What a long day!
After three days relaxing in Osh, at the Osh Guesthouse (in our own small apartment), we were ready at 4:30am for the driver to take us to the Irkeshtam Border. Once again, the scenery along the highway was spectacular, it appears so “empty” yet every now and then a community of yurts and old railway carriages will pop up.
The first Kyrgyz checkpoint was a small carriage, brightly painted at a bend in the road. The next one was where we were dropped by our driver, who had arranged for a truck driver to take us 7km to the first of many Chinese border checkpoints. What an experience that was! I could only just climb into his truck, and Lionel was stretched out behind me in the sleeping area. The truck was overflowing with stuff. Watermelons, water bottles, bags of cucumbers, bread, apricots and pots of I don’t know what. The driver was very jolly, as we approached the border he started moving supplies into the container. Jams, sweets, cosmetics and medical supplies were all passed down to him.
We had climbed down from the truck a couple of times to show our passports, then had waited about an hour in the truck line before an official instructed us to walk towards the border post. At the checkpoint it looked like we would have a long wait as the opening times were based on Beijing time and it appeared to be lunch. There were about 15 people waiting, and after a while they started letting us through, however the scanner wasn’t working properly and this caused another holdup. The actual border is almost 150km further along the road, so we were very relieved to see the driver that Osh Guesthouse had arranged for us waiting near the exit.
A series of passport checks later we arrived at the border! By this time it was afternoon and not surprisingly we were starting to get a bit short with each other!
Finally arriving at the hotel, we couldn’t use our Visa card to pay and couldn’t find an ATM close by so no dinner for you! As well we were too late for breakfast, (got confused with their use of Beijing time!) and walked a long way in the wrong direction this morning! Ahhh trials and tribulations!
All sorted now that we know where our hotel is (x marks the spot on the map). We even found a place to have some brunch and an ATM that takes Visa!