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Archive for August 11th, 2012

On The Throne In Astana

Posted by TravellingStrom on August 11, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

This will be a bit of a condensed posting as I have been a bit crook in the guts. I am not sure what caused it, but I had to stay close to the throne over the next 6 days or so. It started the other day but got progressively worse. But it wasn’t enough to stop me getting the bike repaired, but due to the very low quality internet, I just lost interest in updating the blog. As soon as I started to write and upload photos, it would bog down, too many people using a small connection made it bad for everyone. So, although I tried on and off I just gave up.

Anyway, bike repairs. While waiting for Max to pick me up, I checked the bike out again and noticed a horrible thing, the right hand side chain tensioner was loose!!!

Lucky for me it was just the grub screw had vibrated loose from the roads and the actual wheel nut was still tight, it is now I wish the Oz model of this bike came with a split pin like the North American version! Anyway, it was a quick fix to tighten it up, but I will keep an eye on that sucker! So, Max rocked up and took me shopping with my bash plate in hand and a metal strap that holds my tool tube as an example of what I want more of. The bike gets an amazing amount spectators, wherever I go, heaps of car honkers as well 🙂

I found one single extra strap, but that would do, but the machine shop people told me they cannot weld aluminium, I told them it was steel, they disagreed, so we left to find a Mig/Tig welder. We did find one, but he said the only way he could repair the thing was to take the bracket off the bike. There is a bit missing from the bracket which had snapped and then the bolt vibrated loose so I had nothing to weld, they would have to make a bit.

I knew this would be a bugger of a job and so over the next day or so, we finally managed to gather the correct tools so that I could get the back bolt out. That probably makes no sense, but nobody has tool kits, they might have a spanner and lend it, but I needed a 1/2 inch ratchet drive, with a 19mm socket, with a 6-8inch extension bar AND a universal joint adaptor, because I have done this before and that is the only way to get it off. So, trying to gather all four pieces at the same time was a major undertaking and on the 3rd day we had success, I had the tools and within 10 minutes the bracket was out, whew!!!

SO, the broken bit is where the little triangle bit is showing at the bottom of the screen, a piece of metal should be coming up from that point, in fact here is a photo from the last time showing the bit that is missing, this has the threaded bolt hole in it and is how the bash plate is mounted.

So, the dude who does the aluminium welding was now not available so we went back to the original repairers. Of course, the other day we only had the bash plate which is aluminium, but the bracket is steel, so his mechanic dudes could now make some sort of way of adding a bit of metal to mount the plate. In the end they did a job that I hope works, it is not pretty, but I did manage to bolt the plate on, we shall see what happens on the steppe as to how tough it is 🙂

The other little job that needed doing was to repair the left bottom tool tube, it keeps getting bashed against the swing arm over these roads and has totally broken along about 6 inches of the end and the top is smashed so it is no longer waterproof. So, Max took me to a hardware area of town where there are many many stalls next to each other, like a market. Here we found something that may do the trick, it would be bodgy, but the pipe caps and joiners are totally different over here, so I would have to make do, even cutting a section out to fit the new bit in.

That little job got done so what was next, nothing really, except meet some people and have some fun, but as close to the dunny as possible 😉 One of the relaxing things I did was to unpack the photo printer I had bought in St Petersburg and see how it worked. Well, lucky for me I am a techy dude because the instructions were in Russian!!! But, it was pretty easy to follow the pictures, then I conned the girls in the cafe/bar to pose for a photo and printed them out a copy each, they loved it and I got my reward 🙂

There were some other travellers there also who were driving in a Mongolian Rally. Basically a whole heap of teams buy a car, under 10 years old, under 1.2 litre engine and a few other restrictions, then they have to raise $1000 and drive the car however they like to UlaanBaatar in Mongolia, where the cars are auctioned off or sold and the proceeds go to charity. Sounds like a fun time, but these cars have no bloody ground clearance(I know I cannot talk but I have to touch the ground). If I was doing their trip it would be in a Suzuki 4wd, high clearance, light as a feather and a Jap motor. Anyway, they are doing it and having mostly fun.

That is Henrique, Ryan, Habib and Drew. Henrique is from Brazil, Habib from England while Ryan and Drew are from the states. They met up and chat and sort out teams etc on Facebook, which can be fun but there have been dramas along the way, as with any adventure. Anyway, one of the things that needed doing was a Mongolian visa for Henrique and as we were not sure yet which way our China group was going, it seemed prudent to me to get my Mongolian visa also, so I bagged a ride with them as I had the GPS 🙂 Can you believe that, not a GPS or compass amongst these four chaps, way to go(or way to get lost). When I showed them the compass app on the iphone, they then were not sure how to use one, so I gave up. Anyway, we found our way down town, and to the Mongolian embassy, which is easy to find if the address was correct(we used a taxi).

We were told that the consulate section was closed today come back tomorrow!!! The website said Wednesday it was closed, not Thursday, mongrals!! But, he did say, come in at 09.30am, pay the express price and you will pick them up at 3pm, well that worked for us 🙂 The next day, not quite on the dot because these boys are lax with timing, we were waiting in line, because we were late! And once again they told us no express visas today, but we begged and pleaded and after some back and forth they agreed that we could pay for the visas express. If they could not be done that day, we could return and pick up our passports at 5pm and get our money back. Now, at 4pm I was riding towards the embassy and waiting for Henrique, once again he was late and I had to try and keep them in my mirrors while doing some wild Friday arvo riding through the traffic chaos and pulled up at the embassy at 4.59pm!!!! We were lucky and we got our visas, phew 🙂

The other group of people I spent some time with during my stay were the American family, David and Gertrude married than adopted two Kazakhstany kids a long time ago. They were always promised trip home to see their birthplace and this is it. Mind you, even though Dan is 21 and Neil I think 19, both are wanting to go home. They have had enough of the rough roads 🙂 Hahaha, they hired a car after flying into Astana, then drove to Semey on the east border area, apparently the roads are crap out that way LOL 🙂

I don’t have a picture for Neil, he was always away doing stuff. During the time I was there, drinks during the evening were a common theme, until the last night when the beer ran dry(actually we did this twice) so the kitchen lady took my money and went and bought some vodka for me. That evening, the Dorgan family were heading out to the airport for a 2am flight, so drinking was on the cards, but we went for a shashlik dinner at a local cafe first. Eating in the same cafe was becoming boring. After dinner more vodka and myself and Dan even staggered down to grab another bottle, I was shattered by the time they left for the airport!!!

The other dude was one of the hotel workers. Anyway the only other thing of note was making friends with the local kids. As they walked past I always said G’day, or hello and after a while they were saying it to me as well 🙂 I had a field day handing out koalas and printing photos, they were stoked 🙂

And last but not least, we wore out the other bar girls so they had to bring in a new team, these were way younger but at least they listened 🙂

It is a nice friendly but strange hotel, but more on that lately, for now 🙂

Cheers from Astana, Kazakhstan

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