This was supposed to be posted several days ago, but the wifi we had in China wasn’t fast enough to load any pics. It turns out the wifi in Kyrgyzstan isn’t either… so no pics I’m sorry.
Our exit from Sost was fairly straightforward, the previous night we begged the border post to open an hour early next morning as we are now travelling with a family from France in a huge 4×4 overland truck and they’re comparatively slow, so we were concerned about arriving at Chinese immigration (200km away) before they closed for the day. True to their word we were processed and ready to leave by 9am, when we said a temporary goodbye to the Frenchies (Hi Olivier, Cat, Seb, Alex and Coralie!!) and went back to the hotel to pack the bike, figuring we’d catch the truck within an hour anyway.
Back at the hotel, the manager (another Rupret), who had developed a deep fear of Sally for some reason, knocked on our door while simultaneously apologising, and murmered something about a customs officer downstairs. I went down with our bags to find an angry man ordering me back to customs to explain why we were at our hotel instead of leaving Pakistan.
Some quick thinking and I explained that Sally was sick with diahorrea so needed the toilet, but he wasn’t convinced. We all went back to customs again where I repeated the mime to the military and Sally showed them the toilet paper she’d sneaked out of the hotel and pulled a face.
(Insert mime of me pointing to Sally, then to my bum, making loud farting noises, then spitting sounds with my hand gesticulating wildly at something coming out of my bum. Some of my best mime work ever.)
I had to try not to laugh when the commander waved us away with an uncomfortable look of genuine disgust.
So we were off.
The last part of the Karakorum Highway in Pakistan was really pretty, the river we’d been following for the last week shrank and shrank as we passed tributaries that snaked their way up into the mountains of northern Pakistan, and 50km past Sost snow began to line the sides of the road as the temperature dropped and the altitude climbed to 4900m.
On arriving at the border with China we stopped to take some pics, but were soon engulfed by people wanting selfies. This went on for half an hour while we waited for Olivier, and then was repeated for them. The Pakistan police and Chinese military at the post were really keen for us to keep moving, continually ordering us to go to the Chinese checkpost a few Km down the road, but first we had some fun in the snow throwing snowballs at the kids and just savouring the moment.
The military guys manning the checkpoint communicated with us in typical harsh Chinese language, ordering us around and generally barking instructions at us. Remembering our experience at the Ping Seng hotel, I cracked a few bad jokes, and asked some stupid questions, which broke the ice and pretty soon they were all laughing and smiling… while still ordering us around 🙂
The process there took a couple of hours, the bike went through an x-ray scanner, and our bags and panniers also went into the office and were scanned just like at the airport. The truck got a camera stuck to the front of it which was supposed to record their every move (but failed after 15mins!), and we were all off to Tashkurgan.
On the Chinese side the road was much flatter and straighter, so the truck was faster and without too much delay we arrived in Tashkurgan where we were supposed to meet our guide in the immigration hall. This turned out to be harder than it sounds as EVERYTHING in china is written in Chinese… der.
Anyhow, we found the building filled with more harsh speaking Chinese officials, and fastforward 3 hours we parked the bike in the Customs quarantine area and took a taxi into town. Our first stop was an ATM to withdraw some money where Sal and I ran over to the machine leaving our guide Sadiq waiting.
The ATM didnt work, and eventually Sadiq came over to see what was going on…
“is it ok”
“no it doesnt work, is there another one nearby?”
“yes aroud the block”
“Sadiq, where’s the taxi? Our bags are in there!!”
Luckily our bags weren’t too important, they only had some clothes for the night, the computer, our phones and our frikkin passports!!!!!!! BIG PROBLEM.
Sadiq swore in several language before heading down the street to talk to the other cabbies in the area. It was a tense half hour as we waited on the street, but finally the driver came back and returned our luggage untampered.
Sally actually WoooHoooo’ed 🙂
Sadiq then took us all to a hostel where there was a pool table and a bar… the first bar we’ve seen for aboout 2 months.
“Do you serve beer?”
“yes of course”
“We love China”
The next day we went back to Customs where Sadiq did all the permits for us, and by about 11am we were on our way to Kashgar. Luckily I decided to fill up before leaving town, a process involving us parking outside the petrol station, me being given a 7lt aluminium kettle that I had to walk to the bowser with, fill up and then pour into the bike outside again. Luckily because all the petrol stations were closed for the next 250km!!
The road to Kashgar was badly broken up, it was raining and only 4 or 5 deg for the whole day, not much fun, but still we were really excited to be in a new country!
We arrived in kashgar where we found another cool hostel in the old town. We will spend the next few days here and eat as many dumplings as we can before we head over the border to Kyrgyzstan on Monday!
It is so nice to taste new flavours and eat Chinese again!!!!