Category Archives: Kazakhstan

Over the celestial mountains

4 September 2015

Flew from Hong Kong to Almaty. The good weather reveals part of the magnificent Tien Shan – literally the ‘celestial mountains’.

Somewhere to the south-west of Urumqi and north of Korla, China.

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Border crossing

It’s been a while since I crossed borders by land (not counting Johor-Singapore) so I was looking forward to this one.

Starting from Almaty, I took a mashrutka (minibus) to Kegen. Along the way the minibus stopped for a break at a market where I grabbed some lunch.

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The minibus dropped me off at Kegen in the rain where I managed to get a taxi driver (that’s just anyone with a car) to take me to the border.

Ever since yesterday’s belated realisation while in Almaty that 1) I don’t speak Russian 2) I can’t read cryllic, I got even more nervous about the trip. But so far the trip went well.

The Karkara  region must be rather beautiful though the grey clouds and horizons peppered by rain and laced with mist makes it hard to see. Large trucks transporting big blocks of straws lumbered on the unpaved roads leading to the border.

Arrived at the border control. So this is it? There’s nobody else crossing except for me. I was directed to a shed in the rain.

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After that I was asked to open my bag for checking on a mud-splashed table. But I’m leaving Kazakhstan! Felt a tad annoyed as I had earlier painstakingly packed everything compactly into the bag. The rain went on. The customs officer seemed to realise it was not easy to stuff the things back in and let me off a bit easier.

I walked towards the Kyrgyzstan side in the rain.

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On the Kyrgyzstan side, the officer asked me a few simple questions and stamped my passport : yay!

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I’m glad I had arranged for transport on the Kyrgyzstan side. I don’t think it would have been much fun to wait for public transport -if any exists!- in the rain.

After more rain and some hail, the weather cleared up. The pastures sitting at the foot of the great alpines reveal themselves.

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Nomadic shepherds (they only herd for a few months a year) are everywhere.

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