Finland- Mongolia 2015
I was searching for information all around internet before leaving, but could not find much. I wrote this because this way you might find something useful for your own trip..but I'm NOT writer, and my native language is Finnish, so there might / will be some spelling errors :)...read it by your own risk !
BIKE: KAWASAKI KLE 500cc 1995
What is the best bike for this kind of trip? Every enduro / dual sport will work, but lighter is always better. Most important thing is that you know your bike before you leave. If any problems occured, and there will, you can fix it. KLE is underrated bike, and after couple of modifications, its good to go. It's not best bike anywhere, but it can do it all.
If you have big loaded wallet, maybe best option would be new "travel tuned" ktm 640 , yamaha 660 or other light and durable bike with good suspension. You can read stories when almost new bikes has broken down in Mongolia, so older bikes can be sometimes better , because they are easier to fix. Lack of immobiliser and fuel injection, by example, can save you from lot of troubles. KLE has one more good side when compared newer bikes, it's really cheap. If it would have totally broke down , or I had falled badly with it, I could have left it there and fly off without any insuperable bag feeling about it.
-175kg dry weight
-Good (?) gpz based motor
-21” front wheel
-Handling in gravel
-Long service interval
-Cheap!..this one is worth about 1500e.
-Its not thief magnet :)
-Stock rear suspension
-Fuel consumption ( when driving over 110kmh )
-Racks to 2 X 5L jerry cans. Same time they are good protection if bike fall down..and good to hold legs straight forward when driving :). Without these it would of been impossible to drive that route..max. distance was over 400km without fuel station.
-Side racks to the ortlieb bags
-Tool tube to the left side rack
-D.I.Y chain oiler
-Ram mount to GPS
Contour 2 helmet cam. It's easy to use, and easy to adjust with build in lazer. Maybe " drift camera" with time loop would be better? That way you could record only when something interesting is happening...
Ortlieb dry bags 2X 35l + ortlieb drybag 60l. They should be unbreakable, but one of the sidebags blew up in Mongolia, and others two were full of holes when i was coming back. I had to fix them several times, and still they were breaking. NOT recommended! Only good thing with these bags is guarantee. I called to local ortlieb dealer after the trip, and i got new ones next day..
I have used this every trip last couple of years, and it gives clean water from tap, lake,river etc, and it saves some efforts when you are in Russian hotel,by example. You dont have to drag any bottles to / from your bike.
SPOT satellite tracker. With this tracker you can share your location world wide, and if something bad happens, you have little hope to get help.Its easy to install on bike with RAM mount, and it always worked without any problems. If you drive alone, as i did, this is "must" thing to buy..
Garmin GPSMAP62 + opensteetmaps.Full world coverage, and only option to Mongolia. PC is recommended to make routes, because its really painful to do at 1.8" screen. I used it only in Mongolia, and there with "compass navigation" , that gives you direction and distance and thats all you need. But its good idea to carry real compass with you in case that gps broke down, or battery runs out.
Samsung galaxy s4 active and maps.me ( openstreetmap) and HERE. Its good idea to load at least two different gps software. Here was best option before east side of Russia, but after that it was useless. It cannot find any roads there, and even small towns were missing. Maps.me use openstreetmaps, and it found all roads, even there in Mongolia. If you have Russian SIM card, use google maps when going to big citys..that way you get latest information about traffic jams,and believe me, there is going to be some..
Paper map is useful when planning route, and here is best place to get them:
Bored of reading ?..here is hole trip in 10 minutes :D :
28th of april was d-day. Next 5-7 week i was going to drive alone about 17.000km. I had tried to find all information as possible, but everything about Russia-Kazakstan-Mongolia was still not cleared. It didn't help, that almost all gave me warnings about tenting in Russia, for example. Bears will kill you, if they won't , wolf's will, and if they won't..there will be some drunk Russian guy who will kill you,for sure:D . Yep, people are scaring things they don't know, and one reason for writing this, is that you would see how things work out there in reality.
My bike didn't want to go Mongolia :D . On the way there it broke down three times, but nothing was wrong on the way back. There were some times when i needed help, and i got it easily, usually without asking..and when I was offering money for their efforts, they always refused (!).
I've made some travels before this one, but Russian/Kazakstan/Mongolian hospitality is guite unique. I talked about this with them some times, and they told it's part of their mentality , that they respect travellers..I really know that now by myself. If you are planning to those areas, just do it, and forget those stupid fears and warnings.
But, it was funny to see that they have their own scares. On the way to Mongolia they told me almost every time that I'm grazy. It would be too dangerous to drive in Kazakstan / Mongolia..and because I was driving alone, they were almost sure about it, just like in Finland :D ..people are same kind in every country. :)
1.Äänekoski-Sortavala. 500km, +3C, and it was raining almost all day long. I've never before visit Russia, and first thing to nerve was crossing the border. I had one year culture multi visa, and not sure what that ”culture” means. Accordind my travel agency, that was only choise, because I have never before been there. Border crossing was surprisingly easy, and took only about one hour. Road changed worse instantly, and It's a little bit challenging to see deep potholes when it's raining. First thing after border was to fuel up, and find hotel from Sortavala. It was easy to have suggestions from hotels, because there were dozens of "tourists" from Finland. They just drive over the border, and buy some fuel, cigarettes and vodka and drive back home. One of them suggested hotel Pitkäranta, and i choose give it to try. I was trying to check in , but my driving gears were muddy, and reception showed my boots and sayd " not elegant", and told me to go next place. Next hotel, Sortavala, was success and it was time for first night at Russia. I went to eat and take couple of beers,and met family from Finland..that was last time when i heard any word of Finnish for next 5 weeks. How to discribe Sortavala these days? It's kind of a poor looking place after Finland, and it's strange to see that roads are guite bad even in the center of the city.
First problem occured with bike, with heavy load sidestand was too long, causing it to fall easily. Small problem thought, so I just had to choose where to park so on.
First border crossing and hotel in Sortavala
After first night it wasn't looking promising, only +1C and raining snow a little bit. North east side of the lake Laatokka, there must be the worst roads of Russia, and bike was shaking as hell. Two 12v sockets, tool box and laptop broke down that day. Road rules are guite different compared what I was used to, and that day was all about to concentrate how to ride there. Russian traffic is actually guite good, after you have figured out how it works. If you are driving your line on the right side, car coming against you WILL pass car ahead of him / her, and soon there is two car + you side by side. First it feels dangerous, but actually it's flexible.
If you are driving behind the car, its NOT good idea to drive straight middle of it.. instead driving where car tyre goes, its best bet. When there is pothole in the middle of road, car just run over and you have no time to react, but if its right the line of car tire, car wil dodge and you see it i time.
Russian police won't rob you these days, and you can overspeed about 30-40kh/h without ticket.
Everybody here in Finland are giving warnings about Russian police, but I had no any problems.
At the evening I pulled over to next road hotel, and luckily i found clean and cheap room,price was only about 10e.
