“Thank you for your visa application Mr. Thomson. Your passport photos are not large enough, so please go and get bigger ones. Also, you need to have this blue police registration form to apply for a visa extension. No, this is not a rule only in Hefei, it applies everywhere in China. Also, the hotel you are staying at is not allowed. You must be staying at a five-star hotel.”
What?! This rule applies only to this miniscule insignificant segment of the space-time continuuum, and is obviously a construct of your own inconceivable imagination!
Well, that’s what I wanted to say, but I was too astounded at the preposterousness of the situation.
This was not a good start to my day. The absolute absurdity of this…it is really difficult to understate.
I raised my voice at the poor police officer. Spoke the magic words “Welcome to China, huh?”. This seemed to have the desired effect, and I was directed to her supervisor’s office.
Rob Luxton (www.chinawheelie.com) once gave me some advice that to survive in China, sometimes you have to act like a Chinese and get pushy. I will have to finally reluctantly agree with him.
The matter was sorted in the end, with me coming extremely close to saying “I don’t give a damn about China! Just give me enough time to fly out of this god-forsaken place.” I held my tounge on that comment however, thinking it probably wouldn’t have gone down very well with the patriotic officers.
While chatting about my travels:
The officer: “You went to Xinjiang? How was it?”
Me: “It was hot.”
The Offcier: “Just hot?!”
Me: “Well, the people were very nice. Especially the Uyghur people. Many of them don’t speak Chinese, you know.”
The Officer: “Yes, you are right. But they are still Chinese.”
In the end I was begrudgingly given until the 8th of October to remain in the country. My flight out is on the 7th of October. Stiff bickies if the flight gets cancelled or delayed for any reason.
Of course the standard five working days processing time applies, so including the weekend, that’s seven days I have to wait for my visa extension. What a pallava.
In happier news, a selection of my photos are now for purchase here. Wahoo! They are available in greeting card format, laminated prints, mounted prints, even framed prints! The prices are really reasonable, and the delivery time is great. Delivery worldwide even. I have to give Alastair Humphreys credit for this idea. Check out his website for more great travel photos.
In other news, some of you may have seen a recent addition to my route information page. That’s right! Skating in South America in February next year! However I have decided to postpone this trip indefinitely. Adam Colton of www.whoisadamcolton.com fame and www.loadedboards.com fame was going to be my skating partner for the trip, and I was really looking forward to it.
The postponement comes after some thorough route planning (emailing cyclists on the ground right now), and after securing a sponsorship deal from Orangatang Wheels. However despite the great opportunity that the route offers and the extra support from Orangatang Wheels, I don’t feel that early next year is a good time for me to get back on a board.
I feel that it is time for me to spend some time in one place for a while. I am keen to wrap this 14degrees journey up (speaking tour, book etc) and bring closure to this chapter of my life before moving on to the next thing.
My most recent contact with Adam indicated that he is keen to push ahead with the route, possibly starting in January. I wish him all the best…it’d be an amazing trip. And, he’ll be able to scout the route out for me, making it easier when I do it later! 🙂 I’ll make sure to let people know of any blog or info about the trip as it unfolds. You can be sure that I’ll be following the trip!