Pakistan – Not place you hear about in the media.

I just want to start off by saying, FORGET EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT PAKISTAN!!! Seriously. I can’t tell you how many time I got told before and during this trip “don’t go to Pakistan, Eric. Its dangerous. There are a lot of terrorists there… etc. etc. etc.” Obviously I was a little nervous about riding through here, but once I entered the country it took about an hour for me to completely forget all of the media hype and one-sided BS I’ve heard about Pakistan my entire life.

What changed my mind? Well, we were sitting at an entrance to a national park and there was a family in the vehicle in from of me. As I took off my helmet so I could go pay the entrance fee the family started walking over towards me. The guy walked up to me and without saying anything, handed me his baby and started taking pictures! After the photo session we chatted for a little bit, he and his whole family were very warm and friendly. This first interaction really set the tone for the rest of the ride through. Everyone, and I really do mean EVERYONE I met was this friendly. As a tourist they would always ask if I needed anything or if I felt safe or if there was anything they could do for me. Not once in Pakistan did I feel like I was out of my comfort zone.

Now about the terrain. This is another thing that just blew my mind. The sheer beauty of the mountains in Northern Pakistan took me by surprise. Even when you look at the pictures it looks beautiful. But I’m telling you, they don’t do it justice. There was a contrast in the colors made me keep telling myself “I can’t believe I’m seeing this right now!”

And now I want to reiterate the fact that you need to forget everything you think you know about Pakistan. It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people and you’re really doing a disservice to humanity by holding on the ideas that have been placed in your head since 9/11. You can do the research yourself about terrorist incidents in Pakistan, yes it happens. But seriously, how many school shooting, drug cartel uprisings and murders happen in the US that don’t get near as much attention?  I’m telling you, JUST GO!! Stop listening to everyone that says it too dangerous. You’ll be welcomed with open arms and experience their hospitality which is second to none.


FINALLY!!! One of the only days in the past 6 months that I HAD to be somewhere specific on a certain day. The China/Krgyz border on August 27, and I made it! It was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders getting to that border. I always had thoughts in the back of my head like “what if my bike breaks down?” or “what if I get stranded at some border and can’t make that day?” I was one of the biggest expenses of the trip paying for the guide through China and I didn’t want that to go to waste. Not to mention, it would take months to reorganize another trip.

I joined up with 5 other riders from around the world. Frank and Petra from Germany, Mike and Aad from Australia/Holland and Chris from the U.K. After making the entire trip solo up to this point I had my reservations about having to ride with other people for a week. Fortunately, we all got along great and really enjoyed the trip through China. We even got along enough that we all decided to stay together through Pakistan.

The one thing I will always remember about getting into China is being able to get good food again. Central Asia has a lot of boiled meat and potatoes with zero spices and after a couple of months of that it becomes pretty sickening. The first meal in China was like an explosion of flavor, I almost forgot what it was like to have spicy food. It’s amazing what good food does for you mentally too. I know my mood changed drastically when I finally started looking forward to eating and going to restaurants again.

I enjoyed all of the places we visited here but it kind of sucked having a guide the whole time. It would have been nice to spend a few more days in Kashgar and take some more time going through the mountains in the south. But with a guide, our hands were tied and we had to stay on schedule.


