One Month Until China: The One Where I Get My China Visa

Holy Crap how did the time fly by so fast?  I leave in a month?!? I am NOWHERE near ready to go.

On Friday, I went to get my visa.  What fun that was.  Way back when I started planning this trip, I knew nothing about China visas.  Because you know, why would I?  So I decided to ask my friend Google for help.  I dove right in and asked him about applying for a China visa in New York City.  I came across the Yelp page for the China Embassy in Manhattan and I knew I was doomed.  It seems the Manhattan Embassy is well known for being the toughest one to get a visa at.

Allow me to copy and paste:

  • Do not go to China. It’s not worth it. Plan to go to the Consulate at least 5 times. They are rude and are scamming.
  • They make you type your application and will make fun of you if you did not.
  • Power hungry little men.
  • Seriously awful human beings. Security guards harass and condescend you, the people behind the counter are automatons without a shred of human sensibilities or dignity and with all the senseless bureaucracy, it’s woefully inefficient. China is a large and complex country with many merits but this place is a conglomeration of all the bad points concentrated in one building.
  • This place makes me want to drown puppies. The website has an expired form and useless/incorrect instructions, the office doesn’t carry any forms, the hours are inconvenient and the location is terrible.
  • It’s a sad, sad day for US-Chinese relations when grown Chinese men with US passports walk away from the visa application window fist pumping in joy, having had their visa applications accepted.
  • I was there today. I waited in line and watched a clearly frustrated Caucasian man storm away, muttering, “I’ve been here three f*cking times already.

So.

Yeah.

I figured out that Yelp may be like TripAdvisor and surely if I did everything right, I would be fine.  But guess what?  I DID NOT DO EVERYTHING RIGHT.

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I left my apartment early, planning to be there by 8:00.  The Embassy opens at 9:00.  I have to be at work at 8:30.  The less late I was to work, the better.

The Embassy is located on 42nd Street and 12th Avenue.  It is so annoying to get to.  If you are not familiar NYC, the furthest West the subway goes is Eighth Avenue.  I do not live on that subway line so I got off at Seventh Avenue.  The Embassy is six avenues further than that (there is a named avenue in between the numbered avenues, adding to the numbers)  One avenue = three blocks.  Eighteen blocks is close to a mile.  This is not at all a long walk for New Yorkers.  But when you have to make it both ways AND get to work half an hour before the Embassy even opens, it sucks.

Do not even suggest that I take a crosstown bus.  You can walk faster than a bus stuck in stand still traffic.

So I left really early to at least try and get there and be first in line.  But of course, someone pulled the emergency break on my train BECAUSE REALLY WHY NOT, so that delayed me.

Then finally, I am there.  Some woman keeps trying to cut me in line.  We begin playing a game of shoving each other.  I thought I had won when she finally stopped.  I was wrong.  She was just gearing up for her big move.  This chick actually broke away from me, ran up to the front of the line, threw her stuff into the scanner and ran through the metal detector.  I tried to stop her when she flew by me by grabbing her but she was too fast and I barely caught a piece of her shirt before she was gone.  I did scream some curse words at her, in the way only an irate Brooklyn woman can do.  This got two other people all riled up, and they began yelling at her too.  But the security guard was busy with some idiot who would not (a) HANG UP YOUR PHONE CALL or (b) step off the line.  So the shover/runner won.  grumpycatcallsyoustupid

I am aware that I will encounter this many times while in China.  I have conditioned myself that in China, it’s customary to push and shove, rather than simply line up.  So I think I can handle it a lot better than I can in America.

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I get inside and get a number, 126.   I start panicking.  I have to go to work.  I cannot sit here for 126 people.  Finally the windows open and they start at number 100.  WOO!   I am called up quickly enough.  And I learn my error.   My flight is to Hong Kong.  I do not have any physical proof of going to mainland China.  I was planning to take a train.  But you cannot purchase train tickets until twenty days prior AND you can only purchase them IN China.  See, I know this.  I have it all set up. I have a train ticket broker picked out, I have done my research.  But because I do not have a physical ticket – which I cannot have because it is impossible – I need to book a flight.  Well fuck me.

The guy helping me gives me a special pass so I can go and book a flight and come back to his window without waiting in line.  I lost the pass before even exiting the building.

So I text my manager and tell her I am on my way, but I need to come back after I book a flight.  I thought I would stay at work until 1:00.  But when I got there, she told me to just go now.  “This is more important than work”  Yes, it is.  But my being a maniac applies to every area of my life so I busted my ass to get an entire day’s worth of work done in an hour so my conscious could be clear.

