Chinese Visas and “I Should’a Learned Korean” 3/3

I leave for Beijing in two weeks. To gain entrance to China you need to have a Chinese visa, and there are all sorts of hoops you have to jump through since visa requirements are always changing. I should also add that Chinese visas for American citizens are expensive. There are a number of different prices quoted throughout the internet, but what it comes down to is that every other country pays a small fee while US citizens pay upwards of 100,000 Won depending on where you go. I came away from my visa experience having paid 230,000 Won to a travel agency to do all the work for me. That is more expensive than if I had gone straight to the embassy, but the embassy is closed when I get off work. Had I taken time off to go to the embassy, I would have had to shell out money for my co-teachers to cover a total of four classes, which adds up. I could have mailed all the paperwork in, but it was very difficult finding a legitimate bank account to transfer the funds to the embassy.

Asking around proved to be very helpful. Ines works with a number of freelance journalists who do a lot of traveling. One of them kindly pointed the way to Xanadu’s website and informed me I would be paying an extra fee for not booking my airfare with them. But there was a bonus, they had office hours on Saturday. I booked it out to Itaewon this morning, found the building, found the office, and the person working told me that the Chinese regulations had changed recently. Nobody would be allowed in without an invitation. An invitation? Really? Everything is already booked and they want me to have an invitation? The woman assured me they would be able to get me processed, which was a relief, and I just had to transfer the money, then come back next weekend to pick up everything.

If you want info for the Chinese Embassy, here you go. It’s pretty close to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Chinese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea
Ambassador: Mr. Zhang Xinsen
Address: 54, Hyoja-Dong, Jongno-Gu, Seoul, 110033, Korea
Office Hours: 09:00-12:00, 13:30-17:30, Monday-Friday
Tel: +82-2-7381038
Fax: +82-2-7381077

Now it’s on to the next installment of “I Should’a Learned Korean.” “I Should’a Learned Korean” is an ongoing topic here that primarily deals with the frustrations and humorous side of Korean language barriers. To check out previous posts, head on over to Part 1 and Part 2.

  • Back in March, I went to the zoo. I really wish I could have told the people who were blatantly ignoring the “DO NOT FEED ANIMALS” signs to stop throwing squid fries to the monkeys. Oh yeah, and why it’s bad for them! Also, I would have loved to tell the little Korean children to stop throwing rocks at the animals in cages or banging on the glass of enclosures.
  • Sometimes when I go to Lotte Mart for a grocery run, I’m at the check out and the cashier inevitably asks me something. I’m thinking it’s a cash back option or what have you, but it would be nice to know exactly what they’re asking me. At least they smile.
  • Transit maps. Obviously I can get around just fine at the moment, but I find myself second guessing my decisions sometimes because I have to study new routes. (Though today, I didn’t need any directions to get to Itaewon from Myeongdong and back, and that was just after one trip a few weekends ago.) This mostly concerns bus routes, because I find that more difficult to figure out where you are and where you’re going than on a subway.
  • I would love to have one of those food delivery scooters knock on my door during the weekends with food I ordered. That’d be great. Then I can use all the spam mail/announcements/advertisements for food that are always stuck on my door.
  • Domestic arguments are a big deal in and around my building. These people like to stand out in the hallway while they fight, at all hours of the night or early morning. If nothing else, I would love just to open my door and shout, “PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING! SHUT UP,” in Korean.

So the China countdown begins next week, and I will be scratching off another “Crazy Thing” on my list. The weekend I return will be another scratch off, but I’ll leave that one a surprise.