Visas and Taxis

border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, on Monday, October 13, 2014.

Stressful times at the Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan border: We disembarked the minivan to go through immigration as per usual. Everyone else in the transport was local, so it was just me being hassled. At the Kazakh exit, the officer kept asking where my visa was. He apparently didn’t get the memo that as of July 14, 2014 (mere months ago), Americans don’t require a visa for Kazakhstan. I argued I didn’t need it and he stamped me out.



At the Kyrgyzstan side, I went to the counter and the confused officer wondered where my stamp was. Thankfully a guy next to me in line knew English and explained that I was supposed to get the entry stamp elsewhere. So I left the building but couldn’t find where to get it. He called me back in; the entry stamps are given from an office with an unmarked door — no sign, no nothing. I got my stamp, and officially entered the country. However when I was done, my minivan group was no where to be found. (No one else had taken so long to clear the border. This happened to me at the Malaysian/Singapore border once too.)

I searched all over the hectic border area, and couldn’t find the van with the license plate I’d made a mental note of. And so I changed money at a stand and got a taxi. The Russian-speaking Far East Asian-faced driver was confused and so was the other guy trying to get into town too. Thankfully I had a screenshot of the Cyrillic spelling of the intersection of the hostel and was good to go.

GPS on my iPhone confirmed I was going the right way, and I wondered how the hell I traveled like this for sixteen months ten years ago without a smartphone.

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This dispatch is one of over 70 travel dispatches from the trip grouped and titled, "The Global Trip: 'Stan By Me." It's an archived compilation of Instagram and Facebook posts which chronicled a trip through three countries in Central Asia: Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Next entry:
Welcome to Bishkek

Previous entry:
Switching Stans


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

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