HomeChinaLeaving Russia, but not yet entering China

Today I flew from Vladivostok to Beijing. After five months in the country, a closing of that chapter. It all went uneventfully. Even my visa registrations remained unchecked. I’ll tell you some more about that later.

On arrival in Beijing, I hit a glitch, a big one. It started when I went through immigration control and heard “your visa is not valid, please sit over there”. I had ordered this Chinese visa at the end of February. In an attempt to keep some flexibility, I had filled in some dates beforeI was actually scheduled to enter the country, e.g. if I entered with Tour D’Afrique when they entered China. Unfortunately, the problem with this is it made the visa one with a “you must enter by” date, and that date has expired. I had seen the “you must enter date” but didn’t think anything of it in enough time to sort things out at the Chinese consulate in Vladivostok.

So now, I was sitting on a chair behind immigration control while they brought over someone from Vladivostok Airlines to help sort out my options (their responsibility to help since they flew me here with an invalid visa). The helpful and patient woman spoke better english than my Russian, so we went with that. First there seemed to be two options: return to Vladivostok to sort things out or fly to the USA. There was no option to sort things out in China itself – either Beijing or Urumqi. You need to be outside the country to apply for a visa. Yikes! On further exploration, one more option appeared. It is also possible to apply for Chinese visas in Hong Kong.

I went for this latter option without knowing exactly what it entailed (since I was in no man’s land behind immigration). I have since used the internet cafe in the Beijing airport to make a Hong Kong hotel reservation and understand more about how to get a visa, while I am waiting for a flight to Hong Kong this evening. It looks a like a possibility via a company such as Forever Bright Visa Agency. Unfortunately, October 1st is a holiday so it may take a day or two. As best as possible, I will see if I can get a new Chinese 60-day L visa along with a new flight back into China to join the Tour D’Afrique trip. If not, there are a number of other possibilities to go from Hong Kong elsewhere for cycling. I’ll post any updates as comments to this string as google mail seems to be intermittent. So, a bit unexpected but I’ll be exploring Hong Kong for a few days instead of Urumqi.

Update: I’ve arrived in Hong Kong and have a hotel room with a wireless internet connection. Now, time to explore things further here.
Update2: I was able to get a new tourist visa in Hong Kong and flew on to China. My China travels will appear on the internet at my bicycle touring web site: fietstocht.com after the trip is over.


Leaving Russia, but not yet entering China — 6 Comments

  1. Strike one on the visa situation. It looks like I’ll have to wait until Tuesday to sort this out further.

    There are several visa processing companies. I found three based on recommendations on the internet:

    Shoestring Travel advertises that they process visas even on Sundays and holidays. Monday is a holiday. So, I went to the Shoestring travel offices. They flat out told me they could only do 30-day tourist visas for US citizens. I tried several different ways, but they suggest going to the China Resources Building of the Foreign office.

    The second recommended travel agency: Japan Travel Agency Limited has a note that they do not handle US applicants. They are also closed on Sundays and holidays.

    The third recommended travel agency: Forever Bright Travel Agency is also closed until Tuesday.

    So, it looks like I will go to the China Resources building on Tuesday and plead my case for a 60-day duration on the visa.

    Also to let one cat out of the bag, I’ve put up a temporary blog at china.bikerussia.com that describes my China adventures. I don’t know how much I’ll post to this from within China itself and in long run plan is for this to go away in favor of a site at .

  2. Hey Mike,

    Ed and I loved the slide show! How did you find the time to do this! I can’t picture any cyclist riding on sooo many gravel roads and “eating” sooo much dust!! You’re looking a little thin in the last few pitures. Once again we noticed in the slide show that you managed to make it into a newspaper!! We just didn’t know what you were doing with your hands in the photo. We were surprised that you didn’t include a slide of your mosquito bites. Looks liek you’ve been having an excting adventure!! Hope things continue to go as well for you in China! Can’t wait to hear all your stories!! Keep on pedalling!!

  3. So exciting that you made it to Vladivostok with no major glitches. I hope you work out your visa issue tomorrow so you can continue with your plans in China. I enjoy visiting your web site and reading your blog – can’t wait to hear more stories when you return!


  4. Another quick update. The Foreign Ministry would not issue me a new L-60 visa. They only issue 30-day visas. However, I’ve gotten a new 30-day visa from Shoestring Travel. My plan is now to fly back to Urumqi and cycle from there. Once I am close to having my 30-days expire, I will try to renew the visa in China.

  5. Mike, of course, I gave my congrats earlier on the Vlad. post.

    In the total scheme of things this latest visa deal sort of seems analagous to a person who has completed a 100 mile ultramarathon without falling down or getting a scratch, even after jumping through fallen trees, et al. Then upon driving up the the driveway and getting out of the car he takes one step and twists an ankle and falls down with injury right there in the driveway in front of the homestead.

    To me it is quite a deal that you did not have more mishaps in Russia like this Chinese situation. I wish you well in this transition!

  6. Nice trip Mike. This summer we fly to Vladivostok and ride with trains back to Moscow and then back to our country. Your site gave me some impressions of what to expect.

    Wish you all the best 🙂