After several attempts and many kilometres on the road we finally managed to get to Kyrgyzstan
Spirits were high, as we set out from our roadside camp, with the beautiful mountain view. Looking forward to rather short day, driving across the boarder and to the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan. We got up enjoyed the view, had breakfast and coffee for once and set off towards Kyrgyzstan. After a couple of hours drive, we arrive at the dreariest of all boarder crossings, it turns out there was a reason for that. This particular crossing is only for locals. On foot. That hit the Karma Cowboys hard and faced with the prospect of a 800 kilometre detour, on these roads something like a day and half, spirits were at an all time low. Not much to do, but get in our seats, get back to Dushanbe and figure out if there was another boarder crossing to Kyrgyzstan, that we were allowed to cross.
One seven hour drive later, we check in to a hostel, got a route figured out and celebrated a tough day with a cold beer. All seemed to work out in the end, our timetable not affected too bad.
We set out again, as the sun rose on Sunday and we were off to a good start; good roads and great views. All was good as we hit the boarder and met very nice if not somewhat sleepy boarder patrols on the Tajik side of the boarder, we cleared out of there in record time. Heading in to the Kyrgyz control zone we started well, then went quickly downhill from there. All went smoothly, until one custom officer decided we were easy prey. Better said than done. We had to pay some pollution tax, for driving in Kyrgyzstan 1000 local money, around 15 USD, we figured ‘fair enough’. Then he went on to ask for 100 USD for import papers, this was a bit of an issue, as we were running low on cash and the customs do not do credit cards. But fortunately the man, eager as he was, quickly arranged for a taxi to me to the nearest town and an ATM. Back from the ATM cash in hand, the customs officer asked for payment, I asked for the papers before paying anything. This he understood, all communication went through google audio translator, which meant talks were a little rough around the edges. As he drew up the papers, his colleague, this one young, likeable and with some English skills, came into the office. As the first custom officers approach to the whole thing seemed a little sketchy, I asked the younger one for the price of the document, to which he answered, that the price for both documents (import papers and pollution tax) was in fact 2000 local bucks or 30 USD and not the 100 USD the one bastard demanded. Conclusion being; he was putting a bit of cash aside for himself. After having our suspicions confirmed by the young customs officer, I confronted the bastard one, telling him where that money was supposed to go. That we are doing this to help children in need and so on. All of this conversation, still went through the audio translator. After being confronted, the guy, who looked like he should have been employed by the criminals he is supposed to catch, just went for it. Telling me that we would need an escort through the country as he could easily call ahead and tell his friends what our car looked like and so on. Faced with that and a possible hour of discussions with him, I chickened out, spat on the floor and we got out of there.
As I’m writing this we are nearing the city of Osh, we are making little progress on the roads that in fact are more potholes, than road. With the lights on the Skoda not exactly great, Rasmus is having a tough time. But we will get there and go to sleep and tomorrow will be another day of freaks and fortune.