“You have been denied exit”
I was stuck on the border looking out into the area of no man’s land stretching out over the large Irkestham mountain pass, over 3000 metres above sea level standing between China and Kyrgyzstan. But right now I was faced with Chinese bureaucracy standing between me and the way into Kyrgyzstan. His name was Abraham.
“Sorry Hannah, but we cannot let you cross this border without a proper tourist bus.” Abraham looked apologetic when he delivered the decision.
The tourist bus had been out of my budget upon researching how to cross and I was not expecting this situation to arise. After telling the security of my poor pathetic backpacker situation, they still didn’t budge, but instead cancelled the exit stamp they had already issued me and kept me at the border overnight. They organised a bed for $4AUD in a dingy little hotel, that I’m sure had other uses for their rooms and kept a close eye on me, holding my passport in case “I got any ideas.”
Just as border towns usually are, this place had a weird atmosphere. Whilst walking round the streets I managed to attract a small friend who was just as tall as my belly button and with an English vocabulary of the words “Ok”, “beer” and “vvveeerrryyy good!” (still more than my Chinese vocabulary), but with the biggest smile and enthusiasm to have come across this lost foreigner.
After walking a few more blocks, I managed to collect a couple of English students and then after turning the corner another character joined my bizarre entourage, an older man with three teeth, apparently a love for alcohol and a huge dislike for my first follower. As if I wasn’t attracting enough attention already the two started fighting on the street, which then attracted the attention of the police. A good time to return to the dingy hotel room. Enough excitement for this town, I was ready to leave.
Round two. The next day I went to the border crossing a second time to try and finally leave China behind and see the beautiful views of the Irkeshtam pass. Despite promising to let me across smoothly there was a lot of deliberating on the transport mode across the pass telling me that a Japanese girl had recently been hospitalized due to the bad conditions of the road.
Finally after two hours an agreement was made. I had to sign a document, finger print it and then I would be put onto a truck to hitch hike across the border.
“I, Hannah Sutton, am responsible for everything that happens on the crossing into Kyrgyzstan and it is of no responsibility of the Chinese border officials, who were helpful and professional on the border crossing.” Signed. Fingerprinted.
With a nice new exit stamp from China I bid farewell, excited to see Kyrgyzstan and to leave the little quirky border town behind.