On the road of the worlds – Motorcycle tour in Mongolia – Stage 5: From Aktu to the border of Uzbekistan – Used HONDA

Motorcycle tour in Mongolia – Stage 5: From Aktu to the border of Uzbekistan

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 5: From Aktu to the border of Uzbekistan - Used HONDA

Fifth episode of Enzo‘s motorcycle trip to Mongolia to see on the Net Motorcycle Journal. Today, embark for a moment of pure relaxation on the Caspian Sea before crisscrossing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, still on the handlebars of his good old Transalp.

On the road on a motorbike, we are often connected to nature: as soon as it rains it’s hellish quickly, as soon as the wind starts blowing the body tires very quickly, when it is too hot the motorbike and the body heat up to dizzying temperatures … But there are also moments of pure relaxation.

  • Motorcycle road trip in Mongolia (2018) :
  • Motorcycle road trip in Mongolia (2012) :

This boat from Alat to Aktau (Kazakhstan) is one of those rare moments of obligatory rest during my motorcycle trip: 30 hours to cross the Caspian Sea, it is 30 hours to bask in the cabin, on the bridge , in the common areas. The ticket includes three meals a day. So we took a seat in a more than correct boat. There is a fairly palpable general euphoria, everyone is jovial.

A huge sea filled with oil

This boat crosses the Caspian Sea, a huge sea filled with oil. In the morning, getting up early enough, I can see the oil platforms. The sunrise is very orange and yet when I lower my eyes towards the water, I see a breathtaking spectacle: we are sailing on a film of oil which "escapes" during the extraction … It is as if winter in France, when you can see these gasoline stains on the roads, but over square kilometers. It saddens me to drive on this fuel that pollutes so much. Gosh. I go back to bed. This evening we will arrive in Aktaou. No one yet knows the administrative ordeal that awaits us…

In the evening, we will rub shoulders with this customs which is so slow to make our French prefectures blush … From the stowage of the boat in the port to the official exit into Kazakh territory, it took us 5 hours (five hours !!!) of procedures, queues, refusal to pay bribes.

A rather funny anecdote during my baggage search: when it is finally over and the soldier has checked everything, he is ordered to go and search a semi-trailer. Obedient, he does not sign the paper certifying that my verification has been made … I go to his superior to inform him that he has not signed. He looks at me, takes the paper, then walks off to my motorcycle. He turns around and I understand he likes it. He climbs on it and as with the children I make him turn on the ignition. But I can see he’s lost, he doesn’t know anything about motorcycles and obviously never did.

I see red !

And there he makes me understand that he wants to take a ride with … Without pressure, but with a certain arrogance. I look him in the eye, remove the keys from the ignition and tell him that’s out of the question. He would miss him wallowing and damaging my bike! He in turn fixes me in the eyes with a very annoyed air, calls one of his soldiers and explains to him while miming in front of me: you search each compartment of his motorcycle, object by object, you spread everything on the ground.

Pouting quite calmly, I see red! I get angry and cursed with my paper in my hands and find he is surprised at my behavior. He wasn’t expecting it … Against all expectations – myself, I told myself that I had been stupid to raise my voice and offend him – he laughs, takes my paper, the sign and tell me to leave laughing.

I don’t really understand how it could have worked, but the result is there: I have my paper and I can continue the rest of the steps which consist in paying the insurance for the country, the port taxes, the temporary declarations of importation of the vehicle into the country, etc. All this with insane slowness.

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 5: From Aktu to the border of Uzbekistan - Used HONDA

5:00 am. With my friend Carlos (a biker of Spanish nationality), we go out and it is the excitement: we are in the far west of one of the largest countries in the world, with one of the lowest population densities in the world. In short, we are starting to be far away … Not yet enough, however, because this city has a Burger King in its center. We must therefore leave as quickly as possible. My plan, which was to cross Kazakhstan, turns out to be changed because I am told that Uzbekistan has just put e-visas in place, so no need to go to the embassy to give his passport for several days.

Uzbekistan e-visa

After submitting my form, I just have to wait 2 to 3 days to obtain the e-visa, print it in a tourist agency whose hostess was more than charming with eyes so blue that we could get lost easily and no longer receive any other external stimuli while admiring it…

So I’m going to Uzbekistan well rested. I stocked up on gasoline because the road to go to the land of Tamerlan does not have many service stations and I have a fairly reduced range with my Honda (barely more than 200 terminals at 110 km / h ). This road is only desert, camels and stones.

