Ruth says: This was certainly an experience and a half. We had a 6 hour journey from Almaty to Bishkek involving taxis and buses and taxis again. We picked up a taxi in Almaty sharing it with the two boys on the right. The taxi driver is sitting next to Bob. After some very hair-raising driving through the city and then a long drive through desert steppes we stopped at this little road side cafe for meat dumplings and tea. The occupants of the taxi spoke maximum of about 5 words of English but we managed to find out that one of the guys was a chef and the other was connected to houses in some way.
Just before we reached the border one of the guys in the taxi got out his passport and slipped some money inside it, before folding some more up really small to fit into the palm of his hand. Bribes at the ready he showed us what he had done, which didn't really settle my nerves for what was to come. It turns out that he needed the bribes because for some reason he didn't go through customs, and it turned out we didn't need any, thankfully. It was still a pretty scary experience waiting whilst the border guards scrutinised your papers, and the hoards of people trying to get both ways was just unbelievable. On top of all this, the car with the driver and the bribe holding boy, and our backpacks had passed through to the other side and had completely dissapeared in the crowd.
We did finally make it through only to discover that the taxi driver wanted to go in another direction to go shopping with the boys, so put us on a bus instead. Not quite what we had planned but we made it.