Things I’ve had to deal with lately:
- Getting a Russian visa. Apparently this can only be done at home, or in a country where you have permission to stay for 90 days or more. For me, this means Hong Kong. I had to buy an "invitation" online for 45 USD, print it at a business centre (rich person’s Internet cafÃ©, found in fancy hotels everywhere) for 20 HKD, and apply for an "urgent" visa at 1000 HKD. I don’t want to work out what any of that is in real dollars.
- Tibet travel permits. I still can’t figure out if I need one to buy train tickets or just to board the train. Getting one (for me) is relatively easy: the company running the bike tour will mail one to Beijing. But Robin wants to come to Lhasa with me (yay!) which is more complicated… likely she needs to pay over 100 USD for it!
- My flight out of Nepal (to Guangzhou) has been delayed 3 whole days. It’s now too late to book a reasonably-priced flight somewhere else in China. Thanks, China Southern!
- In Beijing: I need to extend my China stay (beyond 30 days) so I can do the bike trip) AND get a Mongolian visa. Joy.
- Inconvenient trains: China doesn’t seem to run small trains. They’re either 15 carriage monsters or nothing, which makes service frequency… low. Kunming <–> Lijiang is served by 2 trains per day. There are 2 night trains from the Hong Kong area to Shanghai, which sell out quickly. Etc.
Other than that, Hong Kong has been nice & I’m moving on to Shanghai today.
2 thoughts on “Sometimes, planning is hard…”
A friend was telling me about his experiences travelling to Russia. It’s apparently hilarious, if you love Communist-era red tape at least. When they computerised, for instance, it came down as a political decree (“computerization is good, therefore you should do it”), but nobody wanted to put anyone out of work. So when you book a hotel, for instance, they may enter your details into a computer, print it out, and then file it in a large binder, so as to not actually affect the pre-computer jobs in any particular way.
This makes online reservations a bit spicy – there might be speedbumps between the actual Internet and the Binder Of Record, as my friend discovered. In other words, travel insurance is recommended, especially if it comes with someone who can yell in Russian.
That reminds me… I’ve been meaning to email Konstantin and see if he’ll give me his cell phone number in case I need a translator at some point :)
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