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.