Hot Springs and Relaxation(kind of) in Kyrgyzstan

Although Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan or only separated by a border fence, it seems like they are two completely different worlds. One of the first things you will notice is the conditions of the road. They are 100 times nicer once you cross the border! It’s so much more enjoyable being on a consistently good road because it gives me the opportunity to look and enjoy more things as I drive. And maybe that’s one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy Tajikistan all that much, because that was hard! That was ruged, it seemed like it was so much more of a struggle to get gas, find food and water and find a place to stay. Kyrgyzstan I rolled up to the first town, they had plenty of little markets, gas stations and places to stay. Not to mention the scenery changed as well. It’s much greener with rolling hills and beautiful snowcapped peaks in the distance.
The stops in Kyrgyzstan were Osh, Bishkek, Lake Izzy Kul, and some hot springs called Altyn Arashan. The road to the hot spring was only about 12km(7.5mi) but it took me almost 3 hours to make it up! Reading about the ride up there it was described as one of the most un-drivable roads in the world. I thought “how hard can this be? I’ve already been on some crazy roads”. I was wrong, really wrong. It was mentally and physically demanding because of the massive boulders and sheer drop-offs into the river below. Once I arrived, I stayed for 5 days because I wasn’t ready to go back down that road! It was totally worth it though. They had covered huts with hot springs but they also had pools built into the sides of cliffs where you could soak in the pools and the sun all afternoon. The food was great and it was fun hanging out at the camp as everyday anywhere from 5 to 20 trekkers would pass through on their way out of the mountains. You hear some crazy stories just being there.
Osh and Bishkek were nice places to visit and they do have a lot of historical sites around the cities but I’m glad I spent most of my time near Lake Izzy Kul.





Coming to Tajikistan my expectations were high, very high. Driving through the Pamir mountain range was something I had been looking forward to since the planning of my trip began. I can honestly say the highlight of the trip was my parents coming and not the mountains I had been looking forward to the most. Ma and Pa were in Tajikistan for about a week. It was great to see family again after being gone for about 5 months. Although all three of us struggled with sickness at least a couple days while they were here we made the most of our time. (see pictures) Yes I did get spoiled a little bit! But I figured I better let them since they rarely get to see me! haha It was nice staying in “luxury” hotels after I had grown so accustomed to cheap, basic and sometime pretty nasty hostels or hotels.

One thing I appreciate the most is that I get the opportunity and ENJOY traveling with my parents! Its always interesting and sometimes the situations get a little crazy but that’s what makes the trip. Traveling is such a big part of my life that I can’t imagine where or what I would be without it. I’m not just saying that cause I’m on a trip around the world, but looking back at the people, places, and experiences that I’ve had while traveling its really had a huge impact on my life.

Now for Tajikistan. Like I said before, it did not live up to my expectations. As I sit in Manali, India and type this up, I look back at my journey through Pakistan China and here, Tajikistan really doesn’t even compare! So what do I right about? It was hot, dry, dusty, plain and hard. I loved having my parents there. And that’s about it.


I was pleasantly surprised with my ride through Uzbekistan. Crossing the border was a little bit of a challenge due to the fact that the first 3 places that I tried to cross weren’t allowing vehicles through. I ended up having to drive about an hour out of the way to get to the right crossing and then an hour back to Tashkent. Border formalities went smooth and the total process took about 3 hours. The stops in Uzbekistan were Tashkent, Samarkand, Zamin National Park, and Termiz.

I’ll start were I ended in Termiz which is right on the border with Afghanistan. The hotel I was staying at was a family run business so everyone was very friendly and more than helpful when I was looking for things to do. They ended up calling a retired professor turned tour guide for me and we sat together for an hour discussing all of the local sites and places to go see. One of the final places I visited was this place called Kampur Tepe. It is seriously the most amazing archeological sites I’ve ever been to. If you look at my pictures you can see all the old pottery still laying around the site, huge old clay pots buried in the ground I assume were used for wine storage and such, as well as the remains of old mud walls dating back to the time when Alexander the Great settled it.

Uzbekistanis were also some very friendly people. I went to go get my motorcycle washed while in Termiz and the guys did a great job of it. Tried to pay them and they weren’t having it, so after about 5 minutes of trying to give them money I finally gave up. To top it off, one of the guys, David, followed me back to my hotel and insisted I come out to dinner with him. David has lived and worked in Uzbekistan most of his life but is originally from Albania. He took me to one of his buddy’s restaurants and we had a huge spread of Uzbek and Albanian food. Of course he wouldn’t let me pay for that either!

The other towns I visited didn’t stand out too much for me. I went to their markets, saw some of the old sites but mostly just hung around doing things like going swimming and out to eat instead of searching out historical sites.


Three things was wasn’t prepared for when entering Kazakhstan.

