A Travellerspoint blog

A Hairy Moment at the Border


View Round the World on shoestring's travel map.

We crossed into Russia at around 1.30am this morning. This meant everyone tramping off the bus and having to go through passport control. Having heard this could take ages, we were quite heartened that the two lines appeared to be moving quickly. That is, until it was Ben's turn...

I hand over my passport to the officer. He turns to the photo page and looks back to me. Then back to the photo, then back to me. Then he repeats the process again. Meanwhile I'm wondering whether I should look him straight in the eye at the risk of seeming cocky, or look away and risk looking shifty. So I settle on a compromise and do both, probably making me look even shiftier. He then leaves, returning a minute later with his colleague from the other booth. They then both look from me, to my photo, then back again. Clearly still unhappy, a uniformed guard is called, who joins the little group now assembling. Wordlessly all three now take it turns to look at me, then at my photo, then back again. I now really don't know where to look.

Finally the guard breaks the silence and asks me some questions in faltering English. Where am I going? Moscow. Where do I go from there? I somehow feel foolish responding with 'catching the train to China', as it sounds a little unlikely even to me, but he seems to accept it. He then gestures that my passport photo looks different to me in a number of important ways. Yes, my hair is now longer and covering my forehead, so I try and move it out of the way. I haven't shaved for several days but there's not much I can do about that. Finally he says 'please, smile' (I'm smiling in my passport photo) so I do the best impression of a smile that I can under the circumstances. Finally he seems satisfied and I'm waved through, much to my relief and to Karen's, who has been standing behind me in the queue hoping she has the number for the British Embassy to hand.

Posted by shoestring 11:45 Archived in Russia Tagged border guard passport

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OMG! you should have just been dressed in the wheres wally outfit, you might have been alright then. You must look very dodgy Beanie, the quiet ones, shifty looking. It must have been very un nerving with more and more guards giving you the once over. I think I'd be bricking it at that stage, wondering what the hell they were going to do with me, firing squad, or frog marched. Well that's an experience for you both probably sending you gray. Hopefully it'll be a bit smoother transition now for you both. xxx

by nessie noodles

Hey great blog. How did you go about getting your Russian Visa? Did you get it in your home country before you left or on the road? We are planning to do the rail as well but from china to russia and because it is relatively unplanned we haven't got the visa's yet and are going to try and grab them in Beijing, but not sure if this is possible.

by KyleMac

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