Aggregated from 5 sentence/5 facts texts of all of us. Put together and translated by me. Prepare for a long reading (sorry)
In the afternoon of 2009.07.14 we arrived at a small village just before Chinese border. Kazakh border guards stepped in to check our passports, but I don’t remember if they checked the baggage. Our carriage was the last one to be checked, so the border guards stepped out and said that we can step out also to walk around the village while the wheels of the train are changed. Everita and MārtiņšK were the only ones to get out – the doors closed just before the rest of us, and the train started to move backwards. We thought it would stop in some seconds, but in fact it moved for some minutes till a place with lots of wheels and rails and trains. We got a message from MārtiņšK – “Bļ.., kur aizbraucāt” (“Fck, where did you go to”) – we didn’t know ourselves :D.
We had nothing to do, so we started to watch a movie on the laptop. Time after time the train moved – it seemed that the wheels were changed for one carriage at a time. Although they moved the whole carriage up at least 1m, the wheel changing procedure was very unnoticeable – only Emīls saw some moment that we were higher above the ground than we used to be, but sadly didn’t bother to tell the others – we would like to see it too. Unfortunately, they didn’t have electricity in the train at this time, and the battery of the laptop ran out in half an hour, so we couldn’t watch the movie till the end.
While we stayed in the train, MārtiņšK and Everita were wandering around the village. The air there was dryer than cookies of sweetcrust pastry and temperature above 30C. The village was located in the middle of nowhere, cows were walking down the streets and abandoned houses were intensively torn down .
Some time after leaving the village behind, we reached the Chinese border.
We were checked very seriously here.
The first team that visited us were medicals. They came in the kupe and aimed with a weapon-like object to our foreheads without saying a word. The object luckily appeared to be an infrared thermometer. It seems that China is only country which takes pig, bird and other flues for real. When they checked Anders’s temperature, it was apparently a bit higher than normal and they had to check it again with a regular thermometer. Who knows, what would have happened if he really have had a fever.
The second team was the food control. First they visited girls’ kupe, from which girls shouted the boys to eat the carrots. They were thinking “wtf?”. Only later they understood that every vegetable and fruit will be taken from them. This way we lost our carrots and cucumber, but we managed to save the tomatoes in our stomachs :). There was also a funny discussion:
Chinese official: – мясо есть? (Do you have meat?)
MārtiņšM: – нет. (No.)
The official carefully checks all the bags and sacks. Prepared to leave, but notices that there is another sack on the upper berth. He takes out a loaf of bread from it, all covered with flown-out melted cheese, and gives to MārtiņšK to hold it while taking out the second loaf, which is also broken apart. After that he takes out a sausage.
Chinese official:- а ето что такое? (And what is this?)
MārtiņšM: – hm.. , колбаса. (sausage.)
Chinese official (angrily):- колбаса ета же есть мясо! (Sausage is meat after all!)
… turns around and leaves taking the sausage with him.
Now we know that we should have hide the sausages in the trash bin, because they didn’t check it. And even if they had checked – we had thrown them away ourselves. However they didn’t take away our canned meat – maybe because we told them that those are “konservi” (preserves), not some meat. Anyway it seems that you cannot take anything fresh or any meat into China.
Long time after leaving border I found our Kazakh melon somewhere under blankets and sheets in the upper (over-corridor) section of kupe. Great success!
After we had put back all the things taken out with 2nd officials’ team, new team – border guards – appeared and asked to take everything out one more time. We took out the sacks of our bags and tried to tell in English what’s in there, but it doesn’t seem that the border guard understood a word, although he nid-nod. We think that he was just pleased with fulfillment of his duties. He also skimmed through Kristīne’s book in English and nodded wisely. Her tri-pod seemed very interesting. She had to put the camera on, and only then he understood, what is it meant for. They went away with Kristīne’s DVD movie – maybe to watch it?? Fortunately, they returned it later.
MārtiņšM had to show them Agnese’s star maps from his e-book and gadget party in boys’ kupe began. They played with MārtiņšK’s magnetic toy Neo cube, one border guard (quite pretty ) checked the photos in the cameras and cellphones. MārtiņšK said that there’s nothing interesting in his, but she answered “it’s my job”. Most of MārtiņšK’s pictures had “drunk and asleep friends, laden with things” on them. For one of them she asked, what is this. MārtiņšK replied – “I don’t remember…”. In the last pictures she checked, there was a kitty which she liked . It was great that she stopped there as the further pictures depicted MārtiņšK’s fraternity friends with rapiers – not good to show pictures of any weapons to border guards, is it?
They also checked Anders’s book in English and didn’t like something in it so Anders had to tell them, what’s written in it. Fortunately they didn’t find MārtiņšM’s laptop.
After a while, suddenly everyone left. In a moment one of them returned and searched for something, but didn’t find. We hoped that we would get some souvenir, e.g. a torch, but we didn’t find anything ourselves also.
Overall, it seemed that our group had created a little stress to both train attendants and Chinese border-guards, but everything was alright in the end. Only some 2 persons of them spoke English or Russian. Mostly we used sign language and were translating over a chain – Anders spoke in English, MārtiņšM translated to Russian and Chinese border-guard lady translated from Russian to Chinese to her colleagues. The same chain to the opposite direction. Together with wheel changing we spent several hours at the border posts, something like 6 hours or even more. It was dark outside when we started to move further.
Got over the border, we chatted and joked till 5am although had to get up at 7am.