Tuk to the Road

The trials and tukulations of Jo, Ants and Ting Tong the tuk tuk and our three-wheeled odyssey from Bangkok to Brighton...in aid of the mental health charity Mind. For more information please see www.tuktotheroad.com

Friday, July 07, 2006

Borat be with us

* Written on July 7th - only postd now due to lack of internet

Dark, smoky, teenager filled Cyber Cafe, Urumqui City. Xinjiang. NW CHina.

After 4000 miles and 28 days we have nearly made it through China. I can't quite believe it. As we struggled along yet another rutted dirt track in Yunnan and Guizhou there were moments when I wondered if we would ever make it this far, let alone get back to England. So its quite a feeling to actually be within sight of the Kazakh border, and at the half way point of Tuk to the Road. Even stranger is the thought that 7 weeks ago tomorrow Jo and I packed our rucksacks and flew out of Heathrow, reaching Thailand in 11 hours. Thats roughly one hour in a plane for one week in a tuk tuk.

The next major hurdle is Kazakhstan. Today we have had a day off in Urumqui, capital of Xinjiang. However, we have spent the majority of it in a darkened net bar, finalising arrangements for the border crossing and for our stay in Almaty. Poor David of Stan Tours (www.stantours.com) has been the recipient of a barrage of emails from me recently; should I use my Russian at the border or pretend I know none? How do we get our visas extended when it is technically illegal? How can we get vehicle insurance? Can he recommend a good hotel in Almaty. Etc etc. You may think its strange that we are two days from Kazkahstan and we still haven't arranged our vehicle insurance, but normally you can buy this at the border, and this is what we had been told was the case with Kazakhstan. But we have also heard, more recently, that if the border gurads are in the mood for a shakedown they can fine you for not having insurance already, so its a catch 22 situation. We have now found two Kazakh companies that might be able to help us, but getting through to the is the next problem, and me trying to explain in my very average Russian that we need insurance for a tuk tuk. So that's one issue we need to surmount.

The next is our Visa extensions. The Kazakhs are not keen on doing this, at all. But due to our Chinese delays we have to get one. So it seems we have to take a few days out and go to Bishkek, in Krygystan, to get a new visa. I'm sure Bishkek is a wonderful place but its a bit of a pain to have to go to such lengths for such a simple requirement. Moreover, we've got about 4 days in Almaty and a stack of things to do. As its our half way point and Jo, TT and I are in serious need of some R&R, we always planned to have a few days off here. TT needs a service, Jo and I need to chill out and check out some of Almaty's clubs, and moreover my Ma is flying out from the UK to meet us. At the moment we've got quite a busy few days in Almaty: the
British Embassy have organised a press conference with the local press and a
charity there which deals with the mentally ill, we've got an appointment
with Reuters who want to film us tukking off into the steppes, we've got an interview with a Russian magazine and a Russian paper. And we will probably have to make a dash to Bishkek.

Could write a whole lot more as we've had a really interesting few
days, and a great night in Urumqui last night, but got to sort out more
Kazakhstan stuff and my eyes are going square. More soon xx Ants


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