Friday, 1 March 2013

Where to go?

My original travelling plan for Jim, was for me to take him to India. I had the romantic notion of finishing the conversion, quiting my job, and then leaving home, with just a starting point and a destination, leaving the route and pace to be decided as I went. As time went on, and I started to research the bureaucracy of overland travel, I realised that if I left without any preparation I would get as far as Turkey before an impenetrable wall of antiquated paperwork would halt forward progress.

 For a start, one needs a Carnet de Passage to be able to temporarily import a vehicle into Iran, Pakistan and India; without this document these countries have no assurance that you will not sell your vehicle once inside their country and avoid paying import duty. Secondly, one needs a Visa for each of these countries too, and each country en route has particular intricacies which make having a valid visa complicated. For example there is no Indian embassy in Pakistan, and so you have to apply for the visa in Iran. Also visas for Pakistan can only be gotten in your home country, which would be fine, except they are also only valid for six months, and so you have to plan carefully to avoid getting to Pakistan and finding that your visa has expired. A third complication is that in 2011, Iran all but banned dog ownership, making it a tricky country to travel through with a canine companion, even one as handsome as Boris!

Boris the golden retriever, soon to be an international traveller

Whilst I had not realised that I would have all of these complication, they were not enough to dissuade me from travelling this route. That changed recently, and my enthusiasm for driving to India via Iran and Pakistan wained. I have been reading a number of blogs of travellers who have transited Pakistan over the last few years, and have watched as the experiences of those travellers has gotten worse. The security restrictions, whilst previously restricted to border areas, have spread inward, and the distance the police escorts continue for has increased from a few hundred miles, to most of the way across the country. If you wish to drive through Pakistan now, you are pretty much escorted by police from one side of the country to the other; there is little scope for lengthy stopovers or sightseeing excursions. After rushing the 1,600 miles through Iran to avoid any dog related dramas, the last thing I will want is 1,000 miles of police escorts and sleeping in police compounds; I spent much of my youth avoiding them!

me getting stopped by the friendly police in Germany