There was a bit of a queue at the Russian embassy this morning, but I simply took my place in line like one of her Majesty’s faithful servants, and waited my turn. At this point two women decided to push in front of me, one of whom was in the wrong bloody queue (she was trying to apply for a visa, not pick one up). Still, I simply let then through in a sufficiently stoic manner, convinced that this was neither the time nor the place for a forceful lecture on queuing etiquette. My patience was soon rewarded, as I left the embassy a few minutes later with a valid Russian visa for my return back to the UK. The whole process was exceptionally painless, and I cannot recommend the staff and procedural efficiency of the Russian embassy enough.
The Chinese embassy on the other hand, well the less said about that the better. Despite their website leading me to believe something else entirely, I was yet again told that before applying for a tourist visa I needed hotel reservations and flight tickets. After trying yet again to explain that I hadn’t yet booked my tickets, and that I wasn’t staying at a hotel (I think we are staying in University accommodation), I was told that I needed a letter from whoever it was that I was staying with. My papers were then pushed rudely to one side, and when I tried to argue my case the woman behind the counter just kept pointing at the rules and regulations, and then picked up a phone. I’m not entirely sure if she was ringing security or pretending to look busy, but in any case I thought it best that I beat a hasty retreat, before I blurted out something I may later regret. To be honest the whole ordeal left me questioning the necessary existence of visas and passports; so what if people want to live in another part of the world, it’s not like anyone actually owns a country, and if they do then who did they buy it from, Gaia?