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I Accidentally Crossed the Border into Kyrgyzstan

Updated on July 5, 2017

Hiking in Kazakhstan

I have lived in Kazakhstan for most of my life, so one day I decided to go hiking through some of the mountains near Almaty. I started my hike near Lake Almaty which is where majority of the city gets its water supply from. Due to this reason, the area already had a high military presence. Although I did not think much about it because that is a pretty normal day in Kazakhstan. I also neglected the fact that there were many refugees trying to cross borders illegally, which probably should have prevented me from going on this hike to start with. Anyways, I was unaware of majority of these issues and continued on my hike. The trail started with paved roads with occasional military vehicles driving by. It was late March, therefore the lake was still pretty frozen and the mountains were still covered in snow, which made for a breathtaking view.

Reaching the Summit

I had heard there was a facility at the top of the summit to see the view of the cities around me. We hiked rather confidently towards the facility that we thought we were able to go to. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man walking towards us, I didn't think much of it until I heard him yelling Russian at us. Instinctively I stopped walking and put my hands up. The man who was yelling at us had a gun pointed at us and there were four other men behind him with guns in hand. I remember my mouth dropping and any strings of Russian I had learnt flew out of my head. Luckily I think they understood we were not a threat. I did regonize one weird they kept yelling at us repetitively, "passport". So I handed him my passport and he walked away. After a moment I realized he may never come back with my passport. Meanwhile, there were still multiple guns being pointed at us. All we did was wait, with our hands in the air. It felt like hours went by until he returned with my passport, and motioned towards the road leading down the mountains. We grabbed our passports and walked away as fast as we could.

What Did I learn?

1. Maybe don't hike along the border during the refugee crisis

2. When you see military don't keep walking towards them

3. The most important this is no one got hurt, but I will remember this one for awhile.


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