Look around the Globe
We are Marta and Lucas – a couple, two people, both riding bikes and both curious about the world, who now in their 30s have a great idea: The idea to travel the world by motorcycle.
How to transcend borders in Asia – literally and figuratively – the Central Asia express trip.
Imagine you have 3 weeks of holidays, which means 22 days – times that by 24 hours – that gives you 528 hours to explore excluding time for sleeping.
The plan is to ride 15 000 km - round trip.
Let’s go. It will be a quick story about how we did something which was doomed to fail.
The whole trip could be classified as a crazy one from the beginning.
2 months of preparation for 7 countries in which 5 of them required a visa was a hassle before we even left.
In 2016 the preparation of documents began, including two refusals for Russian transit visas, a special meeting with the Uzbek ambassador who, from the shock of hearing our plan, made some mistakes with our dates of entry into the country, and a completely new e-visa for Tajikistan, which looked like a bogus paper sent to us by a hacker.
That part didn’t discourage us. In any case, as we know nowadays the procedures for a few countries are much simpler, so think about Central Asia as your destination – the adventure is waiting there.
Fully motivated and prepared for long distances, we rode through Poland and first stopped for 6 hours at the Belarusian border. People warned us to be prepared for that, so we thought – no problem, that’s okay.
Then everything ran like clockwork; a pit stop in Brest, crossing a wonderful and clean country like Belarus straight to Moscow in one day, with 2 minutes spent on entrance to Russia (that was fast!) and riding fast to Kazakhstan. Just riding, not many stops on the way, a night spent somewhere and another day early in the morning we just hit the road again.
People! People in these places are awesome, helpful and really open. You are their guest and every time they offer more than you are asking for.
The dream was to put a leg in a Caspian Sea, then Uzbekistan welcomed us with a few of its quite interesting and unexpected things. First – the border, which we reached at night. Second – we exchanged some money with people who actually gave us more money than we estimated by checking on an app, which really made us happy. Eventually, we realized we lost some “grams” of money because of the black market rate. Why grams? That is a funny story, the highest value bank note in Uzbekistan is 1000 SUM which means for 100 USD we received 500 notes each, 1000 altogether, hardly even possible to fit it into a motorcycle tank bag. We’re still laughing about it till this day that they need a truck full of money to buy a car with cash. Forget keeping money in a wallet or pocket – carry a big case!
Uzbekistan surprised us with petrol, or rather the unavailability of it. The whole country uses gas – that is the government strategy. Petrol stations are abandoned and in order to fill your bike you need to knock on doors in the neighborhood and ask if they have some to sell. Of course they have it, but as it’s like gold, the price must be negotiated. Another thing – better to use filters as the liquid in 5 litre bottles looks and smells like petrol, but nobody knows exactly what it is mixed with. Many impressions about Uzbekistan make it the highlight of the journey.
When riding long distances east or west there is something else you need to remember – you can get lost in time, so it’s better to ask for the time and check it with your watch or GPS – it can be funny sometimes when two people are talking in different time zones.
The Asia Express project was also full of emotions related to the nature we encountered on our way. The winners were Tajikistan with the Pamir Mountains and its famous M52 that turned out to be shorter but harder than expected and of course Kyrgyzstan. Thrilling, breathtaking moments when you pass other cars and stay just a few centimeters from the edge with a running river 30 meters down, difficult hard terrain, narrow cliffs, slopes, green scenery mixed with rough soil and snowy peaks when you raise your head to take in this amazing place on the Earth. Both are lands with mysterious landscapes – spectacular, undiscovered and unexpected.
It’s easy to fall in love with Central Asia and the hospitality there, their smiles and selflessness, kindness without asking for anything in return - which nowadays usually isn’t the case.
Sleeping in yurts, eating their homemade food and drinking the milk straight from the camel or cow. Waking up with the sun shining over the endless ground and field around you, sleeping with thousands of stars over your head rewards every little effort on the road, every drop of your sweat, every minute of despondency and any kind of unexpected events.
We were riding in that scenery until the Chinese border and then back.
A life lead like that for few days shows just how beautiful the world is, when all these circumstances which occur suddenly, are resolved and overcome - making the travelers stronger and proud of being a human who can easily adapt to any conditions.
That is the magic of travelling. No matter how many borders are closed, no matter how many kilometers you need to add to find a way, this is all about adventure.
To be continued…
It began with a passion for motorcycles for Lucas- a small boy spending almost every minute tinkering with and riding his Simson S51. It seems that nobody could have stopped the growing interest in riding fast bikes and as our lives evolved, the types of motorcycles were changing, but the idea of 2 wheels and riding further remained unchanged for him.
I began riding with Lucas in 2016, through asking him for some help riding after a small accident and with that, the story began.
Finally, after selling my bike, the role of pillion fell mainly to me, of course with the opportunity to swap with Lucas sometimes. Yes, occasionally a man is on the back and he is happy!
Riding bikes is a passion – that’s clear...When it’s combined with travel, adventures and curiosity for the world, experienced by two people who motivate each other – you can only imagine what might happen!
So here we are – Look around the Globe, with 86 countries now traversed and around 175 000km done on 1 bike over 5 continents. Welcome to our adventurous motorcycle world, ride with us!
We discovered parts of Europe during some free days and holidays. The logistics of leaving our 2 cities wasn’t easy, but the further in advance you plan something the easier it is to manage.
Bornholm Island was the first trip riding two-up. I had given Lucas so many restrictions and rules because when we decided to travel on 1 bike, I totally didn’t know what to expect sitting behind him. I had to trust Lucas and I gave him the opportunity to ride as he wanted, but it was so difficult when you feel the speed twice as much as you do when riding by yourself.
I’m sure you’re wondering – why are you not riding your own bike? That’s probably not my favorite question, but let’s just say – it’s not my last word on the subject and one day, probably when we finish our first world loop, it will be time to jump on my bike.
In any case, let’s say – it’s a great challenge to travel two-up all over the world and we are proving that you can keep the whole house on 1 bike as well.
We would later go even further– from Poland to Slovenia, Croatia and Italy, coming back through Grossglockner in Austria and riding 3000km in 4 days. The next time was Kiev, Chernobyl, through Moldovia to Odessa and back home in another 4 days.
Every weekend in a different place and the days filled till the last minute before getting dark. Totally crazy plans and hundreds of kilometers every day to keep up with what we had planned into such a short space of time.
Always happy, rested with our minds, but a little bit tired with our bodies after spending long hours in a saddle.
With days like these we sound as if we were becoming addicted, but nobody, not even us, could have expected what would soon come into our heads…
The Asian adventure was calling us!
To be continued…