We may not have jobs right now but that doesn’t mean that we’re not working. From figuring out all our visa crap, dealing with Chinese bureaucracy and mapping out our trip: things are not as carefree as I would have thought.
We entered China with two 30-day one entry visas, which meant that after thirty days we needed to leave the country and continue our trip elsewhere or head right back and use our second visa.
After our experience in Shanghai, we weren’t sure that we even wanted to stay for a whole 30 days, needless to say 2 months. But things have taken a turn for the awesome and we were surprised to realize in Beijing that we only had 9 days left until we needed to leave. Crap.
Being so far north we had a few options: head North to Mongolia on the Trans-Siberian railway or head east to Russia. Ulaanbataar, Mongolia sounded freaking nuts – amazing views, reportedly crazy fellow travelers and an exciting railway transfer as you hit Mongolia. Then we looked at the travel advisory:
The incidence of violent crime in Mongolia is increasing, particularly in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Foreigners have been robbed and assaulted, especially when walking at night. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is prevalent.
And the Trans-siberian route was going to cost us at least $600 each. After a lot of back and forth, this option was off the table (but added to our to-do list for the future). The Russia option was not as appealing: it’s already in the negative celsius range and that’s just too cold.
So our last option was to extend our current visa. We hit up the PSB in Beijing and found out that we needed to open a Chinese bank account and deposit 4,000 US. That was just not going to happen. Time was ticking.
We heard through the travel rumor mill that it is much easier to extend your visa in smaller cities, like Leshan or Xi’an. So that’s what we did. After $130 dollars each and 5 days wait, we now have a few more weeks to explore and still have our second 30-day visa in case we want to come back.
But that’s not the only planning that we need to do: deciding what cities to visit, when to go and how to get there, has been interesting as well.
It’s getting colder and we’re hitting some potentially dangerous weather right as we approach the Himalayas. Ideally we want to make it from Chengdu over to Yushu, hitting up the towns along the way. Unfortunately, we’ve been enjoying our trip much and heading South slowly – it’s been a challenge to make it to Chengdu before mid-November, when snow storms and avalanches threaten to derail our plans to hit up Western Sichuan/Eastern Tibet.
With our visa extension and additional 30-day single entrance visa, we’re in fine shape to take our time. Our hostel in Xi’an has been a great place to rest up and meet interesting people. This weekend we’re heading for a hike up Hua Shan and then we’re on the road again.