Visa, geezer?

Visas are a galactic nightmare. They’re my worst fear. I dread turning up at some battered outpost and being shouted at by a grizzly bear-esque jobsworth with a pet antelope and not being able to understand him ranting

“Your visa’s not worth sh*t. Now leave me your passport, turnaround and trek back the 1,000 million miles you’ve just done to speak to Mandy in the office about getting this sorted. Imbecile! I’ll feed you to my antelope, now march… MARCH! 2, 3, 4.”

Then I imagine he’ll grunt and an avalanche will wipe out any chance of retracing my steps to salvation. Yes, that really is my worst fear.

I’m trying my best to get my head around what I need for where. I’m gathering I can obtain a lot of them at the entry points by chucking some shrapnel and a donkey hoof their way.

A great point of reference is Project Visa meanwhile this page will attempt to cover my personal border experiences.

Russia: I bought this one from the UK (£45), interestingly I forgot to get it registered but this wasn’t questioned at the border to Mongolia so in effect I saved some cash. Your call.

Mongolia: Again, I bought this in the UK (£40), did it by post and it was no sweat at all.

China: Bought this one on an express service in Mongolia ($50 inc $20 express fee) valid for 90 days. Worth noting on a single entry visa you can’t go to Hong Kong or Macau and back into China, you’ll need a double entry. Also, Tibet is an ever changing nightmare. If you go China to Tibet you should be ok, but Tibet to China will be complicated, but more than doable (just more expensive).

Nepal: Got this one in Lhasa (Tibet), relatively pain free. It took a couple of visits (application and pick up) but I do know that you have your patience tested by the numerous monks who think it’s ok to flood to the front of the queue because their fellow man in robes is already there. Good karma Ant, good karma. Grrrr.

India: By far the most ridiculous system in place in the world. FIVE visits to the Indian Embassy over three days – two of them at 4am – means your week is speared by the red tape rigmarole. The queues are long, take a good book and befriend your line mates asap. It makes me cringe just thinking about it – lots of people struggled to get the visa they wanted i.e. multiple entry

Sri Lanka: Free 30 days on arrival for most, extending it just meant a day trip to Colombo and an hour or two of smiles and scowls but overall a painless experience compared to previous countries. Cost was 6000LKR (approx £30) for 60 day extension.

Singapore: As with all things in Singapore, it’s a breeze. Just land, smile, shop and leave within 30 days. Can’t say fairer than that. “Fairer than that.” There’s always one!

Indonesia: I snagged my 60 visa in the grand Indonesian embassy in Singapore. Beware, unless you like wearing daggy brown fisherman trousers then do not turn up like this idiot in shorts. Its a hefty S$75, but Indonesia cannot be ticked off in anything less then two months. I also bought a one monther on arrival for US$25. See. Told you you need time.

Australia: I secured this one online while in Bali but (presumably) due to the time I’d spent in India I had to pay another £34 for a chest x-ray in an approved medical centre. The initial cost for the 1 year working holiday visa is AUS$195 but you can extend it by crawling on your hands and knees through spider infested fruit crops.

Prices and foreign exchange comparisons correct at time of going to press. The Global Financial Crisis happened while I was in Australia, after this the pound plummeted like a pound of pounds and subsequently all comparisons are null and void.