Wednesday, 7 October 2009

aliens and chinese visa shennanigans

A few weeks back I booked up flights to Shanghai and in my excitement (and then a stretch of work, where in nothingelse gets a look in for 4 weeks) I bypassed the thought of visas. In my infinite wisdom, I thought passports in date=sorted. Until my father dropped visas into conversation yesterday. WHAT VISA? I might have screamed down the phone.....I NEED A VISA? Yes that's a Dad I don't know if you do need one or not...oh, so you're sure I need a visa...but I go in 5 days...where do I get a visa from in 5 DAYS people??

And so I remained calm (I wish) and frantically googled "visas for china emergency" and other such things till I got this emergency number for the embassy in London. A totally cool, calm and collected lady answered, listened to my spiel in blind panic and then assured me there's a consulate in Edinburgh who can issue visas in a couple of days.....WOW, thank the lord. Profuse thanks followed. Then I discover it's blooming Chinese national holidays till today (how rude).

So that's how I landed up on the train down to Edinburgh at 6am this morning. And how I saw the most beautiful sun rise along the coast. And got to the Chinese Consulate just before 9am. Phew. Five minutes later I'd handed it in and was out on the street again wtha ticket to collect it tomorrow. Here's hoping all is sorted and they don't decide I've got some unkown criminal record/infectious disease/goverment spy personna and give the passport back with the visa tucked inside tomorrow as per the deal.

Who knew this travelling lark was quite so stressful.

Just to add a little excitement for me, E bookers phoned and told me that there was a significant change to my flight details and could I call then immediately. Give it up people, I mean come on, I just want to go on holiday for a couple of weeks, not a blooming space mission to Mars. As it turns out it's just a few hours different from before but they sure know how to get you tachycardic in seconds.

But I guess, at least I have the chance, the freedom to travel. I'm not having to put everything on the line to cross borders in order to avoid conflict, ethnic cleansing, famine......I guess I take my passport and my rights for granted. That's a lot more than some people may ever get.

And tomorrow, I'll find out if the Chinese want me in their country or not. I am, after all according to their embassy site an "alien" entering- see their "law of the control of entry and exit of aliens". I hear they welcome foreingers with open arms.

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