“You need to get 4 vaccines. Today.”
There’s no movement on my face as my doctor hits me with these words, but on the inside I’m screaming. I never liked the idea of a needle pushing through my skin. I can’t help but think back to middle-school when the doctors would come and vaccinate a whole class at once. Standing in line, slowly moving forward, having a clear view on the current child being vaccinated, the air filled with the scent of disinfectant, getting paler and sicker as slight panic and fear of death starts to kick in.
Less than one month until we hit the road and we still haven’t seen an embassy from the inside. Not the cleverest idea when attempting to ride the bike around the world. However, there are reasons why I postponed this phase of planning: I’ve never needed a visa in my life, I don’t know what it is and I have absolutely no freaking glue how to obtain one. If there was one thing that could sabotage our plans then it was the visa issue. Luckily we found a visa agency that would do some of the work for us: you hand over all the necessary documents, pay an not-so-little amount of fees, they do their magic and, voilà, eventually you get back your passport with the respective visa. So far so good.
However, the embassy of Pakistan requires the applying person to physically be at their embassy in Vienna.
Monday morning we headed off to Vienna. “Are we going to tell them the real story of what we want to do, or do we simply say we are some regular tourists?”, I ask Dominik. As we enter the embassy I immediately feel a sense of excitement and unease. I can’t help but feel so very out of place here. We find ourselves in a waiting room full of cozy looking couches (yes, inside the embassy building), two or three Pakistani people sitting and waiting. I’m suddenly aware that I’m not in Austria anymore. These building is official Pakistan ground, as the corresponding waving flag in the backyard reminds me. Behind a counter with glass wall a friendly Pakistani official greets us:
“Hello, can I help you?””Hy, yes, thank you. We would need a visa for a.. ummm, special,.. ummm, trip. In fact we want to go around the world by bike and go through Pakistan as well. Do you think that’s possible?”
Silence. Slightly concerned he looks from me to Dominik, and as neither of us reveals that it’s “just a prank, bro”, he continues:
“Generally speaking it is possible, yes. However, I need your bank statement, a letter describing what you are up to and what places you want to visit, a filled out visa form and patience on your behalf. It usually takes 4-6 weeks for a visa to be issued”.
With mixed feelings we exit the embassy. 4-6 weeks is too long and international post delivery too slow. The passport would never ever arrive on time to us in Kyrgyzstan. We were not prepared for a setback like this. Our original route is in danger.