Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Ahhh Bishkek! How we'll miss the broken concrete, the heaving farting Mercedes minibuses, the charming Russian ex-pats, the hanging around embassy windows. We have finally met the elusive Mr. Ashad, Pakistan visa official. He's very nice and polite but cannot help us - there has been no response from Islamabad. We thank him and say farewell - not downhearted because we will try again in Delhi, where we think it's possible to get a visa in three days, not six weeks. We have a couple of days back at Nomad's Home Guesthouse. On our way back we meet Greg, another long-term inmate. "It's like a refugee camp" he warns. He's right. The overcrowding is rather alarming, but it's only for one night. There are tents covering all available ground in the backgarden. Happily, thanks to a General Amnesty on all visa felons, everyone is to be released this week. We are heading for Almaty in Kazakhstan in order to fly to Delhi.

There's a festival vibe at the guesthouse as everyone queues to use the toilet, the stove, the shower, the washing line, the kettle, the toilet again etc. It's a tricky business and despite the heat and the frustration there are no fisticuffs. However John has to make a 'forceful point' to some new inmates who cannot sleep and want to ensure the rest of the punters don't. His words are persuasive. Or was it his appearance in just his underpants that did the trick? There are farewells the next day, and some last minute panic attacks by some of the Old Lags who have become institutionalised. Our battle with Bishkek bureaucracy is over, we are free once again. Where's the vodka? Prost!

1 comment:

John Harwood said...

Hi John and Gayle,

It's a long time since I have been in touch, ironically the last time I caught up with you blog, you put a comment on mine the following day.

I can sympathise with your visa problems as I have been going through the same recently. I am in Kuala Lumpur and went to the Indonesian embassy to get a visa, but I had no ticket in or out and they insisited on one, at least until I told them I had sufficent funds, then they didn't bother anymore. Anyway I had to wait a whole 24hrs to get the visa, it's so frustrating isn't it. (Note that I don't think I would have actually said that to you face to face just now).

Anyway, I will send you an email in the next day or so.

Enjoy the walking,