This trip has been an interesting one to plan. As in, we actually had to plan to go on this trip. We don’t normally do that so much. Not really. All who wander are not lost. Or so they say.
But our hand was forced for at least certain parts of this one.
In general we always know where we are flying to. Although I’ve often thought a “get me the f@$# out of here” kiosk in the airport would be a sweet idea! Usually we have the first night’s hotel booked. But then beyond that we have a semi-vague idea about what direction we might be headed. And that’s really about it.
Russia is different though. To be considered for the insanely overpriced visa ($260 per person!?), they need to see tickets for both entering and exiting the country. As well as the hotels we will be staying at along the way. Not to mention a list of every country we’ve been to in the last 10 years. Also, an invite from someone in Russia (which there are now companies that can be paid to do this). Oh, and a hand written letter saying why you think you should be considered. Oy.
The bureaucracy might simply be a test you need to pass to prove you really do want to go!
The Chinese visa was comparatively a breeze (though two separate trips into the city for drop-off and pickup were required), and nothing needed for Mongolia. At least not for Canadians.
The Plan: China -> Mongolia -> Russia -> Estonia -> Croatia -> UK
We will be flying to Shanghai on April 11th where we will meet our old African travel companion Zoe. Coming from England! The three of us will be in it to win it, together through to St. Petersburg. We will start the trip by spending a few days checking out Shanghai and then getting ourselves to Xian (somewhat central China) to see the Terracotta Army. We will then head up to Beijing which will include a few days away hiking the Great Wall.
Next we will take the train up to Ulan Bator, Mongolia. We will spend a few weeks in Mongolia, taking at least one 4WD expedition into the countryside. We know all this because we aren’t allowed to enter Russia until May 18th.
On May 18th we will take the train up to Irkutsk, Russia where we will checkout Lake Baikal (the deepest lake in the world!) for a couple of days. We will then switch from up/down mode to left/right mode, beginning the long journey westward to Moscow, making a few stops along the way of course. Following a few nights in Moscow, we will take the train up to St Petersburg staying a few nights. Due to be out of the country on June 2nd, we have a train ticket booked taking us to Estonia! (who wouldn’t want to go to Estonia??) Zoe will be flying back to the UK from St. Petersburg.
Hopefully we will still be friends with her at that point in time 🙂
After that we are pretty open. Likely we will hop down to Croatia for a bit. And then likely over to the UK to visit a few friends before heading home in time for another kick-ass summer on the Sunshine Coast!