I’ve sent off my application for a Chinese Visa.  It took much longer than it should have, due to my overwhelming paranoia that the entire application process is one big booby trap.

This paranoia is not particularly directed at the Chinese. I experience it when I fill out any kind of tax form, passport renewal, driver’s licence renewal, in fact, almost any form at all.

Every entry seems to have been designed with a cunning ambiguity, which is why they insist you fill it out in black ink, so that you have to start the whole process again when you mess up. Twelve times. Then there are the IQ trip-ups. ‘Affix your passport-size photo here.’ What, exactly, does affixing entail? Surely not glue? A paperclip would need to be huge to reach that far into the page, and might deface the picture (which, by the way, could only improve it). I settle for tape, rolled and folded four times (which, as every small child knows, stops it from sticking more than glancingly). Yes!

Traps abound. The hotel address doesn’t fit in the tiny space allotted. And how seriously do I take the question about my history of mental illness? Do I confess to consulting a therapist back in the 1980s or the time I nearly savaged the guy clamping my car? My daughter would say that my interest in horses is totally deranged, but will the Chinese see it that way?

I’ve made it to the Post Office. The return envelope addressed to myself has to be pre-stamped Special Delivery, but I can’t find instructions on posting the (now big, fat) application itself to the Chinese Embassy. Is this another test? Would sending it first class Royal Mail indicate arrogant nationalistic tendencies? Or just plain stupidity?

I’m not overthinking this, am I?

Whatever happens, I know I’m going to get the damned thing back in three days. With a REJECTED stamp and a big red circle around the question about whether I’m planning to visit the area formerly known as Tibet. Which I didn’t answer, because I’ve only planned the next ten years, and who knows?


8 thoughts on “A yen for China.

  1. bookwitch 8 years ago

    What’s wrong with staying at home?

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      I am but a lowly writer flogging my wares far and wee.

    2. Michelle 8 years ago

      I love how you characterize it as “flogging your wares.”

  2. kokorako 8 years ago

    Which of your books do the Chinese readers most like?

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      I don’t think I’m published in China, except for Wild Boars. So anything they read will be imported in English. I’ll let you know when I’m back!

  3. Sharon Creech 8 years ago

    You goof, you make me laff. Please write a book like your blog.

  4. Barbaroos 8 years ago

    Please don’t talk about yen in China. Yen is Japanese. Chinese are not amused about anything Japanese. In China, the currency is yuan. But maybe you meant something totally different and I didn’t catch it.
    I recognise the absurd burocracy (is that a correct English word, I am Dutch, sorry) for I have been to China three times. There is more to come, be prepared.
    By the way, I love your blog and books and reading your blog at night when everyone else sleeps, is such a blessing. So: thank you.

    1. Meg 8 years ago

      Oh christ, what an idiot. I was just using it as a glib pun, but in fact it should have been a yuan for China……
      Thank you Barbaroos, and i won’t do it again, as I well know the Japanese-chinese standoff. Very firsthand, with japanese friends.
      Very glad you enjoy the blog. Excellent for insomnia! xxx

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