Thursday, 21 June 2012

Visas and sofas.

One week from today I'll be on the train from Paris direct to Moscow, but currently I am surrounded by stacks of boxes as I pack everything up in my flat to move out. My passport has been returned to me today, with the Belarus, Russia and Mongolia visas completed, but I was unable to obtain a Chinese visa. At first I applied for a double entry visa, but this was reduced to a single entry visa on account of me foolishly putting my former employers details correctly on there; they really don't like journalists. I then received a second phone call saying the embassy would not process my visa, as I would not be entering China in the next 30 days, and to reapply closer to the time. I wish to enter China within the next 45 days give-or-take, and the information on their website stated you should apply within 3 months of arrival in China. I thought there might be a bump in the road somewhere along the line. Now all I can do is apply for the visa in Ulaanbaatar, which I've read is riddled with difficulties, but I've learnt some lessons from this first experience. For one I won't reference anything to do with my occupation or former employer, but instead tick unemployed, which will be true, and hopefully not considered too much of a threat to the Chinese authorities. I've also retained some false travel bookings, returned with my passport by the Real Russia travel agency who I was using. These will be very useful for the Chinese application, showing entry and exit ticket bookings, which don't actually exist, but are necessary to obtain the visa.

My train tickets, visas and other documents. I hope I don't forget anything. 
I'm also intending to couch surf whilst in Moscow, through the website. This will be a bit more of an adventure than staying in a hostel, I'll get insider local knowledge from a host who is happy to show me their city and hopefully a different perspective on the Russian capital, rather than through purely my tourist eyes. I sent a message out on the site the other day, and have had about 5 responses from different people offering me a place to stay or to show me around. I'll give it another day or two, to see if I receive any other invites, and then choose the most interesting one.

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