An Englishman in Taiwan

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The time my head went boom

Friday 5pm - hongkong

ahahahahahahahahabha - insane laughter.That bollocks quote about life and roller coasterness has been proved for metoday.Ok, from the top, come to hong kong for what should be a nice and painlessvisa run - work paid for the flights and gave me 2000 nt pocket money.Sweet, ok miss a day of school and assoc. monies but had to do it.Trip itinerary and subsequent packing:
leave taiwan 9.30pm tuesday arr hk 11pm
---------wed get visa -----------------
leave hk thurs 00.15 arrive tp 01.30- Taichung 3am - ------back to work thurs-------------
Packed: toothbrush, deo, one extra pair of socks,boxer shorts, shorts andt-shirt: plenty

Right. Arrive in hk 1230am wed, find a hostel and lay my head down to rest.I wake up bright and early on wednesday and head off to the taiwanese visa office armed with letter from school + government stamp (for the school)full of confidence that i'd be able to spend some time exploring afterreceiving my visa.I fill out the form, take it to the desk only to be told that, as the laws have changed, everything i've brought is not only useless but also possibly damaging to my request for a visa. Formerly proof of employment would have guaranteed a 60 day extendable visa - Not now. You need your work permit before you can receive your residency visa. I was forced to change my form in front of the women, crossing out name of school and changing purpose ofvisa.

Beginning to sweat a little now.

The, actually very nice and helpful, visa lady (Mrs Lui) then informed methat i didn't need a visa at all and could actually just return to taiwan with a landing visa and an outward ticket......"Ah" I said, 'i can't do that i'm afraid'. In April i overstayed my 30 daylanding visa by a day due in equal measure to stupidity and a long month(damn you 31 days!). All of this is clearly shown in my old passport which she then asks to see. This leads us to the next problem. My old passport(which has never been requested before) is, as i write, safely sitting in my desk in my apartment.'You can fax it here' says she.'No, I can't' says I. I have the only key - the spare is sitting next to myold passport.

I can tell that i'm not endearing myself to very nice and helpful miss Lui. She then goes and speaks to her supervisor (for the second time), comes back and tells me that the other option is for them to contact the visa recordsdepartment in Taipei and request my information. This will take 2-3 workingdays (i.e either Friday or Monday). Hong Kong can suck on a budget.

Wednesday night, found a cheaper hostel - sign on the door said $80 for two hours - not sure what that meant. It was clean and i managed to negotiate areasonable price. Woman seemed a little surprised that i'd be alone andmerely using the room for sleeping, funny old world.

Thursday. Checked again at visa office and was told maybe tomorrow. Luckilymet a canadian guy, Ryan, who is in the process of moving to Taichung andwho had friends in the city. So spent an afternoon and evening talkin aboutlife and seeing some sights -Repulse Bay is awesome, definitely worth a look. Had dinner in therather exclusive Chinese Recreation Club, similar to the hong kong jockeyclub but exclusively for the chinese with Ryan, Brad and the son of one HK'srichest Danny Fok and his girlfriend Ming. Good times.

Today.Went to the visa office again today at about 12 and was told that there was still no news. Asked if there was any point in coming back laterand was told uncertainly that i could try. Went back at three thirty and MrsLui waved me over and told me that the Visa records office in Taipei hadrefused their request for my info! Something about privacy.Then came the blow.'The only way we'll give you a visa is if you show us you old passport!'I told her that, as she knew, that was impossible.She shrugged.'But i don't have any clothes! All my things are in Taiwan!' I pleaded.I think Mrs Lui took pity on me now because she went to speak to hersupervisor. "Ok, just bring us a copy of your bank statements as proof offunds". Trying to find an internet cafe in HK is impossible esp with aprinter! It is now 4 o'clock. I remember seeing a printing shop on theground floor - my only hope.'No sorry' was the firm reply. ' Please, please it's an emergency!' Iliterally begged. She relented with the words 'ok, but you pay'. Nearly hugged that dragon. Printed out my quite unhealthy looking bank statements and raced backupstairs.I now have my visa and boys i'm a comin home.Wrecked and beginning to smell.

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