How to prepare for a date with the Chinese Embassy

Here’s my definitive South African guide on how to apply for a multiple entry visa to China. This is quite a special affair, for which you need to truly be ready for.

First off, you’re going to be getting intimate. Shave first, put some nice cologne on. Unlike most first dates, chances are you’ll be getting more than you expected with your visa appointment.

I need a multiple entry visa for China on the account that I’ll be in Hong Kong for a while, then re-entering China. Thus, 2 entries required. If I were looking for a single entry, 30 day tourist visa – no problem. In and out in 5 minutes. As soon as the number of entries and duration increases, buckle up sunshine, you’re in for a ride.

The ride will take you to the 14th floor of the Sandton City office tower at least 4 times. But don’t worry, you’ll only actually enter the visa office 3 times because round 1 involves an encounter with a security guard who goes through your documents and then mumbles something about not having the right documents. So off you run to Postnet to print 3 months of bank statements and investment account history. No, I’m not shitting you. I think this security guard is in cahoots with the printing shop as it costs 12 bucks to print a page in color. 12 South African Rand – 2 pieces of paper is a coffee for goodness sake.

Step 2: Comfortable shoes: These are required for when you have to go back to Postnet to print out your detailed itinerary for China (which didn’t really exist prior to the embassy requesting this). You’ll then need to run back to Postnet to print out flight details for Russia. Don’t ask why, I don’t know why. Nor does the embassy – but apparently it’s rude to point this out to them.

Step 3: Remain calm. I can’t keep calm. I’ve never been able to and today was no exception sadly. The problem is you can’t question or reason with anyone. The guys at the embassy are just following orders I guess. Reason doesn’t exist. It’s like trying to renew your driver’s license. I must say, however, that when I had all the paperwork together (same number of pages as in War and Peace), the lady at the embassy was super efficient – kudos there.

After a fight – the visa application is in, who knows if it’ll be approved. Past the stage of caring now sadly.

If you need a multiple entry visa to China – just bear in mind it’s nowhere nearly as easy as the website says it is. I was half expecting to sign away my first-born child after round 4 of the Spanish Inquisition today. Although, if I was told I’m expecting a first born today, I’d have given it away for free.

(My extreme paranoia requires me to state that if the Chinese Embassy does a social media audit on me to approve my visa, I want them to know I love them very much and getting a Chinese visa was the easiest thing I’ve ever done).