  1. Terrible roads
  2. Flatness of the landscape
  3. The ridiculous number of beautiful girls

My first stop in Kazakhstan was a little town called Atyrau. The western part of the country is a major oil and gas producing region so naturally there is a large expat population. It took me about 2 minutes in the first bar to meet a couple of these guys. They had both been living there for 10+ years, married to Kazak women and had great incites into the city. Before we left the first bar they warned me that the next place we were going to was going to be like my high school prom all over again. I laughed and told them I think I can handle it. Fortunately it wasn’t like my high school prom, there were about 30 girls and 3 guys on the dance floor. The ladies were dressed slightly different than the girls at Unity’s prom.  Needless to say, I had a good night dancing and meeting the people from Atryua. Before taking off the expats, Mick and Perry, invited me to join them for an “Atyrau Yacht Club” get together the next day.

After sleeping in the next day I headed to the AYC get together and spent the day grilling, boating, knee-boarding, wakeboarding and water skiing. It was tons of fun and something that I never thought I would be doing while in Kazakhstan!

Later that night I was out on the town and met Gulmira. We talked for about 2 minutes and when she found out I was a traveler and not one of the expats, she immediately invited me to her grandmothers house warming party the next day! Haha she was cute so I said yes. The next morning I picked up an extra helmet and motorcycle jacket from my now expat buddies, headed over to pick up Gulmira and we headed about an hour north of Atryua to a small village were her grandmother still lives. One thing you learn if you spend an extended time in Kazakhstan is that they love to eat! There were about 50 people at this house warming party and I heard they had been cooking for the past 3 days to get ready for this. We went in the house, sat down, and ate and ate and ate for the next 5 hours. Sitting on the floor and eating traditional Kazak food with your hands is something I will not forget. I was the guest so they made me and Gulmira sit at the head of the table. It’s also tradition that the guest gives a speech or five while we were all eating. The problem was that Gulmira and myself were the only ones that spoke English! So I would speak and she would translate for everyone. It worked great but was very draining for her I’m sure cause then all the questions that would follow after.

One of the other highlights on my route through Kazakhstan was getting to see a space launch at the Russian base of Baikonur. Cindy had emailed me a couple of days before the launch and said they had a friend(or a friend of a friend) that was actually going to be in the rocket heading up to the International Space Station. Seeing a rocket launch into space was on my list of life goals so it was something I couldn’t miss. Sitting in the middle of the desert at about 3A/M. when the rocket took off was an incredible experience. It lit up the entire sky and then about 20 seconds after the light you started to hear and feel the rumble. As it climbed higher the light started to fade and the bright vibrant stars started to come back. Unfortunately, my pics turned out terrible but I will not forget the images in my head.



Getting Attacked in Dagestan, Russia

Crossing into Russia from Azerbaijan I had no idea what to expect. Well, it didn’t start well. My first experience was getting put into one of those customs cells at the border. They told me it was because of the Pakistan visa I had in my passport and they might not let me in. This would have been a total disaster because I only had a single entry visa for Azerbaijan so going back there really wasn’t an option. After sitting there for a good hour they opened up the door, handed me my passport and said I was cleared to go.I then spent the next couple hours getting Gina inspected and her paperwork sorted out. Finally we were heading down the road.

I dont think there are a lot of things in my life that had prepared me for my trip through Dagestan. These people are seriously the friendliest people I have ever met in my life. I think I drove about 30 minutes before the first car was waving at me to pull over. I did. One of the guys insisted I come to his house to eat and sleep there that night. It was still early in the day so I regretfully declined. Instead he ran to a nearby fruit stand, bought a bag of apples and handed them to me, we took a couple photos, shook hands and I was off. Another hour down the road I was driving through a police check point and of course got waved down to pull over. The military guys all circled around my motorcycle as I stepped off and the pictures immediately started. They took me into the barracks and gave me watermelon, coffee and then put an AK-47 and 50cal in my hand for another photo shoot! Haha it was AWESOME! They were all very friendly and before I took off they insisted I take one of their melons they had as a gift. I tried and tried to say no given the fact that I already had a bag of apples but they wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, I strapped it down on the back of my bike and took off looking more like a mobile fruit stand vs an adventure motorcycle rider. THe onslaught continued, the waves, honks and signals to pull over were relentless!  I need to take a break from riding so I pulled over behind some trees thinking I was going to be able to smoke a cigarette and get back on the road without disruption. That did not happen. Out of nowhere a group of about 6 guys appeared and started checking out GIna. I sat there for about 20 minutes trying to answer the questions I thought they were asking since none of them spoke English and my Russian is also non-existent. They noticed all the fruit I had on the back of my motorcycle and decided I didn’t have enough so one of the guys leaves and reappears with another bag of fruit! You can see the picture below.


