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Published: August 19th 2015
The China / Kyrgyzstan border is an odd one. The distance between the first Chinese checkpoint and the last one is ~140km, then there's a bit of no mans land until the first checkpoint in Kyrgyzstan then another few km until the actual immigration post. It made for an interesting day that had high highs, low lows, a lot of frustration, and some stunning scenery. The executive summary is that despite another example of Chinese organisational incompetence / indifference - for example you need a different taxi from the first checkpoint than the one that takes you to it and the last checkpoint closes for a 3 hour lunch break - in the end everything worked out better than we could have wished for.
Once into Kyrgyzstan before we'd even got out of the immigration car park an old boy in a 4x4 approached us offering us a ride to Osh for a reasonable price. We didn't hesitate to take up his offer as we'd heard it was quite difficult to find transport in the afternoon. In we jumped - me at first getting in the front seat on the wrong-but-right side and off we went. It appears almost all
Atsuko showing her riding ability.
cars are imported into Kyrgyzstan second hand from other countries, including Japan. So whilst they drive on the right side of the road (like US, Europe) almost half the cars we've seen have had the steering wheel on the right - nobody seems to care which side the wheel is and it makes no difference to the driving !! Just out of the gate we came to our first stop - our driver had pulled a fast one and the taxi drivers blocked the road to stop us going any further, after a heated exchange of opinions he paid them off with a few hundred KGS and we were on our way. The next stop was at his house to drop off some cans of petrol he had in the back. Off we went again until he turned off down a dirt track. A little way along a small boy came running up from a yurt in a meadow and got into the back seat. A few minutes later we came into a beautiful valley ringed by mountains, in the valley was a yurt around which were various animals and a family going about their daily life. We stopped and
were invited in for kumis, tea, bread, cheese and jam. It turned out this was his family - wife, daughters and grandchildren, a genuine, non tourist yurt visit within our first hour in the country - fantastic. After a couple more stops - we were soon to learn there is no such thing as a point to point journey in Kyrgyzstan, he delivered us to the door of our hotel in Osh. The end of one of the best and worst days of our travels so far.
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