Dear China, Please Let Us In

By Jane Mountain | September 10, 2013

6447 km so far.

It was lovely to visit with Dominic, but we’re also glad he’s gone (sorry, Dominic!), so we can start to focus on the coming months of our trip. Navigating numerous consular websites, talking to embassies on the phone, and web chatting with visa service companies takes a lot of time, energy, and concentration.

Any distraction, even wanted ones, makes progress impossible.

Red Tape

We spent hours in front of the computers, trying to untangle all the information we can find out about Chinese visas. As with Russia, we are becoming more convinced by the day that China doesn’t really want us to visit…

As things stand now, we have three options for our application:

  1. Apply directly to the Chinese Visa Service in London, by mailing them our applications. This is the cheapest option, and would allow us to send our passports tomorrow. However, it takes around two weeks to process applications by post, and we have just found out that our passports can only be returned to a UK address, so there’s the added time and hassle for a friend in the UK.
  2. Apply directly to the Chinese Visa Service in London, in person. This is the quickest option – we should have our visas back within four days. It would mean flying to London, which Stephen is up for, but I don’t want to do. The environmental impact of that extra flight leaves me feeling very icky about it, and it’s just one more big hassle. Though I would love to see all our friends back “home”!!
  3. Use a visa service in London. This would hopefully eliminate all the doubts and questions we have about exactly what is required to apply, since the visa service will be able to help with that. It’s also quicker than applying directly, but slower than in person. It’s likely the most expensive option (or maybe equal to the dollar cost of flying to London, without the carbon footprint).

Sigh. Yes, it’s a privilege to even be considering this kind of trip, but I still wish they could make things a little easier. The world is not set up for a nomadic lifestyle.

I feel like we’re back at the start of our trip, trying to plan where we’ll go (China requires a full itinerary before they will grant you a visa) and what we’ll see. I know what I see in my imagination will bear little resemblance to what we’ll experience on the ground, and that the plans we’re laying now are unlikely to unfold as we envision them.

We have a mile of red tape to cut through when what I really want is to just be there already! Or, failing that, I just want to spend a month never leaving the flat, reading my book, watching TV, and taking long hot baths.

A Fine Balance

Luckily, in the early evening, we were forced to leave the flat. Stephen taught two classes tonight at YogaCircle Berlin in Prenzlauer Berg. The studio teaches a mix of styles, but comes from the world of Anusara, also offering Tantra Hatha, Pilates, and pre-natal classes.

The only picture I took at YogaCircle, since I wanted to focus on practice.

The only picture I took at YogaCircle, since I wanted to focus on practice.

Stephen’s note: Jane really does seem to be in charge of writing on the days I teach. However, today I wanted to write about my experience at YogaCircle.

I taught two of their regularly scheduled classes, as a sub. Thank you to those who stepped aside so I could take the seat of the teacher. The first class was an advanced class, and I had a fantastic group of very focused and clearly dedicated students. Our theme was Repetition, and I made them repeat a very difficult pose (Eka Pada Galavasana) over and over again.

A little water never got in the way of an arm balance opportunity.

Eka Pada Galavasana in Plitvice, Croatia.

I think we visited the pose 8 times in 90 minutes… the students stayed on task, worked hard, and we had fun.

The second class was an All Levels Flow class, and our theme was Change. It was my first time teaching a flow class since leaving LA, and this means my brain had to work to keep them moving, breathing, flowing, while the teacher side of my brain wanted to stop, look, and teach. It was a true All Levels class, with the students spanning the full range of yoga knowledge, from brand new students to Sharada, the owner of YogaCircle. Making the class fun for everyone in a group like this presents me with unique challenges, and keeps me on my toes.

And now, a random photo break.

pigeon in the subway berlin

Pigeon waiting for the subway.

It felt great to work my body for three hours. It also felt awful, because so much of the opening and strength I had before I left LA is gone, making even the “easy” poses seem difficult.

“More practice,” my body screams.

“When?”, my brain yells back.

Just like the balance in Eka Pada Galavasana, trying to maintain the balance between cycling, life, and yoga asana is tricky. Lately yoga and cycling have been losing out to life. Maybe we can restore the balance over the coming days.  

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  1. Comment by Michael Moldofsky

    Michael Moldofsky September 12, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Grrrr. You could have done it here in LA. And gotten 90 days upon entry. They force you leave for 3 days then you’re good for another 90… :(

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Yup, but you can only apply 3 months in advance, so that couldn’t work for us either!

  2. Comment by Davrick

    Davrick September 12, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Hmm, have you tried the Lonely Planet Thorntree Forum? People there often post from the road with the most up-to-date info.

  3. Comment by Davrick

    Davrick September 12, 2013 at 1:48 am

    Is this a China/Canada thing? My China visa was very easy to get, although that was eight years ago. All they wanted then was a plane ticket. Even the hard part – getting them to grant a one month extension – was no more difficult than asking the nice lady if she would allow it, which she did without hesitation.

    I hope you’re able to acquire one!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 12, 2013 at 3:55 am

      It’s apparently pretty straightforward if you are 1. In the country where you reside 2. Have a return plane ticket 3. Are spending less than 30 days in China. This is the “normal” case. Since none of those things are true for us, everything becomes enormously complicated, and the rules change depending on who you speak to. To make matters more complicated, China has recently changed their requirements, so it’s not clear when we’re getting old info versus new. From all we’ve heard, the visa is easy to get, once you’ve jumped through the requisite hoops, so we’re crossing our fingers.

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