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 café, 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.