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.