Peter M, Terry, and Peter H, aka TP2, were saddled up and ready for our group ride to the China/Kazakhstan border. They are always so positive, which really helps on days like today when hours of waiting are on the agenda.
Even during our final hours in China, we were reminded of how many fakes and brand knock offs are found here. This scooter indicated a brand SYW but used the famous BMW Roundel as its logo. Last night, Kevin was attracted to a bottle of scotch thinking it was “Johnny Walker.” The text really read “Johnny Worker,” and they had the nerve to post a $30 price on it.
As a 3M retiree and stock holder, the red 3M logo is a sacred symbol. I spent the 10 years prior to this expedition in the sign & graphics business. Since the 3M brand of reflective conspicuity striping for trucks performs better than its competition, it can fetch a higher price in the marketplace. If the Chinese find our alphabet to be as difficult as I do the Chinese characters in their language, they could easily think that “3N” brand is the same as “3M.”
While waiting to exit the Chinese border, I compiled the following:
Our Ten Worst China Memories:
10. Filthy carpets in otherwise nice hotels
9. Spicy food that we could not identify as such
8. Not being able to read signs or menus
7. Drivers – inconsiderate, inexperienced, incompetent
6. Potholes covering more of the road than pavement
5. Horrendous city traffic
4. Dusty, dangerous road construction areas
3. When anyone crashed, got hit and/or hurt (those able to continue the trip)
tie for 2 & 1. Losing Reinhard to a fatal heart attack and Gunter to a very serious leg injury.
Our Ten Best China Memories:
10. Ample, cheap, cold beer
9. Internet and refrigerators in most hotels
8. Round dining tables that facilitated visiting
7. Strangers eager to help
6. Ancient structures
5. Abundant fresh vegetables & fruit
4. Exquisite scenery
3. Our guides and fellow travelers worked as a team to stay focused despite the disasters
2. That Reinhard died peacefully while sharing the motorcycle adventure of a lifetime with friends
1. China being in our rear view mirrors
China paperwork now complete, into Kazak border control we rode. After four hours, total, of border procedures, we were riding in Kazakhstan. A mosque was the first prominent building we saw.
The crowded roads of China have been replaced with wide open spaces. In some stretches, oncoming vehicles are seen maybe every ten minutes. Statues of wild animals, such as this hawk, are found every fifty or so miles.
After hours of very bumpy pavement, it was time to rest over a late lunch. A young family was seated at the table next to ours. Even though we knew we’d be arriving in Almaty close to meeting time, we seized the opportunity to have our filthy bikes washed. These two ladies teamed up to give the bikes a cleaning like they had not had since preparation for our planned trip to Australia. At least five lbs of Chinese soil is now clogging their drain.
1 Jul Horgas, China to Almaty, Kazakhstan 222 miles
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