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September 16, 2002

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Last night we returned to Kiev from Odesa by overnight train. We need to come here to obtain visas for upcoming countries. Our next region after Russia will be Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. It takes planning to go to the '-stans,' which is one of the toughest places to visit when it comes to visas. Each country requires an invitation letter along with the application (even the West African countries didn't need letters), and the invitation letters take up to two weeks to arrange. Some of these countries even require additional 'tourist permits' along with the visa in order to see remote areas. Two weeks ago we emailed some travel agencies asking for invitation letters ($30 each for processing) and by this forward planning we had our letters in hand when we made our embassy rounds. We managed to get a Kazakhstan visa and a Kyrgyzstan visa today. After the embassies closed in the afternoon we boarded another overnight train for a long ride south to the Crimea and the Black Sea.
Pose as a pizza deliverer to get past embassy guards.
On our overnight train to the Crimea we bunked with a Russian who wouldn't let us go to bed without a few belts of beer, vodka, and champagne.