Next morning seamt to be nice, sun is shining and everything. That idyl of things going well was going to fall fast. I stalled first fuel station to fill up, and i notised that right side of the engine was covered by fluid. It was hard to see where it was coming, but seems like it came from cooler.
After removing right side cover it was easy to see that i've lost cooler fluids,but why?
Every sealing was reneved only about 1000km ago when i checked valve clearances.
Owner of gas station come by, and sayd that there was place to make fix only 5km ahead. He hasn't got any water to sell, so i had problem. Then there was first sign of Russian hospitality.. Car come by to fuel up, and after my problem was cleared, he went back to car and he gave his wife water bottle to me !
All bike parts back together, and short drive to that next fuel station, but unluckily it was closed.
Only choise was rip of everything around motor beside of the parking area. There wasn't any parts or coolant for sale, but local man came by asking do i need anyhing?..and After 1 min there was lada 1200 trunk open, with anything i could newer, ever wish for! .Of course i offered money, but he instantly refused..and after about 3 hour i had managed to fix o-ring.
It would be easy and fast fix, if you do it on your own garage, but with couple of light tools + leatherman it was little bit hard task.. There was still 250km to Vologda, and i pulled hard because it was not sure that my locktite / silicone patent would hold on until there..it was not good idea to drive fast there in constructor area..truck carrying rocks were driving before me, and bounce dropped couple of them on the road. I pulled head down, but luckily rock hit down, straight to led light in lower frame. Kle is thirsty when driving full throttle, and new "consumption record" is 9,1 L / 100km..
2km after Vologda border i stopped to traffic light, and notised that motor is leaking again..Sputnik hotel was near by, and luckily i got room there for two nights...i just left Finland 3 days ago, and seems like bike was falling to parts. I had lost PC, 12V chargers, cellphone holder, left led light and now this, how the hell i could find 13mm o-ring in Russia? ...it was time to get some beer and figure out what to do.
I got message that there is Motorcycle club in Volgoda, and ” golden plan ” was to find their club. Bike was leaking badly, but i should get there easily, at least i thought so. After 5km there was traffic lights, and motor sprayed cooling fluids straight to exhaus. Smoke was huge and Russians stunned what the hell is happening?
Luckily there was food store right next door, and i could buy couple of extra bottles water and go on.
There was industry area nearby, and locals told that there is place for ”remont”.
I found place of Igor, and we pulled broken o-ring out of motor. There was nothing to do, because he could not find any o-rings of that size. We put extra silicone around o-ring and everything back together...and this time i got real coolant from his tractor.
I was starting bike when Igor came to say goodbye, and he gave me bottle of Russian cognac, and sayd ” you need it ”. It was nice and funny surprice..and i guessed he will be right.
When money was offered, Igor refused to take any(!)
I was on the street again and it was looking bad..i should find strange size o-ring at Russian town, and i can speak only couple words of Russian: davai davai ,ruki ver, vodka, spasiba :D .. And kyrils letters were not helping a bit. I was driving ahead city center, when Andrei with lada niva came by to ask do I need anything?..and 1 min later we were driving to local motorcycle store. Success! There was almost same size o-rings for sale..from Russian snow mobil :)
I bought five of them, and felt guite reliefed, when I knew I could (?) fix my bike.
We left to local shopping center to eat something + get local sim card.
Andrei was continuing his trip to north, and before leaving he gave me new holder for cellphone..thanks Andrei!
Its guite easy to remove all panels etc., when you are doing it third time in two days, and leak was finally fixed permanently. . Zina, reception of Sputnik hotel spoke fluent English, and she gave tour around town and monestary at the evening.
Weather was bad , but it was great feeling to go pack all gear at the morning, and finally setting up to road. I made small test ride, and motor was finally fine.
I wasn't planned any route, and outside of town i figured out, that straight line to Omsk would be best. This route went thorough county side, and it would be interesting to see small remote towns. Only problem was find breakfast. I had to ride 3 hours before first kafe.Countryside in this area is little bit ...how do i say..full of really old houses and cars. Roads were guite bad, and because of that most popular car seems to be lada niva.I drove all day without any longer stops, and it was time to figure out where to stay next night. There was only one hotel at the evening nearby. I drove there, but it was closed, so only option would be tent. It was last minutes before dark, when i noticed little lake on the screen of GPS, 500m north from the road. There were line to the woods, and i gave it try out.
Some offroad, and when i finally got there,i parked, and instantly fall because of slippery mud.
It was raining and dark allready, so it took only 5 min to put up tent and put all gear in order.
Not going to get oscar with this video, but there is funny end..it was little bit slippery :D
First and last fall humidity 100% ?
Night was bad! Every time when i stopped moving in tent, animals outside were biting my side bags. I had to throw all gear inside of tent. That didn't help much, now they were tryind to bite my tent outside. I could not figure out what the hell was happening, but it cleared next morning. I hit the road, and only after 2km there was something like trash site..rats?
What did i learn? Always check area 2 km before and AFTER when you are driving of the road :)
Again it was hard to find any breakfast, first place was after 4hr driving. Best bet for any food is kafe, where you wont be only customer:). Yard full of trucks is good sign. Usually there is line, where you can choose anything you want. Prices are low, and against any preconception it's very good!
Weather was finally getting better, and i could drive 10 hr to Kazan.
I found small hotell in centrum, but getting inside were harder as i expected. Owner came to door, and shouted ”njet motorsikles" couple of times, and gave sceared look at me , but i was able to agree to let me stay. There were tourists from Italy and Moscow, and we went to get some food and beer. Then i remembered Igor, Russian mechanic from Volgada, and when he gave me cognac and sayd "you need it "...it was time for that now :)
Morning, and figuring out what route shoud i take. South to Togliat, where is huge lada factory..or east ?. I throw coin and east wins. Chelyabinsk were 1000km away, so it would be tent night, if I can't find any gastinitsa on the way.
Last words to the Italians, and on the road again. 12v output broke two days before, and i could not use gps all the time.
Fill up takes time here, because first you have to pay inside, then back to fill up tank, and then back inside to get extra money back. I cant understand why they dont have any automatic, which would work with creditcard?..too easy? Driving was nice thought, and everything went smoothly. Landscapes were getting better all the time, and weather was good. I parked at the beginning of Ural mountains to the forest, and this time it was easy to find spot for the tent.
I woke up 4AM next morning, and decided to check radiator fluids , tighten some bolts and pack all gear in order. Designer of kawasaki would have to make this job once, and have to figure out how it could do more easily..its too much work to remove all frameworks for that simply job. It was strange to make repairs there nearby country house at early morning,when cows and chickens where shouting.
Ural mountains are guite flat this far from north, but its nice sightseeing anyway. There were guite odd small town, where every shop is selling eguipments to make moonshine. Meaby its not just legend that peoples there drink a lot? If was funny to watch that couple on the red car. Man was really thrilled of his new toy, but wife (?) didn't share that enthusiasm :)
Roads there are little bit worst than last 2000km, some potholes and couple of road constructions.
