Introduction to planet Kazakhstan

28 Jul

 

Getting into Kazakhstan has been a long process : 9 days of waiting in Baku to get our kazakh visa done and wait for the boat to leave, then wait for 60 hours more on the boat : 20 hours of ride, and 40 hours of waiting in both harbours. The first thing that struck us when we arrived  in Kazakhstan was people’s faces : no doubt, we’re in Asia. People look Chinese but speak Russian, they are muslims but drink vodka. Miles away from Borat, but still, it’s a funky combination.

We arrived in the middle of the night in Aqtau, and the customs did not bother us at all. They tried our bikes for a ride around the docks, then let us go with our stamped immigration card. We rode 8km in the dark to get into town, then met a group of people outside an hotel, celebrating a birthday. The manager was there and offered us a room for half the price. We accepted, then got invited us to join the party, until late in the night. Nico woke up a flat tire the next day, so we had to fix this problem first. I’ll skip the details, but we had to change 4 times the wheel (!) before being good to go.

Our most important duty was to register at the immigration police. Here (and in few other countries from the ex-USSR), tourists and citizens have to register every time they move from place to place, for a serious amount of time, inside the country. It’s a way for the state to better police its citizens and their location. After few hours spent with the Kazakh administration, we headed into town to get food, and the goods we needed to sustain for the next 400 kilometers in the desert : 25 liters of water, plenty of noodles, nutella, biscuits, breads, sardins and dry cheese.

 

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