Saturday, October 3, 2009

long overdue is an understatement..

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." -
Douglas Adams

My dear English speaking friends. I have neglected you. And i have no excuse.. (except maybe for the fact that my heart is more dutch oriented these days? And we all know that love makes blind and mentally disabled)

Finally my guilt took the better of me, and makes me writing this, well update? As you might have guessed from the universally understood part of this website (the travelpics), i am doing well, very very well.

The trip has been very intense, very rewarding, sometimes very tough, but mostly one great enjoyable ride, though often out of my comfort zone. Good travel hence.

People met, places seen. Norway (where i got the eol-part stuck) was magnificent. Breathtakingly beautiful, and i'm surely going back there soonish. Never got pointed out more clearly that so much natural beauty exists so close to home. Finland, was nice in the sense of a lot of lakes, easygoin' landscapes ,somewhat flatter but the people.. oh so friendly (not to mention the bears ;) ). So we'll include that one on a scandinavia rerun too then.

Russia, well, maybe i'll write a seperate english piece on Russia. hell, i think i could write a whole english book on Russia. Russia is russia. Outside the larger cities like St Pete and Moscow hardly any english spoken. I could write chapters about the ever present traffic police (shhhtraaaff) and my encounters with its officers. Can write about the long long roads: riding for hours, days at and end and the still havent gone anywhere on the map. The incredible vastness of the country. Eight timezones i passed there. Unbelievable, and all in one nation..
Since i dont speak any russian, my conversation with the locals was 'somewhat limited';, but what most struck me, is that once you get through the initial facade, there is an enormous amount of warmth and hospitality there. With the three words of russian i do understand, i got so much support and positive reactions at gasoline stations, at road stops, at restaurants.. If i tried to ask the way (i'm horrible in finding gastnistas), with my notebook and pen in hand, there were always a lot of smiles, a lot of more russian spoken i didnt understood, lots of maps drawn, and often people ended up showing me the way by leading me there.

Mongolia i had so much looked forward too, and rightfully so, but how the (lack of) roads got me. Or better: the rainfall just before i had to ride those roads, that was bit of a spoiler. Too much mud got me in trouble, but the good news was.. i was in Mongolia, so always help at hand. I never met people more willing to help (and mechanically curious) than the Mongolians. Or maybe it was because i never before had to depend so much on the help of other people while riding my bike. The bike a tad too heavy i often couldnt get it up again after i tumbled over, slipped, or whatever. But always, if after a few hours, were there people to help me put the rubber side below again.
And the landscape. The space. The wideness. The miles and miles of steppe. The endless camping possibilities. the perceived sense of utter freedom. The ways to find the way. Riding west was just that: riding west.. Beautiful. The wild animals, the hordes of camels hobbling in your way. Cows always on the track you choose. Not to mention the sheep, the goats.. And everywhere yurts. Friendly people. Dirty cheese. And more animals and steppe, hills, fields and herds.

When i had make my way west i briefly went through Russia again, the Altai, extremely scenic, and i never thought i would be so happy with some piece of asphalt. Kazakstan was merely a large steppe for me, i crossed the eastern part quite quickly, some nice luxury stops at Almaty and then on to Kyrgystan.

Kyrgystan is brilliant. Kyrgystan is so relaxed, and also.. such a beauty. Bit more compact than Mongolia. But such a pleasure to travel too. Did a horse trek. Had fun, arranged some visas. If you do have some time, bit of money.. get yourself to Kyrgystan and get lost there for some weeks in the mountains.

Now my last day in Uzbekistan. A country that i had to get used to: stricter police controls on the road it seems, but if you look twice.. they are always ready for a smile and a laugh. The history of this part of the world is immense and Uzbekistan taught me more about it. Beautiful Bukhara and Samarkand, illustre names of the old silk routes. A hospitality at some of the places we stayed i hardly experienced before. I write we, cause Koen came over and stayed with me for a week. Bliss.

After this i'll be heading for Turkmenistan, Azerbijan, Georgia, Turkey, Balkan, Home..

And i'm afraid it will take me at least as long as last time before i write an english update again. Sorry bout that. Maybe Tanzania in December. Cause i'll be there to volunteer for HVO.

Life is Good.


Post a Comment

<< Home