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                                                                                              PREPARATION > Bureaucracy

Passport and visa
Passport and visa: only way to get through borders.

For the passport, ensure that it’s valid (at least six months). No problem with renewing or replacing it on the way at the national embassy.

For visas, don’t panic. Information is always available on the spot and you’ll have no trouble finding out from your fellow travellers where and when to go to obtain the precious (and, therefore, sometimes expensive) stamp.

Customs may require you to present a return ticket to allow entry. No real solution except a good deal of patience and never-ending discussions. Everything generally ends up taking care of itself (only golden rule: never be irritated and accept your inferior position; the person opposite you has the authority to decide your “destiny”).

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: I always kept a credit card on me, travellers cheques and cash (local currency and dollars).

The use of the credit card is now almost universal and is consequently a must. Commissions (which vary) are the price to pay for a certain comfort (even if in some cases that still means long queues and going to talk to “the big boss”).

I used American Express (to be able to restock with travellers cheques) and Visa; one being used as cover for the other in case of…

Travellers cheques are exchanged without any particular problem. Only refusal in Mozambique because I couldn’t show the receipt of purchase (they were, however, marked with a stamp “Amex Nepal”, and could show that I had passed through Kathmandu, suggesting, therefore, that it was me who had bought them…even the Director General refused; enriching experience however: an employee at the same bank suggested that I buy 100 dollars on a purely personal basis…and without charging me bankers commission). Cash and the dollar are kings (in small notes). Not too much, not too little.


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