Monday, August 26, 2013

To Kyrgyz without registration

Little do we know that when crossing the border with Kyrgyzstan, a case of plague has appeared near Issyk-Kul lake. Some fifteen year old boy ate some grilled meat and died. A lot of other people are in hospitals. Czech Republic advises all tourists to evacuate the country and when complied to stay there, to avoid the region of Issyk-kul lake, especially the surroundings of Karakol which will be put into quarantaine.
But we know nothing. We cross. Crowds of people are crossing into Kyrgyzstan like sheep. They are compressed like cattle into a formless crowd and are pushing forward. Police is there pushing backwards. I feel like a youghurt on a processing line. And I will be processed.
It will take a little more time to process me than to process a yoghurt because we are entering without registration.
We just didn't have the time and will to registrate at some office with a bunch of byrocrats in a big city. We might even had to pay for it. And we were kind of curious what will these idiots at the border do when we appear there with a soon invalid visa and without registration. They can't keep us otherwise we overstay our visa and they can't send us through because of their stupid byrocracy so what will win?
Children posing near the border
At first we hope they just won't care but they do. They ask for our registration and my russian level suddenly drops to zero. What a shame! A pattern begins to emerge, my language skills dramatically decrease at borders and passport checks. I can barely hold to my english.
Ilona is more stressed out than me on the border. She hoped we would pass without any checks but as we see everyone in the crowd holding their registration she is starting to doubt it. I am not afraid because I live in a country which breeds the most stubborn and annoying byrocrats the universe will ever know and no Kazakh, especially not this one in the passport control window will ever match the french.
"Davayte regystracyu"
"whaat?"
"Where your registration?"
"Whaat?"
"This thing." He shows me the same piece of paper the border guy gave us when entering Kazakhstan.
"We don't have. It's been less than a week"
"The limit 5 days. You must registration"
I'm amazed by his english by the way and yeah, I know it's 5 days but what can you do. Just let us through please. He sends us with our passports to some office where more happily looking officials explain to us that we should have registered but OK, it's not the end of the world, they'll let us through.
We go back to the passport byrocrat. We pass the message from the other officials but he says no way: you are not getting through without registration.
He makes us wait with our passports, he takes them, processes lots of people in front of us just to test our patience. But this game is a poor demonstration of a limited power. Had we been in france we would have been sent home or at least to the capital with a big fine and an obligation to register in the following two days or so.
After a while of not losing patience the evil byrocrat lets us through. We proceed to the Kyrgyz side where we are processed in two minutes. No visa needed, welcome to Kyrgyzstan.
border, kyrgyz side, a big mess
The sun is shining, it is burning.We are so tired. We want to stop but what can we do. We have nothing. No money, no food, just a little water. My head is spinning I don't know why. Ilona is feeling down too.
"Let's put a tent somewhere and sleep"
But there is no way to go, civilisation everywhere. It's not the endless steppes of Kazakhstan anymore. And the Kazakh have warned us: hide your tent, Kyrgyzstan is dangerous.
We get a ride to Bishkek, an entrepreneur who started from nothing and built a sewing company. You know the clothes that you wear and that are massivly imported from Asia? That's him. Two years ago he made his first investment and now he has about 40 machine and the same number of workers.
We felt like guest reviewers in a classroom when he opened the door for us and we saw the benches. Women are sitting there and sewing, sewing adidas sportswear.
Sewing adidas sportswear
Obviously you cannot afford such working force in europe but here is cheap.
 Our host seems a good kind of guy, his employees like him. He still has feet on the ground, he repairs broken machines, everything is well organised nothing goes to waste.
Children playing in the sewing atelier
At night, he brings us to his place, to his family. His wife seems to be a little taken aback, she doesn't want strangers in the house maybe. The children are really welcoming to us though. There are two babies and our host's brother. He is 14 and really likes us. He shows us gagnam style, kyrgyz version.
First time in Kygryzstan, nobody will kill us. We sleep comfortably but what will happen tomorrow. This is the end of the pathof deadly trinity. We are to stay two month here. There is no further direction. What will we do, what will we do? We have arrived to an intermediary destination, safe and sound but we are lost. I start feeling a little sick.