Pakistan Visa Application in HK

We got our Visa in HK quite easily at the Pakistan Consulate in North Point:

The only problem we had was the fact that they didn't want to give it us for the dates that we wrote on our application form. Whatever you do, make sure you check the date you are given. We had to get our's changed.
Here's our visa:

We were given a 2 month visa starting up to 4 months later which is just what we wanted. They were very helpful at the embassy and providing you apply in the morning you can get the visa that afternoon.



Sur La Route Intro

Ceci est le commencement de notre blog. Ici, nous allons tenir un petit journal de bord a propos de ce que nous voyons et des experiences que nous vivons sur la route. Il y aura aussi des information sur les pays que nous visiterons, la nouriture, l'eau les distances a parcourir ect. A chaque fois qu'il y aura l'internet nous vous donnerons des nouvelles.

A plus tard!

French, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkey

On the road intro

We will try and post anything interesting that we see or do on the road although we are limited by access to the internet. We're both keeping some sort of diary and also lots of info about food, water, directions and places to stay, so whenever we reach a town with internet access we will add the information to the blog.

English, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Kyryzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turmenistan, Iran, Turkey


Cycle Touring - Pacsafe - the best security equipment for touring cyclists

We're taking with us a couple of Pacsafe products that have been offered to us by the company. We're using a pacsafe 55 mesh bag for the video camera bag that can be locked to the frame of the bike or used in hotel rooms if we aren't camping.

Also they've given us a couple of retractasafe 200 locks which we can use for locking front wheels together, panniers in a hotel room or anything else we can think of.

Kazakstan Visa information

We managed to get our Kazakhstan visa at C&A Tours:

Address: Room 802, Koon Fook Centre, 9 Kuntsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Telephone: (852)2369-1866
Fax: (852)2721-7052
E-Mail: admin@cnatours.com

It was relatively easy but we couldn't get longer than a month and they weren't really interested where we were going or where we would enter or leave.

Here's the visa:

It has an entry and exit date so if we get behind we will have to get some sort of vehicle to get us to Almaty. There is also the Trans Siberian train, although you have to be careul as the train that starts in Northern Kazakhstan leaves Kazakhstan and then re-enters heading South so in theory without two double entry visas this could be a problem unless you ride much further South before getting on.


Russian Visa application

We managed to get our Russian visa in HK with the help of a local tour company that is situated really close to the Russian Consulate:

Room 2124, 21/F., Sun Hung Kai Centre, 30 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3521 0688 Fax: (852) 3521 0650
E-mail: in@cistour.com
E-mail: out@cistour.com
Web-site: www.cistour.com

We spent ages going back and forth to the Russian consulate trying to find out what they wanted us to do and being told that we wouldn't be allowed in (4 hours in freezing air con, the clerk had huge tattooed arms which really helped with the atmosphere and everyone spoke in gruff disinterested voices and basically ignored us) and then just as we were about to give up and make a new plan we were told that despite all the difficulties, if we gave the tour company HK$ 1700 (about US$250)we could have a visa the following day.

We had no letter of invitation although they are available from the Way to Russia website and we didn't need to buy the insurance that we'd been told was essential.

We had hours of telling them that as we weren't going to a hotel we couldn't get a hotel voucher - they even suggested we cycled to Moscow so that we could have a voucher. Cyclists just don't fit the rules!

Here's our visa:

The visa surprisingly gives us an earliest entry date and a latest exit date - we didn't need Kazakh visas for the onward journey either - I think they just got sick of us and gave up caring (although the money obviously helped)

We will update our experience in the comments.


Mongolia Visa Information

We got our Mongolian visa at the Mongolian Consulate in HK. They were very helpful but the only way we could get a visa was to tell them our complete route from Mongolia to the UK - which got a bit tedious writing it out.

We also had to write a letter (helped by one of the staff) saying what we were doing in Mongolia and why we wanted to go there 'We are proud to start our journey in the historic city of Ulaan Baatar'

Here's the visa:

We were given one month but we will have to extend that by one month as soon as we arrive as we calculate that it will take us just over a month to cycle the 1400km to the border - with breaks for relaxing etc. Apparently the wind is likely to be blowing against us for most of the route which after rifding the Pamir highway the wrong way last year we are slightly dreading - we had times where we had to pedal to go down quite steep Tajik hills.

We have been told that the renewal process can be quite slow but that it is possible.

If you look at the visa form (available in the files section on the home page) it seems as though you need visas for the exit country before applying but we didn't have any problems in HK. We have insurance but this wasn't checked despite the suggestion that we must have it. We will update in the comments about the renewal process in Ulaan Baatar.


Chinese Visa problems in HK

Since the trouble in Tibet and the change to the visa regulations a week later (no apparent connection)it has become almost impossible for touring cyclists to cross China. Until April we could have got a three month visa (or sometimes even 6 month) in HK. However the restrictions now prevent people from staying longer than a month in China.

To get the Chinese visa in HK is relatively easy - you just go through a travel agent (listed in the following post) although the restrictions this year on getting visas has meant we've had to change our trip to start from Ulaan Baatar and take the long way round rather than up through Yunnan to Tibet.

