KAZAKHSTAN           27TH October

We are forced to transit Kazakhstan to reach Kyrgyzstan, due to the border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan being closed due to ethnic tensions.  This adds several days to our journey and also hundreds of miles.   We know the weather is fast closing in on us and we have to dash as fast as possible through Kazakhstan, despite wishing to see more.

Entering Kazakhstan, the guards are very friendly and helpful, but the head poncho still gets a $10 bribe when searching the car.

Driving the smooth long road past the border, we are greeted by a huge herd of double humped camels and wild horses running across the arid plains!

As we pass through Shymkent, again there seems to be a policeman on every corner.  We are stopped for overtaking, but he lets us go without too much of a fuss.  Next time we are pulled over he tells us the stamp on our international driving licence is faded –Martin takes his phone and ID and the policeman reluctantly lets us go.

We pass a couple of Nissan patrols who seem to be on a Cactus rally from the Netherlands.

The sign ahead reads ‘Attention Sharp Descent’-we drop down the slope with glorious views over the green rolling hills.

We finally get to Taraz at 8:30, but the hotels we find are way out of our budget-$135 and over.  After much searching, we find a room within our budget, and take a walk to a local restaurant.

28th October

Driving towards the Kyrgyzstan border, the huge pointing peaks ahead of us in the distance, which we are aware we will be crossing tomorrow!

The guide in China emails us to say there is heavy snowfall on the mountain passes of Kyrgyzstan, and so we worry about what the next few days of travelling will have in store for us.

The cities we have seen here seem to be big and modern; lots of branded stores and good roads.

We are regularly flashed by drivers travelling the opposite way to warn us of the police ahead.  Inevitably, we are flagged down by the police minutes later just to be asked ‘How are you?  and ‘India da?’   They seem to be very inquisitive and friendly!

We get closer to the spectacular mountain range-jagged peaks against azure blue skies of the Kyrgyz-Altau range.

On the way through the border, the guard seems more interested in searching for food, seeing the empty Snickers and crisp packets, rather than anything else in the car.   Martin has to explain that all the food has been eaten and there is none left for him!

Martin & Nicole