Success: no bed bugs!
We got on the road all day in the middle of (sorry) buttf*ck nowhere with *NOTHING* to see and most of the day was nothing worth writing about except for 2 incidents, one which was our first police bribe:
So we were driving along, and as per eerie usual on this trip, my spidey senses kicked in and I got a weird feeling. "Justin, is all the money in your wallet?" Yes. So we left one bill (2000, which is equivalent to 6-7CAD) in there and hid the rest.
We heard from other teams about the corrupt cops here and how they set up speed traps. They'll set up a 70 and a 40 zone within less than 10m of each other and if you're going even 1km over when you hit the sign, they pull you over. MANY teams confirmed this and some of them got screwed out of hundreds because the cops will just take whatever is in your wallet. But this was all on the Eastern side of Kazakhstan. This is all yet to come and we haven't seen a single cop car on the road since we've entered the country.
We were driving no faster than speed limit when we saw a cop car in the oncoming lane. He flashed his lights, slowed down, and started doing a U-turn. The truck in front of us slowed down, so we followed suit. We started discussing whether that was at us or at the truck but both of us start pulling over onto the shoulder until the cop pulled off the road behind us so the truck carried on.
The two of us were all "crap crap crap, here we go". The cop never got out of his car but motioned for me to get out. I double checked he meant me, not Justin. Yup. So I got out and did the walk of shame over - he motioned at his passenger seat. I walked over and went to lean over the window but he said to get in. I was not comfortable getting in the car, but I did so leaving the door wide open. Last thing we needed was for him to take off and Justin not knowing a word of Russian trying to find me. I didn't have anything on me either, no ID, no money, no phone.
He insisted I closed the door. My heart sank, but I followed my instructions. This is where I started debating fast whether I play dumb or show that I spoke Russian. We had agreed from the beginning that we never let on with cops - playing dumb is easier since they get annoyed and just let you go.
I didn't have a chance to decide yet when he started playing back his dashcam showing Justin driving with his lights off. Crap. It was a legit pullover and he had proof; the Russian was definitely coming out.
He pulled out a form and asked me to go get my passport. I got out of the car and went to get it and quickly filled justin in as I did so. Facepalm. He is NOT liking me in the car with the door closed.
I got back in the car trying to leave the door open again, no go. Meanwhile, he had pulled out the rule book and underlined "you must always have running lights on" and went on and on about it. I was shaking to the core because I'm pathetic and am not good with getting in trouble no matter how badass you all think I am.
He flipped through my passport and said he was going to have to fill out the "protocol" form. All my information will be in the system and he kept emphasizing this.
He asked me for my license. I told him I only had my Canadian licence but planted the seed of our sob story and said the international one was stolen along with everything which, of course, peaked his interest and I told him the rest.
No sympathy points. Without skipping a beat when I was done he told me to go get it. Came back to the car where Justin was still in the dark and not liking that it was me dealing with the whole thing.
I got back in the car with the license, he took it, put it on the dashboard and picked up the pen about to start filling out the form. I asked if we were getting a fine, he said of course. Not knowing if a legit pullover would respond to a bribe and without wanting to offend him if it didn't, I swore, and mumbled that I didn't know how we'd pay it since we didn't have anything except cigarettes. I don't remember how I phrased it, but it was in a very open ended way that could've been just a statement but also an offer if he chose to take it that way. He replied saying he didn't smoke. Score, we were in.
I stood my ground and said we really don't have anything, we were robbed of everything. So he picked up my card and his pen again and said "well then, I will keep your ID and you can pick it up from a bank when you pay your fine".
Come to think of it, that doesn't even make sense. Ugh. But still, it was on camera and it was a legit mistake on our part.
I repeated again that we legitimately didn't have anything and that I don't know what to tell him. He looked at our car and asked if our dashcam worked. I'll be damned if we lose any more of our footage of this trip so I said yes but that we needed it for when we entered Russia for accidents and insurance purposes. He shrugged and went to start writing so I told him to hold on, put on my contemplating face, and asked if I can go ask my husband what we have. He waved me off.
I walked over to Justin's side of the car, filled him in. While he was rummaging around, I asked for his wallet and made a show of opening it making sure the cop could see from his seat and "looked" through its pockets while being all "is this seriously all we have?!" and fidgeted with the bill. I made Justin check his pockets where he found more change and a few bills. I took the change and said to hide the bills (they were 500, but still, that's $2 more than this guy deserved).
I grabbed it and walked back all defeated. I apologized saying this was all we have and showing him the one hand with a few coins and the one bill. He tsk'ed and said he'll have to write me up. So I pushed forward the police report I also grabbed just now. I reiterated that we honestly don't have anything and I don't know how we'd pay the fine and here's the proof that we got robbed. He read the letter and I could see him really contemplating the situation.
He sighed heavily and asked me again if this all we have. I said yes. He said fine. Since this was "ot doushy" (from the soul), he'll let it go this time. He handed back my card, passport, police report, and leaned over to grab the bill. I pushed the coins at him but he rejected those: picky bastard.
I took my stuff, thanked him (?), and got back in our car. Justin idled doing "stuff" to let the cop ahead but he just didn't budge. So we went ahead and drove by all the rules for a while until we figured he must've done a U-turn again or just fell far enough back.
We were on a high and I was still trembling. This trip is really putting my Russian to a test.