Indian visa hustle, family reunion & a first dip in the Arabian Sea
It feels like we just entered India and we are already about to leave again. But not for long. We´re coming back end of January and will stay for at least for three months then. Tomorrow we´re heading to Sri Lanka, not really voluntarily, more for bureaucratic reasons, more specifically our visa is expiring. Already, you´re thinking? Yep, we only got a one month visa from the Indian embassy in Pakistan as they said once we´re in India we can activate our Indian e-visa, that we also applied for. As we had to find out the hard way though, you can not only not enter India with the e-visa overland, you can also not activate it once you´re in the country. So there we were, antagonized and frustrated with the whole visa situation. It was already a big hustle to extend our Pakistani visa (sparring you the details) and apply for the one-month Indian visa – let alone the extra expenses – which allowed us to cross the Wagah border from Pakistan to India and now we were confronted with the next visa setback. Travelling has never been easier than today, they say. That´s true – if you get on a plane. If you want to refrain from flying and travel overland, like us, you are not only facing nerve-wracking bureaucratic hurdles, you are also confronted with additional costs. Our philosophy is and always has been, that there is always a solution that prevents us from flying. So far we were right and we always accepted additional expenses. After all what is a few hundred bucks more out of our pocket compared to the environmental damage of just one flight?! But now we were facing not only a moral dilemma but it seemed like we also had to accept the fact that we have to fly out of India – after roundabout 20.000 km of overland travel from Munich to Kochi in India. It was probably even harder for me (Manu). If you know me well, you know that I can be quite stubborn and determined when I get something into my head. After all we are talking about 50 km of water that is separating India from Sri Lanka! Why not just take a boat, right?! But 10 years after the 26-year long Sri Lankan Civil War there is still no agreement reached between the two countries. The other option would have been to travel across the country to Nepal, apply for yet another Indian visa in Kathmandu (the cost for the Indian e-visa which we already paid would have been in vain) and spend Christmas and New Years in Nepal. But that just didn´t feel right. So in the end we settled with the fact that we are flying and decided to make the best out of it. After all, spending one month on a beautiful island celebrating Christmas and New Years is not too bad :)
The one month we spent in India went by pretty fast. We spent 5 days with Mia´s brother in Jaipur and visited the Rantambore National Park, then we went on a 40 hour train/bus trip to Goa where we were told we could activate our e-visa (disappointment), we rented a scooter and enjoyed the temporary freedom of having our own vehicle, enjoyed the beach and the sea while overcoming an eye infection and now we are spending a couple of days at Fort Kochi in Kerala, quite puzzled about the fact that we are going to board an airplane tomorrow.
P.S.: Should you ever require any visa advice for Pakistan and India… drop us a message ;-)