I took meal from old railway carriage, and i continued to Chelyabinsk. Its easy to book hotels advance when you have local sim card (megafon recommended). This time i took better 3 star hotel from the centre of the city.
Traffic jams are huge in Russian big citys, and again it took extra hour to reach there.
There was MM taekwondo tournament going on, and hotel was full of competitions..not goot idea to make arguaments at the bar :)
It was time to buy some stuff and rest one day, so i took second night from same hotel. Nearby was electronic store , and i attempt to find USB memory card , and place where i could load / install linux mint for it. Computer broke down in Laatokka, and it would be usefull when making routes to GPS.
Gamin GPS has only 1.8” screen, and making any routes with that is really pain in the ass..
It was surprice that i found local from PC store, who speak good english. We went to eat, and he was really interested about Finland. I found out that I was now in Asia.:) Finally i got fresh install to pc...but no luck..there was some damage inside, and i had to get used to without it.
Next to the bank..if you are going to change money here, be sure that your money is in perfect condition! I had to visit three bank before i could change 500€ away..
It was raining badly at the morning. There was some small ”rivers” in the center of the city, and i almost got some training to Mongolian river crossings:). It's little bit risky to drive,when can't see any potholes under the water. I rode south, ahead to Kazakstan border. Last few days were above 30C, but today it was only 5C. If somebody ever says that riding in the raining is nice..that fucker is telling a lie :). Luckily I made heated (12V) trousers / shirt month before so I could carry on.
Border crossing took time about 2.5hr. Finnish registration forms were strange to customs, and finally it was success when biggest sheriff came by and pulled stamps to my passport.
Just next to border there were place to change money, and same time i took again some borch soup.
Its recommended food there, because they make it differently every time and you wont get bored to it . From border to Kostanay there is nothing much to see, only large steppes with high winds.Its strange feeling ride 10-20” angle in straight line.
Hotel in Kostanay was guite remote, but it was cheap and clean. There is large mill nearby, and hotel was used by their foreigner workers. Stuff were friendly, and they told lot about living in Kazakstan.
One night was still enough in this place, and i woke up early at next morning to fuel up. City center were guite nice, but i had long way to go, so i drove away towards east, Astana.
Roads are good in this section of Kazakstan, no pothles etc.. There was only one little problem at the day. When i was filling up, lock from the right jerry can were missing and i could find it anywhere.
I got to Astana late at the evening, and there was huge traffik jam at the streets. I was trying to find hotel , but Russian sim wasn't working anymore, so i had to find pc store where i could use internet.
That was easy , but finding hotel without gps was harder task. Last charger was broken, and i didnt want to loose last power from cell. Heat was really bad, and suddenly motor heatind light turned on. I pulled over, and of course i thought that o-ring was leaking again, and motor could be overheating because of that..but no, water was still inside.
I did let motor to cool down, and decided to find road out of city centrum. I pulled over to street to check navigation , when local student came by asking would i need hotel? They knew cheap hoster nearby, so again change of plans..We throw all gear inside, and they gave me guided tour to Astana centrum. Lucky i met them, we visit some sightseeings, and i found out lot of new things about Astana / Kazakstan.
I had only strange 12 hour booking to hostel. So i had to leave early at the morning,
It was easy to get out from town without huge traffik jams. . This day was victory day, and that is largest celebration day of hole year. Some gas stations and shops were closed, and it was harder to find any restaurant. Every open place there was same thing going on, everyone were watching tv broadcast from Moscow, where Vladimir Putin was introducing army stuff.
Road ahead to Pavlodar were full of road constructions, and winds were worst ones so far. Again i had to drive ”in angle” at straight road. Wind blow so badly, that sand were flyind and visibility were only about 20 meter at worst areas. I allways try to find big newer gas stations, but this time i had to fuel up at small remote one. Just after 20km motor chogged, and i knew that there must be water on the carburetors. Its not really bad task to empty carburetors on the road,and it took only 5min and i was back on the road. Weather was better all the day, and i was eager to see what Pavlodar would have to offer.
It was only 65km left to Pavlodar, when motor was chogging again. I pulled over and removed fuel from carbs as before, but this time bike didn't start at all.
First i thought fuse has blown, but that wasn't the case. Neutral light wasn't working , so i knew there is no power in ignition circuit . Its impossible to do anything without volt meter, so i was low of options. First time things looked really bad. It was holiday time here, traffic was low and soon it would be dark . Should i put up tent beside of the road, or try to hitchhike? I choose second option, and luckily it took only couple of minutes when truck stopped. Driver didn't speak much english, but google translation was great in this situation. I was asking could i call to some tow truck, but that was not needed. He had empty back of the truck, and he could drive me to Pavlodar. Great!
Bike weight is over 200kg, so he just pulled 2 more car , and then there were six of us to lift bike up. Front brake lever broke in that event, but luckily i had spare on the bag.
On the road to Pavlodar, driver told about trips to China, and how truck drivers are dealing with police. There is lot of police check points, but trucks are warning each other via LA-radio. Police know about it of course, but cant do anything to it.
He know good truck hotel 5km from town where meaby is volt meter etc. tools to use.
Truck hotel was clean and cheap. We pulled bike out of the truck, and instantly there was 4 guys trying to figure out whats the problem with bike. Igor, huge muscle guy was "main" mechanic, and he was re-assembling wiring from bike, and he used bulb with two wire as a volt meter., but we could not figure out what was the problem. I was little worried about what to do next ? If magneto is broken,it would be impossible to do any repairs..and part shipping from europe would take too long. There would be some options if I could not repair it..first would be leaving bike here, and then I would buy ural, or some other local bike.. or continue to Ulan Bator by bus / train. When i was so far allready , aborting would not be option.
There was restaurant on the same yard, and it was time to take some beer. Sometimes beer is best bet when figuring out problems, and that was the case this time too:) ..there was wifi connection, and i could load circuit diagram from kawasaki forum.
It was right what i was expected, neutral light was in same circuit with ignition, so i had some ideas what to do at the morning. I updated my facebook account, and found out that via Finnish friend, i could of have help from Kazakstan motorcycle club . I loaned phone from truck park worker, and I called to Altamy where fellow biker offered help. He could find contact info to local Pavlodar bikers, and he was sure that there is good electronic in the town if i cant find the problem.
I woke up early again, and figured out that if i put 12v volt to under ignition fuse ( through led light relay straight from battery), i could bypass main switch..and success! It was great feeling when bike started up, and i know i could ride it again!
I put everything back together, and i payd some rubles so i could wash the bike.
It was winner feeling when i hit the road. Motor runs well again, and weather was best i could wish for. I havent got any time to figure out route back to Russia, but accordind truck driver, closest place for border crossing should be open.
I was over speeding little bit,meaby 20-30km over the limit when i hit police checkpoint.
