Uzbekistan Visa (30 day to be taken in a 90 day period, single entry): Right, we applied for the Uzbekistan visa from the London embassy before departure as we heard that this was the hardest to get and was a requirement in order to get the Turkmenistan visa, we also believed it helps with your Iranian application. The visa you are after (as a cyclist) is a 30 day single entry visa (cheaper than double entry, just be careful on your route through the country as some roads exit then re-enter) or pay the extra for a double entry. NOTE: apply for the 30 day visa to be taken within a 90 day period. This gives you the flexibility you need when travelling by bike!
Iranian Visa (30 day single entry): The Iranian visa we applied for en route from http://iranianvisa.com/ and requested to pick it up in Istanbul, this worked out fine. In Istanbul we took our reference number to the Iranian Embassy where we had to complete the required paperwork. Three of four days later our Iranian visas were ready for collection!
Turkmenistan Visa (5 day transit visa): The Turkmenistan visa we applied for in Terhan, Iran and then picked it up in Mashhad 2 weeks later. This process worked out fine but only just. The Turkmenistan Embassy in Mashhad is know to be difficult and sometimes denies people a visa if the guy decides he doesn’t like you, so be on best behaviour and write VERY neatly on all forms. The Embassy opening hours are also rather unpredictable and we ended up having to spend 4 days in Mashhad before we finally received our Turkmenistan visa.
Kyrgyzstan Visa (30 day single entry): The Kyrgyzstan visa is the easiest visa of all the Central Asian countries to obtain and this was collected on the same day of application in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Chinese Visa (90 day single entry): Finally our Chinese Visa was also applied for in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This too was pretty straight forward and we were able to collect it the same say for a fee. After dealing with the Embassies of the Central Asian countries the Chinese process was far more professional and felt more certain than the others! the Chinese visa we applied for and collected in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). NOTE: On the application DO NOT say you are cycle touring through China put down that you intend to fly to Urumqi for example and then will move on to Xining or some other large city. The Chinese government do not like the idea of cyclists penetrating the far reaches of the country which is what cycle touring is all about!
Warning as of January 2012 the following applies to applicants from the UK applying for their Chinese visa in London. The following is copied from the Chinese visa website
(iii)Applicant applying for tourist and family visa (L-visa) also need to provide:
1. Invitation letter from a Chinese organization or a permanent resident in China; or
2. Air ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation
I do not know if this applies to UK citizens applying for their Chinese visa from an overseas embassy, worth checking the forums!
Visa applications are always a pain to do and the way we did them worked out fine and meant that the trip was pretty flexible and we didn’t have many deadlines to work to. Just remember, write neatly and provide as much info as possible. Good Luck!
Below is a list of some of the makes and models of the equipment that we took.
|Bike & Bags|
|Bike||Santos Travel Master|
|Front Lights||CatEye solar|
|Pump||Topeak Road Morph|
|Back Pannier rack||Tubus Logo|
|Front Pannier Racks||Tubus Ergo|
|Mirror||Blackburn Multifit Mirror|
|Front Pannier Bags||Ortlieb Front Roller Classic|
|Rear Pannier Bags||Ortlieb Back Roller Plus|
|Hind Pannier Bag||Ortlieb X-Plorer (35litre)|
|Handlebar bags||Ortlieb Handlebar Plus|
|Tents||Terra Nova Laser 2 man tent|
|Sleeping Bags||Mountain Equipment|
|Thermarest||Thermarest prolite Mat|
|Silk Liners||LifeEventure Silk Travel Liner|
|Thermapillow||Thermarest Compression Pillow|
|Water Purification Tabs||Chlorine tablets (50)|
|Stove||MSR Whisperlite Int.|
|Fuel Bottle||MSR Fuel Bottle|
|Titanium Cups||Blacks Trek Mug|
|Spoon & Fork||LMF Spork|
|Swiss army knife||Victorinox|
|10L Water Bag||HighGear Waterbag 10L|
|Folding Bowl||Ortlieb Folding bowl|
|Rain Jacket||Endura Gridlock Jacket|
|Wind Jacket||The North Face Evolution|
|Thin Fleece||Berghaus Half Zip Fleece|
|Thermal Base||Mareeno wool|
|Cycle Shoes||Shimano MT90|
|Outdoor Shoes||Berghaus Trail Shoe|
|Cycle shorts||Endura FS260 Pro Shorts|
|Cycle Trousers||Rab vapour rise pants|
|Waterproof Trousers||Endura Gridlock Overtrouser|
|Winter Socks||Mareeno wool scoks|
|Socks||Blacks 2 Pair Active Sock|
|Gloves||Berghaus Out There Gloves|
|Packing Bags||Packdown Sack|
|First Aid Kit||Lifesystems Solo Traveller FA Kit|
|Netbook||Packard Bell Dot-s-018|
|Maps||(will buy en route)|
|Ext. Harddrive||WD My Passport 500GB|
|USB Stick||SanDisk 4GB USB Flash Drive|
|Compact Camera||Lumix TZ7 & Canon IXUS7|
|D – Lock||Kryptonite Kryptoflex|
|Carabiner||Camp Nano 23 Karabiner|
|Headtorch||Petzl Tika XP|
|Tyres||Schwalbe Marathon Ext.|
|Spokes||DT Swiss Champion|
|Brake pads||Magura spare pads|
|Puncture Repair Kit||Rema TipTop Repair Kit|
|Multi-Tool||BBB Minifold multitool|
|Duct Tape||Tesa Duct Tape|
|Bike Oil||Finish Line Wax Lubricant|
Our safety throughout the trip is something that we are of course concerned about. The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s website provides excellent travel advice that with research, has allowed us to plot a safe route to Hong Kong avoiding a number of troubled areas.
We have a note of all British Embassies in all the countries and states that we shall cycle through in case a problem does occur.
The Lonely Planet Guides provide in depth information and recommendations regarding safety in specific cities and areas which may be useful as and when we travel. The majority of this information is available on their website.