Friday night last week I headed at 2 o’clock in the morning to the railway station, after packing my backpack and having a shower. As I didn’t slept I just wanted to lay on my bed in the train. But…after I got onto it, the conductress provided me the immigration form for Russia, while we were still waiting for departure at the train station of Oskemen. So OK I thought, just fill out this piece of paper. But as it was already quarter past three in the morning, I made two mistakes and just needed to ask the conductress again for a new sheet. I did not yet finished the form while the train manager was approaching me…a little bit nervous. With the help of a piece of paper and some English words, he explained me that I cannot cross the border to Russia in this train between Shemonaikha (Kazakhstan) and Tretyakovo (Russia). Rather I need to get out in Shemonaikha and take a taxi which brings me over the border to Tretyakovo. So…now I had only bad options. Getting out of the train? Possible, then I get my money back. Drive again to Shar – in the middle of nowhere – and have an 11 hour connection overnight, in order to get on the train from Almaty via Semei to Novosibirsk. That would cost me additional 30 hours and maybe a little bit more money. Or taking that kind of taxi. As I was tired and only some seconds for a decision I headed for the later option.
After 3 hours of bad sleep we were arriving in Shemonaikha. For sure I was the only person which got out of the train. While I was almost leaving the fence of the border control zone the Kazakhstan officer stopped me. Now I was surrounded by 3 or 4 officers. But he just explained me, that this border is not open for international persons, you can just cross this border in the train with an passport from Russia or Kazakhstan. He further told me, that he can let me pass, but the Russian border police would not let me in. So, even that would be a bad option. Because then I don’t know what they are doing with me. Sitting in the next train back to Kazakhstan, which will drive in the evening, or just to the nearby border station on the road…also in Kazakhstan. Or even worst case, in a plane back to Germany?!? So I decided not to take this option. Now I also understood finally why the first women the day before didn’t want to sell me a ticket for this train. I mean as it was operating by RZD I could have also bought easily an eTicket, but I wasn’t sure at all, if they let me on the train just with an eTicket. So finally the train manager even called for me a taxi, because I guess that in this small city no standard Taxi app would work. After waiting 20 min the taxi came and we started our interesting journey. To getting just to the border was done in 20 min I guess. But then we had to wait at the Kazakhstan site, and when I entered the building for passport control without my driver I was rejected. So I even understood that crossing that border by foot is also not possible. But leaving Kazakhstan was easy. Then we approached the Russian border. Here I guess I was again the only person with anusual passport. The young border officer spoke a little bit English so I could answer the questions of him. Nevertheless, he needed to check something with my passport and got in a back office. After a couple of minutes I got my stamps and the security officer was already waiting at the car to inspect my backpack. I opened it, he wanted to know where I go and if I have weapons or drugs with me. Then we finally crossed the border and after 5 min drive we were already at the train station. Nevertheless, I guess the whole drive including border controls took a little bit more than 1.5 hours. The train already arrived in Tretyakovo, but I was not yet allowed to enter it. After waiting until the border control was finished on the train, I could enter it again. For sure I was the only person who entered the train at this station. I was happy and my conductress welcomed me with a smile.
Now I could finally have my breakfast and at the next station with a longer break I got even a coffee. The landscape until Barnaul was mainly flat without any trees. In Barnaul we had a almost 1.5 hour break, which I used for a walk and buy some food. After we crossed the Ob in Barnaul the sibirian forest begun. In Novosibirsk my host Julia welcomed me at the railway station.