One month before the Coronavirus outbreak, I applied for a Chinese Visa in Mandalay- If only I knew… It’s funny cause I found myself almost giving up on applying for the visa. It felt almost like a sign that I shouldn’t apply. I now think that it was.
The Chinese consulate in Mandalay works 5 days a week from 8.30 am to 11 am. After reading a lot on how to apply to a Chinese Visa, I had with me a form filled with all the details asked, all the hotel bookings for more than 1 month in China, the flights in and out of China, and I thought that would be ok.
If you see a big waiting line outside the Chinese consulate, jump it. That is not for you. Head to the door and the guard will assist you by giving you a number on a paper that I am sure was printed some time ago and will be used until it is torn. Then I find out that the form that took me 15 minutes filling out was the wrong one. They gave me a brand new form and I needed to fill everything again just there. To apply for a Chinese Visa as a foreigner in Myanmar you will need Form V2013 and V2011b. You also need a copy of your passport page with your details and a copy of the page with Myanmar Visa. You also have to hand your printed visa that you used when entering the country. Don’t forget a picture in a white background.
At first, they were very surprised to see me, and the first of one hundred questions was: why am I from Portugal and applying for a Chinese visa in Myanmar. That was extremely weird for them… I am sure this consulate doesn’t give many tourist visas to foreigners.
One thing that I was surely not expecting was that I would need to go the following day with everything printed out again.
-My printed bookings weren’t showing my name on the paper so I needed to print them again.
-I need to have a flight out of Myanmar, which I didn’t
-Coming back the next day means canceling all the previously bought flights and buy new ones again. This is due to the fact that I am buying 24h free cancelation flights, so bear in mind that if you are not done that day, you will have to book new ones and cancel the ones you bought before. Yes, such a hassle.
The next day I went again to try my luck. This time I had a whole creepy interrogatory. They call me to a private room where there is a Chinese woman that spends 15 minutes or more, I can’t even tell, asking me the most diversified questions. Annoying questions, questions I don’t even know how to answer. They simply don’t understand how is it possible for me to travel for so long when I don’t have a job. I think that was my main problem. She asked the same question many times, maybe to see if I would answer differently. She asked about my past, about the other stamps I have in my passport and I even had to show her pictures of my previous travels and that I had traveled to so many places, so she would believe me. I have no idea why so many questions. It felt like an interrogation before going to jail.
I was applying for the second option: 3 months multiple entries. But she said she could only allow me to be in China for 1 month. After explaining to her that I need more time and China is so big that I couldn’t see everything I wanted in 1 month, she changed her mind and said: Ok, you can stay for two months. “Welcome to our mainland, China” I left that room very happy. But, it didn’t last long. To do that I would have to change all the itineraries, book new accommodations, new flights, and more, I needed to have 4 flights: 2 entries and 2 exits. You can’t stay in China for more than 1 month in a row, so even with a Visa for more than 1 month, after 30 days you need to exit China and come back again. After knowing this fact and being tired of changing things, I said no. It looks like you need to fight to get in the country… I will only stay for 1 month then. Fuck it. I’m 2 seconds away from going away and give a shit to China.
This is when I thought that maybe it was a sign that I shouldn’t go. It was being so hard and giving me too much work to get a Chinese Visa, and more, they made me feel like a criminal with the huge interrogatory.
I bought a new flight in place- another flight to cancel- and show her on the phone. At least they were nice to print it out for me there as otherwise, I would have to go there another time to give the printed paper, and that wouldn’t happen because if they demanded that I would no longer apply for a Chinese Visa in Mandalay. That decision was already taken. Finally, after reviewing all my things, again and again, I get my ticket to pick up my Chinese Visa 4 working days later. I was relieved because I thought that now it was done and I would just pay and leave. I was wrong.
When I arrive at the Chinese consulate in Mandalay for the third time to pick up my passport with the Chinese visa, they had two questions for me written on paper. One third came after. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the question is again the same: how do I pay for my travels if I don’t have a job. I breathe in deeply and start writing the answer while cursing all those people.
2 hours later and a few more questions like: why don’t you apply for a Chinese visa in Bangkok if you are going to Thailand next- (WTF)- they also asked me why didn’t I apply for a visa in Vietnam cause I was there a long time. They finally ask for my 64 USD that can’t be folded in any possible way, hand my passport with the Godamn Chinese visa and I thank God this is all over.
Publishing this post now makes me realize that after all, my guessings at the beginning were right. Something was telling me not to apply for this Chinese visa. And perhaps I should have listened to the signs as after all that hassle and money spent, I didn’t visit China due to Coronavirus outbreak.