A Travellerspoint blog

Ready... Set....

By Johan

Only a couple of days till we take off. Bags half packed and getting pretty excited about it all now. Still working on the last visa after the Russians decided not to issue us with a Russian Visa because we had paid too much. So rather than give us a cheque for the difference, they returned the full amount and no visa... go figure. So we decided to change the trip around and avoid Russia. That meant back to the Chinese embassy in Auckland to get a double entry to China. So hopefully we are all set to go once we pick up the final visa tomorrow :)

So there we are, ready, set and about to head off - last day of work tomorrow - for (quite) a while anyway.

Posted by Vendrig 04:14 Comments (0)

The painful process of getting a visa


You know, when you do something and you think "now that was money well spent..." .? Now I don't feel like that at all, about paying for a visa to enter a country. It's like an invisible tax they can hit you with or else you will not be granted permission to enter...
Seems like money for jam to me! There's a lot of talk as to some countries wanting to abolish the need for it eg Kyrgystan has 30 days free - most have not! To be honest why would they? Although it is off putting to a tourist, to fork out a lot of dosh for a stamp in your passport!
I spent heaps of time on the Internet, researching the how and why, working out a logical timeline for applying. So far this is what we have - and yes add up that cost - Ouch!

A Chinese visa can be applied for up to 90 days before departure. You need a completed application form with a full itinerary (preferably with a tour company but it is possible without - we did) a passport photo, a letter of invitation from a sponsor in the country and the fee of $140.00 per person. European passports are cheaper so we paid $340.00 for the 3 of us. Your passport has to be valid for up to 6 months afterward - most countries have this. It takes 5 days to process with 2-3 visits to the embassy. They only issue so many tickets per day so if you're a bit late, tough luck. Luckily they have an office in Auckland, although it is confronting seeing all those Tibetan protesters doing Tai Chi in front of the building... THE most peaceful protest ever!

Next is the Mongolian visa.. This was probably the easiest - the lady even phoned me to check on our plans but she was kind of laughing which both worried me and made me wonder if it wasn't Catherine, my sister having a laugh. The completed application form, passport photos, printed itinerary (and as the lady asked me "is this accurate? Some people go missing and we never know...") and an address of a sponsor. I've booked a two week trip horse riding in Western Mongolia so I used the guide's address. These visas cost $190 because the EU passport didn't need one.

I had to skip forward to get a Kazakhstan visa next, as the Russian visa required proof of forward planning. The Kazakh visa required a written introductory letter as I don't have a tour booked. Complete application form with photos, hotel addresses (I booked with Booking.com as you can easily cancel if you change your plans) copies of your insurance cover, onward flights and or train tickets. We needed a double entry visa here as we fly out of Almaty to Amsterdam eventually. All up these visas cost $240.00 plus a courier fee of $50 to send the passports to Singapore for the two weeks it took to process. Let's not forget the $70 to pay a courier to pick them up and ship them home again.

All this processing time left very little time for the Russian visa, which normally takes 10 working days. I had to do it urgently over 3 days. $450 plus pay for a Russian tourist company to write a letter stating where will travel - I think about $80 for three of us. Passports had to be couriered to Wellington (same for Mongolian) and we're awaiting their return....

After all that.... Do you see my point? BUT yes now we are ready to roll, without spending a wasted day dealing with a non-English speaking embassy....until Kazakhstan that is

Posted by Vendrig 19:19 Archived in China Tagged trip_planning_for_china mongolian_visa kazakhstan_visa russia_visa Comments (0)

A glimpse

By Johan

Deborah emailed our guide in Tajikstan and asked about dress code. His reply was charming and provides a first glimpse in to cultures that are no doubt different from the pre-conceived pictures we have formed in our heads over years of ignorance: " Thank you very much for your email. It is nice. It is very good. When you need invitation letter please tell me ok. Our country free. No problem any kind of dress. Only I can suggest you long trousers will perfect. Also long sleeve clothing ok. Please do not worry. Our country secular the state. You will see our country everything is free about dress. In city Ladies like European no covering head. We have different peoples. Like euro pain fashion, some just traditional fashion. We do not have like completely covering face. Thank you very much for respecting Islam religion." - only 18 days till we kick off...

Posted by Vendrig 10:25 Comments (0)

40 days to go

By Johan

It's getting pretty close now. Deborah is still working through the planning and visas and I am organising the power supply for our cameras etc. funny how much technology has become part of it. We are very wary about the fact that in China and other parts of Central Asia we are probably off the grid so we will have to warn people not too worry too quickly if we are of the air. Getting pretty excited about it all and its getting harder to focus on work. Still a lot to do before I leave work so trying to stick to it. Less worried about safety now and more about how much my bum will hurt after 11 days on a horse in Mongolia... Can't wait. Hopefully my daily bike rides into work have left my bum ever so slightly prepared for the wooden Mongolian horse saddles.

Posted by Vendrig 03:50 Comments (0)

10 weeks to go

From maaike

bracing myself for the plans mum has for our trip this year!! Walking on the side of a cliff face, hiking all day long, nearing the borders of issis and the Islamic state, covering my skin to protect myself, but most of all carrying my house for the next 6 months all on my back. I'm not physically prepared for the amount of fitness and exercise mum and dad are planning to do!! But I'm sure I'll come back just as fit as the 2 of them.. Hopefully. Looking forward to it! Only 8 more weeks of school.. Super excited, hopefully we al make iT through Alive and Well. Going to be having fermented goats milk for a while and restricted food intakes. Something I'm not use to from New Zealand! But will be able to feed myself up at arrival into the Netherlands. See you soon Asia. Europe, Canada and Alaska!!

Posted by Vendrig 13:42 Tagged silk_road Comments (0)

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