|We arrived in Aktau on the ferry at1pm all of us had to remain on the ship until the sniffer dog had gone round each cabin, a lovely little spaniel which hovered over our biscuits but realising he was on duty duly turned and left us alone. We all then boarded a mini bus to customs. An hour later we reboarded the ferry to collect the bike, all the lorries were gone. We headed for the barrier but were told to wait, about half-hour later someone who spoke a little english explained we now had to do all the bike customs, four offices later we caught up with our lorry drivers again who were also jumping through the customs hoops. We finally rode through the barrier into Kazakhstan at 7pm 7 hours after arriving. Our lorry drivers said they would be lucky to leave before 10pm and may even have to spend the night. Although a fee had been banded about earlier and was printed on one of the forms we managed to escape without payment.
We arrived in Aktau city centre 8pm two hotels are full we were then directed to the most expensive one, the receptionist was lovely concidering I turned up covered in road grime and dust and said sorry but I could not afford their $322 a room but could they recommend any where really cheap she spoke good english and phoned 4 hotels for us all full but found one. On the way out a young lad (Andrew) on bike sees us comes over says hello and motions us to wait he will phone friend who speaks good english. Kirill turns up on his bike and leads us to the hotel which also happens to be a friend of his. We arrange to meet back in half-hour. We are then escorted through town two bikes in front us then two more behind we feel like royalty. The question on everyone’s lips is where are you from. Arriving at an eatery/pub we are then treated to dinner and beers and introduced to friends but conversation is only really through Kirill as we speak no russian and they no english. Andrew sumed it up by saying I have so many questions to ask you but don’t know how to Kirill says Andrew normally is a chatterbox but is frustrated by the language barrier I know how he feels. A quick tour of the town then we are escorted back to our hotel by now well past midnight as we realise the poor receptionist has been kipping on the sofa in the lobby in order to unlock the door and let us in. We spend another day in Aktau but have to find yet another hotel as ours is full, no chance of camping and we have to get supplies. Kirill is great helping with phone cards, maps, money, supermarkets etc. We score a good result on our hotel it’s only been open 3 days and the air con isn’t working as it should so we are moved from the 7th floor to an apartment suite on the 5th floor luxury sofas, kitchen shame it’s only one night. Jill is english and has been overseeing the building and furnishing we tell her of our plans she recommends if can get out within the five days before registering it is worth while as it is a pain and the authorities can keep your passport for a couple of days so we plan to leave tomorrow. We have to be mentaly and physically prepared for the next stretch as even the locals all say the road is bad like the surface of the moon it has been described.