Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Big Trouble in Little China

Man, am I frustrated with China.

Long story short, I have been planning to visit Beijing for Chusook (Korean Thanksgiving - Sept. 12 - 15th). I booked the flight form Seoul to Beijing with Southern China Airlines for a great price - about $400. A few weeks later, the airline emailed with a change to the return ticket, to return a day later when I was supposed to be working. This was quickly solved with a short phone call and things were perfect and I was excited.

One tiny detail was missing though - the visa. Little did I know that China needed Canadians to have a valid visa to enter the country. No problem, I though upon learning of this twist. But after searching the web and calling the embassy, there is a problem.

Turns out that people wanting to enter China must have at least 6 months left on their Korean Alien Registration Visa...

... I arrived in December, and my Registration card expires in December - only 4 months left. Shoot, I thought. So today, I made my way to the largest travel agency in Seoul, Hana Tours, and begged them to help me. The lovely girl spent 30 minutes trying. We talked with the Korean visa people because we thought that if I extend my Registration here another 2 months, then China would grant me their visa! We were stunned to hear that you cannot extend your Korean registration until there is 2 months or less left on it.

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! Fuck! (Sorry for the expletive, but I am genuinely angry!!!) So basically, I can't go to China because I have 4 months left and I can't extend my Korean visa because I have 4 months left. (sound of brain exploding over newly-purchaced Lonley Planet Beijing book.)

Ah, burocracy.

So tomorrow, I'll make the call to Southern China Airlines to try to get my flight either (1) changed or (2) refunded. I'll keep you posted...

Way to go China, on the making a good Olympics impression on the World! Uhhh.


Marek Eby said...

That's more than a little frustrating. Somewhat like the sudden passport requirement for Canadians travelling to the US. But at least in that case there was some warning and allowances made.

Anonymous said...

what weird proceedures! What if I, a canadian citizen, wanted to visit china? Would I need a travel visa or would just a passport suffice? All these passport and visa rules confuse me when it comes to travelling :P anyhow, sorry to hear of your frusterations, and I hope somthing turns out for the better soon!!

Lisa said...

That's so lame Pete! What the hell?! I hope you can get a refund. :(

Peter Bond said...

It is frustrating, Mark! I have yet to be in Canada since the new border requirements. Is it that bad?

Amy! So good to hear from you! You too would need a visa to enter China - everyone does! But I don't know how hard it would be for you.

Thanks for the support, Lis!!! Looks like I will get credit with the airline. Not the best option, but not a loss.