Friday, 7 March 2014

The Failure of Sycophancy

Following my last post the other day (below) I rolled the Chinese visa dice one more desperate throw, sending this grovelling missive to my contact at the official tourist agency:
Oh no this is really terrible news!  So I am not welcome or wanted at all anywhere in China?  I am greatly saddened, many friends here who have visited China have told me about the wonderful welcome I can expect in your country.  I wonder why the authorities are so worried about a man on a bike wanting to visit your beautiful country and discover your culture and language and food and famed hospitality.  I have already invested much time and money in planning to visit your country, I have been trying to learn some basic Chinese, and I have been really looking forward to the China experience.  I am a harmless tourist wanting to visit your land by the world's most eco-friendly vehicle, ubiquitous in China, the humble bicycle, so I will cause no pollution in your country.  I will spend money and help your economy, and I never drop any litter so there will be no trace of my passage other than some happy memories left with people that I will meet along the route.  This is a very sad day for me.  Is there really nothing else that you or anyone else can do to help me realise my dream to cycle across China which I have cherished for ten years?
The reply was not long coming:
As I said before in Xinjiang we only can get the invitation letter from the tourism bureau for the normal tourists that we are going to receive. My partners in Gansu also say the same. So I am sorry again that I can do nothing for your visa in this case. Some people say maybe you can try the business visa. Good luck.
I think my chances of getting a business visa are vanishingly small, though I have asked my visa agency Scott's to look into it.  They brought further bad news yesterday: the Belarus Embassy also rejected my visa application - because I did not have a hotel booking.  So I booked a hotel.  Today they rejected it again - now they want a signed letter from the hotel manager to confirm the booking.  I've written to the manager to ask for that.  I wonder what they will want tomorrow?


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  2. China is a beautiful country, but the government is paranoid and oppressive on their best of days. Pedal off to some where the government is more welcoming is what I recommend. My experience tells me that government trouble is just not worth the hassle in any country that treats you badly before you begin the visit. If you have not yet visited Thailand I highly recommend it and if you have maybe another visit would be better time spent than beating your head against a again paranoid and oppressive government