As of now it is possible to get a double entry visa but not to extend a visa once in China - it may be that you could get lucky but we decided to avoid the uncertainty. Our only option had been to leave our bikes and fly out of China and use our second entry to give us the time we needed to get to Tibet. We weren't prepared to take that chance as the lady at the travel agent suggested that no-one could guarantee that we would be given the second entry under current circumstances.

The final straw was some friends of ours who are journalists said that no-one was getting in to Tibet (even now) and that even if you got past any checkpoints you would be sent back at some point in your journey and there was no way anybody not on an organised tour was getting anywhere near Lhassa - cyclists being such a dangerous threat to China's security. We also thought that our video camera wouldn't have gone down very well.

Here's our visa - it's no use to us now - they only told us we couldn't extend it after we got it so we're stuck with a useless visa:

People are now being given at best 30 days to be started anytime within 3 months.

We would advise anyone to get the Chinese visa for the area near Urumqi (near the Kazakh border) before you start the trip as we have heard that it can be hard to get the Chinese visa at the Chinese Kazakh embassy (update: travellers are saying that they have been getting Chinese visas from Travel agents in Almaty for an extra fee)

Our friends who write guide books for Central Asia suggest that the Visa restrictions may well change after the Olympics....fat lot of use for us though. We will post updates in the comments and feel free to add more info via the comments as well.


Chinese Visa Information

Right click and open in a new Tab or Window to see the original website.



Cycle Touring - Best mutifuel stove

The best stove we could find was this - we've been using it for about 6 years and never had a problem. It burns gas cannisters, petrol, diesel, white gas, white spirits.....etc the list is endless - we've always been able to find a fuel that works in it. It primes almost instantly and is very highly recommended.

Canon 5D Mark II

This is an excellent camera and we use the 24-105mm lens for the simplest range of useful zooms while travelling. I sometimes put in a fixed 50mm 1.4 lens but normally weight matters so I try and hold back.

It fits easily in the handlebar bag and there is room for a few other bits and pieces, even the second lens.

Best HDV Camcorder

We've used a Canon XM1 before and there seems to be nothing on the market that is of a similar size with 3CCDs. We've had to compromise because this camera is a little bit too big, but it does fit in a small rucksack with a light and a wide angle lens.
We wanted to film HiDef video and until flash memory gets really cheap we decided that DV tapes are probably our best option - we can send them home as we use them and always buy new ones in major cities like Almaty in Kazakhstan. We've also got a pac safe so we can lock it up in hotel rooms. We didn't pay anything like the full amount in HK for the camera so we're not as flash as it looks.

Cycle Touring - Best Sleeping Bags

We've hunted around for small, warm, light sleeping bags for a while and we ended up with these sleeping bags made by Rab. They're expensive but can cope with pretty cold nights and pack into the smallest stuff sack you could imagine. We've got the ones with a water repellant coating and we also pu them in a waterproof bag in our panniers.

Best Videos

Journey through Sudan from Chad via Darfur in 2003

We entered Sudan on the Chad border aware of BBC reports that the whole area and border post itself had been taken by rebels. When we arrived at the border no-one knew anything about it. We spent the bext 10 days trying to get to Khartoum through the desert - following the train tracks as much as we could. Garon got bitten by a rather nasty snake and at one point we even met the Janjaweed gathering in a village...we had no idea who they were and were quite excited to see loads of men on horses.

Sudan from Simon Taylor on Vimeo.

The video is about 20 minutes long.

Cameroon Wedding

In Cameroon in 2003, we were trekking in the Mandara mountains up near the Chad and Nigerian borders and ended up being invited to a wedding. What an experience it was....

Cameroon Wedding from Simon Taylor on Vimeo.

The Puppet

In 2003, we were driving through Ghana in the middle of a fuel shortage. The price was due to rise at the weekend and no-one wanted to sell us fuel until the price went up. We ended up getting nearly 200litres from a road-side fuel station where the fuel was delivered in buckets. We were surrounded by children and families staring at the strange foreigners. Keep watching carefully.

The Puppet from Simon Taylor on Vimeo.

Copy Cat Kids

In 2002 we travelled from the UK to Nairobi overland through West Africa. We had with us a Canon XM1 and managed to film all over West Africa - only getting arrested once. The best place to film was amazingly Sudan - you just get a permit from the authorities and film anywhere you want.

Copy Cat Kids from Simon Taylor on Vimeo.

This is a clip from the Dogon region of Mali, a very strange escarpment with people living as they did 900 years ago. In the village in the clip, the children obviously learn by repetition - they don't speak French or English but it doesn't stop them copying us.


Route through Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey

Here’s a Silverlight map of our route through these countries.

Click to Zoom, Shift Click to Zoom Out, Click and Hold to Move

routemapturkey routemapiran routemapturkmenistan


The Hong Kong we're leaving behind

Loads of cool memories but these are some of the brilliant places in and around HK that we've spent time in.