Pakistan

Situation seems to be deteriorating.
Fergus said he had armed police escorts the entire way from Quetta to India, and a secret intelligence officer in Taftan (border town with Iran) told him: “Get your petrol, I will get you water, and get the h*ll out of here!” for his own safety.

There was an earthquake in Quetta just hours ago, with reportedly 150 people killed. The FCO hasn’t picked up on it and advised on travel in the aftermath yet, but my hunch is it’s not going to make things any better.

From that it’s looking increasingly unlikely that I’ll dare to cycle across most, if any, of Pakistan.

Also, the FCO did update its advice on Pakistan a couple of weeks ago adding:

The Ministry of Foreign Afffairs has informed diplomatic missions in Islamabad that “all foreigners, including diplomats, may not move out of their city of residence without proper security and prior co-ordination with the law enforcement agency with regard to their move or visit.”  No further information has been provided by the Pakistani authorities on how this requirement will be implemented.  The British High Commission is urgently seeking further information on the procedures and whether they will apply to all British nationals.

After reading that, who knows if I’ll even be granted a visa! My passport is currently in the care of Fedex on its way back to London for my brother to go to the Pakistan High Commission and get me a visa – I can’t apply anywhere except my home country of residence.

It’s a shame, Fergus also says the people are fantastic, which is what I’ve heard from many others as well. At the risk of sounding like a beauty queen contestant: why can’t we just have world peace!

Iranian Visa

This is how to get an Iranian visa in Istanbul. Again, this is for British citizens, and it may vary for other nationalities, but this should help.
To get to the Iranian Consulate, walk up the hill from Sultanhamet tram stop, take the first major right and walk down the hill – the Consulate is on the left.

The easiest way to apply is online through an agency such as www.iranianvisa.com – indeed, if you go to the consulate and ask to apply for a visa, you will be directed to this website instead. To apply online you will need the relevant information and a scanned copy of your passport. The application takes however long it takes – mine took 3 weeks, but it was the end of Ramadan. If you are lucky enough to be granted a visa, you will be emailed a code, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran will fax an approval to the consulate in Istanbul.

You then need to go to the consulate with this form filled in. You will be given another form and told the fee and to get things photocopied. For British passport holders the fee is 95euro, or you can ask to pay 125euro for the same day service.

Fill in the additional form, get photocopies of the additional form, the info page on your passport and the Turkish visa in your passport, pay the fee at the bank across the road from the consulate, and go back to the window in the consulate.

Hand everything across including two passport photos, and wait for an hour if you paid the extra, or return the next day if you didn’t pay the extra. Obviously throughout the process give sensible answers – probably not a good idea to tick the box for “politics” where the form asks for your reasons for visiting for instance…

Indian Visa

If anyone needs to get an Indian visa in Istanbul, here are consise instructions for British citizens, but will apply to most other nationalities as well.
To get to the Indian Consulate, from Taksim Square walk north along Cumhuriyet Cadessi until you see a sign for the “Crazy Horse Show” on the right. Next to the Crazy Horse Show is the Dortler Appartments – the Indian Consulate is on the 7th floor.

Visa applications close at 11am. You will need:

  • your passport;
  • a photocopy of your passport;
  • a “letter of introduction” from your own countries consulate;
  • payment of US$50 in cash;
  • two passport photos;
  • the visa form (available at the consulate at the time).

You also need to know where and when you will enter and leave India. It’s no big deal, just pick somewhere sensible and put approximate dates in – you won’t be held to them. Passports can be picked up between 5pm and 5:30pm four working days later, i.e. if you get your application in by 11am on Monday, it will be ready at 5pm on Friday.