Motor World Tour
This is what the gods wanted to keep to themselves
After creation, the land of Kyrgyzstan (also called Kyrgyzstan) was not meant for humans, but for the Creator Himself. But in the end he allowed himself to be persuaded and gave it to the Kyrgyz on loan," says an old Kyrgyz story. In any case, it is a special country, especially for lovers of snow-capped mountains, magnificent views, alpine meadows full of eweweiss, peace and quiet and space.
Monday morning, June 13, we requested breakfast at 7:30 so that before we left, we could go to the big waterfall (80 m high). We take a cab (old jeep) in the village to drive as far as possible to the waterfall. On the way, the driver has to refill the cooling water twice before we reach the top. The road is narrow and full of stones and we bounce up and down in the car until we reach the top. We walked the last part to the waterfall, but at the bottom we can't get all the way to the waterfall without having to walk through the water ourselves. We don't do that and we don't want to walk all the way to the top to see the waterfall.
From the waterfall we walked all the way back to the guesthouse (about 5 km). Along the way we were able to take some nice pictures of how people live here, seems like 60 years back in time compared to the Netherlands.
It is about 12 o'clock before we can start the engines to drive to Kazarman. The first part is doable with shorter stretches of unpaved road. About halfway we took the Kaldama Pass, which is something like 100 kilometers long, completely unpaved and up to an altitude of 2975 meters. The off road riding is getting easier and easier. At a stop next to some kind of glacier we ate the bread we got on the way. Suddenly we notice that Martin's engine has started leaking oil. There is nothing we can do about it and the oil level is still high enough. Tonight or tomorrow we will check it out.
The last part up we drive through the clouds. Poor visibility, cold and wet roads make us take it easy. On the other side of the pass visibility slowly improves and we can enjoy the view again. When we arrived in Kazarman, we immediately drove to the guesthouse that SilkOffRoad had given us as a waypoint. It is a complete house and fully equipped. There is a washing machine, so we can update the closet again. For € 25 together, including breakfast, this is again a very good place to stay.
After the laundry is done and hung to dry, we walk to the center in search of a restaurant. We finally find one where there are pictures of Dürüm, Hamburger, skewer and the like on the facade. When we go inside it turns out that there is also a party going on, a large table with women, one of which has turned 41. Together with a big bluetooth beatbox they get a lot of noise done. Unfortunately Dürüm and Hamburger are not available, so we get a shaslick skewer with rice and bread. The only drinks available are tea and coffee, so we also take a tea. When we finish our meal we buy some bottles of beer at the other side of the road and take them back to the guesthouse. While enjoying a beer we make the blog about the trip from Tblisi to Kazakhstan and the first days in Kyrgyzstan.
Tomorrow we go south to the Tas-Rabat Caravan Serai, a place higher in the mountains and close to the Chinese border. Also to check the leakage of the engine, as this seems to be getting worse.
On Tuesday morning, June 14, the breakfast at the guesthouse was very extensive, however, we mainly stuck to bread and fried eggs. After breakfast we checked Martin's engine for oil leaks, there is some oil in the bucket that we put underneath it. At first sight it seems to come from the oil drain plug, so we have tightened it a bit in the hope that this will solve the problem.
We left in eastern direction with good weather. We almost need to refuel, but because we think we have a bigger road we postpone it until later, there are plenty of gas stations anyway. This turns out to be a big miss. Soon it becomes a dirt road through the mountains where we meet almost nobody. We do see beautiful nature around us and we enjoy it to the fullest. When we do come across a village we ask for petrol. At some house that has a barrel of gasoline to distribute it should be possible, but after a few calls from locals it turns out that they all don't have enough for us. When we ask how many kilometers we still have to go before the next gas station, we are told that it is 30 kilometers. Then we decide to continue the route anyway. The scenery becomes more and more beautiful and we continue to enjoy it, though with the uncertainty of an empty tank in the back of our heads. However, the people here are so friendly that a solution will surely be found. Martin's engine goes on reserve first at 216 miles on the counter. Then we start an ascent which we hope will be the last otherwise we will be sweating.
