The countdown has begun…. One month before we take off!
The last month was a hectic one. I often woke up at night completely in panic. Should we really do it? Why are we actually leaving? Why am I doing this to myself? In addition, during the day I enjoy the current conveniences more and more; a fridge, a clean toilet and shower, a sofa. And if I want to sleep in the evening I can take a sprint before I jump onto the lovely box-spring. Either way, I also felt the daily grind and the turmoil in me to discover new things! “I want to leave now,” I often think when I’m at work or when I drive on my motorbike through the daily traffic jam. And fortunately, the closer to the departure date, the better I sleep and the more enthusiastic I get for the big trip. In exactly one month we will start our big trip! On Saturday, May 20th, Erik and I leave from my parents’ farm in Bant towards my parents-in-law in Maarssen, where we leave on Sunday 21st of May. On this conscious Sunday we will also leave the Dutch soil and set foot on German territory. Of course we will keep you posted on our adventures on this blog!
But first an update about the past month and our preparations. Let’s start with a medical update. During the last month we have been to the Municipal Health Services 3 times and vaccinated against Typhoid Fever, Rabies, Japanese encephalitis, DTP / Tetanus Difterie and Polio and FSME (Früh Sommer Meningo Encephalitis, a disease which is caused by a bit of tick). We had already been vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B and after our trip we agreed to go to the Municipal Health Services for a tuberculosis check by blood pricking. During our trip we will also drive through areas with malaria, but fortunately, malaria regulations have changed in the Netherlands since 1st of April 2017. According the old regulations, we would have to swallow malaria pills almost during our entire journey. Since you can get sick of these pills and because you could get delusions, you do not want this. Currently in the Netherlands, malaria pills are still prescribed, but they need only be taken after being bitten by a malaria mare. Only in parts of south-east Indonesia and East Timor we will have to swallow before our arrive, but it’s only for a few days. In addition to all vaccinations we have also received a cholera stamp in our medical passport. In no country there is an official obligation to be vaccinated against cholera. Nevertheless, a cholera stamp is sometimes asked before entering a country. At the major airports, this is almost never the case, but at remote border posts sometimes, mostly to earn money. It differs by border post if a cholera stamp is requested and sometimes it depends on which officer is there to check. Better be safe than sorry. All in all, we would have to pay more than € 1000, – per person for this vaccination feast, but fortunately we were both well assured and it was ‘for free’. So if you ever thinking about to plan such a trip, check your health insurance beforehand, because paying a few euros more a month will soon save you € 100 per month!
In addition to the vaccination feast, we expanded our visa collection last month with a visa for Pakistan and India. Maybe you wonder how such a visa application works in practice? On every first Saturday of the month, the Pakistani embassy in The Hague is open, so we decided to pick this day in April. Officially, the embassy would open at 10 o’clock, but because of the horror stories we heard about long queues, we decided to be present at 9 o’clock. However, when we arrived at the embassy, there was no hurry at all! The door was still locked and there was no one in the street. When we returned at 10 o’clock, the door was open, we got ourselves a number and took place in the back of the line. A Pakistani family and a male visitor have arrived earlier. We were kindly welcomed by an employee and after about half an hour it was our turn. “No, but today we are open to Pakistani people only,” was the answer of the employee. After a short discussion, the man decided to do his best. A little 10 minutes later, we had to come back to the desk and hand in all the papers: passports, visa forms, passport photos and the letter of invitation (LOI) we had arranged previously. A little later, the man comes to us: “You want a visa which is valid until the end of October 2017? But it’s April now, I can give you a visa that is valid for 3 months, so until June 2017.” “But we leave in May, and do not return to the Netherlands anymore, and since you always have to pick up a Pakistani visa in the country you are registered, there is no chance for us to apply for a Pakistani visa which is valid anyway.” The man disappears in his office and begins to count the months. He makes a few phone calls and eventually decides that it is possible. Meanwhile, the waiting room is packed and surprised faces look at us “Do you go on a holiday to Pakistan, wow!”, “Driving on a motorbike from here to Pakistan? Where in Pakistan are you heading to? What kind of motorbike do you have?” One and a half hours after we have entered, we leave the embassy with a Pakistani visa! Unfortunately, the date in Erik’s passport was not right at once, but they have solved it professionally with Typex. When we leave the embassy, everyone wishes us a good trip and a lot of fun in their home country. Pakistan, here we come! Last week we went to the consulate of India in Amsterdam. It was our plan to visit the consulate on Good Friday and therefore I called them to make sure that they were open at that day. “Yes, of course”. Unfortunately, the truth turned out to be different. On Easter Monday, we are happy they kept their promise. With the enthusiastic Indian behind the desk we discuss the plans and a smile appears on his face. He tells a story about three girlfriends who are currently doing a road trip from India to UK and back again. He picks up his mobile phone and proudly shows us their route and photographs of their trip. Great to be helped by such an enthusiastic man. While the man tries to go further with his procedures (stick our photos on our visa with glue and stick 1001 vouchers onto it), he asks us curiously about our trip. “What motorbikes do you have? I also drive a motorbike in India! “. On my question, if it is difficult to drive in India, he responds “Have you ever driven in France, in Paris? If you can drive in the inner city, India is very easy!”. Well, that will be all right! Four days later we could pick our passports including the visa! We are looking forward to visit that country!