Across Continents

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Almaty international airport. Kazakhstan. Early. Passport. Immigration card. Copy of the border rules and regulations. In English. After my albeit short-lived detention by Kazakhstan border guards a few weeks earlier, I reckoned I was ready for all eventualities. Knew my papers were all in order. My imminent departure on a flight to a third country to secure a fresh Chinese visa wasn’t going to force the payment of any suspicious fines.

The Customs Declaration form – I eventually found one in English – seemed contradictory, and I thought unnecessary for the Green Channel. Not carrying anything I shouldn’t be. Left the pepper spray, knives, petrol and local anesthetic behind. And the form? Sterling effort at translation, or a potential trap for the unwary? You do wonder sometimes.

I’d done the usual things – expensive electronics in my hand luggage, spent a little money getting it wrapped in resilient plastic film until I’d boarded. Protects the external fittings on the front pannier I was using as luggage, and deters officials from wanting to inspect the contents. Nothing to hide, just couldn’t be bothered with the hassle. And dispersed the contents of my wallet about my person. Never like to reveal exactly how much cash I might be carrying to noisy officials.

Customs. Green Channel. Just ahead of a large group. Deliberately. Smiled. Said good morning in Kazakh. Through. Skirted around the X-ray machines. Nobody seemed bothered, and they’d be a few more before I boarded the aircraft. Check-in. Helpful assistant from the airline I’d chosen. One I’d heard of before, unlike SCAT, the small Kazakh operation I’d used to enter from Azerbaijan.

Passport Control. I’d last entered through a land crossing from Kyrgyzstan, had to insist on an extra stamp on my immigration card to show my passport was properly registered with the authorities. Would that be accepted or had I to remind them that all the formalities had been completed when I obtained my visa back in Georgia? But no, a quick check, another stamp, in the passport this time, and off to the departure lounge. Outbound.


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