Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Post by Chuvash »

Hi All,

Crossed at Irkeshtam about a week ago Kyrgyzstan => Kashgar. I'm leaving my experience here so that other travelers get a smoother crossing than I did

The Kyrgyz side was largely uneventful we left Osh early in a private car and got to the border before lunch. Everyone was very nice we got driven by our tour agent all the way to the physical line.

I won't bore you with the details but essentially things went south when we got to the first actual check point (a few miles from the border). The two guys searching my bags ticked at my camera gear (I have a dslr with 4 lenses) and as they were looking through the 10k+ pictures on my iPad (yes they went through all of them) they found a meme about how huawei phones don't have the image resolution to see crowds in HK, which I had forgotten to delete beforehands and that escalated the whole thing

The officers then grilled me for about 2 hours, asking increasingly silly questions (to the point that they wanted to told me the height on my passport was wrong). At around 7pm we were told we would have to spend the night at the border because the actual border post in Wuqia (90 miles inland) was already closed. I don't think they thought this through since there is no hotel at the border where foreigners are allowed to stay. We ended up spending the night in the truck cabin with Kyrgyz truck drivers.

Next morning we were put on a taxi shortly after 10am heading towards the actual processing center in Wuqia. We got there 5' after the start of lunch break so we had to wait another 3 hours and when it finally reopened I was approached by an officer in casual clothing who asked me to follow him. He took me to a room in the back of the center where another guy in t-shirt, his boss, was waiting. The room looked just like the interrogation rooms you see in spy movies, with terribly gloomy lights and a video camera recording.

I assume the two guys where from the secret police given their outfit and they had probably been flown in from Kashgar/Urumqi, hence explaining the overnight at the border. I was grilled for another 2 hours or so, they went through my bags very thoroughly and through my pictures again.

I think they were trying to figure out whether I was a journalist/NGO worker, but what surprised me is that they seemed more interested in my intentions towards HK as opposed to XinJiang. After 2 hours, the more senior of the two decided to let me go and they were prompt in thanking me for my cooperation etc. I'd like to point out that everyone was respectful and professional. At no point was I threatened or made uncomfortable.

The rest of the crossing was uneventful but in total we stayed at the border for over 26 hours.

Looking back on it it's definitely going to be a great cocktail story, but I'd say a few things could have made the whole crossing a lot easier:
1. Reformat your phone: I would just do a cloud backup of your phone before the crossing and have no more than a few undread pics on your phone so going through the pics can be done quickly
2. Really check you don't have anything controversial on your phone: 1 meme got me in trouble, delete any picture with muslim/jews on it (I had a picture inside a synagogue and had to explain the difference between jews and muslim)
3. Don't change passport at the border to the extent possible: I have two passports from the same country and they'd never seen that before; I'm sure it looked suspicious
4. Have as much of a booked itinerary as possible: I had booked all of my hotels/flights ahead of time and it really helped convince them
5. If you can afford it, prefer high-end hotels especially in XinJiang: They got comfortable with the fact that I paid for my camera gear myself because I was staying at the Radisson in Kashgar and other branded hotels in China
6. Have your business card to prove your occupation

Hope that helps,
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Post by Milene »

On the 19th of September 2019 we crossed the border from Kashgar to Osh.
We wanted to take a taxi who will bring us to Wuqia. So we went to the train station, but actually taxis for outside of kashgar you should take from the bus station. The taxi should costs around 200 RMB. Eventually everything went wrong and finally we decided to take the bus to Wuqia. The bus is a minivan which costs around 24 RMB and another 10 to the driver which drops you at the migration office. The bus takes around 1,5 hours and there is only 1 passport control along the way. We arrived around 12.20 at the border control. There is a small car which drops you at the official control post. At the time we entered we where the only ones. We have spend around 1 hour with answering questions of what we did in China where we traveled to etc. At 13.30 the control post closes and we where finished. There are people asking and bringing you by taxi to the Kyrgyzstan border for 400 RMB, per ride. But we where very lucky and could go with other Chinese people by bus from the border at Wuqia all the way to Osh. This was 300 rmb per person and we arrived at 9 pm Kyrgyz time in Osh. Since we speak a little Chinese this helped us a lot and the main officer at the passport control helped us with taking this big bus. Which was great! It saved us a huge amount of money and transferring cars. At the border of Kyrgyzstan there are taxi's standing which can take you for 100 USD to Osh.
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Post by sardinha »

Hey! This border crossing didn't go perfectly for me so here's how I stumbled through it 😅 did it on the 7th of October.

I left my hostel in Kashgar at around 8. Got to the bus station and went to the counter where they sold me a ticket for a minibus to Wuqia for 23 yuan. The minibus got delayed cause the driver wouldn't leave until it was full (classic) so it ended up only leaving at 11. Paid him an extra 20 yuan for him to leave me at the border, as everyone else was heading to Wuqia proper. Got dropped off at the border at around 13. The guards at the checkpoint right before the border itself were lovely and told me that at that hour it would be hard to find transportation so I'd better cross in the afternoon. Alright, I went out for some lunch and then came around at about 15 as I was sick of waiting in the restaurant. They were really really cool, pulled me up a chair and gave me some fruit and chatted with me as I waited. Eventually got through to the border at around 16.

At the border itself the guards were also very nice! I was literally the only person in the whole complex sooooo they kept telling me the taxi would probably be quite expensive... They asked me a few questions about where I'd been in China but they weren't very thorough or even formal about it (I'd been in China for five months). Asked me if I'd been to Myanmar twice (I've never set foot in Myanmar??). Anyway. Eventually this other man showed up, an Uyghur Chinese. We couldn't wait any longer if we wanted to do the border crossing on time. The standard price for the shared taxi from the Chinese border to the Kyrgyz one is 400 yuan, so it would be 100 yuan each of you're four. The Uyghur guy who was with me managed to negotiate it down to 170 for each of us, but the driver refused to take any less. They didn't ask me to open my bags or anything at the border. The guy drove us to the Kyrgyz checkpoint and we started walking. It's about a 3km walk down to the border proper but we went through a checkpoint where the guards started giving the Uyghur guy a lot of problems. They decided to call me a taxi and keep the Uyghur guy waiting in the cold at the checkpoint. He managed to talk to them and get them to let him go to the border but the guard had to come with us and wouldn't let us walk so we had to take the taxi (20y). Kyrgyz border control was really easy (for me). The guy from the immigration control helped me get transportation from there. I didn't want to pay whatever he was asking to get me to Osh. Finally got the message through (it was really a lot of money about 60EUR) and he brought me to Sary Tash for 100 yuan. Then from there he said he had some friends that were going to Osh to make a delivery. They took me to Osh for 500 som! Got there at about 1 am. Can't recommend this border honestly, it isn't worth the pain in the ass and it can get quite expensive if you're solo and travelling in low season.
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