It just ticked over to midnight. Instead of going to sleep like I should have, I have been furthering my plans on how I will get a Pakistan visa. That is to say, how to come up with a good lie. Since yesterday, I have been dissuaded from telling the complete truth by another cycle tourist who advised that I shouldn’t mention the fact I intend to travel by bicycle. Pretending I’m a normal backpacker is no big deal to me. The bit I have thought most about is the fact that the application needs to include bookings of air travel into and out of Pakistan. I don’t have enough money to throw away with booking tickets I don’t intend to use. I was happy to do this with China as the cost was relatively low, but flights into and out of Pakistan are relatively expensive by comparison. Without booking flights, I am left with the option of explaining that I intend to enter and exit overland. Online forums suggest that applicants should not indicate they will cross Pakistan’s border with China, so this leaves me with the border crossing between India and Pakistan. This border is well-used so shouldn’t pose any problem. Another tricky aspect of the application is that it requires a Letter of Introduction from someone living in Pakistan, explaining how they know me and that they will accept responsibility for my time in the country. My best mate’s girlfriend has a Pakistani friend who lives in Pakistan. I am hoping the friend will be able to help me out, but I am yet to ask (tomorrow’s job). It will require them to be involved in my fake story, so I am not sure if they will be willing to assist. My backup option is to pay the tour company Lost Horizons to sort one out for me.

Considering all of the above, I have come up with the following story:

I already have plans to travel to India, so I thought I would use the chance to see my friend in Pakistan and visit a few places in Pakistan as a tourist. I have not booked return flights to Pakistan as I intend to cross overland at the border between XXXXX and XXXXX. In Pakistan, I intend to visit the following towns: XXXX. Following advice from Australia’s Smart Traveller resources, I will most certainly be avoiding those areas (e.g. Balochistan) with high security risk. (And I most definitely won’t be cycling by myself through the north of the country and over the border into China.) 

If I am asked why I don’t have an Indian visa in my passport yet, I will respond with:

I don’t have a visa for India yet because the type of visa I need will depend on whether or not I am granted a visa to Pakistan. If I am granted a Pakistan visa, then I will need a double-entry visa to India. If I am not granted a Pakistan visa, then I will only be entering India once, which will simply require an e-visa.

 Sounds simple on paper.

Through the morning I messaged, emailed and rang a bunch of people I have been meaning to get in contact with. Then I set about finalising my China visa application, making a few more hotel reservations, filling out the application form and printing all the necessary documents. It was once this was completed that I started looking into Pakistan again. In the evening my friend Megs came over and joined my parents, brother and me for a roast beef dinner.

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Total distance ridden 17,908km