And into Kyrgyzstan, but very badly

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Shymkent
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of Kazakhstan  ,
Sunday, April 10, 2011

Set off this morning after breakfasting at the hotel. They were very good to us, and made us feel welcome. Gave us a map to show where we could go to get access to an ATM (there are very few in Uzbekistan) and thenn the route north to Kyrgyzstan. Great.
Went to the Dedeman hotel (see previous blog about the Dedeman - but this was a world apart) where we struggled to draw any money from the ATM. Eventually told that the machine I was using only dispenses Sum (the local currency, which is almost Monopoly money. Never really got the hang of it, but 30 is about 60,000 Sum, and it all comes in 1000 Sum notes) So I used the other machine, which then told me it was out of money. The ladies on the exchange desk did allow me to draw money, but there is a charge. When needs must ...

The Dedeman also agreed that the road north was the best route into Kyrgyzstan (hereafter Kstan to save typing). So off we went, up the north road. However, after a few miles, we came to a barrier across the road, and were told that the road was closed, go further south. Sop we did, and went along that road. Same thing. Everyone told us to use the other road or go way down south, so we started going way down south. Stopped along the way to confirm with a group of guys where we were going and one very kindly offered to lead us in his car. So we follow, until it turns out he's taking us back to route 1, which we know is closed. So he asks the police (who by now have stopped us 6 times at various points) They point him to the plce we were heading for when we stopped to ask him! So off we all go, and do about 60 km back along the route we came up yesterday!. Eventually we get to the border without any barriers. Martin offerss the guy $20 for petrol, and he demands $50! Not such a nice guy after all.

We get into the queue for the exit from Uzbek, and then the customs guy calls us forward, so we jump the queue. In to the offices and they want us to fill out the customs forms again. Of course I now have more US$ than when we came in, and this causes consternation until I produce the exchannge slip showing that it was legit. Customs wants to know if we carry any drugs, which he names quite fluently. I thought they worried about drugs coming in, not going out? Get the passports stamped, checked by another guy, double checked by yet another, back to the car, and its all checked again by the guard and we're eventually through Uzbek.

Into Kstan. Dont get to jump the queue, until I go and chat up one of the guards, so we only pass one lorry. Go in and wait because the pasport guy isnt there. Eventually he comes back and processes the passports. I go to the car, where they all gather round, while Martin goes to sort the car papers. Eventually, he calls me in with the amps because one of the guards is telling him which are the bad roards and which are worse. He's actually witing for the officer to fill in the car papers, and this takes over an hour.Finally allowed out, waved on, but stopped for someone to check something. Then we  get to a barrier, and no one to raise the barrier. 15 minurtes later some guy comes out and looks at the car for 10 minutes, and says he cant do the barrier, but later it raises. About 20 feet further on is another barrier, which stays down. After much complaining to nearby guards, it turns out that Customs have to raise this barrier, and they are ahving tea, from 7pm to 8 pm. So we wait.

What a bunch of complete idiots they all are, doing as little as possible and being as obstructive as possible. The lorries are only allowed in one at a time, so while all this is going on, the remainiong lorries just sit and wait. While we were waiting (at least 2 hours) noone else entered the system, and there must have been a dozen waiting behind us.

So as dusk falls, we set off on the 150km journey to Shymkent, the first main town. The roads are pretty bad, rough, but at least not as many potholes as previously. Eventaully get into Shymhent and see the Shymkent Hotel, looks expensive, but at 11.00 we are not looking round. Beat the receptionist down to 2/3 of the price she initially wnated, and biy is it a rip off! For what we get, its way below the standard of the previouus 2 hotels we stayed in, and this is 4 star.

Try the nearby restaurant for dinner, but no-one speaks english, and the menu is in Cryllic, so its back to the hotel, for an over priced Beef Strog. Wifi only works on the ground floor.

We wont be spending a rest day there!
Its now 2am local time (lost another hour) so I'm off to bed. Martin, having done all the driving, is already asleep.

Mileage 364k

Martin's (cannot think of anything amusing to out here) moment:

Well its  not Kyrgystan,its Kazakhstan we are in.And although we drove 364K,we only travelled 138K from where we started.A very frustrating day but we did travel at least.So now we have to concentrate on the car.Check fluid levels,apply some grease and start sorting out some petrol.
So our enthusiasm has waned a bit this morning ( write my contribution in the morning -absolutely lifeless after a day's driving) but I'm sure once we get ourselves sorted we'll be OK.
Looks like we are so bleary we'll miss the morning traffic before setting off.We need also to confirm our route.Having decided to miss out Kyrgystan,and therefore Bishkek we will probably take a slightly different route - still heading for Russia top right.
So dear readers you find us a little battered and lacklustre this morning.Roger has emerged from the shower commenting,he never complains apparently,that both temperature and pressure varies.I did explain that this was as a result of the team of people on the top floor pouring buckets of water into the funnel on the roof without the necessary precision for such a task.
Brassed off with the phone system again - managed to receive a mobile call yesterday but unable to send a text.Sorry Polly-did a fairly fulsome one to you as we failed to speak on mobile,but it would not go through.
Your contributions to the blog are a great boost p please keep it up.

OK, geography and names are not 2 of my strong points. Change the heading yourselves
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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Polly on

Sorry you had such a tough day. Fingers crossed tomorrow is better. Weather is starting to cool off here, but it is still pretty with all the spring flowers. Cheltenham and the cotswolds were lovely. Look forward to your next update

Sara on

Just thought you'd like to know that Damps is back on the scene. The youngest redmond, after perfecting her scouse milk and book pronounciations has moved on to pointing to the photo on the computer/stairs/lounge shelf and shouting damps!! still working on danny, maybe next week.
maybe you could write a guide book on border crossing protocol.

sara on

the brunch bunch, who gathered yesterday, were much in awe of your exploits. Alien (he who wore safari outfit at our wedding) was particularly fulsome in his praise.

Alison on

Thought maybe the polaroid might have come into its own at these tricky moments. Good photos Roger, I can see a new career opening up for you here, Have you boys done any clothes washing , I suppose being smelly is the least of your worries. Anyway keep up the good work ,you must be half way there by now.David P, now has the blog and wants to help in any way he can.

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