Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Welcome to the Great Republic of Kazakhstan!!

Being forced out of our forest hidding place due to running out of Nutela, we made a last desperate move to the Russian border. After being stopped and fined twice by the local police for 1) overtaking where it is not allowed (PJ) 2) speeding (CL) we finally managed to reach a forgotten Russian outpost 30km north of Uralsk. Local police were friendly enough despite our obvious mistakes (filmed on camera). And even though they asked for $100, they let us go for 300 roubles.

Now, the border crossing: close your eyes and imagine a dusty western movie. Tumbling balls of weeds rolling down the main alley. A couple of rusty buildings squeeking in the wind. It is dry, very hot and there is nothing else for miles. Paul and Cedric are on one side of the street with their hands ready, too used to the action of drawing their papers. On the other side, 30 bored to death border guards are waiting, hands close to their trusty rubber stamps.

It took us 3 hours to close this one which is in fact an extremely good time. The other teams averaged 6 hours. All we did was:
- get there
- befriend a fellow motorist in order to fill in all the paperwork (in Russian)
- showed said papers and whatever we had (international driving license is a must)
- have everybody sign the car
- give a cigar to my new friend Milrn from the Kazakh border
- give 2 vodkas samples to another new friend from the customs checkpoint
- unpack and re-pack the entire car
- and off we went.

Absolutely amazing. Which made us think that the immigration cards might not have been needed after all. In any case we made sure the Kazakhs gave us one before we left.

We've now reached Uralsk (also known as Oral in Kazakh, watch the bad jokes) and are staying in the most magnificient hotel Russia built... 50 years ago.

Swimming suits are ready for the Aral sea.


Anonymous said...

Salut Cédric et Paul.
Vous voila donc au Kazakhstan. Super l'aventure continue pour vous avec apparemment des paysages digne de ces vieux western "Rital", buissons qui roulent poussés par le vent dans un grand nuage de poussières avec monsieur Clint Eastwood tenant dans sa main droite son révolver avec le canon encore fumant. En espérant que Ewn vous laisse un peu tranquille avec ses caprices. Bien les garçons, continuez votre route en restant toujours prudents. Cédric, ta grand-mère t'embrasse et elle pense bien à toi.
Jean-Luc, Françoise et Plume.

Cedric said...

Salut Jean-Luc, Francoise et Plume. Merci bien pour tes commentaires. Effectivement c'etait tres Western avec les buissons qui roulent et surtout les grandes plaines vides et arides a 360 degres.

La voiture va "bien". On repare quelque chose quasiement tous les jours. Je crois qu'on a vraiment resolu les fuite problemes de fuite d'essence hier. Maintenant c'est un des montant de siege qui est casse a la soudure du boulon. Nous pensons pouvoir reparer ca rapidement aussi.

Anonymous said...

'Speeding' eh Ced! Just the first one is it? Hmmm? You should have added in there (for Mom: I was driving like my ass was on fire) :-)

Cedric said...

You should have seen me in the desert trails :-) It was like Paris Dakar in slow motion.