Friday, 20 July 2018

Wait - aren't you supposed to have started your road trip by now?

I am surprised I haven't broken my computer yet - or at the very least crashed the Russian visa website. I have been constantly glued to my computer hoping that, as if by magic, my incessant checking would force the Russian embassy to process my visa faster. It has been 15 working days now, and there is still no sign of our visa. I had my hopes set high when I first went on Google to find out the average processing time. I was reassured by the fact most people said it took 5 working days. Oh, how naïvee I was to believe that now! Of course, nothing ever goes to plan when you need it. 

Thankfully, I also only just received proof of ownership from DVLA for my car to enable us to take it into the 'Stans. Admittedly, this one is not my fault. I asked my dad several times a few months back whether the car was in my name -- "Yes my dear, stop bugging me, it is definitely in your name". At the end of June, when I returned to England, I asked him to dig out the proof of ownership. "Oh," he replies, "sorry, but it's actually in the companies name - I'll have to get it changed". 

To backtrack slightly -- I should have told you, and if you know me in real life there is no way you could have escaped it -- but yes, I am driving to Mongolia (and back!) in my 2002 TD4 Freelander Land Rover with my boyfriend Harley. I only got back mid-June so we had limited time to organise everything - it turns out there was more to be done than I hoped. My car is constantly being sent away to have its air conditioning repaired, the visas have been a bureaucratic nightmare, and we had to find time to build a bed into the back of my car.

This is the route we intend to take, that is if we make it this far/ Russia ever return our passports:

*If you hover over the list above, you'll be able to scroll down through the places*

If you've been wondering about our costs so far, here's an outline:

  • £202 Visa for Russia:
    • £15 LOI (Letter of Invitation) through
    • £113 Russian visa - Tourist, double entry.
    • £38.40 Service Charge
    • £9.80 Delivery Fee to return home
    • £11 to edit my form (twice!) -- First time, didn't put e-mail address down, second-time dates didn't match LOI.
    • £10 petrol to Newbury Park (£20 but split between two) + £5.50 underground fee
  • £18.15 Visa for Azerbaijan.
  • £15.50 Visa for Turkey.
  • £15.50 Visa for Uzbekistan. 
    • This low cost is thanks to their BRAND new visa service that only started this Monday. It should have been about £60 and required a trip to the embassy if it hadn't been for this new announcement. Such lucky timing. 
  • £40 Visa for Mongolia.

Converting the back of my 2002 Freelander into a bed:
  • 2pcs G11 Bearing Hinges - £8.16 * 2 (4 hinges overall) = £16.32 from Wickes.
  • 9pcs Whitewood PSE 34x34mm x1.8m = £25.08 from Wickes.
  • 30 pcs Spax screws 5x90mm = £6.49 from Wickes.
  • 10 pcs Spax screws 5x80mm = £2.99 from Wickes.
  • 50 pcs random screw sizes leftover from other projects = £5 (approx).
  • Thermal insulation foil roll 8mx600mm for window covers = £10.00 from Wickes.
  • 2 rolls of velcro tape = £5 from B&M. 
  • 9pcs Non-structural Hardwood Plywood = £21.76. (Only used 3 pieces, but the smallest package you can get).
  • 5cm Memory Foam mattress from Argos (double) = £42.99 .
  • 2 x thick yoga mats = £10 * 2 = £20.
  • 2 boxes 'under the bed storage' = £13.50 from Plastic Box Shop.
= £159.14.
= Price we spent: £108 (because the yoga mats + storage boxes were lying around my house, and the 'random screws' and 9pc of plywood was provided by my dad's workshop). 

Kitting out the car
  • Sun windscreen blocker for front window only = £1.50 from Ebay.
  • Car holder headrest for Ipad = £4 from Ebay.
  • Lonely Planet Russian Phrasebook = £4.23 from Amazon.
  • Campingaz Stove = £12.50 from Amazon.
  • 8 Cartridges of Campingaz gas = £10 from Blacks (on offer).
  • Gelert Collapsible Kettle = £14 from SportsDirect (a gift from my mum).
  • Two Person Cook Set = £8 from Mountain Warehouse (a gift from Harley's mum).
  • Squash It Water Carrier = £5 from Mountain Warehouse (a gift from Harley's mum).
  • 2 sets of travel cutlery - £2 from Poundland.
  • 2 camping chairs from Poundland - £2 from Poundland.
  • 1 set of fairy lights for the car - £1 from Poundland.
  • Holts Tyreweld Emergency Repair = £3.50 from Tesco (on offer).
  • 4 push-lights, and 2 headlamps - £4 from Poundland.
  • Blind spot mirrors = £5 from Amazon.
  • Side-of-the-road stick = £4 from Halfords.
  • European Driving Kit = £26 from Bearmach (a gift from my dad).
= £106.73.
= Price we spent: £53.73 (you can see which ones were gifts - mainly for Harley's birthday).

  • International Driving Permit = £6.50 from select Post Office locations.
  • Food from Tesco = £34.
All I can say now is please have your fingers crossed for us. We so badly want to begin this trip as every day waiting, is another day wasted. It means we'll have to cut out places/ drive for longer hours than we already want (12 hour days? No thank-you!).

I hope you're all more organised than me in the future. 


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  2. I have it on good authority that you must now go through President Trump to get expedited service on Russian Visas...