I could go on and on with these stories over the next few days but I’ll leave it at that. Dagestan was a great experience and I look forward to going back to Russia for the 2018 World Cup! I definitely have a few friends to visit now.


Azerbaijan – Short and Sweet

Azerbaijan. I’m going to be complete honest and say that I really didn’t like this country. It was crazy hot, the cops were dicks, and the famed city of Baku felt a little fake to me. On the positive side, I got to meet back up with Melek. An Azerbaijani I had met while in Istanbul. Life is much better when you get the chance to hang out with a local! We went to a few local joints with her friends and all around had a great time!

But beyond that, I was in the country for 4 days and seriously paid the cops more money than I spent during my visit! I’m not going to say I was abiding by all the traffic laws 100% of the time BUT STILL! Every time I got pulled over they wanted a $50 bill. And it’s kind of hard to deny you were doing anything wrong when they have traffic cameras EVERYWHERE! They would bring my into a big room with a bunch of TV screens and rewind the tape to show me speeding or passing in a no passing zone or some other BS. It would be ok if I was in that room with the 100 other people that were doing it too, but no, they would always just pull me over.


Georgia. No, the Country.

After crossing from Turkey into Georgia my first city was going to be Batumi. I was told that this city was the Las Vegas of the Black Sea so my expectations where high. It also happened to be the 4th of July so I was ready to celebrate America with some good ol fashion casinos, fireworks(that I purchased in Turkey), and some Budweiser. Words can’t express how let down I was. After getting checked into my hostel and showering I was ready to hit the town. The problem was, it seemed like I was the only one. They had really nice casinos but they were empty, They have  extremely nice clubs on the beach but they were also empty. To top it off, I couldn’t find Budweiser anywhere! From what I was told, Batumi doesn’t turn into “Las Vegas” until August. Chances are I’ll never be back to find out.

Thank goodness Georgia got a heck of a lot better after I left Batumi. The southern route through the country is just beautiful. But the thing I will never forget about this country is a little kids.They would see me coming from a mile away, run into the road and start waving all the way until I passed them. And this was not like a, hey how you doing wave, this was full arm stretched as high as they could in the air, frantically swinging back and forth kind of wave. It put a smile on my face every time.
I had the pleasure of staying at Eric and Judys guest house in Tbilisi while I waited for my Azerbaijan visa. This was great cause they knew a lot of the good local eateries and things to do. I also met Nanuka, a local who is an outdoor enthusiast. She showed me some great parts of Tbilisi And even took off work one day To show me some great places in the mountains!




The Rest of Turkey

So I’m a few countries behind with my posts, sorry Grandma!
Here are the rest of the pictures from my drive thru Turkey. After kite surfing in Gokova I drove the whole southern coast all the way to within 20 miles of the Syrian border. Leaving Gokova I drove past about an hour of high-rise resorts and finally got to see some beautiful coastline. It’s amazing how many little beaches there are tucked away in between the rocks rising out of the Mediterranean, and the water the entire way was an unbelievable shade of blue.
The drive from Southern Turkey, to the north Did not disappoint either. I was not expecting such a green Forests And little mountain towns pasted on the side of them. Once I get the Black Sea that’s where the disappointment started. It’s a pretty major road so there are a lot of tunnels and you can’t really enjoy the coastline like you can in the South. But overall I love the country and I will be back there again.