I feel exhausted from mild levels of stress associated with making preparations for my China and Pakistan visa applications. The stress mainly came from having to make flight bookings and hotel reservations that I don’t intend to use. You can only get a Chinese visa if you show evidence of air travel bookings in and out of the country. The trouble is I plan on entering overland from Pakistan and leaving overland into Kyrgyzstan. After assessing my options, I came to the conclusion that the best solution is to book cheap flights and simply forfeit the money spent. This is cheaper than booking a flight that allows a refund upon cancellation, as the amount I spent on the flights (AU$111) is less than any cancellation fee available. The flights I booked, but which I don’t intend to use, comprise a return passage between Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen, flying with Air Asia. As part of my application, I will also provide booking details for a flight between Perth and Kuala Lumpur, which I also booked. While I will use this Perth-Kuala Lumpur flight booking in my application to show I have booked flights into Shenzhen from Perth, I will in reality be using the ticket during my journey back to Delhi, where I left my bicycle and gear. The fourth flight I booked today represents the second half of my journey between Perth and Delhi i.e. Kuala Lumpur to Delhi. Once I get my visa for China, I should be able to cancel the two flights in and out of Shenzhen and at least get back the airport tax (AU$18) I had to pay, meaning I am forfeiting AU$93 to obtain my visa for China. If I am successful in getting my visa and riding through China between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan, then I will be able to say that this was money well spent.

Making hotel bookings without paying any money was relatively easy. The simplest way to achieve this is with Booking.com, booking places that don’t require you to input credit card details. I made a couple of reservations today and will make another couple in the morning. I will be able to cancel these free of charge after I receive my visa for China. In addition to sorting out these bookings, I wrote up a fake itinerary that explains exactly how I will be spending my time in China, right down to the specific dates I will be staying in each city. I must say, my fictional China holiday sounds pretty good. I will be using overnight trains to complete a counter-clockwise loop through eastern and central China, visiting the country’s most famous sites along the way as I make my way through Shanghai, Beijing, Pingyao, Xi’an, Chengdu and Kunming. Maybe I can use the itinerary one day in the future.

Pakistan is a country I really don’t want to mess with, so despite the fact that they also demand flight bookings as part of their visa application requirements, I am going to go down the completely honest path and explain my real intentions. To this end, I have written a letter detailing my plan to enter and exit overland on my bicycle. I have also written up an itinerary that reflects my true intent in terms of my route and the number of nights I will be spending in each main town I will pass. The only misleading thing I have done is suggest that I will catch a bus between Islamabad and the Gilgit-Baltistan region – which is a higher risk area than the other parts I intend on travelling through – whereas in reality (depending on what I see on the ground once I am in Pakistan) I plan to cycle it.

Prior to sorting out all of this business, I drove to Cannington to get an ultrasound performed on my shoulder. I have had pain across my right shoulder for about four months now. I think it started in eastern Nepal where I spent a lot of time pushing my laden bike rather than riding it. My right shoulder has given me slight issues ever since I broke my collar bone when I was 16 years old. The doctor I saw back then wrongly left my shoulder to repair by itself, rather than fitting a metal rod to ensure my shoulder maintained its correct shape. My shoulder has since collapsed inwards and rolled forwards, affecting my tendons and other soft tissues. I think this is part of the reason I am currently having troubles. I revisit my doctor on Tuesday to see what he thinks about the ultrasound results.

Prior to my ultrasound, I spent some time entering diary entries and preparing the next week’s Instagram posts.

Working on my visa stuff carried me past dinner time, so I found myself starving at 7.45pm. The solution: Domino’s pizza. I just finished eating when my mate Dan rang (we’ve been trying to catch each other over the last few days) and we had a good catch-up. I’ll be trying to visit him on the weekend.

All in all I am going to bed thinking this was a very productive day.

Day 699

Broken

Accommodation Home
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 17,908km