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Monday, January 11, 2010

Visas and First Potential Glitch

I picked up my visas for India and Nepal today so there is one less thing I have to do before I leave. I used a visa service to expedite the process, but I didn’t think I would receive them as fast as I did. It was a pleasant surprise.

Although I could have gotten the Nepal visa at the border I thought it would be best to get it now and not have to worry about securing one at the border. I also used a visa service agency to make things a little easier and to ensure I had my passport, with the visas, before I take a small side trip to South America at the end of January.

Everything was going as planned until I received this news, “India Visa Alert for Tourist Visa Holders”. I have heard rumors about India issuing new visa rules stipulating that Tourist visa holders could not re-enter India within 2 months after last leaving. However, there were lots of different and often conflicting reports about who was affected and what was being enforced. Some said that this only applied to those individuals with Tourist visa that were for a year or more. However, it appears now that it applies to ALL Tourist visa holders, including 6 Month multi-entry visa holders (which I am not one of).

I am still a little uncertain of what this will exactly mean and how it will affect my trip. As of now, I am planning to travel around India for about 2 months, cross over into Nepal, where I am planning to spend about 4 to 6 weeks, and then return back to India to travel for another 2 to 3 weeks before flying to Myanmar (Burma).

I’m sure this is the first of many “snafus” that will take place along this journey. However, that is all part of the fun. Unexpected things will bring upon unexpected adventures and experiences. Things that may appear to be nuisance or annoyance may turn out to be better than what was initially planned. It is all about going with the flow.

I have enough time to see how this all pans out and to change my plans accordingly. Maybe, I will stay in Nepal longer (I have a 3 month visa) and do some volunteering (as initially planned) before returning to India. Or I could just fly from Kathmandu to Yangon. Who knows?

More details regarding the new visa rules for India can be found here

To apply for a Permit to Reenter India Within 2 Months, please visit our website to start the application process can be found here.

On a lighter note, one of my worries about this trip is the whole bathroom situation. Most of the toilets are of the squat variety. For those of you who have never seen a squat toilet, here is a picture. Not too bad if you are stationary. However, how about if you need to use one on a train? Trying to not fall over or drop anything down inside one isn’t the easiest thing to maneuver even if you are the most athletic, limber person who has great balance.

Anyway, most people don’t discuss this aspect of traveling, but it is something that everyone will encounter and use during their travels. A humorous story about bathroom adventures can be found here.

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