Today STORM had an early start at 05:10. The Chinese border has a reputation of being relatively slow, so because the expected time for the Kazakhstan-China border crossing was significant we got up early to meet the rising sun. We arrived at the first Kazakh border checkpoint at around 11:00, unfortunately the Kazakhs weren't eager to let us go.
The registered drivers were required to have their papers checked by several different officials (who seemingly all did the exact same thing) to get a card full of stamps. After a few hours and a dozen or so stamps, we proceeded to the vehicle inspection where every box had to be opened and inspected by two border crossing officials separately. But since we don't have anything illegal with us we were allowed to pass, yayyy.
Then we crossed the biggest no-man's-land in the history of the STORM world tour and ended up at the Chinese border were we waited until the whole team had passed the Kazakh border. At the Chinese border we had to carry all the boxes from the vans to the x-ray machine and back, but with 24 people that went faster than expected. The whole ordeal was a slight inconvenience but nothing compared to the multi-day waiting event we had mentally prepared ourselves for. Again the general lack of illegal stuff allowed us to pass to border, and before we knew it we had arrived in glorious China.
The short drive from the border to our hotel introduced us to the Tao of Chinese traffic. the roads are of the highest quality we've seen in a while, unfortunately many drivers seem to lack the crucial skill of anticipation which they try to compensate for by honking a lot.
Arriving at the hotel we all had to go through security (apparently this region has heightened security due to political tensions) after which we were divided in pairs and assigned 2-person rooms with nice big soft beds. Once more the drivers were split off from the group, this time to get started on the process of getting our vehicles officially registered for the Chinese road. While they were gone the rest of the group enjoyed a short nap to make up for the early morning.
When the drivers returned we walked through light rain to a local restaurant to enjoy authentic Chinese dinner starting with a skewer of grilled meat followed by delicious thick noodles with meat and vegetables. While waiting for the food to arrive we had time for another important event: Yoricks birthday. Because Yorick was so heavily involved in the process of crossing the border he had requested to postpone the celebration until we were all save and sound in China. With cake and song we celebrated another successful revolution around the sun for Yorick.