Sunday, 15 July 2012

Accelerating countdown

Well, the Chinese visa all sorted so that is the last of the paperwork sorted.   It wasn’t 100% straightforward, but we got there. Our travel agent had the Chinese visa forms but as we are on UK passports, therefore not in the same country as our citizenship, there is an extra form to fill in (2011b?), but I couldn’t find it on line.   An email to the embassy didn’t elicit a prompt response (it came 7 days later...).  Apparently it is attached to the 2011a which we already had.  Ho hum. 
They ask what countries you have visited in the last 12 months and why.  Well, that meant going back to last year’s world cruise itinerary and the Christmas itinerary and the Monaco trip.  We also added the itinerary for this one of course. 
Anyway, the consulate is just across the other side of town and they deal with applications in the mornings only and we were there about 11:45am, so we just made it.  You take a numbered ticket (shades of Mr Bean) and wait.   The nice chap behind the counter gave us the 2011b and we left the counter to fill it in, then rejoined the (mercifully short) queue.  When we presented our documents, he wasn’t happy with the ‘pictures’.  I had run out of photographic paper, so printed them out on normal paper and glued them to the forms.   Not good enough it seems.  They don’t really want a ‘picture’, they want a photograph.  So having checked everything else out, we returned home. 
After picking up a pack of photo-paper, it was a simple matter to reprint the pics then return the following day.   We were given a collection time about 5 working days later.  Collection is 2pm – 4pm.  We were there a couple of minutes early but again, the queue was fairly short as soon as the doors opened and we paid over or $60 each and walked out with a single entry visa.  There have been queries on message boards about single or multiple entry, but as we hit Hong Kong first, although we are at seas for a day then between each of the three Chinese ports, we are only entering Chinese waters once. 
NZ passport holders pay more than EEC passport holders and I am not sure about the Australian fees. 
Now it is case of sorting out the packing lists and bowling over the various ‘to do’ tasks.  It is certainly much easier after your first cruise – especially when going back to the same ship.  This time, we’ll not only take our 4 socket power bar with a Kiwi/Aussie plug, but also a US adapter, as cabins on the Dawn only have 1 Aussie socket in each.

On a separate note, my daughter-in-law’s sister had her passport stolen in Paris and as she is on a Portuguese passport, had problems getting back into the UK.  I then had an invite to sign up to “Dropbox” and accepted.  I now have a spreadsheet parked there that gives all passport and credit card details, amongst other things.  With 2Gb of free storage, it appears to be ideal and it syncs between my PC and laptop whenever I switch on.  It also enable access from any other computer by signing in and entering your password.  You can ‘share’ folders too, so it acts like  a glorified server so if I lose the laptop (or the PC), the data is safe.  For world travellers, it seems like a useful facility.

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