The Visa run

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Current location: Gattières (Google Map)
Last entry date: 04 April 2008

Happy fruit seller at Castellane street market, Marseille

Getting visas is sooo not simple. Rather its a nightmare to get these on your own time as visas have entry & expiry dates and I needed 9 visas in a row up to Nepal. The countries required proof of this and that papers, like return air tickets for example. Am going by bike so that’s tough to get. It seemed the cheapest solution was to pay up $$. Pay for Letter of Invitations to a Tourist travel agent in Central Asia to invite you in as a tourist, then pay another travel agency in Paris to do the visa run. When one consulate reject an application, it was sent to another while waiting to get the requested docs ie missing hotel reservation in the case of Pakistan. Managed to obtain 5 nicely stamped visas this way.

In Marseille its possible to obtain a chinese visa in the same morning. The chinese consulate strategy was simple, just pay double. It sounded like another cheap solution. The idea was to do a test ride with the bike fully loaded, breeze into the Marseille, pay double to get the chinese visa and zap back to Nice. Not so simple. First it took too long to load the bike up, and when I did get to the consulate at 11.00am there was a long queue. Everyone wants to go to China and wanted to pay double. Those in the front were told they can no longer pay double as the consulate closes at 12.00 pm so they left their passports behind. Then came my turn and I was told to come back next week, early. No, no, I leave next week, need visa now. With big smiles I insisted, but was asked to show my return air tickets. Try explaining that you wish to enter China by motorcycle from Khazakstan. My 3 minutes was up and my passport was handed back. What next … it was looking like an expensive solution to come back. Not knowing what to do, I found myself re-taking the queue to the amusement of others and waited in line for another 1/2 hour. Hello its me again, but the gentleman behind the counter was not pleased to see me a 2nd time. He started speaking in chinese which I understood to mean *#°..!! and to go get back in the queue again for the 3rd time behind the last person. Obeyed I did and got me the last chinese visa of the day. Wouldn’t dare haggle for price like in China and gladly paid up the double.

Visa headache is not yet over as there is still the Iran visa challenge in Istanbul. But the spring sunshine was out in Marseille and I was happy enough to go make a bike lap around the old port that day. Allez Marseille !!

11 Responses to « The Visa run »

  1. Hi there,

    An impressive site for a beginner ….. anyway we are glad you made the
    big step forward. Will follow you thro’out your journey ….. see you in JB.

    Peter + All at home

  2. Hi Sheen,

    looks like only the administrative part is a great feat !

    Seeing yesterday the whole pile of stuff you are going to bring with you was really impressive… I would need a truck for this 😉
    Anyway that shows great preparation, and I am sure the actual departure will come as a relief from the hard work of the past few weeks.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us through this blog (which is very nice BTW). Looking forward to further posts 😉

    And congrats to Lydia and the kids for their support.

    a bientot,


  3. ta petite famille10 April 2008 à 11:45 am

    we are 100% with you! You make us proud and we are happy to share this adventure with you! Love, lydia, gem, pearl & jade

  4. Gideon & Gregory Kua10 April 2008 à 1:57 pm

    Dear uncle,

    Take care of yourself on your trip. We will be thinking of you.

    Gideon and Gregory Kua,
    JB, Malaysia

  5. EDDIE, NADIA & KRISTEN KUA10 April 2008 à 4:14 pm


    A thousand mile journey begins with one step… Start today. No one can knows what he can do until he tries and LIfe’s greatest accomplishments are those that at first seem impossible…

    Have an enjoyble and memorable cross country ride and see you in Singapore.. We will bring you to eat Singapore BEST chilie crab..

    Best wishes,

  6. Siew Hoon & Victoria10 April 2008 à 5:19 pm

    Hello Sheen,

    We have just seen your beautiful website! We wish you and Lydia a nice trip to Turkey and also be thinking of you travelling to M’sia. Have a nice and safe trip!

    Take care and God Bless. Love to you,Lydia and Jade, Pearl and Gem.

    Siew Hoon & Victoria

  7. annie jeanmichel erwan gwen13 April 2008 à 10:09 am

    bonjour j espere que votre premiere journee en direction de l italie a ete bonne et que vous avez eu le temps de comtempler venise.Gem va tres bien et vous embrasse tres fort.

  8. The durian, my favourite fruit is in season in Malaysia. Come and get some!
    I’m going thru a similar experience with travelling paperwork.


  9. George Robertson26 May 2008 à 5:39 am

    Hi Sheen
    I never thought you would do it when you told me. You seem to be getting on great. I am in KL at present working with Laurent. No retirement for me. I will be keeping up with your journey and all the best to you and your family.

  10. Hello Sheen,
    What an epic journey to date, memories to last for years. I’m in KL actually sitting next to George Robertsons, keep safe and enjoy your time during these visits, good luck onwards!!

    Best Regards

    Ian Ramsey and Familiy

  11. Sheen, nous resterons definitivement impressionnes et enchantes par tes photos et la richesse de ton periple. Sandra, Nathan et moi sommes sur KL en ce moment et pour les semaines a venir. Prochaines vacances en Octobre en Australie. D’ici la tu es le bienvenu! Mon portable: +60 1 26 42 72 05. A tres bientot et tres bonne continuation. S+N+L

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