Sunday, 31 May 2009

Possible lock down in Uzbekistan

We have now made it to Tashkent the capital of Uzbekistan only to be told that the Uzbek government have closed the Kyrgistan and Kazakhstan borders. The Kazakhstan border must be open for us to continue. We will get a Kazakhstan visa tomorrow and hope for the best. Possibly, once we find some definitive info then we will be able to decide what we do. It all adds a bit of excitement to an oterwise uninteresting and boring journey. NOT.
At the Uzbek border we had a comparatively easy crossing and followed by a week of riding through the desert, really hot. The last 3 days of desert gave us a chance to look around the Silk Road towns of Kiva, Bukhara and Samarqand. Some amazing mosques, minarets and forts etc etc. Getting to the sad stage of having seen one then I have seen them all. Nevertheless I consider myself an expert on the subject and was happy to lecture to the locals. In Samarqand we teamed up with 3 Aussies who have spent 3 months backpacking from Australia. It was good to hear of their stories particularly during their time in Bishkek :-))

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

We had teamed up with Claudio, real name Gregorio, who we met on the Aktau ferry and we rode with him and 2 Germans on beemers NE to Beyneu where we separated and we headed across the desrt to Uzbekistan. The road to Beyneu was a dirt road in very poor condition principally due to the amount of lorries that were using it. Thank goodness we had done the Off Road course. We camped in the desert and the heavens opened turning the road into a river of mud. Claudio on his road motorcycle with road tyres found it hard going. But we made it. His bike did not suffer as badly as this one. A Ural and a copy of a BMW the plans of which were taken by the Russians after the war. At Beyneu we lost the Germans and headed into Uzbekistan.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Getting the ferry to Turkmenistan proved to be an absolute nightmare. On the day it was due to sail we were told at the docks to come back at 1900 since it was not going to sail that day since the cargo had not arrived and they would know more info that night. However since we did not know what they were trying to tell us we decided to stay around the docks. Also at the docks were those passengers waiting for the ferry to sail to Aktau in Kazakhstan. Two Brits cycling around the world who had been waiting 10 days for the ferry, a French couple driving around the world in a Land Rover, 2 Germans on BMWs going up into Russia and then home, a Spanish guy on a road motorbike going to Mongolia and then home and a honeymooning couple in a 1960s Ukrainian car going into Russia and then back to Germany. After much discussion we changed our route and also decided to go to Kazakhstan since our chances of getting through Turmenistan on our 5 day visa were diminishing with every minute that passed without the ferry sailing. So we got the Kazakhstan ferry which was delayed sailing by a day, we then sat at anchor for another day since the winds were too high, a day to cross the Caspian Sea, then another 6 hours at anchor whilst we waited for a jetty to be free. Then started the 8 hours or hell trying to get through Kazakhstan customs. OK enough whinging but it was c**p.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

This is where the potted roads start!

The Tbilisi version of Corcavado. I am sure my Hispanic friends will correct the spelling for me.

The beauty of an out of focus Tbilisi hides the "scare a motorcyclist mentality of the drivers.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Country number 16. Azerbaijan. A country of 2 halves.

As we entered Azerbaijan from Georgia we were told that they would give us three days to reach the capital Baku where customs would impound our bikes in case we sold them. How would we then ride around the world? This is a country of 2 halves in very many ways. The incredibly corrupt official half and the genuine and friendly general population. The west of the country that is lush, green with great roads and the east which is brown, dry, barren with tracks pretending to be roads. The poor majority who drive around in their Ladas and the oil rich few who need desparately to show that they have money and so buy ridiculously big cars and where the very latest in gaudy fashion. The lovely and genuine old buildings and the brand new constructon that are all trying and failing to look old.
After desparately trying to find a hotel in Baku we got one of the most expensive there was in the Old City. It was fun getting them to reduce the price by a third. The next morning there was a note on the bikes from 2 ex-pats. Phyllis and Ben who were also bikers and invited us to get in touch with them. As a result we are staying in their house whilst they are taking part in a Hash House Harriers event in Armenia. How trusting is that? We even went to a Hash party in their place and tomorrow we are running a hash. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about then look Hash House Harriers up on the net.
We are off to Turkmenistan by ferry on Monday so wish us luck with getting in otherwise we may be sat on the docks in No Mans Land unable to go into Turkmenistan or back to Azerbaijan because our visa for here has expired.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Having walked around Tbilisi for some time I met up with some old friends :-))

Friday, 8 May 2009

Having been allowed into Georgia after signing to say that we did not have swine flu it was clear from the condition of their roads that this is an extremely poor country. This is what they mean in Georgia when they say railway bridge. The train driver either tried to jump the river or Georgia closely follows the reduce, reuse, recycle principle and were desparate to save money. I was thinking about crossing but decided that it would be wiser not to. Besides how would my bike look after herself.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

And we thought that we were adventurous!!! Having passed a couple of cyclists on a wet a miserable day they pulled into the same cafe as us. A French couple who had taken 3 months to get to Eastern Turkey where it had taken us a very leisurely 1 month. When you only do 70 km a day then it will take a long time. The not so good looking bloke in the picture is my riding buddy and not the female French cyclist.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

We have been astounded by the kindness shown by the average 'Joe' on the street. Having stopped at a petrol station to ask for a local hotel one of the customers told us to follow his car. He took us to an accommodation block to provide housing for the teachers of the area where we were signed in as honorary teachers.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Central Turkey

We are now in Central Turkey at Cappadocia which is a bit of a tourist mecca but getting here we met loads of great people who just wanted to drink tea with us. The group photo is of our tea companions. The strange rock formations here are carved out and people live in them. Our hotel is in one. Hit our first dirt track today. Yes I fell off.
Thought that I had better include a smug shot.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Pre-conceptions blown out of the water

Since I last blogged we have travelled through Macedonia into Greece and then into Turkey. Went to the beach in Greece but it was raining so the room was cheap and though a German friendly resort the sunbeds were all deserted so we bagged a couple. We then spent a couple of days in Istanbul where we had work done on the bikes by a really great mechanic (wearing red in the photo) at Redline Motos. Thought we should also go to the Blue Mosque above.