Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to her house in Normandy, France with a stolen Yamaha XT250X prototype crossing the middle east on the way.
Episode 9: Going from one world to another one. Leaving China and entering Kazakhstan.
Hello my fellow riders, how are you doing ?
I am back from Colombia, now in France working like crazy but also back on the report. Time machine please take us to the month of August 2009, when I was in the wild wild western China. Bziiiiiiiiiiiiou here we go.
So here I am, leaving the sad city of Urumqi. I am going to a border point to go to Kazakhstan. However the people I asked to said I will not be able to leave China with my Chinese-registered motorcycle. Chinese-registered vehicles do not go out of China.
I did not know if it was true but I had to go and see. The solution would not come from worrying. So I drive, direction the border. The roads are not that good there and everything is very sandy and gravelly.
I am wondering if the adventure is going to stop there. Will they keep the bike ? Will they ask for my driving license ? What is going to happen ?
To ease things off, a wasp got trapped in my shoe while driving at around 100km/h. It started stinging and stinging again. Awwwwwww what was hapenning to my foot!! It was the left foot, used to change gears. So as I was slowing down I needed to press on the gears and the wasp did not like it and stung more and more.
Finally I stopped, trying to remove my shoe but everytime I moved the shoe, the wasp was stinging more.
The result :
My skin did not like the stretching, it started cracking at some parts and pus was going out through the cracks. I know you like it.
I finally arrive at the border after a day's ride, went to the border post, it was too late. I had to wait one more day.
My #1 rule for crossing borders:
Come with a smile from ear to ear, looking like nothing is going to upset you.
My #2 rule for crossing borders:
Act like you will not leave until they let you through and you have allllllllllllllllll the time in the world, no problem.
My #3 rule for crossing borders:
Never pay anything to anyone. Otherway you will smell like fresh meat and everyones is going to try to get a bite.
Next day, with my rules in mind, I showed up to the border. “Yes hello, I want to cross to Kazakhstan.”
“Not possible with this papers, please go to office XYZ and ask what papers you need”
Going to office XYZ
“Not possible. You need a lot of paper to make bike exportation. Around 1000USD + need to get papers from a big city government office + need to get certificate A and certificate B + other things”
“Oh and we are not sure it will work in your case anyway”
Hmmm not looking good. Time to use rule #2 to his maximum (showing that your are not going to let go until they let you go).
I go back to the border crossing and say I need to go through because I am coming back to France with my bike. This is my reality and this border is not going to change anything to it. That was my mindset.
I was waiting for hours, looking at Kazakh people going out from China with luggages full of Chinese made stuff. The Chinese official were getting bribes in front of my eyes. The Chinese official were opening the luggages, asking questions, saying that this or this item could not cross the border, etc. so that the Kazakh paid a bribe.
I asked one of the only Chinese who was speaking a little bit of English there if this is why they were not letting me through and he said that they were only asking bribes from the Kazakh not for “foreigners like french”.
I asked to see the chief, the boss, the general, whatever and was telling all of them that I had to cross. Nothing to do, it was not possible they said.
Night is coming and the border is closing. I will sleep there.
Next day, a solution comes up. Why do I not go out of China like the Kazakh people with their luggages full of Chinese goods, except my goods are going to be : 2 wheels and an engine and some more stuff.
One of the official seemed to like that option. Let's give it a try. I go up the stairs of the border crossing in the pedestrian part, with my bike. The people are looking at me very strangely there, it was like if I was showing at an airport security gate with my helmet and my motorcycle.
The other officials say that it is still not possible.
Summing things up: I spent one more day at the border the next day and then, for no reason, it worked. They said I could go, did not do any special paper and went through the metal detector with my motorcycle. Biiiiiiiiiiiip.
Unbelievable. I was going out of China. I kept the apparence of being calm but was overwhelmed with joy inside, the trip must go on !!
Well wait. I am now in a No-man's Land between China and Kazakhstan. What happens if I am not admitted in Kazakhstan ? My Chinese visa is not valid anymore. Not speaking about my bike. Two huge doors let me go through out of China and into Kazakhstan. Very official. I am alone on my bike.
A Kazakh official with a huge kepi, too large for his head, welcomes me.
This is where I told myself that the next huge trip I will have a camera recording all the time, attached to my helmet, just to be able to see those moment again and again in the future.
This one is a russian kepi.
Strange, people do not look Chinese anymore, no more Chinese signs. The Kazakh I see are either Russian looking with fair skin and blue eyes or looking like central asian people, that would be something like mongolian, a little bit chinese and some turkish in it.
Everything is totally different, unbelievable change. I eventually go through easily, after 1 hour I am in Kazakhstan.
I feel like I'm in eastern Europe. I can't believe it, I just went from one world to another world. I have never seen such a dramatic change in a few hundred meters.
Then what never happened in 7 months in China, took 1km to happen in Kazakhstan: I met a friendly Kazakh who invited me to his house with
I have no idea how we understood each other as he was only speaking russian but I got the phone number of his son and met them in the next village later on.
I ended up staying there for 2 days as my ankle was still huge from the wasp sting and I could not drive the bike so well. Very good food, very friendly and interesting people, perfect introduction to Kazakhstan!
The Kazakh family and their house!
Next episode: Episode 10 - Stuck in Kazakhstan, time to party.
PS: I will be in China from the 1st of December to the 23rd of December for a Business trip, mainly around Shanghai.
Any ADVRider in Shanghai for a beer ?
Writing from Paris.
of November 2011.