In last week’s “Sunday Post”, I poured vitriol on the Chinese embassy staff in Hanoi given their refusal of our visa applications. Fast forward a week…and despite still loathing the staff, I’ve had visa success!
I followed my own advice about applying for a Chinese visa in Hanoi, including translating my insurance documents into Chinese using Google Translate. So I was pretty confident when I strolled into the visa office on Wednesday morning and did my best to hide a smirk when I handed my application to the same battleaxe as the week before. The taste of victory turned sour very quick though when she said with obvious relish “there is a regulation that says you have to be working in Vietnam to get a Chinese visa here. Come back tomorrow as I will have to check with my boss”. I almost mouthed the words “are you f*&king having a laugh?!” but managed to control myself and walked out of there resigned to my fate.
All was not lost though. The mysterious, elusive “boss” character she often talked about in our dealings appears to be a bit of a hero, because when I went back the following day all was well and my application had been approved! Whoop whoop! The battleaxe didn’t look happy for me and not a slither of civility did I receive from her – I think she resented the whole affair. Anyway, I got a taxi straight away to the designated ICBC Bank near Daewood Hotel (around 40,000 dong), where I paid my US$30 visa fee. Actually, because I was paying in dong, I had to pay a service charge of around 110,000 dong and so the total amount came to approx 740,000 dong. Tip: save yourself some money by paying US dollars in cash – there’s also a charge to use your card.
I was a relieved little Irish man on Friday when I collected my passport with the Chinese visa properly inserted, ready to start my Chinese adventure on 11 June. I fear though that Chinese-Irish relations must be a bit strained at the minute because the lady dishing out the visas (different to the battleaxe I usually dealt with) did not share my relief and looked absolutely disgusted when I thanked her and she literally threw the passport back at me. So TOP TIP: if you want to get a Chinese Visa DO NOT get it in Hanoi as they are getting more and more restrictive in their policies. I understand it is best to apply in your home country.
Anyway, after all that blabbering, I’ll finish up now with a photo Emily took of me today cheekily enjoying a cold beer with a lush, green Sapa valley (we just arrived in by train today from Hanoi) in the background – don’t be jealous! Haha, until later…