The planning has begun in ernest. Well, it’s started in our Kitchen but you know what i mean.
We left it a bit late to start but it all seemed such a long way away and we didn’t think we needed to do anything yet…
Then, suddenly you have just a month and there’s so much to do.
So first things first.
We booked our ‘Jab’s’ at STA in Bristol. The Doctors gave us some shots but apparently they can’t now offer a full service so its off to the Private Sector.
Which found us at STA in Clifton scrabbling to find change to pump into a parking meter that got terribly bored waiting for me to find the last 5o pence in Jaki’s purse and chose to swallow the £3 I’d already given it without letting me have a ticket.
When we got to STA we were obviously a bit early.
Not the, ‘Oh look they’re still in their Jim-Jam’s’ sort of early but the ‘Ferk, I haven’t even plugged my laptop in yet’ sort of early.
But they were happy to talk to us and offer some advice on our trip, even if they needed to floss and eat their Weetabix whilst doing it.
When the nurse came in she ushered us through to her office which was behind three very solid and sound proof doors. Not a good sign, no one could hear us scream.
Well, no one will hear Jaki scream, she’s going first.
We sat down and the Nurse talked to us about our trip and seemed genuinely interested. It was obvious she’d done some travelling herself.
We went through the various web sites which suggest /advise/bully you into having various injections against disease I didn’t even know existed.
We settled on Rabies (shit, Rabies ) and Japanese Encephalitis which is apparently as deadly as a Kamikaze at Pearl Harbour.
This required a series of two injections over three weeks at £259 a bung.
We could she said, have them both in the same arm or one in each arm? Given the cost I chose the double whammy making my left arm worth about a Grand in total including my new builders watch.
The injection itself wasn’t anything to worry about though it did ache a bit afterwards but for the faint hearted, it really isn’t big deal. However, when Nursie came to put a plaster on Jaki’s arm she couldn’t find the wound. It was then she revealed she ‘did have her glasses on’ which is a bit worrying.
So that’s that sorted.
The next big challenge is the issue of Visa’s. Something we didn’t realise was such a big deal or would be so complicated.
No one told us when we agreed to stop in Delhi en-route that we would need a visa.
No one said the Visa would be so hard to get (over an hour on the computer answering questions that have absolutely no relevance) or just how expensive it would be ($60).
There were some questions on the form about my education which I didn’t even understand. (Not educated enough to understand obviously.)
It also asked about my religion but did not offer the option of none.
But be advised.
Your Passport must be ‘Machine Readable’. (Biometric).
There must be at least 2 blank pages??
It must be valid for at leat 180 days.
There are other Caveat’s but I’m too bored to linger.
The on line form also requires you to upload a passport type J.peg photograph but this isn’t very easy as there are a range of other criteria including the size of the file which, if you don’t comply, will reject your photo.
You also have to upload a copy of your passport (the page showing your details). This time it has to be PDF and again there are size’s and measurements that have to be complied with before they will accept it.
No one told us when we booked our flights into Thailand that we might be refused entry if we couldn’t prove we were leaving after 30 days. So today we need to speak to Trailfinders and see just what this means.
No one told us that we would need a visa to enter Vietnam and that visa would cost us $50 and would need to be collected from the Vietnamese Embassy in person, either in London, Bangkok or as were hoping to do, in Cambodia.
The problem for us is about timing. We don’t have an agenda, we sort of hoped we could travel around and when the mood took us, stop. Or, if we get bored, move on. Hopping back and forth across the boarders like we do in Europe. Or at least, like we used to be able to do in Europe Pre -Brexit.
However, even in Vietnam you need some structure.
The application form (on line at least) ask’s. “When will you enter Vietnam and where will you stay”?
We fell at that hurdle as we don’t know when we’ll get there and we don’t have a Scooby where we’ll be staying. So, that Visa will have to be applied for later.
This morning I received an e mail from the Laos Embassy in London advising that we will need to complete the application form for a Laos Visa, including date of entry and address of accommodation, plus another £35 each.
You can do this by post but, you have to send your Passport with the application (and a stamped addressed envelope for return) which should be back in 3 working days. There is a risk that this could go horribly wrong if the passport got lost in the post.
All the visa application’s required a passport size photo to attach to the Visa which for us meant using one of them booths where you take 4 Photos of yourself for a Fiver. Haven’t used one of them since i was a kid and it was half a crown then!
However, we’ve been assured by several Bloggers that there are easy ways of doing things once you are there and that it’s not really an onerous issue.
N:B. Some of the Blogs have been as good as anything else in terms of advice and www.seat61.com has been particularly useful.
It is though more expensive than we’d thought.
India is $60 (£45 at todays exchange rate).
Vietnam is $50 (£37.49 at todays exchange rates).
Laos is £35 If purchased from Embassy in London.
Cambodia is $37 ( £27.74 at todays exchange rates).
Thailand could be anything from £20- £125 depending on length of stay, multiple entries etc and we haven’t as yet got our heads around this one so don’t know which fee will apply. Jaki is on the phone to Trailfinders as we speak though it sounds like its getting very complicated.
Keep reading and we may eventually get to the bottom of this.
So, after an afternoon of mind numbing form filling, we’ve stopped planning and started partying.
A few bottles of wine, Kenny Rogers on Spotify and Duck Breast in the oven.
Suddenly it all looks a little easier.
Well, till tomorrow.