Still at the border

It's 7am and SOOO cold. No sign of any border guards. The border finally opened at 9am. I went to a little box with the V5 form. Long wait to get a stamp on a small sheet of paper. You're supposed to get it stamped if you have been in the Altai region for longer than three working days - which we were. The man in the office pointed at the blank space where the stamp wasn't. I did the international dance for 'No Hotel. No stay. Just drive. Hello. Have been at the border since Saturday."

10am and a big bus drove past and went straight in. No sign of any cars being let through yet.

Finally... Finally... Finally we got through to the Mongolian Border and confusion reigned supreme.

Russian Border

Sixteen hours to wait at the Russian / Mongolian border. Lots of kids holding out their hands for stuff. Understandable perhaps but there's no gratitude and they just hold out their hands for more and more stuff and try open your car door to get more.

Occasionally people drive up to the border and put their arms through the barbed wire and have a photo taken. Not sure why. Perhaps it's their 'Look at me, i'm in Mongolia' picture - even though they're not, they're just in a part of the Russian border.

Russia to Kazakhstan

We woke up in yet another field.  A lot of driving lay ahead with another push for yet another border.  The Russian/Kazakhstan.  We'd driven 3,548 miles since home and that was more-than-likely not even half way to our destination.  We were hoping for a quick border crossing but this wasn't to be.

The Russian/Kazakhstan border was undoubtedly the most miserable experience of the trip.  The guard had obviously been given something nice as a bribe by a previous team and kept pointing through the window into the back of the car saying "Gift!".  We needed everything we had and didn't have anything to give away as a gift.  He gave me a phone and said "Speak!".  I listened.  The phone was dead.  Was this some sort of crazy mind game?  My tired mind couldn't fathom out what was going on.  I held the phone to my ear and pretended to speak for a bit.  I gave the phone back and the guard went back to this "Gift!" spiel pushing his face right into mine.  I rummaged through the car and found a tin of mints with "Grumpy Git Mints" written on it.  Seemed suitable. "Valuable mints." I said and pushed them at him.  He waved us through.  Trust me as you read this that encounter lasted for a great deal longer than you're probably thinking.  Words cannot describe what a properly miserable experience the Kazakhstan border.

F**k the Kazakhstan border guards.