CIS Registration woes: Prologue
And now we tell the story of what really happened
Everyone that has ever considered traveling to Central Asia will know that visas and all associated bureaucracy in the region are a nightmare. Even though we tried to avoid slipping down the same path, we sadly did not escape the fate of so many before us.
Each country we have visited, bar the Kyrgyz Republic, we have had visa trouble of some variety. For China it was an ordeal to get the visa. For Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, the trouble was dealing with the police and getting registered once in the country – these three tales are the basis of this trio of blogs.
We've been holding out on publishing this because we feared that speaking out about our bad experiences with the police might jeopardize our chances of getting other visas in the near or distant future. Recently, however, (and beyond our own control) we have been all over the local Kazakhstan media with reports of our deportation from China (which we were not) and the mess made of our visa registration here. So it seems that the damage has already been done – we may as well get the story straight.
Just a side note – in our experience, China Police enforce the law thoroughly and efficiently, with no exceptions. They are several leagues above the CIS states in this regard. We have no fear for our safety should we need to transit via Beijing on our way home to Australia. And with browned-up noses, we continue...
It seems like these ex-Soviet states hold on to their rules and regulations for fear that if they let them go, all hell will break loose. As we see it, the process of visa registration serves no purpose except to provide a bit more work for a bored policeman, and another vague law whose myriad of possible interpretations always provide scope for a fine. Thankfully, governments are slowly coming to their senses and registration is gradually being done away with in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Unsurprisingly, the insecure Uzbekistan government is sticking to its guns.
We have included a lot of detail here as to help other travellers. We think we've seen it all. But then again, we're not out yet...