Adventures from Oman to India

(taking a ferry from Dubai or Oman to India was at this time not possible. India doesn´t accept any passangers arriving overseas. When I called one shipping company in India, they said that one English guy was arrested when arriving with a cargo boat)

Ok folks, here is an adventure I had when flying from Muscat to Mumbai. What an experience!

Firstly I want to point out, that I had bought one way flight with Oman Air from Muscat to Mumbai on 8th of  November at 1.30 a.m. Also, I found a TV box (Sony Bravia 40″) for my bicycle, and so I arrived to the airport with five bags and one big box with dismantled bicycle. In addition, I had checked online that I can get Indian visa on arrival.

I was escorted to the Airport by one couch surfer six hours  before my flight.  We walked to the Oman Air check-in counter, where the weight limit for baggage was 30kg plus certain size hand baggage. When I placed all my check-in bags on a scale, it showed 41,6kg, out of which 21kg was the TV Box. This meant ~50e extra payment, so I decided to “unload” some weight from it. My bursting hand bag-rucksack was  filled with  some  more heavy stuff (f.e pillow and toilet paper was swapped into a bicycle chain, & some dull tools), I clothed myself into a long sleeve shirt, jacket, shawl and a helmet (going to tropical climate!), threw some unimportant food away and kept everything I might read on the plane under my arm – I looked ridiculous. The man behind the counter was surprised when 41,6kg turned into 33,8kg, and checked-in my baggage free of charge.

My moment of joy lasted only a minute, when I learned that I won’t be allowed to the flight if  I don’t have a visa for India in my passport. After arguing that Finnish citizen can get one at the airport of  Mumbai, they did some calls to India and informed me that I need at least an onward ticket from India. Didn’t help to explain about my cycling around the World-project, so off I went to Oman Air office to buy the cheapest ticket out from India. It cost me 160e, but I was told I can get a refund if I want to cancel it later on (This ticket was, after a lots of arguing and email sending at the Oman Air office in Kathmandu, refunded to me).

My flight was granted, my bags checked-in, and I was ready to go to my gate for a small nap before departure. The passport control went quickly but I encountered big problems at the hand bag control point. Why on earth was I smuggling some metal objects in my bag? I had some wrenches, allen keys, crank pull key and two chains which were not permitted to go with me on board. I tried to plead the guards for mercy, because I knew it would be impossible to find these things in Mumbai, so they asked me to ask the personell on my gate to help me. My first request was rejected, but then one super nice Oman Air employee promised to help me. We walked back to the check point, asked one guard to come with us to the baggage drop counter, wrapped my rucksack to the plastic foil and checked it in as a normal baggage. The nice Oman Air guy overlooked my weight allowance, paid for the wrapping and escorted me all the way to my gate.

Still that lucky day could’ve ended catastrophically, because when I had sandwich one hour before the departure, I accidentally threw all my credit cards into the trash bin (along with the napkins etc.), and only one minute before the bus left to the airplane I noticed something was missing. Luckily the card box was peaking out from the trashes.

But my adventures didn’t stop here, because the first thing the officer said when I arrived to the Mumbai’s visa-on-arrival-counter, was that I  should’ve got my visa beforehand. Yes, I had the onward ticket, but I didn’t book a hotel in India. So I was sent to a visa investigation room where one woman was already crying that she will be deported back to UAE and held as a criminal for trying to enter India illegally.

I kept smiling for the whole procedure, maybe because I was under a shock or because I haven’t slept that night at all. It was after all six in the morning.  But I was again helped out by one helpful young guy. He took me to the hotel booking section, helped me to withdraw money (with my credit card), pay for the obligatory hotel (40e hotel!!) and return to the office to the approval of my visa. Finally my visa was approved, but only for the time being I had my flight onwards. Luckily Oman Air booked a flight on 28th of November, not 10th of November. This meant I got 21-day visa for India.

With sleepy eyes I assembled my bicycle (took me 2,5hours) and left for my business hotel 1km away from the airport. PSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. My first puncture happened 100 meters from the outdoors!! I walked my bicycle to the hotel, kept myself awake until four o’clock and fell asleep while watching Obama-news on TV. I slept fourteen hours in row, waking up at 6 a.m.

Was it just a dream?

Advertisements

6 Comments

  1. Posted November 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    hi lukas,
    it’s really fun to read your reports. i know exactly how you feel in those instances but also that you will laugh about all of it once it’s behind you, because that’s the salt in the soup of such adventures.
    i will follow every further reports with great interest and keep my fingers crossed for a successful continuation of your trip!
    cheers,
    herbert

    • Posted November 15, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Indeed. I can’t wait for the moment I can sit in a sauna, open a beer and relax with all the memories I will get.
      (India is hectic!)

  2. Kevin
    Posted November 14, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Now that’s what I call a journey; you should have cycled mate 😉

    • Posted November 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Cycled over the sea? Flying is pain in the #ss, but it needs to be done.

  3. Josh Abbott
    Posted December 28, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Lukas. I just dicovered your blog and found it really encouraging. Thankyou! I have been trying to plan a cycling trip myself (London to Bangkok) and have had a lot of trouble finding on a realistic route to take, especially in regards to travelling through the middle east. Any advice you could give me about good routes and how much money you think i will need would be much appreciated. Thanks 🙂

    • Posted January 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ho Josh, thanks for your comment. You have some options when cycling through middle east. Mine was planned so I could visit Dubai. I also wasn’t interested in Europe nor Turkey. That’s why I did visa friendly Georgia Armenia Iran UAE India and onwards. Iran visa you can get via online (search for visa iran on my blog). Pakistan didn’t seem as the best option back then, don’t know how it is these days. Then there is the silk road option, which my German friend did last recently (Herbert Born in my links). This route is good if you don’t want to fly at all.
      My route was not fly-free because of Oman-India section. Also, cycling from Nepal over Himalayas to Tibet and China wasn’t an option in 2010 for a solo cyclist (groups yes). I would recommend to think carefully which places you really want to visit and plan your route according to that.
      Money… I survived 10e per day for accommodation and food. You can do even less if you want. Though it’s good to have some extra money with you. Including everything (gear and the trip) I paid approx. 10 000e. Now, with my already existing gear, I could go for 5000e I think. London-Bangkok could be done even for less, maybe 4000e.

      I hope my reply was at least a bit helpful.

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *

*
*

%d bloggers like this: