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LEAVING KAZAKHSTAN TO RUSSIA AND ALTAI REPUBLIC
11/08/2010, 09:41
Filed under: Kazakhstan, Russia and Altai Republic

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yeah so, above is our pilot, and co pilotess. they we-re so cool. they gave us a ride about 300 k north outta Almaty. we decided to leave the truck and try catch a ride with a faster vehicle as our visa was running out fast. so we spent the whole day trying to hitch. we got harassed by drunken men then took the wrong road to the train station, then cycled back with the wind against us, then stopped and cried. in the end we got lucky and 2 dudes took us 100km to the next town where we can ride on a bus. a little small tenga into the bus driver’s hand and we got on with our bikes. after 8hours the bus broke down, but this is normal procedure here in KAzakstan. we finally got to Simay (last city b4 border) at around midnight. CartaSan was super as usual and picked us up with his gangster crew from the gheto city. they gave us the key to an Apart and we crashed the nite there just the two of us. how sweet. in the morning we left early, cycled towards the border. we meet some Aussie couple cycling from Mongolia at 50km from border, we exchanged maps and tips etc. they took the north route to U.B and we we said fck it, lets do the same. more water that way.

next day, crossing the border was simple,we meet a couple on motorbike crossing the other way. at that point realized its summer, that’s why we seeing more travellers/holidayers.

so 10 day transit visa to cross into Mongolia. we decide to try and hitch towards the border  and cycle the rest. so back in Russia heuh, crazy. so much more green everywhere. we cycle a bit to the city and then start hitch hiking. we get some good rides with people but they all ask for cash straight away.  one guy took us for 200rb to Bisk , in his blue lada and bikes on top. another hippie took us further, he too asked for 200rb, muz tried to bargain him down to 100 but he said the big NIETTE no quite loudly to him into his left ear. after handing over the 200rb he was really nice to us, he even gave us a gift .

the Altay region , is so beautiful, a must see. we were quite upset looking out of the car window for a week ,  craving to cycle it. when we got to kosch a gauche about 2500m high. we cycled the rest towards Tsanta , the border crossing. CartaSan, our new cycling hero joined us at this point, he managed to get a ride with a lorry driver, so no cash exchange. no cashgasORass for him !!

at Tasanta, we werent allowed to cross the border on bikes, as its  No mans land. only machines they say. we thought about the idea of super-gluing a 12v electric motor to the front and using old loo roll tube for the exhaust pipe. and trying the next day, …….but in the end we spend the day asking all machines crossing to take us. a mongolian taxi jeep was cheaper then the russian guys, so we jumped in. we paid the jeep 900rb, for 3 bikes and of coarse 3 musketerrs. a bit pricey for 20km.

the good news however is that we didnt pay for registration. there is a registration office at the border and its free, we registered after 4 days , and had no problem.

ON QUITTE LE KAZAKHSTAN DIRECTION LA RUSSIE ET LA REPUBLIQUE ALTAI

Quitter le Kazakhstan et traverser plus de 1200 km en moins d’une semaine n’a ete qu’une grande course poursuite avec le temps! On est partis d’Almaty avec un couple d’allemands en camion. Super cool! Ils nous ont deposes 300km au nord d’Almaty, et ensuite on a essaye de faire du stop car le camion n’etait pas le plus rapide du monde, et on n’aurait jamais pu passer la frontiere a temps.. Mais c’etait juste impossible.. Les voitures qui s’arretait etaient trop petites et les autres ne s’arretaient pas, on a essaye toute une apres-midi, se faisant emmerder par les bourres du coin, et on a finalement abandonne car on etait trop presses par le temps… Donc bus jusqu’au nord du Kazakhstan a Semey ou on a retrouve notre pote allemand Carsten! Puis velo velo, on rencontre des australiens a velos aussi, eux allant au Kazakhstan et ayant traverse la Mongolie, nous faisant la route inverse. Donc on echange les carte et ils nous donnent un mini atlas des routes en Mongolie. Ca tombait bien car bien sur on avait aucune carte (a part celle de Carsten, assez generale), ce qui n’est pas vraiment tres recommande en Mongolie… Et on passe la frontiere avec la Russie a temps… Ouf!

