Thursday, September 25, 2014

Russian Embassy in Malaysia : What You Should Know

Thinking of heading to Russia? Well, to do that you must apply for a visa and it could be tricky. After three times visiting the Russian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to process my visa and observing many applicants there, here are some "important"  things that you need to know.

The Russian Embassy is located on Ampang Road.you wont get into this gate. There'll be a door on the right side where you have to queue outside in the sun.

 1. The official website is not updated. They say it takes 5 working days to process your visa. It's not accurate. Do stop by at the embassy to find out yourself. Prices there have also changed.

note: Mine was for a double entry. On the website, it says 5 days to process and costs RM210. It actually took 10 working days and costs RM262. You'll be given a slip like the one below once your application is accepted.

Do not glue this slip on anything when collecting your passport.

2. The embassy opens THREE times a week : Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Opening hours are from 9:30am to 1:00pm. I actually went there at 9:00am as you have to line up in front of their door before entering. Wednesdays has the less number of visitors. :)

3. Once you line up, the guards who controls the entrance door only lets FIVE people inside at a time. So be prepared to wait under the scorching sun before allowed entrance. :P

4. You can fill in your downloaded visa application form before coming to the embassy for submission. Fill the form completely and GLUE your passport picture on your form (they will try to pull your picture out to see if it sticks!) or you'll be asked to redo your form and do a lot of waiting... again.

5. If you look remotely Russian (Caucasian always gets in without queuing), the guards will let you in if you knock the door asking to enter.

6. Your application form should have these documents attached.
  • your passport with 6 month validity 
  • a passport-sized picture (background colored white or blue is not an issue)
  • Invitation letter (important! Else your application will be rejected!)
  • other documents as deemed necessary (flight tickets, hotel bookings paid in advance.. etc)
  • remember, the Consulate may request some extra documentation if it’s considered necessary.
7. If you are a foreigner or an expat, do not believe the website on the processing time. Do expect to submit your application at least three weeks before your trip to avoid disappointment. Unless if you know how to speak Russian, they will expedite your application faster.  (Met an European guy who could speak Russian, he successfully had his visa processed from two weeks to just two days. And on another occasion, saw this |American guy who was refused the same request. LOL)

Forewarned : Once inside and your documents checked by an Indian lady, you'll be given a number. The windows of the inside counter is not see-through. You can't see who you'd be talking to!!! LOL
8. Good luck!! And welcome to Russia!!

How to get there:
By car : There's no parking there. Closest FREE parking space is across the road, in front of a bank. (forgot the name)

By public transport : Could be reached from Ampang Park LRT Station, and from the front of the PNB/Tabung Haji building, you can easily catch a taxi to the embassy. Metered Taxi costs around RM4-5 one way. 

PS: The embassy DOESN'T REPLY YOUR EMAILS!


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Disease That Almost Stopped Me From Travelling

Just a few weeks before I was bound to embark on another overseas solo trip, that things started to get terribly wrong. Small clear and insanely itchy blisters started to appear on my palms. Since I never did have any skin related disease history apart from acne, I didn't take it too seriously and decided to leave it be without using any medical treatment.

[Warning : Pictures may be too graphic for some. Too much skin! Hehe!]

What are these? huhu
And soon after I was flown to Kuching, Sarawak to participate in a broadcasting training program for four days and three nights. The training includes some outdoor activities such as kayaking at the beach which I was only too happy to join, oblivious of the escalating itchiness that followed after.

We get to visit the Cultural Village in Santubung during my training there. Itchiness level during this time was 6 over 10.
It was towards the end of the program that the blisters on my palms started to multiply and began appear on the soles of my feet too!!! >______<

What the hell is this???!!! 
Both of my palms suffered the same fate. I was dumbstruck!
It seem to multiply and join forces in front of my eyes!
I couldn't bear the itch any longer and decided to seek immediate medical help at a nearby clinic once I went back to Kuala Lumpur. The doctor prescribed some allergy pills and cream for me, So I went home thinking everything would be OK.

I was dead wrong.

After two days applying the cream and eating the medicine, my condition worsened. It not only comprised the area of my feet and hands but also my head and whole body! I was also referred to the Breast Clinic in Hospital Kuala Lumpur to check the itchiness in that "area". My sister had to cut off big chunks of my beautiful, long hair (which took a year to GROW!) as it was filled with smelly, yellow puss and cracked itchy skin. I was actually devastated with the hair loss. Oh my crown... :(

I surely thought I was a goner. Friends shared their fears with me saying that it will take weeks for all these "spots" to disappear. My condition didn't get better. I could barely walk as the small blisters started to join and become even bigger blisters. It was horrifying! I tried puncturing the big ones on my feet, only to have them refilled again! And it happened again and again! 

Extreme HORROR! I was unsure if I'll be fit enough to travel to Russia this month's end

Everything around me seemed to get darker. I couldn't get myself up from the bed, it was too painful. And it become a daily struggle to just take a bath and change clothes. Even feeding myself was becoming difficult. My concerned parents back home were begging me to fly home so that I could be taken of ...

...and I was about to do just that, 

So one day, I took a whole box of tissues, used sellotape to tape them on the soles of my feet so that I can walk to the hospital less painfully. Put on a pair of thick socks and drove to HKL with a mind to fly to Sabah right after seeing a doctor FOR THE THIRD TIME.

It was then on that fated day, the 2nd day of September, that the doctor of HKL decided to ward me at the Dermatology Ward with Acute Eczema.

The kind nurses drained all my blisters and wrapped me up with antiseptic bandages. I never felt so relieved. 
Being warded at the hospital, my clothes and food were taken care off. They monitored my condition, made sure I ate the medicine on a timely basis and drained and wrapped up all my blisters twice a day for the next four days. It was amazing to watch the blisters eventually stopped refilling and dried up.

I was beginning to be hopeful again.
This is how it looked like after they drained the blisters and before wrapping it up.
They have put me on steroid medication, causing me to gain weight and making me always hungry. Hahaha! But I was OK with that as long that I was on a speedy recovery before my big trip to Russia! Yeahh!!

I was warded for five days and four nights. Also have became a model patient on Thursday where a group of doctors would come to my bed side and have mock diagnosis on my condition. It was entertaining to learn about my state through their professional probing. LOL.

The 6th of September 2014 marked the date of my discharge from the hospital and I'm forever grateful for the efficient health system of Malaysia. And very cheap that!! 

So now, I'm on a road to recovery and hope that this will never befell me ever again!! Amin!

Goodbye needle!!! I wish to never see you ever again!!!