Chinese Visa #1
As some countries open their borders making travel a whole lot easier, some countries just make it harder. This last summer saw Kazakhstan start a pilot project where by citizens of the United States, the Netherlands, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Japan can enter visa-free for 15 days. Also this summer, Mongolia introduced a visa-free 30 days for Andorra, Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Gibraltar, Grenada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Panama, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay. These are in addition to a whole host of nations already being able to enter sans-visa BUT then they cancelled it!
And then comes China. This year for what ever reasons, so many rumours as to why, but they made it just plain difficult. I first got to know about the new rules from a friend who tried in Bangkok to get a visa. They told him he needed air tickets. He also tried in Vientienne. Same story.
4 months later I had the story confirmed when I was in Bangkok.
"Agencies can no longer get Chinese visas. You must go to the embassy yourself with air tickets and hotel reservations."
Just like you see on all the Chinese embassy websites.
Cambodia for better or worse is a place where any thing goes. I had the name of an agency in Siem Reap, who a friend had used to extend his Cambodian visa. I paid them a visit. They specialized in getting visa for India, Laos, Cambodia. All pretty easy to get yourself. So I asked about China.
"Yes no problem. single entry 30 day 65US$. double entry 3 month 30 day each time, 95US$. Takes 4 days"
I handed over the cash, passport and photo. I did not even fill in any application form, nothing! 4 days later my passport was back, with my double entry visa with 6 month validity. Yep, 6 month, much to the surprise of the lady.
I had a friend in Chengdu call the PUBLIC SECURITY BUREAU, aka the PSB or gong-an and they confirmed that I could extend my visa the 1 time. That's what I had heard. Things change so quickly so it's good to hear it from the horses mouth, so to speak.