Posted by: TomA | 27 May 2008

Latest on visas

It has been a week since Ollie and I received our Kazakh visas (Mike and Gemma are applying today, as Gemma has just returned from the USA). Yet I’m feeling the frustration at not having really progressed anywhere. There are 2 visas we definitely require (Russia and Azerbaijan), both need Letters of Invitation. This in turn requires agreeing on dates and routes, submitting these to get the LOI (plus a decent wad of $) and waiting for these documents before we can apply for the visas themselves. Fair enough, not too complicated.

However, with the Baku – Aqtau ferry only every 7-10 days, I don’t want to be sat in the ferry terminal in Azerbaijan waiting for it. Especially if our visas expire during that time, I suspect we could get into big trouble. So its looking more and more like going via T’stan. To do so, we need visas for the countries of entry and exit, of which we only have one (assuming, as the nice chap at their consulate assured me this morning, that we can indeed head directly north from Turkm3nbashi into Kazakhstan; helping avoiding the lengthy process of getting an Uzbek visa). This process has been fraught, having been organised through Charity Rallies, and needs to be sent off ASAP. Which we can’t, until the LOI for Azerbaijan comes back, that visa goes off, we wait, hope all is in order, get it back, etc etc etc.

I feel like I’m chasing my tail to some extent.

Having said that, breakthroughs were made today re: our Russia LOIs, which were also proving troublesome. Problems were arising as we intended to drive into the country, unsure (having already travelled some 8,000 miles) exactly when we’d arrive. No one I’d contacted had been able to provide a LOI for us, unless we booked into a hotel EVERY night. As I’d been hoping to have a visa for 2 weeks or so, allowing us to enter and exit at any time within that time frame, booking hotels didn’t seem a good option. Its not cheap either for the rather short stint we’ll have in Russia – we’re looking at £90 for the 2-3 days we plan to spend there.

All the while, I’m fully aware its only 38 days until we leave for Mongolia, we’ve potentially 4 visas to acquire, the vehicle is not yet confirmed as ours, I’ve not yet started my vaccinations, sponsorship money is very slowly trickling in AND I’ve got to make a start on my Masters dissertation. 19,000 words due by September; 3,000 of those in a fortnight and I STILL don’t know what I’m doing it on. Something tells me the next 3 months could prove to be something of a challenge….

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