The top of the pass is at 2800 meters and we take some nice pictures. At this point Martin has ridden 20 km on reserve and at the start it was indicated that we would not make the 50 km on reserve. Just past the top we come to a magnificent view, so beautiful we have both almost never seen. In the distance we can see a village and we are hopeful that we can just make it. We rode the descent as economically as possible to get as far as possible.
We actually get to the village and after asking around we are pointed to a local gas station. We buy 5 liters of gasoline for both bikes, after we have seen on Google Maps that the next petrol station is in about 20 km. We hadn't made it that far, so this helps us fine. At the gas station we fill up completely and we resolve to always refuel when we encounter a gas station from 150 miles onwards.
In Baetov we buy some bread, cheese and sausage for lunch and enjoy it on a bench.
Martin's engine seems to be leaking more and more oil, so we want to check it out at a garage. After a long discussion, the cab drivers know what we are asking for and one of them takes us to a local garage. There, the engine is put above the grease pit and after removing the sump protector, it appears that a hole has been punched in the sump by one of the screws of the sump protector. Has probably been tapping against it for a long time, but has now gone through. When I ask the mechanic if he can fix it, he nods in the affirmative but then he will need some metal paste. Together with the cab driver Rob goes to get the metal paste, while Martin cleans the various parts and the mechanic can continue with the preparations for applying the paste. Under the watchful eye of Rob the mechanic expertly seals the hole. We decide to fix the protection plate with only 3 screws, so it will not touch anything. Since the paste has to dry, we decide to move to the guesthouse a bit further down the road, so the paste can cure for a whole night.
Unfortunately, the toilet at the guesthouse is broken, so we have to use the old-fashioned hole in the ground at the back of the garden toilet. There is no WiFi either, but the hotspot here works great. We walked around the village (or is it a city for this country?) and ate a filled sandwich. Bought some cold beer on the way back and after we drank a few glasses it was enough for today.
Tomorrow we will continue south near the border with China to then head northeast to Naryn, where we expect to get a hotel. It is expected that the block at Martin's will remain closed and the oil leakage will be over.
This morning Wednesday, June 15, it looks gray outside. Breakfast is ready at 8 when we get up. Then we have to pack everything so that it stays dry. We have to find some plastic to wrap Rob's backpack in and then tie everything on the bike. The rain covers on the saddle bags and then the bikes are ready. We dress ourselves well, because apart from being wet we also expect it to be cold. Soon we end up on the unpaved roads towards the mountains. The surface today is not rocks, but a kind of red clay that is very slippery mixed with stones here and there. Where the stones predominate it is good to ride, but in the other places it is very careful and choose the right track. Here and there it looks lighter, but it keeps raining. Not very hard but steadily. In the beginning we cross a river bed and we realize that this is a small stream now, but because of the rain it will soon get deeper. We wonder what that will mean further on. We get higher and higher and soon we are around 3000 meters where it is cold. Our winter gloves are still in Tblisi and the summer gloves are actually not suitable for driving in rain and cold. The first pass is at 3150 meters and soon we have to stop to warm our hands at the exhaust, then drive a bit and then warm our hands again, this ritual repeats itself several times.
We stay a long time around and above 3000 meters and the pace is low because of the cold hands, but especially because of the slippery road. Once we have to pick up Rob's bike when the rear end has slid too far sideways. At this pace nothing gets broken and we just have to pick it up and keep going. The highest point we reach is at 3400 meters. Because of the wetness and the cold we don't feel like mounting the camera on the helmet or taking pictures.
This morning Wednesday, June 15, it looks gray outside. Breakfast is ready at 8 when we get up. Then we have to pack everything so that it stays dry. We have to find some plastic to wrap Rob's backpack in and then tie everything on the bike. The rain covers on the saddle bags and then the bikes are ready. We dress ourselves well, because apart from being wet we also expect it to be cold. On the one hand to warm up the hands again, on the other hand this gives Martin the time to remove a large part of the clay near the rear wheel and the chain. This is not easy, because everything sticks.
