London – You’ll never get tired of this place.
Did you know – London has the most billionaires of any city in the world.
Global Passport –
It was July 2016 aka my birthday month. I already had my birthday trip planned and this was a bonus on Eid’s long weekend. London is one place where I can go to anytime. I am tired of London – said no one ever. This was my second time there and I had something different planned.
In this segment, I tell you all about the visa formalities for a Desi Passport. So, I am sure you know London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and getting a visa for the UK is as expensive.
There are a gazillion services provided for the UK visa. So let’s get started and sit down or hold something because the (VFS) visa fee is going to shake you up a little bit. Regular VISIT VISA for upto 6 months will cost you 118 USD. If you want VIP services then read along otherwise skip to the next segment.
ODMV, Individual Home Service
This service is available to individuals and their families in their residence, office or a location of your choice subject to risk assessment which will be done prior to your appointment date. The Form Filling Assistance and Application and Documents check service are optional extras and are included in the price. This service costs a fee of AED 3825 per applicant.
Platinum Lounge: An exclusive service to make your UK Visa Application relaxing, comfortable & convenient.
The lounge offers privacy and comfort, away from the hustle and bustle of the main application centre. You can relax in your own private booth within the tranquil and modern lounge, while VFS staff takes care of the entire process, from a personalised chauffeur service to and from the VAC to completion of the application form and payment.
The service costs AED 2800 for non-settlement applications in addition to the visa fee and is available to customers applying at the UK Visa Application Centre in Dubai.
And million (figuratively speaking) other services and let’s be honest if you choose any of the above – You are either really rich or reallllly (I don’t want to be rude) (how do I put it nicely) eermmmmm….. DUMB!
Let’s get back to reality where most of us save for our dream holidays and fly economy. The best option suggested by me would be –
Keep my passport when applying – Keep your passport while your application is processed.
You can use the Keep my passport when applying service if you need to keep your passport whilst your visa application is being processed.
This cost is in addition to your visa application fee and is non-refundable.
You are required to provide a full photocopy of your passport when attending the visa application centre, as well as your passport for examination by a member of the application centre staff. You will also be required to submit your passport within 4 weeks of being asked to do so. If you do not submit your passport within 6 weeks of being asked, your visa application may be refused.
If you wish to purchase this service online for 57.00 USD. Alternatively, you may purchase the service at the visa application centre for 210.00 AED when attending your appointment. If you pay the fee online, then you must bring a copy of your receipt/confirmation of payment with you to your appointment.
Phew!! That’s a lot of info. Rub your eyes and get ready for the visa checklist –
- Passport (Duh)
- Recent photographs as per UKBA
- Evidence of arrangements made. Tour details/flight details/letter of invitation/evidence of sponsors
- Evidence of the employment and all income stated on the application form. Such as: letter from employer / pay slips / tax returns / business registration documents / business bank account statements /
- Evidence of being in education (where applicable)
- Evidence of the monthly income stated on the application form. Such as: Bank statements / bank books / bank letter / balance certificate / tax returns / crop receipts
- Evidence of UK accommodation and travel details. Hotel booking confirmation / travel booking confirmation / travel agent confirmation /sponsor accommodation details
This process requires more evidence than Sherlock Holmes. Tick all the boxes in the checklist and get ready to fly err I mean apply.
Tickets and Wanderlust –
If you are Wander lusting for London, then let me tell you how to get there without burning a big hole in your pocket.
A direct flight is about 7 hours and 20 minutes long and the prices start from AED 1950 if booked a month in advance. I would suggest Royal Brunei Airlines if you want to fly direct on a budget.
One-stop flights are usually 9 to 10 hour long and will cost you about the same.
The currency in the UK is Pound Sterling and you will have to pay about –
AED 4.75 to get GBP 1 (Subject to change)
If you have weight issues, then this is one place where you will be losing a lot of pounds. Get it? Get It?
Sorry for the joke. It doesn’t make any cents to me as well! Get it? Get it?
*Awkward face smiley*
Backpack and Stories –
I have travelled alone, with friends, with a better half and in groups but trust me there is nothing like travelling solo and I will write a blog on that soon. I travel to explore. I travel to meet new people. People who are not like me or I meet in my daily life. This is precisely why I stay in hostels. Not only they’re cheap but also a lot more fun than hotels and when the hostels are like this I am sure no one would mind.
I had quite a busy schedule on this trip. It was only late night (After partying) I used to come back to the hostel. You were not allowed to do the thing that kills you and ruins your lungs in the hostel. I always saw this guy outside the hostel in an alley right next to it doing that thing with a few other people.
Let’s play a game – I am going to describe this guy as precisely as I can and you have to imagine how he looks. I will be posting his picture towards the end of the story. So, let’s see how you do in this game. Don’t scroll down!
So, imagine this guy with a very deep voice and a heavy Australian accent. A receding hairline in the shape of a long cursive ‘m’ and a ginger beard. Very impolite to most people around and awfully short tempered. One of those guys with a bit extra testosterone in their body and alpha male written all over them.
