09-14 Day 66 (Song-Kul, Kyrgyzstan arrival)

Yurt huts, on a lake


Travel FromTamga, Kyrgyzstan
Intermediate LocationYurt Manufacturing
Ending LocationSong Kul, Kyrgyzstan
Starting Odometer32,937
Ending Odometer33,137
Miles Driven Today200 Miles
Total Trip Mileage8594 Miles
Countries visited Today 
Countries visited on trip US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan

Today’s Ride

We left Tamga at 8:30 AM, and headed toward Song Kul, which was expected to be 200 or so miles away. 

The Yurt Factory

At 10:00 AM, we arrived at a Yurt manufacturing company, where we were shown how to disassemble, build, and reassemble a Yurt.  This company is a small company indeed, employing only a few folks, and making Yurts in a production process, but by no means were they mass produced.

Yurt disassembly

We watched them dissemble a Yurt, and I took pictures as it progressed, which I’ll place into a video, to show the entire process.

Yurt reassembly

We also had a chance to watch them reassemble this same yurt. This time, I took videos, which I’ll assemble into a time-sequenced movie for you.

It seems that I somehow lost the pictures of the reassembly, and I don’t want to wait until I find them. It’s now 9:30 PM, and I have to be up at 4:30 AM, so I’ll hunt for these pictures and videos later

Handing out candy to the kids of Kyrgyzstan

For two days now, we’ve been stopping to hand out little candies to the kids that we see on the side of the road. For sure, I’m a bit conflicted about this, but in a number of cases, I stopped to ask their mothers if it was OK, and was given a “Yes”.

Watch the video, and you’ll see many of these little children waving enthusiastically at the big bikes, with the flashing lights. It was really great to wave back, flash the lights, beep the horn, and do whatever we can to show our appreciation right back to them.

Its curtains for you, sheep…

We left the factory, and headed towards our gas stop.  Along the way, we parked in a parking lot on the side of the road to take some pictures.  I had planned on making a video report, but was distracted by a man, who was sitting in his car, with his family. It seemed that he had parked in this same lot, to apparently look at our bikes, or at the same stuff we were looking at.

Before long, we were able to find a common language, where I was explaining where we were going, and the various places that we were from.  I asked him where he was going, and he smiled, and began to walk around to the trunk of the car.  He opened the trunk, and there was a live sheep in the trunk.  I burst out laughing, having never seen a sheep-in-trunk before.  I asked what it was for, and he motioned that they were going to eat it.  I then made a slashing mark across my neck, and he smiled and agreed.  It seems that this sheep is not long for this Earth.

I asked if his son wanted to get a picture and video on the bike, and so we did a quick video, which is below. 

He then asked if he could get a picture on the bike, and I said, of course.  He started to climb up on the bike, and the damn thing tipped over, crashing to the ground.  It seems that I had forgotten that when I parked it, it was almost vertical. Sometimes, when we park, the ground is not perfectly level, causing the bikes to lean too far to the left, or not quite far enough.  In this case, it was “not quite far enough” so when he climbed up, it fell over.  I assured him it was no problem, and the gang helped me pick it up, and I motioned for him to climb on.  He obliged, but this time, I held the bike, just in case.


The lunch that wasn’t

We continued our journey, stopping for lunch in XXXX.  We stepped into a restaurant, where we were assigned a waiter that did not seem to be operating with enough coffee in his system.  So, he got our order wrong, delivered the wrong food, and completely forgot about my dish.  He then brought over four bowls of soup, with dumplings, which we turned away, because we did not order it.  He returned to our room, with the same soup. This time, we said, what the hell, took the soup, and ate it.  We then called our Russian speaking guide Alex to join us, and he asked about the order I had placed.  The waiter motioned that he ordered everything correctly.  So, I took the menu from his hand, turned to the page where I ordered my food, pointed to it, and said, do you remember?  He slapped his forehead, as to say, oh yeah, now I remember, that guy wanted the beef dish, right?  But, by then it was too late, so we dropped money on the table, and left. 