I stop for a moment to properly put my gear on the back of the bike. A man stops two minutes later, gives me a large bottle of water, and sets off again. Surprising and very kind, even though I already have three liters of water on me. Three minutes later, a five person van pulls up and starts chatting with me. We mimic gestures, we exchange formalities and one of the men is going to get me a 5 liter can of water! This time I insist on refusing, I don’t need that much water and I don’t want to stupidly weigh myself down.

Desert, camels, stones and generosity

I appreciate the gesture, I find it crazy this generosity that comes without asking. Before leaving, they ask me if they can take a selfie. As usual I say yes. We are curiosities here, they must see a lot of us moving around in the region but to see some stop, maybe a little less … The desert is not super hospitable, we avoid too much ” linger there to move on to more varied, greener landscapes, so as a local it must be nice to exchange a few words and share a moment as brief as it may be.

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 5: From Aktu to the border of Uzbekistan - Used HONDA

I climb back into the saddle and ride through the arid, red uniformity. The weather is muggy – thunderstorms will surely soon hit the region – the sky is overcast, the wind is blowing in great gusts that make it lose its course on the asphalt. Fortunately, the steering deviations here are of no consequence, there is little traffic. On the other hand, I come across a lot of trucks that come from all walks of life. They are really tanned when you cross their path, because in the opposite direction they drag a violent jolt of air with them, which we bikers take head on: everything moves, from the head to the motorcycle.

It sounds anecdotal, but after hundreds of trucks crossed during the day it contributes to the fatigue that accumulates. I dare not imagine the shock produced for the cyclists who also circulate on these desert roads. It must be real bullets for them. Finally, after a long, monotonous day on the road, littered here and there with a few animal carcasses in a more or less advanced state of decomposition, I arrive on the axis of which I dreaded the last 80 kilometers that separate me from Uzbekistan.

800 years later

On a track next to a road under construction, we take a straight line that goes straight into the desert. It’s impressive to get into such inhospitable places, but much easier than it was 800 years ago with the first large caravans in the days of Marco Polo. These people had such mad courage, to leave knowing there was a huge possibility of never coming back…

And we, 800 years later, we land in places still inhospitable with our cars and our motorcycles! There is a world between these two eras, but still this spirit of rubbing shoulders with the unknown. The desert, as monotonous as it is, is so fascinating, mesmerizing, threatening … These are feelings that I have never before experienced.

But pretty daydreaming: the tracks demand my full attention because I have never driven big cubes on this kind of terrain. It’s not as fun as a small 125cc on this style of road, but I had to make some concessions when I started. The bike reacts pretty well, I almost wallow several times, while I adapt, then I continue to sink into the desert void…

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 5: From Aktu to the border of Uzbekistan - Used HONDA

Halfway, I meet some friends I met on the cargo ship in the Caspian Sea. Two Czechs, two wonderful guys, always positive, laughing and adventurous, in short, good friends. We hug each other, and quite naturally we decide to end the day together. They are also heading for customs and want to go through it today. Of course, I would go faster alone, but together we go further.

A seller of necklaces, a seller of dried fish

They traveled pretty much the same route as me from the Czech Republic, except they are on Chinese 125ccs … Two hours later we reach the border. A few kilometers before, we stop to put all the cameras away. Borders are generally not very fond of all of this, so you might as well not put yourself in the wheels and keep a low profile.

Let’s go for a 2 / 2h30 of administrative formalities. It’s very long. We wait. We walk past people because we are tourists. Still waiting. But that’s it, it’s over, without major problems. The portal opens: "Welcome Uzbekistan". It is late, it is pitch black: welcome to Uzbekistan. One hotel in the middle of nowhere, a necklaces vendor, a dried fish vendor (in the middle of the desert).

This hotel is an oasis of consumption in the midst of this nothingness. So we’re going to share a room for three and crash into these sofa beds that we’ll pay $ 10 per person. It was perfect for one night. We go to bed without washing despite the collective showers … For pure hygiene, I prefer to stay dirty than to shower in there. I’m not very concerned with basic cleanliness, but this time it clearly wasn’t possible. The motorbike slept in front of the hotel, hanging on my lock. It’s covered in sand and dust, I’ve never seen chain lubricant wear so quickly. It is necessary to grease every day.

Besides, this channel will cause me a lot of problems in the days to come … But that’s in the next article !


Related articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *