After a whole day of traveling by train from Austria back home with seven stopovers it’s so nice to see my family and friends again that I immediately forget how tired I am. The next two weeks are not the right time to feel tired anyway. I still have to do so much. The worst thing for me is packing. Of course there are many different types of people: the well-, maybe over-organized ones and the ones that just pack their bags and go. I tend to be rather organized. But with so little time left, I have to let go, just do what I can do and leave.
My motorbike still needs some attention so for Tuesday I‘ve already made an appointment with Bas and David (Hyperpro) to service my front shock. I have to finish my front bags and in the time that I was in Austria I ordered some things, like a windshield and a new helmet. It feels like my birthday (actually it is the next day J ) unpacking all the packages. Looking at all my gear I start to feel a bit worried. It’s too much! My ‘to do’ list seems to get bigger instead of smaller. It takes a lot of effort not to get panicked thanks to the help of my lovely parents who really tare taking care of me.
The days pass, my list gets smaller and I even find some time to meet with my friends. This is the hardest part of it all: saying goodbye to them and my family…
There is one thing that again worries me the most beside the packing: the visa. We, Hette Rienstra, with whom I applied the visa via an agency (Visumplus, very good work guys!), had to wait for the visa of Turkmenistan for almost five weeks. Our passports are now at the Russian Embassy. The Wednesday before we leave we can pick them up. I wanted to start my trip on Thursday, but that is impossible. Thursday is Ascension Day so all the Embassies are closed and we still need visa for Mongolia and Iran. The Mongolian Consulate is in Breda, only ten km from were I live, so I decide to pick up the passports on Wednesday from the Russian Embassy and bring them myself to Breda. My bags are finished, I even packed some of them so driving to Den Haag and back is a good try out. I already made an appointment at the Mongolian Embassy and delivered the paperwork so hopefully I won’t need long. And so it is! It took me only half an hour. Hopefully the border procedures are just as quick ;).
The test ride was partly successful. The bike drives wonderful, but I’m not really excited about my front bags. My knees are touching them and I don’t know if that is going to bother me. I also think about making a luggage frame but right now I don’t have the time to do that.
It’s Thursday. Just one day before take of and I still have things to do. I’m getting a bit nervous, it’s coming close now. I really need the whole morning to get al my things ready and when Leonard arrives to say goodbye, I still am running through the house, sort of panicking. But in between we have a lot of fun too by taking pictures of me and my bike. I already new it, but am very sure now that I’m not exactly a model.
When we are finally sitting at the dinner table I can feel that the time of departure is coming closer and closer. My stomach aches. Hopefully tomorrow Hette and I succeed for getting our Irany visa. We agree on meeting on Friday at 09:00 at the Irany Embassy although we know that they open at 14:00 for the visa. But you never know! For now: enjoying the last homemade dinner.
Finally the day of departure is there. During the ride to Den Haag my mood changes by the minute. Happy because my adventure has finally started, but also sad. The farewell this morning was hard. Leaving my parents behind, almost eighty and seventy-eight is not easy…
It’s about 09:00 as I ride into the Duinweg where the Irany Embassy is located. It’s unbelievable but at the same moment I see Hette in my mirror coming up behind me.
As Hette and I enter the Embassy I am shocked by the number of people who are already waiting and surprised at the same time. It feels like a ride in a time machine, inside the Embassy it actually feels like being in Iran. I immediately grab my Buff and use it as a headscarf. In no time Hette and I are having conversations with the people around us. The people are so friendly and helpful.
