Learn from the Travel Experiences of Others
|The British Embassy in Peking, Beijing if you like, was very
The checks with London had been completed over the weekend, and money, obtained from a darling of a sister, was waiting for me on Monday morning..
With two passport photos, courtesy of Guangzhou police, an application form to complete, and the briefest of waits, I had a full ten-year passport again. A new number to enter in memory, and then another round on the visa trail.
For twenty-five dollars, the Vietnamese Embassy -- still open after the 11:30 closing-time -- issued me with a replacement visa, the following day.
All going well.... it's16:00, Christmas Eve, and off to the Chinese Immigration.
Bureaucracy and unfriendly roadblocks, almost made it the worst Christmas in memory.
We had already purchased the flight tickets to Vietnam with naive optimism; all I wanted was an exit permit; permission to leave the country for Hanoi in two days time.
I was handed a colourful leaflet:
To a little alley on the other side of the Forbidden City.....
We could even bargain with the entry-exit bureau. The young lad, with the walkman earphones around his neck, might have been sympathetic, but the robbery sob-story wouldn't wear with the short, old lady who had the final say.
After being shouted at by her, the young man threw my gleaming new passport, and various other grubby papers, back at me.
It was a Chinese sit-off. No-one was going to loose face. This wasn't a market, the smiles had been erased. The People's Company wanted my money, if I wanted to leave in two days.
Finally, a 'student' price of 300 was agreed upon. Still more expensive than a 3-month visa from a tout in the Former British Colony.
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