Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Blog, New Journey - Visa Headache

Lao Tsu said something about every journey starting with a single step.  Apparently he never had to deal with the vagaries of visa applications.  Nothing can kill a travel buzz like being stopped at a border for having the wrong visa or overstaying your visa.  Of the things that have shaped my upcoming trip to India, Nepal and then who knows, nothing has influenced it more than the random, sometimes arbitrary requirements to get visas.  They've shaped where I'll be going, for how long, where I'll go next and even how I need to move from country to country.  And I'm one of the lucky ones, a U.S. citizen who has free entry to 80%+ of the world's countries.  Try being Thai or Cambodian applying for a U.S. visa.

So for better or for worse my travels are being molded by these requirements.  By far the biggest influence is India's fairly unique rules.  Everyone must apply for a visa and the standard issue first visa is for 6 months long, an incredibly long stretch of time that I'm grateful for.  The odd fact that if I leave the country (even while that 6 months is still valid) I need to be outside of India for 2 months is what throws a wrench into the mix.  So the current plan is to stay as long as I want to in India working my way up from Kerala in the south and exiting to Nepal.  Then if I'm loving India I need to be outside for two months, and that means Nepal and Mainland China most likely (I need to use these language skills picked up in Taiwan somehow).  Nepali visas are a piece of cake but China, especially if you throw in Tibet, is an even bigger headache that I'm just starting to look into.

All that said, I'm excited for my trip and will be writing about some of it to share.  Don't expect mind shattering revelations or much of a point to this blog, as the title suggests I'm not going in with much of a purpose other than travel for travel's sake.  Hopefully I'll be able to learn a thing or two and enjoy my time soaking up foreign cultures.  This has been a trip I've been planning since I caught the travel bug while studying abroad, hopefully I'll finally be able to pull it off.