The big road on which we end up goes right to China where the border post is at 3700 meters, but you can't go there without special permission. A little to the left is the turnoff to Tas-Rabat, a 500 year old Caravan Serai. We see that this is also an unpaved road of 15 km to the Caravan Serail and decide to leave it. The clay sticks to everything, and the rear wheel slams the clay between the swingarm and the chain. The pass ends on the highway from Bishkek to China and there we stop again.
We continued on our way to Naryn where we checked in at the Khan Tengri Hotel, took our belongings to the room and then went in search of a car wash. Both the motorcycles and our pants and motorcycle boots could use a cleaning.
A little further on at the carwash, the bikes are professionally hosed down and the pants and boots taken in hand. That looks completely different and now the bikes will squeak and creak less. At the hotel the chains are lubricated and Rob's chain tightened a bit.
After a shower life looks very different again and we go for a beer on the terrace of the restaurant. It is getting colder and we decide to sit inside for dinner. During dinner suddenly the disco lights go on and loud music is played. This lasts for half an hour and just as quickly as it started, it is suddenly broken off again and the big lights come on again. A second set follows an hour later. It is striking that there are only women on the dance floor, apparently dancing is a woman thing here. We decide to join in in order not to get too familiar with the situation. When the music abruptly stops again, we drink the bottle of wine and go to bed.
It is not yet clear what we will do tomorrow. The intended next point to sleep is a yurt camp at about 3000 meters altitude near Song-Köl Lake. Since the forecasts indicate that it will also rain tomorrow, we have little desire to arrive wet at a yurt camp at 3000 meters to sleep there. Tomorrow morning we will decide what to do.
Thursday morning, June 16, it is fortunately dry, but it looks gray and at 12 degrees it is quite cold. The weather forecast indicates that rain may fall regularly and so we quickly decide that we will not go to Song Köl today. Song Köl is a mountain lake at 3100 meters and we can sleep there in a yurt camp. However, when we arrive there wet and we have to get both ourselves and our belongings dry and warm, we don't really feel like it. The plan is therefore changed by driving to Balykchy, on the edge of the Issyk cooling lake. From Balykchy we can go either around the lake, to Song Köl or to Bishkek. This is a route of 189 km on a completely paved and major road. The journey starts well and we stop regularly to take pictures of the houses or how people live here, this part is really an outdoor museum of how people lived in our country in the early 1900s. The road climbs steadily and along the way we get a small shower, which makes us cold and wet again.
We negotiate the pass at an altitude of 3030 meters quickly enough and just over the top we stop at a roadside restaurant to warm up with coffee, tea and a sandwich prepared there. The bread is baked in a wood-fired pan with fat. We skip the toilet, because this looks more like a battery cage for pigs. How is it possible that a modern-looking roadside restaurant still has a toilet like this, this kind of contradiction is still common in Kyrgyzstan.
From the roadhouse it is about a 100 km drive to Balykchy. The remaining kilometers are dry and because we are descending steadily, the temperature is rising. The hotel looks good and the room is spacious, clean and equipped with modern sanitary facilities (except for the shower curtain). We arrive at the hotel at around 14:00, so it feels a bit like a rest day to us, especially since the route only runs on paved roads.
After we have installed ourselves in the hotel and have done nothing for a while, we walk further into town in search of a beach at the lake that must be about 2 km away. When we arrive at the beach there is a fresh wind, but in the sun it is nice. The children are playing soccer on the beach and they are swimming in the lake. There are beach tents selling drinks and snacks, so we make ourselves comfortable and enjoy the view of the lake and the children playing.
After six it slowly gets colder and we walk back towards the hotel. Close to the hotel is a modern supermarket, the first modern supermarket we see in Kirzigia. Next to the supermarket are some fast food restaurants and we decide to have a hamburger or (kind of) döner with fries. We buy cold beer at the supermarket to drink at the hotel. In the evening at the hotel we determine the route around the lake for the coming days and we make the blog about the past 4 days.
Tomorrow we will start with the circle around the lake and depending on the weather we will add more or less off road sections through mountains.