I passed them, but police show the sign that i have to pull over. Ì've heard stories about corruption there, and I was sure that I should pay them something. We didn't have common language, so it was little bit funny situation. I think he didn't know were Finland is..when i show him my registration plate with FIN sign, he just steared me and shout GO! :D
Road to border was really guiet, but luckily it was open. 2 border crossings earlier were easy, but that wasn't the case this time. I had to remove all bags to x-ray, and after that custom workers came with dog asking about drugs(!). Of course i didn't have any, and after dog sniffed my bags they were happy. Next they asked em i really alone, and what kind of weapons im wearing?
I rised my left wrist, and then right one. Chief of th customs with golden teeth started to laugh, and shouted loudly ” WELCOME TO RUSSIA” :D.
I was on the Russia again, and this side of Russia there is nice looking countryside. It's like 50 year time travel to the past. Cars were really old, and i saw even some volga and popeda. "Here" navigation software was working until there, but now it was missing roads and even small towns. Luckily i downloaded "maps.me" software before i left. It uses openstreetmaps, and I found all the main roads from this area.
There were only one small town without any restauranst, so i bought bread from small ”shop”. Its was funny when i went inside. Everybody stop talking, and they were stearing me just like i would be man from the moon :D
I was worried about gas stations, but that wasn't problem. I found couple of new ones, and they were selling some food too. Every place they had same guestions, em i driving by myself?, where im coming from?, where im going?..and every time same results..they were thinking that i'm grazy:)
After fuelling up, i drove to Barnaul. I've read that there is place where I could change tires, and meaby they would have main switch for sale. At one point road goes straight beside the train track, and there were train going on same direction about 60kmh. I passed it slowly, and when i was next to cockpit, driver blow the horn LOUDLY..i was scared as hell..driver opens the window and put the thumb up :).
Last 100km was good motorway to Barnaul. I dont usually drive when its dark, but i wanted to get Barnaul as soon as possible..so last two hours i had to trust that KLE:s dim front light.
I had read that there is bikers bar in the center of the city, and i thought that would be good place to find info about bike services. It was surprice how nice looking place they have there! Huge bike coming from wall etc. And they really welcome you well, i got tour around the pub when waiting food, and they gave good tips about hotels ,and places where to make tire change etc.
I choose cheap hotel couple km from center, I desided to book 2 night at same time.There was allmost tear of luck in my eye, when i notised that there is washing machine..laundry by hand is not my favourite things to do:). If some motorcycle manufacturer ever make a bike, where is laundy machine included,i will buy it! :D
All gear inside, shower, and looking for place to eat. Barnaul is modern city, and there is lot of choises.It was nice to eat pizza, after couple of dozen borch soups :).
On the way back, i notised there is big night club right next door of my hotel.
Why not? I bought small bottle of vodka and took couple of shots at the hotel before leaving. I thought that i coud not find anyone who I could speak to, but I was lucky again. Bartender spoke fluent english, and i got lot of information about eastside of Russia, and good tips for Altay area.
After couple of hours there was only tigh situation on the hole trip. At the next table there was couple of Russian guys, and one of them was staring me badly. I didn't worry about that much, but when i was going to get some beer, local guy pick up a quarrel. I didn't understand why, but finally I was told the reason of his behavior..he had hear me speaking english with bartender, and thought i'm from USA..i guess peoples from states are not so wellcomed here?
After that ”situation” was over, and they were cleared that i'm from Finland, hole thing turned out, and they welcomed me to their table. They were really sorry about hole thing, and every time i zipped my glas, there were somebody to fill it up :) . Hole thing was forgotten soon, and we had great night.
Sunday morning, and bad hang over. I had to wait until 2pm, before i was able to drive to motohaus 22 . There was only one guy fixing scooter, and he didn't speak any word of english.Right next door there is motorcycle parts shop , but unfortunaly it was closed. I got permission to change tires there, and i desided to change only front tire that day. I have to come back next day anyway. Heat was about 30C inside, and next day there would be more guys who could change backtyres.
Monday morning i drove back to motohaus , and now there was main mechanic of the place working. We make a deal for changing tire and motor oil. There is large selection for motorcycle stuff for sale next door, so i could buy chain oil etc..(you can't find good chain oil easily, every gas station is selling only WD-40)
Bike was ready to go soon, but when i started up, mechanic thought that sound isn't good..i have notised same thing already day before, but i was thinking it's coused by bad fuel what i've got from Kazakstan. We check valve clearances, but everything were as they should be. He was worried about going to Mongolia, and advised not to go , if knocking sound would not fade away before it.
I drove back to hotel.When I was packing bike , man waved from upstrears window and asked to wait. He didnt speak much English, but he called to his daughter to translate. They offered room for the night, but I really had to hit the road, but again, what kind of hospitality! I kindly refused and I was starting my bike, when his doughter runs out from the building, and she gave me magnet from their fridge, as a memory.
Barnaul traffik was really bad, and it was hot day again, about 30C at the morning. I pulled off the road to gas station to check tire pressure. Radiator fan kept rolling,and i noticed it was making crunch voice. Its hard to see under the frame, but it was surprice when i finally found that lock from jerrycan, which i lost there in Kazakstan. I didn't know should i laugh or cry..propel was loosen, and that could be bad thing in Mongolia.
Motohaus was closed today because of holiday , so i could not do anything about it..shit happens..
Road to Altay mountains gets better and better all the day. In my opinion, that is best area in Russia..great looking mountains,rivers,wild horses etc..its even better than south Norway. I found really nice looking place right on the river, and i pulled over to take some photos.
There were two fishermans, and suddenly they come to me and gave pancakes and big cup of coffee (!).
It was surprice, and wellcomed one. We were trying to make conservation, but language barriel was too high. I tried to ask any place where i gould fix my radiator fan. Ones they realized that there is something wrong with my bike, they were more that eager to help.They called to other man daughter who speaks really good english, and that way we could make some conservation, with speaker on :).
They know place 150km south, where i could make repairs.They called there, and there would be man named Edvard waiting outside of the city after 2hrs.
Mens were guite excited when they could help, and after couple of hand shakes + huggs (!) i was on the road again.
Road goes couple of times really high, and temperature drops down then under 10C. I would like to stop by to take some photos, but this time there wasn't time for that.
I pulled over to small fuel station, and got first sight of Mongolians..they were pushing toyota hiace to the station, to get some diesel. Car was piece of s#it, but lot of ”bling bling” inside, and disco music with subwoofer was playing loudly :). How is it trying to communicate with Mongolians? Impossible! It's hard to describe how they are speaking, but it's close to "klingon" in star trek :)
I was in Ongudav on time, and tried to find man which should be waiting at the city border. Yep, there was car beside the city plate and i pulled over. Man did speak only Russian, but waved me to drive behind him, after he realized im looking for ”remont”.
It was strange, because i was informed that he should speak some English, according those mens from river. We drove to the garage, and suddenly ”real” Edvard came by his big 4WD toyota. I realised that i was stopped to wrong guy at the city border, and now i had real guide to real garage :)
Edvard had small garage near the city center, and after 1 minute there was 3 mechanic fixing the bike. Tools were..primitive, but soon i realized that they can make wonders with them.
