Sunday, March 04, 2012

Which route to take for my journey home?

Two weeks ago Bianca & Florian, who I met in Ayutthaya during the Southeast Asia road trip, informed me about their plans driving through from Laos to Mongolia via China. They asked me if I want to join their convoy of 2 cars and 2 motorbikes. I welcomed this opportunity because I’ve got worried more and more about the sabre rattling between Iran and Israel/USA. Unfortunately, this option became very unattractive after getting to know more details about their itinerary. First, they are going to enter China mid of May. That means I will have a gap of two weeks after my final exam at NUS. I have a time frame of about 10-12 weeks for the whole journey only. Spending two of them in Southeast Asia would shorten the available time for countries I haven’t been before even more. Second, I was somehow assuming their route will lead towards North/Northwest, e.g., Xinjiang province, but in fact they will head to Beijing as you can see below. Almost two weeks of their itinerary (the whole trip is supposed to last 25 days) is dedicated to cities and attractions I visited during my stay in China in 2008/2009.

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At the time I came up with the idea of my journey home (more than a year ago), I tried to estimate the distance with Google Maps and thought it would be some 20-25k km. The route below shows what I had in mind initially:

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Meanwhile, I figured out it isn’t that far at all. So here’s my new favorite route:

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I still haven’t applied for any visa. Both these options have in common that they go through Iran. Actually, there aren’t that many other routes I can (theoretically) take.
Maybe this one?

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Ignore the part that leads through Afghanistan; it’s due to Google Maps routing. Yet, I’m not sure if there’s a way to go from north Pakistan directly to Tajikistan without transiting Afghanistan (would that be better than Iran?).

Or make my own way through China, which would not only be very expensive but also cause a logistic problem: Where should the tour guide who has to accompany me by law take his seat. There’s actually no space for a pillion on my motorbike.
I haven’t applied for any visa yet, because I really don’t know what to do. Try it via Iran and just hope for the best? Get visas for all other countries as well, in case Iran closes its borders? Find people to go with me through China via Xinjiang?

Any suggestions from your side? Let me know…