Photos and stories about my expat experience in China, currently in Bejing.
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Visa run to Hong Kong

My current Chinese visa will expire on November 27th, and so I needed to extend it.

This is easily done through an agent in Beijing, and all I need for that is another entry stamp in my passport. (Technically I should leave the country and come back, then they can extend my visa 3, 6 or 12 months from the latest entry stamp.)

So, the cheapest and fastest solution is to go to Hong Kong.

I got up on a Friday morning at 6:00, left the house at 6:30 and took a bus to Tianjin train station (1 hour) and boarded a train to Beijing (30 minutes). Once there, I had to go to another train station which took me another 1 hour and two buses.

My train to Hong Kong left at 13:00 and I passed customs etc. The train took 26 hours and along the way I saw a lot of snow (in Henan province). Nothing more to do than listening to music and reading books.

I arrived in Kowloon at 15:00 or so and passed immigration. A group of people with doctor's uniforms stopped everyone and took their temperature. They also needed a health declaration. Soon though, I found myself outside the station in Hong Kong.

No time to waste, and so I bought a sandwich and a Coke and returned by subway to the border again. There, at Lo wu station, me and about a thousand other people had to get off and walk over a bridge and back into China. The immigration there was fast and easy, and at 16:30 I was in Shenzhen.

A friend who lives there had already bought a ticket for me to Tianjin, leaving at 20:00. After a nice dinner of goose meat and soup, I boarded the train again.

This train also took 26 hours and it was boring because there was nothing to do all day. Fortunately I had brought a thick Dostoevsky novel with me, and read nearly half of it.

I arrived back in Tianjin at 22:30 and took a bus back home. On Sunday night 23:00 I was finally back. All that for a stamp in my passport!

The next phase was to go back to Beijing and find that visa agent. Prices seemed to have changed a lot since last year. Then, I could get a 12 month visa for about 160 Euros, but now they emailed me with prices nearly tripled. (Due to the PRC's 60th anniversary this year I think). No choice though, and on Wednesday I went to look up the visa agent.

After taking photos and showing my residence permit, I managed to get a 6 month extension for only 110 Euros. My Tianjin residence permit doesn't work in Beijing, and so I had to cheat a bit and book a hotel for 10 days in Beijing, after which they gave me a Beijing permit. The next day I checked out and got my money back .

Why the visa was cheaper I don't know (but I'm glad). I should be able to pick it up in a week.

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