Visas. Passports. Planning
Three Visas, two LOI, two new Passports, Iran Visa Extension, route planning… some of the things that I need to do before I continue with my cycle through Iran towards Central Asia.
Cant believe these visas is draining my energy as it is at the moment. I have not been this tired in a long time. I don’t know how to explain this visa situation, to make sure it is 100% understood. Ok, so let me try… here goes…
Ok, so Im in Iran and got a 30 day Tourist Visa to visit this beautiful and interesting country. From here I will go into Central Asia where I need Visas for all of these countries I’ll be traveling through. Not only do I need Visas, but for some of them I also need to apply for a Letter of Invitation. So now you need to take all the processing times in consideration… for the Visas, Letter of Invitations and when my Iran Visa expires.
Before going into more detail I want to say that I have also applied for a Temp Passport and new MAXI Passport. Why? Because Im running out of pages in my current Passport. But I somewhat had a plan but did not work because some people is not doing their jobs! I applied for both these Passports back in Ankara. The Maxi Passport takes 3 – 6 Months (Yea I know… its ridiculous) and a Temp Passport is supposed to take not longer than a week. The consular at the South African embassy promised they will post both of these wherever I am. So I was supposed to get my temp passport by now.
I applied for both these Passports on the 4th of July, so by the latest I would have had my Temp Passport on the 11th of July. I applied for the temp passport to help save some pages in my current passport until I receive my new MAXI Passport. Ok… I know this sounds a bit confusing, but stay with me… If an Embassy takes temp passports for their visas, I can save the pages in my current one and only use it whenever I really needed it. So at this point I had 5 clean pages left. Remember that a embassy needs at least two clean pages to stick a visa.. So I could only get four more and then I’ll be stuck… this is where the temp passport comes in to help me get through about 6 months before I receive my new passport (in theory it will work).
So there are like 10 clocks surrounding me and all I hear is a lot of “tick tok, tick tok” I needed my temp passport before Tehran, where I would apply for the next bunch of visas, which is Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Did my temp passport came… no! Always some shit reason… ooooo and now the guy that was handing it, is on holiday. I arrived in Tehran without it and I had no choice to start my visa applications from a point. O yea, and I applied for my first LOI one week before Tehran, to have it that I can apply for my Uzbek Visa.
My cycle route towards Central Asia from Iran is firstly Turkmenistan, secondly Uzbekistan and then Tajikistan. But you first need to get and Uzbekistan Visa before you are able to apply for the Turkmenistan Visa. On my 5th day in Tehran I received my LOI and then realised another HUGE problem. According to my calculations I would be in Turkmenistan for my sisters wedding and I only found out after I received the LOI that Turkmenistan don’t have internet (or the route I have to take).
Also keep in mind that Im applying for all these Visas, presuming I will get an extension on my Iran Visa… and get a 30 day extension and nothing less. So if I don’t, Im basically stuck in between two war countries Iraq and Afghanistan… I might be able to head north through Georgia and Russia.
Ok so there is the two Passport problems, three visas, Iran visa extension, still need to get from Tehran to the Turkmenistan border (which is 1000 km away ) and my sisters wedding. All of these needed to be taken into account. O yea and one other thing… The visas for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is date specific… Turkmenistan only 5 days transit visa and 12 days for Uzbekistan. So there is no flex time on these visas and on a bicycle it gets difficult, because you need to cover certain distances every day. If any of these fail it puts me in a very hard position…. and this is where I am now… I did not receive my Temp Passport… which meant I had to start applying for my visas with my old passport, otherwise I would not even have enough time to do them, even if I get an extension on my Iran Visa. And this meant my five pages became three within one week.
According to my calculation I will be stuck in Kyrgyzstan… thats where I will have run out of pages in my current passport and will have to wait for new passport.
Ok… I think its time to start ticking some of them off the list… So I got my LOI for Uzbekistan… 1st tick. I went to the embassy and got my visa the same day!! 2nd tick. I managed to change the dates of my Uzbekistan Visa that I will be in Uzbekistan (with internet) for my sisters wedding and not in Turkmenistan (where there is no internet)…. 3rd tick!!! Ok Im making some progress. Now I can apply for my Turkmenistan Visa, which takes one to two weeks to process. But still.. now every visa means one less page in my passport. With a temp passport and four pages I have left, I will be able to get to China. But from now Im running a big risk of sitting in the middle of nowhere (in winter) while I just wait for my new MAXI Passport. BUT… WHERE IS MY TEMP PASSPORT???
Turkmenistan can be a pain in the ass to give visas, so I did not really have a choice but to apply for it. They can take up to two weeks to process and in some cases even longer and I need this one to get to Uzbekistan, in time for my Skype wedding. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is by far the most important, because I am not gonna miss my sisters wedding, even if its just over Skype!! This will mean only three pages left… which basically means I can’t really apply for any other Visas with my old passport. I need an original passport to get a Russian Visa and Chinese Visa, and that will take my last two pages I can use… in my old one. My temp passport will then have Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan… which means the temp passport will be full, but I will make it to China/Russia to be able to complete my third continent. Perfect scenario in perfect conditions. So where is my temp passport????? I still don’t know.
I need to leave Tehran on Sunday night that I can extend my Iran visa (In Shiraz or Esfahan) which expires on Tuesday. Shiraz is 1000 km away and Esfahan about 600 km. So then I hope for at least a 30 day extension and hope I have my temp passport by that time. I don’t know if the extension takes another page in your passport and if it does Im basically stuck in one of the following countries in the middle of winter… Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan…
My timeline for my MAXI Passport is worked out on the worst case scenario, which they said will take six months… but if things happen as with the Temp Passport, I will receive it in three years! Its just frustrating if some people don’t do their jobs! I know you need to plan things in advance and give time for things like this, but 6 times longer?? I don’t think so. a Temp Passport is very quick and this guy’s excuses is just ridiculous. He must think Im stupid and don’t know anything about these kind of things.
Well this story is about to unfold, so I will keep you posted on what is happening next….
Cheers for now…