The good news is that I’m back in the world of the Internet – I flew out of Xinjiang province and into Xi’an this morning.
The bad news is that I’m back in the world of the Internet – about two weeks ahead of schedule.
The problem is my visa, which expires on September 30. I had intended to extend the visa in Kashgar – no problem! – before embarking on the south Silk Route adventure, which would have taken at least until realy October.
However, for a reason no one can explain, the Kashgar PSB (the police bureau that handles visas and such) is “not working” for two weeks. The receptionist suggested I go back to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang and about 1000 km (24 hours on the train) in the wrong direction. The application process takes a week – meaning I would have had to hang around Urumqi alone, and then take a train *back* west to meet up with Karly.
Instead, I left Karly to do the SSR alone and shelled out the cash to fly to Xi’an. I still need to extend my visa, for various reasons, but at least here there are sights to see, and the Internet works as well as it can in China.
I have more to say about China, but I’ll post it later. At the moment I’m sleep-deprived, thanks to: a sudden and mysterious increased air ticket price, necessitating an itinerary change, which included a 7-hour overnight layover, which involved a lying shuttle bus operator, getting lost at 2 am, riot police sleeping in the lounge of my hostel, and very VERY noisy Chinese tourists who took 45 long, loud minutes to leave our shared dorm room at 6 am (3.5 hours after I had gone to sleep). Oh yeah – and on arrival here, I spent the afternoon running up and down stairs at the Xi’an PSB, fetching what the official requested, one item at a time: photo, photocopies of various documents, visa-extension payment receipt, etc. etc.
Meh. I’m going to celebrate when I leave this country, and I vow to never, ever come back. I’ve come to despise it that much.
And yes, I see the irony of having to pay to extend my stay in a country I’m desperate to leave. I’d laugh about it, but I’m too cranky at the moment
Instead I’ll just say: $#&*%ing China