Across Continents

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On the case

“Stoic” a friend had said. Realistic I thought. The next day I’d set out early for the Chinese Consulate, arriving shortly after nine. Already a lengthy queue, seemed quite disorderly, despite the barriers meant to avoid too much tussling. And there’d be no chance of admittance today.

So instead I went in search of a suitable visa agent. They supposedly hung around the Consulate, but the idea of handing over cash and my passport to a stranger on the street, purporting to be an agent, seemed inconceivable. Decided to go and look for a suitable travel agency in the city centre.

After much searching I eventually found Nurila. She spoke good English and understood my problem. Quick call to the Consulate. Unfortunately, she explained, without a residency permit they would not issue me with a visa. Where there any agents in the city who specialised in visits to China, I enquired? I’d heard a rumour they might be able to circumvent the residency requirement.

Took me over an hour to locate a specialist agency, tucked away in a small office inside a hotel on the far side of the city. Diana was very understanding, spoke excellent English, but no, without a residency permit, there’d only be a flat refusal. My only hope, she explained, was to go in person and plead my case. And get there early, around seven, to have any hope of admittance when the gates open at nine, she advised. But she could help me with the application form, especially as it was in Russian, an offer I gladly accepted.

Emerging back on the street, the lingering humidity had been replaced by gentle rain, soon descending into a downpour. A cheap umbrella – a few pounds – from a nearby bazaar and then the long trek back across the city, contemplating my next move.

Diana had explained that the Chinese Consulate only ever issued visas for thirty days, to Kazakhs certainly. Indeed, the application form gave no other options, unlike the one in Malta I’d completed. Would that really be enough to cross China, assuming I was able to secure a thirty day extension once I’d entered? Five thousand or more kilometres in a little over fifty days, terrain and roads a largely unknown quantity. Difficult. On the boundary between the art of the possible, and hopeless optimism.

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2 responses to “On the case”

  1. Myles says:

    Hello Ken, this sounds like it is hard work. In retrospect what would you have done differently with regard to Visas for this part of the world. Your advice for this part of world I am sure would be useful to many. Hope all is well. Myles

  2. admin says:

    Hi Myles – Funnily enough, already have plans to compile a short downloadable PDF about visas – generic advice rather than specifics as they often change – to help others. Chinese border closure was just bad luck, otherwise it would have been a clear run to Hong Kong. Hope all well with you. Ken

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