This is the first of a group of posts about my preparations for a cycling trip to China in August 2016
4 months before I am slated to arrive, I started working on:
- Looking up the visa requirements
- Looking for ways to get an invitation letter, required for the visa
- Booking the flights
- Studying Mandarin Chinese: not sure this will be helpful. Most people tell me I should be able to say hello, thank you, please and excuse me. I would add "where is the bathroom".
2 months before:
- I booked a hostel in Beijing and requested a letter of invitation from them. They sent it immediately. The hostel staff often speak the best English, better than many upscale hotels. I know you can cancel the hostel booking, but I think it is so cheap, I will leave it as an emergency shelter, in case something goes wrong and I end up never leaving Beijing. It is about $240 for 28 days. I will definitely be staying there for the first and last nights.
- I contacted Travisa to apply for a visa for me- otherwise I need to go to the Chinese consulate in NYC.
- Got visa photos 2"x2" (though that size requirement is different depending on where you look- this is what Travisa told me I needed)
- Inquired into whether my bank can get me Chinese currency (yuan)
- Started on inoculations: Hepatitis A&B, typhoid, rabies (not yellow fever or a polio booster for this area of China); the last 2 were quite difficult to get. My doctor did not have them and the typhoid is not widely available. My health insurer suggested the next county over (a much smaller county) and that worked.
- Filled out visa application- leave no blanks
- Tracked down my hostel receipt and struggled to get Travelocity to print a receipt with a basic itinerary (inc outbound and return flights), along with the required "Paid in Full" note.
- Photocopied by passport ID page