Mazar e Sharif, Wednesday, day 19
Posted on May 1, 2013 by Gustav
The last post
I handed over all the toys and things to SCA today, they will distribute everything to where it’s needed. I want to send a big “Thank you” to all of you that have contributed to this and made the trip possible.
Tonight I was invited to a Rooftop sunset dinner, and tomorrow morning I’m flying with Kam Air to Kabul.
Mazar e Sharif, Tuesday, day 18
Posted on April 30, 2013 by Gustav
I’m finally here in Afghanistan.
Yesterday was intense. But I think that in the end, the Uzbek border guards understood what a diplomatic mess they were getting themselves in to, and allowed me to be towed into Afghanistan.
They searched the car for hours and even my lap top hard drive, camera and memory cards. I don’t know, but from my personal point of view, the whole Uzbek border control system is just ridiculous. They just have to work on it.
Anyways, I’m in Mazar now and it’s getting time to sleep. I’ll post some more updates tomorrow.
Afghan border, Monday, day 17
Posted on April 29, 2013 by Gustav
When I left Bukhara everything was just fine. The car was good and I had a really good rest at the hotel.
While heading for Termez, I was thinking that this was almost too easy this time. Bearing in mind the ambulance I drove to Mongolia in 2011 and the moped ride to Afghanistan in September. I had to put in a whole lot more effort to complete those trips.
When I had only 200km left to the Afghan border the cam chain broke and the engine was destroyed. When it happened, my first thought was that I was really lucky it happened so close to the end, and also in a small village.
After just five minutes i was towed to a garage outside a family house. They wanted to help me but soon realized that there was nothing they cold do to repair the motor. So they told me that I could sleep in their hose and that they would help me tow the car to the Afghan border the next day. They were so nice, we didn’t speak the same language but we were talking a lot anyways. The made dinner and I had a good nights sleep.
We got up at about 0530 in the morning and had breakfast before setting off towards the border, a 200km tow. It was three of them and me. They thought it was best if I sat in the passenger seat, which I didn’t complain about. The drive took almost seven hours on partly very bad roads.
They left me at the first border checkpoint, a small police station. I went to register myself and there seemed to be no problems, except for the fact that I couldn’t drive the car. So after a while I got hold of a group of people that were going by foot to the Afghan side. They were willing to push the car from the second checkpoint to the customs control station, about 500 meters down the road. We started to push the car but then the soldiers from the checkpoint stopped us, saying that they had received orders that the car had to be driven across the border by it’s own engine. I had to turn around and bring it back to the first police station.
Here it got complicated. I was not allowed to leave in a not working car, at the same time the told me that the car could not stay in Uzbekistan. And because my visa doesn’t last for long, there was no time to get it repaired.
The whole situation is crazy. When I ask the soldiers at the checkpoint they just shake their heads, saying that I am not allowed through. They don’t have anything to do with the visa issue, it’s not their responsibility And that’s it..
The police guys are easier to talk to. They understand that this has to be solved some how. But they work for the police and don’t have anything to do with customs or the army, so they can’t do anything about it.
The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been informed of the situation and will contact the Uzbek government if this isn’t sorted out. The border is closed for the day now and I’m sitting in the police station, drinking tea. I have to sleep in the car outside because I have nowhere to go. I have food for a week or so but I really hope this will be over before that. I have informed them that the Foreign affairs are getting involved, and they have then said that there is a possibility that i can cross tomorrow morning.
I’m not in danger in any way, just locked up in an absurd situation, not able to go anywhere.
We will see what happens tomorrow and for how long I have to stay. Hopefully they don’t want this to end up in a complicated diplomatic mess, and just let me be towed to Afghanistan.
Bukhara, Uzbekistan – Saturday, day 15
Posted on April 27, 2013 by Gustav
The drive from Atyrau in Kazakhstan to Bukhara in Uzbekistan was about 1600km. I Started Thursday morning at 8am and arrived Saturday at 0030am, so it took about 40 hours. The only sleep I got was about three hours in the car so I was really tired when I finally got here last night. I just stopped in a parking lot and fell asleep in the car.
Crossing the border was ridiculous as usual. It took about 8 hours to go through the the totally crazy border control system. It’s a mess and only embarrassing to the countries.
Uzbekistan is a little special. First of all, I should say that people are very friendly and always willing to help.
They don’t accept credit cards, so you have to bring cash. (Some banks in the bigger cities can issue cash if you have a visa card. But it’s a process..) And then 1$ is about 2700Uzs. But the highest bill is 1000uzs so you need piles of money to do anything. You can’t change money in a bank but if you just ask a random guy on the sidewalk, he will arrange it for you.
This is $100, US..
Almost all the cars here run on propane so there are no gas stations between the border and Bukhara, a little over 1000km. My tank was empty in Nukus but the police at a checkpoint sent a guy with me in the car to the local “gas dealing street corner” It costed about 150 000 to fill it up.
They are really improving the roads in this region, but there are still many bad sections. It’s difficult to drive at night when it’s harder to see the road in front of you. There might be potholes or tracks in the asphalt that can damage the car underneath.
Without the skid plate, a place like this could be the end of the trip, cracking the oil sump, steering or gearbox.
I demolished three rims between the Uzbek border and Bukhara, all my spares.. The last one was just about 30km from here. The plan was to go to Termez today but it took a long time to find new tubes and a service place to fix the wheels. One of the rims is now in rim heaven, it simply wasn’t a rim anymore..
