How to get Uzbek visa and LOI (letter of invitation)? It deserve a special episode. Currently have the status of the most expensive visa in my passport.

It is not as bad and impossible as people are saying. Here it is how I got mine in Almaty.

Most countries need LOI, or LOI gonna reduce you waiting time. There are few tourist agencies, hostels and hotels that can provide you with LOI, I got mine from Topchan hostel for $40. It was the cheapest I found and they say they sent it in 8 days. You pay when you arrive! Hostel supposed to be nice, I heard only good things about is from other fellow travellers.

On your LOI application you need to specify where you are going to pick up you visa. When I was printing the paper in the evening, I noticed my LOI is one month too early! And it was my fault, not the hostel’s. I kindly emailed them what I can do. “Try at the embassy, usually they are fine with changing dates for few days. If not, we can send you another letter, but that means waiting and another $40.” O.o It is just me sometimes being super stupid. That’s why I don’t like to plan things too much ahead as I’m a master when it comes to date and days and time.

So, the “picking up” part.
Uzbek embassy in Almaty is a mess. Shit loads of people “queuing” in front of the door. As much as queuing in central Asia can be. It is fighting, pushing, screaming and swearing. The grandmas are the worst, clearly you not gonna use your elbows against them, but they do.
The guards let people with visa applications to enter first. Screaming “visa, visa, visa” and holding your passport up, will reduce your waiting time to get thru the door.

On Monday the consul said:

Mexican guy almost crying:
– My flight is tomorrow.
Friday, 11 AM.
Mexican guy:
– I pay double!
No visa today, visa on Friday.
Two Dutch girls:
– How much is a visa?
Friday, $90. Where is your LOI? No LOI, come back next week.
– $90 also for 7 day visa?
Friday. $90.
– How much is it in tenge?
$90. You two come back next week.

I went to side office and ask if they can change the date on my application. Bad and angry looks. Thinking and twisting eyes.
– Yes, but it gonna cost you $7!
– //Surprised face, make them think is a lot.. It is not official price, anyways. Big smile inside me.

On Friday, before 11 AM:
Fighting thru the crowd to be at the embassy at 11 as they told us. One hour waiting to hand out my papers. Another hour and a half to get the paper for the bank. “Come back at 3 PM”. Apparently today visa cost $75 🙂

Friday 3PM:
Fighting the crowd again. One hour to hand out the payslip. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. At 5.30 PM I finally hear my name! Consul asked what date I actually want on my visa (yes, they do check everything!) and apologized that I had to wait all day.

Friday 6PM:
Still crowd outside the embassy.
Beer time.

PS: Don’t count on visa in the same day. Apparently you can get it, but not this time.
PSS: Don’t say you are a freelance writer. No no no.

Photo: People still waiting in front of the embassy at 6 PM.