Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beginning of visa hell

Until now I was happily surfing over the borders of google maps. Now the harsh reality tells me that it'll be way harder to cross borders in life than on google maps.
Starting with China. Unless you're from some lucky country, you need a visa to go there. And not just any visa. A chinese-crazy-absurd visa. In order to apply you need:
  • Your bank account transcript showing the money you have there.
  • A hotel reservation. This can be replaced by an invitation letter for someone who is willing to sacrifice himself for you.
  • An itinerary. You have to plan your irinerary and god forbid if there is tibet or Xinjiang written on it.
  • Two plane ticket reservations. One to go to china and another to depart from China.
Seriously? I didn't expect the administration to be hitchhiking-friendly but that much hate? What did I do to you?
What about the travelers who travel to Mongolia, who visit the village 10km from the border what are they supposed to do? Walk back to Ulan Bator (the mongol capital) and fly to Beijing? How fucked up is that?! I won't even mention ecology at this point.
They want to see my bank account, I get that, honest business thinking, they want me to spend money without forcing me to. But forcing me to travel by air or booking a hotel? This is just nonsense. I am less attached to my money than to my freedom.
Just imagine the world if everybody lived by these peoples rules. There would be a few touristic circuits, a few strings of places which are easily accessible. The rest of the world... not worth visiting. When people would go to visit China, they would go to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. People who visit France would go to Paris and the Cote d'Azur. The circuits would be so cool and amazing yay! You must see them. Oh wait you already did, did you? Since there isn't anything else to visit, all of your friends already went there and you can as well travel on google street view.
When the night comes, people would all sleep in hotels, nice ikea boxes, to be recycled one day. Dear visitors, enjoy your stay and please, try to feel unique!
I hear people say: come on, it's not a big deal, just take two plane tickets and be done with it! And the hotels too. Actually it is a big deal, it's quite fundemental.
It's like the difference between a human and a robot. When you follow all the rules, when you visit alle the places you are supposed to visit, when you book all the hotels you're supposed to book, well you do not visit China. China just visits itself using you as a sophisticated walking automaton. Seriously... how do you manage not to get bored? Oh yeah I know, you're a fucking robot!
Now enough of this self-serving rant. I shouldn't be mean to tourists, it's that same kind of close-mindness that creates the fucked up situations I am in. We should acknowledge that there are people who like to travel in an organised way and other people who like the randomness of travel.
And there should be room for all of us.
So what will I do about it? Surely not give up China. I'd love going to China almost as much as I'd love to go to Kamchatka. Therefore, I have several solutions:
  1. Buy those plane tickets and some hotels not use them. Lot of money thrown away but I get the visa. It's really silly though that travelling by hitchhiking would actually be more expensive than touristic travel.
  2. Ask my chinese friend to write some letter with my intinerary saying that I am entering by train and leaving by ferry and getting my tickets when I can. I hope his mandarin writing will break their heart. Literary. Rip it to shreds. Sorry about that. I hope it will play on their sentimental side.
  3. Fake my plane tickets
  4. Buy real tickets, get the visa and cancel them. This amounts for a shitload of money and a lot of stress because if I missed a clause in the booking contract,I'll just end up with two incredibly expensive and useless flight tickets.
I am currently hesitating between solutions 3 ans 4.

My dear legality, you don't I how much I want to love you, embrace you and live by you... but when I see your ugly face I just want to puke and when I feel your heart of ice I just want to run far away from you before I freeze to death.

I actually do miss the albanian corruption which could be ugly but yet sometimes more humane than what I see here.