Rain rain go away, you’re making me think ahead

10 03 2011

I left Jordan with it’s 25C sun-shining goodness in my haste to see Damascus, and I’ve been rewarded by below freezing at night. It’s raining and windy, and just plain unpleasant for exploring a city or riding. Luckily I have internet and the Felafel and Shwarma are both cheap and good.

It’s raining left of me, right of me and in front. It’s raining in Lebanon. For goodness sake, the internet tells me it’s even raining in the desert (which is probably where I’ll head next to get out of this cold and rain)! Looks like I’m marooned until Spring comes. Hopefully tomorrow.

Not to completely waste time, I’ve got an agency working on my Iran Visa (at least they tell me they are…), and I’ve visited the Indian and Pakistan Embassies to get more visas. The good news is the Pakistan Embassy won’t give me a visa – they tell me I can only get a visa in Australia. So that removes any temptation to cycle across Pakistan. The other good news is the Indian Embassy wont give me one here either – they say I’m too far away (in time) from entering India, but it should be easy to get in Iran. So now I have to wait until the Agency / Iran grant me a visa and I should come back to Damascus to collect it. In a week, or two. Or maybe three. Inshallah (god willing).

So to back up a bit – since spending time with Jurg and Rahel in Santorini (that mysterious 2.5 months of the bike trip where the bike didn’t actually go anywhere), I’ve been infected by Jurg’s enthusiasm for riding across Central Asia – “The Stans”. And I think it would be a great way to go – in fact it appears to be the only way if you don’t want to fly or otherwise skip countries. Some of the scenery, especially the Pamir Highway, would be amazing. The only real problem (apart from the travel advice not to go to Kyrgyzstan due to recent unrest) is the pile of visas you need to collect. And it probably all could be arranged in Turkey, as Jurg and Rahel plan to do it. And I could, in theory, still visit India by cutting back from China and through Pakistan on the Karakorum Highway – more awesome scenery (although I’m not convinced I’d be able to get a Pakistan visa at the China border). But I have been thinking that a better plan, and one that allows me the flexibility that I need when I travel (only this stretch from Egypt to Syria I’m already 2 weeks late from the plan I made… in Greece). I’ll try to spend a month in Syria and get the Iran visa. Then ride through Eastern Turkey and enter Iran. Hopefully in Tehran I can get a longer visa so I can see most of the highlights in Iran, and then I’ll probably fly across Pakistan (from where I don’t know yet) into India. This way I:

  • will get to see a large chunk of Iran (instead of just a bit in the north)
  • will get to see India
  • will be able to see Nepal (if that part of the plan can be made to work)
  • will miss months of riding across desert in China
  • will, maybe, be able to ambush Stefan and Sabine’s holiday in Ladakh 🙂
  • and will have a couple of major attractions in the region as a good excuse to go that way – one day.

The only negative that I can see is that I’ll have to fly at some point to jump Pakistan, and then again to get out of India into SE Asia. It would be better if I didn’t have to. But I’m not really sure yet, both routes seem like a good choice. I’ll be changing my mind a few times a day for the next month or so.

I found this poll thing in WordPress when looking for the dot point button. Let me know what you think! Or leave a comment.


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