Distance / 今日の距離： 3km
Time riding / 乗っている時間： 20m
Time to cross China-Kazakhstan border / 中国・カザフスタンの国境を超えるのにかかった時間： 10h 30m
No joke. It took 10 hours ad 30 minutes (11 hours and 30 minutes if you include the one hour wait before the gates opened) to cross from China to Kazakhstan today. I was let through the gates to the China departure processing buiding at 8am, and walked out of the Kazakhstan customs building at 6:30pm.
It took the longest on the China side. Both sides had very bad crowd management systems in place, and people would all try to cram through the same small gap to get through processing, all at the same time. If people just chilled out and lined up, then I’m sure things would go so much smoother and quicker. The border staff utilised scowls and rude remarks as their method of getting things done which didn’t help much either…
My situation was complicated as I had a big clumsy bicycle to contend with, which meant that I inevitably ended up at the back of the constant scrum.
Unfortunately cycling the 500m or so from China to Kazakhstan is strictly prohibited, so I also had to endure 2 hours on the bus to cover that 500m. I witnessed the same behaviour amongst the bus drivers as I did the people trying to get out of China. It is is a ‘if you see a gap, go for it, even if there are four other buses also going for it’ behaviour. There was a Kazakhstan border guard directing traffic, however as soon as he let one bus through, the remaining three buses would try to zoom through the one bus sized gap while the guard couldn’t see. Absolute chaos. Once again, if the buses ust lined up orderly, things would have gone so much more smoothly.
Due to the novelty of the utter chaos, the 10 hours did go fairly quickly, and I was euphoric to be on the road in Kazakstan. I only went about 2.5km from the border before turning off the road and riding behind a small hill to set up camp for the night.
Just as I was thinking to myself ‘I hope noone comes along’, two guys on horses some galloping by. The younger of the two can speak basic English, so we are able to ascertain that I am from New Zealand and am cycling to England. They take off suitably impressed and return 20 minutes later with a watermelon for me. Fantastic.
So basically, I am just absolutely rapped to be in Kazakhstan. All apprehension has faded, and has been replaced with a sense of freedom for what lies ahead. More of the unknown.