Mayan Prophecy Countdown
Not a great deal happened today, I dragged myself down for breakfast, Lorenzo turned up about half way through but apparently Federico was a tad crook, lol :) I basically had no need to do much until 3pm so I relaxed and did some research on ways around the China Syndrome. This will be an ongoing theme until we either get to ride through China, or worst case scenario, we run out of visa time and are stuck in Central Asia, it has happened before. If there is no way through and no way back, that could mean abandoning the bike here, or trying to work out some costly and lengthy shipping back home. I certainly do not want to go back home yet, the above countdown has not reached zero, but in reality, it is a possibility. I think of major concern for us as a group(there are ten in total) is the fact of no contact with 2 of them at all for a long time. Their China paperwork had been organised to be sent to an address in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, but they never arrived and it was sent back undelivered, they have been off the map since 12th July and last heard of entering Tajikistan, not a good place to be at this moment in time. Hopefully they are safe and just incommunicado.
So, I went down to the police station around 3pm and worked my way through security into the office of immigration. As there is only a 2 hour window between 3 and 5 it seemed prudent to be early, even just for what I expected to be a formality. WRONG!!!! I could not read the paperwork of course, so I had no idea which part he wanted me to fill in on this form, can you help?
No, I didn’t think so. I tried to read it but failed miserably, so I went up to the desk and spoke in English that I had no idea what this meant, so (HE, the MAN with the POWER) told me to go wait over there, he understood English I know he did, maybe not well, but enough. I had time, so I waited and played TicTacToe on my iPhone for a while and watched the other people trying to get passports or visas lounging and waiting and snoring in one case :)
But I guess patience is a virtue(and by the way, why can’t “Hurry the fuck up” be a virtue???) But, I digress, HE did finally decide to speak to me and I handed over my paperwork and between us we(HE) filled it out to HIS satisfaction. Then I was told to go wait over there, in fact it was the same place I was before so I felt at home :) At some stage in the process, when most of the other people had left, a couple of Italians, well he was Italian, she was Russian came in, they were staying at the same hotel and also needed to get their paperwork registered. The important part here was that she could speak with the bloke, and he could speak to me :) While we ALL waited, he mentioned he had in the past ridden the road I was going to attempt, on an off road bike! But, the main issue was water and fuel, very rare along that track, so it is something to keep in mind, if I take extra fuel and water I should be fine.
In the end, after 2 hours of waiting(it took me less than an hour to cross the actual border into this country)I finally had a piece of paper stamped as per regulations and was now a valid tourist and should be OK to exit with the minimum of hassle, maybe! :)
It was now gone 6pm, a long process, so I was hungry again and then worked out I still had not sorted out my SIM card. I had been to the shop yesterday arvo just up the road to buy one, but they did not understand iPhone sized cards, so this time I came prepared, with a pair of scissors :) Yep, I bought a phone number and SIM and then cut it to fit the smaller slot on the iPhone. And just for the record you other iPhone users out there, you do not need the iPhone Sim card tool to open the dock to insert a new card, my old faithful paperclip once again does its job, it has been with me for three years now and can do many things. Reset my old TomTom Rider II and short out the contacts on my clutch interlock switch when I crash and break it :) So, the card fitted and I had service, but no internet, so this involved some hand waving and then a taxi to the big central office of Beeline(the brand of phone service I bought) where they registered my service and bang, I was online via the phone, that was a success :)
By now it was gone 8pm so I went and had a nice BBQ’d pork shashlik around the corner at a cafe I had seen while walking back from the cop shop. There was not much but enough to fill me and I seemed to have found myself a friend with the leftovers :)
After that I went and had an early night as tomorrow I was on the road again and the Italians had told me it was going to be tough in patches, so I needed a clear head.
Cheers from Uralsk, Kazakhstan