It’s official. One month today and we will be straddling our mighty steeds and sailing out of Goodwood Race track in London – after a lap around the track of course!
It’s hard to believe the time had come around so quickly. It seems like only a few weeks ago I was assuring my boss that I was giving him a year’s notice about my application for long leave and there would be plenty of time to prepare – and here we are – that time is upon us – and I officially have 7 working days left (not that I’m counting, or anything).
It seems, quite frankly, like we’ve been assing around for most of that year, and now suddenly the Rally is upon us and we are surprised that we have so much to do. The last few months have been a frenzy of visa applications. Well, let me be honest – firstly we needed to navigate the visa process before any frenzied applications could even commence! It’s been a long, slow, painful process, but I won’t harp on too much as I think I started my whinging in my last post.
However, I must share with you a very funny story about our Russian visa application – the good news is that we now – eventually – have our visas. But what a business to get them! In fairness, they were processed within the ‘promised’ 12 working day window, but that didn’t prevent my simultaneous aneurism. As you may recall we sent off our Mongolian visa applications only to have them returned because we had applied too early (can’t imagine who was so eager…). So we took a chance and sent them off to Russia, knowing it was a risk because we were supposed to already have our Mongolian visas in our passports, so show evidence of our ‘intermediate’ country because we’d applied to Russia for a double entry visa. (Yes, the logistics are a nightmare – ‘herding cats’ doesn’t begin to describe it!).
I cannot confirm or deny, but I may or may not have tracked the ‘reply envelope’ sent off to the Russian consulate in Sydney, and may or may not have obsessively checked the Australia Post app on my phone countless times a day to track the return of our passports. After all, flights were booked, the Mongolia visa application awaited, and time was running short. Eventually
OCD desperation got the better of me and I picked up the phone to the Russian consulate to very politely enquire about the status of our visa applications. ‘Luckily’ the entire visa process changed the day after our application was received, which gave me the perfect ruse to contact the consulate despite the strict instructions on their website not to do so. So call I did. No luck. Recorded message advised – call only on Monday’s Tuesdays or Thursdays after 3.00pm. So wait I did, and call back I did. After navigating an exhaustive selection of options by dialling the appropriate number on my keypad, I eventually got through to a human who spoke… only Russian. As I started with my ‘hello, I’d like to…‘ I was cut off with a ‘no speak English‘ in a thick Russian accent and hung up on. I was not deterred in my mission. But after about seven calls (navigating through the ‘options’ menu, securing human, being told ‘no speak English‘ and hung up on), and being subjected to peals of laughter from my colleagues as they listened intently to my efforts to elicit any meaningful response, I decided on Plan B. I accosted the lovely Marianne, a young lady in our office who – you guessed it – just happens to speak Russian.
Armed with our details, and after a quick visit to ‘Google Translate’ to brush up – she too managed to eventually get through to a human. I am told they had a lovely conversation, the Consul was very interested in the Rally, but could provide no information whatsoever regarding our visas. Marianne was told to ‘tell them to relax – if they’re only flying out on the 27th, they’ll get the visas back by then‘. No mention of the time needed to get the Mongolian visas in the intervening period. You can’t say I didn’t try, but it seems it was all in vain anyway, as our passports arrived back two days later, visas beautifully displayed in both. Passports were immediately dispatched to the Mongolian Consulate in Canberra, where, alas, the
OCD careful monitoring of their progress has again commenced. To say that I’m slightly concerned about ‘picking up’ our Iran and Uzbek visas in the three days we have in London, is a slight understatement…
Aside from our visa debacles, we have been busy preparing. Peter has (at my insistence) singled out his selected clothing items for the Rally. I have purchased bug resistant, quick dry, SPF 50 fabric protected items, and spent a small fortune. But I insist on clean undies every day, so ‘quick dry’ is essential (although in all honesty, they look like regular ‘tighty whiteys’ to me?). I have also bought two identical sets of pants and shirts (yes, my luggage allowance is severely curtailed), so if I need to wear the same set of clothes for days on end (but never undies), you will never be able to tell. I think it’s strategic, others have used words such as ‘weird’. Each to thier own I say.
Some exciting news arrived in our inbox a few days ago – thanks to the awesome fundraising efforts in my office, the Whizzers were Cool Earth‘s top fundraiser for May! That does NOT mean you can stop contributing – please keep those funds rolling in – see the wonderful way your generous donations have helped so far! No donation is too small, so please give if you can by clicking here.
Our other preparations have included attending a First Aid for Motorcyclists course. I must admit I had a vested interest, knowing that if one of us was likely to befall some calamity and require emergency medical attention, it would most probably be me. So I dragged Peter off on a rainy Sunday where we received excellent tuition, and highly recommended, instruction in life preservation. Well worth the time and money. I can confiently say that I could safely remove a helmet if required to perform CPR, or drag a body away from leaking fuel on a foil blanket.
While we are ticking a lot of boxes, there is still so much to be done. We still anxiously await the return of our passports (hopefully with Mongolian visas in place) before we fly to Dublin in just 10 days time. We are trying to tie up loose ends at work, at home, and with all the other affairs we are abandoning for three months. We are trying to fit in farewells with friends and family. We need to decorate our bike boxes with the snazzy new stickers which arrived today. I have plans to get our shirts printed up too – at some stage in the next 7 working days we have left in Australia.
The Whizzers are whizzing and anticipation is building. Excitement is in the air, and time is running short. As of 20h24 on 16 June, our tracked, reply envelope had not been despatched by the Mongolian consulate… not that I’m checking or anxious or anything…. but I may also have checked at 20h26 and 20h31 (on the small chance someone is working late)…