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26 June 2011 / leggypeggy

End of the visa trail

I forgot to tell you that on Tuesday we got the last of the visas we need to start trucking.

Cambodia, China, Laos and Vietnam have embassies in Australia, so we got those visas at home—months ago. It was Poor John’s responsibility to run around Canberra with passports, applications and photos. He loves that sort of thing and was especially pleased to often get a visa that lasted twice as long as usually given. The diplomat in him still knows how to sweet talk a consular officer.

The greater challenge was to get visas for Central Asia—namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. We had a few options. We could have sent our passports to the UK and had a passport agency get them for us. With a service fee of more than 32 pounds per person per visa plus couriers, we decided there had to be a better (and more enjoyable) way to spend our money.

We could have gone to England ourselves, but given that once our passports were with an embassy, it might be hard to travel outside the UK. So we settled on spending the time and money in Germany. It was a brilliant choice. We’ve been able to travel all over Germany and Belgium, visiting dear friends and family (meaning many of our former exchange students).

It all started on 16 May when we landed in Frankfurt at 6 a.m. That morning we had our Kyrgyzstan visa within 10 minutes. It cost only 55 euros each—the cheapest of all and it turned out to be another visa that is good for twice the normal period of time. All the other visas took longer (from three days to two weeks) and cost more—up to 92 euros each.

My go pass for Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan proved to be the most challenging. Not sure why, but their visa procedures changed while we were travelling. Suddenly it was necessary to use an agent—and only an agent. Perhaps it was because Azerbaijan and Germany had a football (soccer) match in Azerbaijan on 7 June, and their embassy in Berlin was bombarded with 5000 visa applications in May.

We went to the embassy on spec, but the fellow there confirmed the need for an agent. He gave us a phone number, but the guy who answered spoke only Russian and German. We found another agent online (SerVisum) and they were excellent.

We join the truck on Tuesday in Salzburg, and here’s one of our travelling documents.

2 Comments

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  1. Sy S. NYC / Jun 27 2011 11:44 am

    Wow, what an ordeal and getting visas…. how does the truck tour operators get people if they also would have a hard time getting visas? Anyway, glad you got this all out of your way and now can continue with your overland vacation.

    Have fun, wrote some good commentary, take lots of photos and post some good ones…

    Sy S.

    Like

  2. Sy S. NYC / Jun 27 2011 11:46 am

    P.S. E-mail correction; skippershs@aol.com

    Like

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