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Korea, Russia, Stans To East Europe (page 49)

Russia Sum Up And The Heart Speaks

Starting in Vladivostok was a good choice as was sending 45 direct to Magadan from there starting on a fresh bike in great condition.

With language barriers I still managed to get her to Magadan under budget and trusting what most people would consider some pretty rough dudes…and this is where this is going, you can never judge from the outside impression only.

45 arrived in Magadan complete, untampered and even bubble wrapped the mirrors for care so my initial concerns were laid to rest.

Now everyone was saying the Siberians are savage and don’t trust them and no camping till the western part of Russia, yet again through dealing with them one on one at local level good people and willing to help, much like central America every town we were going to we were told they were going to cut our head off and steal our bike and as my head is still attached I can categorically state that is not the case, the usual curious people, shy I believe from the language barrier and like me not knowing how to deal with the situation until you are in it and there is no way out so you have to jump in.

The only unfortunate part is they are encouraged to walk around with solemn faces and look depressed, behind the scenes nice people who open up, this took me a bit to get used to as I would be walking with a smile and looked at in a weird way. Also if you are gay in Russia then bad luck, you have no respect and you are second class regardless, at least in the eastern part were I have been, I can not say for Moscow etc.

Now, for all the people I trusted there is always a wanker who thinks he owns my stuff more than I do and they/he/she/it stole the tank bag in Ust-Kut, it was very little value and I found out how much I had in there when I came to use it which was a pissoff… I will forgive them when hell freezes over but this also is common place around the world so I do not hold Ust-Kut or Russia to ransom on this.

Do I like Russia, very much so, it is a crazy place and I met some crazy cool, caring and loving people who we will go back and see next year when Ellen and I hit it in the sidecar.

The only things I won’t miss is mozzies and bears but we cannot avoid that, the rest of Russia I would welcome back with so much more to explore yet as it is huge.

A special mention to Nataly and Galina of Magadan, 2 diamonds right there who took me in and showed me Magadan, I simply would not have known/ gone to and be able to go the places without local knowledge which is the stuff GPS can not show.

Sanya and his good lady Yanarina in Yakutsk, good bastids and 4x4 extraordinaires taking me out and competing in a winch challenge style event, also the dudes in Mirny and Lensk...lock up your children and hide your goats I am coming back with my dreadlock monster LOL!!!, need to get a photo of us beside our sticker on the Mirny moto club board!!!

Many more as well but my memory is bad so these guys take the podium of accepting a madmankiwibikerdude…thank you.

On a personal note, Ellen would not enjoy some of riding/shit I went through and I would not enjoy riding 2 up as it was hard yakka solo as far as off road stuff so it was a good choice to do the Old Kolyma Road and Road Of Bones solo, the Vilyuysk Tract however even tho it was hard yakka has my heart going there to go back, also to see the frozen sea at Magadan for something extremely different...just something I have not seen.

I did find it hard personally/emotionally though, some days I questioned my logic but apparently that is what humans do so maybe there is hope, having seen virtually no-one (travellers/bikers) for 7000 km also made me wonder a bit sometimes and solo sometimes meant lonely despite Russia having awesome 4G in the strangest of places allowing me to contact Ellen, as time and travel move on you get more used to this but at the beginning it makes more of a dent in your senses which to be honest requires more strength from within and funny enough, some chocolate or treat actually helps level the playing field a little, actually Vodka helped too LOL but it is very easy to miss home and the easy access to that cold cider in the fridge and the socket on the bench when you need it. 

Travelling solo has its wins and losses, you win because you can stop for a piss and sandwich when you want, you lose when you get to a WOW place and have no-one to share it with other than the camera which does not say much really, also the camera does not convey the wind, cold, snow heat etc so while pictures are cool emotional sensors are not tickled.

Am I enjoying travelling solo? is a question I get asked a lot, yes and no for the reasons above but I know travelling and trying to do some of the serious off road and hard gravel tracks would end in divorce so comes back to a balance of travel/hardship/endurance etc and what you want from it.

Finally, Russia round up, if you like a little weird, a little different, a little excitement from not knowing then go to Russia, speaking only english made things difficult and fun depending on your approach. Russian ways are very different at least to Kiwi ways and that my friends opens the door to a playground of fun.   


Back To The Program ....Kochkor To Bishkek To Song-Kul

Fresh as a flower and a sunny day to boot I was off to Bishkek, first off me ol mate the federallies (aka corrupt wankers), on a double lane motorway, 90km/hr speed limit, just before the corner a 60km/hr sign so go round the corner at about 55 behind a car and there they are. 

