Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Approach to Khorgas

August 2nd, 2010

"China Customs. Nyet" explained the Kazakh border guard, making a cross with his arms. Familiar words. I’d reached the edge of the Granitsa, the strip of land a few kilometres wide bordering neighbouring China, barbed wire and frequent watchtowers along its edges. Closed to all but local residents.

I smiled. I’d half expected this. But this time I’d plenty of time remaining on my Kazakh visa, and months before my Chinese one would expire. I could afford to be patient, to wait. "Tomorrow. Seven am" the guard explained. Progress I thought, turning around to find somewhere to stop for the night.

Parting company with New Zealand long-distance cyclists Mike and Joe the previous day, I’d eventually found a cheap hotel for the night. As the afternoon had worn on I’d felt increasingly nauseous, the saddle ever more uncomfortable, the pace ebbing away. But, relieved to be off the road at last, I’d mustered the enthusiasm to negotiate the rate down to a little under ten pounds. Fair. Settling up the next morning, the owner had sought his original offer, almost double what we’d agreed. "Nyet" I said firmly. Deal’s a deal I explained. He nodded reluctantly.

The final hundred miles or so to the Granitsa had been hard work, despite an early start in the relative cool of the morning. By ten am it was in the thirties, the flat, mostly arid plain offering precious little to distract from the heat. Koktal, Zharkent, towns I’d passed through on my previous foray to the border, drifted past, inconsequential now. I was bound for China, the frontier town of Khorgas.

Terms & Conditions of Use | Copyright © 2009-2024 Ken Roberts