Aghan visa, worth a try

Afghanistan: The idea first started back in Azerbaijan, when my friend Jerry emailed me an invitation letter. He is working at the moment in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, which is a stone’s throw away from the Uzbek/Afghan border. I could go from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan to Tajikistan. It would be foolish to bike in Afghanistan and to go there without a lot of research beforehand. But, Jerry has been a good friend for many years now and he would arrange all transport for me in Afghanistan and he would also make sure I would have company during my entire stay. And so, I decided to try for an Aghan visa in Uzbekistan, and if I couldn’t get one, then it would probably be best. Life is long, and perhaps in the future the situation in Afghanistan will change for the better, becoming a place where travellers can go freely.¬†¬†After all Afghanistan is a country of great nature, culture, and beauty.

7/3 Bukhara –> Tashkent (bus)

After feeling sick from the desert, I wanted a few days of rest from cycling to let my body fully recover. So, I decided to leave my bicycle in Bukhara, and take a sidetrip to Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, to try for the Afghan visa. I originally wanted to take the train, but I discovered that train tickets sell out quickly here, so I ended up hopping on the bus in the morning. By the time I arrived in Tashkent, it was already 9pm. I climbed into a cab to get to downtown, and checked into Gulnara’s Guesthouse.

7/4 Tashkent –> Samarkand (bus)

The next morning at breakfast, I met Per, an American guy from Oregon, but currently living in Beijing. He invited me to Beijing at the end of my trip, saying we could have a big celebration with Peking Duck. Wow, definitely something to look foward to!

After breakfast, I started my hunt for the Afghan embassy. First I followed the address in my Lonely Planet guidebook. But really, I should’ve known better that in Central Asia, the embassy locations are changing all the time. It had already happened to me several times before on this trip. Turns out, the Afghan embassy moved in the last year or so to a new location. After asking around, I ended up in general area of the new embassy, and a really nice guy finally drove me to the exact location. I learned that this really nice guy is not actually Uzbek — his father is from Georgia, and his mother was from Azerbaijan. He was born in Azerbaijan but lived in Uzbekistan pretty much all his life. It’s been incredible to discover how people migrate from one place to another.

Finally at the Afghan embassy, the moment of truth: It’s a no. The consul said he couldn’t give me any sort of visa, that I needed to have an Uzbek resident permit. The invitation letter from Jerry wouldn’t be enough. He mentioned something about me being a solo woman traveller, so that might have had something to do with it. His English wasn’t good enough to explain. Oh well, next time inshallah!

Tashkent is like most other cities: overwhelming and hard to navigate if you don’t have someone to show you around, so there was nothing to keep me in Tashkent. After visiting the embassy, I made my way back to the bus station. Though I didnt see much of Tashkent, the one thing I really enjoyed about the city was taking the metro. The metro stations are beautifully decorated, some with large chandeliers and intricate marble carvings. Too bad it’s forbidden to take photographs of the metro because it’s used as a nuclear shelter.

On the way back to Bukhara, I made a tourist stop in Samarkand, the next grand Silk Road City.

2 Thoughts on “Aghan visa, worth a try

  1. Peach on July 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm said:

    Good try, Minwah. You have friends everywhere. It’s so impressive!

  2. Creuza Simionatto on July 12, 2013 at 9:56 am said:

    Loved the mosaics photos, MinWah, really beautiful! What a trip!

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