Gaining entry: visas on strike

When you enter a new country, there is the likely possibility that you will be stranded at customs confused, frustrated, and helpless. For many who plan ahead, this is fortunately not the case. However, for the likes of Summer and myself, this tended to be our norm—never obtaining the currency in advance necessary to purchase the $30-$40 admittance fee. We decided after our bout of labored entry into Southeast Asian countries, we would in fact amend our idle ways and get our Chinese visas prior to landing in the country, expecting a quick and painless procedure. Our shot in the dark proved to be such. Little did we know, once inside the Chinese embassy in Cambodia (with our perfectly posed 2X2 color photos in hand), we needed to leave our passports, give all kinds of nonexistent travel details, and stay five days in order for the information to be processed. After all this, we would have to hold our breath-easy in Phnom Penh- and pray the visa is actually granted. Embarking on our next leg of the trip in just  a few hours, that venture proved unfruitful and discouraging.  We decided to wait until Hong Kong, believing it would be quicker and cheaper once we were technically in the People’s Republic of China. Not the case. Because we are US citizens (emblazoned on our navy blue passports) instead of the $30 any other nationality would have to pay, ours was a whopping $130. We had to rush order them since our request fell so blessedly over a weekend, and the total exorbitant cost amounted to $226 USD. We begrudgingly handed over our American Express cards- rejected- and charged it on our Visas, pun indignantly intended. Note to future Americans who dare to enter China: get the visa beforehand. Way beforehand.


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