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Silk Road Adventure 2015

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Kurt Durrant's Photo Gallery


















Dispatch from John McKittrick

We’ve been on the road for so long that most of us are forgetting the dates and days of the week. In my mind, it’s all beginning to blend together.


Dispatch # 3 begins in Bukhara Uzbekistan. Timing was such that we were able to enjoy the the Silk & Spice Festival, the extent of which is substantial and includes all of the different cultures in the area. The original costumes and dress were wonderful and the festivities went on late into the night. The people were gracious and welcoming.


After leaving Bukhara, I laid down under the shade of a canopy and was wakened by this group of boys who had just completed the school day. They were very suspicious of the big man on the big motorcycle. But after some cookies and chocolate they seemed to warm to me and I was able to get a couple of pictures - including the chocolate on their hands & face.


Our arrival in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, found me suffering from some form of illness that is probably related to something I ate along the way. The following photo is of interior ceiling of the tomb of the Mongol conqueror Tamerlane from his reign in the mid 1300’s.





For me, the highlight of the trip lay ahead while traveling through Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan. The scenery was remarkable and the roads (if you can call them that) were very bad. Looking across the river into Afghanistan and observing the ancient way of life that is still so dominate was amazing. The Pamir Mountains are stunning - here’s a picture of an 18,000ft peak.





However, “The tunnel of Death” was the most difficult. We came over and through the Mountains of Tajikistan. The tunnel is 5km long, no lights, pot holes with no bottom and all topped off by running water on the ground and water dripping from the ceiling - it was awesome!


There are videos on You Tube of this ride but in China all social media is blocked so I have no pictures or even a ink, but do a search. I was too busy trying to stay alive to photograph anything but the end.








My riding has been enriched by the company I keep. My new friends Joe Hutt (one of the best motorcycle riders I know) above, and Kurt Durrant, left, have made the trip special.


Crossing the border into China was very difficult! It took about 2 to 2 1/2 days to get rolling and the Chinese drivers license and plate finally caught up with us last night. The paperwork seems to take a lot of time. I can’t imagine how difficult it would without the Globeriders staff by our side.


Today is June 14th, which means only 1 more Dispatch until I am home in Montana where I belong. Dorothy said it best; “There is no place like home.”






Dispatch from John Riley

The two towns of Uzbekistan, Bukhara and Samarkand, were wonderful cities to visit. I would highly recommend them for anyone that has a historical interest. Rich in history and such nice towns to visit. We were fortunate to be in Bukhara for the Silk and Spice festival and the hub for the activities was across the street from our hotel. It was great to see all the people in town in traditional costumes. But plan ahead when you travel to these locations. It can be really hot in the summers and extremely cold in the winters.


A trip through Merv is a historical landmark for those into history. Again, so little time. As we entered the country of Tajikistan the scenery went from just OK to stunning. Into the mountain regions and wonderful riding. Road are old asphalt (pot holes or missing) and rock. Not many “good” roads to drive on (all though the locals think they are good). But this was probably the best for viewing the scenery. Slow driving meant good watching, in between dodging potholes, rocks, and not running off the mountain. The drive along the Pamir highway was stunning and the drive to the pass at over 15,100 feet literally took your breath away.


This section of the trip is what I looked forward to the most. While staying in Horog some of us took the opportunity to go into Afghanistan. I’m glad I did it, not sure I would do it again. It’s a scary place. The day before helicopters landed at the border crossing taking troops off to some place to fight ISIS. We were not allowed to travel far from the border and nowhere inland. Fine by me.

The driving is stunning, a motorcycle paradise of roads to choose from. You could spend months in just Tajikistan driving their roads. But plan ahead, conditions can get bad fast and sometimes a place to hide from the weather can be miles away.


Kyrgyzstan was probably beautiful but we had such little time to visit and the time we did have was plagued with bad weather.


Now we are off to China.

























Dispatch from Gary Schmidt



It just keeps getting better and better. Since the last journal entry we have been to Bukhara and Samarkand in Uzbekistan and Khujand, Dushanbe, Kaliaikhumb, Horog, and Murgab in Tajikistan, and Sary-Tash in Kyrgyzstan. Oh yea, there was also a great ride into Afghanistan.


I really think I have had the best days for being a tourist and for riding a motorcycle during this period.


We arrived in Bukhara the day before the Silk Festival. We had a free day the next day and it was the greatest day of the tour. Kurt and I got up early and found the staging area of the huge parade and had a great time. All the ladies and some men were dressed in their various local costumes and were practicing their dancing and singing. They were all so very friendly and invited us to march into the old fortress/palace with them. The whole day was filled with dancing and just having a great time.


Besides the parade Bukhara had some great places to see but the parade (and mainly the staging area) were the highlight of the whole trip so far.


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Samarkand had some incredible Mosques and Madrassas. They were stunning in their size and beauty.



