Sunday, September 30, 2012

My misadventures about getting entrance in Kazakhstan

Since I had the great idea of visiting Kyrgyzstan, getting to Kazakhstan as well seems to be a very reasonable idea for a crazy traveler like me.

Kazakhstan, with its population of 16.6 million inhabitants, occupy the rank of 9th biggest country of the world. Once part of the USSR and nowadays belongs to the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), it became independent the 16 of December 1991.

Flying from London to Almaty (the former capital, nowadays is Astana on the north) is also quite affordable, with lots of cheap flight to Almaty via Kiev with Ukraine Airlines. My ticket was 240GBP, 10 hours flight. And then my idea was to get a transit visa 5 days, discover Almaty and visit the Big Lake and then traveling to Kyrgyzstan. There is many mini vans traveling from the bus station to Bishkek.

5 days should be enough.

I had to go back to my country using my passport so I could not visit the Embassy before. When i came back to London, the Embassy of Kazakhstan, situated in 33 Thurloe Square SW7 2SD is closed on Wednesday to assist Kazakh citizens only. I went on Thursday, with all my paperwork ready (You will need passport photo, visa application, letter to the consulate of Kazakhstan, 15 GBP payable by check, postal or credit card (+0,50GBP commission) and your flight ticket and hotel booking confirmation)

Kazakh flag...too much dark blue

This is something I would never understand...How are you going to pay for a expensive flight ticket (nowadays nearly all are non refundable) and book a hotel if you haven't been granted the visa yet?? Make no sense for me, and this was one of the main reasons that took me that long to book the flight.

Unfortunately, Embassy will have my Visa ready for Thursday, when my flight was departing on Wednesday...:(

Plan B, to flight straight away from Almaty to Bishkek with the flag airline Air Astana. It sounds perfect and it would add only 60 GBP to my ticket ( flying from London to Bishkek straight away was minimum 400GBP). Bad news, 15 hours waiting in Almaty airport to catch the next flight. OK, nothing that a professional traveler like me cannot cope with it!

Plan B seems to be perfect, until I realized: How I am going to pass through immigration, claim my baggage and check-in for the next flight, if I don't have any transit visa??

Reading several posts, Kazakh seems to be quite sensitive lately about the visas. As long as I show them my onwards ticket. I am kind of afraid of the corruption of Central Asia, old Soviet republics. But I am sure it will have a lovely time there!

UPDATE: I got my Kazakhstan visa and I will be traveling tomorrow! I will stay in Almaty from the 17th to the 21st of October! Planning to see all the city, climb the Green Hill, visit to Tolgar and one day trekking in the mountains! I am so excited!

Any of you found themselves in a situation like this?


roamingtheworld said...

How did it go? Did you fly and get through customs to your next flight???
So true- you can buy a flight without having a visa and then be stuck or turned away. No bueno.

Noelfy said...

Not yet, my flight is this Wednesday!! I am afraid!! :P

Now since we can buy our ticket online, there is noone to check the visas until you get there.

Let's see how it goes. Definitely it will be an interesting experience.

Finger crossed

Ainur said...

I'm really sorry about your experience with KZ visa. Its a weak consolation, if any, but almost all embassies of the most developed countries treat us - ex-soviet republics' citizens - the same way. Except ticket and hotel booking we also have to show our personal bank accounts for the last three months - so the embassy personnel can decide if we have enough money to visit their countries... Once I sent my passport to the Canada embassy and later begged them to give it back to me one week (!) earlier - they even didn't talk to me, and I missed my trip to NYC because I didn't have my passport. It's a shame for embassies to act like this - no matter what country we are talking about. I hope, you will be fine in the end and enjoy your staying in Central Asia.

Noelfy said...

I am so sorry to read your story Ainur!! Noone should be treated like that, no matter where are they from!! I have the hope that visas will disappear one day or at least they will provide visa on arrival!
Thank you for reading my post and sharing your story.
I managed to delayed my flight and today I appplied for transit visa. Hopefully everything will be fine. Kazakh and Kyrgyz had been amazing with me so far

Anonymous said...

Hello Noelfy, Im hoping to get in touch with you privately as I will be travelling via kazakhstan for my upcoming trip on both journeys (to and back). So how may I get in touch with you please? I can be reached at h_atiqah at l i v e dot c o m. thank you

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