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All At Sea

December 1, 2015 1 Comment

Here we are sitting in a little cabin on a cargo ferry in the middle of the Caspian Sea, after leaving Kazakhstan for the last time a bit after 10pm yesterday!

Let me tell you a bit about the process involved to get us to this point…

One and a half days of racing back and forth to the port from our hotel and to a little locked office near the waterfront in Aktau, and we had the 20 copies of the forms for the cars to be loaded onto the ferry and, finally, our tickets to board and share a four berth cabin.

Thank goodness B & D have a liking for fast food, as they met a delightful young man, named Mark, in Burger King. He was very willing to help and spoke very good English. Without him, who knows where we would have bought tickets to, or even if we could get tickets! The office only seemed to open if you rang the lady and negotiated with her, on her terms! We thought she might be a stern old dragon, but she was lovely and efficient.

We got so many different versions of when the ship was due to depart and when we should arrive at the port to complete the paper process (which would make any red blooded Aussie cringe – so 19th century!) Finally, on Sunday night, we’d done all we could to be ready to go. We celebrated with a nip of vodka for me and a few pivas for the riffraff, before braving the cold to have our last meal in Central Asia.

The alarm went off at 5.30am (it doesn’t get light until 9am). We met outside at 6am and were at the port by 6.20am to be shunted off to a side parking lot and told to wait until the boss came into work at 8.30am, to put the final stamp on the multiple copies of car documents. We got shooed away from there by a military guy as we boiled up the billy to have a coffee in the dark… They all like to have their time at the top!

Sitting in the waiting room, watching truckies come and go all day, we were ready to eat a horse! Someone asked somebody if there was a canteen and we ended up at the staff canteen. As we ate and drank coffee, a security guy walked in, gave us a stern look and immediately walked out again. He came back a few seconds later and said, in a cheery voice, “Bon appetite!” He went outside to use Google translate!

Just after 3.30pm, after playing “toss the coin” in the middle of the waiting room and being shown magic tricks by one of the truck drivers, we were called to the front of the queue to pass immigration, and hand another of the copies of the paperwork over.

Ferry Cabin

Our tiny cabin on the Ferry

We finally drove onto the ferry and our cars looked so little in the hold! Up to our cabin (surely at least 70 years old), to view the shared “facilities” and settle in. There was nothing else to do but have a piva and a vino, meet the captain and the engineers, look over the rails of the deck and sit in our cabin, laughing about the course of events that brought us all to this point!

Boredom is tiring, so we were all snuggled into our bunks by 8.30pm. Two separate bangs on the door to call us to dinner, but we’d snacked in our cabin. Off to sleep, but another insistent banging had Barry crawling off his bunk with me edging off the bunk above him. We could have answered the door with him piggybacking me!

At the door were two militiamen with guns! They announced “Border Control!”, as Alan played possum. Donna panicked as she only had a tee shirt and knickers on and I was taken back to being a 16 years old at school camp. It felt like the teachers’ raid on the boys’ dorm, when a few of us girls had sneaked in!

The military guys only looked about 18 years old, questioning a bunch of over-60s about alcohol! Barry tipped out his and Donna‚Äôs toiletry bags on my bunk, while going off his nut. What did they expect to find in them? They gave up on asking to look in any other bags, with the madman ranting in the middle of the cabin. Thank goodness we’re good drinkers who drink up all their drinks and dispose of the evidence before bedtime!

We were told (we think) that we would be leaving around 3am, but around 10pm, I felt the engines begin to hum and as the Armstrongs punched out a glorious snore harmony, I watched as the lights of Aktau slipped past and I said goodbye to Kazakhstan….

Until next time, happy December to all!

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  1. Kerrie and Brad says:

    Merry Christmas Lynn, Alan, Barry and Donna!! Have really enjoyed reading of your travels including all the mishaps and adventures. Stay safe and continue to entertain us! Look forward to next year and a big slide night!????xxx

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