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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Crossing Eurasia

From the east coast of China to France, there are approximately 10,000 kilometers as the crow flies. For the last part of this world tour, I have the choice between three different itineraries to go from Asia to Europe: the way through India, Central Asia, or Russia. Here is a description of those three itineraries, their difficulties, their interests and the one I have finally chosen.

Three possible routes

The way through India

Interests
The way through India is certainly, for me, the most interesting road. This itinerary would lead to cross Tibet, to discover the Himalayan range and its Mount Everest, then to enter the Indian subcontinent through Nepal. I could visit Katmandou, Pokhara, before to start visiting India. India is a country that fascinates me, having an incredibly rich culture. All those names that make dreaming: Varanasi, the Taj Mahal, New Dehli, Kolkata, Mumbay... From there, I could go towards Pakistan where I would probably discover one of the greatest hospitality on earth. Finally, I would enter Iran, another country that fascinates me, where I could learn about the Persian culture.

Difficulties
-The first difficulty is to cross Tibet to reach Nepal. Tibet is now a Chine province, where the access is totally forbidden to foreigners. I prepared myself for weeks to find the place of each police checkpoints, so I could go around them. With a bit of chance, I could certainly pass.

The map of the police checkpoints in Tibet

-The second difficulty is the impossibility to get the Pakistan visa out of my home country. Moreover, I got confirmed that I could not even make made this visa by an intermediate person after having sent my passport by special mail service (that would already have cost me around 200 dollars).

It means that I should go personally to the Pakistan embassy in Paris, then going back to India to finally enter Pakistan, which is out of the question.

Verdict
Those administrative problem for the Pakistan visa made me reconsider my itinerary. This is of course a disappointment to not be able to discover India on this journey, especially because of bureaucratic problems.
 

Russia

Interests
The itinerary through Russia would first lead me to Mongolia, where I could cross the Gobi desert and the steppes of the country. This would be an journey mainly focused on nature and wide open spaces. Then, I would need to cross almost all Russia by following the famous Trans-Siberian railway, before to arrive in Moscow and to visit the worldwide known Red Square and its Kremlin.

Difficulties
-Arriving during the winter in this area, I would have need to hitchhiking with temperatures going between -20°C and -40°C. Let's say it would be a bit cold.

The temperatures in January in Irkoutsk, which would be on this itinerary

-The Russian visa is almost as difficult to get than the Pakistan visa. The extreme majority of the tourist visas are delivered from the home country, so again in France in my case. I could probably get a transit visa, but you can imagine that crossing more than 6000 kilometers in few days would be a bit risky.

Verdict
Crossing frozen plains in a very short time didn't seem to me to be the most suitable way to cross Eurasia, in the lucky case I could obtain a visa. I will not go through Russia.
 

Central Asia

Interests
To get to Central Asia, I would first need to cross all China from east to west. Arrived at the limits of the Middle Kingdom, I could discover the Uighur culture, before to enter the countries in “Stan”. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan. It would be on arrival in the ex-USSR countries, but also the discovering of the silk road with its amazing cities of Samarkand or Bukhara. Then, finally, Iran with its incredible culture and hospitality. Persepolis, Mashhad or Isfahan.

The Zenkov cathedral, of Christian Orthodox religion in Almaty in Kazakhstan

Difficulties
-Winter is difficult in this part of the world. The temperatures can easily go down to -30°C during the night in the mountains. Snow can also block some roads.

-The Central Asia countries are known to be a nightmare for visas. I will have to organize in consequence to not get stuck somewhere.

Verdict
I will travel in Central Asia and discover this area that is quite unknown in the rest of the world. I am currently in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, waiting for my Iranian visa.

See you soon on the silk road,

Jeremy



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