Border crossing Uzbekistan-KazakhstanSeptember 24, 2019 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C
We enter another country for the second time. First, it was Russia that we entered twice with the car. Then, we entered Kyrgyzstan three times on this journey (though one doesn't really count as we had left and came back by plane in between).
Today, we come back to Kazakhstan, this time at the Western side of the country. These countries are so vast, it's hard to grasp!
At the border, we're allowed to bypass the long line of trucks again. Having arrived at 12.44pm, we cross the Uzbek side quickly and are out a mere 15min later. The young customs officer inspecting Hans clearly would have loved to take Hans for a ride, as he even sat down behind the wheel!
On the Kazakh side, trucks and cars are waiting alike. No bypassing here as it seems we arrived at lunch time. Oh well, at least we have time to eat something. During the wait, few of our fellow travellers would love to have a conversation. By now, Tom pronounces "I only speak a little bit Russian" in Russian so well that people don't really believe it. After a few tries they understand at last and stop asking further questions, a bit disappointed. Foreigners with a car still cause curious interest all around. And yes, we still need to work on our language skills.
Then the gate opens and everyone gets waved through, only to line up inside again. As tourists, we're pointed to the side, but still have to get our passports stamped along with everyone else. The queue isn't long. On Tom's turn, the officer enquires about a long piece of paper, that we don't have. In the end, he simply waves us through, upon us asking saying we won't need it. Alright then.
Afterwards Tom and I are separated as usual as he needs to get the TID for the car. I walk back to Hans, on my way meeting an officer. He speaks no English at all, but I manage to explain that Tom is getting the rest of the paperwork done. I'm allowed to wait by the car, but he doesn't want to do the customs check yet.
On Tom's return, we're a bit clueless about what's next as no one is around. After a few minutes, Tom walks up to the passport control area for the second time. At the same time my non English speaking officer and another one in formal uniform show up to check Hans. They, too, ask about the paper slip. Turns out, we should have gotten it at the main gate at the entry and it needs to be stamped by passport control and customs! So Tom goes to receive it and get it stamped while I show the official officer around. It's a simple examination and his face lights up when he sees the hoola-hoop (usually people notice the guitar first. I guess this guy likes gymnastics 😊). Tom returns, the slip is checked and we're done. Driving out, we hear the officer shouting "I love you". That's a first!
All in all it took 2hrs, one of which was spent waiting during the lunch break.
We're so eager to hit the road (still lots of ground to cover to get to the ferry) that we almost forget to get insurance. It hadn't been obligatory in the last countries we entered, but it is in Kazakhstan! Thank God for the booths, lining up right after the border, reminding us. Since Tom needs to do most of the work related to the car, we decide I go to get it this time. The young guy selling insurances barely speaks English, but is excited enough about me to call his friends over to join him. While he's typing in the details, I'm bombarded with pseudo-German stars (mostly soccer players and somehow Ronaldo and Messi end up in their name game). It gets a bit tricky when they ask about how much money I earned last year. I try to get away with asking how much they make: 1000USD a year. So when they ask for USD 30 for the insurance, I simply agree without checking the price. Noticing it, one guy asks for 35, but that I refuse. I'm not that easily fooled (or so I think). A quick and confusing discussion between the three of them follows, involving my $30 and 4000Tenge (approx $8) being shuffled over the table, but then I'm handed the insurance and we say goodbye.
Back at the car, I feel a bit cheated still and talk to Tom about it. A second look at the insurance reveals that it only costs the equivalent of $22. While I'm too embarrassed to go back, Tom decides it's about principle and gets back another $5 at the booth. I suppose it's important to make clear that foreigners shouldn't be tricked, but at the same time I'm also painfully aware of the harsh contrasts of the worlds we live in. It's not easy to deal with it on an every day basis. We're not some rich kids on a holiday, but surely it must look like it from another perspective. But instead of being tricked into paying extra, I'd rather buy another bag of fruits and veggies of the next local farmer. One way of supporting the local economy. And I'll keep on thinking about other ways, too. Promise.Read more