Posted by: TomA | 12 June 2008

Latest Turkmen;stan Visa Shenanigans

We’d planned, and had OK’d by the embassy in London, our route to enter via the port in Turkm3nbashi, drive directly north along the Caspian and into Kazakhstan. Found out today the folks in A5hgabat aren’t so keen on the idea – they’ll only let us leave if we go into Uzbekistan.

Which leaves us with one big visa shaped problem. We leave in 22 days time – not long. So there are two options:

1) Wait for our Azeri visas to come back, apply for the slow Russian service (get it back a few days before we leave the UK), and be committed to getting the ferry from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan, which goes once every 10 or so days. 10 days sat in the car waiting for a ferry would give me plenty of time to do some dissertation reading, and also plenty of time to be driven insane.

2) We stump up the extra £50, on top of the £80 or so it’d cost anyway, and get down to the Russia embassy in London (queuing nice and early, 3 or 4am to ensure we get seen that day) and get the next day service, collecting them the next day. Apply for Uzbek LOIs ($35) and then send off for our Uzbek visas ($60 or so) which I believe takes 10 working days or so. Meaning it’d be rather tight getting them back before we go, possibly requiring another couple of days tour in London queuing at the door of the embassy. And then collect our Turkmen visas from the border when we arrive, adding some nice paperwork and costs to what I anticipate to me a full day of filling out forms and paying fees (I’ve read of people paying “paperwork taxes” – no kidding!).

The route and experience of the second option really appeals – if we’re doing this, we should do it properly and there seems to be far more to see going the Turkmen-Uzbek route. So, by the end of tomorrow we should know how feasible it is, time wise, and then it’ll just be a case of scraping around for the pennies to pay for it.

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