Its not easiest task to adapt propel to motor axle, when boron has wear away. They took plate, nag it to right form, and centralize it with iron ball (!?!), and tight it to its place with 2 bolt.
All of them were soldiers of spetsnaz, two of them retired, one still servicing.
I took out my wallet, and asked how much i should pay? ..and NOTHING!?!
I didn't believe it fist , but when i offered money again, they refused again. This can happen only in Russia..and Kazakstan..
It was late, and Edvard know cheap hotel at the city where he guided me later.
Owner of hotel was surpriced, i was second motorcycling guests at all time, and previous one left day before,heading to Mongolia. Bad luck, it would of been nice to see other bikers..
In this area peoples seems to drink lot . I went to bank first on the morning, and there was already group of mens at the market, drinking some vodka. I got my money and i hit the road early, trying to make border crossing to Mongolia at same day. Road between Ongudav- Tashanta is most scenic i have never seen, and that took more time i've expected.
I was at the mongolian border 6pm, but unfortunately it was closed one hour before. There was little shop nearby, and they offered room for one night. It was ”no go” for me, 8 bed on the small room, and nasty looking ”toilet” outside.I' ve read that tenting near the border is forbidden, so i had to drive back to Tashanta. Maps.me is helpful software here, it was easy to find hostel nearby the city.
Hostel was little bit outdated but clean.Floors were bended badly, had to walk to room ”uphill”, and back receprion to ”downhill” :) There was group of road constructor workers, and i was invited to eat with them..and of course..drinking some vodka. And how Russians drink vodka?..they eat all the time, and they use only water to blend, if any (never,ever soda!). That way you wont get bad hang over, and i'm living proof that they were right. Despite my expectations, i was feeling great at the next morning :D
19 days back i left Finland , and finally i would get to Mongolia. Weather was good, and bike was working fine. It was only short drive to border, and this time it was open. I had to remove all gear again at customs, and lift them to the x-ray. Then after paper check to road again.Next passport check is about 10km away, on Russian side. Finally border crossing to Mongolia, where you first have to go to bike disinfection. After that to the ”main building”, where you have to fill some forms, and line up to next paper check,then to next one, and ones more. I didn't find idea of it, why not they cant give you all necessary stamps at the first place?
There are only one woman who can speak any english, and when i asked about money change, she asked me to wait outside when my papers are ready. She came out after me, and told that there is guy waiting on the Mongolian side. Little bit dark money for her?..meaby yes, but i wasn't complaiting. There was man waiting as she told me, and i could change Kazakstan money away same time..and thats not possible in Russia anyway.
There was little restaurant, and i took some meat soup. Tryed to use their ”toilet”..but no change that i could go there. Under the toilet is about 5 meter deep hole,and you should stand up there above couple of planks..no way..
I desided to take southern route, i was told that i could get help most easily if something bad would happend. I was wondering about road conditions, but i didn't have to wonder long..They were worst than i was expected. It was really hard to drive first 20km, bike was shaking badly, and shock absorber was snapping to the bottom all the time. Last month had been rainy, and there were no any flat surface on the road. Luckily there is always other ”lines” to same direction, and you can choose which one to drive. Luckily before Tsagaanuur there is asfalt, and that continues until about 20km to Ulgii direction. After that asfalt suddenly stops without any warnings, and that was first time i was close to fall down. Sand road goes up to mountains, highest point was about 2600 meter. Roads are guite bumby, and you have to be focused all time. Scenery of this route is great, and i can promise that you wont get bored there.Couple of times you have to cross rivers, but only small and easy ones.
It was great day to drive. I could speed up when going down from the mountains, but that was bad idea with stock suspension. Motor armor took couple of serious hits, and i had to slow down.Big rock hit down to the sidestand switch, and i had to cut wires from it, and connect end of the wires back together. Bike really did shake like hell, and i had to stand while driving all the time. There was little bit shock, when i discovered that cellphone holder was broke down, and cell was missing. Luckily i fould it behind the tank bag..And tip of the day..don't trust those chinese phone holders..RAM mount cost a lot, but it will hold up anything , and you can use same mount with 4-6 inch screens.
Garmin gps is good and meaby only choise here. You can use openstreetmaps , and that way you can get full coverage of Mongolia easily.
It was late when i arrived Khovd. Luckily there was good and cheap hotel at the centrum. It's strange little town. Mongolians were guite shy, and nobody will come to speak with you. Of course they notice that there is white guy among them, but they just stair to you, and they don't shame to do so:)
Every restaurant was closed 6pm, so i had to buy some bread and cold sousage again.
After 12hour driving i didnt need to wait sleep long..
I went packing bike early, and couple of guys came to offer ride to Ulan Bator, they claimed that rain has wash away parts of the road, and easiest way would be to lift bike to truck. I didn't believe them, and I refused their offer.
Then first to fuel up..and it's really easy to do here when compared to Russia. Just sit on your bike, and somebody will do work for you, and you can pay it straight to him / her. No need to hassle like Russia: First to give money inside, then back to the bike and fill up, then back inside to get extra money back.
Idea was ride all day as much as possible, and if lucky, i would be in Altai at the evening.
First 50km were good asfalt, then it suddenly stops again without warnings.
After that ”road” was really really bad, worst so far. Bike was shaking like hell again, and it feels like every bolt is going to fall of. It would be more stable to drive, if you could speed up over 80kmh, but that wasnt the case with heavy load and stock absorber. After 100 km i was getting pissed off, after 200km i was REALLY pissed off, after 300km just..fucked :) , at that point i knew what those Mongolian guys in Khavd were talking about.
50km before Altai road was getting little bit better, and finally i could speed up about 80kmh. It was nice feeling when i finally got first sight of Altay! This day was really hard to drive , I had to stand up all day.
Road between Khavd-Altai is 450km, and after that i was really tired, and wanted to have decent food and shover..bad thing was,I wasn't going to get them. I found really old ”hotel” on the city centrum. It was strange place. I was only customer ( ever?) , and small old woman gave me key to room, and show me ”shower”..that was ”no go” to me, and i have to get used to those ”babytowels” what i had carried hole trip. Outside temperature was 18C, only 14C inside..
I woke up 5am, and bike was fuelled up before 6am. I tried to find food and water from the city center, but no luck, every place was closed. I knew that i have to ride thoughout part of gobi desert today, and i would want to have at least 5 litres of water, if something problem occured. I had only about 2.5 litres left, but i check from GPS that there is couple of small lakes, and one river on the route. I had water filtration bottle on the bag, so i could fill it up from any water source. Last evening I eat last bread and cold sosage, so i would need to find food store somewhere. First there was good road after town, but again, it suddenly stopped and i was on the sand again.Road was bad, but not as bad as yesterday. After 2 hour i saw first car of the day, and realized that this place would be bad for falling,where to get help if something happends? I had SPOT satellite tracker on the bike, so at least i could press help button in case on emergency..but no idea how many days it would take(?).
