China is a strange place. The Olympics are fast approaching, thousands of tourists will be descending on the country, and what are they doing? Making it a lot harder to get a visa. I thought I was in the clear. I got a double entry visa in Hong Kong at the end of April and then later found out that I could extend it twice. I took this to mean twice per entry so my evil master plan was to stay for three months on the original visa and two extensions, leave the country to activate the second entry and then extend another two times. Viola! A six month visa just like that.
But things are never that easy. When I dropped my passport off on Monday for my second extension, I asked the immegration lady whether I would be allowed to extend after my second entry. She politely told me that I didn’t have a second entry anymore! Apparently once you ‘extend’ the visa, it’s replaced byÂ a whole new 30 dayÂ visa that is no longer a double entry. I’m really happy I found that out before I found myself stranded on the wrong side of the border with Mongolia.
My current visa will expire on July 17th so I need to leave China before then. There are rumours that getting a visa will be really tough after July 1st (no idea why this is the magical date) plus I’m not sure if extensions will be granted on my new visa. So rather than mess with the visa people after July 1st, I’m going to head down to Hong Kong on Tuesday to get a whole double entry new visa. Rather than worry about being able to extend the visa at the end of July, I’m going to travel for a month down south then pop over to Hong Kong to activate the second 30 day entry, and then head back up to Beijing at the end of July.
These visa hassles are a pain in the neck and kind of go against the whole freewheeling travel style that I was really looking forward to. But now that I’m sort of being forced out of Beijing, I’m looking forward to it. The plan is to head to Yangshuo to Zhuo Yue English College where I can exchange a few hours of conversational English for food, accommodation and Chinese lessons. A couple of my friends worked there and really liked it and I think it’ll be an interesting way to experience a town that is known for being backpackerland in a different sort of way.
But of course I really want to be volunteering with Hands On Disaster Response in Sichuan. Still no word on whether there will be a deployment, but if there is then I’ll be heading up there to do that. So between English teaching, a bit of travelling, and hopefully some volunteering, it should be a busy and interesting month.
New Chinese visa pending, of course! Here’s hoping I don’t find myself stranded in Hong Kong!