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Georgia to New Zealand - My Journey Home

After an lengthy stint on the road, it is time to head home, to New Zealand. This ride report will follow my travels from Georgia, back to New Zealand...

I guess I'm wheelie happy to have crossed into Russia!

Border crossing days are not my favourite but this was the worst yet. 3 hrs to leave Georgia dealing with customs and after a threat of my bike been confiscated the 350US I had to pay didn't hurt as much but still.

I have now found out you can go to the police department to get an extension if you need to have your bike stay longer than 90 days in the country. Such a stupid law. Bike should have same time as the person which is a year for me.

Then 4 hrs of basically an interrogation at the Russian border. Two guys asking lots of the same questions. I didn't think they liked me having a couple passports. Having to name each country I had travelled to and future as he typed along with family member questions, job, money, over and over.

Even ex wife’s details ( like her birthday. Shit it was 20 years ago I didn't remember it when I was with her) my brothers wife’s details, and at one point questioned my accent saying it didn't sound like I was from New Zealand.

Made me sign a long detailed account of it all then said it wasn't possible to enter. I had no cell and they wouldn't let me use wifi to prove some of the details. I think they thought my Visa was fake. I'm not exactly sure. 10 mins later more phone calls and then the sweetest words I've heard in ages... Welcome to Russia!!

I rode to Prielbrusye National Park yesterday to check out Mount Elbrus (one of the seven summits). I love my mountains so even though it's not in the "right" direction I knew I had to come check it out.

It started out pretty nice but I got a bit of rain in the last hour. Today I woke up to a spectacular day and found a little 4x4 track that's mostly used by hikers up to the snow line then I hiked up to about 10000ft to get a view of it.

What a spectacular area and I tell ya Russia is setting the bar pretty bloody high right at the start with views like this.

It was a big day on the bike for me today. About 550k but it was hot and really windy all day and the wind was not in my favour. I also had a few check points which take time.

One I stopped and pointed to the New Zealand flag on my bike and both the huge guys with guns slung over their shoulder fist bumped me and waved me on. Another I had to take my top bag off and put it through a Xray machine in a little building while they checked my documents.

Really long boring roads with sand blowing over some sections and only a short part of gravel.

I was beat by the time I got to Astrakhan and after striking out on the first two cheap places because of no parking I found a place with locked up parking and a really really nice room for 30 US . More than I like to spend but it was 5pm and I left at 7.30am along with not eating all day so I was over it so I decided to treat myself.

One thing I miss about traveling through South and Central America there is always food to be found easily. Chickens roasting on the side of the road and fresh squeezed fruit juice.

I'll hang out here tomorrow and do an oil change etc then head to Kazakhstan the next day or following.

Ohh... I finally found a cold beer and I've seen lots of shorts around including women’s legs. Winning.

I spent most of the day walking around Astrakhan and it is a nice little city. Nothing really sticks out but it was a great day off the bike and I managed to get a haircut and do an oil change.

I'm going to have to stretch the next couple longer than the norm but they will be pretty easy Ks. I crossed into Kazakhstan yesterday and it seems Russia were happier to let me out than in and the Kazakhstan side was quick as well as filled with happy border guards all interested in my bike.

The road turns to crap after the border and potholes all over with big ridges where the trucks drive in places. Sometimes there was a dirt road that paralleled the main road and it looked smoother but turned out to be slower.

I just went into jedi mode and used the force sitting on about 100k for a heap of it dodging the big ones and it seemed to skip across the smaller ones. There were a couple though that caught me out and I would cringe in my helmet feeling the whack but thankfully not getting a puncture or worse.

It's heating up and it was about 35c yesterday and 37 today so close to 100f.

I left at 8 and rolled into this cheap hotel in Atyrau about 5.30 and while I was checking in a group of about 15 ex pats came out of the bar attached to it. All hammered and on a stag do so before I could say no my bags were in the room and I was on a bus bar hopping and not been allowed to pay for a thing getting home about 2am so I'm feeling a bit shattered today.

They are all in the oil and gas business. Not very great views here as it's just flat,dry and dusty. I'm probably be heading to Beyneu tomorrow and cross into Uzbekistan the day after.

