The Route Overview

On July 11st I will depart for Turkey. I have three months left on my Chinese residence permit, my two month multi entry visa for Kazakhstan, my Uzbek LOI, my Turkish E-Visa my driving license and registration papers with translated copies. I'll be driving the new Zongshen RX3 Bai Long Ma. Lately I've been having some mechanical problems so Im starting to think this may turn into a great Silk Road walk.. I plan to rough camp most nights in most countries. Throughout China, especially the central and western areas, this shouldn't be a problem but some countries require tourists to stay in hotels I suppose so they can keep an eye on you.

The goal of the first week is to make it to Xi'an where I'll probably take a day or so to relax, see the sites and meditate on the historical journey I am about to embark on. Xi'an is where the tomb of the Qin emperor and terra-cotta soldiers are as well as the tomb of the semi-mythical yellow emperor. I may also take a trip up to Yan'an which was Mao's base of operation during the Chinese Civil war after the long march. 

After Xi'an is where the real adventure begins. I'll pass into the foothills of the Tibetan plateau a few days later, then up to 4000m and the large lake at the north eastern corner of the plateau called Qinghai Lake. From there I'll traverse the first of my deserted desert sections, descend from the great plateau and finally arrive at the city of Ruoqiang in the Taklimakan Desert. This again all should take just over a week.

Now I have a choice. I can either go north towards Urumqi and the border with Kazakhstan or I continue along the historical silk road towards Kashgar and the border with Kyrgyzstan. My decision will be based on whether I think I can cross the China-Kyrgyzstan border. There are two but i have never read a report of someone crossing either border from the chinese side. I don't know where to ask about this and I may never know for sure unless I go up there and try it. The safer route is to go north, out of the desert into the Borohoro and Tian Shan Mountains and cross into Kazakhstan at one of the many verified open borders there. 

The next leg will be the journey to Bishkek either from the south or the north. The northern route through Kazakhstan is shorter, the southern through Kashgar more interesting. Once there, I'll use my LOI for Uzbekistan and get that visa. Also I'll get the Azeri transit Visa. There is a report that the consul at this Azeri embassy speaks decent english. If it is possible I will try to arrange to pick up the visa in Tashkent, otherwise the wait is likely four days. I could visit the isskul lake or just relax somewhere and enjoy the cool mountain areas. 

From there I go to Aktau. Romantic sounding isn't it? Like Kashgar. Istanbul. Anyway, this will take me all the way across Uzbekistan through Samarkand (I like the sound of  that one too) Bukhara past the now defunct Aral Sea and back into Kazakhstan. This the is apex of the journey. The hardest part. While traveling through Uzbekistan, I should make sure to solve any problems that may have cropped up for at the end of that stan I arrive at the longest continuously uninhabited area on my trip. I'll have to fill my reserve jerry cans full of water and fuel, take some extra food and camp out in the desert for at least three nights. By now I should be used to camping though unless I've succumbed to laziness. My budget wont allow me to stay in hotels very often. After I reach Aktau, I may be in for a weeks delay while I wait for the dreaded Caspian Sea ferry. 
From here I have my final leg. I'll be wanting to get back on the bike so I probably wont spend much time in Baku. My transit visa is for 5 days but I plan to make it to Georgia in three. Once there I'll cross over to the black sea in another 2 or 3 days and enter Turkey. From here I have another decision. If I'm behind schedule, I'll take the  direct route straight to Istanbul along the black sea. If Im ahead i'll go south from Trabzon to Adana, follow the Mediterranean sea to the Aegean and head north to Soke, Manisa, Bursa, take a bath in Thermal and finally drive, or maybe walk at this point, triumphantly into Istanbul.

I'll probably follow the northern yellow path in the east of China to the white one. Then follow the teal path to the Caspian.