Mais en Russie et Republique Altai, re-course poursuite : on a seuleument un visa de transit (plus facile a obtenir, et puis on a deja fait la Russie..) et plus de  1000km a faire.. On les a fait en 5 jours en alternant velo, train, bus et autostop. On a du donner un pot de vin (!) au chef de train pour qu’ils acceptent nos 3 velos a bord, alors qu’on avait eu (presque) aucun probleme en Ukraine et au Kazakhstan, et surtout qu’on avait nos billets et meme un supplement baggages! Money money.. Les gens nous ont aussi toujours fait paye pour l’autostop, degoutes.. Apparemment c’est la Russie, si t’as de l’argent tu peux tout faire, sinon, tant pis. Les gens a qui on disait qu’on avait pas d’argent ne nous prenait pas.. Meme quand on expliquait notre situation avec les visas etc.. Pas de pitie! Mais une fois qu’on paye, ils deviennent tout a coup tres gentils et veulent prendre des photos, le chef de train prend meme un des velos dans sa cabine privee et devient tres serviable etc…

On a quand meme passe la frontiere a temps, et a bord d’une jeep car il y a 20km de zone interdite en Russie avant la frontiere mongole! On a du attendre un jour car il etait trop tard et la frontiere fermait.. On a donc campe devant le poste frontiere! Et la encore les russes ont essayer de nous avoir, mais on s’etait prepares et on s’est pas fait arnaques! C’est finalement une jeep mongole qui nous a pris, les gens tres gentil et prix raisonnable.. Enfin!

Et apres les 20 km nous attendait la Mongolie…

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ALMATY and a trip to the mountain lake
25/06/2010, 06:37
Filed under: Kazakhstan

So on the wkend , we decided to have a break from all the visa applying stuff and headed to the mountains for a few days. after a 2 hour climb, two girls in the car behind us said they couldnt bear seeing us struggling up the hill,,, so they gave us a ride! we then approached the famous pipeline, here is the point where you either follow the pipe for 4km on foot or  take the 15km dirt road. the mountain guard guy in his 4by 4 said it was too dangerous to go up on this dirt track as there is risk of snow melting and blocking the route. it was around 9pm ish getting dark, so the girls let us off. we attempted the pipeline, a steep climb using the metal stair case. with the bikes , a bit hard hey, for 4kms. we got lucky again and bumbed into a couple coming down the pipeline, they said that it was impossible to go up this way on bikes.. too hard. we asked for a lift, and they said ok. wow. we told them that apparently it was dangerous to take this road up and they said ”nah its fine.”    ”ok superr”” said nous.     being cyclists we usually hate 4by 4’s but that night we loved them, after a 30min bumby ride we got to the lake.  cold, 14 deg and full moon. amazing. 2500m up

in the morning we searched for a water source, there is stream coming from melting snow ,and also a little one coming from the rocks, we drank from the rocks.  it was more refreshing then any other water we have had so far. spent that day touching snow and meditating on the rocks, and just hanging out.

we woke up at 5am on the following monday morning, it was time to go to work. babylon calling. we had to be at the mongolian embassy at 10am to pick up our visas. YES! we got them and them straight away headed to russian Emb to apply for a transit visa, we shall hopefully get that on friday.  so yeah, next step is mongolia, our original plan was to head to china and then perhaps buy a horse and trek in mongolia for a bit. but here in kazakastan, they like to make it hard for the frenchie to get a chinise visa. we tried our best, a week struggle. and at our 2nd visit to the embassy we got refused on the door!!, not even allowed to enter the Embassy.using cameras; the officials inside saw us queuing outside,  and told the security to get rid off us. “”ok … super”” said nous

we went to the big market yesterday looking for fat tyres, as we hav heard that in mongolia there is no asphalt rds, only near the capital which is 1700kms away. the route is just rocks stones dirt etc. we foundsome for 600 teñge, bout 3/4euros. but not big enough. the mrket is huge 5km wide, mostly under roofs.. a bit like the kaparlar bazaar in istanbul. we wandered all day inside and coulnt find suitable tyres. we will head there again today and get grab the 600 tenge tyres as we have been to all the bikeshops and they dont have thick tyres for 700 wheels. a tip for cyclists, if heading to asia go with 26inch wheels as easier to find tyres.

