Arrival in Aktau

After 44 hours on the ferry, during half of which we were stationary due to there being only one rail terminal in port, Alex and I were ready to disembark. Braced with our bikes in hand and helmets on, we started wheeling off as soon as the ferry attached; “not so fast”, they wailed, albeit in a different language but just as clearly…

We needed to wait for customs who like to do their business on board before disembarkation. Patiently (Alex, at least), we sat on the deck for an hour until a group of four Kazakhs arrived and we were ordered to sit in our rooms. They took our passports and tickets and sat in the mess room with them as we fell asleep before handing them back half an hour later. We took it as the signal to leave, grabbed our bags and headed down; “not so fast”, they wailed, albeit in a different language but just as clearly…

Customs was not over, it seemed, and we were forced back into segregation in our rooms. For a ferry carrying 54 train carriages and 6 passengers, one might think they could just let the latter go immediately on landing and deal with the rest later! I sneaked out of our cell hungry (no longer allowed food since our final approach into Aktau) and saw the customs ladies not only chatting and having dinner, but later doing their nails in the comfort of our canteen! At last they decided to leave and staff the next customs post which really was our signal to leave- third time lucky!

After a further hour of pointless faff (I just told the lady all of my bags contained bike equipment to avoid searching) we were out on the other side and fortunately met by our host for the evening, Peter, who could not have rescued our spirits at a much more opportune time! Not only were we getting a lift to his house, waiting for us there were cold beers, spare tires and plenty of food! Along with some cycling pals, Peter treated us to delicious shashlik, drinks and wise riding advice for the months to come over the course of the evening. The pleasure of such a warm reception cannot be stressed enough so thank you so much for welcoming us!

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