Friday, July 04, 2008

What a Nightmare

Well I have spent a week in Tehran now and for any of you have been here you will understand when I scream, 'Get me out of here', seems I have been saying that a lot lately. What you are about to read is not meant to make sense, I cant figure it out anyway, if you can make light of it please let me know.

It goes something like this-the order of countries I am crossing is as follows, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikstan, Krygyzstan, Kazahkstan and then Russia. Right I have my Krygyz and Kazahk visa already, I applied in Mashhad at the Turkmen consulate for my 5 day transit visa across Turkmen, which I was told to wait 10 days, great, so then I caught a bus for 16 hours to Tehran, what a lovely place to be!!! Upon arrival I went straight to the Uzbek embassy for a visa, was told that Australia and Uzbek have no relations therefor need to apply through an agent for this, luckily I knew this and already applied through an agent the day before to get the ball rolling as it takes 4-5 days, I just thought to try my luck to see if they would give me one. So the next day in Tehran I met a German couple who suggested since I have time waiting for my Uzbek LOI(letter of invitation) I should try for my Chinese visa, seems they have stopped issuing them of late due to the Tibet dramas, earth quake and Olympics, so off I go to the Aussie embassy to get a LOR(letter of recommendation) paid 30 bucks for a piece of paper with two lines on it saying that the passport I have is mine, crazy, but needed to apply for a Chinese visa.

So another day passes, all this takes time in this huge polluted city of 14 million people! Next morning I go early to the Chinese embassy to line up, I was told it gets busy, well busy ain't the word, I arrived an hour before it opened and put my name on the list, they see you in order of arrival until 12pm and then they close, I was 99th on the list, one Iranian chap told me I was wasting my time as he had been lining up since 1 am and others, the top ten on the list had been there since the night before, holy shit not for me, I left and scrapped that idea.

Then I get an email from a Swiss traveller, Luc back in Mashhad who is waiting for his Turkmen visa there also saying that he went to the embassy and there is a sign on the door saying, closed for 10 days and there will be no more visas issued, oh crap what does that mean for me. So a trip to the Turkmen embassy here in Tehran, told them I applied and need my visa, the guy was friendly enough and told me to return the following day as he would ring the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat and see if my visa application had been processed. Oh and Luc and his mate Mark are now diverting through Afghanistan due to the Turkmen consulate been shut, good luck lads!

So that brings me to Thursday which is the last working day of the week, Friday and Saturday is the weekend. So still waiting for the Uzbek LOI and now Turkmen visa, of course both embassies are open for 2 hours so the chances of getting both in one day would be slim. Now in Iran us outsiders can't use our ATM cards, visa, nothing at all accept hard currency and since the Port took a small fortune for my bike, the exsorbirent cost of visas and now an extended stay in Iran I am running out fast so I needed both visas on Thursday so I could go back to Mashhad and get the hell out of here. Anyway of to Turkmen, yep visa had come through, come back at 4 pm and collect it, great, I had to leave my passport there so that meant another few days here waiting for Uzbek visa. Then Thursday night I got confirmation that I have received my LOI for Uzbek so that's Sunday I can get there for the visa at the earliest , so once I have that visa its just the Tadj visa to pick up in Uzbeks capital Tashkent. But I need to move as my Krygyz and Kazahk visas are almost running and I only have thirty days on them. Oh and to top it off the latest is that the Ruski's have changed their rules and its a cool $300US for a visa. What a nightmare to travel in this neck of the woods. Is this why I love doing what I am doing, I have reached the point that nothing will work and if it does then its a bonus.

To top it all off I have been propositioned half a dozen times for sex and yes all by blokes, the women here are suppressed to no end, there is no beer and the food keeps me busy if you know what I mean and lack of toilet paper in the squat toilets is wearing thin!!!

Ok its Monday now, second day into the working week, I went to the Uzbek embassey yesterday and of course it was closed due to a national holiday in Uzbekistan so back the hotel for another day in Tehran. And today I got it after lining up and waiting about an hour, so tonight I am on the overnight train to Mashhad to reunite with the bike and tomorrow I have to get moving as my Turkmenistan visa started today and I only have 5 days on it, I dont need any more hold ups else shit will really hit the fan!

I must say though since been here in Iran the people have been amazing, there help, kindness and welcoming nature has made for a better wait than expected, especially here in Tehran, I think I have drank enough tea though to last a Brit's lifetime!

So I have all my visas except Tadjikistan which I will pick up in a week or so when I arrive in Tashkent, Uzbek capital, and most importantly a beer awaits just accross the border, its been a long long time.

Distance in a straight line to home is 12 294 kms.