The road to Song-Kul

Our next stop would be at the start of the gravel road to Song Kul.  This is where we wished Karin and Stephan good bye.  Stephan, like many of us, has been dealing with a cold or flu, and the idea of spending the night in a cold yurt did not seem appealing, so he and Karin continued to Naryn, and we continued to Song kul.

Marc, the guide was leading us, and we quickly sorted ourselves out after that.  Feroz was scary fast, and followed Mark, Bruno was also very fast, and he followed Feroz, although he was falling further behind the lightening Faroz. I followed Bruno. 

Bruno and I were clipping along at between 44 and 50 mph, enjoying the dirt and gravel, but in relatively short order, Bruno broke away, and I was by myself. I have to say that I tried my damnedest to catch Bruno, but he’s one slippery Swiss dude and one excellent rider.

But, even Bruno can make a mistake

So, I came around a turn and saw my buddy Bruno, standing by his bike, which had fallen over to the left. I pulled past him, found a level place to park the bike, and walked over to help. The two of us lifted the bike, and within 2 minutes, we were back underway.

The calm of being in the groove

There is a certain calm that comes over you when you’re riding gravel by yourself.  You’re not trying to impress anyone, and you’re not trying to keep up.  You ride at your own pace, pushing hard if you want, managing risk, as you should.  So, my pace was generally about 40 – 46 mph, and I was really enjoying the ride.  Somewhere along the way, I managed to hit a rock with my front wheel, and I felt it.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but by the time we stopped again, I noticed a red triangle on the dash, indicating a problem. Looking at the dash, and getting a reading from the Tire pressure Sensors, I noticed that the front tire had only 18 pounds of air, when it should have had 35 pounds of air.  After this stop, I needed to know if the tire was leaking, or if it had simply lost a lot of air.  So, I rode the bike, traveling at a slow speed for the entire 12 miles to Song Kul, babying it, avoiding all rocks along the way. 

Damn, this thing is out of control

However, there was a problem.  If you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle in gravel, sand and dirt, with an under-inflated tired, then you will know that the bike is very hard to handle.  So, for these 12 miles, I dealt with a bike that was “wandering” all over the place.  I finally arrived at Song-kul, the last one to make it to camp, and I fired up the drone. 

My first real, production drone footage

My bike was damaged, but I needed to shoot some drone footage.  I shot 5 or 6 different videos, and they turned out pretty well. 

A celestial view of the yurt camp

This video, uses a technology that Mavic calls, Asteroid. The drone rises in the air, rotating, and taking numerous videos and photos, which it then weaves into a single video. Enjoy

How big of a rock did you hit dude?

We then dealt with the bike.  Using my new CO2 cartridge, I inflated the tire with a little help from my friends, and then it seemed to be holding air, but we’ll know more tomorrow.

To be honest, I was surprised to see such a big dent in the rim. The fact that it was holding air is comforting, but not at all reassuring. The question does need to be asked… “How big of a rock did you hit dude?”

Report from the road

What will tomorrow bring?

Tomorrow we’ll leave the Yurt camp, and head for Naryn, a city that is about 100 miles from the Chinese border. So, tomorrow will be our last day in Kyrgyzstan. I’ll certainly miss the people, but I won’t miss the “toilets”, which is a very kind description of the holes cut in the earth, which are used for you know what.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.


  1. Wonderful! Enjoy China…. I remember the toilets of Ladakh, I preferred squatting outside behind big rocks. 🙂

  2. Hi Cliff – how was the ride over the 12,000ft mountains into China? I hope the bike and you performed as expected.
    It’s fascinating following your real-time tracking.

    1. Hey Chris,
      I just finished writing the next post, but the 12,000 foot pass was cold, and my bike registered 31 degrees at the coldest point. In addition, there were points in the pass where the sun is hidden, exposing the road to extreme cold. So, I rode very carefully, always looking for Black Ice. By the time that I reached the Kyrgyzstan border crossing, my hands were frozen, and it was hard to perform any functions at all. This is one crazy journey for sure.

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