So the days are getting longer, the 5th of April looms larger, and the red tape of visa bureaucracy grips ever tighter. I only need five visas; on the bright side there's been no trouble at the Vietnamese, Russian or Kazakh embassies, and I should be able to pick up the visa for Laos en route at their embassy in Hanoi. The Chinese visa however is proving more problematic.
Unlike most tourists, I'm not flying into China, nor do I have any hotels booked. So their embassy in London has asked me to obtain an authorisation letter from the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) in the district I enter China, which is Xinjiang Province, and without this letter of approval the embassy will not accept my visa application.
Googling CNTA Xinjiang got me to this page full of contacts, which looked hopeful but most of my emails bounced back with bad addresses and none of the others have sent any reply. Two visa agencies in London have not yet found a solution, my hopes are currently pinned on the China Travel Service on Euston Road.
Helpful suggestions welcome!