After 3 ½ weeks of waiting I was itching to get hold of my Kyrgyz visa so that I could apply for my Russian transit visa and I met Cholpon (who was helping me with it) outside the OVIR (local passport and registration office) in anticipation. The result was pretty disheartening – Kyrgyz visa application denied – no reason given, just a letter left in a folder for the office boy to read to us. He invited us to go back the next day to see the big guy to find out why. I didn’t really see any point but we agreed to anyway.
The following day, whilst music videos played on the TV in the background of his office, the ministry official gave some confusing reason about having to live in the country for 1 year before I can get a 3 month visa because I have the 2 months automatically on arrival from my EU passport. Cholpon reminded him I only needed it for a Russian transit visa and that my Kazak visa was running out of time. He said I should try for the Russian transit visa in Almaty and I wanted to point out (with something sharp and very pointy) that that is what I would have done if he hadn’t told me I would get a Kyrgyz visa, 3 weeks earlier.
I did my best to say goodbye politely and we left.
So I spent the weekend in Almaty, taking the marshrutka across the border to Kazakhtsan first thing on Friday and going straight to the Russian consulate (which only opens for visa applications on Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning). It wasn’t cheap at $135 for the 10 day transit visa, but by 4:30pm I had a receipt and was told to collect it on Tuesday morning. I was both ecstatic and frustrated, but after a month of running around I was within touching distance of the key visa to allow my get on with my ride to Mongolia. I spent the weekend being hosted by a wonderful couch surfer and his friends.
Sadly the last 2 days of my stay were spent on the sofa or in the toilet as I was struck down by the return of my old friend the CASE (Central Asian Stomach Evacuations) – an unwelcome but oh so lasting memory from my last journey through Central Asia. Nothing was stopping me from going to the consulate on Tuesday morning though, and finally, I have that magic transit visa. Preparation has been far from ideal but maybe, just maybe I can actually ride now. Well I don’t really have a choice- the waiting has eaten into my Kazak visa and so I have just under a month to get to the border with Russia. So all systems Go Go GO!
Well after one last piece of cake, smelling delicious in the oven at At House guesthouse, which has been my home from home for the last month, with old friends and new. As ever it will be sad to say goodbye, but the road to Mongolia is definitely calling.