We knew before we arrived that the biggest hazard on Kazakhstani roads wasn’t in fact going to be the car sized potholes. Indeed, the reputation of the nations' Rozzers was fierce.

As Joe mentioned in his last blog, our 350km drive from the border into Almaty lulled us into a false sense of calm to the prevailing situation. We copped our first fine, as Joe explains, for accidentally continuing from a two way traffic system into a one way traffic system – ahem, the wrong way – into the waiting path of a cop. An honest mistake that nearly cost us $150 (cudos to Joe for getting them down to about half that).

To be fair, we’ve been told by the locals that the police will only pull you over if you’re doing something wrong. But in a country where the signs are either in cyrillic or non-existent, deciphering the true meaning of wrong is turning out to be a bit of a minefield for us so far.

The problem, we’ve come to realise over the last few days, is not the questionable integrity of the rozzers (Joe’s learnt this from negotiating cash sums under a folder in the back of their cars as a means of retrieving his licence) It’s the fact that they make up about 90% of the population. They are everywhere. I thought Kazakhstan was meant to be the land of empty steppe? Every drive thus far has been made even more challenging by having to scour the landscape on the lookout of fine-hungry cops. There's no first time warning either. The fine is the warning. Next time gulag. Now empty your wallet and get out of my face.

We had a big drive on Tuesday – about 700km from Almaty through Taraz to Aksu Zhabagly Nature Reserve near Shymkent. We left at 6am (unbelievable) and as the sun rose into daylight, Joe switched off the headlights. Immediately we were pulled over and fined a further 2000T (he got them down from 7000T) for driving without our headlights on (in daylight). We passed through about 12 police checkpoints at every other village we drove through, and were only stopped once by the migration police demanding to see our documents. I made small talk whilst Joe found the laminated colour photocopies I made of our passports (I know, complete spotter) as well as the copies of our migration cards and visas. There was no way I was handing over my real passport to this guy. In broken English he demanded the originals, whilst we stood staring at each other, wilfully misunderstanding him. Eventually he got bored and waved us on. Yes!

We weren’t so lucky a few days later on our way out of Turkistan. At a confusing intersection with a roundabout way off to the right, we nearly went the wrong way, corrected, and then were pulled over by an unmarked car. The rozzer in uniform got out and was particularly angry, whilst his beer-bellied driver watched on as he tried to take us for everything we had. Joe had only a 10,000T note, and I had only a 5,000T note. He tried to take both ($100!!) but we protested (actually begged is more fitting) and he walked off angrily with the 5000T. Two lessons to be learned - firstly, if you f&*k up, you will get caught, and secondly, carry only a travellers wallet of 2000T or less.

We’ve been doing better since then – a new tactic at checkpoints has been to baffle them with questions such as ‘where is the hotel?’ before they've decided what to do with you. This worked a treat in Aralsk (but only works in situations where you havent actually broken the law).

We’ve headed west into the empty steppe since then, and our police woes are getting far and fewer apart. Let’s hope we’ve learned all our lessons now...