One place we went frequently was the Hungarian Automobile Association, the representative of the FIA in Hungary to gather information about all the necessary paperwork the bike might need for such a trip. With detailed itinerary we approached them a few times and it seemed that everything works out well. We got a paper based international driving license, a FIA certificate showing that our bikes are registered and insured in Hungary, all written in 10 languages and international insurance.
With all this in hand we felt invincible and all the border hassle we experienced basically after Bulgaria was considered as just nuisances of travelling what we already experienced firsthand in our previous African journeys. However, as we got deeper into South Asia and our problems got bigger than something we could solve with smiles and a few dollars here and there we had to realize that we are having a serious issue. At this time I found out about horizonsunlimited.com and since we had some time in our hand after Lahore I started to dig myself into the site. That time my English was limited –it is not much better now- and finding the crucial information wasn’t easy at all. This was the time when I first read about the Carnet de Passage, a yellow booklet every custom officer is asking about since Turkey. It was when everything became clear, all that bribes and fines we paid so far was actually a result of not having this damned paper. On a very same day we went to the FIA’s local office in Lahore to get the so needed Carnet. As probably all of you know it by now, the Carnet can be only issued in your home country with a deposit of 50% of the bike’s value. No luck here.
In the main time my Mom was gathering all the information how to get a Carnet in Hungary. When she specifically asked abut Carnet no one really knew about it in the Automobile Association. After a few tries and phone calls somebody finally had some clue about it but what that person said was more than worrying. He said that due to a lot of misconduct and cheating with the Carnet, the Hungarian Automobile Association is no longer providing it. The problem with this is that every Automobile Associations are only keen to issue the Carnet for their own citizens or if the bike is registered in that given country. After spreading news about this unfortunate situation, one biker friend from Slovakia, who happened to work in the Slovakian Automobile Association, light the bulb up in the end of the tunnel. He offered help as he had connections in FIA and he could organize permission for the SAA to issue the Carnet for us. How great is that, yet somebody would have to fly back to Slovakia to pay the deposit and pick up the Carnet. In a paper-rock-scissor game Dad came out as a winner so he flew back (I’m kidding by the way) to Hungary and then drove over to Slovakia to collect the Carnet.
In the main time we published this story in the MotorRevu Hungary which is the sister magazine of the Motorrad, one of Germany’s most prestigious motorcycle magazine. Thought the result is not what we expected, soon after the magazine started to appear in the newsstands, the Hungarian Automobile Association contacted my Mom and threatened us with a lawsuit for defamation. More to the story is that after Dad flew home he went to the HAA and proposed the same itinerary and asked about the necessary paperwork. It happened to be the same lady we visited months before but she didn’t remember Dad. She then denied anything after Dad told her that he was there a few months ago and now he is here, flew back from India, blowing a substantial part of our budget just because she didn’t give any information about the Carnet. Her reply was the same what the HAA wrote us in the letter together with the possibility of lawsuit is “since the Hungarian Automobile Association is no longer providing the Carnet de Passage, we are not legally entitled to notify about it”. Also they wrote that our trip sounded ridiculous to their representative in the office that she simply did not take us seriously. Oh well, welcome to the bureaucratic part of Hungary.
I stop spoiling the story from here, I just felt it important to write this down before you, dear reader decide to move on from my blog, thinking what are these two idiots are all about. It was partially our fault, relying on 20th century way of preparation when the 21st century methods were available but we tried our best and this is how it ended.
Luckily our trips continued after Dad arrived back with the Carnet so don’t leave us and read Riderslog for the daily trip reports.