Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Crossing the Kyzyl-Art Pass into Tajikistan

So, just as I had mastered the spelling of Kyrgyzstan we were on our way south to Tajikistan. We spent the day before the journey trying to source a suitable vehicle. Luckily we had become wise to making sure we viewed the vehicle before agreeing on the journey. James rejected one vehicle which was so old that it looked like it should be in a museum. It was a 40 year old Russian jeep known as a Uza and required a handle in the front grill to be turned rapidly to start it. Even then it needed more tweaking under the bonnet before the engine spluttered into life. Eventually, after waiting 4 hours for a jeep driver to show up, we found a suitable vehicle even if time keeping wasn't the drivers strong point.

The following day, after the driver was only an hour late, we headed south towards the Kyzyl-Art Pass. If international reports are to be believed this was the border crossing of choice for heroin smugglers. It didn't seem like a particularly busy heroin smuggling day when we crossed, however. We saw 3 other jeeps and a truck in total. Despite the lack of vehicles, and the absence of any searches, it still managed to take 2 1/2 hrs to have our passport passed from one office to the next (owner need not be present) and then drive the several kilometers of no man's land. I hate to think how long it would take had they had a rush on. On the Kyrgyz side a well bred spaniel ran ferral around the port-a-cabins. I imagined that it had once been a highly trained sniffer dog, donated by some western government. Now, like the wilded eyed border guards wearing a mix of army uniform, trainers and Kangol caps, the dog had returned to its pre-trained self. But both were harmless enough and we made it into Tajikistan without a problem.

Our jeep at the remote Kyzyl-Art Pass border crossing (still in Kyrgyzstan)

Made it to Tajikistan!