The bike is running really well and I think it was a great call putting a new injector in. The phantom cutting out it had been doing when coming into a intersection has gone and I've noticed my fuel mileage is better.

The other day with the string wind it seemed to be not working as hard as it had in the past also. I'm still building confidence in it and the last couple big days with it running mint has helped a heap.

Oh and Kazakhstan makes country number 46 for doing a wheelie on the bike in.

Smashed out about 450k today to Beyneu. It's getting hotter and was around 37c today. Not much to see except a few camels and lots of long straights.

The Kazakhstan people have been really nice but it's certainly not a place to come for the views or riding. Border crossing tomorrow fingers crossed.

I'll use my Kiwi passport as it's Visa free where with my US I would need to apply online. Let's hope they are good with my new Kiwi not having stamps in it showing where I came from.

Two concerns are 1. Fuel. Apparently not much in Uzbekistan and the route I'm taking is the worst so they say have enough for 600k. I have a couple Giant Loop gas bags but it will still be a push. I have a 2 gal and 1 gal bag.

2nd. Money. Not many ATM machines there if any besides Tashkent and I'm running low on the US I have. Having to give Georgia 350 in US at the border didn't help my cause. Lucky I had it as the bank at the border wouldn't accept a Visa card to make the payment.

It's going to be a long day I think as there isn't much of anything for quite a while from here on out. It's all part of the game we're playing huh.

I left Beyneu just before 8 and after filling up with gas including my 2 Giant Loop gas bags I headed the 90k to the boarder. The gas station close to the border was closed so I was going to have to make do with what I had. Basically 30litres. I have a one and two gallon gas bag.

There was a long line of cars at the border with doors open and people standing around. I rode to the front and after showing my passport the guard waved me through in front of the others.

I had to check my bike out of the country as technically it hadn't been done since Russia because Kazakhstan is included for the bike as far as Russia is concerned.

I lined up with a bunch of pushy truck drivers and noticed that the guy In front of me slid some money in his passport and documents.

Before he could hand it over a big dude walked between us all stuck his paperwork through the window then slapped one of the guys hard on the shoulder and said something in a shitty voice. They all looked pissed but didn't do anything .

I watched the guy in front of me hand his documents over and saw the guy behind the desk put them below it take the money then proceed.

I was next but two guys had tried to squeeze me out reaching for the window with their paperwork.

Not on my watch cheeky f#$kers so I said something and shouldered in on them then another guy stood up for me and they backed off.

Next was a massive line to get to passport control and a guard saw me yelled tourist and I was waved to the front.

I felt a tinge of guilt but that line wasn't moving so I was thankful to be in the front and done with it.

I switched to my Kiwi passport as you don't need a Visa for Uzbekistan and luckily they didn't say anything about not having any exit stamps in it from Kazakhstan.

They checked my bags and were checking cars over a pit one by one. Really slow going and I can't imagine how long it would take to get through if you had to wait from the back of all the lines. Probably a day or more.

By the time I got the bike documents sorted and insurance along with changing money it was about 12.00.

The first 100k the road was rough and slow going with some huge potholes. After a really rough patch I felt my bag shift and I stopped to look finding my gas bag had slipped onto my pipe and nearly burnt through. Bloody close call.

A couple hundred k down the road I stopped when I saw a couple cars at a intersection and pointed to my tank.

They made me follow their car 200 meters down the road stopped and got out with two 5 litre containers. That topped me back up and gave me piece of mind knowing I would make it the 540k to Nukus.

I rolled into the guesthouse about 6pm pretty feeling pretty spent.

It's a nice guesthouse and for 16us you get a twin room with AC and breakfast. Shared toilets and showers.

I took the day off the bike today after riding basically 1000k in the last two days.

I walked around and got a sim card and found a working ATM. The first 2 were out of service. It actually gave me US dollars. Max 200 which is good because max of the local money ( Som) was 200000 about 23us.

Back to this silly money where having a million means jack shit.

So far the people have been so nice and the people running the guesthouse speak English.

It was a last minute plan to come this way but I'm happy I did and I have a feeling I'll be staying in Uzbekistan ( country no. 47)longer than anticipated.

Next stop which will he tomorrow is Khiva.

Aaron_Steinmann
Author of this article: Aaron_Steinmann
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