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And then there was the Pamir Highway through Tajikistan. I didn’t get many good pictures as I was too busy trying to keep the rubber side down. It was a some what difficult road through some incredibly gorgeous mountains and valleys. Some of the passes were over 15,000 feet with snow all around. Then there was the "Tunnel of Death" and Potholes!



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And then there was Afghanistan. It was a very rocky and then sandy road but it was a real blast. The small village we visited was dirt poor and run down. I really hope for the best for the Afghan people. They know of nothing but war.



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Bill Shea's Photo Gallery



Bill Shea also is posting his photo's daily on his Twitter feed: @sidecarmonkey



"Happy, Enthusiastic, Curious and Welcoming "

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"Poppies of the Silk Road"

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"The Pamir Highway"

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Dispatch from Ken Southam

Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, [Afghanistan] and Kyrgyzstan



The updates from the Silk Road continue to be challenging as the Internet continues to be very sporadic and very slooow when they exist. We have constantly been blocked from Internet sites that many of us have come to rely on in the US and Canada. Facebook has almost constantly been blocked, along with news feeds, Google, gmail, apple mail etc.


Sometimes you try for hours to connect to the Internet and ultimately give up in frustration. Skype (audio only) does work, facetime occasionally but due to the Internet speeds don’t try using video. InReach satellite text messaging works most of the time but Delorme did have a 3 day stretch where even the satellite messages were delayed up to 24 hours. So technology has challenged everyone even the techno geeks amongst us. VPN’s have been hit and miss, so sorry that the updates have not been more frequent. It has been an impossible task and getting pictures uploaded even harder to find the bandwidth to get the pictures uploaded.


We arrived in the fabled city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan on 28th May (day 26) right in time for the start of silk and spice festival. Most of the group arrived in the middle of the pedestrian Market Square thanks to our GPS routing. Everyone in the square seemed to take this in stride and pointed the many separate groups of big motorcycles in the right direction without too much fuss or muss.


Our group of 3 motorcycles stopped right in the middle of Market Square and it was the local police that just pointed us out of the pedestrian area to our hotel across the square no reprimands or concerns. We had come to the square via a maze of alleyways with sharp corners that kept getting smaller and smaller, that we found out later that the alleys were either one or two donkey carts wide. A BMW motorcycle is approximately 1 donkey cart wide, so it was just like right out of a James Bond movie racing down alleyways past hidden doorways and into dark passageways until we arrived at the square. Bukhara really became the start of the Silk Road experience with its silk and spices for many of us. There was a buzz that had not existed yet for us on the Silk Road. Instead of camels, we had our trusty GS motorcycles.


We spent the remainder of the first day in Bukhara and the next day exploring the city’s great culture and shopping bazaars. On the second day there was a huge parade to celebrate the start of the silk and spice festival with hundreds of Uzbek's parading and dancing down the street past our hotel and the market squares in many brightly coloured dresses and costumes. We visited Mosques, Madrasahs’ and several market plaza bazaars and the city had a buzz like no other city to date.


We went from Bukhara to Samarkand to visit several more opulent Mosques, Madrasahs, Minarets and Mausoleums. Then we traveled into the mountains of Tajikistan which were absolutely stunning with their beauty and views. Tajikistan’s mountain beauty is the new gold standard that no other country on the trip previous and since can match. The views and mountain passes only can be described as stunning.


We rode along the Tajik Afghan border for a couple of hundred miles with only the roaring Pyanj River separating us from Afghanistan. Security in this area was extremely tight with many police and military checkpoints along the way. We could see Afghan villages along the other side of the river. Some of the group had Afghan visas and visited a town across the river from Horog while Chris Poland and I rode to an open air market that was in no-mans area right between the two borders 80km further east along the river. The equivalent market at Horog was getting renovated and was closed for this trips visit. The market was interesting with stalls or mats set up to sell pretty much everything from scrap metal and hardware to slightly used shoes, and food products by both Afghans and Tajiks. The market was very secure with a heavy police and military presence.


The next phase of our trip took us to the Pamir Highway that proved to be a quite challenging road on parts with elephant sized potholes craters to gravel and mud sections to reasonably paved sections through the Pamir Mountains. We climbed a 4,500m pass and a 4,200m pass before entering Kyrgyzstan and then going over the 3,914m Kyzyl Art Pass where we encountered a snow storm for 60-70km before entering China. The snow was settling on the road fairly well and then we descended into China where the snow changed to rain and cleared to overcast by the time we reached the China border. We layered up, turned on the heated grips and kept thinking about the Gobi Dessert while all sorts of warning lights about snow and ice flashed at us from our motorcycles. Duh, our face shields and windshields were icing up so we knew it was cold, wet and slippery.


Accommodations on the trip have been very good until eastern Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were we went to almost camping with no water and one outhouse for everyone, but they did have beer, so it was a relief that it was only a couple of nights of best available poorest accommodations. It was a short-lived shock before things improved dramatically in China once we got across the border.





Helge's Photo Gallery

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