The first part of this article was written a week ago on a plane from Hong Kong to Singapore with no meal included because it was a low cost company - and I’m not one to pay 12 singaporian dollars for instant noodles - so I decided to make the most of the Tumblr app.
And so it begins:
If I had written this article before two days ago, I would probably have named it differently, probably China <3, and I would have told you about how amazing China is.
But that was before two days ago. And I share my part of responsability in this big mess ok I admit it. I am now on a plane to Phnom Penh so everything is fine but you should have seen me two days ago.
This day I woke up to find out that China did not deliver visas for Shenzhen at the border for French people, like they do for other nationalities - these guys should show a bit more gratitude to one of the first countries to recognize them officially - Charles de Gaulle does that ring a bell you stupid chinese policy makers? BUT ME, stupid me, I had booked a flight from Shenzhen to Phnom Penh, it’s so easy darling Shenzhen is half an hour away from uni by the underground.
Charles de Gaulle is not amused
So I spent a whole morning on the phone trying to cancel my flight from Shenzhen to PP and to book another one from Hong Kong. I went through the whole process of panick, self depreciation, compulsive smoking/eating and will of suicide (from the fourth floor it works even if it isn’t very spectacular).
I also had to go to the seven/eleven to buy a sim card that did international calls because my usual sim card obstinately refused to call in China - fuck you Smartone.
After a few hours calling at every office of the company in China, a girl finally accepted to cancel my flight and refund it minus 82usd. I started breathing again, life had regained all its colors, I was shaking but of relief. So now, I’m flying from Hong Kong, where people have some common sense.
But Julie why didn’t you do a Chinese visa before? you will ask. Well, I went there a bit late, ok, but i didn’t know we were one of the few nationalities which had to wait 4 working days to get a visa - no fast procedure for baguette eaters.
Lets talk a little bit about the visa system. I’m beginning to realize that if Europe is the heaven for free circulation, China seems to take a nasty pleasure in being the dickhead of the band. The system is random and beautiful. It looks like it was designed out of anger by a 6-years old whose parents just confiscated its toys. Think about it. Every nationality pays a different price. The prices change regularly, and seem to follow the politics quite faithfully. The French pay around 40€ to get a double entry, the British around 50. Apparently the Polish don’t pay anything. The US citizens pay so much to get into China that it is ridiculous, and for them each visa has the same price, no matter if it is a single or a double entry, around a hundred euros.
To get a visa, you have to go to the office and there they will require everything from you, from your flights to your hotels reservations, and your itinerary and day-by-day schedule. You will need plenty of goodwill and fake reservations/plans to make it into China. There are so many papers that at one point I kind of expected them to ask me for a lung scanner.
I was so happy when I got my first Chinese visa that a took a selfie with it.
This selfie cat too thinks the Chinese visa system is bullshit
End of the part written a week ago/Start of the part written today
Now I’ve been in Cambodia for a week and I HAVE THE CHINESE VISA that I needed to go back from Vietnam to Hong Kong through China by train. The first time I came comme une fleur (like a flower) to the Chinese embassy with plans to stay 3 days in China without anything booked and vague night buses plans found on seat61.com the counter guy might have thought I was slightly stupid/dangerous.
I finally got him when I came half an hour later - after an intense fight with a computer in a cambodian cybercafé - with the booking of a hostel and a completly fake flight booking (Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh Ville) that I made up from another reservation, modifying it on Word. I lied. So this morning I feel like a complete badass - plus a total loser because this passeport is the only thing that wasn’t stolen with my whole handbag - but thats another (lousy) story.