Monday 1 September 2014
Well, last night was weird. I’d already been told that there were a party of Germans going to arrive about 4am, for just one night, but I was a little surprised to get up this morning and find one of them sleeping in the kitchen, the end of the mattress wedged against the kitchen door. I was even more surprised to pay a bit more attention to my dorm room when I came back and notice there was no bedding on one of the top bunks. Nor a mattress. Now, I can’t quite believe that someone decided that, at 4am, it was easier to move everything from an upper bunk, drag it into the kitchen, and set up there, rather than climbing into a top bunk, but there we go.
Anyway. Today has proven that my life is worth a grand total of US$81 – this being the cost of the visa for Afghanistan that is now occupying the page opposite the Uzbek visa in my passport. Getting it was a very simple process, as I’d suspected. I handed in the application form, two passport photos, and my passport; the consul gave me a chit of paper with the bank details on which I had to take to the National Bank of Pakistan (!) elsewhere in the town and pay there; come back to the embassy with the proof of payment, and then wait four hours before going back to the embassy to pick it up.
Upon returning with the stamped proof of payment, I met a New Zealand lady who was doing the same thing, albeit one visit behind me. The consul gave her the chit I had, advised her to pay, but that the visa would be ready tomorrow (in much the same way I’d been told on Friday). Evidently you need to get to the embassy early for same-day processing.
Now all I have to do is to decide if I want to try to get a Turkmenistan Transit Visa – not the easiest thing to get, judging by reports of other travellers in the region. I may go to Kazakhstan later in the week and try at Almaty, otherwise I’ll do it in Tashkent. Oddly, there is no Turkmen Embassy in Bishkek.
It’s always nice to meet other travellers, and I walked back to the National Bank of Pakistan with her. She was a bit older than me, and was planning to visit every single country in the world, as a lone female traveller. Her current journey was kind of in the opposite direction to my plans; she was aiming to go to Afghanistan first, then into Turkmenistan and onward to Iran. Iran’s not a destination normally associated with lone female travellers, but I guess it must work out somehow.
Today’s food included a ‘samosa’ that looked like a pasty. I have been criticised by my work colleagues for once saying that one of the main things I miss when I travel is Greggs’ pasties. Today I bought what was, in effect, a chicken pasty for 30som, that blew Greggs out the water.
Now the holidays are over, I did visit the restaurant close to the hotel that I missed out on yesterday. Unfortunately much of the menu was unavailable; I ended up with, I don’t know what it was called, but it was basically two large sausages on what looked like a bed of lentils. They may not have been lentils; they were kind of small, vaguely lentil-shaped, and kind of grey, but I don’t know what else to call them. Anyway it was pretty good, not that I’m a culinary expert.
The French chap from last week is back in the dorm; ended up chatting with him again for a bit.