we have met many nice people in kazastan, only a few of them know about our friend Borat. the few that know him, want to kill him. they say that he is placing a poor image of kazakstan to the world. infact , most of the footage borat uses is shot in romania, we remember some romainians telling us. the russians loved borat.

here in kazakhstan the language is kazak,russian, tatar and others,we have met many youngsters that can speak turkish. turkish products are very expensive here, ten times the cost then that in turkey. most people are muslim but not many mosques around. they sell icecream on the streets for 35cents and samsa for the same price at the bus stop. they drive like mad here, very scary for cyclists as the cars are not used to seeing bikes on the rd, . bus costs the same price as icecream and taxi is 5 icecreams. Kazakhstan has three major oil refineries supplying the northern region, at Pavlodar, the western region, at Atyrau, and the southern region, at Shymkent. it is also a landlock country making it costly to export, it also produces a lot of grain. almaty is actually quite expensive , food at supermarkets can be more pricy than uk for example and the empty hotels cost bout 100dollars a nite. kazakstan is huge, like one big dessert, thats why they did the atomic bomb testing here.

on sunday we head out towards semey with a bunch of german hippies . they are traveling with trucks, they filled up petrol in iran for 2cents a litre. they too have been travelling for 10 months and are heading our way. i think they  were very happy about the trashing they gave england the other nite, 4-1 hey, what happened mate!!

Almaty. C’est grand, y a plein de voitures, et c’est pas mal pollue… bref c est une grande ville comme tant d autres…

alors on a decide d’aller a la montagne prendre un bol d’air! premiere ascension avec Jang -chez qui on reste, realisateur coreen- et Carsten -notre pote allemand qu’on a rencontre a Kiev, et avec qui on va maintenant faire la route!!!

Deuxieme ascension a velo, plus aventureuse.. on part tard dans l’apres midi, et apres 2h de montee il est deja 19h30. Deux filles en voiture s’arretent pres de nous et insistent pour nous emmener plus haut. Elles nous laissent a un endroit ou on a deux choix : soit on monte 4km d’escaliers longeant le tuyeau qui mene au lac, soit on prend la piste pleine de cailloux de 15km qui peut etre dangereuse car risque d’eboulements… On tente a peine les escaliers, un couple arrive et nous dit que ca va etre vraiment trop difficile. Alors ils nous emmenent en 4×4 tout en haut jusqu au lac a 2500m d’altitude! nice! il fait deja nuit et on assiste au lever de la lune derriere les montagnes. c’est beau! on reste deux nuits, a se detendre car les histoires de visa nous ont bien stresses.

On a donc pas reussi a obtenir le visa chinois. Premiere tentative, le mec du consulat nous dit de nous adresser a une agence de visa. Justement le mec de l’agence est la. L’agence essait pour nous une deuxieme fois. Echec. Aucune explication donnee. Donc apres quelques discutions tres interressantes traduites en russe et chinois puis anglais et plusieurs coup de fil en Chine, on se retrouve avec des nouveaux papiers et on retourne au consulat. Cette fois on a meme pas pu rentrer! Ils nous ont vus dehors avec leur camera et ont demande au policier a la porte de nous faire partir! Toujours aucune explication, mais nous on sait. Les visas chinois sont tres difficile a obtenir pour les francais, des histoires diplomatiques..

Donc maintenant c’est direction….la Mongolie!!! via la russie, encore! Nos velos sont pas vraiment prepares pour la Mongolie et ses routes non-goudronnees alors on effectue quelques petits changement a commencer par nos pneus qui sont trop fins.

On a deja nos visas pour la Mongolie et on devrait avoir nos visas de transit russes vendredi. On part normalement dimanche avec des allemands qu’on a rencontres par hasard dans la rue. Ils sont en camions et nous prennent pour quelques jours, ca va nous avancer un peu. On se dirige vers le nord du Kazakhstan, et ca fait un paquet de km.

