In Transit: Exiting Kyrgyzstan at Irkeshtam Border Post Part I
As I was so restricted with taking photos in and around the border posts of Kyrgyzstan and China, the best way to describe our two border crossing day is time stamp style.
Day 1 – 25th July
0550 – Awake after another lousy night sleep, courtesy of home stay dogs barking throughout the night.
0845 – Depart yurt camp for hour long drive to Sary Moghul in Lada 4×4.
0945 – Swap Lada’s and drivers in Sary Moghul, for 70-km drive to the border. Spectacular views of 6,000 to 7,000 metre peaks of the Tien Shan mountains.
1140 – First check point in the middle of no where. Guards won’t let our driver through, so we pile into another vehicle for the drive to the border.
1205 – Kyrgyzstan border post. Closed for lunch. Feeling sick, I slurp down soup with bread for lunch at a well worn border town cafe.
1405 – Passport control stamps us out of Kyrgyzstan. We are now in no-man’s land, which extends for 7-km to the China border. We have no transport.
1415 – A truck picks us up for the ride through no-man’s land.
1425 – Kyrgyzstan checkpoint and passport check.
1435 – China checkpoint and passport check.
1445 – China border post.
1505 – Bags x-rayed and mine searched (always the way).
1530 – Advised by Immigration Officer that we won’t make the 145-km to the newly built and relocated border post ( where our passports will be stamped).
We are to leave our passports with him and spend the night in a guesthouse at the border post.
We refuse to hand over our passports as there is still 2 1/2 hours until the border post down the mountain closes and all the trucks coming through our border post are being let through.
1715 – I use the immigration toilet facilities. Beyond disgusting.
1730 – Border post closes. Exhausted and a bit sick, I roll out my mat and sleeping bag in the middle of the immigration waiting room.
1740 – Official advises us we can’t sleep in building and that we have to hand over our passports. We refuse and walk out into no-man’s land looking for a place to camp.
1755 – While pitching our tent within sight of the border post, Chinese official comes over to us and advises us that we either hand over our passports or return to Kyrgyzstan border post.
1805 – We start our 7-km walk back to the Kyrgyzstan border post. We are blasted by dust blowing off the dirt road as we make our way back to Kyrgyzstan. I wonder how much tougher our day can get.
1815 – Chinese military vehicle stops and picks us up. We are dropped at the China no-man’s land gate. We are now on Kyrgyzstan soil, with no valid visa (we only had a single entry visa). Kyrgyzstan guards spot us from their watch tower and begin making their way towards us.
1825 – We pile into a Kyrgyzstan military vehicle and are driven to the Kyrgyzstan border post, which has been closed for hours.
1845 – Through basic travel Russian we explain our predicament to passport control at the Kyrgyzstan border post. With no valid visa, the official advises us that they will keep our passports till morning and we are to stay in a room in the run down border town outside the border gate. Officially, we are illegal aliens in Kyrgyzstan.
1900 – We take a bed each in a room jammed with beds. A bed costs us $2.67 NZD each. With both of us feeling sick, we zip ourselves into our sleeping bags exhausted by the days events, quietly wondering what the new day will bring.
Photo caption: stamped out of Kyrgyzstan, Jane waits with our bags for a ride across no-man’s land to the China border post. The trucks are waiting to come into Kyrgyzstan.