At last it feels like were making progress! This week saw our Russian visas (pictures below) and passports arrive which was a huge relief bearing in mind one of us almost missed out on a ski holiday due to their poor forward planning on when he would actually need his passport. The Tajikistan visa with GBAO permit for the Pamir highway has also arrived.
As it stands we only have Uzbekistan, Iran and Mongolia left to apply for fingers crossed again for all these. Iran could potentially be slightly tricky as the country is holding an presidential election in may of this year so potentially could effect which nationalities they allow into the country, we have it on good authority that UK citizens shouldn't be effected by this however we wait and see.
As promised this post is significantly sorter than the last!
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The weekend just gone offered a rare opportunity with both of us off from work and days ticking away to launch date it was high time we sorted some visas out as without these documents our trip is going nowhere beyond Armenia which is slightly short of the finish line. Through our research and route we've chosen we require 6 visas; Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russian (Double entry visa) and Mongolia. We starting applied for these with some apprehension as these travel documents can be notoriously difficult to acquire.
First of the mark was Turkmenistan, as we are part of the Mongol rally all we need to enter this country is something called a Letter Of Invitation. In short the Turkmenistan Government has a bit of a agreement set up for the Mongol Rally where participants basically have to apply for this LOI through a company called The Visa Machine and upon entry of the country, exchange this for an entry visa proving that have proper authority to be in the country. We've paid the £50 fee submitted the info for all of this and shall await for our official form but bottom line one less Visa to worry about.
Googling the phrase ‘Pamir Highway’ will show why we chose to visit Tajikistan and lucky or not so lucky for us their application is something called an eVisa, basically everything gets entered online, you upload a grainy mug shot and various passport pages then pay the fee in our case it is $70 as we need something called a GBAO permit to get to the Pamirs. What started as something relatively pain free ended quite quickly when we discovered a problem with the payment issue on the website, emails have been sent to numerous people at the embassy and we await to find out what the next step is.
Russia is the single biggest country we will visit and requires a double entry visa, We started the application for this sometime ago as you need to enter information including GCSEs, purpose for visiting Russia, where you plan to go, weather or not you’ve been part of a political coup (promise I am not joking on that) if you have experience with nuclear equipment (also not joking) and various other personal details. As citizens from the UK we need a invitation from a travel company saying who we are and where we intent to stay once in Russia. We found one online and quickly paid £40 got the relevant certificate and headed for the nearest visa application centre in Manchester as this visa has to be applied for in person.
Im not quite sure what we were expecting from the approaching it from the outside it certainly didn't seem like it was a visa application for one of the largest countries in the world, we timed our arrival with the end of their lunch break. We waited outside patiently unsure as to what to do until an english pilot came and said "is there some sort of issue this time" turns out you just walk in plonk yourself down in a tiny room and wait to start proceedings. 20 minutes later Passportless and £120 out of pocket each we had finally send of for the process.
To end a lengthy post we still have no actual visas however the process has begun for a lot of them so far the only actual piece of paperwork we can put our hands on is our International driving permit which is a booket in lots of different languages saying that somewhere someone has decided we are capable of driving a car, this cost us £5.50 and we got from the post office. If you've read this far we salute you and will keep them shorter in the future