It's really easy to lost track here. There is 5-20 different tracks in same direction, and you have to check GPS time to time. Road seems to change place every year, and most of the time you are ”off the road” according GPS. It's good idea to use two GPS. First "maps.me" to cellphone, and ”magnetic direction” to garmin gps. Once i ride long time standing, and found out that road is going to radar station(or something like that), and southern route is about 20km south. Same time i noticed that i've missed small town where i was going to eat .
It was time to settle down and think what to do next.should i go back 20km, or shortcut thoughout desert straight to the south? I desided to ride shortest route, and first i did check direction from bought gps:s + compass. All "navaho" skills were used, and i found right direction easily.
On the way south, there was most remote place i've seen , and i deside to park there in the desert. That was meaby most memorible moment in this trip. I walked away from the bike, and sat down for break. There was nothing there. Total silence.No animals, plants, just sand everywhere on the horizon .Now i know what it's like to be totally alone :). I was there, where nobody would not find me, if bike wont start up. I wont usually stress out anything on front, but yep, i was suddenly little bit worried when i figured what could happen . Then I walked back to the bike, and I havent never, ever start bike so carefully. Sound was great when KLE instantly started up. There was still that extra knocking sound on the engine, but it was running good anyway :) I was still on my own route heading south , and it was great feeling when i finally found back to southern route.
Gobi desert is hard place..100 km before temp was nice 20-25C. But suddenly it increased to 35C.
Kle has only 15 litre tank, and I had to pull over to fill up, and I pour last 10 litres to tank. I wasn't used ”4litre ”spare tank” yet, so I would not have to worry about the fuel before next town.
I was driving there in dry area, when i noticed that something flash on the rear mirror…???...and soon i found out that my ortlieb side bag was ribbed of, and ive loosed some sfuff. Most important thing:..sawyer water purifier, which was on that bag, f**k!
Lucky that i had extra straps, and i roll that bag as tight as i could, and strapped it tightly to the sideracks.
That was first time when i was really worried. I had about1.5 liter water left.. I rode backwords 20km, but didnt see any of my staff.. I already used my extra fuel, so it would be mad to go any further west. I had to left my water purified, most of underwear, heated shirt and collages to the desert,hope that somebody finds them and can use them :)
Only about 50km later, there was group of tents, "jurts", and couple of nasty dogs. I knew it already, that they will run beside my bike, and try to bite straps from the sidebags..its allready happened two times..and here is good tip: Dont drive instantly to the jurt, wait until there is somebody to welcome you. If you drive straight there, dogs will guard theyr home,and they aren't small ones :D
There was small river and i drove instantly over it, and success..dogs wont like to be wet and they left to the other side. Local man with motorcycle came by , and i agreed to buy some water from him. They were selling some kind of food, small pieces of meat,guts(?) and lard. Yep, I was hungry, but not that hungry! :D.
After that small river i've crossed allready, there was another, and BIG one. Its impossible to see depth of it, or what route shoud i take. Current was guite strong, and if water gets to the engine, how to get bike off there?Luckily there was local guy on the another side of the river, and he shoved best line to go:
It was ”winner feeling” after that, and i knew that was biggest, and last river in this route..there is one river still ahead, but there will be bridge, only one in southern route. Surraunding gets greenier all the time from that point, and there is lot of wild camels around..and some eagles + condors on the sky. Last 150km of sand were all kind of conditions, max speed was about 60km, and it was nice to get to tarmac again before Bayankhongor!
I took hotel from city center , and i was really exhausted ,and it was hard to unpack all gear from the bike.. I had eat only 2 bag of energy powder on that day, and ”energy level” was getting low. Of course i got room from 3rd floor, and they havent hear invention named elevator :)
Luckily there was good restaurant on the city, and i got my first real meal at 8pm.
No idea what that meat was, but it was first good one past 5 days. Everything was ok again,and i was really excited when i realized, that rest of the way to Ulan Bator would be tarmac, and there is no any big obstacles left. This day I drove about 11-12 hours,and it was time to drink couple of beers on the bar. I was thinking would i drive same route again by myself ? ...and i would not. I knew that Gobi is rude place, but i didn't realize that it's that rude. It was really great experience , meaby best motorcycling day of my life, but too risky. It's really stupid to risk your life because of one trip..If bike would broke down there, or you fall badly, or you get lost , you can die..and i'm not joking. Only 8 month before this man died here, and he was with big group, and he got help instantly. It's always better to have somebody to drive with you in that area..or pay money to some local, and get car escort to worst areas. But choise is yours,and if you do it alone, be prepared better than i was. Take at least water for 2-3 days! I havent got any problems with navigation,but it's really easy to lose track there, so make sure that you can navigate , there is no landmarks on the desert!
Next to local food store, and i bought some food and beer to the hotel. Once i got upstairs, bike alarm went on, and i had to go to see what going on..local guys were standing beside the bike, and i use all hand signs to keep them off the bike. They nodded, and seemt to understand. I got upstairs again..and same thing, alarm was shouting again. This time i took fabrik bike cover with me, and put it on to bike. 2-way alarm is good thing to have in these countries, that was fifth time in this trip when somebody is messing with my bike..usually there are kids playing around, or curious hotel guest on the parking area.
Bayankhongor- Ulan Bator road is good , and i was thrilled when i realised that i could drive all the way in one day. Road constructions were only things what slowed down, but at the evening i finally reached eastern point of this trip, Ulan Bator!
Its strange feeling, after 7 days of countryside to go in huge traffic jam..to modern city with all neon lights and modern shops. Driving throughout city took long time, and i reached Oasis guesthouse late at the evening.
I got room upstears, and finally got decent shower,first one after Khavd.
After this point i didnt have to worry about bike..it was still making that knocking sound, but if it breaks, it easy to arrange transport by train, route back to Finland goes beside of trans siberian railways.
Right next door from oasis, there is garage for bike service if needed.Skilled japanese guy owns the garage, and we changed tyres (heidenau k60) back on.
There was retired couple, coming from Germany by old mercedes camper. Route was India-Pakistan-China-Mongolia, and next they were going to Russia- Finland-Norway..and back to home.
And there was young guy from usa. I saw last night that there was new chinese 150cc bike in front of hotel, but i did not know who is driving it. He told that he was going to make southern route with that bike. He hasńt ever before ride any bike. Week ago he made his first try out on the hotel yard. He falled instantly, and he had scar at the elbow because of that. Bike was packed wrong, huge heavy backpack was on the top. Light sleeping bag on the left side, big 20l fuel can on the right . I tried to tell how to pack, but no luck. I asked which kind of GPS he is using,but he hasnt got one. He lost his cell phone one week before, so cant use "maps.me" or any other software to navigation. So, i asked how you are going to navigate there at the desert? ” I will ask peoples where to go”,he answered. I was stunning,and told him that there is NO peoples whom to ask! He didnt understand, and went away. I went to pay my bill to the guesthouse. We talk about this young guy, and she sayd that day before he was looking for instructions from the internet,how to make stove from coca cola can(!).
I really hope he is ok..
