TravellingStrom

Riding to the end of the world, and beyond!

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Archive for August 5th, 2012

Strangers On The Road

Posted by TravellingStrom on August 5, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

I was up with the birds for a change and after a nice breakfast of pancakes and jam packed up and left. The hotel itself is tucked away in the back of this complex and for some strange reason you cannot drive up to the door and unpack, a weird place but clean. The rest of the building seems to be cafes etc.

I fuelled up and hit the road heading east to a town called Kostanay, it was 700km or so away, it can be hard to judge, but that is what the satnav tells me :) They had this great big gold statue at the eastern town limit which caught the early morning sun real well.

One of the first things I saw while riding into the rising sun was what looked to me to be snow fences, very similar to what I had seen in the US. I could be right or wrong, but I never realised it got that cold here if that is what there are?

Something that is very common along these roads are parking areas and all of them have ramps. It seemed strange to me, but after a while I realise it is because the roads are so bad, it gives you somewhere to repair your car after the bits have all shaken loose!! I am not being harsh here, it is a fact of life, the roads need a lot of work.

The ride was just a ride with a few interesting moments thrown in, at one stage I spotted a small herd of horses running across the road in front of me, and they looked to be being chased by a stallion, lucky for me he was road aware and pulled up before crossing!


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A bit further on I had a close encounter with an eagle, not as close as it could have been, but that will do me thanks :)

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Another strange thing that I see is graveyards, in the middle of nowhere a long way from towns, but always along the side of the road, and judging from the amount of memorial markers I see along here also, it seems there are many many road deaths along here, which I can believe. a little edit here as I am writing this a week ahead. The death memorials are exactly that, but not from road deaths. Because this country gets down to -35C during winter, if someone dies in a village miles away, they bury them beside a main road which is always kept clear, this way they can visit the grave site during the harshest of winters, this is the same for the big grave yards, like that pictured and I found out the snow fences are exactly that!

When you come to a rail crossing, as with most of ours back home it is best to slow down, they even put stop signs there. I usually stop anyway, because the crossing of the tracks is harsh on the bike, the bit of road in this section has huge divots and humps which can cause a front wheel rim to get dented.

It was around this area that a strange thing happened, as I was riding along I saw a car pulled over to the side of the road and they were flagging me down to a stop. I was a bit unsure and although I did stop I stayed up near the centre line(there were no other vehicles around) and behind their vehicle, so I could see what is going to happen. Watch the movie before I say anything else:
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So, as you can see, I shot through when they showed me the loaded melon!!! What was going through my head is the following, I have had problems in the past(back home in Oz when stopping to help people) so I was a little bit nervous. Even though they had happy smiling faces, when she gestured for money I became more wary. They then opened the back of the car and rummaged around and brought out the melon thing. My brain just said WTF, lets get out of here. They caught up with me a few kms up the road, they were hammering then they passed me and stayed just in front for about 15kms before they turned off towards a small village. At the next service station I saw a policeman and showed him the footage on my Laptop and all he could say was nyet, nyet, nyet, but although I know that means no, I did not know which part it alluded to? Now, a few days later when I had internet, besides all the smart arse comments that were posted after I uploaded that to Facebook, I did get a sensible answer from Anton Larin, a biker friend in Almaty, so here is what he says in a couple of comments.

” Richard, here’s translation. the lady: Do you need anything? Do you need any help?. The guy: Are you from America? the lady: Do you need any money or cash? the guy: Are you traveling? and then they wanted you to have a melon. they were extremely friendly. :)”

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I was amazed that they were speaking russian and not kazakh. truly russian is a language of international communication. I am wondering why did they offer you money in the first place? Did you look so bad or something??? :) LOL

So, I made a total twat of myself, but lived to tell the tale, what can I say, I am sure I will react the same way if I am in the middle of nowhere riding solo :oops: When I later on checked all the footage from that day, I noticed their car in an earlier segment. They had passed me about 10 minutes earlier and then decided to wait for me, as Anton says, maybe I did look poor :)

Anyway, I continued on to the servo I mentioned and had a break, before riding through more wilderness. Here is another example of a grave yard in the middle of nothing.

So, I had been riding for a while, in fact I had clocked up 500km by now and reached the state border of Aktobe, here I was surrounded by a heap of chaps who all wanted photos, very friendly and by now I was over my ‘melon encounter’ and was a bit more relaxed :)


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So, that was a successful meeting and the info I gleaned from that was ahead of me was 60km or so of crap road, well I had made good time up to now and it was still early afternoon, not yet 2pm, so I continued on and after another 45mins I entered the road works section. I tried to stay on the black stuff but it was wet and loose so eventually I had to step out onto the steppe on advice given to me by the truckies, because the gravel road after the black stuff was sharp hard and rough, probably doing the tyres no good anyway.

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So the chaps at the border were correct, I had about 60km of construction detours before the hard stuff returned, mind you it was pretty shabby stuff with many potholes. I guess they were slowly working their way down this way as the road had been fine on the western side of the works zone.

Now, here is a sign I found funny and confusing.

They had freshly painted some of the words out and I found out over the next 100km that what the sign used to say was bumpy road ahead for 2000m, so a little bit of deterioration had happened :) This section of road was terrible and they cars and trucks had made their own side roads, which I was sorely tempted to ride on, but every time I saw a track leading to the side road, I could see mud ahead, because those roads were a lot lower than the one I was on and there had been recent rain.

This sign pissed me off, mainly because this sign was repeated after about 3-4km, I never got to an end of a 4km section before a new sign was put up for the next 4km section, sort of like the carrot before the horse, come on sucker LOL :D

Whenever there is a road leading to a village, there is always a big structure with the town name or some type of legend, but some of them had different things denoting the town as well, like the backside of the bull in my home town that greets visitors, but these are more colourful :)

It turns out that I entered another time zone going east again and lost another hour, so it was 6pm when I entered Kostanya. I had a hotel way point marked and I thought I found the hotel even though the GPS said go around the corner. I checked in, despite my better judgement saying not to as they wifi was down. Normally I would go find another place, but this one was cheap and they said a storm blew it out and it would be up tomorrow, so being hot and tired I moved in. I then found some food and beer downstairs and secure parking for the bike, the main concern. I decided not to take up the offer from the doorman, “want girls sir?”

There was confusion with the food service. Using my translator app, I had asked if there was pork and rice -yes, I also asked if there was chicken and chips-yes, so I ordered chicken and chips. One of my translations I had saved was “no mushrooms” because I hate the crap and that was the first one I showed them. Well, I ended up getting two meals, except the chicken and chips which I really wanted had mushrooms all over it so I rejected it and ended up with the chops and rice. It was food and the beer was cold, that is all I can say about that :)

Right, remember the strawberry flavoured dunny paper I bought, well check out true soviet offering.

This stuff is so tightly packed there is no room to put it on the holder and if any of you remember making your own xmas decorations, with multi coloured crepe paper rolls, well that is pretty much the texture! In fact it is very close to Badgers Arse, but not quite there yet :)

And on that note it was time for bed :)

Cheers from Kostanay
TravellingStrom

Posted in Around The World, Eurasia | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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