Thursday, 5 March 2009

Emergency passport and Chinese shoes

The past week has been a very busy one, because we needed to apply for new passports and get our Chinese visas extended. Usually these things just take time (and money!) and therefore, if you are not in a hurry, are not a big deal. However , since Auro and I are leaving for Japan next Monday, we were in an extreme hurry to get things done in time. This haste we were in was mostly my fault, since I didn't notice until last week that my passport was going to expire in March! With the expiration of my passport also my Chinese visa was about to expire, without which I would not be able to enter China upon returning from Japan. Usually it takes 3 to 6 weeks to get a new passport, and the extension of the visa another 4 or 5 days. You can imagine how I felt when I found out: panic, panic, panic!!
Luckily, after some phonecalls to the Belgian embassy and to the main police station of Changchun , we found a way to do it all in one week! First we went for the compulsory medical checkup, where we got our blood tested, lungs x-rayed, bodyweight measured (only 3 kilos to go before I reach my pre-pregnancy weight!!) and so on. Once we got the health certificate, the university had to issue (again) invitation letters and accomodation forms (still don't know what those are really) to complete all the documents needed for the application of the visa.
On Monday morning, the three of us then walked to the photo shop closeby to have our pictures taken. It didn't take long to take Remo's picture and mine, but Auro's patience was put to the test! The photographer was a real perfectionist and insisted Auro would look directly in the lens, which, as you can imagine is close to impossible. The whole staff of the shop and some of the customers got behind the photographer and tried with all of their might (waving stuffed animals and clapping their hands) to catch Auro's attention, but our little angel was much too busy balancing his heavy head! After a while though, he became impatient and after a sudden outburst of laughter (we are still wondering what made him laugh like that) that lasted for half a minute, he started crying and the photographer had to settle with one of the less than perfect photos;)
The next day, we got up early and flew to Beijing. Remo (finally) registered himself at the Italian embassy and applied for a new passport (which is still valid, but there are no empty pages left for the visa extension). In the Belgian embassy I applied for my new passport, but because that won't be ready in time, I also had to have them issue an 'emergency passport'. We had some time before our flight back to Changchun, so we checked out a shop I had found on the internet. It wasn't half as fancy as it had looked on the internet, but they had some really adorable children's shoes... Chinese style! We bought 2 pairs for Auro!
Anyway, based on the green emergency passport I should be able to get a temporary visa extension here in Changchun, so the day before yesterday Auro and I went to the police station to apply for that. Auro was not pleased with all the bureaucracy, so he cried and cried and cried and... until we were in the taxi again and I started nursing him!
Yesterday, someone from the university took some documents that were still missing from our file to the police station and in the late afternoon I got the news that our visas should be ready by tomorrow, Friday!


  1. your blog is very nice......

  2. goodness gracious!!!!!! and I thought that you got too carried away with Hopla!!!
    this passport thing is a nightmare. we had some problems in getting the initial passport for J├╝rgen. we had a bit more time, but imagine that Spain took one month to issue a (handwritten) birth certicifate!
    happy that everything turned out OK with you and we'll see you next week in Kyoto!