It was pretty late and while everybody went to sleep we both still wanted to party. We played a game of pool and he kept sledging. The loser had to buy the next round of drinks. As the night progressed his aggressive attitude kept going down and he started opening up. It took a lot of rounds. He said he wanted to go to that small dark alley outside aka designated (get cancer) zone.
A little diary fell down from his backpack while he was looking for the pack. I asked him what was that? “Nothing” in that biker attitude of his. After insisting he said Fine – Look at it!
I opened that really small diary and it had some doodles and some notes in it. “Dude, whoever is drawing these doodles tell him that his sketching skills are really bad.” – I said. “It’s me mate!!”
Then he said something that changed my perception of him. I know my drawing skills stink and I know I don’t look like a guy who would write Dear Diary Notes every day but I do. A lot of people have told me to stop drawing but I still do it because I want to. This is what makes me happy. This is my passion and I know I am not good at it now but I will improve.
The alpha male almost broke down. Even he was vulnerable. I would’ve never imagined him writing dear diary notes and sketching in a small diary. I stepped out of that hostel with a completely different opinion about Alex – The impolite-ginger bearded-extremely competitive guy. Not.
Now, is this how you imagined him?
Been there done that –
I decided to discover the undiscovered London, a bit less touristy things. That’s exactly what I am going to tell you here.
1 – Take the undiscovered London Walking Tour – It’s a free walking tour and it starts everyday from Green Park at 11:00 and 15:00. This walking tour is the perfect introduction to London history and the area often referred to as “royal London”. In addition to all the famous attractions, such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Changing of the Guard, you’ll also discover little-known streets, hear anecdotes and stories, and get a feel for the great sweep of London history from Roman times right up to the present day – a story like no other! The tour takes about two hours.
There’s no charge but tips are accepted. The tours are run this way so that everyone can afford to go, no matter what kind of budget they’re on.
2 – Take a walk in the older alleys of London – You have to walk on the old streets. The heart eyed emoji was meant for such alleys. It has experienced plague, devastating fire, civil war, aerial bombardment, terrorist attacks, and widespread rioting. The City of London is its historic core and today is its primary financial district, though it now represents a tiny part of the wider metropolis of Greater London.
3 -Take a cruise or walk along the Thames River – It’s part of the longest river in England, it has 45 locks, is home to over 25 species of fish, boasts three areas of outstanding natural beauty and it’s the only river in Europe to have a national trail follow its entire length. Explore the River as it weaves through the heart of London and discover fascinating history around every bend.
4 – Visit the Saint Paul’s Cathedral – Did you know – The view of Saint Paul’s Cathedral is protected till date. One cannot build a building hiding the view of the cathedral from certain areas. Today St Paul’s is both a busy working Anglican Cathedral and one of London’s leading sightseeing attractions.
5 – The Big Ben – Though most assume Big Ben to be the name of the beautiful bell tower, it’s actually the nickname of the largest bell hidden inside. The entire structure is called Elizabeth Tower. Incredibly, the clock tower’s pendulum still depends on pennies for its accuracy. If a penny is added, the clock will run 40% of a second faster every day, and vice versa.
6 – Explore the Underground system – It’s smelly, it’s dirty but it’s the heart of London. There are a lot of ghost/haunted stations, read about them. Although, its called the underground but most of it runs above the ground. One more thing that I noticed describes the spirit of London. In the next picture you’ll notice a newspaper. It’s circulated free of cost, people read them and leave it behind on benches/in the tube so that someone else can read it. You’ll see almost everyone reading the paper on the tube. Such nuances make London a beautiful place.
7 – Camden Street – Crazy Street Arts, Funky shops, People listening to music on their boombox, food from all over the world. That’s Camden for you. This town has been a residential area since the 1790s. But it was only the development of the Grand Union Canal and the improved railway transport that turned it into a bustling part of London. Today, visitors and locals gather here to hunt for treasures in Camden’s markets, stroll by Regent’s Canal, sample cuisine from around the world and listen to live music. Many famous people, including Dylan Thomas, Walter Sickert and Amy Winehouse, have made Camden their home. You’ll leave a piece of your heart there.
8 – Take a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge – Get ready for a jaw dropping, lots of picture taking experience. Bath and Stonehenge is one of the most popular day tours from London. Travel across the English countryside to the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge and the Roman spa city of Bath. Enjoy the lovely traditional villages in the west of England. The drive takes you through some of England’s most beautiful countryside on the way to Bath, passing the traditional villages and lush countryside of Wiltshire and Somerset and Avon.
When you arrive in Bath, you’ll see the Roman Baths, once the most famous hot springs in Europe.
9 – Explore the real London – This City is on the move all the time. LIVE. LOVE. LONDON. This place has everything – right from the best nightclubs to the best cathedrals, from hidden tunnels to river banks, from artist with a social purpose to street art. For instance – This is the only church I’ve been to with a cafe and wifi in it. The idea was how do we make people spend more time in churches – Build a cafe and give them wifi.
I can go on and on about the nightlife. From west end to Camden – This place is buzzing all the time. You can never get tired of this place. Visit hole in the wall coffee shops, talk to the locals, party in ghetto areas or party like billionaires, eat street food or fine dine, take historical tours or learn about the modern art. This place has got everything. Soak it all in!
In the end I will leave you with a quote by yours truly.