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Next, Plan B…

November 13, 2015 0 Comments
Shipe signing car

New friends signing the car near Shipte

Remember how I said we were driving Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey? Well that was Plan A.

Months ago I had liaised with Iran for a Letter Of Introduction (LOI) to be picked up in Beijing, China. Then we worked out that if we got an Iran visa in China, by the time we got to Iran, the three month visa period would have expired. So we decided to make Ashgabat, in Turkmenistan, the place to pick up the visa.

That all sounded good and I put it out of my mind. Mistake. When we got to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, we popped into the Turkmenistan Embassy to get a transit visa through their country. They wouldn’t issue one without a visa for the exiting country being in our passport. I showed him our LOI’s to pick up our visas in his capital, Ashgabat. Na, nada, nyet. Go and get an Iran visa in your passport, then in 14 days we will (may, no guarantee), issue a transit visa.

Bloody hell. So, back to Iran, (thank goodness for emails and contacts), they chased up with the MFA (Iran Minister of Foreign Affairs), for LOI to be picked up at Tashkent. This might take 10 days, then three days at the Iran embassy, then 14 days with the Turkmenistan embassy. All this meant our visa for Uzbekistan would expire, so off to MFA, Uzbekistan for an extension. Na, nada, nyet, not while your little white backsides point to the ground, sunshine!

So, back to the map/atlas. Plan B. We then decided to traverse Uzbekistan, go back into Kazakhstan, then get a ship at Actau, West Kazakhstan and go to Azerbaijan. Uzbek-Travel, Tashkent sorted the e-visa for Azerbaijan, and we were off. This meant a much fondly anticipated trip to Iran could not eventuate. And we missed the Gates of Hell at Turkmenistan. But, the Turkmenistan government makes it pretty hard to drive through.

It’s funny, if you believed everything you read or were told, you wouldn’t go anywhere. A travel company in Bishkek (Kyrgystan) told us you definitely could not take a right-hand drive diesel vehicle into Uzbekistan. So, when we filled out the papers at the border crossing, about the cars, we mentioned none of these things. At the crossings, the staff were more interested in signing the car with texta, or asking where we’d been, and didn’t enforce the silly rules.

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