After almost two hours of waiting it finally is our turn. The conversation is short: we have to come back this afternoon. At 14:00 the afternoon session will start but the man behind the counter also said his colleague would arrive at 13:00. Hette and I decide to go to a nearby park to eat our sandwiches (mine made by my mum) and at 13:00 we again arrive at the main gate. The Embassy is fully surrounded by a huge gate and outside there is a cabin with police surveillance. Even the path going to the main entrance is fully covered with gate work, also above us. We manage to get into the building but are asked to wait outside. We do, but we stay within the gates. Our luck, because in no time lots of people join up at the other side of the gate. We are at least number one! We spend our time with very interesting conversations with the women who are still waiting from this morning (there men are inside). The topics are really political. It’s so nice to talk to these ladies who are coming from all over the country (Iran). They admit that there is a lot of difference in the different areas, but I was very surprised to hear that in the area what I though was very strict (and really looks conservative, with all the women dressed in black) the young girls flirt the most! So never let cloths guide you!
Finally at 13:45 the ticket machine is working again and yes, we have number (four-hundred and) one! It doesn’t take long before our number is called out and again we approach the counter. A friendly lady checks the passports and our authorization number, we arranged via Hossein Sheykhlou (overland to Iran). The Ministry of foreign affairs in Iran needs to give you this number. I tried to let a friend of mine arrange it but he wasn’t able to. Hossein only needed less then two weeks. I feel the tension building up in my body. All of the memories about getting this visa four years ago are coming up again. The lady behind the counter says that we have to wait another two hours till 16:00 because it is so busy. Apparently not a normal situation. Pooh, we really want to go to Germany were is a meeting of Horizons Unlimited, an organization for and from world traveling minds. That’s another five-hundred km to go. Marika, my friend with whom I travelled four years ago (form India back home) is joining us in Eindhoven. I call here and give her the good and bad news: we are getting the visa today, but we have to wait. Back to the park then and that’s not a punishment. It’s sunny and over 25 degrees.
When we arrive for the third time, a bit to early of course, a man waves at us with our passports in his hand. Yeahhhhhh, we’ve got all the visa! At 16:00 we finally leave to go to Germany. A last ring to Marika and there we go. When we are not even out of Den Haag my telephone rings (I installed my headset yesterday and put it on for the first time when we drove away 15 minutes ago). The man from the Embassy: if I please want to check if we have two stamps in our passports: a blue one and a green one. A bit difficult riding on a motorcycle on the highway so I sign Hette to stop. We don’t have the blue stamp… Back again and half an hour later we ride off for the second time. Started this morning at 09:00 as one of the first and ended as last.
Just before I turn of the highway in Eindhoven to meet Marika she calls: were the F are we! She has been standing there for over an hour. With another four and a half hour to drive we take of. It’s 23:00 when we arrive at the campsite. In the meantime I lost my tank plug, it was dark and when we drive up the campsite I almost panic because it feels like I have two flat tires. When my bike is behaving like this the whole time we leave the tarmac I not very happy. In the dark we have to look for a spot to set up my tent. Not an easy job, it’s totally crowded. But with a little help we find a free piece of lane and in not more then half an hour our beds are ready for use. Totally worn out we jump into our beds, covered with everything we have. It’s (almost) freezing. Tomorrow no time limits I can just stay in bed the whole day if I want to.
My daily rhythm makes me wake up at 08:00 and after two times turning I give up and get out of bed. I’m not in a very social mood. Tired, emotional, everything is landing. Because I still need some things, I decide to go to the nearest motorbike store. The ride in the beautiful sunny weather does miracles and when I come back I’m in a different mood. Still tired but more relaxed. Sunday everyone is leaving, Hette too. Marika and I want to stay another night we watch the campsite get emptier and empty. How nice that is! Just doing nothing. Only Jens the organizer of the whole event is there with his family. There is some meat left from the BBQ and he invites us to join them. The meat is great and the company even better.
It’s Monday morning. For me the first day of my Mongolia tour. I don’t know where I’m going to today, in the direction of the Donau, that’s all I know. I feel exited and scared at the same time. Saying goodbye to the last dear person is strange. When we start riding (the strange feeling when I entered the campsite was because of the condition of the road) I’m suddenly very emotional. I even have to cry a little bit. Then the point comes where Marika goes left and I go right… My journey starts.