Bureaucracy moves at a glacial pace, the tourist visa stamp floats like a retreating ice berg in the luke warm administrative waters. The long desired tourist visa , the monopoly card, the terminator or determinator of forward travel. A little stamp or sticker, a you may now pass go card posted in my passport in the monopoly travel game of life.
As the icebergs melt and the arctic warms another visa is achieved, this time thanks to the assistance of the unofficial Indonesian tourist visa extension coordinator, a hairdresser/hotel manager I met last week.
With the mind baffling complexity of meta-physics, variable rules and conditions apply to visa politics in every country. For instance, the hairdresser/hotel manager I met last week became my Indonesian sponsor. A local Indonesian “friend” is required to sign off on all Indonesian visa paperwork. A fee is charged for this service and then my hairdresser/hotel manger sponsor then pays an additional “fee” on my behalf to the visa office. I receive my pass go card, a blue stamp in my passport, half the Indonesian population stays employed for my efforts and the pulp and paper industry is down another tree.
In China, I made way for the bureaucratic glacier to float on by me without incident by simply rolling Pandemic The Visa Gett’in Magic Bicycle into the Chinese consulate office in Luaprabang, Loa, (visas can be obtained in major cities in neighboring countries). As Pandemic sparkled with all her charm in the back of the visa office, I smiled with the strength of 36 spokes and scored a 4 month double-entry (two visits) Chinese visa instead of the standard 15 day visa. Pandemic was all about it, we REALLY wanted a visa long enough to pedal from Vietnam to Mongolia, through China and then roll back through China, sneak through Tibet and go ice climbing in Nepal. (Pro-tip/ the word Tibet is considered blasphemous in the Chinese visa office and will result in not receiving the pass go card, magic bicycles are allowed). I handed the “official” Chinese official a hand written 4 page destinations list of Chinese villages on the east coast, a long way away from Tibet that I wanted to pedal through and assured him that I LOVE CHINA. In reality, the best thing about China is that it is attached to Mongolia but when given the opportunity to feed China’s ego it is best to smile hard and start cooking Chinese dumplings. In summary, three tips on getting a tourist travel visa
Tip 1-Issuing a visa can be a lengthy affair, ranging from immediately to 3-10 days, so plan ahead
Tip 2-Visas can be issued on arrival by plane, at home before you leave at the consulate, in major cities in neighboring countries or at land crossings by bus or bicycle
Tip 3-It doesn’t hurt to bring a magic bicycle to the visa office
Click here for specific visa regulations for all the countries of the world
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