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Lost in Translation, fighting against bureaucracy

2018. február 13.

Your desires would fly you away, but the bureaucrats hammer nails into your feet and work really hard on crushing your dreams in the most gut wrenching way possible.

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This is gonna be one of those typical smartypants, boring travel posts, you’d better not read it!

When you start planning such a trip, you’re trying to focus only on the good parts, the interesting ones. In the meantime, somewhere in the very back of your mind you know there is that closet and you know there is that skeleton waiting to fall out, that you’re gonna need all those visas and paperwork done. But as we do with most bad things, I tried to outsource these and leave them for last.

I knew I was gonna need a bunch of visas, what I didn’t know was that I will need to get something called Carnet du Passage for my motorbike.

First I kinda just saw it on a forum, I didn’t even think about it much. But then I started digging into it, and the painful realisation hit me. This is not one of those things that worst case will cost you a couple hundreds and you get it. This document is technically the passport of your vehicle, a sort of guarantee that you won’t be selling it in countries where people are less fortunate. The document itself costs a couple hundreds (of euros), but you also need to deposit 100-150-200 or 300% of the value of your motorbike. And that sum depends…

In Hungary you obviously can’t get it, forget about it. In the UK it’s ridiculously expensive. In Germany too. In Slovakia the price gets better. In Serbia however it costs close to nothing, but they only issue it to Serbian citizens.

I asked a girlfriend from there, who speaks Serbian to call all the local car clubs, to do whatever it takes, begging, bribing, threatening, but I need to get this done, because there they only require 700 EUR deposit which is Monopoly money in comparison to all my other options.

So she was begging, bribing, threatening, and I could still go fuck myself.

I started deep diving into forums, and calling everyone everywhere just to find someone that can help me get this magical document. At the end I got to Mr. Schmidt, aka Peter Schmidt, who was driving through Iran with his wife and two small children at the time.

And finally HE could help! He had some contacts at a Slovakian car club (they didn’t even bother to answer my email when I wrote them), and finally I got the magical document for 200 EUR + 2000 EUR.

carnet.jpgBeen longing for this for months!

Lazy trick

Since I was working abroad the whole summer, and I also hate bureaucracy, I thought I will outsource the miseries handling my Iranian and Pakistani visas to a company. Earlier I got a second passport, that I gave to this company that promised to fix everything, and I was off to do my things. In the meantime they requested this and that from me, and I sent them all the this’ and thats, waiting patiently for my passport returning filled with colorful stamps. But after of month they call me they failed.

untitled-1_1.jpgThis is all me, you can have it all

A veteran reader could ask: why is this so freaking complicated?

Because, even though Iran’s got the visa on arrival system in place at the airport, that doesn’t apply to me. First, because that’s only for 15 days, and I’m planning to stay for a month. It would also be a smooth process was I arriving with a car, but I’m arriving on a motorbike, which is instantly mission: impossible, because they simply don’t give you a visa.

The time gate reality

You can get a tourist visa for Pakistan easily. For 15 days. For 30? Not so easy…

To add to the complications regarding these two visas, is what I call the time gate: You get 30 days within a 90 days period, alright. But this period starts from the moment the clerk issues the visa, so of course, you can’t request a visa in August and tell them you want to use the 30 days in October. There is no fucking way this exists. Why not? Because that miserable monkey behind the glass who handwrites dates and puts those stickers in your passport in sharp neon light can’t even stick to the rules. Though we know that rules only exist to keep the fucking retards away like a chastity device.

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The Iranian embassy refused my visa application twice. First they said my passport photo was too dark. Second time my hair was too messy. Seriously though, last time someone told me this I was in fucking elementary school. I thought, third time’s a charm, I combed my hair thoroughly, like when I did for my maths finals in uni. I waxed my hair like a proper valet, and I handed over my application with my hands shaking. They called me in for an interview. I was bullshitting them about how I will be arriving from Yerevan with the tourist bus, seeking for cultural experiences and fuck knows what else, they said fine, you shall have a visa! The clock’s ticking from the 30th of August. From then on, I will have 90 days to spend 30 in Iran, but in the meantime I can’t take my passport anywhere else.

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On the Pakistani Embassy I was trying to obtain a press visa, because I got tipped that people are very helpful with that, and it’s fairly easy to get. So first I had to get a press ID from Műosz (Hungarian Press Association), that went surprisingly smooth and fast. I just had to call them, I told them the whole shebang around the visas, they understood it straight away, and I had my international press ID in just matter of days. In the meantime the entire crew of Totalcar (tv show) was super helpful, I got a press ID issued by them along with a beautiful letter with official letterhead from the editor in chief about my mission I’m doing for the TV channel. Equipped with all those,  4-5 personal visits, 15 emails and about 20 phone calls later, the embassy agreed to give me a visa from November. However they didn’t want to grant me a press visa (which I don’t give a fuck about), and they also wanted to allow me to stay for 15 days only (which I actually give a lot of fuck about.) They said they would only extend it if I have a personal invitation with an official stamp from the authority in Pakistan, alongside with signatures from the chief deputy and the notary...

I was just about to send an email to a friend of mine to ask his friend in Pakistan to go to the notary to ask for an invitation and all that jazz, but magically in the middle of writing, I got a phone call from the embassy that the consul changed her mind, and she’s issuing my 30 day visa. Hallelujah! 

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Awesome, now I only need to get an Indian visa, and I knew that was easy as pie. Of course I added a little complication asking for a visa for 6 months and with multiple entry, but I had legal working permit in India many times before, I thought it shouldn’t be a problem.

Well, it was.

-You’re not coming by plane?
- No.
- What are you coming with?
- Motorbike.
- No way…
- But I am.
- Where are you gonna stay?
- I don’t know yet, I’ll find something...

And that was the point where I felt my newly acquired press ID and that letter from the editor will come in handy. I gave them all, and I told them I have two passports, and I’d like to get the Indian visa in the “good” one, while I had the Iranian and Pakistani in the “bad” one which I’m probably gonna shove up my ass upon my arrival in the United States.

It took a lot of convincing until the guy stopped rolling his eyes, but he said only after I show him my passport with the Iranian and Pakistani visas will I be given the desired Indian visa - exactly the way I wanted it. Fuckyeah.

Logan’s run

On the 30th at 9 am I rushed over to the Iranian Embassy to pick up my passport. I was waiting and watching an Iranian celebrity talk show in TV for 2,5 hours ‘till I finally got my passport. Due to this I missed meeting the consul at the Pakistani Embassy, so I had to go the day after. That made me arrive at the Indian Embassy at 11:30 am, that closes at 12. I told them I’m here, they said okay, but they need a photocopy of all my papers and as well of the ID card of the editor in chief. For all this I have 30 min, and for a strange reason I couldn’t use the copy machine at the embassy, they wanted me to do this somewhere else. I jumped on my bike, 1-2-3-4-5, 100-120-140. In the copy shop, out the copy shop, back on the bike. There you go, fuckers, all the expensive xerox, but no ID copy, the editor is on holiday, he doesn’t give a fuck about me and he doesn’t give a fuck about you either, he probably doesn’t give a fuck about anything at all.

The guy said, hmm, ok ok, no problem, come back on the 6th. I said, that’s not gonna work, I’m leaving on the 5th. Okay, then come back on the 4th.

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In the meantime, I fixed myself an international driver’s license, vaccines, passed all the inspections of my modified motorbike, I registered the change of the color, but honestly, this is already so fucking boring I’m afraid someone would slit their wrist reading this, so I’ll stop now.

All papers in my pocket, I’m off!

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