Thursday, August 6, 2009

August 5

We woke up at around 6:30 and headed out of Biskek, towards the border which we reached by 8:00. For Kyrgystan they just had one guy in a little office who looked at our passports, smiled, and opened the gate. Then through the no-mans land towards the Kazakhstan side where we were told to park the car down the hill, walk up get the stamps in the passports, walk back down, show those guys the stamps, walk back up to that same office, ask for another stamp, get denied, walk back down and tell them, get shown to another building where everyone is being processed out of Kazakhstan, get to the front of the line, get turned around to a little office, get told that it’s 8:15 and they don’t do the customs check until 9:00, go back to another office, try to sit down, get told to move along, move along, try and sit down on a window sill, have the cleaning lady tell us to stand up, twiddle our thumbs for 45 minutes and go back to the office to have them puzzled over the Carnet de Passage for the car, saying they don’t really need it anyways, but decide to stamp it after half an hour, get sent back down and tell the guys that we did it, they barely check the forms and tell us to move along, and then we got into Kazakhstan. Easy peasy lemon squeezy…
We weren’t 50 km into the country when dad got pulled over for passing on a solid line. The cop took our papers, looked at them, tried to tell dad what he was doing wrong (in Russian) get fed up that we couldn’t communicate and finally told us to move along. 50 km later, a police checkpoint. Again they stopped us, we were doing 25 in a 20 zone or something like that, and they insisted on giving us a ticket. Then they saw that a form in our passports wasn’t filled out right and oh-man did they like that. They separated dad and I, brought him to an office and me to a tiny little room with a burly Kazakh border guard who was nice enough but had all the signs of a shake down. They finally brought the two of us together, gave us a phone with a translator on the other end who tried to tell us what was wrong and we tried to tell her that we didn’t even fill out the form in the first place so they should be fining the border guard. Then they take us out of the room, walk around say ticket ticket ticket, bring us back to the room, back out, back in, ticket ticket ticket. And we tell them to write it down, and they say ticket and we say that we don’t understand. They have us sit, someone else comes up and asks if everything OK? We say no, Straffe niet OK (ticket not ok) they laugh and move on and finally they realize that we must be border-line retarded because we don’t understand anything and wave us on our way, past some big guys with some big guns and onto the road for Almaty. Less than an hour in Kazakhstan and we’ve been stopped twice, not a good sign.

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