I booked hotel from center of city by phone, and when i was parking front of it, local named Enkhbold Mg came to me, and asked do i need place for the night? That was not necessary, because i already had booking . He was willing to show where i could buy new drybags, and of we go..
Couple of stores later we found new bag, and i got invited to visit their home. He had servised 5 year in foreign legion in France(!). Next we went to see nightlife of Ulan Bator.There is strange custom in Ulan Bator..because of huge traffic, you can ride your car only every second day..that depends whats your last number of the registration plate.But you dont need taxi. You just go to the road, and raise your hand. Instantly somebody will stop by, and you pay small fee for the ride. At least thats the case when some local is with you :). We had two fun days there in Ulan Bator, seeing some sights..and day / nightlife.
Enkhbold is starting transport business there in Ulan Bator, so if anybody need his contact,please send me mail! He speaks fluent Mongolian, german, french and english, so he can easily arrange bike transport from europe to Mongolia, by example..
Ulan Bator-Ulan Ude
Golden plan was to drive 600km to Ulan-Ude.I started the bike at 8am,and first tried to find breakfast. Its surprice that even hotel restaurants are closed untill 11am..dont they eat at all at the morning? I hit the road to the north, and decided to ride as fast as possible to the Russian border. Road are guite good here. Some potholes, but nothing bad. All the time towards Russia, landscape is changing. Mountains are smaller , and finally there is trees,first ones after Altay. Just before russian border i met local with honda transalp, coming from Vladivostok. He tried to take ferry to Japan, but he found out that it goes only once in week, so he came back. He told that there is police in Russian side with radar, so its better to keep speed under limit..
Border crossing was slow as usual. Of course i passed all cars and was first of the line ,but still it took over two hour. Finnish registration forms are just like heprea to customs.
Finally i got throw, and yep, there was police behind the next hill. I drove under the limit, but still they pulled me over , and wanted to see all papers. That was odd situtation..
”Cheaf” of them was curious what was model of the bike, and when he figured that out, i could go on. From border to Ulan Ude, first there is some sightseeings, but after that its guite boring. Only couple of small villages and one big town,Gusinoozyors. I went to fuel up, and instantly there was couple of bikers asking same old guestions..alone?..coming from?,,, going to ? Russian peoples are really friendly, and ”brave” ones when compared to peoples i met at Mongolian country side, they don't even try to speak anything.
I was in Ulan-Ude at evening, and this time i just wanted hotel near the road. There was ”12h” hotel, cheap (10e) and clean so i didnt need to go city traffic jams.
Next to the lake Baikals. First stop was in nearby kafe. Again i was just like a man from the moon. Three woman behind the desk were more than terrified, when i tried to speak english with them, and after couple of misunderstanding i got two separate set of food to the table :).
Truck drivers were curious about my trip, and again i had to answer all the same guestions,where,when,alone?..but now, after Mongolia, result of these guestions is different, im not grazy anymore, because i was headind back to Finland :)
Road goes on long way between the lake, but there is no route to shore before south end of it.
I found track for the shore, and i walked there over the trans siberian rails. Water was freeking cold, and i could forget my plans to swim in it.Train traffic is huge here, long trains goes by couple of times in one hour.
There is nice looking hotels in Kultuk at cheap prices, but i was keen to drive on..with luck i could drive to Cheremkhovo, and total for this day would be then about 600km.After Baikal road is really good for motorcycle! There were best curves in this trip. Two times i managed to scratch footrest to the ground. Porche driver seems to think same way, and he passed me like grazy just after Baikal. I drove about 50km further and there was same car crashed badly. Ambulance just left away, and lets hope that driver survived..
Road was closed almost two hours, and i had to change plans . I drove about 2-300km further , and found remote area what was out of sight from the road. I put my tent up, and fix the 12v output wich was brogen again. Tent is much better than hotel by many means, no need to check in,unpack your bike, walk any stores, repack, checkout, and you are right beside the bike when its easy to maintain services.
Weather was good when i went to sleep, but i woke up at 4am when wind was blowing like hell. Tent was shaking badly, and i thought that it cant handle it much longer.,but this cheap Finnish (Halti) tent is well made, and even one drop of water came inside.
Sky cleared just in time when i hit the road. No need to use gps, when there is only one direction and that is west. This boring day. Nothing to see, just drive 150-200km and fill up, again and again..last station was small and old, and my guts sayd that i should pass it, but i fill up anyway.. and regret it 50km later. Again water on the tank,and i had to drain carbs out on the road.seems like they are selling piss,named as gasoline.. Once i met fellow biker. I went to eat, and i saw at the window that somebody drove to the yard by 800cc BMW. He came to talk when i was eating, but again, language barriel was too high. When i left, i notised that he had leave sticker to the seat of my bike.
It was hot day, max 37C, but after 700-800km all changes. It was raining badly, and i pulled over to nearest truck park. Again it was clean and cheap,15e / night. These places are really highly recommended, price / guality ratio is great, and you can get food 24/7 when needed.
Breakfast and again to the road.Weather was really bad. Cold and raining all day. There were six police on the road that day. Four real, and 2 made from cardboard :)
I did not make any routes for this day, and i was surpriced when i arrived Kemerovo. I didnt know anything about this big, about 500.000 people town. I pulled off the road, and checked is there any hotels nearby available. Then big custom honda drove beside , and man talked to me , but only in Russian. I made all hand marks, and signed that im looking for place for the night, and he told me to drive behind . (sorry, but i really cant remember his name )
He arranged hotel with garded park for the bike, and in a flash, there was his friend , Dennis on the site. I was invited to visit Dennis, and his wife Nataly to their home. Dennis , despite his young age, allready has experienced war in real action, as a sniper in special forces ( deep respect! ) . He had lot of great stories, and we had a great evening.
Crash bar on the right side was broken couple of days before, and next day Dennis arrange workshop to make reparation. They really do know what they are doing, and bike was fixed in no time. Then back to the Dennis house for one night , and we had (again) a great party there with his friends :)
All good ends at the time, and it was time to carry on. We went to eat in Dennis friend restaurant, and took some photos..and yep.. i had HUGE hangover in that photo :D. I was escorted to city line, and then I continued ahead to Novosibirsk. Driving was hard. I was feeling sick, and it was raining like hell. I really thought that i should pull over, and sleep couple of hours on the bushes :) . I was drinking some water beside the road , when couple from Moscow came by. We took some photos and carry on. Here in Russia bikers ”culture” is really strong. If they see foreign biker, its normal that they will come to change couple of words.
This time i met Vova, Dennis friend in Novosibirsk. I was driving without gps, and i miss one intersection before town. I did send message to him , that im near the airport, but later it was cleared that its factory of Mig/Suhoi aeroplanes, NOT airport. Because of that it took time before we met, but have to say, Vova came by style with his BIG kawasaki. He had bad luck, and his clutch wire snapped before we reach his place, and we had to wait trailer on the road.
We leave bikes to garage, then to his house, and we took sightseeing around the town at he evening. Vova is busy businessman, boss of car workshop. He is hard biker, and he had ride long tours before, and going to make Mongolian trip in near future. I hope we meet again someday!
