Stops: i give up, don't know how to spell any of these towns
Playlists: Black Keys, Assorted pop, Pool Party
Not long after the pullover, we saw a sign for an upcoming police station. With heavy sighs, we slowed down again to well below speed limit (not that we were ever speeding to begin with).
Just past the station was a bridge over a river. We pulled off and parked under the bridge. It was 40 degrees: we needed a swim and the watermelon was calling our name from the trunk. That watermelon though, best watermelon ever! We did some laundry, bathed, and ate way too much watermelon.
We got back on the road and drove on, but not for long. Within half an hour, there was a police check point, and of course, most cars got to keep going while we were pulled over. Justin was fuming at this point because we were definitely going 25 in the 40 zone and I was complaining that we were barely crawling (turns our speedometer is wrong, so anytime we think we're going a speed, we've actually been going 10km/h less. So really, we were going 15 in a 40.
We pulled over, and the cop told us to go into the booth with our documents without looking at us. I kept asking what the problem was and after ignoring me a few times he said as long as we have insurance, no problem. It's just a registration protocol.
4 days into Kazakhstan, NOW they want to register us?
We go in and he asked us for our car ownership. Omg, we couldn't find it in our documents sleeve. So we jumped to the conclusion that the other cop never gave it back and scammed us in the long run.
While justin was panicking and ripping apart the car, I found it folded up inside our passports in my purse. Crisis averted. We even did a document check when we had gotten back in our car last time, so this was just dumb on our part.
He registered our car and our license, all by hand on a piece of paper, I might add. We thought we were good to go, but he started asking us all sorts of questions about life in Canada: salaries, cost of living, is it better/more prestigious to have a house or an apartment? Etc.
The other cop walked in and asked why all the English speaking people are going to Mongolia? Clearly we weren't the first, and clearly it's the foreigners who all get pulled over.
We kept driving until we blew a tire and spent an hour on the road trying to repair the old tire. The one justin hammered back into place the other day also had a nail in it. So he filled it up with the foam sealant and hoped it would get us to the next town so we didn't have to pull our other spare from under the car. At first, it was questionable and was leaking but then it seemed to hold.
We made it into town around 7:40pm and although we had an hour of light, we decided to stay so we can hit the tire place in the morning. After not finding a decent road to the river, we went back to the truck stop. The guy took a fee for parking over night, we grabbed some pretty good dinner, and while Justin was working on getting the other spare out for future convenience, I was the centre attention with our story. Everyone wanted to know wtf we were doing going to Mongolia and were fascinated by our story.
The security guy who took the fee, returned the money and insisted breakfast was on the house. They were all invested in our route and where to go. They all kept insisting there are no bandits in Kazakhstan and that we're safe. Especially tonight.
It was by far the soundest sleep I've gotten since this trip started. We fixed up the bed last night so I was laying almost flat, and I had my ear plugs in knowing I'm safe and don't have to listen to any movement. I slept SO well, in fact, that when I woke up, I didn't know where I was. I actually thought I was in my bed at home.
We were awoken by a tap on the window inviting us in for breakfast and that it was all taken care of.
What we've learned about Kazakhs: they really are hospitable (except for cops). And you really can knock on any one's door and they'll invite you in. We had people drive from one store to another to meet us there to help us out or walk us through things. A trucker came over with a handful of apples, one offered to buy anything from us (not that we had anything worth selling).
We're definitely taking away a lot of life lessons on this trip, good and bad.