kazakh steppe


May 24, 2018

kazakhstan map

Kazakhstan map Almaty – Semey



Across the Kazakh Steppe


From Almaty to the Russian border the road stretches a thousand kilometers. Of these, three hundred are “good road,” and seven hundred are “terrible road,” the local people inform us.


The “good road,” which was the route to Taldiqorqan, is behind us, one of the best highways. From there on, the second class road awaits us. We start and what we find is an asphalted main road. Although with potholes, right, but in the Pamir, we would have loved it.

Over time, it gets a little worse, some passages are already cumbersome, but then you can shift for miles to fifth gear. Again, we are fascinated by the landscape, though I can’t pay much attention to the left and right; otherwise, I would end up in a deep pothole.

We stop at a small truck stop where we find delicious soup and other food. You Song ‘s appetite is back after her gastric problem, and I also feel much better now.


Suddenly a Kazakh appears and explains by sign language a vehicle that has tilted over. I guess it won’t be one of the parked trucks, and I venture outside to have a look. And indeed: our bike is on it’s back with two wheels in the air.


The asphalt gave way under the weight of the bike which was supported by the side stand. It takes three Kazakhs as well as me to get the bike back to its feet. What follows is a damage assessment.

The attachment of the left support of the ToolTube has been torn open, the left trafficator breaks again, and a piece of metal is lying on the ground.

Unfortunately, this is also part of the bike. After a brief search, it is clear: nothing vital is damaged, but the lower holder of the left side case broke.

I fix the suitcase so it does not wobble and touches the exhaust. I repair the ToolTube and trafficator quickly, and the side case is locked in spite of the broken strut.

All our other luggage attaches to it, we can’t afford to lose it.


After the repairs, I devote myself to my soup again, after that we continue.

On the way, I imagine in mind pictures of a BMW bike in flames, with the plastic shell from the side case exhaust melts and catches fire.


I then decide to stop and make sure nothing melts to be on the safe side. To support the suitcase clever Norbert carves a stick of a shrub on the roadside and clamps it between the suitcase shell and exhaust. McGyver is my middle name.

kazakh steppe bmw stop



As evening falls we fill up on gas, opposite the gas station lies a small hotel conveniently. I would never have come up with it because the inscription is Cyrillic (and no, it is not “hotel” in Cyrillic on it), but the gas station attendant points with his finger in the hotel’s direction, and then I get it. So we check in, and le the sandman come and do the rest.

kazakh steppe Hotel


In the morning I notice under the doorstep to our bedroom lives an animal with many legs. Thank god it did not require some cuddling during the night.


From now on, the Kazakh steppe shows it’s wild face. The road is a straight line to the horizon, left and right is flat land. There are hardly any cars, only occasionally long-distance trucks and here and there some private vehicles.

Amazingly many are at the roadside with a breakdown, usually there with tire damage, which is not surprising due to the road condition. Our motorcycle hums unmoved; I only need to drive slalom between the potholes.

At three o’clock we arrive at Ayrob, a bigger city with an army base. Here we rest in a small hotel.

Oh yes, during parking in the yard I have another mishap and fall again with the bike.

The Engine gets stalled in the curve. The motorcycle is o.k., only my pride is injured. First, a couple of Kazakh girls take pictures with me and the bike; then I make a summersault with my bike. They laugh a lot, I less so.







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Heinz Rainer

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