It seems I’ve just returned from Peru and I’m about to take off again – this time to China… or “Gina” as Donald Trump calls it. It seems strange that after all my traveling – I haven’t visited China before.
It’s a quick nine day tour with On the Go tours – a company I haven’t traveled with before – but comes highly recommended by my travel agent. The nine day tour is called “Great Wall &Warriors”
and hits the “must see” highlights - like Tianmen Square, the Terracotta warriors, the Great Wall, and Shanghai – all in about a week.
Unfortunately, Tom, my favourite traveling partner, won’t be going on this trip. He’s been there – done that, so I’m on my own. In order to acclimatize myself I’ve spent a few hours in Richmond wandering around the Yaohan and Aberdeen shopping malls and taking my picture in front of stores with locals.
Unlike most of my other trips this trip required a visa which was a bit of pain (and pricey) to get. There is an official visa office in Vancouver which made things somewhat easier. I made an appointment online(highly recommended) and showed up to a huge room that reminded me of a dim-sum restaurant – except it didn’t have tables … or food trolleys… or food - but lots of Asian people and one or two Caucasians - sort of like Richmond. I was told to take a number and wait. However since I had a appointment I was at the front of the line, and within a couple of minutes was at a wicket where my documents were carefully scrutinized before I was told to come back in five days to pick up my (hopefully) processed Visa.
I showed up five days later, and given the express treatment I received when applying I expected to be out of the office in a few minutes – after all, I only had to pick it up and pay for it. How long could that take? Evidently a long long time - it seems the visa office has 12 wickets to process applications but only two wickets to pay for them.
I should mention if you’re on a cruise, or only passing through China on a short stay over, you might not require a visa - so check out visa requirements BEFORE (as many people do) assuming they need a visa and go to the expense and time to get one.
So with my new visa firmly cemented into my passport I’m off the China tomorrow. I’ll keep you informed on my adventures.