I reached Russia!

After 22 hours of travelling and transit from Mumbai to Delhi to Moscow, I reached my friend’s place.

Last day flight from Mumbai to Delhi cost me a bomb since I couldn’t get train ticket to Delhi.

Flight to Moscow was 6 hours from Delhi.

I took the airport express metro and changed another one to reach my friend. Not a lot of English speakers here!

A short walk in the evening revealed some of the beauty.

Next day was quite cold and damp. It was raining and the temperature was 7-8 Celsius. I found navigating in metros a little hard due to the Russian language.

Pictures:

Last one is from the underground metro. They really dig them deep inside!

5 weeks in India

The next part of my travels is Russia for 15 days, Europe for 3 months, and Canada for another 3.

To make this possible with my Indian passport I had to come back to India and apply for visas for all 3 of those. I chose a rough figure of 5 weeks and hoped it works out.

As of this moment in the last week of those 5, I have all my visas. I was afraid something or the other might get ruined and I might end up wasting a lot of my flight ticket money. I had already booked flights to all the 3 places as well as a couple of intra Europe flights. Schengen visa is also quite notorious for third world countries.

I made a surprise visit to my parents in Mumbai when I came to India. They thought I was headed Bangalore where I stayed before leaving.

I got the Russian visa in a single day in 30 mins. Thanks to my friend who stays in Russia this was a private visa type and I paid double to get it the same day. Since I had other visas to apply, I didn’t want to risk anything even though it was cheaper to get back after 2 days. The visa was issued for 90 days.

I applied for the Canadian visa online seeing that they did not want flight ticket bookings by this means. The other way was to apply on paper where they wanted me to submit return tickets. I was hoping the application after submission online would ask me to go to an application centre with the filled in form. Instead all it said was that I had to wait now for their reply.

Meanwhile I headed to Bangalore to catch up with friends and my cats and to apply for the Schengen visa from there.

My cats were able to recognise me even after this long break of 3 months. Here are the two cuties whose pics I share like a cat lady.

The brown one (Chutku) had grown so much that he was barely recognisable.

I applied for the visa to Czech Republic since my entry point is Prague. They took 2 working weeks to process the visa and gave me a single entry one even though I had requested for a multiple entry. I had to show hotel bookings and car rentals in Europe to get my visa. I was pretty pissed with the whole process and felt like being in SE Asia again. The single entry visa also means that I can’t attend a friend’s wedding in India, which is in the middle of my trip.

3 weeks down, the Canadian embassy had replied with a request for passport submission. I went back to Mumbai after submitting my passport in Bangalore and requesting it to be delivered in Mumbai. 4 weeks, 1 day is when I received it back from the Canadian embassy. They gave me a 5 year multi entry visa (passport validity). There’s a reason I love Canada way more than Europe 🙂

I spent most of my time here catching up with friends, playing with my cats, spending time with my parents, and eating lots of good and tasty food.

Going to Russia on the 15th and there’s only a couple of days left for me here in Mumbai.

I migrated my blog from the WordPress.com domain to a new one today. I bought the new domain name and hosting from go daddy. Hopefully subscribers were migrated correctly 🙂

I’ve been doing other travel prep like arranging currency, buying essentials, loading up kindle with books I want to read in the next 6 months, buying a tent, SIM card, foam pad etc. Last few days have been quite busy doing this.

If I didn’t want to attend all the metal festivals in Europe so badly I would have seriously continued being in SE Asia and gone to Malaysia, Philippines and all.

Long stretch of travels coming up. Pumped!

Laos and end of trip

Towards the end of the 3 months in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, this space to note stuff got sidelined a bit.

Day 8 – Nakay to Konglor

Day 9 – Konglor to Pakxan

Day 10 – Pakxan to Vientiane

I completed the Thakhek loop with Phoebe. There was a cool spring on the way and Konglor caves. Both of them were quite amazing. There were nice jumping spots in the spring, and the caves were a long boat ride and an entire stretch inside.

The journey continued towards the capital Vientiane. Phoebe got 3-4 flat tires in quick succession. It was unreal. None for so long and then suddenly she goes haywire few days before I have to sell her. I managed to somehow get her to Vientiane.

In Vientiane, I started looking for buyers for Phoebe. It had been 10 days already on the bike and I felt I’ve had my fill. Plus if you look at the map of Laos, the route further up looked like Vang Vieng -> Luang Prabang -> Nong Khiaw -> Luang Namtha. Luang Namtha being way in the north. Good place to sell the bike is either Vientiane, the capital, or Luang Prabang where people from Vietnam come in from.

I managed to sell Phoebe for a really sweet price in Vientiane. I was adamant at selling her for a high price since I could use her for a few more days and sell her for less which would still save me bus money. It worked. This also meant my travel mate Kevin and I had to part ways after a real good time together in Laos. He left for Vang Vieng on his bike while I took the bus to Luang Prabang.

On reaching Luang Prabang over a night bus I found someone who was headed to Luang Namtha. Since I had no plans of my own I joined the girl and left for Luang Namtha the same night.

I did enjoy the Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang during the day, which were quite unreal.

I did a 3D/2N trek in Luang Namtha with a local tour agency. It was pretty good and cost around 90$ with food included. Some very nice river water to swim in.

The bus to Luang Namtha dropped us of at 2:30 am. Half asleep I heard the Lao bus guys say “Nam-tha, Nam-tha” and I dreamily wondered that this must be the word for toilet. I went down to pee and saw there was a board for Luang Namtha in front of me. It was quite an eye opener at that moment. Both of us were expecting to be dropped off at 5-6 in the morning. We chilled by the side of the road close to a guesthouse till 6. The bus was so small that I had to sleep diagonal on a seat of two to fit. Thank goodness I wasn’t sharing my seat with anyone.

Headed to the small town of Nong Khiaw after this which truly stole my heart. So much so that I seriously contemplated buying land there to set up a summer home. The logistics of this are pretty hard to set up.

Also went to Muang Noi which is a town an hour boat ride up from Nong Khiaw. Pretty similar appeal as Nong Khiaw.

Last place on the list was Vang Vieng. This is famed to be a party town but you can see nice spots with very few people if you know how.

I flew out of Vientiane to India after this.

I swam in fresh waters in Laos for good 17-20 days out of the month I was there for. It’s amongst my favourite things to do.

My trip cost me 1,40,000 INR in total for 3 months. Which is around 700$ a month average. Pretty good.

(This post is on a new domain)