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Sunday, 29 September 2013

DAY 3, TASHKENT – YALLAMA – SHYMKENT (285KM)

24th May 2013

Today is d-day. After breakfast, I packed my things and stored them into DREAM’s panniers. I also have to tie my camping gears and the fuel canister on the pillion seat – something which I have never done during my previous solo rides. I said thanks and bided goodbye to my host, Yati and started my ride to Yallama, Uzbek – Kazakh border. Well, actually there is another border nearby, Chernyaevka, but this border is only for pedestrian. I am so lucky that I knew about this yesterday from the custom officer at Tashkent Cargo, or else I would have wasted time and fuel, only to find out that this border is not permitted to vehicles. I started my ride around 6.30am as I don’t want the local policemen to notice me. I am afraid if I might accidentally entered road which are not permitted to motorbikes.

And the journey begins....
It was already very bright then, however, the road was deserted. I’m driving on the right hand side and was a bit clumsy in the beginning. My first task was to find the way to exit Tashkent. I turned on my GPS, but weirdly, the magenta colour didn’t appear and the GPS didn’t want to show direction. I turned it off and on repeatedly but still no improvement. Okay, I have to use my head then. It was quite a nightmare to find my way out of the city. There is no sign board at all. I asked locals but difficulties in communicating send me going in circles. I managed to find a local who can speak a little English, and the boy walked me to the correct M39 Highway. The supposedly 75km journey to Yallama which should have taken me 1.30 hours to reach ended up in 3.30 hours.

 Once I reached the border, I used my charm to get an easy way out. However, my charm did not work very well here in Uzbekistan. The authorities asked too many questions and asked for motorbike passport. I thought they were asking for Carnet, but as far as I’m concern, Carnet is not needed in Central Asia countries. It was pretty hard as I did not understand what they were saying. Border crossing for Uzbek side took 2 hours. The officers inspected everything in my bags and in my panniers. Once done, I entered Kazakhstan border. The procedure to bring in DREAM into Kazakhstan was not as complicated as exitting Uzbek, and I am done within 45 minutes. Yoohooo...DREAM is now hitting the road of Kazakhstan. My target destination for the day is Shymkent (pronounced Chimkent), which is about 200km away from Yallama. I stopped for fuel at Saryagas. The price for RON 92 is about RM2.20 per litre. Since I was starving, I bought instant noodle at the fuel station and the nice lady made chai (sweet tea) for me. She can speak very minimal English and with some hand signs, we managed a little conversation.

 
 
I continued with my ride, enjoying the beautiful green steppes with yellow wild flowers. I have never seen steppes before, so I was kind of excited to see the vast greens as far as my eyes could reach. The view of freesian cows, goats and sheeps scattered here and there, with their herders monitoring them from a distance, were something new to me. It was not the same view as in New Zealand. The hilly paved road that I am riding on was uneven and with lots of bad patches.




After a while, the view got more interesting as I could see lots of wild flower beds with yellow, white and red in colour.


I reached Shymkent at 5pm and started to find a money changer as I only changed little money at the border just now. There is an internet cafe next to the money changer so I updated my status on FB. It was important to do this as I am not sure if I can find internet cafe along my way.

Since I have planned to camp for the night, I asked a local the correct way to exit Shymkent town. The guy, Andre, noticed that I am Malaysian (through the Malaysian flag on my bike and my plate number). He spoke very limited English but I can understand that he’s trying to tell me that his daughter studied in Malaysia. He was so excited to see me and he said that he must buy me dinner. I refused politely as I am in a hurry, but Andre was very stubborn and didn’t want to let me go before I had dinner with him. He told me not to worry about accommodation for the night. I followed him to his friend’s restaurant. It was a nice place, and I was introduced to the owner, Nurik and his lovely wife, Olga, who spoke fluent English. They were very nice, kind and friendly people. As others, they were so thrilled to hear that I am doing my Central Asia ride, alone.

With Andre and beautiful Olga
Thanks for the yummylicious dinner

I had a sumptuous dinner and after that, to my surprise, Nurik and Olga took me to their hotel. They owned a hotel in Shymkent!!! They gave me a nice suite room for free for the night. Wow, I can’t believe my luck. I thanked them and retired to bed as I was tired.



With Nurik, and his Porsche


The hotel lobby
The suite room that I got

p/s: A more detailed story about my journey will be told in my upcoming book.....more beautiful pics of course.....STAY TUNED.....

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