Uzbekistan Visa And My Stock Picking Strategy

In stark contrast to the smooth and pleasant experience of applying for Tajikistan Visa, my visit to the Uzbekistan Consular office in London was extremely distasteful and unpleasant. The woman at the visa window was exceptionally rude. Having put up with her demeaning attitude for 45 mins I decided to leave without submitting my application with the intent of writing to the Uzbekistan Ambassador to UK about my ordeal in the hope that it will redress the obnoxious and disparaging attitude of the staff.

So as soon as I got back from the embassy, I Googled the name of the ambassador. And surely he came up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. So I wrote to him on all three forums. And Yes, I activated my Twitter account for the sole purpose of getting in touch with the Uzbekistan Ambassador. Let’s see if I ever get a response back (!?) I have been thinking of “investing” (sounds grand but it really is just putting a few hard earned pound sterlings into a worth while Tech stock for rainy days) in LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter for sometime but was never really convinced they offered good long term prospects. Whichever forum if any (and ever!) I get the response to my message/email/tweet from the ambassador would be the stock i’ll go long on..savvy stock picking strategy eh !?

However I’m determined not to let this experience ruin my plan for visiting Uzbekistan. One of the places I noted down while reading The Travels of Ibn Battutah was Uzbekistan and I had put the following excerpt next to my notes entry

‘The melons of Khawarizm have no equal in any country of the world, East or West, except it may be the melons of Bukhara, and next to that the melons of Isfahan. Their rind is green, and the flesh is red, of extreme sweetness and firm texture..’

Would hate to miss out on these delicious melons, so the alternative plan is to apply for Uzbek visa at one of their consulates along the way insha’Allah..

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Tajikistan Visa and GBAO Permit

If you hold a British Passport you need to apply for a visa before travelling to Tajikistan. You can check the entry requirements and any other relevant information on the FCO website. If you are planning to visit Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region you will also need to apply for the GBAO permit. This can be done by stating that you need GBAO permit on your visa application; No separate application needed for GBAO permit.

My experience of applying for the Tajikistan visa at their London consulate was a very straight forward and painless process. To download the visa application form and review the requirements for the visa application you can visit the Visa Inquiries page of the embassy website.

Tajikistan Visa cost: £20

GBAO Permit cost: £50

Processing Time: 1 week

The Map of My Proposed Journey

I plan to hit the road on 01 May 2015, starting from Tangier in the footsteps of one the greatest travelers of all time Abū ʿAbd al-Lāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Lāh l-Lawātī ṭ-Ṭanǧī ibn Baṭūṭah. Ibn Baṭūṭah set out from Tangier in 1325 for Makkah to perform Hajj and continued to travel for almost 30 years before returning to Morocco.

Due to time limitation, visa restrictions and countries which are inaccessible due to conflict I wont be able to travel as much as I would have desired and would only be able to visit a tiny fraction of all the amazing places Ibn Baṭūṭah saw.

I don’t have a strict itinerary either only a few hard deadlines to get to certain places by certain dates; I intend to improvise and adapt as I go along. Below is a very rough sketch of my itinerary.

First Leg (01 May to 19 June)

Tangier -> Marrakesh -> Sijilmassa -> Fes -> Tlemcen -> Algiers -> Tunis -> Alexandria -> Cairo -> Luxor -> Aydhab -> Jeddah

Second Leg (20 June to 19 July)

Jeddah -> Makkah -> Medina -> Petra -> Wadi Rum -> Amman -> Jerusalem -> via Jordan ->  Lahore

Third Leg (20 July to 05 Aug)

Lahore -> Tabriz -> Shooshtar -> Esfahan  -> Shiraz -> Bukahara -> Samarkand -> Termez -> Mazar i Sharif -> Dushanbe -> Murghab -> Khorog -> Ishkashem

Fourth Leg (06 Aug to 25 Aug)

Ibn Battutah travelled from Termez to Mazar-i-Sharif and via Kabul to Multan. For various reasons and the fact that I had wanted to see the Wakhan Corridor and the Northern parts of Pakistan I intend to take a different route into Pakistan:

Ishkashem -> Sarhad Boroghil (Wakhan) -> Wakhan Corridor -> Irshad Uween Pass (4979m)  -> Baba Ghundi -> Misgar -> Sost -> Gilgit -> Skardu

Trek Across The Wakhan Corridor Into Pakistan

On the last leg of my journey I plan to travel from Tajikistan to Pakistan by land through the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. It will probably be the most challenging leg of my trip in terms of logistics, planning and physical demands.

So far discussing this route with friends, family and colleagues has drawn a lot of concern primarily for safety and security reasons; Alot of that seems to be based on the general perception of Afghanistan as a dangerous country, stemming from the popular Western media narrative as opposed to any sound evidence of security related incidents in the Wakhan.

The last published account of someone crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan via Wakhan Corridor (that I have been able to find) was in 2004 by an American couple Mock and O’Neil. Even though it was more than ten years ago, their report has been a very useful resource to aid me in my planning. Fortunately, I have been able to locate the Pakistani guide who accompanied them on their expedition. He has been forthcoming with useful suggestions and recommendations.

In terms of online resources, there is not a lot out there on Wakhan, and certainly nothing beyond one expedition report on trekking across from Wakhan into Pakistan, but there is enough information to be able to plan a trip. Following are the top three useful online resources that I found particularly helpful in planning my trip; if anyone comes across any other useful resource, please do share.
1) Mock and O’Neil

2) Juldu

3) OffTheUnbeatenTrack

For those with deep pockets looking to avoid the hassle of planning a bespoke trip to the Wakhan and happy to join a small group rather than going solo – check out Secret Compass . They organize an expedition to Wakhan every year, which looks pretty interesting, but they don’t venture anywhere close to the mountain passes between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A Rough Sketch of The Route I intend to Take
Ishkashem -> Sarhad Boroghil (Wakhan) -> Wakhan Corridor -> Irshad Uween Pass (4979m)  -> Baba Ghundi -> Misgar -> Sost -> Gilgit -> Skardu

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