Well it’s been 2 days since I visited the British Consulate in Istanbul. That visit was informative and concerning. Informative in the sense that I now know I am not alone in having such visa issues. Disturbing in that to legalise my status, I am going to have to pay a fine of £45 for each and every day that I have been in Turkey. As things stand, this will be a fine of £500+…working on the basis that the Ipsala border officials actually have a record of me crossing the border on 10/09/2011.
If they don’t have a record of my crossing through that border control (they didn’t scan my passport or write anything down), then I have no idea what may happen. The British Consulate were unsure of whether there is an upper ceiling upon the fine.
With these things in mind – and with no news from the Iranian visa agency – I am going to have to make a very difficult decision. Owing to my bike being so unwieldy (and un-airline friendly), I am going to have to accept that at least for the time being, my hopes of travelling to Australia and beyond will have to be put on hold. The more pressing issue for me right now is to escape from Turkey without being detained, and without having to pay a sky-high fine to legalise my status. Given this, I am going to leave tomorrow for Bulgaria – heading towards the River Danube and eventually, England…
View Larger Map
For all those of you that have sponsored me so far – and given me so many kind words of encouragement – I’m very sorry that I cannot continue as planned! As you may have seen from my previous blog posts, I was extremely excited about the prospect of cycling through Central Asia over the following months – but by the same token, I certainly don’t want to risk a huge fine and/or my bike and equipment getting stranded in Turkey…
But this certainly isn’t the end of the trip…
So what’s next:
If circumstances were different, I perhaps would just stay in Bulgaria for the next few weeks in order to secure onwards visas for Iran/Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan/Kyrghisztan/China. However, since I have been away, I have had news from back home that has given me great reason to return to the UK temporarily. The most concerning news I’d rather not discuss here.
In addition, my mum, founder of The Bansang Hospital Appeal, has recently had to undergo emergency surgery on her eye. This has left her dependent on everyone around her for support for at least the next 3 months – and forced her to cancel all of her charity related work. As a one person charity, this is a pretty catastrophic thing to have happened.
At such times, endeavours such as mine become rather secondary in importance. Given that I cannot continue forwards…it makes absolute sense for me to head back home in order to be around the rest of my family at this difficult time. I will also be able to continue the work of the BHA whilst my mum recovers.
The return to the UK will also give me an opportunity to switch to a conventional bike, secure my ‘Stans’ visas in the UK, and then continue the next phase of my ride when circumstance permits.
Making my way back to the UK:
With all this said, I will be using the return leg through Europe as an endurance test. I’ll be following the Danube and the Rhine as I make my way back to England, hoping to cover the 3,000km in 25 days or less. I probably won’t be updating my blog too often, but you can follow my progress on this part of the leg by checking my ‘where am I‘ page, as well as twitter.
Once again, I’m very sorry that the ride east is temporarily on hold…& thank you all again for your support to this point,
Thoughts about this post…?
Join the conversation by leaving a comment in the comments box below…
Enjoyed this post…?
If by any chance you enjoyed reading this journal entry, please feel free to share with others using the social bookmarking buttons below…