The day when I will jump on my motorcycle and embark on a 3 month adventure from the Netherlands towards India is in sight. Since almost all the official documents are arranged, the departure is set on 31 of August, 2015. Let’s do this thing!
Het leed dat Carnet de Passage heet
The Carnet de Passage is a document which is required when taking a vehicle outside the borders of the European Union. Beside the issue fee for the document itself (198,50 euros), the ADAC also demand a deposit which is determined by the value of the vehicle and the visited countries.
With a streetvalue of roughly 1.000 euros, my motorcycle was well set under the 10.000 euro mark, making the deposit fee (a staggering) 3000 euros. A obligued fee that, together with the issue fee, is to be transfered to the ADAC even before the paperwork reaches a desk of the ALLGEMEINER DEUTSCHER AUTOMOBIL CLUB im MUNCHEN!
Bureaucratic Horrible-ness at its Finest
The second I set foot in the BSL to arrange my Indian Visa, an odd atmosphere was lingering in the room, slowly killed my positive and uplifted energy. A lady was called to the counter. As I monitored the conversation, the ”flexible” and ”helpful nature” was quickly made clear. With a panicking voice, trembling legs and a defeated look the lady turned away from the counter and clearly with her hopes crush, proceeded towards the exit.
When called to the counter I handed over all the documents and the woman started browsing through. The nodding head was promptly abrupted with the question ”positive cashflow?” Not having ever read about it in my application, there is apparentely a need for a proof of positive balance from the bankaccount. Since I did not have a document containing that information I was directed to move my butt to the internetcafe next door, print the needed documents and once again pull a number.
Just beside the BSL building the internetcafe was quickly located, being tiny little office with two ancient PC’s against the wall. I informed the guy at the counter I had to print a screenshot of my current balance and would be gone in a minute. That was not a problem and was allowed to take place in one of the dying office chairs in front of the PC. Within a few clicks on the keyboard I logged into my account, pressed CTRL+P and a little quite decent looking printer came to life. Not completely to my surprise, it managed to produce a document that badly printed, I was hardly able to read the information. The guy handed me the piece of horrible-ness, adding ”That will be 11 euros”. While my eyes widened he explained that I got charged for 30 minutes of internet-use (10 euros) and 1 black and white print (1 euro). Armed with my 11 euro piece of unreadability, I made my way back to the BSL.
After another wait I was allowed to once again stand nervously at the application desk. I tried my best to kindly hand over the documents where the lady at the counter once again went through the complete paperwork. There she asked if I was indeed planning to ride my motorcycle towards India. (Which was already quite obvious since I stated it multiple times). Then the kind lady noted that she also needed a copy of the motorcycle documents, which could be made in the internetcafe next door and I could return later..
After another nice trip to the wonderful internetcafe and a beautifully abstract copy which this was only 2 euros, such a bargain! Once again having the pleasure of waiting in the comfortable atmosphere of the BSL. When called to the desk, I tried my hardest to maintain a kind hearted and joyful facade, while internally having completely different emotions.
That is why, when applying for a visa at the BSL, my advice would be to bring a copy of everything imaginable. Make a copy of your bankcredit, Insurance, Hotelbooking, Carnet de Passage, why not throw in a copy of your babycard once you’re at it. If they are so silly to ask for it, atleast then you wouldn’t be caught off-guard!
An Unexpected Experience
Having learned from my wonderful experience of applying for an Indian Visa, I came prepared when applying for the Pakistani visa. Beside the required documents; copies of Hotel bookings, motorcycledocuments, Carnet de Passage, Travel Insurance and much more.
I arrived early in the morning at the Embassy around 9.30. Once inside I was still the only one applying for a visa, thus it took about 5 minutes until I could hand over my papers. They red everything very thoroughly and asked additional question concerning my trip and places of visit. Since I wrote everything down (and had a visual travelplan) in my introductionletter; these answers where easily verified. The hotelbooking added to this story even though they did not require the copies immediately. I was asked to sit down as the documents would be prepared for judgement.
Once seating I felt the need to add more clarity in my story, so I grabbed the additional papers walked over to the reception and handed over a copy of my Carnet the Passage and motorcycledocuments. Then I noticed they were already busy sticking a document in my passport with glue that reeked of instant death. With a well hidden smile and a lot of relief I made my way back to my seat. With a few minutes later paying for my visa and having some small talk about the trip, the passport was handed back to me with a sincere ”safe travels” wish.
And so this picture was made outside the Embassy of Pakistan, 25 minutes after I had applied for my Visa.
Making tons of modification and add-ons to my entire backpacking-kit. Preparing for a few worse case scenarios, I am taking the needs to safely drink water from a muddy pool, transfer fuel from another vehicle, patch up my tires and much more.
Ofcourse you can’t predict everything and every situation will still involve a lot of improvisation, but that is also the core a an adventure. Adapting to the situation and figuring out solutions along the way.
When we are most vulnerable, we often encounter the people that are most valuable.
In Case of Emergency
Since I’ve been living with myself for quite some time, I have some experience with the man that is Robert Jan when it comes to travelling. Meaning I always find a way to; burn, sprain, drain, cut or in any other way damage my physical entity. Thus I have taken some precautions by adding multiple first aid-kits in my luggage, with the most important one attached on the back of my motorcycle in clear view and with easy access. The main idea being that I’m in need of assistance, a trespasses can easily identify the medical kit.
Before embarking on my trip I luckily got the chance to welcome a new addition to the family, as my sister had given birth to another boy named Thijs. Since I already have so much love for my nephew (big brother) Maarten, I foresee a rough future being wrecked and used as a personal playground by both of these adorable monkeys.
I say bring it on boys!
Speading some Dutchness along the way
I couldn’t help myself from making something extra to give away to the wonderful people I might meet on this journey. That is why I made multiple little packages containing the Dutch delicacy Stroopwafels. That is how I hope to share some Dutchness with the locals while I am engulfed by their country and rich cultures.
Without speaking a word, this aids me in instantly explaining;
Hi, I’m pleased to meet you! My name is Robert.
A few weeks before leaving we had to do something fun and memorable in the Netherlands. And so we attended the Rubber Boot Missie 2015 in Utrecht. The idea is pretty simple; reclaiming the medieval canals of Utrecht by drifting through it with hundreds of rubber boats.
Grabbing everything that could floated we made our way (using two tennisrackets as oars) to the startingpoint. On our way we even picked up a Ukrainian girl which was experiencing her first day in the Netherlands. And an experience she got! Arriving at the startingpoint, the water was filled with rubber boats of all shapes and sizes with a uplifting atmosphere surrounding the whole group. As we made our way through the canals, drinks food were shared, oncoming canal-touringboats were being raided and onlookers (plus our Ukrainian guest) were being baffled by all the crazy Dutchness.