Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wasting Time and Visa Extension

After a long bus ride from Ganzi I was ready to relax in Kangding for a few days. The directions to the hostel where I had a reservation were really bad so I could not find the place on my own. I tried to find a cab but the first one did not want to deal with me and the second took me a hotel that was not where I have a reservation. I finally got the cabby to call the hostel and get directions so after a bit of work made it to the hostel. On arriving I found out that they had overbooked the place and did not have a room for me. They did get me in another hostel that was a little bit more. The guy said if I pay 20 yuan more he would pay the additional 30. I’m not sure the room was really more than what I paid but at least he made me feel like he made an effort since he overbooked. I needed to extend my visa in the next few days but found out that I could not do this in Kangding so I only stayed the one night and went back to Chengdu. When I got to the place where I thought I could extend my visa there was nothing in English and 2 guards at the gate to the building. I ask them about the visa extension and they did not understand me so got out my book and pointed to the word for visa and extension in Chinese and the only word they would say that I understood was closed. I wrote down the date and said closed and they understood enough to write down 10-8-2007 as when it would be open. I tried to tell them my visa would expire on 10-5-2007 but all they would say is closed. I knew this week was a national holiday but nothing I had read said anything about not being able to do visa extensions during this time period. I ask in the hostels what I should do and they just said go on the 8th and extend the visa and that I might get a fine but they did not know how much it would be. I also got told that the visa would take 5 working days but Leshan was much quickest and may be a better option.

I had more time in Chengdu so ended up seeing everything that my travel book had listed as a site. I visited the Tomb of Wang Jian, and it is my understanding that is the only above ground tomb that has been excavated. I found the tomb and especially the sarcophagus (if that is what is called in Chinese) really interesting. The sarcophagus has these figures around it have are holding it up with a lot of strain on their faces.

I then went to the Sichuan University Museum. I had a lot of problems finding this museum and ending up starting on a bus and then switched to a taxi which got me to the Sichuan University and after walking around the university for about 15 minutes lost I took a rickshaw to the museum. On arriving I walked up to the door and it was locked. I figured it was closed for the national holiday so walked to a bus stop and was waiting for a bus when I saw an open entrance to the museum.

The museum had a number of different exhibits and a large exhibit on the culture of the minority people in China. I enjoyed walking around in the museum but not sure it was worth all the problems in finding it but then again I had a lot of time and not a lot to do. I went back into the center of town and bought a couple of beers and sat in the peoples park watching people, reading, drinking beer and wasting time. I had heard there was a light and water show in the cities main square and that it started around 7:30. I wasted about an hour in the peoples park and then walked over and watched the show. I did not find the lights very impressive but the water show was interesting.

I was once again a site at the large square and made some new Chinese friends and had my picture take a few times. I seem to like taking pictured of children and they seem to also always enjoy having their picture taken.

Some children on the bus back to my hostel also found me interesting and I don’t know how many times we said “Hello”, “How are you”, “What’s your name” and “Goodbye to each other. I think most of the people on the bus were really sick of this and very happy when I got off the bus.

I also visited the Wenshu Temple and went to the Peoples Park again during the day.

I decided it would be good to go back to Leshan to get my visa quicker then waiting the 5 working days in Chengdu so on Sunday caught a bus back there. This time in Leshan I could see the Largest Buddha from across the river and since I had time to waste I took a boat out to a small island in the middle of the river. There was a few places where you had to cross small bits of the river stepping stone to stone and I did not manage this very well without getting my shoes really wet but could not believe some of the women doing this with heels on. The children did not seem to care about the stone and just played in the water.

This is one of the Buddha from the edge of the island.

Monday morning I was at the place to extend my visa just after 9AM. On showing my passport to the guy there he has me what do you want me to do with this. I said I would like a visa extension. He answered your visa is expired you should have renewed it last week. I said I tried but the office in Chengdu was closed. He said no someone had to be there and I should have extended it last week. He ask me who told me it was closed and I told him the guard at the address in my book. He said you will have to go back to Chengdu and prove that you tried to extend it last week.

I was a scared on the bus ride back to Chengdu that maybe I went to the wrong place and had no idea what would happen. When I got back to Chengdu and back to the place I had talked to the guard I noticed the building next to the one I went to had an English sign of the place I was suppose to go. I went in rather scared that I had really messed up and might have to pay a fine and not be able to extend my visa. I talked to a lady about the extension and if it was an issue that the visa was expired. She said no problem we all need vacations and just fill out this form and the visa will be ready in 5 working days. I am once again in Chengdu with time to waste but feel much better that I think I have a new visa.

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