- Tiffany Coates
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Submitted by Tiffany on 4 August, 2009 - 10:37
It was hard but we finally made the break after several fantastic weeks. We followed a really picturesque valley road heading west away from Bishkek and with a couple of snow-covered 3000m mountain passes as a reminder of how cold we have been at times, It should be much flatter conditions from now on. A final lone Golden eagle flew over as we approached the border to Kazakhstan, but here we ran into a problem, the soldier wouldn't let us pass and announced Kazakhstan was closed. We went back to the nearest village where, fortified by a cold coke and a snickers bar we proceeded to interrogate everyone in sight. But they were all agreed, the border was back the way we had come - blocked by our friend in combats.
This was a first for me, a complete inability to find an international border crossing. Finally the poor woman from the shop, perhaps sesing we would be there all night, wheeled out her grandmother who spoke good English and who was happy to tell us that we needed the international crossing not the local one and proceeded to give us directions to the appropriate village. After much coaching for me in the pronunciation of the village name - something like Tamagotchi, we headed off and with only two more u-turns managed to find the familiar unifroms, attitudes and barriers that indicate an uneasy border situation.
Leaving Kyrgyrstan was no problem, however customs on the Kazakh side had a different set of priorities and made me wait as long as possible, without even putting up much of a pretense of helping, merely passing my documents around and looking at them from all angles.
As I had already been through Western Kazakhstan I sort of knew what to do and pointed out the vehicle forms and the customs declarations that I needed to fill in. Finally, finally when they twigged that they would not be getting a single Tenge in bribes out of me, they grudgingly handed over the forms which I filled in really quickly in case they changed their minds and we left, heading west into our final 'Stan.