Then I tried to book the flight to mainland China.  OH MY FUCKING GOD JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.  I cannot believe I have forgotten the HELL that is trying to book a China flight from the United States.  It simply cannot be done.  How did I forget my last experience?

grumpycat

Everything I tried, my credit card would not be accepted.  FINALLY I got a ticket broker in China to give me an order number.  Works for me.  I printed out the email confirmation and went back to the Embassy.

This time I was number 136 and they were at number 188.  It resets at the 200 mark.  I was there for quite some time.  Then it was my turn and VISA APPROVED!  I get to go pick it up on Thursday.

Of course, since then, I got notified that my flight was cancelled because my credit card did not go through.  Of course it didn’t.

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So now I need to deal with that.  I don’t want to deal with that.  I want to say “I almost do not want to go to China anymore” but that would just be wasting the time of anyone who would try to encourage me that everything will work out fine.  I do know that it will.  The knowledge is just buried under frustration right now.

 

21 thoughts on “One Month Until China: The One Where I Get My China Visa

  1. Simone

    Totally feel your pain! We tried to apply in the US before leaving on our trip and were told it was too far in advance. So we wasted a day trying with no luck. We then tried in Australia and had to jump through hoops (wrong papers, outdated information, invitation letter addressed to US Chinese embassy) but after 3 visits we were finally granted one! And a better one than from the US, one year, 60 days multiple entry.
    Simone recently posted…The “Vietnam Motorbike Scam” And How I Almost Got RobbedMy Profile

    Reply
    1. jenniferjennifer Post author

      We actually have an option for a 12 month visa with multiple entry. I wanted to apply for that one, thinking that I have always wanted to go to the Harbin Ice Festival and this way I would only have to apply one time. But as I was putting everything together, I decided I didn’t want to “have” to go back to China so soon. I am going to regret this when everyone starts posting their Harbin pictures in January!

      Reply
    1. jenniferjennifer Post author

      Hahah! I crossed “See Great Wall” off my list when on the day I started to research it, I was oddly treated to breaking news on how the smog level in Beijing had hit record levels that exact day. So weird.

      Reply
  2. Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    China visas must be a pain worldwide. We applied in Milan, our application was rejected FOUR TIMES before being accepted. Once we had no return ticket, another time not enough hotels booked, then they had a problem with insurance, and the last time I made a mistake with the form… what a pain! Thanks for sharing guys, and have a nice China trip!
    Margherita @The Crowded Planet recently posted…Five Reasons to stop in Kota KinabaluMy Profile

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  3. JR

    There is no way in the world I go through that type of frustration to travel anywhere in this world. I have written off several places in this world that I doubt I’ll get to because of a range of frustrations (political, etc.) that I can’t imagine stomaching. I prefer as little stress as possible. Stuff like the way people have no regard for lining up and will push and shove really make me boil, too. Just the way I’m built, I supposed. I sincerely hope you have a great trip — especially considering all you have to do to make it happen!
    JR recently posted…Cruise Clips: A Quantum of the Seas shift; Carnival Live Kicks Off and more …My Profile

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  4. Dave Cole

    There is nothing more frustrating than difficult consulate folks. I’m sure many a tourism minister would pull their hair out if they saw them in action. I had some friends who dealt with similar issues at that unfortunately located consulate. Glad you got your visa!
    Dave Cole recently posted…The Colors of Lac Assal, DjiboutiMy Profile

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  5. Ashley and Alex

    Applying for a China visa seems like hell! And Alex gets frustrated just filling out regular forms. I foresee a headache in our future when we finally decide to visit China and I wanted to take the Trans Siberian Railway. Wonder how that works and if I will drown puppies….
    Ashley and Alex recently posted…Our Top Reasons to Visit IstanbulMy Profile

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    1. jenniferjennifer Post author

      I have a life long dream to ride the Trans Siberian Railway. Definitely looking forward to getting a new China visa AND a Russian visa…which I believe is technically harder than a China visa. But the China visa frustration has more to do with the NYC office. So I think Russia will be a breeze for me.

      Reply
  6. Ellen

    I feel your frustration especially if you are doing it on your own through the office. I had hired a certified concierge china visa go between and it still was a mess with all the documents etc. it took two months. I have a multiple entry visa and it is good for a year. I didn’t request that thought . It cost quite a bit too.. I went though a tour group that had connections. Going on your own is twice as difficult

    Reply
    1. jenniferjennifer Post author

      I am learning that more and more every day. I am in the middle of trying to book domestic flights. I found one company that actually had my flights go through. But there is one flight that exists, that is not showing up on their website. But shows up on every website that will never accept my credit card. So frustrating!

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Tips for Booking a Trip to China | i put my life on a shelf

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