Our last day in China started again with an awful breakfast. How come big hotels and a 5 Star to boot (at least self-proclaimed in the lobby because the chicken bones on the carpet in front of my bed spoke of something else) have such disgusting choices available? In the end it didn’t matter because our pick-up was already arranged for 9:30. Sylvia and I would drive today to the Torugart Pass and cross over to Kyrgyzstan. To Babsi we had to say goodbye, leaving her behind to go back top Beijing. The parting was quick and painless and within minutes after breakfast we were sitting in a Jeep with a new guide on the way to the pass.
Thank God for the new guide because the crossing of the border was exhausting and I am not sure Patty could have managed that. I don’t know what’s the problem of the Chinese but they let you wait and wait and wait forever. Meanwhile your passport gets screened at least five times as if each and every one of the officials who had just checked it before might be an idiot and someone else has to look at it again. I didn’t get it, there was no point in detaining everyone for ages and to make it so complicated except that this is apparently standard Chinese regulation.
Also very interesting to know is that you have to be at the actual border crossing before 1pm. After that the border officials take a break until 4pm. In the end it all worked out well and the drive to the border was quite beautiful. Another fun fact, don’t try to change your last YUAN at the border. The exchange rate is ridiculous and if you have no idea what the value of SOM is, you get cheated. But in Kyrgyzstan they don’t change YUAN, so you might want to spend it all before you make the trip to the pass. There is no shop on the way where you could buy something anyway.
Eventually we made it to the border with two minutes to spare and after letting us wait in the car for another ten minutes I became impatient, left the car and all of a sudden we were allowed to pass through the last gate. Chinese logic, there is no reason behind it.
From there it was another couple of kilometers up the mountain. On top of the pass there was still snow and we had to leave the car and cross the border on foot. Sylvia was a bit stressed if our Kyrgyz driver was going to show up. Because up there, there was nothing. Yours, Pollybert