We spent 3 days and 3 nights on the ferry to Kazakhstan. Despite being rowing distance from the port for a large part of the final day, we didn’t dock until about 3pm…..and finally we were allowed to disembark and go through passport control as the sun was telling us to make hast and it begun to disappear.
It was unfortunate that we left the ship with bile filling my being…..the rude sailor barking….”take your bags and go”…..so he did speak some English! After hours of being told to wait we were given no warning, were rushed to load the bikes, and flee into the unknown.
Passport control was quick, a few questions about where I worked and then customs. All luggage went through an X-ray although I am not convinced it was actually turned on. Nothing was opened or inspected. We were set loose with no bearings, no map, no language, no view of a city…..just a lone camel, sand, low rise buildings, chasing dogs and dead ends. On instinct after a few false starts, in the dark Li directed us along the coast searching for a hotel. I sang to myself……sand and potholes…..i will not fall off, i will not fall off. We would take the first hotel we could find. Fortunately we came across Hotel Salem. It was one of the cheapest Li had discovered on line when we had once upon a time had the Internet.
Showers are currently low on my agenda. It’s nice to wash when we can……but what I want is a bath, I’ve been dreaming about one for days……it has a bath! I don’t want to wash….I want to wallow.
The female staff are wonderful….full of smiles. Safe, smiles laughter and wallowing. I think the water may run out , it does not.
We must stay in Aktau until we register with immigration police. Sunday they will be closed but we stroll about hoping to find the office in preparation. We can not find the office. There are no street names, just districts…..1,2,3,4…….we look for building 123 in district 3. The building numbers do not appear to be in numerical order and we walk in spirals. Monday after walking for an hour…..really a ten minute walk from our hotel, we discover the immigration police office and register. It’s confusing as there are many people and we can’t speak the language. A person in uniform approaches, takes our passports and disappears……it looks like we have queue jumped. We wait….are called over to a small window…..20-30 minutes written on small piece of paper and we are indicated to sit down. 30 minutes later we have the all important stamp on our registration paper and can now leave Aktau as we see fit.
One more night, we stock up on food, sterilise 13 litres of water…..fill up another 10 litres we will sterilise on route…..and set of into the relatively unknown……what we do know is that the desert is in front of us…..575km to Uzbekistan…..only 2 towns on our map….and that it will be sandy and cold.

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