Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Border Crossing

Friday was a great night out following the opening of new offices by one of our sponsors Kaztroy - reception and rooftop party with the unexpected sight of the Kazakh staff performing the conga round the open air pool - happily none of them fell in and I managed to resist attempts to include me.

My hopes of setting off on Saturday were once again dashed by delays in Astana with the paperwork for the horses. However yesterday we were able to collect it all, duly stamped and signed thanks to Gadik the vet, who has worked very hard to sort everything out. Below are the movers and shakers who made it all happen - l to r - Gadik the Kazakh vet, Rowena, and our long suffering interpreter Alia, who tramped round all the various offices with us.

Then it was out to the stables to load the horses, and away by about 6pm - Bauyrzhan has the knack of riding the uneven Kazakhstan roads and managed to drive halfway to the border before we stopped for the night.

Today we reached the Kazakstan-Russia border. Bauyrzhan and the horses sailed through with no problems, but unfortunately it transpired I did not have the required 5 day registration which is done automatically at the airport if you arrive by plane. Rowena had thought that if I said I was moving around it would be OK, but apparently not, so I spent over an hour sitting in a stuffy office while various officials perused my documents at length and slowly produced and filled in umpteen pieces of paper which I then had to sign, not to mention the £80 fine. Heigh Ho, that is old Soviet countries for you. However, being Kazakhstan, everyone was very friendly and I was soon on my way and setting out across Russia!

I had a beautiful ride on a hot but breezy afternoon through mowed hay fields and along a river bank - below is my first photo on the back of the little 'zhaba' horse - you can just see that his left ear is ear marked so it looks quite torn.

We have crossed back over the pontoon bridge - I was not allowed to ride over, so the horses went in the lorry, and I walked over. We have stopped overnight only about 30kms from Astrakhan.

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