Last turn of lingering worm
Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
37Trip End Jun 01, 2010
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It's either smooth cruising - or battling with administrative mis-ministrations, bureaucratic bungling, international impasses, nationalist nerdity, often all perculated with a steady dribble of paranoia, and my own little hiccups.
About six months ago, I took my eye off the ball for about five seconds. And finally paid the final price over the past fortnight.
Emigrating from Hong Kong , chucking the job, organising the road ahead etc took months, and the night before departure, letting go a magnificent sigh of satisfaction, I left a small black bag in the back of a taxi.
Passport, visas, ATM cards, cc cards, the full sober, catastrophe.
That's where Hong Kong steps up; in the efficiency stakes
Except for one crucial document: a South African passport.
It's easy to get a temporary travel document, but takes four months to get a 10-year-valid book issued.
And China did not want to replace the lost one-year multi-entry visa into a temporary passport.
So the worm nurtured itself quietly in the belly of this beast, until the permanent passport eventually pitched just before entering Nepal .
In the interim, however, the worst case-scenario reared it's f**ing little head.
It's the Olympic year, in Beijing , and Tibet decides it's about the right time dance its little tune.
Decades of paranoia writhe around China , and Beijing sticks the boot in.
Tibet is declared off limits to foreigners.
Now the plan had always been just to take a bus from Kathmandu to Lhasa , easy as chips, and tootle on from there.
But whoa, and no!!
And as dressing on the xenophobic cake, a visa hammer slams down too.
So, waltz past the riot police outside the China Embassy in Kathmandu , and request that this permanent Hong Kong resident would like a visa to pass through China .
No way, bro
Straight and simple.
No matter what I said would change any of the full stops dotted in front of me.
There has long been the paradox, it seems, between the martial art dictums of 'flexing like a willow in the wind', 'being fluid like water', and the absolute, total, inflexible, intransigence when there is not a little tick-box option for the bureaucrat on those rare occasions where logic might prevail over law.
So, whistle Dixie, fly Dragonair, break the flow, the now-entrenching road/rail-mindedness, and dive headlong back into my history, where the cost of two G&Ts is the budget for a full day and night on the road.
Turns out, attempting to profit from the twitch, that visas are now organised for India , Pakistan , China and Russia - and the Trans-Siberia is geed up. They all only offer single entry visas, but that might just keep me on the straight and narrow.
And a drift through a Macau casino nets US$1,000 at a Texas Hold'em table, that pays the flights, anyway.
So now it's full taps to Istanbul .
My Hong Kong host and china of old Mr C&E puts up with his guest with a great deal of grace, and now has a big favour to call in.
Back in Kathmandu yesterday, sticking to the Zen of the roadride. No hop, skip or jump to an easier, further destination.
Tomorrow on the bus south into India, the plan is to hop aboard the Calcutta-Amritsar Express in Lucknow (scene of a savage siege of the colonial Brits), and be into Pakistan by the end of the week.
With a bit of luck, see ya all there.