Fixing my wheels in Bukhara
I’m staying at the New Moon Hotel tonight, next to Labi Hauz, wich is a really nice place with a pond in the center.
I’m leaving for Termez tomorrow morning.
Atyrau, Kazakhstan – Thursday, day 13
Posted on April 25, 2013 by Gustav
Leaving Atyrau and heading for the Uzbek border.
I came from Astrakhan in Russia yesterday, I had planned to stay there an extra day but since It’s still unclear what the rules are for leaving the car in Afghanistan, I want to have as much time as possible there for any issues that might come up. I’m still waiting for an answer from the Afghan ministry of transport about what the rules are and what documents that are needed.
As an example, I have heard that there is a rule saying that cars older than -00 are not allowed to be imported to Afghanistan.
I really hope to get this sorted out as I don’t have time to get stuck with the car.
Off into the desert..
Stalingrad – Monday, day 10, Car issues..
Posted on April 22, 2013 by Gustav
I’m leaving from here tomorrow morning, heading for Astrakhan. A city down in the corner of the Caspian sea, close to the Kazakhstan border.
I’m a bit worried about what to do with my car when I finally get to Afghanistan. I have a road pass for it that says it has to be out of the country within 30 days. The plan was to sell it or give it to someone.
That might seem easy, but I need to have the proper papers showing that I do not own the car any more and that it has been registered in Afghanistan. Without those papers, there is a risk that I will be stopped at the airport when leaving.
I have discussed the issue with the Swedish Committee for a long time but they still don’t have any answers, no facts
There has been so much work to make this trip possible and I can’t blame anyone for things that go wrong. In the end, it is my responsibility to see to that the necessary plans are in place. And then it’s up to my skills to handle any unexpected situations.
The only thing I have asked for help with, is to get rid of the car after arriving. And I’m starting to regret that..
The backup plan is to leave all the toys and clothes in Mazar and then head back to Uzbekistan, I have a double entry visa for Uzbekistan, just in case.. I don’t have any road pass or car visa that says when the car has to leave Uzbekistan, but I still don’t yet know what to do with it there.
Hopefully, I can get in contact with the Afghan Ministry of Transport to get the FACTS I need. But I’m running out of time, I’ll enter Kazakhstan the day after tomorrow.
I’m not really worried, more irritated, because this might cost me loads of money and take time..
Well, we will see how this ends..
Stalingrad – Sunday, day 9
Posted on April 21, 2013 by Gustav
I crossed the border into Russia on Friday and stayed at a hotel in the small town of Shakty. Shakty was really nice and absolutely a good place to stop if you are in the area. The only bad thing was that the hotel didn’t have a parking and I was recommended to take everything out of the car.. It took me one hour to carry everything up to my room.
The drive from Shakty to Volgograd, or Stalingrad as it was called before, was 400km. The roads are good and I arrived here yesterday afternoon. I will stay until Tuesday.
I’m staying at the Stalingrad hotel, next to the ”The Motherland Calls” -statue. Situated on a hill that played an important roll during the battle for Stalingrad, the area is now a memorial park. The statue is gigantic,measuring 87 meters from the plinth it’s standing on. In comparison, the statue of liberty in New York is 46 meters high from the top of the pedestal.
You can really tell that Russia has been a war-torn country from all the monuments and war memorials along the way when driving across the country. They were also a central part of the Socialistic patriotic cult during the communist era.
The Motherland Calls, notice the two persons standing in front of the statue.
Horlivka – Thursday, day 6
Posted on April 18, 2013 by Gustav
It took me eight hours to go from Poltava to Horlivka today, a 400km drive. The Russian border is around for hours away from here so I will probably be there at lunch time tomorrow.
I’m staying at the brand new Eurohotel in the outskirts of Horlivka. The surrounding are beautiful and my bed is soo good, I will sleep well tonight.
I took some more pictures along the way that I will add to the Ukraine gallery.
Eurohotel outside Horlivka.
Poltava – Tuesday, day 4
Posted on April 16, 2013 by Gustav
I came to Gdansk on Saturday and drove more or less non stop to Poltava, only resting in the car for a couple of hours near the Ukrainian border. It was about 1500km to drive here and I arrived late on Sunday evening.
Poltava is a city in north eastern Ukraine, and it’s well known to people in Sweden. This is where we lost the battle that would put an end to Sweden as a superpower. King Charls XII (Karl XII) was here with the Swedish army in 1709 after a long time of war. The army was getting exhausted and the king decided to attack the Russians in the early morning of June 28 (June 27, according to the Julian calendar).
We lost the battle and the King fled to the Turkish Ottoman empire, where he stayed for nearly six years.
Today started with police evacuating the hotel I’m staying at. They sealed it off, and after waiting outside for a while I decided to go to the battle field. The hotel was open when I got back and I still don’t know what happened here this morning.
I met a guy at the Battlefield museum and asked for maps where all the locations are marked. He didn’t have any but told me he could come with me out in the field to show me where everything actually took place. I’m so happy for that, he was really helpful and friendly.
At one occasion, the car got stuck on a little dirt road. But he called his brother to come and pull us out.
I will stay here tomorrow also, and then continue on Thursday
Police Evacuating the hotel
Hanging on the skid plate..
Posted on April 12, 2013 by Gustav
I’m on board the ferry to Gdansk. Leaving at 1800, ETA is 1300 tomorrow, Saturday.
The last weeks have been hectic and I have worked very hard to get everything ready. But it feels good now and I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead.
I’ll sleep good tonight. Tomorrow, it’s time to hit the road