Paperwork, bent taxi drivers and nice people.

This blog is all our experience without our bike something which felt alien and strange we hated being relient on others and being so far away from the guzz as we needed to do so many repairs. It seemed such a waste of time and money for one stamp on our visa and we are not people who can sit idle for long we need to be doing something.
Having with our driver negotiated a fee of 3000 tenge which we thought was for both of us it turns out it’s each, so we duly pay up another 3000 this leaves us short as I had deliberately only bought the bare minimum in both money and clothes leaving the rest of our stuff at Loysha’s. We leave at 8.30pm for the five hour drive to Atrau half way we change minibuses and drivers arriving at Atrau 2.30am. We have a contact to phone who was supposed to sort us sleeping arrangements, Mike turns up a young lad with limited english. It seems there is a problem with the taxi driver who thinks we haven’t paid we insist we paid the first guy the full amount, eventually it seems they believe us and we get into Mikes car who says which hotel. We have no money and will only kip for 4 hours or so before we are up again so I rashly say we will kip anywhere, he takes us to his dads lorry yard where we are shown the back of a lorry container to share with what turns out to be a smashing Uzbekistan driver. At now 3am and still knackered from the early starts this looks bliss, he gets some more cardboard to lay down and some more bedding from his lorry. The problems begin after Mike leaves and we have no where else to go. It seems Atrau is plagued by mosquitoes and horse flies and we are sitting ducks. So it’s a choice of too hot with covers round your ears or being bitten to death. A fairly sleepless night later we awake and my face is already looking like a teenager with severe acne due to the amount of bites, to make matters worse we are now informed it is Saturday and we can’t registar our visas till Monday. Stuck in the goods yard we befriend the Uzbekistan who is a star and makes us tea, shares his breakfast and later when he returns from a job makes us a hearty chicken stew. Kev helps him change a tyre as he got a punture, we would happily stay here again if it wasn’t for the horseflies as my eyelid has now swollen to epic proportions and I have now discovered I am developing an allergy to them giving me an upset tummy to boot. I need antihistamine something I have back at Loysha’s but not here.
We get hold of the elusive Mike again and much to the uzbekistan drivers dismay we make arrangements to get a hotel, he had arranged for us to go fishing with him in the Caspain sea on his day off (Sunday). He had been so good to us and would not accept any money so we hid some in his teabags along with our card which we had used to show our route.
To cut a long story short we hung around the next day aswell hugely frustrated as we could have been using this time to fix the Guzz. Highlights include buying some phone chargers from the market as we are away from the bike we have no means of charging anything, having a shower and being horsefly free, the hotel recepionist calling her english speaking friend who helped us find some antihistamine, by now I look half Kazakhstan as my eye is half shut as it’s so swollen and I’m wearing my sunglasses indoors. We spend a very pleasant afternoon with him drinking beer, vodka and having a meal he writes a translation for us to show the authorities why we are late and we learn some new words. Lows the same english speaking friend deciding when drunk a good way to say thank you is to try to stick his tounge down my throat when Kev’s back is turned, they all seem to be the same when drunk, we decline his offer to go to a night club and party as one we have to deal with authorities tomorrow and two we will be at his mercy on when we can return to our hotel. Kev and I are merry but still fairly sober he already looks like he’s had a night on the town.
Monday dawns, knowing Mikes timing when we phone him in the morning and he says he will be a couple of hours we arrange a taxi who takes us to the wrong place, a bit of queuing later we get another taxi and roll up to the desk hand over our paperwork, it is met with lots of exclaiming and you are over your five days, a lady in the queue says we will need an interpretor to sort it out and she will arrange one. Ten minutes later he turns up but by now it’s 12noon and the visa office shuts for lunch he suggests we eat at his office canteen and we arrange to meet there at 2pm whilst he goes home for lunch. Strangely he goes sick after lunch but we score a lovely lady who we have to pay well but she earnt it. We are then embroled in over 4 hours of papertrails, taxi rides to banks to pay the fines, powercuts so off to another bank, back to fill in more forms both Kev and I have to write in our handwriting what the translator wrote. We then play the waiting power game for over a hour before they finally stamp it at 7pm.
We decide to try to get back to Beynau tonight as it’s costing us a fortune staying here and we don’t want to travel in the heat of the day. We get a taxi to the train station as it’s our best bet. Negotiating a deal with one guy he then gets a young lad in a beaten up Lada to do the driving but he wants all the money up front says it’s good with the lad we’re not happy about this and get out the car, another lad from the by now large crowd around us motions he will do it for the agreed price and shows us to his car, a much nicer air conditioned one, he already has a passenger in the front seat and about an hour later we relax having reasured ourselves we are on the right road, we are still skeptical and hide excess money incase of a more money routine. All is well until we reach the half way point where he drops off his other fare, he then asks for petrol money luckily we have lots of small notes so only give him half the fare insisting he will get the rest at Beynau. He starts to drive out of town then after a phone call does a u turn and heads back to town I fling the door open which has the desired effect and he stops, after ten minutes of frustrating drawing on paper and arm waving we think we understand he has another fare to collect so we let him return to the last town. It turns out he is trying to negotate with another taxi driver to take us the rest of the way. I disappear off to find a loo on returning I find Kev embroled with both taxi drivers it seems the fare has now doubled and the orginal driver wants a bit more, luckily we have been deposited outside a truckers hotel something I found out on my recy for a loo so we cut our loses get out the car and leave them arguing amost themselves. We have struck lucky it’s cheap as chips has a cafe and we are given clean sheets, we have a room with four beds to ourselves. On chatting to the truckers in the cafe none are heading our way but they recon we should get a lift in the morning.
We catch a lift with a nice trucky to the next town but then hang around for ages before a taxi offers to take us the rest of the way. Fee agreed we pay half for his petrol he then does the by usual of turning round back to town the flinging open door trick works again and this time we don’t fall for any nonsense but insist on Beynau.
About midday we are reunited with the Guzz and head for well earned nap.
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