The route that closed the Mongolian chapter proved to be the best choice ever. Riding through the Altai Mountains was an extraordinary scenic private show. There was a lot of resemblance with the Alps, but more remote. I was completely stunned by its beauty. Unfortunately, my leg injury was holding me back from pausing and blending with the views.
On Her Bike: through the scenic Ks, part IMotorcycle Diaries
Finally I reached the Mongolian border and crossed into Russia. I felt relieved, but I was physically and emotionally chewed up.
With a Russian visa too limited for medical care purposes I had to rush to the next stop. I kept the landscapes in a fast-forward motion and rode to Kazakhstan.
I was confident that - once I had left Russia behind - my chances of small misfortunes would diminish. I was also very proud of my knowledge of Russian; I showed my Aussie passport at the border and engaged in some chit chat in basic Russian with the security guards. What followed was an invitation to a private room for an hour-long interview. I guess speaking Russian isn’t that much of an advantage after all, when security don’t expect it.
With my plans delayed I decided to stop and spend the night in Semipalatinsk, a little town not too far from the border. I had heard that I would have to negotiate over 1000 km of bad asphalt until Almaty. I could use some rest.
The morning after I was able to confirm the prior information. It’s fair to say that the road is so bad that there probably are more holes in the asphalt than asphalt.
I was dancing with the road, trying to skip all the holes and keep a steady pace of 80 km/h. But then motion sickness set in, whilst riding. This had never happened to me before. I hoped it was the last time, too.
When I finally got to Almaty I booked an Airbnb near the medical centre. I didn’t know what to expect from the medical system in Kazakhstan, but it turned out to be quite efficient and cheap. I thought I was going to have to wait one or two weeks after booking the surgery, but I actually got into the centre and said to the receptionist that I needed my leg to be checked. She immediately took me to see the surgeon and, before I knew it, I was laying on a surgery bed with a numb limb. If you’re curious, and the owner of a strong stomach, feel free to check the images of my surgery on my blog www.onherbike.com/kazakhstan
Though my injury held me back for more than a week, it actually felt good to be forced to stop. I took some proper rest, applied for all the upcoming visas and met a lot of great people.
My next destination was the Charyn Canyon. With my brand new shiny leg, I headed up there just to be blown away one more time. It was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my trip. It isn’t far, the access is easy, camping is free and it is absolutely amazing. One minor issue, though, you can’t go to the canyon floor with your motorbike. I wasn’t going to leave Chillie alone at the top for a 2km walk, so I flew my drone and got to see everything in detail. If you know how to work one I would advise you to do the same.
I had planned to cross to Kyrgyzstan together with Xenia and Martin from XT Adventures, so on my last day I met them at Lake Kaindy. Quite a challenge to get there, I must say, the road was more like a river. And I wasn’t the only one fighting through it…
The lake was beautiful though. The water was really cold but after three days without a shower I wasn’t very picky. Bacon (learn about his story here), was also able to enjoy a bath and meet his future companions.
On the next morning, I was about to see a great deal of my round-the-world trip highlights.