Day 1,226: Now, Visa

Thu 10.05.12:

I chuckle now to think when I got my Vietnamese visa back in September 2010 that I honestly thought it would be my last. But no. East Timor changed its rules and then Indonesia wanted me to get a visa in Dili in order to return to West Timor. Papua New Guinea then (hilariously in hindsight) made me jump through a series of hoops to gain entry. Even we-have-the-Queen-on-our-money island continent of Australia was in on it, forcing me to shell out $29 for a visa that I really should not need (they’ve now made it free, I like to think because of me). Then the US leads an assault that could only be termed as ‘friendly fire’ and orders me to pay $100 for a visa ‘waver’ before I would be allowed to sully the doorsteps of either Saipan or Guam.

And now, China. Obviously. You’ve needed a visa for China ever since Confucius first say, something I always find a bit odd when it comes to incredibly over-populated states like China, India and Nigeria: are they that worried about Brits coming over there and working for a dollar a day in a sweat-shop owned by an American tyrant billionaire? I mean, Australia I can (kinda) understand: young Brits do have a naughty tendency to overstay their visas, especially since the minimum wage is worth twice what it is in the UK. But China? India? Nigeria? Seriously? They say it’s a reciprocal thing, but there are 5 times more Nigerians than Brits, 15 times more Chinese than Brits and 20 times more Indians than Brits. We could probably fit the entire British population in a single state of India, whereas if every Indian popped over to the UK for a cup of tea, it would soon be standing room only.

But quietly rage as I may, I’m not going to change anything, so today I bit the bullet and made my way over to the China Resources Buildings and threw in my application for a visa. It took me about an hour to fill out the damn form. Asking me about my great-uncle’s shoe size and what my favourite dessert might be on a rainy afternoon, it was pretty in depth. The 1,000-word essay on the use of form and light in Picasso’s Blue Period was, I thought, a little over the top, as was asking me to detail the rise and fall of the Roman Empire without using the word ‘Cauliflower’. But somehow I prevailed, the visa would be ready tomorrow.

That night I was on my way to meet up with Michael when I got a tweet from a British chap named Tim. Now Tim had invited me for a trip on a Chinese Junk last Sunday morning, but as I don’t believe in Sunday morning, I sadly couldn’t take him up on the offer. As he would be in the Lan Kwai Fong area of town tonight for ‘a drink after work’, I thought what the hell, eh? Thus began the descent of your humble narrator into the comatose wreck left sprawled out all over Michael’s living room floor the next morning. Needless to say, it was a good time had by all.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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