Monthly Archives: September 2011

The best advice I can give you

Go with the flow.  Roll with the punches.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  I’m out of cliches but that sentiment is the most important thing you can learn about travelling.

The back and forth over getting my China visa could have made me crazy–and not having my passport did make me a little nervous–but the waiting didn’t because I know how to not let small setbacks bother me.  There’s always somewhere else I could visit, a country who doesn’t require a visa and would be more than happy to take my money in exchange for food and hotel stays.  That knowledge makes all the difference.

Remember, when it gets hard–subway workers are on strike and you can’t get across town, the only museum you wanted to visit is closed for renovations, the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower is out of order, St Mark’s Square is under water–there’s always something else to see and do.  Even in the smallest towns there will be something else to do and if that something else is something you don’t like or can’t do, simply embrace the moment as an adventure that will become a great story to tell your friends and family about your trip.  Any adventure that doesn’t end in a hospital visit or a stay in a foreign prison is a good adventure.  Even a night stuck in a train station because you couldn’t find a hotel room can be a great story to tell your friends when you get home.  In fact, it’ll probably be the story you tell most often.

So much of the world never has the opportunity to go more than a few miles from the place where they were born.  The chance to travel is an amazing thing.  If you didn’t want to experience new and different things you would never have left home.  Sometimes travel is stressful and it’s important to acknowledge that but if you don’t let things go you will ruin your trip.  Only you can do that because only you have control over your attitude.  Presumably you are travelling to learn new things and see stuff you can’t see at home.  Don’t let frustration or disappointment cloud your vision.

I can confidently say I have never been on a bad trip.  I have never had a bad experience.  I did get stuck in Paris during a Metro strike–fortunately it was a brief strike–but I got to walk through neighborhoods I would not have seen otherwise.  I have also been sick in Istanbul.  That time, I did miss a day of sightseeing, but I still had a wonderful time on my other two days in town and that missed day is just incentive to go back.

Certainly, when things go screwy, take some time to be frustrated, vent your frustration to your companion, be angry for a little while.  And then…let it go.  Let it go and start thinking about plan B.  Who knows, plan B may end up being the best part of your trip.

Finally

I now have my Chinese Visa and my passport is once again in my possession.  It’s time to do some serious researching on Guilin and Yangshuo.  I’ll let you know what I find.

Denied…for now

I just received a telephone call telling me my visa application has been denied, pending a letter from me indicating I don’t plan to work while in China on a tourist visa.  Had I not been expecting something of this nature, I would be very distressed.

As I marked the “staff of media” box on the application, I wondered if getting a visa would be as straightforward as it should be.  But no worries, I’ll fill out and return the form letting the consulate know I have no intentions of working while I’m in China.  Trust me, working is the last thing I will be thinking about.

All will be well and my passport will be back in my hands by the end of next week.  So help them, it had better be.

Progress made?

Well, y’all, it appears the China Consulate in Houston possesses my passport and paperwork.

Now it’s time to start researching Guilin and surrounds.  Stay tuned, I’ll let you know what I find interesting.  Just know, I plan to take more photographs than any one person should take in a weekend.  Perhaps I will need another memory card.

Point of No Return

My mother is a genius.  We don’t use travel agents, preferring to do all of the legwork ourselves, so when I found myself in need of a visa agent I didn’t know where to turn.  Mom suggested AAA.  She’s brilliant.  One telephone call and I had my visa agent.

And so it’s done.  I am leaving the country in 37 days and I just sent my passport, as well as all appropriate visa documentation, to Houston.

Now I find myself questioning everything I did filling out the paperwork.  “Is there a typo in my name?”…”Did I put the correct address on the FedEx envelope?”….I am dilligent, maybe even obsessive, about double-checking my work, but that will not stop me from going over it all in my head every day until I have my passport back in my hands.

The excitement over going to a new place combined with the nervousness about not having my passport has me so pumped I will hardly be able to function for the next month.  Heavens help the people who have to put up with me.