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Old 10-05-2013, 09:53 PM   #46
tvbh40a
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Oh yeah

can't miss
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Old 10-06-2013, 07:34 AM   #47
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Im in!!!
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:36 AM   #48
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Wow! Fantastic!
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Old 10-06-2013, 02:47 PM   #49
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Awesome! I'm in. Nice bike, too.
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Old 10-06-2013, 06:26 PM   #50
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Thank You

It is the photos of the people that make your report special.

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Old 10-06-2013, 07:50 PM   #51
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Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tedmarshall View Post
It is the photos of the people that make your report special.

Ted
Thanks, There's more to come! For me the peoples and their culture are one of my main motivations to travel along with the sublime landscapes that they inhabit.
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Old 10-07-2013, 02:10 AM   #52
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Onto Khorog

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 there’s absolutely no one here. I carry on down a couple of km’s and round a bend to find all the villagers, There’s a large pond that they are all running and diving off rocks into, well… 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 isn’t 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. I’ve 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 who’s 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. (I’m not so sure how much down force that wing on the back will produce though!) We pile in and head 5 km’s 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 Ural’s 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 “new” 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 I’m sweating like crazy as it turns out to be Tajikistan’s hottest day this summer with the temperature in the mid 40’s. 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, there’s 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 don’t 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 he’s 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. It’s 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 it’s a problem without a number plate, what! I glance back and then relive that moment when I’m 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, I’ve 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$) the consulate staff inform me that they don’t issue ruposts to tourists anymore with no reason given. I tried to question them for the reason why, as I couldn’t just take “because” for an answer. I went ahead to get the visa with out the rupost in which was done in 5 minutes. Applying for the afghan visa in Khorog has to be the easiest place in the world I think, the 100$ 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 what’s 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 didn’t 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 bike’s 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 there’s 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 “I thought I got rid of you yesterday” 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.


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Old 10-07-2013, 10:45 AM   #53
Rockmuncher
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Nice

I love that bike! I love the parts store, the people and the whole shitteree. I'm in.
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Old 10-07-2013, 11:31 AM   #54
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Fantastic!!!!!!!!!! Keep it coming. Loving this report!
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Old 10-07-2013, 12:27 PM   #55
FinnDuro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tourist View Post
Thank you all for your nice comments, I'm using a Fuji X100s keeping it in a small shoulder bag while I rode.
That's one amazing camera right there, the X100s. I've had one for few weeks now, and the image quality (tonality, dynamic range especially) it produces is just breathtaking. I've nothing short of fallen in love with the little gem. Your photos testament the same, plus the compositions are really nice, ageless.
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Old 10-07-2013, 11:20 PM   #56
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Into Afghanistan at last

It’s a 120km down to Ishkasheim from Khorog, A mixture of tarmac and gravel. I left Khorog early morning fueled and oiled up with a thirst for adventure. (I was carrying an additional 4litres of oil in my side bag now) I would try to get down there and across the border to Eshkasheim on the afghani side all in one day. I planned to ride to Sarhad-e-broghil, the end of the road in the Wakhan, a few days riding without any chance for fuel along the way. Once there then go by some other means further into the little Pamir. I had met the Wakhi people’s months before in Chapusan valley, Pakistan. (The Pakistan Pamirs) I came away with such a positive experience there, so I thought I really needed to meet their neighbors in Afghanistan.

Arriving at the Border 5 minutes before lunchtime no one wanted to let me in to the customs area. They have a 2 hour break from 12-2 so I had to use that time to entertain a policeman who was waving cars down on the road, at no time did he ask about my missing plate. The guards came back marching out from their barracks, opening the bridge gate to the customs area. I was now free to cross and enter the customs area. (The border facility comprises of a bridge to an island in the middle of the Amu river where both the Tajik and afghan customs are, then another bridge spanning across into Afghanistan)

I enter the first door – Vehicle registration. The female officer helps me to complete the paperwork and checks both my passport and the bikes. She then Asks for the devornost. I thought I had made a couple of extra copies for border formalities but after searching through. I realized I must have binned them in Khorog accidentally when I was cleaning up. She tells me No devornost no leaving Tajikistan with the bike. We go out outside and another 2 young officers’ who like to show you who’s in charge join us and then go around the Ural pointing out this and that shaking their heads telling me all the problems I will have… “You can’t take benzine (fuel) across the border!” “ you have no number plate!”…”you will not cross!” they start to really piss me off & I too them, after all my work in getting the Afghan paperwork in Khorog I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I wait there on my bike watching 2 Tajiks cross the frontier in front of me. I am there an hour until the Afghan side closes. The Afghani commander and 2 customs officers come over to ask about if I am crossing today and they are informed of my situation. They and the Tajiks talk it out in front of me, the commander then turns and asks for my rupost, after reading through and handing it back he then says, “you have one more problem”. Oh great! Whats next? “The border is now closed so please go to the village (Tajik Ishkasheim) for some food and stay at the hotel and come back tomorrow, you can pass then” Ohh ok then.

