Long Way Home 2

Documents - Sue

The Great Paper Chase


With only 3 visas to obtain before we set off, compared to the 8 we had to get for our first trip in 2005, it looked like a piece of cake, no problems – and then Iran had an election. A bit of argy bargy, a few shots fired, the western press went to town over exaggerating the problems and Iran fell out with the UK.
We had decided to use an Iranian travel agent, Magic Carpet Travel to help us get the visa authorisation number at a cost of £120 each, it wasn’t exactly cheap but they did the work and we were ecstatic to receive the promise of a visa in just over a week.

Before sending the passports off to the Embassy in London for stamping, we decided to go in person to the Pakistan Consulate in Bradford to apply for a visa. Sitting in the waiting room we struck up a conversation with a young man waiting for his visa to visit relatives for the summer holidays. There were maybe thirty people in the queue before us and we settled in for a long wait. After a few minutes he passed us a ticket 20 places up from the one we had. He had taken 2 tickets when he had arrived – saved us hours of sitting!  “It’s quite OK” he said “No one will mind”

Sticking out like sore thumbs, and being the only motorcyclists in the room, people were smiling at us and with genuine friendliness, asked us why we wanted to go to Pakistan, appalled that we should want to ride a motorcycle all the way to the Himalayas. What was the matter with flying?
It seemed incongruous to be talking to people in full Pakistani dress, their broad Yorkshire accents warning us of the dangers we could expect.

We promised to be cautious, even to the consular official who insisted we put the name of ‘our’ hotel on the application form before he would consider giving us a visa. We called a friend, she ‘Googled ‘the town of Quetta and we listed down the first hotel she came up with.
It was enough to secure the visa!

There had been no point in applying for carnets before we had the troublesome Iran and Pakistan visas, several thousand pounds would have been wasted if we had not been able to get those, so it was with bated breath we waited for the return of our passports from the Iranian embassy.

Rumour came that the border had been closed because of the violence over the election. Via the Horizons Unlimited site we read that some people had been refused visas in London even though they had the required authorisation number, we were running short of time to apply for the carnets before our departure date.
Our whoops of joy were audible for miles when the passports arrived back with that precious Iranian visa, now we could send off the application forms for the carnet.

We posted our passports off again to the new visa application processing centre for the Indian visa and what a fantastic service this is! Posted Monday, the passports were back, duly stamped with multiple entry visas valid for one year by Friday.
Now all we wait for is the carnet to arrive from the RAC – something tells me this has all gone too easily!

We also remembered to take the cards that Mick made up for the last Long Way Home trip.  They were a Godsend, broke the language barrier in over twenty countries, were always understood and never failed us...

Here’s just two of them ... get the gist!