They flag me down and say I was doing 65, despite being the shadow of the car so there was way they could even get me at my real speed of 55, I said yeah really show me, they didn’t have a camera, next thing they say I have been drinking and pull out a breathalyzer and I blow into that to play their stupid game, the needle sits still then about 2 seconds later shoots off the end of the scale.

At that point I became a lot less friendly, as I had not had a drink for more than a week I knew it was fraud so I didn’t hold back, I yelled at him saying no way, impossible, no drinks and they were corrupt and it was fraud, next thing, we want more documents and I said NO, NO WAY, get someone else here NOW.

10 seconds later, ouwh you are a tourist that’s OK …..go.

So 4 days in Kyrgyzstan so far, 2 days on part tarmac pulled up twice on each day all the same broken record, fucken wankers take the shine off the place to be honest I say to anyone coming here, tell them to get fucked and stay off anything that reassembles tarmac as they only seem to hunt on the main drags.

Now I have started taking photos of them because they do not like that as you can see the guy turned around as soon as I pulled out the camera.

Yeah hide ya face arsehole, bloody hero

Finally getting to Bishkek wound up like a spring from the lying fraud patrol I could not get anything I needed so for was in essence a waste of a trip and the Bishkek drivers taking the record for the worlds biggest arseholes on the road, between them and the police I was very happy to get out of the city.       

I did have one bit of amusement for my sordid mind ...lets see if we think alike   

HA we do ya dodgy buggas LOL

Getting out of Bishkek there is massive road works, I was cruising along at 30 (posted limited) when Starsky and Hutch waved me in (again), as they were sitting on the other side of the barrier I waved back and carried on amidst yelling etc from them, they didn’t take chase and I did not wait to see what they would do.

Finally out the grips of stupidity I made it to the small town where there was a basic hostel (no shower, long drop etc) but my day finally took a turn for the better when I met Nicholas and Patrick from Belgium who had also had a very unpleasant day, on 2 hire bikes and a flat tire on the rear 20 km into their ride they had enough of the day as well.

Despite the hostel being basic we were happy chappies, the hostel owner very cool and asked us in for some freshly cold smoked fish on crackers and bread with some tea, bloody nice it was too.

Morning came fresh and clear, again we were ordered inside for jam, bread and tea which was nice, the whole lot setting us back $11 kiwi each.

Leaving to go the little XT225 would not start to the point the battery ran down, it was an hour before we finally got it started with the assistance of a Lada and jump cables.

Finally on our way we hit it to the pass to the snow line, it was indeed freezing cold at 3000 metres.

Nicolas and Patrick

Through the smokey tunnel and out the other side to Naryn District a car cut a corner and we came to close at least 2 of us being cleaned out, the drivers here are pretty much the worst I have seen.

Our turnoff saw us get off the main drag so I was starting to feel at home again and not looking for the next impending pig point.

WOH HOH back to my style of playground

Our gravel road took us through some neat territory then back onto tarmac for a bit much to the delight of my Belgium buddies who are learning gravel and off road.

Would have to say the gravel road through was epic and so nice a change from the main drags and big smokes. 

Nice road

In New Zealand when mum nature damages a bridge it would get taken away or rebuilt, here they just strap another bit on underneath, forget the middle column which has gone, build up the other support with wood and boom ....fixed.

Bent bridge

Along the way so much to see and so nice too

Colours in the hills with different minerals
So cool I love this stuff

Our final assault to Song-Kul (lake) gave us 90km of gravel, the first part flat and corrugated, the next part a treat with varying landscapes, the weather was crapping out and the forecast for the following day way less than ideal including rain so we aimed for a Gur camp on the lake edge. 

Stunning rock formations, the landscape change so much in so little time
The calm before the storm ...
Darkening quickly ...shoulda known

Arriving late from the non starting bike we rocked up just after 6.30pm, welcomed in by the lady and her husband, come in by the fire and warm up and they will get beds ready for us, they asked if we wanted hot dinner and yeap unanimous decision so they cooked up some more and we joined the rest of the groups (noting very full house).

Cutting cold being as we were at 3016 metres no-one was standing round chatting outside, the weather turning quickly making its presence felt.

Inside our Gur
The lads with our 3 ladies pretending to be warm
Author of this article: Twomotokiwis