppe so I´ll just pput up some photos.

This is the road a few kms inside Kazakhstan


The cheaper of the 2 main hotels in Petropavlovsk....3500 tenge for a night. No air-con and very Russian. However, also very central so a good option. The other hotel is 10.000 tenge upwards. I did see some smaller places but didn't look like good bike parking. At this hotel, there was the usual guard on duty though it is expected to pay him. 300 tenge.

As an aside, the park in front of this hotel is also a wedding photo must have, like Panfilov park in Almaty.


In the park opposite the hotel




As I got the hotel, a guy came over and said he was a rider (ktm it turns out) and invited me over to his place, just by the hotel. Well.... why not!

Slava (his name) did not speak English but his wife, Anastasia, did so he called her to the restaurant.....


With nails like these......ouch!. Apparently, Zwarovski crystals embeded in them.


I tried to register at the local immigration police, but because I was only stopping 1 night, they either wouldn't or couldn't do it. So, It looks like I have to go to Astana after all.....

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Old 07-29-2012, 07:19 AM   #28
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Astana

The ride to Astana was about 500kms. In the more northern part, there were sections of major road building going on so off-road routes were provided for 5+kms at a time. No problem for an enduro bike but a sports bike rider would have a problem. The no overtaking signs on these sections are ignored by everyone.

As I got to 100kms from Astana, the roads became western motorway standard. Just as well because a massive storm arrived and I got drowned before I could pull of to get waterproofs on. It was so bad, that the rain was just like Holland, horizontal, and I've only seen lightening and wind like it once before. I stayed put and waited it out in some protection that was anything but. The bike almost blew over at one point so I had to change its position to head into the wind..... of course, then the wind direction changed!

As it was the weekend, and I knew there would be no registration before Monday, I had booked a hotel for 3 nights. I ended up in a good hotel, for the money, by Astana standards. The hotel is arranging the registration for me on Monday so I have 2 days in which to be a tourist. Hence the photo blitz below. btw, will also do some bike maintenance as I forgot to check Viktors work in Barnaul and it looks like my chain is far too loose. No problem, just a minor job.

Anyway....here come the photos. No particular order. There may be ome more tomorrow.

Astana from my Hotel at night....




Looking along the ´Mall´towards the presidential palace..... a few photos at different points, this is a long and very beautiful walking area


Additional shots off to 1 side but at the palace end of the mall´´.....from the tower.












The ministry of defense....


Ministry of the Interior


The famous tower. Queues today (Sunday) were huge. Hope to get up there tomorrow when the fog is gone. For orientation, the presidential palace is behind it in a straight line.








Impressive shopping center off to one side....


Inside






Buildings off to the side...






Looking away from the palace towards this impressive structure and the equally impressive shopping mall beyond.








Approaching the shopping mall in the ´tent´





No Idea how this is pronounced....



This is what the area is expected to look like when it is finished...


Inside




The whole building on the roght is the Radisson Hotel. You need a mortgage to stay there in this town!


Opposite my hotel is the Museum of the first president of the Republic of Kazakhstan.




The Grand park Esil Hotel. Not a bad price for the city and not a bad location. 700 tenge taxi to the ´Mall´.


More photos to follow tomorrow....

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Old 08-02-2012, 01:18 PM   #29
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Wow, Astana seems to be a nice City. But why does it seem so empty? Were your pictures taken in scorching heat at noon? You'd guess the traffic is a mess with 700'000 inhabitants.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:11 AM   #30
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I shall read with interest
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