I push the Ural around to face out of the border facility (this is the only time you really feel the weight of the bike; a solo Ural weighs 230kg, plus on top of that 40l of fuel, oil, tools and spares, cooking equip, food and luggage. It must be weighing up around 290kg now) (640lbs)

I ride on to Ishkasheim in a couple of minutes and again stay at a guesthouse that I had stayed in the summer before. It’s great to be welcomed back here; I go for a walk up the street to find a cold beer and a quiet place to sit with it to update my Journal. I arrive back at the guesthouse to meet some cyclists that were previously at the Lodge in Khorog. We eat a large dinner set over some good conversation and retire for the night.



Ishkasheim.


It’s Saturday morning and the border opens at 9am, I’m there right on time, the cyclists arrive too as they want to visit the weekly Afghan bazaar that is set up on the Island along with plenty of locals parked up in their soviet machines. The gates are opened we all flood across the bridge, I continue down into the customs area while everyone else turns right to the Bazaar/ market area. The Female customs officer is wondering why I have come back here with my motorcycle, she tells me once again I can not take it in. This instantly pisses me off as I could have gone back to Khorog for my devornost copy and back again. She and the young officers once again look over my bike with paperwork in hand. They want to search my bags, I tell them they can’t until you let me through with the bike, Just then 2 black land cruisers pull up into the customs area. The woman and young officers all quickly disappear inside to their respective work areas. I gather its some body important as everyone is saluting the man being escorted out of the 4x4. I just stand there watching the whole show and now the border is officially open with a steady stream of Afghans rushing past me to setup their market stall in the most prime position. After awhile some of the senior personnel from the land cruisers start to ask questions about me and are intrigued by the Ural. The woman and young officers reappear answering them for me. The most senior, just shrugs his shoulders and tells them in what I assume to be, just let him pass already…


The female officer asks for my passport again and brings me back into the office, she completes the paperwork once again and then gives me an extra slip with the bikes particulars on for when I come back. A receipt I gather. I'm shown to the young officer now at the immigration line amongst the Afghans coming the other way. It's all a bit cramped in the narrow corridor but I get to the desk and I hand my passport over, he asks for the immigration slip from when I entered the country, this is the first time I have even heard of such a thing. (Customs at Kyzyl-art border must have forgot) After a bit of arguing over who's at fault, he brings me around to the other side of the counter so he can talk in hushed tones and tells me its 20$. I reach into my shoulder bag and slap a pack of Marlboro's into his hand, he smiles and we shake hands. (even though I don’t smoke carrying a pack or 2 always comes in handy )

I am stamped out of Tajikistan and walk back and pick the Ural up from its leaning post and kick it back into life, then I hear an uproar from just out of the customs area, its the cycle tourers woohooing, giving me the thumbs up and waving goodbye. I wave back with a smile and ride through and up to the afghan customs buildings against now a sea of Afghan's, I glance around, there's guys hunched over carrying 10 or so rugs on their back, wheel barrow's loaded up to eye level, kids dragging sacks too heavy to carry and teams of individuals pushing and pulling donkey carts fully laden with goods.

I first meet the customs policeman, he speaks good english but i was warned back in Khorog at the lodge that he is always looking for a bribe. he makes some smart ass comments about the bike, "how do i know this is Ural?, there is no badge telling me" So i get out my pen and write Ural on the tank and tell him "now ya know mate!" with a sarcastic smile. He asks about the fuel sitting off the side of the bike, I ask him back "how is it any different if i had a 40l tank or a car with it in the back of?" opening up my backpack and side bag he seems to be more interested in trying to score a new knife or a lighter and holds up my small Joby camera tripod and asks if its for massage... He brings me inside to the customs officer, they ask where i am headed "Just to the Wakhan back in 2-3 weeks..." Then the Police man says If i do not give him 50$ they will not let me in the country, at this stage I just want this border fiasco to be done with asap, I give him 40$ and am stamped in. Finally I can breath again and look forward to some nice riding up the Wakhan. phew! A steep and very badly corrugated dusty road winds the 5km upto Eshkasheim. As i ride along the Bazaar (main street), everyone just seems to stop and stare, I just smile back and keep on riding to Juma's Guesthouse.