Dans les steppes vous vous en doutez, y a pas internet! alors rdv a UlaanBaatar capitale de la Mongolie dans environ 1 mois!

ciao ciao

we meet two french brothers cycling from france at the station. they got screwed over . couldnt renew their visa nor enough time to apply for a new one so they had to catch a plane to thailand in the end.

our super host jang from south korea, a famous movie maker. so we are watching many movies here as well as the footie

the germans and their trucks



KAZAKHSTAN
23/06/2010, 17:04
Filed under: Kazakhstan

Nous voila donc au Kazakhstan!! Beau depaysement, on sent enfin le parfum du voyage lointain.. On est definitivement plus en Europe!!! Les paysages sont differents, les gens aussi!!! on a fait 150km dans les steppes,  sous un soleil calcinant : 54 C au soleil et 39 C a l’ombre! L’eau est rare et on s est fait un peu peur le premier jour apres Uralsk. On est partis avec 2  ou 3 litres d’eau, comme d’hab, on remplit toujours en route… puis apres 40km, toujours aucun village en vue. on commence a s’inquieter un peu, nos bouteilles sont vides, on a soif et il n’y a nul part ou s’abriter a l’ombre.. enfin on appercoit une maison au bord de la route, sauves! on fait une pause dejeuner et on remplit toutes nos bouteilles d’eau!! Les gens sont super sympas, ils nous offrent le the (surement pour nous rafraichir?!) puis 10km plus loin on voit un village a 2km alors on fonce! on remplit encore plus de bouteilles et en sortant du village on assiste a une scene de presque western avec un cow-boy fougueux qui  qui ramene son troupeau au village… Le lendemain on appercoit a un kilometre des chameaux sauvages a l’ombre des quelques arbres qui longent la route. Apres avoir atteind le prochain grand village sur notre route, on a fait du stop. La premiere fois, c’etait pas voulu. on etait en train d attendre que le van passe pour aller se cacher derriere les arbres qui bordent la route et camper pour la nuit, mais en fait le van s’arrete et le mec descend et nous dit de monter!!! Il est avec son fils de 4 ans qui aime bien appuyer sur les pedales ou essayer de tourner la clef du contact pendant que son pere est au telephone… conduite kazakhe?! Le lendemain on fait encore du stop car il fait decidement trop chaud, malgres la creme solaire la peau brule! C’est un camion qui nous prend, le conducteur s’appelle Galim. Il parle pas anglais bien sur comme la plupart des gens, alors on se debrouille entre mimes, nos 3 mots de russes, son kazakh et le turc de Murat pour communiquer. On rigole bien. Il nous emmene a Aktobe.

De la on prend un train pour couvrir les 2000km jusqu’a Almaty qu’on aurait malheureusement pas eu le temps de faire avec un visa d’un mois… Deux jours de train, c’etait une experience! Au depart on a cru que ca allait etre l’horreur : dans le train c’etait comme dans un sauna, on degoulinait litteralement, et on a comme d’hab un peu lutte pour faire monter nos velos dans le train, mais notre assurance a fait marcher le controlleur. Nos voisins de cabine etaient tres gentils, un homme de 66ans avec sa mere de 88ans! une heure apres le depart ils ont branche la clim. d’habitude j’aime pas ca, mais la j’avoue que c’etait quand meme bien agreable…

A Almaty, on va essayer de faire nos visas chinois. Apparemment ca va pas etre de la tarte, y’a des problemes avec les francais… on verra!

ciao

A BORAT SPECIAL REPORT

yes and hello welcome to kazakhstan, my name is BORAT. below is a photo of my family. they very nice . they give me water. nice … i like.

here in kazakstan it very hot. we have camels, and grow horses for the russians. we have a special dish called 5 fingers, it is horse meat and you eat it with your hands. for first time in my life i see bicycle in kaZAKkstan, i meet with a two nice people on a bicycle.they come from a france and England. they nice. i like. here in my country we have many land , and not a water. when the bicycle people ask me for a little water at my village home, i give them ice. they are very crazy to cycle across my country, there is no water. why they dont have a car i dont understand. i have a donkey. i like.

this is my friend dave, he has many brothers. i like. big strong men. they help my new cycling friends with water in uralsk, my cycle friendz arrived to a dave with tongue that hang out of the mouth like a dog. we gave to them ice water.

this is my village, i have a cow named mary. she very nice. i like. she give me a milk, i sell the milk to a shop and buy a bread

this is the children, they have a bike too.

these nice men gave a ride to the bicycle friends. they feel a sorry for them in a hot dessert. so they give a ride to next village for water 180km away.

here in kazakstan we have no a swiming pool like in a U. S. of A., so we like to have a bathe in the lake by my auntie house,