Or hello in the local vernacular.
It’s my last night in Siberia and I am celebrating accordingly with a selection of Russia’s finest local brewskies. I will post a detailed update in a few hours, when the paperwork is done and I’m nice and lubed up. Before I forget though, I have to share an email I just received.
The background: I still don’t have a Visa for Turkmenistan. A client services rep in Boston has been communicating with our client in Ashgabat to help facilitate the process, but as of yet, I’m still not sure whether I’ll be able to get into the country or not. I have been copied on all the back-and-forth correspondences thusfar, but this email literally had me laughing out of my chair. One of those rare and magical moments that one should treasure.
Akja will email Alan a copy of his Letter of Invitation (LOI) when she receives it. Alan will need to print it out and bring a copy with him. Then follow these instructions:
When you get off the airplane in Ashgabat, you’ll walk down the stairs (no jet way). You’ll see two buses. One will be straight ahead the other to the right (it might be a van or a bus). Anyway, at the bottom of the stairs, you’ll see a woman with a clip board. She’s the CIP (Commercial Important Person) representative. She does not understand English, but just tell her your name and she’ll check it on the clip board. Also, there should be a guy collecting CIP passengers’ baggage claim tickets. Give him your ticket. Then get on the CIP bus (the one to the right of the bus that is straight off the plane).
The CIP bus will drop you off at the base of some stairs. Take the stairs to the top. You’ll walk along something that seems like a bit of a jet way. When you get to the terminal building from the little walkway, turn left to the entrance to the CIP area. You’ll enter a room with a few chairs and couches. A Security Guard will be there gathering CIP passengers’ passports. Give him your passport and your LOI and wait in the area you entered until he calls you forward.
When you’re called forward, you’ll see people seated behind glass. Go straight to the person sort of in the middle. He’ll refer you to pay the “bank”, which will be the guy to your right when facing the glass. Have a crisp $100 bill ready plus a twenty (I believe you’ll pay $117 (have $200 ready, just in case). Once you pay, he’ll have you sign some forms. Then you’ll go back to the first guy you saw and the security guard will tell you to proceed to the CIP Lounge area. Once inside the Lounge area, proceed to the counter and pay $30 cash as your CIP fee. Once you pay, she’ll tell you to take a seat. They will serve you some tea, dried fruit and nuts. Wait there until they bring your luggage to the Lounge area. A CIP staffer will bring you your passport, a receipt for the $30 CIP fee, and maybe a couple other forms you’ll need to keep with you. Then take your luggage and walk out of the Lounge area. As you exit the Lounge area, you’ll see some people seated at a counter and to your right you’ll see a luggage scanning machine. Give the people at the counter your passport…get it back from them after they look at it. Then put your luggage on the scanner. You’ll see [client] driver standing on the other side of the scanner. Once you’re on the driver’s side of the scanner, you’re home free.
The driver will walk you out to the street and probably ask you to wait on the sidewalk while he goes to get the car out of the parking lot. It takes about 10 minutes. Once he picks you up, he will take you directly to the hotel.
If possible, bring three passport size photos with you so we can use them when we register you.
If this is confusing, just watch others and imitate.
Have a safe trip !
Chances that this all goes according to plan? Anyone?