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Asia, the oriental motorbike travel dream

By motorbike to Asia: You think you know something of the adventure, of the famous friendliness of the people, of the magnificent views that await you and your motorbike there? Great. Then you will be overwhelmed by the magic even more unexpectedly.

By Susanne Goertz*
Hardly anything in "the East" is comparable to what we are so familiar with from Western cultures. The traditions, the landscapes, the roads, the food, the diversity of peoples: there is nothing that doesn't give you new sights and insights - and therefore hardly any other continent that offers motorbike travellers so much exoticism and uniqueness.

Let's start with the possibilities for a motorcycle trip right in the East. Here, the enduro-riding motorcyclist's heart rejoices over winding mountain tracks through jungles and rice terraces in Cambodia and Vietnam. By plane, you can be catapulted within a day into this Far Eastern world with its pristine villages and its ubiquitous, overflowing greenery. Off-road motorbikes are available on site, and you don't have to worry about maintenance and service. Instead, you can indulge in the enchanting landscapes, interesting trails, delicious food and Asian friendliness during a two- or three-week motorcycle tour.

Yes, and then Asia opens up the great opportunity to turn from tourist to traveller - if you want, on the really big ride, the motorcycle tour, which can become the tour of a lifetime: along the legendary Silk Road. At the latest when you have passed Turkey - and it alone is worth the trip! - you will become an explorer. The rugged mountain landscapes and almost endless deserts and steppes of Iran are the motorcycle touring country par excellence, especially because of its incredibly helpful and hospitable people. Have you ever smoked a water pipe in Shiraz? Or parked your motorbike in the shadow of a world-famous mosque to have a tea chat with an Iranian trader and his family? Or have you ever cruised along fantastically winding mountain roads in the early morning mist, past fragrant rose gardens?

Oriental cities like Isfahan, Bukhara in Uzbekistan and Kashgar in China breathe millennia of history. In the morning light, buzzing with hundreds of swallows greeting the new day, it is an experience to wander through the original villages and old towns. Life behind thick clay walls awakens, here water is fetched at the well, there cattle are driven through the whole village to the barren mountain pastures. The bazaar opens, cloths are pulled from huge sacks and you breathe in the scent of hundreds of spices. The carpet traders are displaying their most beautiful wares, the precious shimmer of silk makes you marvel. The tea boy has long since loaded his tray with jars and sugar and hurries from one stall to another to supply the merchants with their favourite drink.

Sounds like something out of a storybook? Then don't forget that this is a motorbike trip. A glance to the side reminds you: your two-wheeler is ready to go. Let's visit the world-famous monuments of Asia, many of them on the UNESCO World Heritage List: the Registan Square in Samarkand, the Blue Mosque of Tabriz, the medieval philosophical schools of Bukhara and the wind towers of Yazd - we are on the famous Silk Road! Ancient paths through mountains and along raging rivers let you travel through indescribable landscapes. You have to see it with your own eyes, enjoy it and breathe in the unknown, beguiling scents.

The "roof of the world" awaits new explorers further east. The engine hums quietly beneath you, taking you higher and higher up the lonely roads and tracks. The Pamirs with their crystal-clear air under the steel-blue sky await your ascent with passes of over 4600 metres, the vastness of Tajikistan blurs the usual scales of distances and heights and lets you experience a new sense of time. The deceleration comes all by itself.

In the untouched natural landscapes, it is almost the order of the day to share your path with the semi-wild yaks and camels. The tea - or for the brave among you: kumys, fermented mare's milk - that you take in one of the widely scattered yurts becomes an elixir of joie de vivre. This is where earth meets sky, where you encounter authentic settlements and the archaic spirituality of the inhabitants.

Once you have left the Pamir plateaus and penetrated further into the heart of Asia, Uzbekistan awaits you with its oriental cities such as Chiva, the ancient city on the Silk Road. Even the heat in the plains is of little consequence! After all, like Bukhara, the city lies in a fertile stretch of land, and so there is refreshing greenery, watercourses, fountains and beautiful tea houses where you can relax while watching the hustle and bustle of the old town.

History and magic everywhere - your motorbike trip has taken you all the way to Central Asia! And here, Kyrgyzstan occupies a very special place. Ubiquitous green replaces the semi-deserts and oases, the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan in the Kyrgyz-Chinese border region are within reach. Many routes are not yet asphalted and delight every off-road rider. You can take a dip in the clear water of the world's second highest mountain lake, the Yssyk Kul, and ride the tracks to Song Kul Lake at 3100 metres above sea level, after you have packed the most exotic fruits into your motorbike case as a snack at a roadside stall. You can go in search of snow leopards and stroll through the largest bazaars in Central Asia. A few smatterings of Russian will make the already friendly Kyrgyz hearts sing.

Every Asian country is worth a trip. Your guided motorbike tour lets you experience a piece of this wonderful Asia, even if you go on a shorter, two- or three-week trip. And it lets you discover the great Asia piece by piece, if you take more time and travel the legendary Silk Road. With its countless highlights and authentic encounters, this motorcycle tour can become the trip of a lifetime.

*Susanne Goertz left everything behind - to set off on a nine-month motorbike adventure trip along the Silk Road together with her husband Thomas - from the Lower Rhine through Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Western China, Tibet, Nepal and Thailand. She has published her experiences from 30,000 kilometres along the legendary Silk Road in her book "Seidenhart - Die ganze Geschichte" (paperback, ISBN 978-3-00-044903-1, 308 pages with many colour photos, Stock und Stein Verlag Krefeld). It is also available as an audio book (ISBN 978-3-9817174-0-2). Today she offers guided motorbike tours to Asia with her company "Silkroad Adventure" as a MOTOURISMO partner – as of today, only for German speaking customers, though.

Photo: Silkroad Adventure, Susanne Goertz, taken on the Silk Road Tour 2017, Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan
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