Wait and see! Days 284-296
In the city of Shangrila we start the visamarathon the next morning. To get the registration confirmation, we cycle to the police station. But only the second station can issue the confirmation of registration. At PSB (Public Security Bureau) we find everything closed. What now? It is Friday and according to opening hours, it should be open. But fortunately an official waves us in. We are kindly informed that the registration confirmation is not enough. It takes: A written travel report, a filled visa form and for a special document we must cycle to a foto studio at the other end of the city. The requested form is created for 80yüan (12.-sFr.) and we get 8 additional passport photos. We can definitely use them again later.
On Saturday we go with all documents to the PSB. Oh no! The office is closed again, even though they clearly promised us that it will be open. We see that the projector is running and the light is on. Curious we nock at the door. But nothing happens. Andi discovers a telephone number and soon a dynamic officer arrives, opens the door, puts on some Chinese music and sets up her office table while we are sitting tensely in the waiting room. Then it’s our turn. Oh no, the passport copy is missing. But somehow it works without. After one more photo, fingerprints are taken and 160 yuan per person (24.-sFr.) have to be paid. In five working days we can have our visas and passports back again 😳. No, we do not want to wait that long! The officer tells us that this is fast and that in other places it even takes an entire week. As we finally ask, when we can pick up our visa, she says: “Okay, come back on Monday!” We can hardly believe it! What was that? A joke? We can even call the officer on Monday on here mobile when we leave, so she is in the office when we arrive. Incredible! That’s China!
We use the time to discover all the delicious Chinese food: We try Dumblings, yak cheese, Chinese-Burger, dried yak meat, butter-Milk tea (not our liking), hot soymilk, nudels, wantan (kind of stuffed dumplings in a soup), yak yoghurt und flatbread. But in our absolute favorite restaurant, which is very inconspicuous and has just three tables, we were served with nice different dishes with vegetables and legumes. The friendly cook and her daughter offer us the last meal for free. Meanwhile we can eat easily with sticks.
Every day we stroll through the pulsating market. In contrast to the sleepy old town, which was built around 2002 and burnt down four years ago to 70% and completely rebuilt again, the market is extremely lively.
We stock up with blankets, hot and thermos bottles, since heating is unknown here. But they have mattress heaters, which we will miss in the coming stages over 4000müM in the tent. In addition, Judith needs a replacement sleeping mat, but unfortunately there is only Chinese quality here…
Kamilla and Guy the cycling couple from the USA arrives. We are pleased to see them again and we have a wonderful time. They introduce us into the cool “Bananagram-Game”, which we handicraft our self later.
On Monday the officer has no time and we should return to the office on Tuesday. On Tuesday the cycling couple Stefan & Jessica and Juanita arrive, so we are 7 touring cyclists in the same hostel😀 We have a very exciting exchange with intensive planning discussions. Because all are frustrated with the too short visa for such a big country and with the complicated Chinese administration. It is frustrating how the visa determines the itinerary and the speed of our journey. So Jessica, Stefan and Juanita are too early in Shangrila (In Shangrila extension is only possible in the last week of expiry) and can not extend their visa yet, but this rule does not apply to the next PSB. There, they have to be before the last 7 days of expiry. However, to get there is just not possible by bike, so they have no choice but to go by bus to Leshan.
On Tuesday we can finally pick up our passports with the new visas. However, Andi’s cold has gotten worse and we are waiting for a few more days. After almost two weeks in Shangrila, Andi’s cough cured and we head for Litang. During the last months we have discussed a lot and researched, where our journey should continue. We finally decided how and where to go after China! Flight is booked. But we keep it secret 😀.