The original plan for today was to visit the Jewellry Musuem of Tehran – renowned as the most stunning collection of gems and jewellry in the world, but we can’t seem to win a trick at the moment – upon checking the museum is closed today, open tomorrow afternoon.
I checked our Iranian visas and ‘aargh!!’ – they expire on the day that the Indian Consular here said he’d issue a road visa if he hasn’t heard back from New Delhi – 19th August, so Karen and I bolted out looking for the Police Office for Foriegn Aliens at nearby Fatemi Junction. It took us a while to track down the office, and when we arrived Milad, a soldier on duty took us under his wing and sheparded us upstairs to the boss of the ‘Special Security’ unit to secure approval for a two-week visa extension here.
Written approval in hand, Milad then took us downstairs to organise the paperwork, but we needed to bolt back to our hotel to get some passport photos required to accompany our extension application, and then Milad directed us to a nearby bank where we needed to pay for the extensions.
At this stage we had about 30 minutes left before the Police Office closed for the day, so Karen stormed the bank and everyone hit the floor (not really but it sounded good for our book!). We eyeballed an English-speaking teller and ponied up the 690,000 IRR (for two people) we needed to deposit. Receipt slips in hand we ran back to the Police Office just up the road, but then got lost inside the orderly scrum taking place in the waiting room and ended up still sitting on our seats as instructed whilst the office closed up. Duh! A young English-speaking couple chatted with the last remaining customer service policeman, and advised us to return tomorrow morning at 08:00am, and to push our way to the front of any queue.
Back at our hotel we’re reaching out to Turkey and other locations we can possibly airfreight the bike from – over India – and safely into Bangkok. For the sake of two US$50 visas we’ve expended weeks in effort, $1,000’s in unbudgeted accommodation costs, and potentially now some substantial airfreight costs.
Some people may well question the merit of persevering so long on this visa folly – a small part of me at least is driven by fond memories of a book I read a few years ago – Max Riesch’s “India: The Shimmering Dream” – the story of the first overland motorcycle journey to India in 1933. I’ll bet that Max didn’t face the visa obstacles that we’re currently facing, but you’ll need to read the book to learn about the challenges that he and his pillion did face 🙂
Copy and paste this link for details on India: The Shimmering Dream – http://www.panther-publishing.co.uk/default.asp?contentID=46