My five weeks in Japan had been amazing. Truly five of the best weeks of my entire life. I experienced so many things. I met so many people. I fell in love with both the country and the people of Japan. However, it was too expensive for me to continue running around Japan. I had only been out on the travel road for five weeks and I had many more months of travel on my mind.
My friend, Justin, who I have mentioned before in my posts, was currently living in China. I hadn’t seen him in a very long time, plus I had a sudden urge to go to China. It’s best to follow those urges when you get them.
Many Americans share the belief that we are accepted with open arms any time we decide to visit a foreign land. As an American, I have found that this is not true in many cases. One of the biggest examples of this is China. In order for most nationalities to visit China, you must pay a visa fee. No big surprise there. Many countries across Asia require a small visa fee in the area of $20 to $30 US. And many of these countries offer the visa on arrival, meaning you can just head to the border and obtain your visa while in transit. Unfortunately in many of these countries, the money goes into the pockets of the government and not the people. But again, no big surprise.
Enter the Chinese Visa. China is one of the more difficult countries to obtain a visa for, in Asia anyway. Most of the time, you need to have specific dates of travel in mind with all flight and hotel arrangements in hand when you apply for the visa. This presents a problem for the backpacker. Especially one like myself, who had planned to do most of his traveling by land, not by air. My friend said that I might be able to get my visa for China while still in Japan, but without having these specific pieces of info, I was betting not.
My plan was to head up to China via Vietnam, which I would also need a visa for, but would be comparatively much easier to obtain. I also wanted to visit Cambodia en route. I had read that it might be possible to obtain my Chinese visa in both of these countries, but no one could confirm this. However, it was expensive to fly into either country from Japan. Choice C: Fly into Bangkok and try there. Again, no one could guarantee I would be able to get my visa, but at least I could try. If I couldn’t get it in Bangkok, then I could attempt to get it in the other two countries as I was passing through.
I’ve been to Bangkok before. There’s not much there. It’s hot, humid, busy, dirty. BUT the street food is delicious and cheap. So I figured why not head there for a few days and attempt to get my visa then quickly get outta town. I booked my flight in Japan for a relatively cheap price. I was ready for a relaxing few days. I would eat some good food. Drink some cheap beer. Maybe stroll around the tourist sites again for nostalgic reasons. Apparently I should have done a little research before going.