Apr 19 2008

Last update before departure

Published by at 3:53 pm under World Tour 2008

I am now pretty much ready to leave in 48 hours (Monday the 21st)

I received my visas for Russia and Kazakhstan last week, so now it’s a race against the clock to get to Russia early enough to have the time to get to the Kazakh border before the Russian visa expires on the 15th of June. I’ve planned a fairly direct route (See map) through Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the South of Ukraine: about 3000km altogether from my parents in NE France to the Russian border in Crimea. If I cycle at least 100km each day, I’ll be in Russia before the end of May and in Kazakhstan around mid-June.

I’ve heard very bad news about obtaining a visa for China: the Chinese government has just tightened its visa regulations following the recent anti-Chinese protests around the world. More information is available on the Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum, but in short they are now even tougher than Russia: 30 days maximum stay; need to show proof of airline tickets and booked accommodation; need to apply in a country where you have right of residency; etc…

With these limitations it’ll be virtually impossible for tourists to cycle all the way to China, especially when entering through the West border as this is an area forbidden to foreigners anyway (this rule wasn’t strictly enforced until now). I am not sure what I will do once in Kazakhstan, I may actually have to fly from Almaty to avoid China altogether. I won’t get there until August anyway so I have 4 more months to think about it…

Regarding my preparations, I wish I’d have a few more weeks to research all the places I’m going through and also re-think some of the stuff I’m taking with me: my bike fully loaded is 70kg, and with all the cakes I’ve eaten recently I’m also 10kg overweight so the total weight is about 155kg. No way I’m leaving the laptop at home though!

A very overloaded bike
A very overloaded bike

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