Soviet war era machines still even being used today.
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Old 10-08-2013, 05:20 AM   #57
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Great update. The writing URAL on the tank had me laughing. Thanks and keep it comin please.
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Old 10-08-2013, 07:44 AM   #58
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Into the Wakhan

Arriving Juma's guesthouse a young tour guide is there ready to leave with an Italian couple about to drive up the Wakhan. We meet and they ask if I would like to join them and to share costs as the Jeep is very expensive (400$) to Sarhad. I thank them for their offer but tell them I'll be riding my motorcycle.
The tour guide Azim asks me if i have all the paperwork done for the wakhan. I sigh at having to do more paperwork, he then offers to help me out as the couple need to complete their's also. we walk back to the bazaar with our passport photos and USD visiting a couple of different government agency's, both the police and army also and are done in about an hour. we each have 4 copies of the wakhan permit describing our intentions along with a hand written note that I am to deliver to border police in Khudud and Kala-e-panja so they can then write me another to hand onto the guards in Sarhad-e-broghil.
The Guesthouses in the Wakhan are expensive along with the transportation largely I suspect its because there are many expedition type tourist groups that visit here and also weathy NGO workers pushing the prices up. The Afghans like to just throw out numbers like 30-35$ a night but usually they come down to 15-20$ with dinner and breakfast.


Looking back on Eshkasheim.


No kids have bikes here but they all have Donkeys.


Into the Wakhan.


Down In the Valley.

It's hot and dusty riding up the valley the following morning, it seems like as soon as i get into 3/ 4th gear the road throws up some surprise in which i have to knock it down to 1st in order to negotiate. The valley is wide and flat on my first day with many swollen stream crossings, some take over an hour to get around & through but I realize if i simply follow the tracks of the previous vehicle it shows me an easier place to cross. I am always having to get off though and walk through though trying to find some good lines for fording, noting large rocks in the way and always the water is bloody cold which turns my legs into popsicles. I make it into Khandud mid afternoon and once i actually find and complete my registration at the police station its getting on a bit, so i decide to call it a day and retire to the guesthouse.


Wakhi Valley Dwellers.


It's Great to be able to ride over a Bridge every now and again.


Climbing a little just past Kala-e-Panja gives me an idea of whats ahead of me.


Knee deep icy torrents are to be respected.


Gotta love the Ural, it never gives up. First kick 99% of the time.

Second day in the valley and its only just over an hour to Kala-e-Panja for my next registration, after some difficult stoney and long thick sandy sections the road opens out onto an airstrip. It's great to be able to stretch the Urals legs before arriving in Kala. I stop in front of the barrier arm for the border police with the officers walking up and kicking the tyres asking about the Ural. I pass on the handwritten note and am waiting some time for the officer to return. while wait i answer all the standard questions i get everyday from riding the Ural. "what is it?" "how many litres/100km does it get?" "how much is it worth?" "can i buy it?" and so on... The officer returns and instructs me to come inside the barracks, I go in and meet with the commander. After hearing my story, he asks me, "where is your guide? you must have a guide"... "the road is my guide" i answer him back. He just smiles and then informs me that the river is too high to continue all the way to Sarhad by motorcycle and that I will have to walk if i want to get there. he grants me permission to continue and wishes me good luck. Back to my bike the barrier arm goes up allowing me to ride on. I ride another 2 hours to Sargaz still some 50-60km from my destination, there's broken down 4x4's and cars in random locations parked half off the road awaiting there owners return. I stop and help out a Toyota corolla owner with my hand pump as they have had a flat and the spare is also. (the locals all drive Toyota corrolas in which they jack the suspension right up in order to drive the roads, its quite impressive really where they can take these cars) Passing through Sargaz locals inform me through hand gestures and the few words of persian that I know that the road is closed just up ahead and I should stay here. I press on to see for myself, there are two roads now one on each side, the one on the left bank, the river is up running 5ft over - while on the right bank streams coming down from the Hindukush mountains has destroyed a bridge and washed away sections of the road. I'm told the road is closed for at least 3 days. I finally admit defeat after looking for a way past for hours and return to the guesthouse for the night where i arrange for them to store my bike for the next 2 weeks as now I will be walking into the Pamirs.


Ural babysitters.


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Old 10-08-2013, 09:45 AM   #59
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Great ride report.

Just when I thought it couldn't get better; After hearing my story, he asks me, "where is your guide? you must have a guide"... "the road is my guide" i answer him back.

Perfect!
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:24 PM   #60
rideonjon
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wow,just amazing.no gs adventure,no klim gear,no GPS.i think we've all been dupped.all you need is an old Ural and a desire.keep it comming and keep safe.
cheers,
jon
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