Novosibirsk- Omsk, 750 km.
Nothing much to see in this road. Lot of road constructions, and heavy traffic all the time.
Dennis warned me two days ago about Serbians, which are on the road trying to sell ”golden” ring, to have money to medicin..yep,that really is the case. I thought somebody is in problems, when guy was waiving hand in the middle of the road, and i stopped. Same scam was going on, but i sayd that ” i have creditcard only” and hit the road :). There was another group 50km later but this time i just passed them with full throttle. 100km before Omsk, there was one nasty looking accident ahead, but luckily driver survived without any big damages. I manage to drive Omsk late at the evening, and desided to book two night. Ive noticed that its good to have one rest day after every 5-7 days, or driving is getting hard.
Next day it was time to do some shopping, and due to impulse, I went to the barbershop. Three ladies were gigling when asked to cut with 2mmt blade, but that was impossible for some reason. After some negotation they finally agreed to use 3mm, and everybody were happy :)
Back to the hotel, and finally i got biker company from europe, when Micha & Jens from Germany came to same hotel. They were going to Mongolia, and both of them were driving BMW 1150 GS . We went to local shop to buy some food , and then back to my room to talk some more. Tuff guys, when going to Mongolia with heavy bikes..I dont know how BMW handles in soft sand, but total approx of 230kg was enough for me..
Micha wrote blog to internet, and you can find it here :https://mongolaffen.wordpress.com/ I've heard Germans are hard to plan things, and i think that's really the case. It was nice to see how they made stright route plans for next day..I havent done that, never. I just drive until my ass is crying..and then it's time to pull over :D. It was really pleasant evening, and we agreed to see again at the next morning.
I guess that our heads were in different timezones..I woke up really early 5AM, and when two hours later didn't see any sign of them, i desided to hit the road. Weather was great, and it was nice to ride again. Only 4000km to home, and i desided to drive 700km to Tyomen. Road was guite boring, and finally i arrived to that new, big city. I pulled over, and booked hotel from the center. Traffik jams were huge, and it took 2hrs to get there. Finally i found right hotel, but reception was freeked out when i got in. I had all booking info in my cellphone, but she was demanding paper print from it..strange..and sorry to say to her, but ink was runned out from kawasaki :D.
Finally i got my room, and i was taking shower when somebody was knocking my door. There was receptionist with local english teacher, and they just wanted to know what i'm doing there in Tyomen :). Next hour we were sitting on the bed, and talking about my trip. Normally that's ok, but this time I was tired and keen to get some sleep..but no, they were not going anywhere, so I had to leave to restaurant with them to get some beer before i could leave them behind.
After leaving Tyomen, i notised that there was motorcycle meeting only 50km away. I was little bit pissed off, it would been my first choise, if i would of know it day before..bad luck.
Route to Ekaterinburg is guite boring. Lot of traffik constructions, and that 300km took all day.
Only interesting place was border of Asia / Europe, and i pulled over to take couple of photos. It was hot day, max 37C, and must say that wearing goretex driving suit in this kind of heat is pure hell :). I as trying to find place for tent, but this area is really wet, so i had to took first small "hotel" for the night.
Fist sightseeing were guite boring, but after Perm, it was getting better all the time. E7 road was best so far after Baikals. 35C again, and i had to drink over 3 litres water while driving, without any use of toilet :).
Road was under construction all the time, and that make driving slow. There was couple of signs to Moscow, and it felt like i was allmost home :) . I took cheap hotel from Kazan, and once again i had to repair my ortlieb dry bags..they are really pain in the ass when they start to break down..not recommended!
Kazan - Nizhniy Novgorod
250km, 35-37C,20-30X road constructions took hole day. Finally i got to the Nizhniy Novgorod, but i was stunned because of traffik jam. Last 10 km to center direction took 40 mins, and that wasn't easy task in that heat.
I saw luxury hotel beside the road, and bike brakes screamed..that was most expensive hotel in this trip, but it was worth it, because i really cant stand that traffic..how can they live with that every day?
I was little bit shamed, when I walked in with dirty swetty driving suit..there were peoples wearing real suits :). Somebody was trying to play violin at the corner, and there were huge amount of stuff working there. I lost my best shirt there in gobi desert, so i thought i would buy one. Buyin clothes is not easy there in Russia, i walked three different stores, but found nothing.
Nizhniy Novgorod - Moscow
Traffic was really bad at the morning, and it took one hour to get out of city center. Moscow was only 400km away, and it was easy to see on the road. It was boring day to drive there in lond lines, and i was thinking to change route to the north. Much less traffic there, and i could use tent in remote areas. I pulled over before last intersection, and i had to throw coin...and Moscow wins
. I check hotels.com , and I booked hotel near the city center. After third ring road traffic was really bad, and it took almost 2hr to get there..and on the way there i found only sand road of Moscow? I was little bit pissed off when i finally found it.It was closed..and 2hrs driving in that heat for nothing. I search nearest hotel from GPS and i drove there. Yep, Moscow is not cheap place, and this one cost over 100e / night. Moscow is huge, and clean. There is best roads of Russia, but BIG SUV mercedes / porche seems to be most favourite car..strange... I took couple of beer in nearby restaurant,and i got know to local guy. This was funny..: He moved to Moscow 10 year ago, and first he was working in International hotel. Same hotel was used by Finnish tourists, and he first thought that we have prohibition law here in Finland :D ..because every time bus was full of drunk Finns, and they were buyin as much alcohol to Finland as they can.
I was going to see red square, and reception told it's best bet to wait until 10am because of traffic.
25km took 1.5hrs(!). Heat was so bad that i could not keep my jacket on. Cellphone holder was broken, and i had to put it in tank bag, under that plastic on the top..only after 5min cell was overheated, and i had to shut it down. Moscow is not good place without GPS, and it took couple of extra turns before i finally found to red square.
Couple of photos, and then trying to find road out from city. Finally i found it, and i could speed up again. City center is really nice, but this was my first and last time when i drive there..too much traffic for me.
150km after Moscow climate changed instantly, and temp dropped down to 15C..then it was raining badly, so i pulled over to first gastinitsa.
Only 880km to home, and i figured out that i could drive it in one day.This road is boring, there is nothing to see, and i just fuel up every 200km and drove on. I took detour to Vyborg, and it was surprisingly good shape, much better than Sortavala where i came to Russia. It was only short drive to border, and Nuijamaa control point was easy and fast. There was tourist buss, full of Finnish retirees. They were around my bike when i came out from liquor store, and first time over 5 weeks i could finally speak Finnish.
Finally at the evening i was sitting in my own porch, and that was guite unreal feeling :D. It's allways nice to go travelling, but its really nice to came back!
Hole trip took over 5 weeks and about 17.000km..roughly 550km / 1 day. There was some problems on the way, but was it worth it? YES!!!
So , that was my first ( and last ? ) travel story..I hope you got something out of it!
Tagi-lista on tyhjä